A Mystery of Murder by Helen Hollick / #Extract #BlogTour @maryanneyarde @HelenHollick


Jan Christopher Mysteries, Book 2

‘Had I known what was to happen soon after we arrived at Mr and Mrs Walker’s lovely old West Country house, my apprehension about spending Christmas in Devon would have dwindled to nothing.’

Library Assistant Jan Christopher is to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, DS Laurie Walker and his family, but when a murder is discovered, followed by a not very accidental accident, the traditional Christmas spirit is somewhat marred…

What happened to Laurie’s ex-girlfriend? Where is the vicar’s wife? Who took those old photographs? And will the farmer up the lane ever mend those broken fences?

Set in 1971, this is the second Jan Christopher Cosy Mystery. Join her (and an owl and a teddy bear) in Devon for a Christmas to remember. :

Will the discovery of a murder spoil Christmas for Jan Christopher and her boyfriend DS Laurie Walker – or will it bring them closer together?




Jan Christopher is spending Christmas 1971 with her boyfriend DS Laurie Walker and his parents who live in an old farmhouse in Devon. Evidence of a murder has been found, and the police have been called…


We stayed inside while the SOCO team did their work. Not that they did a lot. To be fair, there wasn’t a lot they could do, the garden had been invaded by two pigs, Alf and Laurie had walked up and down when starting to tidy up – and Alf had been in and out of his greenhouse for days, weeks even – there was no telling how long that ghastly sack of remains had been there, waiting for two porkers to come and dig it up. We sat in the front sitting room, drinking tea and nibbling at slices of rich and fruity home-made Christmas cake, quietly watching the team do what they had to do through the windows. We, being myself, Alf and Laurie. Elsie was exhausted – we’d been up for a good bit of the night, after all, and she was also somewhat shaken, so had taken herself upstairs for an afternoon lie down. I did rather wish that I could go up to my room as well, but Alf had poked the fire into life and stoked it with logs, so I curled up on one of the settees and dozed. Laurie tinkered at the piano for a little while, but his heart wasn’t in it, so he closed the lid and went back to looking out of the window. I could tell that he was worried.

DS Frobisher, Laurie’s Barnstaple counterpart, was everything that Laurie was not: untidily dressed, reeking of cigarette smoke and more than a hint of alcohol. Add to that, he was slapdash, dismissive and blatantly rude. He had arrived two hours after Laurie had reported the find, which was acceptable as detectives were rarely on the scene of a crime before it had been made secure. The pathologist had already arrived to start his preliminary appraisal and immediate witnesses questioned. Only DS Frobisher seemed to be in no hurry to get on with his job. He came into the house, leered at me and ordered, “Put the kettle on, darlin’, I’m gaspin’ for a cuppa. Three sugars.” Not a single please or thank you. Nor did I like his surreptitious pinch to my bottom as I walked past him.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Laurie bristle with annoyance, but I flashed him a quick smile and disappeared into the kitchen, with the intention of staying out of the way as much as possible. As I went through the door, I heard Frobisher say, “She’s a bit of all right, Walker. Posh totty, eh? Pass her on to me when she gets bored with you.”

I paused for a second just inside the kitchen, wondering if Laurie would hit him, but I heard no sound of a fist connecting with a nose. Probably just as well, I didn’t want Laurie to be arrested for assaulting a police officer.

It was, therefore, a relief when Frobisher took himself off up the garden and left us in peace. (I did suggest to Laurie that I assumed the initials DS stood for Disgusting Snot. That made him laugh.)

We watched as the pathologist left, the SOCO team finished taking their samples of the soil, and we inwardly groaned as Frobisher sauntered back to the house. At Laurie’s suggestion, I made myself scarce in the kitchen.

Slightly raised voices wafted into the kitchen, coming from both Laurie and Alf, then the front door slammed and I heard Alf go upstairs. Laurie came into the kitchen, putting his outdoor coat on. “Dad and I have to go to the police station, love. They want our statements, fingerprints and such.”

“What? Now?” I squeaked, glancing outside at the onset of dusk. “Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”

“Not really,” he said with a sigh, “it’s Christmas Eve tomorrow. Best to get it done and done with.”

Alf popped his head around the door. “You ready, son? They want us to go with them in their Noddy car.”

“I bet they won’t want to give us a lift back, though,” Laurie muttered.

“I’ll telephone home when we’re done. Mum can come and fetch us.”

Laurie kissed me again, and the two of them were gone. I watched out of the window as the panda car’s headlights swept up the dark lane then disappeared behind the high hedges and the bare-branched trees. An ominous feeling, as heavy as the settling night, lodged itself in my stomach. I knew enough of police procedure to know that a friendly request to go to a police station did not usually involve being ‘invited’ to use police transport.

That sort of ‘courtesy’ was usually confined to those under arrest

Thank you, Helen Hollick and The Coffee Pot Book Club


About the Author

Helen Hollick and her family moved from north-east London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farm house through being a ‘victim’ on BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show. The thirteen-acre property was the first one she was shown – and it was love at first sight. She enjoys her new rural life, and has a variety of animals on the farm, including Exmoor ponies and her daughter’s string of show jumpers.

First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Despite being impaired by the visual disorder of Glaucoma, she is also branching out into the quick read novella, ‘Cosy Mystery’ genre with the Jan Christopher Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working for thirteen years as a library assistant.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She also runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, a news and events blog for her village and the Community Shop, assists as ‘secretary for the day’ at her daughter’s regular showjumping shows – and occasionally gets time to write…


Author Links

Website: https://helenhollick.net/

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Amazon Author Page: https://viewauthor.at/HelenHollick

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/477847.Helen_Hollick

Blog: https://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com/

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