>>>win a Kindle copy of Murder dancing by leaving a comment: what is your favorite murder-solving literary duo?<<<
Max Tobin brings his all-male dance company to Steeple Martin, with his new ballet Pendle, based on the infamous Pendle Witch Trials, due to be performed at the Oast Theatre. There have been unpleasant incidents during rehearsals in London, and Max asks Libby Sarjeant and her friend Fran Wolfe to look into them. To everyone’s surprise, the seriousness of the incidents escalates until, inevitably, someone is murdered.
While the police look into the murder, Libby and Fran wonder why someone seemed so set against the ballet. Were occult forces at work, or was there a more worldly, personal motive?
Today Leslie joins us with a guest post on cosy (known in these parts as cozy) mysteries.
First, thank you for hosting me on your blog – I’m delighted to be here.
When I first started writing Murder Mysteries, they weren’t called “cosies” in the UK. Eventually, with the rise of Amazon and the appearance of ebooks, the term came into general use as all books had to be categorised, and my books were never going to bear comparison with any of the grittier stuff.
Luckily, there proved to be a market for this type of story, and particularly the series crime novels. I followed in the great tradition of the Golden Age mysteries, and having read several US published authors, decided that it was a model I could adopt. When my publisher bought the first book – unfinished – she asked if it could be a series, and I delightedly agreed.
So far, there are sixteen full-length novels in the Libby Sarjeant series, one Christmas long/short story and a short story in an anthology. It appears, from the responses I receive from readers, that the main appeal of the books is the characters. One of the most frequent sentences I read is “It’s like visiting old friends.” That delights me, obviously, and I sometimes wonder if I could forget the murders altogether, and just send my little group of main characters off on non-criminal exploits, but one of my most popular characters is my police officer, Ian Connell. When he first appeared, in Book 2 of the series, I never realised how essential he would become. In fact he gets an awful lot of fan mail, mostly asking me not to marry him off!
I think this is the appeal of the series mystery. Each little world is lovingly created and peopled, and as long as the main characters are sympathetic, readers are willing to suspend disbelief. After all, how many murders can one civilian stumble across in their lifetime?
What is more difficult, in my opinion, are the further constrictions placed on the author by setting the stories in a very specific environment. I’m thinking particularly about, for instance, Quilting Mysteries, Crafting Mysteries, Coffee Shop Mysteries and others of their ilk. That seems awfully difficult to me. I have enough trouble finding legitimate situations for my eponymous sleuth to barge into, without tying her to a particular trade or hobby. She does run a local theatre, and once or twice, murders have been loosely connected to that, but mostly I just try and find something new for her to investigate. Occasionally, I send her and her friends off on holiday somewhere, but have to bring them back half way through the book. And I always get comments on the next book saying how nice it is to be back in Steeple Martin, Libby’s home village.
For, of course, in the best English tradition, Libby lives in a typical English village in my home county of Kent. There is also the local seaside town of Nethergate, and several other villages dotted between, which over the years have housed murderers, victims, and scenes of crime. So, if you’d like to see what goes on in the British countryside, do pay Libby a visit. We’d love to see you.
About The Author
A former actor, model and freelance journalist, Lesley Cookman lives on the Kent coast in the UK, has four musicians as children, two small grandchildren and two cats, Lady Godiva and Gloria. All 14 of her Libby Sarjeant books have reached number one in their genre charts on Amazon UK.
Keep up with Lesley
All books available here