Shadows in Sussex
by Emma Dakin
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
BLURB: Claire Barclay and her band of tourists are full of enthusiasm for her trip to Sussex and Kent, the beautiful southeastern part of England. A tragic death of a young man the son of the guest house manager sends Claire into comforting mode and makes it more difficult for her provide a bright and care-free holiday. Laura was not surprised at her son’s death as he had been a drug user and she expected he had taken contaminated drugs, a common fate. But the police lab said otherwise. He was murdered. Claire’s fiancé, Detective Inspector Mark Evans, investigates, so Claire is involved and privy to much information. Too much. In spite of her busy life with demanding guests, she discovers the motive for the murder and finds herself in danger.
A fun tour of Sussex with the extra treat for mystery lovers as Emma Dakin ties places to favorite books
—Rhys Bowen (NYT bestselling author of the
Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series
If you are looking for a cozy crime novel that evokes a wonderful sense of place - look no further. Emma Dakin skilfully weaves a new mystery into a fascinating and informative tour of Southern England featuring heroine and literary tour guide, Claire Barclay, and a host of interesting characters.
—Julie Wassmer, Author of The Whitstable Pearl Mysteries
This engaging story will appeal to traditional mystery-lovers who like their murders set against the authentic backdrop of quaint English villages.
—Clara Benson, USA Today bestselling author of the Angela Marchmont Mysteries
“My name is Mark Evans,” he said. “I'm a detective inspector with the Hampshire constabulary and I'm the fiancé of your tour guide, Claire.” He didn’t mention Reece, so he was here socially.
Susan was the first to respond. “My name is Susan and I'm at delighted to meet you. I'm a great mystery novel fan and I have met many detective inspectors in the pages of books. It’s a pleasure to meet a real English inspector. Please join us.”
“Bring a chair,” Heather said. “I would love to talk to you about the way English detective inspectors actually deal with a mystery.”
Mark smiled at me again and I could feel my heart expand. I knew he came to the café because I was having trouble with Richard and he wanted to help. I was sure I could handle Richard without any help as Heather was used to dealing with him and the three young women seem quite able to deflect and control him. But my heart warmed at the notion that Mark would come and see if he could be of use to me.
I was so distracted it took me a moment to realize that Andy Forsyth was with him.
“Please join us,” I said, then turned to the guests. “This is Detective Sergeant Andrew Forsythe. He's Mark’s teammate.”
“Hello, everyone,” Andy said. “We have eaten, but we love to join you for tea.”
Andy was dressed impeccably in pressed jeans and a blue, open-necked sports shirt. He wore a gold earring and the wedding band I’d watched his husband Bruce put on his finger. That had been quite the society wedding. Bruce comes from a wealthy and supportive family and they had hosted an elaborate reception.
Susan brought me back to the present.
“That would be wonderful.” Susan invited him by a gesture to sit beside her. “What's it like to be a sergeant in the Hampshire police force?”
He laughed. “It's pretty busy.”
“I was wondering if the police still give those warnings that I read about in novels.”
“Not quite the way you read them in the novels,” Andy said. “I read thrillers myself so I pay attention to police procedure. We do make a statement when we make an arrest, but not the one you commonly see in fiction.”
Mark was at the other end of the table and seemed to be having quite a lively conversation with Heather, Richard, Howard and Poppy.
I ordered some small fairy cakes and some chocolate and nuts to be passed around with coffee and tea. The guests stayed for some time chatting with each other and with Mark and Andy. The group was enjoying themselves but eventually prepared to leave. The older guests were returning to Rother Manor House. The three young ones told me they were going to visit a pub.
“Waterworks Pub is a nice one,” Andy advised. “It's just down the street on this block.”
“Sounds perfect,” Julie said. “We're not big drinkers. We just like the liveliness of the English pubs. At least we think we will.”
“You have my cell number,” I said. “Just call if you need help or for anything at all.”
“We’ll be fine,” Julie said. “Thank you for a delicious dinner.” Off they went, leaving Mark, Andy and me at the table.
“How do you like working with DS Flynn?” I asked.
“He’s a marvel,” Andy answered me. “Meticulous, conscientious. Digs for information.”
Mark leaned forward. “He’s so competent that if the Super gets wind of him, Andy will be recalled.”
