At last!

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Divorce Can Be Deadly (Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries Book #2) is live on Amazon. Here’s what it’s all about:

“Two ghosts troubled Dr. Benjamin Bones. One he feared would never release him. Another he worried might slip away, however much he tightened his grip… .”

So begins Divorce Can Be Deadly, the long-awaited second book in Emma Jameson’s wartime cozy mystery series. Return to Birdswing, a tiny Cornish village, in the bitter winter of 1939 and revisit old friends as they embark on more amateur sleuthing. Irrepressible Lady Juliet is taking a correspondence course in private detection and is vexed by the return of her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Meanwhile, not only has Ben failed to realize the depth of her feelings for him, but his obsession with Lucy, the Fenton House ghost, is growing stronger.

When a bloodless, half-naked corpse is discovered in a great house in a nearby village, Ben and Juliet must again follow the clues to solve the case. Join them as they pry into the secret lives of villagers in seemingly picture-perfect Barking, including a vicar who hides from his secretary, a baron haunted by the Great War, and a butler who just might have done it.

Brimming with romance, historical details, and warm humor, Divorce Can Be Deadly is already being called “worth the wait!”

The book is currently publishing on other platforms and should be available soon for Nook devices, the Apple store, Kobo, and Google Play. Watch this space and I’ll let you know!

Don’t forget you can also preorder Dr. Bones and the Christmas Gift on most platforms. It will go live on December 23rd and take up right after the events of Divorce Can Be Deadly. Click below on your preferred vendor:

Amazon 

Nook from Barnes & Nook

iBooks

Kobo

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Pre-Order for Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish

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Hello, all! I’m sure you can guess what I’ll be doing this weekend. Continuing to finalize Divorce Can Be Deadly, and watching tomorrow night’s Westworld finale. In the meantime, I have good news: Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish is now available for pre-order. Many of you have requested pre-orders in the past, but I’ve always been wary. This will be my first attempt. As for DCBD, it will go live the moment it’s finished, I promise.

To order Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish, click to visit one of these vendors:

Amazon            Apple iBooks           Barnes & Noble          Kobo

Here’s the details:

Dr. Benjamin Bones had no opinion on Christmas. That is to say, he had no polite opinion on Christmas. His actual opinion, the one he knew better than to say aloud, was that Christmas was a disappointment, a raising of hopes only to dash them, a festival of flash and dazzle which, come January, was hard to pay for and even harder to justify. That was Christmas: disappointment, with a price tag.

So begins Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish, a charming romantic short story set in the tiny Cornish village of Birdswing, 1939. Readers who enjoyed the Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries, Marriage Can Be Murder (#1) and Divorce Can Be Deadly (#2), will adore this holiday tale of love lost and love found featuring Dr. Bones and Lady Juliet.

I hope you’ll enjoy this novella set in wartime England, 1939. Please note the story takes place after the second book in the Dr. Bones series, Divorce Can Be Deadly. It’s not essential that you read that first, but I highly recommend it to get maximal pleasure from the story.

Cheers!

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UPDATE: Divorce Can Be Deadly; Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish; Blue Blooded

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Hello all!

Sorry I haven’t checked in since late July. I’ve been writing! My eyes are doing better in the sense I’ve been able to tolerate longer and longer periods at the computer. Here’s an update:

Divorce Can Be Deadly (Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries #2): I’m very pleased by how this one is coming along, and I hope when it arrives, you’ll agree it was worth the wait. I’m close to finishing it up–after which comes the rewrite, the editing, the proofing, and publishing.

Dr. Bones and the Christmas Wish: I’m almost done with this one. It’s a novella set right after DCBD, and will be included in a Christmas-themed anthology called Romancing Christmas 2. Watch this space for publishing news on that book, which may introduce you to some new favorite authors. And yes, the anthology is about romance, so draw your own conclusions on that score.

Blue Blooded (Lord & Lady Hetheridge Mysteries #5): Yesterday, I glanced at my phone and saw a wonderfully prescient message. It was from a reader who said she needed more Hetheridges, and was waiting patiently. I usually answer all queries first thing the next morning, but I couldn’t find it today–not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or my email. (LOL, I am over-connected, like most of us.) However, I was amazed to see that message at that moment, because during the long drive back from my hairdresser*, the opening paragraphs of Blue Blooded came to me. That’s a sure sign my work on DCBD is coming to a close.

