I am a crime writer, mostly 'cozy' crime but also some psychological thrillers. There are two sets - Cleo Marjoribanks Mysteries (set mostly in the New Forest) and The South Downs Murder Mysteries. There are also some stand alone novels. They are all on Kindle - if you don't have one, get the Kindle APP!
I am also an international travel writer so some of my blogs are about my travel.
I hope you buy lots of my books, enjoy them and enjoy my blogs.
Here is the opening to the second Cleo Marjoribanks murder mystery:
There I was doing
my vastly improved dog-paddle up and down the pool when the phone rang. Yeah, I know that like all modern marvels it
can answer itself but, I dunno, it sounded urgent. I made it to the steps and clambered out,
grabbed a towel and picked up the receiver as it was about to self respond.
“Queen of the Nile, how’re you
“Hi, Primrose. I’m fine. You?”
“Fine! Fine!” This was said airily and I grew suspicious of
my crime journalist friend.
“Really? So to what do I owe
the honour of this call?” A peal of
laughter came down the wire and I held the receiver away from my ear so that
she didn’t split me ear-drum. Prim is a
sweet girl, born on Primrose Day and as her surname’s Day, her parents got a
bit carried away. (Primrose Day? 19th April, the anniversary of the
day Disraeli died and, as primroses were his favourite flowers Queen Victoria had the day so
named in his memory). When I first knew
Prim her hair was braided and trimmed with hundreds of beads. Noisy.
Now she’s got it short and curly.
Natural like. She’s black,
beautiful and works on one of the national dailies.
“Not much gets past you does it, Cleo?”
“At my size, ducks, no. So,
why are you calling?”
“Well, I hear lover boy’s got himself another murder to
I frowned. “Really? How did you hear about this before me?” Not fair.
David hadn't mentioned it. That's
DCI 'Steaming' Kettle and my lover.
“Contacts,” Prim responded succinctly.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, alright.
So what are you calling me about?”
“Thought you might have some idea about it, but as I’ve been the
bearer of the news I guess you don’t know anything.”
“You guess right and I’m not going to get involved this time.”
“No, I’m sure you're not,” she said disbelievingly.
“I’m not,” I told her indignantly.
“Okay. Don’t you want to know
anything about it?”
Can’t keep my curiosity to myself can I? My friends know me too well. “Not really.”
I tried to match her earlier airy tone.
“Come off it, girl, course you do.”
Yeah, she’s also a cockney but it don’t come out as often as mine.
“You’re going ter tell me anyway, aren't you?”
She chuckled. “Of course.”
“Go on then,” I urged as she kept me waiting.
“Seems like an estate agent dropped dead in his soup at some do in
Lymington last night.”
interesting. So who had done for him? A disgruntled client? Someone who had been gazumped?
“Well, not exactly in the soup.
It was a bit later than that. At
the moment the cops aren’t calling it murder, just a sudden death which they have
to investigate. Seems strange to me that
Steaming is in on it, though. Doesn’t
“Definitely. Wonder what he
was given?" The victim I mean. "In Lymington you said?”
“So I gather you’re on your way down here?”
She laughed again. “Well, I've
been told to come down there and thought it might be a good idea to visit
you?” Why was she querying it? She knew I’d want her to stay here. “I
thought I could stay in the house instead of the flat over the garage. You know, keep you company while lover-boy is
“What d’you mean, keep me company?”
“As they say in my job, if you ain’t got contacts, you ain’t got a
job. No point in not using them, is
there?” I could almost hear the smile.
“You win. What time shall I
expect you?” We fixed an approximate
time in the afternoon, then she asked, “What you doing? Sounds as if you’re in the pool room.”
“I was just practicing.”
“Good girl. I’ll give you
some more lessons, if you like.”
“So that I can start powering up and down the pool the same way you
That made her laugh. “Sorry,
Cleo, I don’t think you’d quite manage that.”
“I don’t think so either.
Anyway, see you later.”
