A Deadly Walk in Devon By Nicholas George: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Mar 30, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Sharon Marchisello

This week we have a review of the first in a brand new series by Nicholas George, along with an interesting interview with Nicholas. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.

A Deadly Walk in Devon by Nicholas George
Reviewed by Sharon Marchisello

Nicholas George’s debut novel, A Deadly Walk in Devon, has it all: a sympathetic protagonist, a gorgeous setting, a quirky cast of suspects, and a mystery that kept me guessing until the end. The hero, Rick Chasen (“Chase”), is in a transitional phase of life at age sixty-seven. He has retired from his career as a San Diego police detective and is still grieving the death of his long-time partner. When the story opens, Chase has joined Billie, his friend and fellow Anglophile, on a walking tour of the Devon countryside with five other American tourists.

The diverse group is fairly amiable, except for Ronald Gretz, the wealthy corporate mogul who founded the international chain of nursing homes known as Golden Sunset. Gretz complains constantly, making life miserable for his fellow walkers, the driver, and their guide. He even speaks abusively to his trophy wife, Summer. When Gretz receives several death threats by text and email, he begs Chase to help. Chase suggests he report the threats to the local police, but Gretz doesn’t want to involve them. After several near-miss “accidents,” Gretz is sure someone in the group is out to get him.

On their second day of hiking, the group tackles a cliff trail in dense fog. At times, the mist is so thick that the walkers can’t see each other. When they rendezvous at the end, Ronald Gretz doesn’t show up. Chase and Billie go back to look for him, and they discover his body floating in a lake at the bottom of a cliff. The local authorities are called, and a witness comes forward. The fisherman happened to look up at the cliff when Gretz tumbled down, pushed by someone wearing a green jacket. No one in the group was wearing a green jacket, but when the police search the hotel rooms, they find a green jacket stashed in the suitcase of one of the walkers. Chase believes it was planted.

The most obvious suspect is Gretz’s young widow. None of the other tourists admits to knowing him, and thus, Summer is the only one with a motive. But Chase isn’t so sure she’s the killer. The local police don’t have much experience solving murders, and progress is slow. The DI invites Chase to assist in the investigation, which makes him feel useful again.They soon discover that everyone in the group is hiding something, and almost everyone has some connection to Gretz that they did not disclose. And then a second murder complicates the case.

The author did a good job of hiding clues and casting suspicion on multiple characters, so I didn’t figure out whodunnit until Chase did. I understand this is the first in a series, and it’s a great start.

Sharon Marchisello (sharonmarchisello.com) recently signed a three-book contract with Level Best Books for a cozy mystery series involving a woman who does animal rescue. Her first two mysteries were published by Sunbury Press: Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019). She has also written a nonfiction book (Live Well, Grow Wealth), travel articles, and several short stories. She earned a Master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is active in Sisters in Crime. She lives in Peachtree City, GA, where she does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society and the Fayette County Master Gardeners.

Interview with Nicholas George:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

NG: I’ve written ever since I was a child. When I was seven years old my folks bought my older sister a portable typewriter to help her with her schoolwork, but I ended up using it far more than she did, writing weird little stories. I taught myself to touch-type, and it’s the method I still use today.

Writing was pretty much my best skill. I graduated college with a journalism degree and ended up going into public relations and corporate communications. Throughout my full-time career I wrote tons of copy for magazines, annual reports, marketing campaigns, and websites, but it wasn’t until I retired that I seriously returned to my passion for writing fiction.

George Nicholas

KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?

NG: My first book is A Deadly Walk in Devon, to be published at the end of March by Kensington. It’s the first in the Walk-Through England series; all take place on walks through the English countryside. My lead character, Rick “Chase” Chasen, a retired police detective from San Diego, is grieving over the death of his long-time partner, and heeds the advice of his friend Billie Mondreau to join her on a group walk along the northern Devon coast in southwest England. A murder occurs on the walk, which prompts Chase to dredge up his detection skills. He also encounters romance!

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?

NG: I have been a mystery/suspense fan since I first read Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None when I was twelve. My first completed novel was a literary fantasy, but I never got it to the point I wanted. That’s when I turned to mystery fiction. I’ve had short stories appear in anthologies, and years ago wrote a romantic film comedy (Perfect Match) that had a brief theatrical release but played for ages on cable TV.

KRL: How fun! What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?

NG: I wanted to have fun writing this series, so I chose a setting (the English countryside) and activity (walking) that I love. I participated in a group walk in Devon a few years back, and one of my fellow walkers, upon learning I was a writer, suggested that I write a murder mystery based on that walk. She was probably joking, but when I got home, I hammered out the first draft of “A Deadly Walk in Devon” in five weeks – and had a blast doing it.

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?