So for that reader–sorry I can’t locate your message–and anyone else who may be interested, here’s what my first draft of those opening paragraphs looks like. Not fine-tuned, not edited, but right out of my word processor, to show you Dr. Bones will soon return and the Hetheridges will be next up to bat.

Anthony Hetheridge, ninth baron of Wellegrave and former chief superintendent for New Scotland Yard, welcomed the spring. In January, he’d been forced out of his distinguished career by old enemies who’d long been sharpening their knives. In February, he’d returned to the Yard as a consultant, allowing him to do things heretofore only dreamt of; namely, billing by the hour, ignoring internal politics, and going home each day at five o’clock. In March, as daffodils sprang up all over London and pink camellia trees spilled over wrought iron fences, Tony completed the byzantine obstacle course necessary to receive his private investigator’s license. Now it was April— unusually sunny, unseasonably warm, and full of surprises.

On April fifth, his brother-in-law, Ritchie Wakefield, had modified the shape of a Lego brick by heating it with a cigarette lighter. In the process, he’d set alight a two-hundred-year-old French mahogany sofa. This had caught the nearby Italian silk brocade curtains on fire, which went up like tissue paper. Half of Tony’s ancestral London townhouse, Wellegrave House, had been burned out. Thankfully, no one was injured. As his wife Kate raged, his assistant Mrs. Snell tutted, and his manservant Harvey wept, Tony decided that he, too, would abandon British reserve and vent his true feelings on the matter: he chucked what survived and hired an interior designer to chase away the ghosts of Hetheridges past.

No more living in a museum, he thought, smiling as he passed from kitchen to stairs, a cup of tea in hand. Things are quiet at the Yard. Now all I need is a case.

*Redhead by choice

 

 

BN.com Nook Sale and a Personal Update

Hello all!

First things first. I’d like to thank BN.com for including my books Ice Blue (Lord & Lady Hetheridge #1) and Black & Blue (Lord & Lady Hetheridge #4) in their 5oo Under $5 Spring Sale.  It’s lovely to be included in such well-reviewed, bestselling company!

BN 500 Under 5

Next, a personal update. Last week I had a third surgery on my right eye. As of this moment, I am doing well and in good spirits. I am at work on Divorce Can Be Deadly (Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries #2) and I’d like to thank each and every one of my readers for their kindness and great patience during this interval. Those who know me know I simply cannot hit PUBLISH until I’ve written the absolute best book I can. So while I regret making you wait, I feel confident you’ll appreciate the end result. I’ll never give you less than my absolute best.

So thanks again, and have a wonderful day!

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Me in an Anderson shelter in the Imperial War Museum.

 

Preview: Divorce Can Be Deadly (Dr. Bones Mysteries #2)

Dear Readers,
I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. To prove I’m back in the saddle, here’s a taste of Dr. Bones #2, Divorce Can Be Deadly. Today I worked for almost seven hours at the computer, a record since my last eye surgery. I promise to finish this book as soon as I can–but you know me.  I won’t release it until I’m totally satisfied. 🙂

PLEASE NOTE: This really is a special preview. Fact-checking, the final edit, and proofreading are still to come. So if you see a typo or inconsistency, please rest assured it will be remedied in due course.

Chapter One: Haunted Cornwall

                                                           7 December 1939

Two ghosts troubled Dr. Benjamin Bones. One he feared might never release him. Another he worried might slip away, no matter how he tightened his grip.

He’d arrived in the tiny village of Birdswing by government order. A native Londoner, he’d been fresh out of medical school when England declared war on Germany. It was grim news, but hardly shocking, given Herr Hitler’s pattern of aggression. That didn’t make the prospect easier to bear. The specter of the Great War, formerly called the War to End All Wars, still loomed over a nation that could not forget the horrors of Gallipoli or the Somme. Too many of Britain’s sons had been lost: killed, maimed, or driven mad. And by the war’s end their proud country, once the world’s wealthiest power, had been reduced to its biggest debtor. This time, the cost of another world war was easier to imagine, and consequently harder to face. Neither Ben nor anyone he knew thought this war would be over by Christmas.

