Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Suspicion at Seven (Lois Meade Mystery #14) by Ann Purser

Lois Meade has done enough buffing and polishing over the years with her cleaning business, New Brooms, to know that all that glitters is not gold. So when a bag of costume jewellery is the main clue in a murder, she has a strong suspicion that appearances may be deceiving…

After a woman is discovered in the Mill House Hotel, strangled with a silver necklace beside a bag filled with faux silver, gold and pearls, costume jewelry dealer Donald Black seems like the obvious suspect. But Lois knows Donald's wife, who runs a baker’s shop near the hotel, and can’t believe her husband could be a killer. Plus, Donald has an airtight alibi.

Nevertheless, Donald is no angel. It appears he’s running a pyramid scheme, and Lois’s mother is getting sucked in. Could the murder have anything to do with his unscrupulous business practices?

As Inspector Cowgill and Lois hope the bling may shine a light on the killer, the discovery of a second body on the old waterwheel in the hotel may be grist for the mill in solving the murder—if they can manage to catch the culprit without getting the runaround.

Suspicion at Seven is the latest in my Lois Meade Mystery series, and involves another murder hunt alongside Detective Inspector Hunter Cowgill.  The inspiration for this story came to me one day when I was lunching in a restaurant in a converted water mill.  I remembered as a child seeing the mill and all its workings and work people were covered with a layer of white.  It looked then as if a gigantic flour sprinkler had dusted it ready for the oven! 

During lunch, I watched the huge millwheel, glassed in for safety, an attraction for customers, going heavily round and round, dripping slimy green weed..... A plot, surely? 

One for Lois Meade, who has become friendly with Aurora Black, an attractive baker from her shop opposite the mill, and it is on a pleasant summer day that the pair decide on lunch after a walk with Jemima, Lois's small terrier, across the water meadows.  

Aurora is not entirely happily married to her husband Donald, since he has a wandering eye, and a mistress who helps him with his pyramid jewelery selling and other less innocent occupations.  Aurora is also part of the business, and they have one precious daughter, Millie.  

A recipe for disaster?  The death of a woman in bed in the Mill Hotel is the start of a grim journey through suspicion and finally justice.   

For this story, I had ready-made memories of childhood holidays with my Great Aunt Eliza in her village bakehouse in Lincolnshire.  I can smell again the heavenly scent of bread baking and feel the heat of the big old stone oven! 

Ann Purser lives in the East Midlands, in a small and attractive village which still has a village shop, a garage, pub and church. Here she finds her inspiration for her novels about country life. She has only to do her daily shopping down the High Street to listen to the real life of the village going on around her.

Before turning to fiction, she had a number of different careers, including journalism – she was for six years a columnist in SHE magazine – and art gallery proprietor. Running her own gallery in a 400-year-old barn behind the house, she gained fascinating insights into the characters and relationships of customers wandering around. She had no compunction about eavesdropping, and sharpened up her writer’s skills in weaving plots around strangers who spent sometimes more than an hour in her gallery.

Working in a village school added more grist to the mill, as does singing in the church choir and membership of the Women’s Guild. She reminds herself humbly that Virginia Woolf was President of her local WI…

Six years hard study won her an Open University degree, and when she faltered and threatened to fall by the wayside, writer husband Philip Purser reminded her that he was paying good money for the course. During this period, she wrote two non-fiction books, one for parents of handicapped children (she has a daughter with cerebral palsy) and the other a lighthearted book for schools, on the explosion of popular entertainment in the first forty years of the twentieth century.

Ten years of running the gallery proved to be enough, and while it was very successful she decided to sell. The business moved down the street to another barn and owner, and Pursers stayed on in their house next to the village school – another rich source of material for the stories. Time to start writing novels.

Round Ringford became Ann’s village in a series of six novels, each with a separate story, but featuring the same cast of characters with a few newcomers each time. The list of books gives details of each story, and each features an issue common to all villages in our rural countryside. “Just like our village!” is a frequent comment from Ann’s readers.

Next: the Lois Meade Mysteries, each title reflecting a day of the week. Ann has always loved detective fiction, and determined to make it her next series. So Murder on Monday was born, followed by Terror on Tuesday, and Weeping on Wednesday. The rest of the week follows!

Mornings are set aside for writing, and the rest of the day Ann spends walking the dog, retrieving bantams’ eggs from around the garden, gossiping and taking part in the life of the village. She is never bored!

This long-running series continues to impress with every book.  Lois finds herself wrapped up in an unusual murder investigation that sheds light on a not so perfect husband.  Determined to prove his innocence, Lois does everything within her power to discover the truth behind an unfortunate murder.  

Charming, witty and always fun, this book is everything we've come to expect out of this series and so much more.  The secondary characters add so much to the story, and the subplot is brilliant.  If this is any indication, I'd say that Lois and her crew will be going on strong for quite some time.  And I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store next! :) 

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

Thanks to the awesome ladies at Penguin, I have 1 copy of Suspicion at Seven by Ann Purser to give away to one of my lucky readers!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and be sure to keep checking back for more awesome giveaways!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Karen B said...

I haven't read a book in this series for a long time so it's time to catch up! Love that she admits that she eavesdrops - just like the rest of us do!

No rafflecopter???

Blogger said...

With RentalCars you can find the most affordable car hire from over 49,000 international locations.

Post a Comment

Blogger Templates