NG: I write mostly to entertain, but underlying issues come through. A Deadly Walk in Devon touches upon controversies around elder care, and as my protagonist is an older gay man, I wanted to address the challenges of finding love and companionship at that stage of life.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?

NG: I write on a loose schedule, usually in the mid-morning but sometimes at other times of the day if inspiration strikes. I often get ideas when I’m out walking, and write them down when I return home.

KRL: What is your ideal time to write?

NG: I prefer mid-morning because I’m firing on all cylinders around then. Sometimes late afternoon works also.

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?

NG: I’ve learned that, with mysteries, you absolutely need to outline – it’s essential to have all the characters, motives, opportunities, clues and red herrings in the right order. I don’t want to confuse readers by taking them down unnecessary plot paths or providing clues that don’t add up. That can be incredibly frustrating. I dislike what I call “dartboard” mysteries, where the killer turns out to be someone who looks like they were chosen by the author throwing a dart at a list of equally likely suspects. I try to carefully lay down clues so that, ultimately, the killer is the most logical person to have done it.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

NG: Doesn’t everyone?! Nearly all my writer friends, many of them excellent writers, wrestle with this problem, and most self-publish. I didn’t want to go that route, so I went through the laborious and frustrating process of finding an agent. Michelle Hauck with Storm Literary took a chance on me and found me the book deal with Kensington.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

NG: All writers have to deal with rejection. I don’t have any examples that really stuck with me – just a lot of the “gee, I love your book, but it isn’t quite right for me” type of turn-downs.

KRL: What are your future writing goals?

NG: There are two more Walk Through England mysteries in the pipeline (the next, A Lethal Walk in Lakeland, will be published in April 2025.) I’m also working on another mystery series that is quite different, and which lets me apply my love of pop music from the 1970s and 1980s.

KRL: Who are your writing heroes?

NG: Agatha Christie inspired me to write crime fiction, and hers are the only books I re-read. Other mystery/thriller favorites include Anthony Horowitz, J.A. Jance, Elizabeth George (no relation!) and Martha Grimes. In general fiction I adore Anne Patchett, Robert Russo, David Mitchell, and Anne Tyler.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

NG: I base my Walk-Through England mysteries on walks I’ve taken in England and try to incorporate specific locations and sights that give the reader a sense of what it is like to be there. When I visit England, I pay attention to how people speak, and the wonderful quirkiness of British culture.

KRL: What do you like to read?

NG: There are currently about thirty books on my “to-be-read” shelf! Mostly I read fiction, mystery/crime or literary novels. Sometimes I like science fiction and fantasy. I tend to avoid non-fiction but belong to a book group that almost exclusively reads non-fiction, which directs me to good books I might normally never read. I’m also a magazine addict. I subscribe to more than 40 – pity my poor mailman!

KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?

NG: For TV, I watch a lot of (surprise, surprise) British mystery series. My husband and I are currently glued to the Madame Blanc mysteries (a British antique expert living in the south of France – superb), Anne Cleeve’s Vera Stanhope mysteries with Brenda Blethyn (irresistible), and the Shakespeare and Hathaway mysteries, featuring a private eye team named Lu Shakespeare and Frank Hathaway, set in present-day Stratford-on-Avon (very well-written and fun). For movies, I love classic film noir, but I’m a film buff and will watch anything good (as long as it isn’t too violent).

KRL: I love all of those shows! Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

NG: Believe in yourself, don’t give up, get feedback. It’s impossible to judge the merit of your own work, so listen to people you trust. Also, work constantly to improve your craft. Many people think writing is simple and easy; they don’t understand the discipline and hard work that goes into it. Read a lot and learn from the writing that speaks to you. Also, identify what makes your writing stand out from the pack.

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

NG: I’m a walking encyclopedia on pop music. I appeared on the old Name That Tune TV game show in the 1970s, as well as Face the Music, a copy-cat follow-up a few years after that. I beat my opponents both times!

KRL: Do you have any pets?

NG: Not yet, but my husband and I love dogs and plan to adopt one soon.

KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?

NG: I hope readers have as much fun reading my books as I did, writing them. I think they definitely will!

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram?

NG: It’s important to have a presence on social media. My website is nicholasgeorgeauthor.com. I have a Facebook page and am a Goodreads author. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram.

You can click here to purchase this book.

To enter to win a copy of A Deadly Walk in Devon, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Devon” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 6, 2024. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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 last week.

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.

5 Comments

  1. Great interview! Count me in!

    Reply
  2. Sounds like a good read.
    Would love to try it.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Reply
  3. Sounds like a great start to a new series. Adding to my TBR list.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    Reply
  4. This sounds like a great new book. I love discovering authors and series that are new to me!

    Reply
  5. I love getting into a series at the very beginning. Thanks for the chance! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

    Reply

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