He’d expected to serve his country as an Army doctor. But instead of call-up papers, Ben had received notice he was placed in a “reserved occupation.” That meant he was immune to conscription; his medical training was considered more valuable on the home front than at an Army hospital. But “home front,” as it turned out, didn’t equal “home.” London boasted plenty of seasoned physicians willing to come out of retirement to aid the war effort; younger, unproven doctors like Ben would be relocated elsewhere. And so in September of 1939, twenty-seven-year-old Ben said good-bye to his dreams of a state-of-the-art urban practice and hello to a part of England like none other: Cornwall.

Before the Anglo-Saxons, even before the Romans, the west country had been home to a seafaring people. They possessed their own language, their own culture, and their own forms of worship, as evidenced by the ancient standing stones that still survived. Cornwall, with its granite backbone and windswept moors, was almost a country apart. And certainly the Cornish folk were a people apart: tough, self-reliant, sometimes dangerous or wild. Only after a failed sixteenth century uprising did the Cornish consent to name themselves English, and glimmers of that independence still shone through. While many in the west country were proud Englishmen, others felt true allegiance only to the soil of their fathers.

Ben wasn’t surprised by such loyalty. There was a pull to this land, a curious magnetism to its abandoned tin mines, hidden groves, and jutting clifftops. But Cornwall was more than just picture-postcard-worthy fishing villages and golden beaches. There were plenty of bloodstained chapters in its history, too.

On Ben’s Sunday afternoon rambles, he’d explored the coastline where, not so very long ago, the wreckers plied their grim trade. Using false beacons, they’d lured unwary navigators toward the rocks, sinking ships and seizing the plunder that washed ashore. Most of the crew would drown in the pitiless waters. But as the wreckers searched the shallows, they occasionally found a sailor clinging to a floating crate or barrel. Then a knife would flash. The luckless man’s throat would open in a hot gush, and the wreckers would tear the crate or barrel from his faltering grip. Swiftly, the sailor’s body disappeared beneath the waves while the wreckers carried on, picking the beach clean.

There was more to the west country than natural beauty and ancient shrines, Ben felt sure of it. Memories of murder, of treacherous yellow lanterns and ice cold steel, had seeped into its granite bones, and granite does not forget.

Or so says Madame Daragon, he thought, studying the book in his hands, Revelations of a Reluctant Medium.

Bound in faded green Moroccan leather, the book’s pages were dog-eared, defaced with cryptic notes, and in some cases, ripped right out of the binding. Judging by the various signatures on the flyleaf, the book, published in 1899, had been passed among many owners before his friend, Lady Juliet Linton, discovered it in a Plymouth shop. Written by a psychic who called herself “The Renowned and Authenticated Madame Daragon,” (or as she was known on the mortal plane, Mrs. Petunia Smoot-Whorley), Revelations of a Reluctant Medium purported to explain many things: why ghosts existed, how they behaved, and under what circumstances human beings could make contact with spirits.

Ben had read as much of the book as a university-trained physician with a scientific mind could stomach. And incredibly, some of Madame Daragon’s ramblings had made sense to him, at least with respect to the apparition he longed to see again: his cottage’s former owner, Lucy McGregor. But none of the spiritualist’s so-called revelations applied to the ghost he wanted vanquished: his late wife, Penny.

Although Ben hadn’t known Lucy McGregor in life, and had glimpsed her only once, during what must have been an extraordinarily vivid dream, he acknowledged there were certain similarities between Lucy and Penny. Both had died young—Lucy at twenty-three, Penny at twenty-seven. Both had died suddenly. And both had perished in Cornwall, a place Madame Daragon, in her typical flowery fashion, called “so haunted, in the dark of night, wights, phantom animals, and even the stones of long-tumbled castles do cry out, seeking remembrance.”

Beyond those parallels, however, Ben thought Lucy and Penny had nothing in common. Lucy had died peacefully in her sleep due to a gas line rupture. Pretty, well-liked, and not yet attached to any young man, she’d perished without sampling many of life’s greatest joys, her happiest days unlived. According to Madame Daragon, “unfinished business” was the most common reason for a haunting. An unfulfilled woman was the sort of ghost most likely to linger in her former home, making herself known to new residents with thumps, knocks, or whispers.

