by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of Murder is a Must by Marty Wingate, and an interesting interview with Marty, and a fun little post by Kathleen about Dorothy L Sayers. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and links to purchase it.
Murder is a Must: A First Edition Library Mystery by Marty Wingate
Review by Kathleen Costa
Books can be Murder!
It’s Bath, England, filled with beautiful Georgian buildings like Middlebank House. Working and living there is Hayley Burke, forty-something divorcée and mother of a twenty-something daughter, who was hired six months ago as the curator for The First Edition Society. She manages the late Lady Georgiana Fowling‘s world-renowned collection of first editions from female authors of the Golden Age of Mystery like Christie, Tey, Marsh, and Sayers. It shouldn’t be too difficult a job with her degree in nineteenth-century literature although she’s not read a detective mystery in her life. Additionally, the Society’s interests are managed by Mrs. Glynis Woolgar who also lives on-site and for decades was friend and personal assistant of Lady Fowling. Her primary desire is to maintain the status quo by continuing to restrict access to the collection to members only while Hayley believes her main job as curator is to “resurrect” the Society, so she’ll ignore the eye-rolling and exasperated sighs and set to expand their base and offer a variety of literary salons and lectures. Haley has settled into living and working at Middlebank House, is managing the conflicts in philosophy between her and Mrs. Woolgar by picking her battles carefully, and has so many exciting ideas and plans to make her job rewarding. Life is great…except when murders best kept on the pages of the famous Detection Club members become too real.
The First Edition Library series
The Bodies in the Library (2019) KRL News review HERE.
Murder is a Must (2020)
Murder is a Must earns 5/5 Classic Books…Engaging and Clever!
Haley Burke is excited, yet anxious, about her first public event as curator: a literary salon evening with author and tutor at a London college Arthur Fish. He graciously agreed to speak on “Fifty Ways to Murder,” and in exchange for the opportunity to sell his own books, he would waive his lecture fee. So, a win—win for both the First Edition Society and Fish himself. Now…on to the next project: an exhibition, Lady Georgiana Fowling: A Life in Words, showcasing the fascinating life of Lady Fowling with displays of her personal journals, her own detective books on François Flambeaux, and after finding a personal letter from Lady Fowling to “DLS,” unmistakably Dorothy L. Sayers, thanking her for a first edition copy of her Murder Must Advertise signed by members of the Detection Club, a find that could create a successful frenzy. She just needs to get the Society’s approval, a venue to exhibit the artifacts, and someone to put it all together. Things fall into place with a cancellation at a popular hotel, a fortuitous run in with a former colleague, and an over-the-moon excited board of directors. But, the colleague from hell, leaked details about a book yet to be found, overzealous collectors, and after an incomplete text about the missing Sayer’s novel, a dead body suspiciously found at the bottom of a set of stairs, Haley is put into serious overdrive.
Brilliant! Marty Wingate has done Sayers proud with a MUST read mystery perfect for all cozy fans. The drama has elements found in Sayer’s Murder Must Advertise with a staircase, an accident not an accident, and as karma is dished out nicely, it is not without a few perilous moments. My inner “Lord Wimsey” had some suspicions about the killer and motive, but lots of misdirection kept me guessing. Haley is a favorite cozy character with whom many can easily identify: witty, patient, clever, but struggling, as we all do, with self-confidence. The supporting cast envelopes many different personalities from best friends to lovers, from protagonists to antagonists, from quiet to annoying, from innocent to guilty making it well-rounded and complete. The setting in a “love to get lost in” mansion turned into a “what better place to explore” sanctuary of mystery books is the perfect element to entwine those classics and spark further reading. Wingate’s well-written and steady-paced first-person narrative is enriched with sensory-laden description and dialogue that illustrates well emotions and all the different personalities. Be prepared to be reading well into the late hours, as I did, so put on a pot of tea!
