Life for me in the small English village of Walmsley Parva used to run along a rather predictable pattern. Most days I woke up to a nagging series of thoughts concerning my overdue accounts at the local greengrocer or a disturbing patch of damp growing ever larger in the corner of my sitting room. I spent my day in the company of my beloved terrier, Crumpet, and my irksome jobbing gardener Simpkins with whom I have an ongoing quarrel on the subject of tuberous begonias. Evenings I spent playing games of Patience or knitting small jumpers and pairs of booties to be sold in support of the church roof fund. One day was very much like another. It was not a bad life but it was not a particularly exciting one either.
All that changed when my old friend from our days together at Mdm. DuPont’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Beryl Helliwell, arrived in response to an advertisement I had placed in the newspaper for a lodger. You see, as much as I find it distressing to admit it, the economic downturn in the aftermath of the Great War left me badly in need of funds. The upkeep on my home, the Beeches, required far more than the paltry income from my stock shares provided. Beryl’s arrival was an answer to my prayers.
At least I thought it was until Beryl took the notion to put a story about the village that she had arrived for a visit after receiving a coded message from me stating I needed her help to uncover some dark doings in Walmsley Parva. She told the local postmistress the two of us worked for a covert intelligence agency. Her bald-faced lying to the most dedicated gossip in all the village resulted in someone attempting to strangle me with my own scarf that very night as I walked Crumpet one last time before bed.
One would expect that an attempt on the life of an old dear friend would dampen the spirits and quell any thirst for adventure. Unfortunately, one does not generally expect someone like Beryl. She took the attempted murder as encouragement that there were in fact nefarious activities roiling under the placid surface of village life. She somehow managed to convince me to see things her way and before I knew it, my typical day filled only with arguing with my gardener, walking my dog and knitting for charity were but faint memories. When Beryl and I stumbled over a body in a fallow field we were suddenly right in the thick of things following clues and generally stirring up trouble all over the village.
As much as it would make my dearly departed mother spin furiously in her grave to hear me say it, I’ve rather enjoyed the novelty of my new life and the adventurous turn it has taken since Beryl’s arrival. You won’t find me sitting quietly alone in my parlor playing Patience every evening anymore. You’re far more likely to see me rattling down country lanes in Beryl’s motorcar, at ferocious rates of speed or questioning suspects and verifying alibis. Please don’t tell Beryl, but I don’t miss my old life one little bit.
You can read more about Edwina in Murder in an English Village, the first book in the NEW “Beryl and Edwina” historical mystery series, coming October 31, 2017
As friends, the boisterous and brash American Beryl couldn’t be less alike than the prim and proper British Edwina. But as sleuths in an England recovering from the Great War, they’re the perfect match . . .
1920: Flying in the face of convention, legendary American adventuress Beryl Helliwell never fails to surprise and shock. The last thing her adoring public would expect is that she craves some peace and quiet. The humdrum hamlet of Walmsley Parva in the English countryside seems just the ticket. And, honestly, until America comes to its senses and repeals Prohibition, Beryl has no intention of returning stateside and subjecting herself to bathtub gin.
For over three decades, Edwina Davenport has lived comfortably in Walmsley Parva, but the post–World War I bust has left her in dire financial straits and forced her to advertise for a lodger. When her long-lost school chum Beryl arrives on her doorstep—actually crashes into it in her red motorcar—Edwina welcomes her old friend as her new roommate.
But her idyllic hometown has a hidden sinister side, and when the two friends are drawn in, they decide to set up shop as private inquiry agents, helping Edwina to make ends meet and satisfying Beryl’s thirst for adventure. Now this odd couple will need to put their heads together to catch a killer—before this sleepy English village becomes their final resting place . . .
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Meet the author
Jessica Ellicott loves fountain pens, Mini Coopers and throwing parties. She lives in northern New England where she obsessively knits wool socks and enthusiastically speaks Portuguese with a shocking disregard for the rules of grammar.
As Jessie Crockett she’s the author of the nationally bestselling Sugar Grove Mysteries, and the Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Live Free or Die. She also is the author of the books in the Change of Fortune mysteries as Jessica Estevao.
Visit Jessica at jessicaellicott.com.
All comments are welcomed.