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About Mrs Paula Harmon
Her writing life started with "Clanger" fan fiction and making up stories to act out with a kindred spirit. These largely involved flying unicorns. In later Welsh years, she wandered lonely as a ... well, lonely person, in woods and streams and wrote about portals to another world and mysterious woodland spirits. Then adolescence thrust its spotty face into her subconscious. When she wasn't cheating her sister in Monopoly, she wrote (and badly illustrated) tales of misunderstood and angst ridden girls looking wistfully into streams softly weeping while their hair floated in clouds on the breeze. She can't think where the inspiration came from, especially as the reality of crying in the wind with your hair floating about is that you end up with with wet, tangled hair and a runny nose.
With no clear idea what she wanted to be when she grew up apart from a writer, she graduated from Chichester University (Bishop Otter College) with a BA in English Literature and a vague idea that, after a bit of life experience, if all else failed, she'd become a teacher, even though she had never grown taller than the average ten year old. Whatever else happened, she was determined NOT to become a civil servant like her mother and be able to talk in form numbers.
At her first job interview, she answered "where do you see yourself in 10 years" with "writing" as opposed to "progressing in your company." She didn't get that job. She tried teaching and realised the one thing the world did not need was another bad teacher. Somehow or other she subsequently ended up as a civil servant and if you need to know a form number, she is your woman.
Her short stories include dragons, angst ridden teenagers, portals and civil servants (though not all in the same story - yet). Perhaps all the life experience was worth it in the end.
She lives in Dorset with husband and two teenage children and is currently trying to work out why she thought it would be a good idea to include alpacas in the novel she's writing, when it's about wolves and witches.
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When Katherine Demeray opens an unsigned letter addressed to her missing father, she is drawn into a quest to find the terrified letter-writer and learn the secret of the black tulips.
Struggling to support herself after her father's disappearance, Katherine has neither time nor money to solve the mystery alone. She has no choice but to seek help from a woman she has only just met; awkward socialite Connie Swift.
As the letters become increasingly frantic, this unlikely team of amateur detectives must learn to work together, while struggling to navigate the rigid rules of Victorian propriety, their families’ expectations, and the complicating interference of men.
Confronting danger as they venture into new and frightening territory, Katherine and Connie risk arrest, exposure, and even their reputations to solve the Case of the Black Tulips. Can they solve the mystery before someone gets killed....or they kill each other?
The Case of the Black Tulips is the first book in the Caster & Fleet mystery series, set in 1890s London.
Fighting her corner in a man’s world, Dr Margaret Demeray works as a pathologist in a London hospital for the poor. Suppressing her worry that she’s breaching confidentiality, Margaret gives a stranger called Fox information about a dead down-and-out, in the hope he’ll use it to raise awareness of bad working conditions.
But when a second man appears to die the same way, Margaret starts to wonder why the enigmatic Fox keeps turning up to ask ever more complex questions.
She decides to work alone, uncertain of his motives and wary of her attraction to him. Once she starts investigating however, her home is burgled, she’s attacked in broad daylight and a close friend becomes distant. Fox offers the chance to forge an alliance, saying he knows why the men have died but needs her to find out what is killing them and who is behind it.
Yet how come the closer she gets to him the more danger she faces? And how can a memory she’d buried possibly be linked to the deaths?
Margaret must discover the truth before someone - known or unknown - silences her for good.
When Katherine and Connie take on a case at a music hall, they enter a new, exciting, and frightening world.
The duo are hired to calm the nerves of Ellen Howe, top of the bill at the Merrymakers Music Hall. She keeps freezing on stage, though she insists that nothing is wrong. It seems like an easy case - until Ellen disappears, leaving only a note behind her. And the rest of the cast are giving nothing away.
Katherine and Connie have to win the trust of Ellen’s fellow-performers to have a chance of finding her. But the deeper they plunge into the world of the music hall, the more secrets they must hide from their families and loved ones - and the more danger they find themselves in, as the threats against them turn from words to actions...
Can they see through the glamour of the stage to find out what really happened to the missing star?
The Case of the Runaway Client is the second book in the Caster & Fleet mystery series, set in 1890s London.