By contrast, Penny Bones’s demise had been far from peaceful. She’d been murdered. Her final moments had been brutal, probably painful, and perhaps not unexpected. She’d received at least one death threat, after all, but refused to turn from her chosen path. Penny had been many things, but easily frightened wasn’t one of them. And though only a few years older than Lucy, Ben could hardly call Penny unfulfilled.

Born in Birdswing, Penny had enjoyed an ordinary girlhood, trading rural life for London glamor after her father’s ship came in. She’d danced in jazz clubs, gambled in Monte Carlo, sipped champagne in Paris and taken several lovers, before and after marriage. An accidental pregnancy had driven Penny into Ben’s arms when he was young, bookish, and painfully naïve. For a few weeks he’d been the happiest man alive. Then came the realization that his beautiful, stylish bride carried another man’s child. It had crushed his trust—not only in Penny, but in his own good judgment.

The child had been lost before it ever drew breath. Thereafter, Ben and Penny teetered on the brink of divorce, worlds apart but still legally one, until the night of her death. An event which left Ben feeling many things: shock, anger, guilt, but above all, relief.

That’s why she haunts me. It has to be.

Yet Penny’s presence was very different from Lucy’s. To Ben’s way of thinking, Lucy was indisputably real, if for no other reason than others had experienced her presence, too. Long before he came to Birdswing, most of the villagers had called Fenton House haunted. It had doors that slammed by themselves, curious knocking at all hours of the night, and the lingering scent of books in her old library, which was now Ben’s medical office. Moreover, there had been manifestations. Lady Juliet had heard Lucy speak; Ben had witnessed an object fall out of thin air. As a man of science, he liked hard facts, and when it came to Lucy, there were plenty.

Besides, he wanted to see her, wanted to speak with her, to open a dialogue more meaningful than a half-remembered dream. Sometimes he wondered if his very eagerness, his impatience for a second encounter, had somehow blocked the way.

Ben opened Revelations of a Reluctant Medium. The Table of Contents promised everything a haunted man might require.

 

Chapter One: In Which the Celebrated Authoress Introduces Herself

Chapter Two: The Boundless Mysteries of the Ethereal Plane

Chapter Three: Séances and Channeling

Chapter Four: Crystal Balls, Talking Boards and the Tarot

Chapter Five: Sinister Phantasms and Rancorous Ghosts

Chapter Six: The Final Revelation of Madame Daragon

 

Naturally, upon his first reading, Ben had skipped directly to Chapter Five to learn about sinister and/or rancorous spirits. Though he preferred not to think Penny fell into that category, it seemed wisest to assess the risks up front. Unfortunately, while the first page was there, the bulk of the chapter was missing, leaving a wide gap in the binding. And that first page was not reassuring. It read:

 

And now, dear reader, we come to that unhappiest of places. Here I must confirm the dark truth you already perceive in your heart of hearts, but nevertheless beg me to disprove. It is my solemn duty to be honest, and above all, clear. Yes, hauntings are rare. Most can be classified as what in Chapter Two I called “mementos”—impressions stored in granite or other hard stones the way sounds are pressed into gramophone records. The rest are what I call “specters”—ghosts that observe, learn, and above all, yearn to communicate. And some of those specters despise the living.

Some are the ghosts of men and women who led wicked lives. Others are peculiar and outlandish phantasms who have lost all humanity, or perhaps were never human at all. In either case, they utterly and irredeemably hate all living things. Once attached to a particular individual, said specter will not depart until it has hounded that tragic soul unto his death.

Thus, I beseech you, dear reader: Heed my words. Before you dare attempt a séance, the Tarot, or the talking board, you must first

 

But there Madame Daragon’s breathless counsel ended, midsentence. Ben could only assume the pages lost, destroyed, or kept like a talisman by another man preoccupied by ghosts. Until Lady Juliet located a second copy of the book, or a different manual written by some other “renowned and authenticated” spiritualist, Ben would have to proceed without Madame Daragon’s warnings if he intended to initiate otherworldly contact. And intend, he did.