Audio Alert! This series is also available thru Audible, and with the talents of two different narrators, Wingate’s story is greatly enhanced. Book one, The Bodies in the Library, is found HERE with almost ten hours of an artistic performance by Fiona Hardingham. The second book, Murder is a Must, is HERE, with the over ten hours of the talented voice of Marisa Calin at the helm as narrator. Be sure to explore the audio versions of the Wingate’s other series: six of the Potting Shed Mystery books narrated by Erin Bennett and four audio books in the Bird of a Feather series narrated by Beverley A. Crick.
Be a Big Marty Wingate Fan!
Along with her two-book First Edition Library series, USA Today best-selling author Marty Wingate writes another of my personal favorites, the seven-book Potting Shed Mystery series following Pru Parker, a middle-aged American gardener transplanted from Texas to England. Using another nature-lovers theme, she pens the delightful four-book Birds of a Feather Mystery with Julia Lancaster, a passionate bird lover. Marty treats readers to clever mayhem along with delightful and informative insights into the floral and fauna of the English countryside.
Inspiration Leads to Marvelous Places
The cozy murder mystery always intrigues and sets my inner Sherlock “afoot,” but beyond that I am greatly interested in the additional insights, tips, and guides connected to the book’s theme along with historical details. Wingate inspired me to read more about the Golden Age of Mystery and works of Dorothy L. Sayers, and surprise! I found I have two of her Lord Wimsey novels downloaded to my Kindle app including Murder Must Advertise, sans the personal correspondence, of course. I was fascinated by references to several authors of whom I have a limited experience (Sayers, Tey, and Marsh), and The Detection Club, to which they belonged, sparked an interest to do some exploring myself. Hey Siri? Show me, Dorothy L. Sayers!
Dorothy Leigh Sayers (13 June 1893-17 December 1957) was an English author from the era of classic murder mystery novels dubbed the Golden Age of Detective Fiction taking place predominantly in the 20s and 30s. Many of her books centered around forty-something gentleman Lord Peter Wimsey, who as an amateur detective finds personal amusement in solving mysteries. Lord Wimsey often receives support and assistance from his valet and former batman, Mervyn Bunter (the name used for Lady Fowling various tortoiseshell cats), his good friend and later brother-in-law police detective Charles Parker, and, in a few books, by Harriet Vane, who would later become his wife. The eighth of Sayer’s Wimsey novels, Murder Must Advertise, was published in 1933 following Lord Wimsey’s undercover persona Death Bredon. Hired by advertising agency Pym’s Publicity Ltd. as a junior copywriter, he begins to investigate the death of his predecessor, who died suspiciously in a fall down the office’s iron spiral staircase…Oh what fun! Wingate mirrors some of the images of Sayer’s work, so be sure to enjoy both!
Later, 1972-1975, five of Sayer’s novels were adapted into a BBC-TV mini-series called Lord Peter Wimsey starring Ian Carmichael playing the title character. Each of the novels, Clouds of Witness, The Unpleasantness of the Bellona Club, Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors, and Five Red Herrings, are presented in three-four episodes close to 50 minutes each in length, and also three of the book’s supporting cast showing up in one of more of the dramas. Of course, the production is dated, but quite enjoyable!
Check out the four-part Murder Must Advertise presentation on YouTube:
YouTube: Murder Must Advertise Part 1 (49:32)
YouTube Murder Must Advertise Part 2 (49:19)
YouTube Murder Must Advertise Part 3 (49:44)
YouTube Murder Must Advertise Part 4 (48:29)
Interview with Marty Wingate:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Marty: Forever? I wrote stories as a girl, studied journalism at college, then wandered for a while (many years as a speech therapist) before returning to writing. I then began with nonfiction (gardening), and after that, my true home – making up stories.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Marty: The Garden Plot, book one in the Potting Shed mysteries, came out in May 2014 from Alibi (a digital imprint of Random House). The main character is Pru Parke, a middle-aged American gardener who moves to England without knowing a soul and without a job. She gives herself a year to make this place her home. Working as a jobbing gardener in London, she uncovers a Roman mosaic in a client’s potting shed, and after that, a body. She clings to the fading hope of staying in England by trying to figure out the who and why of the murder.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not what else have you written?