That was a possibility. Superintendent Addison wasn’t one to waste personnel.
“What about DC Sandhu?”
They both grinned. I expect Jas Sandhu had that effect on most people.
“I can work with him,” Mark said. “He seems a good team player with Flynn.”
I could see that: one was methodical and one imaginative.
“Flynn put Jas onto tracing Reece’s movements on his last day. Once Travis has the info, he’ll put it on a chart for us.”
“We’re looking into a gang motivation. That’s my job,” Andy said. “I have an appointment with someone in the know later tonight.”
“Be careful,” I said.
“Shouldn’t be a problem.”
I don’t know why I urged Andy to be careful. He was always careful. It must be some kind of superstition that makes those of us who have no control over the situation offer a kind of blessing on the one in danger. My mum used to caution me to stay dry if it looked like rain. Of course, I’d try to stay dry. But cautioning me was her way of trying to protect me. It can be annoying.
“Do you still think Reece was murdered?” I asked into the silence created by our mutual concern about a gang contact.
“Looks like it. He would be unlikely to get hold of Nembutal. None of that drug is circulating in this area.”
“We aren’t positive, though,” Andy said. “All we can say is that he died of Nembutal poisoning and it is unlikely he gave it to himself.”
“He could have taken it by accident, thinking it was something else.”
“He could have, but we are going to treat this case as homicide until we can prove it isn’t, or until we run out of leads.”
Andy left us at the door of the café to walk back to the Rye Lodge Hotel while Mark escorted me to the Rother Manor House.
I invited him to my room where I plugged in the tea kettle and set out two cups and some biscuits—not that we needed any more to eat. While the room was small, it had a table and two chairs near the window.
For some reason we talked about birds. Mark had recently visited his Uncle Lionel and gone on a birding venture with him along the coastal walk of Cornwall. Mark was only mildly interested in birds, but enjoyed his uncle's enthusiasm. Like Lionel, I was keen on birds, so I listened to Mark’s descriptions, enjoying the sound of his voice.
We spent quite a few minutes saying goodbye, but he finally left me for the night. I heard the front door close but couldn’t watch him leave from my back garden window.
It was going to be a busy day tomorrow as I had to drive Richard and the older guests to Godinton House and deposit the three young women at the train station in Ashford. I checked that I had fresh supplies for their daily packs: chocolates, biscuits, hand sanitizers and tissues. I wished Mark could have stayed but I understood his need to be with Andy and available to the local constabulary. We were both working. We were used to being apart for weeks. Still, he wasn’t far away but I wished he was with me. I conjured up a picture of Gulliver. I expect he was cuddled up with Deirdre’s two dogs and was happy enough. I missed him as well.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Emma Dakin writes a series of mysteries set in Britain. Her protagonist is a tour guide who takes different characters in each book to the sites of mystery novels in the countryside. She appreciates the elegant, people and humor of each area. But in that idyllic country, Claire stumbles on murder. Author Emma Dakin has five books so far in this series with the latest release September 12th 2023. An historical mystery set in Vancouver in 1886 is due out soon. She won a prestigious 2022 Lieutenant Governor’s Community History Award for her non-fiction account of life in the 60s.
Author of Shadows in Sussex: The British Book Tour Mysteries Book 5
Traveling in Britain is my favourite escape. I travelled to Africa, Europe, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Alask and Tuktoyaktuk before it occurred to me that I could write about the places I visited. Writing The British Book Tour Mysteries demands research in England and Scotland with annual trips to specific areas. I travel, interview people, take note of the events that occur there, the scenery, the way the people speak. Then I go home with all my notes and write the book. Once it’s published and out in the bookstores, readers can join me in that part of the country I found so fascinating. In Shadows in Sussex my character Claire Barclay takes the reader to Sussex and Kent, to the old town of Rye and the medieval and modern city of Canterbury. Her young guests float over the cobblestones and flagstones and her elderly guest taps her way with her cane. They get the flavor of the old smuggling world, but tumble into the modern scourge of drug poisoning. Rye is the quaint medieval town where the murder occurred. Evidence exists in Canterbury where Claire has scheduled her tour. It is a majestic cathedral city with current plays and entertainment. Claire shepherds guides her guests through both while trying to understand why a young man was murdered and how she can find the evidence the police need—without directly confronting the killer.
Emma Dakin will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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