by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a review of the first in a new series, To Fetch a Felon by Jennifer Hawkins. We also have an interview with Jessica aka Sarah Zettel. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon and an indie bookstore.
To Fetch a Felon: A Chatty Corgi Mystery By Jennifer Hawkins
Review by Sandra Murphy
Emma Reed worked in finance in London. Tired of training young men who then became her boss, Emma quit her job to do something she loved.
Where to go and what to do? From trips as a child, she remembered a tea shop in a small village in Cornwall. Baking goodies was her passion. A tea shop would be just the thing. She and her Corgi, Oliver, headed for Cornwall.
The tea shop she remembered has been closed for years and is now owned by the town grouch, Victoria. Emma starts off on the wrong paw with her after Oliver tries to explore Victoria’s prize winning rose garden. Of course, Emma’s not the only one Victoria finds upsetting.
In an effort to make amends (and frankly, as a bribe), Emma and Oliver set out to apologize and deliver a batch of Emma’s scones. Maybe that will soften Victoria’s anger. It’s not to be. Oliver warns her something bad has happened! Victoria is on the kitchen floor, dead. Corgis are never wrong. Just ask Oliver.
An ambitious realtor, a reporter turned true crime writer, a forty-year-old cold case, a second death, and an odd police detective (she reads the palms of those she interviews), makes Emma’s dream of the tea shop an iffy proposition.
Emma’s in her forties, single, and retired from the boring job that paid her well. She’s a curious sort, friendly, and a bit odd in that not only does she talk to her Corgi (doesn’t everyone?) but that he talks back. Of course, being more scent-oriented than able to remember names or some details, makes his reporting a bit difficult, but he tries his best and for the most part, Emma understands. Although some readers may be put off by the idea of talking dogs, I recommend trying this book. The tale is delightful, the mystery a good one, and I hated to see it end. Look for book two, Murder Always Barks Twice, in August, available for pre-order now.
Interview with Jennifer Hawkins:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Jennifer: I have been writing most of my life. I started work on a seven-book series in eighth grade and I got my first rejection from a professional publication (Young Miss) when I was sixteen. I sold my first short story in 1986, and I’ve been writing professionally ever since.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Jennifer: My first novel was, Reclamation, a science fiction story that came out in 1994.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Jennifer: I have written just about everything. I started out in science fiction and fantasy and then moved through romance and YA into mystery and suspense.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Jennifer: This was one of those unusual instances when the editor came to me and said they wanted a book set in England featuring a talking Corgi. I admit, I was reluctant at first, but as I got into it and started going back to a trip I took to Cornwall back in the nineties, the ideas really started flowing and I got more and more excited about the project.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Jennifer: I want to entertain first and foremost. I think, especially in tough times, people want and need a moment to rest and enjoy, but I do also write about women’s lives and I want to examine our relationships and how we move through our lives and society.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Jennifer: I am lucky enough to be able to write full time. When we’re not in quarantine, I go to a co-working space and pretty much keep office hours.
KRL: What is your ideal time to write?
Jennifer: My sweet spot for laying down the words seems to be from about 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m.
KRL: Do you outline? 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?
Jennifer: I generally do a formal outline for the editor at the beginning of the project. For myself, I keep a very informal outline, that’s really me talking to myself about a chapter or a scene and how I want it to go.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Jennifer: Yes and no. I collected and still collect a lot of rejection, but I went in knowing that would happen, so I very much expected it, and for me, it’s just part of the job. I just keep trying new ideas. Some of them work out, and some of them don’t, but there’s always some new possibility or idea to explore. That’s part of why I love writing.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Jennifer: Probably the best one was my first one. This is back in the day when everything happened through the mail. When you got rejected by a magazine (I was writing short stories at the time), you’d get a big manila envelope in the mail, because they were sending your whole manuscript back to you. I remember opening my mailbox, pulling out the stack of letters (again, this was back in the day), and seeing a small envelope with the magazine’s return address. I ran down the hall, I slammed into my apartment and ripped the envelope open. I read the acceptance, and I quite literally started jumping up and down, waving the letter around and yelling. “I sold! I sold! I’m an author! I’ve authed! I’ve authed!”
KRL: What are your future writing goals?
Jennifer: Mostly to keep learning, keep growing and keep writing. I never know what idea is going to show up around the next corner. Every day there’s something new.
KRL: Who are your writing heroes?
Jennifer: I grew up on science fiction and the author who flipped the switch for me when I was thirteen and made me want to be a writer was Ursula K. LeGuin. I was and am also a huge fan of Ray Bradbury but probably my favorite all time author is Daphne DuMaurier.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Jennifer: Mostly, I read. For To Fetch a Felon, I read books on dog behavior because I wanted Oliver to be a real dog, not just a human in a fur suit. I also spent time playing with corgis and talking with corgi owners. I admit, I spent a lot of time watching reality TV. There are all kinds of shows out there that survey British bakeries and British villages and the British countryside…it’s been a lot of fun.
KRL: What do you like to read?
Jennifer: Everything. I’m a huge history nerd, so I read all kinds of history books. I also love romances and of course, all flavors of mysteries.
KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Jennifer: Oof. What day is it? I admit to an unending obsession with food/baking competitions. I never miss an episode of Chopped, and of course, I am a huge fan of The Great British Baking Show.
KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Jennifer: Write. Finish. Submit. Rinse. Repeat. You will collect a lot of rejection, but you’ll get through it, I promise, and you’ll learn a lot doing it. When not writing, read!
Jennifer: Not currently. Generally speaking, however, I’m a cat person.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Jennifer: Only that the first book in the Chatty Corgi mysteries: To Fetch a Felon, is out now and the second book, Murder Always Barks Twice will be coming out in July.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win a copy of To Fetch a Felon, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “fetch,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 20, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you 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 goes up next week.
You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:
You can use this link to purchase these book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.