As he thumbed to the chapter on séances, Ben wandered into Fenton House’s tiny kitchen. Some boiled chicken and half a bottle of milk awaited him in the icebox. Thursday was his half-day, when he stopped seeing patients at noon, and it was Mrs. Cobblepot’s day off as well. Out of maternal concern, she insisted on cooking him breakfast, so she could be certain he ate at least one solid meal. (Apparently, he was never going to live down his willingness to call a peach cobbler and tap water “lunch.”) Afterwards, she was off to play cards with her friends, or embark on a nature walk, or window shop in Plymouth. That left Ben with plenty of time and privacy to try a séance.

Of course, a séance requires three people. But a talking board can be used by only one….

Chicken forgotten, Ben veered back into the front room.  Not long ago, he’d discovered a talking board, also called a Ouija board, tucked away in an old steamer trunk that had once belonged to Lucy. Opening the trunk, he pulled out the board.

Made of walnut, it had been hand-carved, probably by two or more craftsmen. The letters A through G were shaky, and 0-9 looked like the work of a rank amateur. But HELLO at the top and GOOD-BYE at the bottom were nicely rendered, as were the depictions of sun and moon.

Ben carried it to the window for a better look. There were flaws in the finish. Perhaps the board had been scrubbed so harshly, some of the stain had been rubbed out? There were also several long, deep gouges. Maybe Lucy’s former pet, the grumpy orange tabby called Humphrey, had used it as a scratching post. Or an effort to use the board had gone seriously awry.

Whether Madame Daragon was the genuine article or a mad old bat, I doubt she’d advise me to try anything alone, he thought. Lady Juliet might be free to join me. Rose, too, in another hour.

On the face of it, Lady Juliet, who lived on Old Crow Road in a sprawling eyesore called Belsham Manor, and Miss Rose Jenkins, a primary school teacher whose classes dismissed at one o’clock, were perfect choices. Lady Juliet had already expressed her eagerness to try Madame Daragon’s methods. And Rose seemed sweetly interested in whatever Ben suggested, be it the pictures, the dance hall, or a stroll along the high street. Moreover, Lady Juliet had time on her hands while her garden slumbered, and Rose always passed Fenton House on her way home each afternoon. But there was a problem. Despite protestations to the contrary, it was evident that Lady Juliet did not care for Rose. And Ben had no idea why.

She tries to be friendly, but it’s painful to watch, Ben thought. And perhaps the feeling is mutual. Rose did say she found Lady Juliet a tad intrusive. Which is unfair, because—

“Used and abused, Dr. Bones! Used and abused!”

The front door banged open. Over the threshold surged Lady Juliet, six-foot-three in her boots, with wide shoulders, powerful limbs, and a broad face that was more pleasant than pretty.

“Fine, thank you,” he muttered as she swept past him, a wicker hamper tucked beneath one arm.

As usual, she wore mud-stained jodhpurs, a button-down shirt, and her winter coat. It was a horrible woolly thing, blackish-gray with a sheen of purple where the fabric had worn thin. She claimed the coat was marvelously warm and a great bargain, bought for sixpence at a church jumble. Ben thought it looked like something nicked off a sleeping vagrant, but refrained from saying so aloud.

“I don’t suppose you’ve brought lunch?” he asked hopefully, following her into the kitchen.

“How remarkable. Even the dullest male specimen transmogrifies into a bloodhound at the slightest hint of food.” The basket struck the kitchen table with a thump. She was as robust as ever, red-cheeked and bristling with energy, but her light brown hair fell limp. Ben thought he knew why. Lady Juliet was such a force of nature, clinging doggedly to her scalp was the best it could do.

“Never mind my complaining. Far be it from me to bore you with my ruminations… my deep frustrations… the sad truth of my existence in this wasteland,” she continued slowly, giving him ample time to interrupt.

He didn’t. Not because he wasn’t interested, but because teasing Lady Juliet was one of his favorite pastimes.

She waited. He waited. He could almost feel her core temperature rising as she realized he wasn’t going to ask.

