Things have been quiet in the MNW world recently, but June sees three important releases.
On 4 June, Deborah Swift formally joins the MNW gang with the release of her historical novel The Lady's Slipper. More about this over the next few days, but for now we'll make do with this:
It is 1660. The King is back, but memories of the Civil War still rankle. In rural Westmorland, artist Alice Ibbetson has become captivated by the rare Lady’s Slipper orchid. She is determined to capture its unique beauty for posterity, even if it means stealing the flower from the land of recently converted Quaker, Richard Wheeler. Fired by his newfound faith, the former soldier Wheeler feels bound to track down the missing orchid. Meanwhile, others are eager to lay hands on the flower, and have their own powerful motives. Margaret Poulter, a local medicine woman, is seduced by the orchid’s mysterious herbal powers, while Sir Geoffrey Fisk, Alice’s patron and a former comrade-in-arms of Wheeler, sees the valuable plant as a way to repair his ailing fortunes and cure his own agonizing illness.
Fearing that Wheeler and his new friends are planning revolution, Fisk sends his son Stephen to spy on the Quakers, only for the young man to find his loyalties divided as he befriends the group he has been sent to investigate. Then, when Alice Ibbetson is implicated in a brutal murder, she is imprisoned along with the suspected anti-royalist Wheeler. As Fisk’s sanity grows ever more precarious, and Wheeler and Alice plot their escape, a storm begins to brew, from which no party will escape unscathed.
It's the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and Rachel and her aunt Evie are celebrating with the crowds on the village green. The scene is tranquil, but Rachel and her aunt can never forget what happened exactly twenty-five years ago. On that day, Evie’s young daughter Jessamy vanished. She hasn’t been seen since.
Soon after, news comes of Evie’s sudden death, and Rachel must return to the village to deal with her aunt’s estate. The extraordinary story she uncovers there will change everything. It is a story of departure and return, of atrocity and betrayal, of unrequited love and the dreadful legacy of war.
Fans of Eliza's previous work will be unsurprised to learn that this one is excellent too.
On 16 June, US readers will be able to get their hands on L.C. Tyler's Ten Little Herrings. It's published by Felony and Mayhem (no, really...) and should consolidate his growing reputation in the States, where he's already secured an Edgar nomination.
When obscure crime writer Ethelred Tressider vanishes, his dogged literary agent, Elsie Thirkettle, is soon on his trail. Finding him (in a ramshackle hotel in the French Loire) proves surprisingly easy. Bringing him home proves more difficult than expected – but (as Elsie observes) who would have predicted that, in a hotel full of stamp collectors, the guests would suddenly start murdering each other?
One guest is found fatally stabbed, apparently the victim of an intruder. But when a rich Russian oligarch also dies, in a hotel now swarming with policemen, suspicion falls on the remaining guests.
Elsie is torn between her natural desire to interfere in the police investigation and her urgent need to escape to the town’s chocolaterie. Ethelred, meanwhile, seems to know more about the killings than he is letting on. Finally the time comes when Elsie must assemble the various suspects in the Dining Room, and reveal the truth . . . Ten Little Herrings is a brilliantly anarchic take on the classic Country House Mystery, and an uproarious sequel to the first Elsie and Ethelred mystery, The Herring Seller’s Apprentice.