The Department recruit the duo to investigate London’s mediums and mesmerists, several of whom are suspected of fraud. Katherine and Connie must pose as clients to discover what goes on behind closed doors.
The deeper they delve, the more unsettling the duo’s findings become. Disturbing revelations shake their confidence in themselves and their mission. They are followed, and spied on. And when Miss Robson joins the team, she raises a ghost whom she had hoped was laid to rest for ever…
Both women face challenges in their personal lives, too. Connie has to balance her new career and her married life, while Katherine makes an enemy who threatens her chance of happiness and the success of their investigation.
Can Katherine and Connie see past the smoke and mirrors to uncover the truth?
The Case of the Deceased Clerk is the third book in the Caster & Fleet mystery series, set in 1890s London.
Who is behind the mask?
Life has settled down for Connie and Katherine. Connie is enjoying life as a new mother, while Katherine is working solo for the Department. When they accept invitations to a charity masked ball, they anticipate nothing but a fun evening out.
The event changes everything, as Katherine is abruptly dismissed for attending and Connie is asked to investigate the sudden death of a friend who was involved in organising it. Caster and Fleet are back on the case.
However, things do not go smoothly. Another unexpected death occurs, and when the duo probe further they risk putting both themselves and their families in peril, as the case moves uncomfortably close to home...
How far must Katherine and Connie go to solve the case and clear their names?
The Case of the Masquerade Mob is the fourth book in the Caster & Fleet mystery series, set in 1890s London.
Not every gift is a blessing…
When Miss Quinton, the Kings’ elderly neighbour at Hazelgrove, dies, no-one is surprised. Katherine and Connie are too busy trying to find a client’s missing family, not to mention having difficulties with their own.
But when the doctor orders a post-mortem, and Miss Quinton’s will delivers several surprises, the duo have no choice but to get involved. It becomes even more urgent when Evangeline King, the chief beneficiary of Miss Quinton’s will, receives a poison-pen letter. And then there is a death even closer to home…
Their personal lives make work harder than ever. While Connie investigates in London her family’s demands increase, and the fuss over Katherine’s first pregnancy creates unexpected obstacles.
Can Katherine and Connie uncover the secrets behind the will and discover what really happened?
The Case of the Fateful Legacy is the fifth book in the Caster & Fleet mystery series, set in 1890s London.
It contains no chocolate, just twenty-five doors.
Every day in December you open a door and find a picture.
Each one is a picture representing Christmastime.
Now imagine that each of those pictures had a story to tell…
Rich Lucretia is on the way to the town of Durnovaria. The last time she saw it she’d just rejected an arranged teenage marriage, but now she's back to claim an inheritance, taking the local wise-woman Tryssa as a companion.
Unknown to anyone, two hapless grave-robbers have been seeking ancient treasures in a stone circle nearby, without any idea that what they've found will open up old wounds from a more recent past.
With Lucretia’s family busy arguing about money, any possibility that an old ring bought in the forum might be important is pushed aside until Lucretia’s cousin is poisoned and the local magistrate Amicus starts to raise questions.
As the past starts to catch up with the present, Tryssa must help Amicus discover who would kill rather than reveal long-buried truths... and what those truths actually are.
Could everything be fixed with Duct Tape? Dad thought so.
And then there was food: was there ever a recipe Dad wouldn’t try regardless of whether he had the right ingredients?
And holidays: weather was just a state of mind, wasn’t it?
When things went wrong, he looked to Laura and Jane to sort things out. The trouble was that Laura wouldn’t forgive Jane for being youngest and Jane wouldn’t forgive Laura for being oldest. Mum just thought they all needed their heads banging together.
Then Laura and Jane grow up and became sensible. Have they forgotten the fun they used to have?
But Dad… even retired, even as a grandfather, even in his dreams: growing up is just something which happens to boring people.
Party on! Everything will be fine!
Soldiers stumbling upon mercy and miracles; children sharing gifts of friendship and love; Romance finding its way into lonely, war-weary hearts; resistance fighters, spies, families on the home front—all bringing their own ray of hope in the darkest of time.
For this holiday season, we offer you this collection of short stories to lift your spirit, and to remember a time when love and the strength of human spirit prevailed.
We hope you will enjoy stepping back into the wartime Christmases in these stories with us.