“Right!” she cried, throwing off her coat and marching toward the cooker. “Why on earth did I expect any different, even under this roof? Lunacy, simple lunacy. I’d better make myself useful and put on the kettle. A spot of tea is apparently the only comfort I shall receive, and only if I make it. And yes, Dr. Bones, if you look inside that hamper, you’ll find the fruits of Cook’s munificence.”

“Roast beef sandwiches?” Ben opened the basket, pushing aside a blue-checkered cloth.

“Well-spotted. Or should I say, well-sniffed? You’ll also find scones, jam, clotted cream, and half a dozen treacle tarts.” Lady Juliet thrust the kettle under the tap. “None of it meant for you, if you want the truth. But as some have named me persona non grata, their culinary loss is your gain.”

“Persona non grata?”  Ben repeated, bringing out cups and saucers. “Surely that’s an overstatement. You’re well-loved in the village. Apart from Gaston, of course, and I’m sure that’s temporary. Wait—I don’t suppose you meant this for him? As a peace offering?”

Ben referred to Clarence Gaston, Birdswing’s ever-officious, often-meddling ARP Warden. Recently, Gaston had petitioned the village council, which consisted of Lady Juliet, her mother, Lady Victoria, and the vicar, Father Cotterill, to implement a new wartime preparedness scheme. According to Gaston, in the great houses of England, the gentry were setting an example by tearing out their flower gardens and replacing them with something more practical: winter veg.

The villagers, who regarded Belsham Manor’s gardens as a point of residential pride, had been shocked by the suggestion. When Lady Victoria requested specific examples, Gaston had been unable to name a single estate. Red-faced and stammering, he’d doubled down by insisting Lady Juliet should plow under her fragrant heirloom roses and replant the entire area with cabbage. That made Lady Juliet surge up like an inflamed crocodile. Before anyone could stop her, she’d demanded Gaston first plow under the village cricket pitch and replace it with a field of turnips.

The ladies had cheered. The men had howled with rage. And despite Lady Victoria’s frequent gavel-banging, nothing of substance followed, just a lot of shouting and gesticulating. By the next morning, the village of Birdswing had wisely decided, not by vote or committee, but through that strange telepathy sometimes developed by tightknit communities, to carry on as if the whole thing never happened. But Lady Juliet and ARP Warden Gaston had yet to mend the breach.

“Gaston? Hah!” Lady Juliet banged the kettle onto the cooker. “I wouldn’t offer that repellent creature a crust of bread. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t spit on him if he were on fire. No, the hamper was for Father Cotterill. Alas, I was turned away on his doorstep, and denounced as an agent of the occult.”

“A what?” Digging into the hamper, Ben found a roast beef sandwich and bit into it. It would have been more proper to wait until the tea was brewed and they both were seated, but Lady Juliet’s grievances tended to require a detailed explication. He preferred not to attempt it on an empty stomach.

“An agent of the occult,” Lady Juliet repeated. “Father Cotterill was out attending the sick, you see. So his guest, Lady Maggart of Fitchley Park, took the liberty of telling me off. She accused me of consorting with dark forces and practicing necromancy.”

“What? Why?” Ben was doubly confused, as he had never heard of Lady Maggart or Fitchley Park.

“Because—”

CREEEEEEECK

Ben jumped. The noise had come from somewhere above his head—the master bedroom, or the attic.

Looking grimly satisfied, Lady Juliet pointed at the ceiling. “Because of her. Because of Lucy.”

© 2016 Lyonnesse Books.  All rights reserved.

Why Cornwall? (Part Two)

Last week, I posted some photographs of Cornwall to give you just a taste of why I set my newest book there. Here are some more.

Lizard Point, a fine example of the beautiful Cornish coast.

Lizard Point, a fine example of the beautiful Cornish coast.

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Lostwithiel … that name makes me think of J.R.R. Tolkien and his elves.

Before Cornwall was a tourist mecca, "wreckers" used to lure ships onto the rocks with lanterns.

Before Cornwall was a tourist mecca, “wreckers” used to lure ships onto the rocks with lanterns.

The picturesque Port Isaac village.

The picturesque Port Isaac village.