I put the phone down and picked up me robe and put it on. That was the end of my swimming practice for
the day. Time to go and shower and get
dressed. I should explain that the pool
room was once a conservatory. When I
bought this place it was missing most of its glass and the plants had run
The house is a 1920s mock Tudor effort and the old girl who’d owned
it before me kept cats and didn’t do no housework. It was in a right sorry state. Mind you, I did get it at a bargain price,
but had to spend a lot to put it right.
It’s smashing now. My bathroom’s
got a spa bath and I’ve had another two rooms made into a guest suite and
that’s also got a spa bath. Got a thing
about them, I have. I've also got a 'community'
one in the pool room and another in my flat in London.
And there's a flat over the double garage. That's actually for a housekeeper but now I
keep it as a 'guest suite'. In the
garage are my Land Rover and my precious Rolls Royce Silver Wraith.
I know it sounds daft, but do you know I actually got dressed before
I made my next phone call? I could have
laid on the bed abso-bloody-lutely starkers and no one would have seen me and I
admit that I’m not exactly a pretty sight when naked. At least, I don’t think so. Suppose I ought to tell you something about
The name’s Cleo Marjoribanks – pronounced Marchbanks as I often have
to tell people who get it wrong. People
are never sure whether my hair is naturally red but my colouring is fair and I
do freckle. I leave it for you to
decide! And I tend to load on the
paintwork, especially the eye-shadow which confounds people when it comes to
the colour of my eyes. You know, are
they blue, are they grey or are they hazel?
Depends on the eye-shadow. Me
nose is straight and little on the large size and I have a very determined
chin. No, I'm not beautiful, but I think
you could call it interesting.
I have to wear glasses when I’m driving because I’m short-sighted. Not quite blind as a bat. And I’m what’s called 'stately' so I go crazy
with clothes. Lots of caftans - they
cover a multitude of sins. And the
regulatory strings of beads to wear with them.
The problem with them is that they catch on the most unlikely
things. Whoever is with me at the time
usually ends up scrabbling on the ground trying to find the missing beads. Because I’m well-endowed the beads won’t lie
flat against me chest.
Many years ago I saw a programme
on television about women in the 1960s who had left their husbands. A very
brave thing to do when the only 'Right' a woman in England had was the vote.
There was something called the Married Women's Property Act which said women
were entitled to 50% of the couple's 'property' but had to prove their had
contributed 50% to the household. Bearing in mind that many married women
didn't go out to work - or whose wages were miniscule - it was impossible to
prove they had contributed 50%.
For a woman without children
things were 'reasonably' simple to leave an abusive husband as she only had to
fend for herself. But if there were children and the wife took them it was a
whole other ball game.
In the television programme it
was revealed that some of the women who took their children were subsequently
deprived of them - either into care or custody was given to the husband. Many
of these women ended up turning to drink and cigarettes and some,
unfortunately, committed suicide. A few battled through and survived.
'A Favourite Aunt' is a novella
about one of the survivors. Christina married in 1960 and it all went wrong
from the beginning - no matter how hard she tried.
Please read this book -
especially if you are a child (or grandchild) of such a disastrous marriage.
You will then understand exactly what happened and why.
The book will shortly also be
available in paperback.
As a writer of 'cosy' crime I can say - categorically - that there is nothing cosy about crime.
For some strange reason, a few years ago the term Cosy Crime was coined as a way of categorising Crime Novels that don't contain violence. Leaving those of us who write it rather puzzled. There are three basic categories in the crime genre:
CRIME - minimal violence, very little blood and gore. And - not necessarily a story about murder.
THRILLER - contains violence, blood and gore and bad language.
PSYCHOLOGICAL - pretty self-explanatory. Can include violence and bad language. Books on such 'subjects' as a woman (or anyone) in jeopardy.
West Sussex Libraries used to divide these books into two categories - Crime and Thriller. Then decided to shove them in together. Those of us who prefer one or the other complained but were unable to get the message across. Aren't librarians taught the difference between the genres?
And, of course, those of us who write so-called cosy crime are waiting for the day when someone devises a more sensible description!