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A locked room. A mysterious death. Just another gig for the Dizzy Heights.
When London’s finest jazz musicians, the Dizzy Heights, are booked to play the glitzy Midsummer Ball at a country house in Oxfordshire, they expect a weekend filled with flappers and toffs having a roaring good time.
But the festivities at Bilverton House take a turn for the worse when the group are stranded by a summer storm. And when a member of the Bilverton family turns up dead in a locked room in an apparent suicide, Skins, Dunn and Ellie realise this is going to be a much tougher gig than they thought.
But here’s the lick. What if it was in fact cold-blooded murder? And what if the killer is still at large? It’s up to the Dizzy Heights to once again put down their instruments and get improvising if they want to solve this confounding mystery.
Missing diamonds. Mysterious deaths. And all that jazz.
London, 1925. With their band the Dizzy Heights, jazz musicians Ivor ‘Skins’ Maloney and Bartholomew ‘Barty’ Dunn are used to improvising as they play the Charleston for flappers and toffs, but things are about to take a surprising turn.
Superintendent Sunderland has had word that a deserter who stole a fortune in diamonds as he fled the war is a member of the Aristippus private members’ club in Mayfair—where the Dizzy Heights have a residency. And the thief is planning to steal a hoard of jewels hidden there under the cover of a dance contest.
As mutual pal Lady Hardcastle has suggested, Skins and Dunn are perfectly placed to be Sunderland’s eyes and ears—and Skins’s wife Ellie soon lends a hand with a bit of light snooping. But the stakes change dramatically when a mysterious death at the club brings a sinister note to the investigation.
With the dance contest fast approaching, the trio must solve the mystery of the missing diamonds, unmask the murderer, and prevent more deadly crimes—all without missing a beat.
August 1911. Emily Hardcastle and her inimitable lady’s maid Florence Armstrong are enjoying a fine summer until Harry, Lady H’s brother, turns up out of the blue with a mystery for them to solve.
A routine parachute test at a local aeroplane factory has gone horribly wrong—with pilot Dickie Dupree plummeting to his death. Harry is certain there is more to this ‘tragic accident’ than meets the eye, having discovered that someone at the airfield is leaking top secret intelligence to foreign rivals.
In between strolls to the Dog & Duck and planning for the annual village show, the daring duo dust off the Crime Board and go undercover at Bristol Aviation. With international powers investing heavily in aeronautics, the stakes are high—sky high—and the suspects soon mount up.
Can Lady Hardcastle find the culprit before someone else falls down dead?
Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they’ve just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life.
But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There’s a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation…
As Lady Hardcastle and Flo delve deeper into rural rivalries and resentment, they uncover a web of intrigue that extends far beyond the village. With almost no one free from suspicion, they can be certain of only one fact: there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country.
Revised edition: This edition of A Quiet Life In The Country includes editorial revisions.
Spring, 1909, and Lady Hardcastle, amateur sleuth and all-round eccentric, is enjoying a well-deserved rest. But a week after a trip to the cattle market, Spencer Caradine, a local farmer, turns up dead in the pub, face-down in his beef and mushroom pie. Once again, it is up to Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Florence, to solve the case.
Armed with wit and whimsy, not to mention Florence’s mean right hook, the pair set out to discover what really happened and why. Was it poison or just ill luck?
As they delve further into their investigation, they encounter a theft where nothing is stolen, a séance with a troubled ghost and an ever-increasing number of Spencer’s family and friends who might just have motive for murder. One thing’s for sure: Lady Hardcastle has a mystery on her hands.
Revised edition: Previously published as The Spirit is Willing, this edition of In The Market For Murder includes editorial revisions.
July 1910. Lady Hardcastle and her tireless sidekick Flo have finally embarked on a long-overdue seaside break. But just as they’re wavering between ice creams and donkey rides, their fellow guests start to go missing—and the duo find themselves with a hysterical hotel manager and a case to solve.
The first to disappear is Dr Goddard, a scientist doing something terribly top-secret for the government. Gone too are his strongbox and its mysterious contents. By the time Lady Hardcastle has questioned the horde of international guests, her number-one suspect has been dispatched in grisly circumstances—and then the others start vanishing too.
As the case begins to look like a matter of national security, Lady Hardcastle takes advice from her brother in the secret service. But could there be an even more personal connection at play? To solve the case, Lady Hardcastle may face a shocking discovery of her own.
Late October 1909, and the season of ghouls and things that go bump in the night has descended on the village of Littleton Cotterell.
Lady Hardcastle and her trusted lady’s maid, Florence, find themselves hosting a colourful cast of actors whose spooky moving picture, The Witch’s Downfall, is being shown to mark Halloween. But things take a macabre turn when the first night’s screening ends with a mysterious murder, and the second night with another…One by one the actors turn up dead in ways that eerily echo their film.
With the police left scratching their heads, Lady Hardcastle calls upon her amateur sleuthing skills to launch an investigation, with Flo’s able assistance. Surrounded by suspects both human and supernatural, Lady Hardcastle must use a little trickery of her own to unmask the murderer.
January 1910. A journalist has been killed in a suspicious blaze. Everything points to a group of suffragettes, but the apparent culprit insists she is innocent.