Bonfire Night

Guy Fawkes Mask

Guy Fawkes Mask

“Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot”

On November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested for plotting the assassination of King James I. In Great Britain, the day has meant different things to different people: a commemoration of the king’s survival, a celebration of bonfires and fireworks to break up the autumn monotony, even an appreciation of those who question authority and challenge the powers that be. When writing my latest book, Marriage Can Be Murder, I wondered how my village of Birdswing would celebrate in 1939, just two months after the start of the Blackout. Here’s an excerpt:

In addition to his amateur detective work, Ben kept up his rehabilitation efforts, forcing himself to put on his coat, pick up his cane, and walk the length of the high street twice a day. Only once did he fall, pivoting so quickly to avoid a tomcat that his left knee buckled. As the big, ragged creature darted into an alley, Ben was hauled to his feet by a trio of  little old ladies, then questioned by ARP Warden Gaston, who’d burst out of Morton’s café when he heard the commotion.

“I’m quite all right. It was only a one-eared cat. Orange, with stripes. Did you think I’d been attacked by German agents?” Ben grumbled, dusting off his trousers.

“I didn’t think at all,” Gaston said proudly. “In event of emergency I never do. One of my luckier qualities.” To the small crowd, he said, “Off with you! Find suitable occupation. That’s an order. The poor man’s embarrassed enough, making up tales of cats without you lot gawping at him.”

“Tales?” Ben peered into the alley, gloomy from the shelter of two overhanging roofs. He thought he saw two yellow eyes glowing back at him from behind the metal rubbish bins. But as soon as he blinked, they were gone.

“I can give you a ride back to Fenton House,” Gaston continued, not unkindly. “Or give you my arm and help you there, if you’re dead set on walking. Need to speak to Agnes about this Bonfire Day nonsense. I’ve half a mind to drive up to the manor and tell Lady Juliet I’ve changed my mind about permitting it.”

“Please don’t.” The village thrummed with anticipation; Ben had heard about little else for weeks. Due to the blackout, Birdswing was forbidden from the usual nighttime festivities for Guy Fawkes Night: roman candles, Catherine wheels, a huge bonfire in the village square. There had been some efforts to convince the vicar to throw a substitute party in the church hall, perhaps with a papier-mâché bonfire, candles, punch, music, and dancing. Having never approved of Guy Fawkes Night, which struck Father Cotterill as practically pagan, he’d refused. But just as the disappointed villagers resigned themselves to 5 November as yet another silent, colorless night, Lady Juliet had appeared on the high street, bursting into shops and salons and restaurants with the news. On the very next Sunday, a daylight version of Bonfire Night would be held at Belsham Manor, and every resident of Birdswing was welcome.

“If you try and shut it down at this point,” Ben told Gaston, “you’ll likely have a riot on your hands. Besides, your sister isn’t home. She’s getting her hair done. I’ve never seen her so excited.”

“Excitement breeds disobedience,” the air warden muttered. “I can’t imagine what’s gotten into Lady Juliet. She’s never been one for parties. Usually wanders off halfway through or spends the whole night reading a book.”

Ben knew what had gotten into her, and while he had his doubts about the scheme’s efficacy, he couldn’t fault the good intentions behind it. Breathless with enthusiasm, she’d rang him a few days ago, spilling out her thought process before he could even say hello.

“Last night, as I was propped up in bed reading a mystery novel… wait. I just realized I’ve never asked. Do you enjoy mystery novels? I do, so long as the woman isn’t a ninny. Can’t abide ninnies. At any rate, I was reading, and thereupon it struck me like Archimedes in his bath: how does one advance a case like Penny’s, where there are more suspects than evidence? Eureka! Give a dinner party and invite all the players!”

She paused, both to take a breath and receive praise. Ben knew better than to laugh, though he was glad she’d announced her plan by phone. Had she been able to see his expression, the resultant injuries might have put him back in that ghastly Edwardian wheelchair.

“You mean, actually invite them to Belsham Manor, lock them in your parlor, snuff the lights, and wait to see who turns up dead?”

“No, that’s how murders happen, not how they’re solved,” Lady Juliet said patiently. “The idea is to get the liquor flowing, get them chatting and joking and laughing, and just observe. The murderer is sure to be exquisitely uncomfortable under pressure and thus reveal himself. Particularly if it’s Freddy Sparks.

