Vivian Conroy's new series of cosy crime books, Cornish Castle Mystery Series, launch on 7th July and 30th August respectively but here is a little taster to keep you satisfied until you can read the books for yourself!
The books are currently on preorder for 99p and £1.99 so don't forget to use the links below to order your copies so you can start reading as soon as they are published!
A Guest post by Cornish Castle series author Vivian ConroyYesterday via Rae Reads I shared how the Tour de France of 2016 started the Cornish Castle series idea for me and today I want to take a closer look at the characters.
Because her beloved London theatre need renovations, my leading lady Guinevere leaves the bustle of the big city to spend her summer in Cornwall, cataloguing books for Lord Bolingbrooke. Lord Bolingbrooke is the owner of Cornisea Castle, a centuries old keep on top of Cornisea Island, a tidal island which is only reachable on foot at low tide, across a causeway.
Guinevere is excited to find the castle will be background for a medieval trial reenactment where her theatre skills might come in handy. They do - only in a different way. When the reenactment ends in real-life murder, Guinevere uses her knowledge of scenarios and stage deceptions to crack the case.
As I put Guinevere in a different position than my other heroines (Lady Alkmene in the Lady Alkmene Callender 1920s' mysteries and Vicky Simmons in the Country Gift Shop Mysteries) in that she is completely new to her environment so not able to draw on existing knowledge or local contacts, I had to give her other skills to be able to solve a crime. Her threatre studies, plus recent experience with a play in the London theatre, proved to be perfect for that.
Every mystery has something of a play about it as characters try to hide what they know and you have to search beyond first impressions. Agatha Christie often played with the concept of a magician doing a trick and letting the audience watch his moving hand while the other is actually doing whatever the audience is not supposed to see. As a huge Agatha Christie fan I couldn't resist making Guinevere's surname a playful reference to one of her books and once you've read Death Plays a Part, please let me know to what book it refers! Guinevere works with her trusted dog Dolly by her side. The two have been inseparable ever since Dolly first appeared at the theatre and ran onto the stage - during a performance! Dolly is adventurous,perky and not afraid to challenge much bigger dogs, like the Great Dane and mastiff living at the castle. Dolly also befriends a puppy looking for a home on the island ... Apart from being massively cute, Dolly also has an active part in the investigation as she accompanies Guinevere everywhere, digs into things (literally) and gives her idea of the situation in her very own way. I'm over the moon that the design team gave her centre stage in the covers because she deserves it! Guinevere's other partner in crime, ahem, in crime solving of course, is Oliver Bolingbrooke, son of the lord of the castle. Or the prodigal son in many ways, as he left Cornisea to roam the world and make wildlife documentaries. As Oliver puts it: 'When I first left,I wasn't going anywhere, I was just getting away from here.' Still Guinevere senses there is more than that to Oliver's relationship with the island, his heritage and his father. And what their first meet has to do with a gleaming motorcycle you must find out for yourself! While developing characters for my books I enjoy the minor characters as much as the main cast. In the Lady Alkmene mysteries I have the Russian princess who gave up everything to marry the love of her life, while a titled friend of Alkmene hides on the dig from his mother's matchmaking schemes. In my Country Gift Shop series I have the disgruntled beautician who has to watch while her modern beauty parlour is changed into an authentic British shop; the handyman who is a favourite with all the elderly ladies around town and the
charming, ambitious reporter who is not all he seems to be. For Cornisea I especially loved writing Jago Trevelyan, the fisherman who lived on the island for all of his life and as Oliver puts it 'has the island in his bloodstream'. But there is also Meraud, who runs the Cowled Sleuth bookshop and has a troubled relationship with the Bolingbrookes, and Emma at the eatery, who is determined to pull more tourists to the island with new initiatives like donkey rides. Even when a character has but one scene - a customer at the fishmonger's gossiping about the murder - I try to give them mannerisms that will clearly draw their picture for the reader. Every scene is like a tableau vivant in my mind peopled with characters that all deserve their (sometimes brief) moment in the spotlight, adding to the whole picture. Tomorrow, at Books of All Kinds, I will talk about my choice for a locked room mystery for the first instalment in the Cornish Castle series and I hope you will follow along to celebrate this pre pub party with me.
As a huge dog fan I love all breeds and if you have a dog and want to tweet me a pic of your dog, maybe on pub day with Death Plays a Part on your ereader, I'd be thrilled to get acquainted with your canine best friends (cute goats, miniature pigs and tropical fish also welcome - I heart animals in general!).
If you would like to purchase these books via Amazon then click on the link below:
Death Plays A Part
Rubies in the Roses
Vivian Conroy writes the Cornish Castle Mysteries for HarperCollins, with Death Plays a Part releasing in July and Rubies in the Roses following in late August. Her Lady Alkmene Mysteries, of which the first instalment A Proposal To Die For became an Amazon USA and Canada best seller in five categories, will continue with a new instalment in October, Fatal Masquerade, set at a Venetian style masked ball where every guest has a secret and some of these secrets prove lethal.
For all the latest bookish news, with plenty of dogs and desserts, follow Vivian on Twitter via @VivWrites.
You can also find her books on Goodreads, Library Thing, Book Bub and Fantastic Fiction.