When Lady Hardcastle receives a letter from a suffragette requesting her urgent help, the retired spy turned sleuth knows only she stands between an accused young woman and the gallows. Evidence at the scene makes Lizzie Worrel’s innocence difficult to believe, and with the police treating it as an open-and-shut case of arson, Lady Hardcastle faces a barrage of resistance as she tries to dig out the truth.
With her trusted maid and confidante, the formidable Flo, Lady Hardcastle sets off in pursuit of the truth as time runs out for the accused suffragette. Was she set up? And if so, is the real culprit a traitor to the cause—or part of a darker conspiracy?
September 1909, and Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Florence, have been invited to Lord Riddlethorpe’s country estate for a week of motor racing and parties. They both agree that it sounds like a perfectly charming holiday. But when one of the drivers dies in a crash during the very first race, they discover that what seemed like an uncharacteristic error in judgement may have a more sinister explanation…
Closer investigation reveals that the driver’s car was sabotaged—and the driver murdered. The local constabulary are quick to dismiss the case, but Flo and Lady Hardcastle are determined to find out just who has committed this dastardly act, and why.
As the pair begin to make enquiries of Lord Riddlethorpe’s servants and guests, it seems that, below stairs and above, there is more to this case than meets the eye. And, even in the quiet of the countryside, death is always just around the bend.
It’s Christmas 1909, and for once Lady Hardcastle—respectable gentlewoman, amateur spy—and her lady’s maid, Florence Armstrong, are setting sleuthing aside. They are invited to the festivities up at The Grange, as guests of Sir Hector and Lady Farley-Stroud.
But barely have corks been popped and parlour games played when a mysterious crime comes to light. Someone has broken in while the revellers were distracted and made off with a priceless pearl necklace. Lady Hardcastle and Flo are determined to catch the thief—but with so many Christmas guests encamped at The Grange, is it possible that the felon is hiding in plain sight?
With the clues stacking up, Lady Hardcastle bears down on her culprit. But just as the pieces come together, it begins to look as if there is something more devious afoot at The Grange…
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 CWA SHORT STORY DAGGER AWARD
All profits from the sale of this anthology will be donated to frontline domestic abuse charities
“TWISTED, DELICIOUS, DEVIOUS”
From the biggest stars in crime fiction comes an eclectic mix of festive shorts
Perfect for fans of Stephen King and Lee Child
"Stellar” —THE GUARDIAN
"The biggest stars in contemporary crime fiction"—THE SUNDAY RECORD
"Cracking…All the stories are truly gripping"—MY WEEKLY
"Twisted, devious, delicious. If you're looking for a mystery in your Christmas stocking, this collection of crime tales will be right up your candy-cane lane"—JO SPAIN
“A perfect festive collection of bite-sized crime fiction”—JOHN MARRS
“A deliciously dark selection pack of stories you’ll devour” —SARAH PINBOROUGH
“A bulging stocking full of prize gifts. Funny, tragic, scary and clever- the perfect Christmas present” — LOUISE BEECH
“A wicked slay-ride through the dark days of winter”— TREVOR WOOD
IT WOULDN’T BE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT A LITTLE CRIME…
A Christmas dinner takes a murderous turn, a friendship group loses the festive spirit, and a young girl goes to extreme measures to keep a beloved dog.
Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is a collection of gripping, sometimes funny, and always festive short stories from a group of bestselling crime writers.
From the hilarious to the macabre, there’s something for everyone – whether you’re a Christmas convert or a bit of a Grinch. From a detective tracking down missing Christmas geese, to a cat lady who goes on a date in order to keep Santa Paws well fed, this anthology is the perfect gift to cosy up with this year.
Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is brought to you by eighteen bestselling crime and thriller writers who between them have topped the Sunday Times and Amazon charts, been Richard and Judy bestsellers, won the Crime Novel of the Year Award, the Bath Novel Award and the UK National Book Awards, had their work made into major television series and been published in over 50 territories worldwide.
Profits from Afraid Of The Christmas Lights will support two front-line charities:
ESDAS: Educates professionals, communities,
Der Auftakt der neuen Cosy-Krimi-Reihe aus England jetzt für kurze Zeit zum Einführungspreis! (befristete Preisaktion des Verlages)
England 1908: Ein geruhsames Leben fernab des Londoner Trubels … genau das ist es, wonach Lady Emily Hardcastle sich sehnt. Kurzerhand lässt die exzentrische Witwe die Koffer packen und zieht mit ihrer tatkräftigen Zofe Florence »Flo« Armstrong in die malerischen Cotswolds. Doch kaum dort angekommen, wird ihr Traum vom ländlichen Idyll rüde gestört: Bei einem Spaziergang stolpern die beiden über einen toten Mann im Wald. Die hiesige Polizei ist rasch vor Ort und ebenso rasch auf der falschen Fährte. Und Lady Hardcastle sieht sich gezwungen, ihren Ruhestand aufzugeben und sich selbst auf die Suche nach dem Übeltäter zu machen …
Der erste Fall für die exzentrische Lady & ihre tatkräftige Zofe – scharfsinnig, charmant und unglaublich clever!
Die englischen Wohlfühlkrimis:
Band 1: Lady Hardcastle und der Tote im Wald
Band 2: Lady Hardcastle und ein mörderischer Markttag (in Vorbereitung)
Die Bücher erzählen eigenständige Fälle und können unabhängig voneinander gelesen werden.