“The pretext is simple,” she continued. “Guy Fawkes Night during the day. Why moan about not being allowed to burn an effigy when we can do it before sundown? As for our suspects, I doubt I can dig up Mrs. Hibbet, but I’ll invite her, just in case. And I’ll need to go back to Plymouth to invite Bobby Archer, but that’s no sacrifice. I can apologize for accusing him—the better to snare him later, if it comes to it—and purchase a new dress while I’m there.”

“New dress?”

“Yes,” she barked. “No tartan skirt and no trousers but a proper dress, like Margaret’s friends. Perhaps I’ll get my hair curled, too, and put on my mother’s sapphire earbobs, rendering you and your kind speechless.”

He grinned. Any day he could get a rise out of Lady Juliet was a good day. “Ah, but my kind is in short supply. Your table may be overloaded with ladies. How many villagers will you invite?”

“Why, all of them, of course.”

© Emma Jameson, Lyonnesse Books, 2014

Amazon: http://amzn.to/10SMu6m

BN: http://bit.ly/1xa1kiS

Apple Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/marriage-can-be-murder/id936762241?mt=11&uo=4

Kobo Books: http://bit.ly/1ureZoB

Why Cornwall?

So, most of you know me from the Lord & Lady Hetheridge books, which are set in present-day London. And I adore London, so when I first had the inspiration (about a year ago to this day) to create a new series set in wartime Britain, why not London? There’s so much drama, including the Blitz, the evacuations, the rise of Churchill, the change in women’s status as they go out to work in greater numbers, etc. But when I write a book, it always starts with the lead character — in this case, Dr. Benjamin Bones. I knew right away that he grew up in London, but he was on his way to someplace rural. As Dr. Bones took shape, the village of Birdswing sprang to life as well. And two of my early readers (those saintly folk who read an unedited manuscript and give honest feedback) told me Devon was the wrong place for Birdswing. It belonged in Cornwall.

Remember Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur? It’s in Cornwall. There’s also spectacular beaches, famous destinations like Land’s End and St. Ives, the wild beauty of Bodmin Moor and many prehistoric ruins. I’ll post a few pictures to give you a taste.

The beach in St. Ives.

The beach in St. Ives.

Bodmin Moor at sunset.

Bodmin Moor at sunset.

Cornish street.

Cornish street.

Lanyon Quiot silhouette.

Lanyon Quoit silhouette.

Restornmel Castle

Restornmel Castle

Spectacular, isn’t it? More tomorrow.

A New Book at Last!

MCBM Cover

Hi, all! I promised myself I wouldn’t return to this blog until I had a new full-length novel to offer. Well, here it is! It’s live on Amazon and BN (Nook) and should appear in the Apple Store and at Kobo very soon. Here’s what it’s about.

Murder in Haunted Cornwall

On the eve of World War II, Dr. Benjamin Bones is at war with himself. While most young men are being sent away to fight the Germans, Ben is chosen to serve on English soil. Ordered to move to wild, beautiful Cornwall, he must trade his posh London office and stylish city life for the tiny village of Birdswing, population 1,221 souls. But leaving his home and shelving his career ambitions aren’t the only sacrifices facing Ben. His unfaithful wife, Penny, is accompanying him to Cornwall in a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. But moments after their arrival, Penny is run down in the street, and Ben is almost fatally injured. And while the villagers assume Penny’s death to be an accident, Ben quickly deduces it was murder.

As he convalesces in Fenton House, which the locals call haunted, Ben meets Birdswing’s eccentric inhabitants. Mr. Gaston, the volunteer air warden, obsessed with defending his remote village against Nazi spies; Mrs. Cobblepot, a thoroughly practical housekeeper who believes in fairies; and Lady Juliet Linton, a prickly, headstrong aristocrat who won’t take no for an answer. While adapting to life during Britain’s “War at Home,” a time of ration books, victory gardens, bomb shelters, and the Blackout, Ben sets about solving the mystery of Penny’s murder—with a little help from Lady Juliet and the Fenton House ghost.

MARRIAGE CAN BE MURDER (Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries #1) is the new cozy mystery series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Emma Jameson.

I do hope while you await Hetheridge #4, you’ll give this one a try. Cheers!