Marty: As mentioned above, for years I wrote about gardening – magazine and newspaper articles – and three books. A dear friend spent more than a year casually suggesting I might write a garden mystery before I finally thought, “Gee, I should write a garden mystery.”
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Marty: I love Britain. My husband and I travel there (when we can!) every year and I lead garden tours there and so it seems a natural setting for me. I chose Bath for the First Edition Library mysteries (Murder Is a Must is book two) because it’s a fabulous city and I thought it would be fun to write something about Bath that wasn’t also about Jane Austen. The library holds an impressive collection of books from the Golden Age of Mystery (mostly the women authors), but the curator, Hayley Burke, has never read a detective story in her life. Readers who know a lot about those books will recognize names and references, and readers who don’t know much, will learn along with Hayley.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Marty: I love to be entertained when I read, so that’s always important. But I also want readers to see friendship and love as a supportive theme throughout and understand that first and foremost, people are people.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Marty: I write in the morning. I can edit in the afternoon or jot down a phrase or dialogue exchange that comes to me, but new material comes best for two or three hours after breakfast.
KRL: Do you outline and if not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Marty: I do not outline, and I try to avoid writing the dreaded synopsis at all costs. For my agent and editor, I will write a description of the storyline. I make notes everywhere – in a document, in my Moleskine notebook (a separate one for each series and a separate one for each standalone), and on scraps of paper all over the house. My husband is a copy editor – we are a house of words! Sometimes when a scene occurs to me, I’ll go over and over it in my mind so many times I’ve got the thing memorized before it’s on paper or the screen.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Marty: Here is one of the few times in my life when I had a plan and stuck to it. When I had my first book finished and was working on the second, I joined a writer’s association so that I could sign up for their annual conference so that I could put my name down for two agent pitches. Six months later, and nothing is ever swift in publishing, I had an agent!
KRL: Future writing goals?
Marty: I’m excited to say that my first historical fiction, Glamour Girls, will be released January 12, 2021 from Alcove Press. It’s set in England (surprise!) during the Second World War and tells the story of Rosalie Wright, a farm girl who learns to fly and spends the war delivering Spitfires and other planes to RAF bases around England.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Marty: Ray Bradbury. I don’t write fantasy or sci-fi, but I’ve always admired him since the time I was thirteen and my girlfriend and I heard him speak. He had such joy and enthusiasm for writing – he loved what he did, and because of him, I love what I do.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Marty: On-the-ground preferably, of course. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Bath. For the WW2 book, I flew a Spitfire simulator. I’ve had to consume a great deal of tea and cake. Hey, it’s part of the job!
KRL: What do you read?
Marty: Lots of mystery/crime, many from British authors such as Elly Griffiths, Christopher Fowler, Ben Aaronovitch, Faith Martin and M.C. Beaton. Odd stuff, especially Jasper Fforde who wrote The Eyre Affair, in which Jane Eyre is kidnapped out of her book. I love telling the storyline for that book. Fforde’s latest, The Constant Rabbit, awaits.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Marty: TV: Lovejoy, Prime Suspect, Inspector Lewis, Vera, Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War, Only Fools and Horses, Jeeves and Wooster, New Tricks.
Movies: Brief Encounter, Random Harvest, Gosford Park, Thomasina, Enchanted April.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Marty: Apart from the usual admonition – write! – I would strongly advise being in a writing group. I’ve been in mine for nine years. These women are priceless. As my first editor told me, it’s like having four other editors at the table with you.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Marty: This has been fun!
KRL: It has been fun having you! What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Marty: I know sign language, although, I’m a bit rusty.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a copy of Murder is a Must, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “must,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 9, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week!
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