Chess Kings and Detective Queens

Sam visits Tintern, in A Parcel of Rogues. The monastery at Tintern was the first Cistercian abbey founded in Wales, on 9th May 1131. In later centuries, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, many poets and painters visited the abbey, including William Wordsworth and, in 1794, J.M.W. Turner, who painted the chancel.

Page One containing the historical background to my Ann’s War Mystery Series is now complete. This page tells the story of the 28th Infantry Division and their training in South Wales before embarking on the beaches of Normandy in July 1944. Some of the incidents mentioned on this page will appear in the series. Ann’s War: The Army Camp

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Sam is in the Wye Valley in A Parcel of Rogues. In the eighteenth century, the Wye Valley witnessed the birth of British tourism when the words and pictures of poets and painters enticed those with spare time and money to visit. This railway poster, c1938, was aimed at ‘everyman’ as people from all classes of society flocked to enjoy the valley’s natural beauty.

(c) National Railway Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Last week, I enjoyed coverage of the St Louis Rapid and Blitz chess tournament in which former world champion Garry Kasparov made a ‘comeback’. The event was won by one of my favourite players, Levon Aronian. You can catch up with all the dramatic action on YouTube

Sam’s home patch, Cardiff Bay

 

 

 

 

Sam and Ann

This is John Street, Porthcawl, Wales in 1938. My heroine, Ann Morgan, walks down this street in 1944, just before she discovers a murder. A billboard on the right hand side of the picture advertises a crime movie, Penitentiary, starring Jean Parker, also pictured. Included is a poster promoting that movie.

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Sam is stargazing in A Parcel of Rogues, looking at Pegasus in the October sky. The picture shows Pegasus with the foal Equuleus, from a set of constellation cards published, c.1825. The horses appear upside-down in relation to the constellations around them.

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Some beautiful views and background on Sam’s homeland, Wales.

It was Mark Knopfler’s birthday this week. So…

It’s a mystery to me
The game commences
For the usual fee
Plus expenses
Confidential information
It’s in a diary
This is my investigation
It’s not a public inquiry

I go checking out the reports
Digging up the dirt
You get to meet all sorts
In this line of work
Treachery and treason
There’s always an excuse for it
And when I find the reason
I still can’t get used to it

And what have you got at the end of the day?
What have you got to take away?
A bottle of whisky and a new set of lies
Blinds on the window and a pain behind the eyes

Scarred for life
No compensation
Private investigations

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Betrayal Background

Betrayal is book one in the forthcoming Ann’s War Mystery Series. The series, set in 1944-5, will comprise five novellas, each containing an individual mystery. Betrayal will be published before Christmas, hopefully free. Amazon control the prices on their websites so I require their approval to make the book free. More news about this and background on the series in the near future.

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While researching the Ann’s War Mystery Series, I discovered these fascinating stories. In 1944 this Centaur tank was deployed on Morfa Beach, a location in the Ann’s War Mystery series, in preparation for D-Day because the sand and clay of Morfa Beach was similar to the beaches at Normandy. As you can see from the second picture, the tank sank into the sand.

Morfa Tank

Morfa Tank Sand

Furthermore, in 1943, the propaganda film, Nine Men, was made on location at Morfa Beach by Ealing Studios. On this occasion, Morfa Beach represented the Libyan desert. Men from the South Wales Borderers and London Irish Rifles were employed as extras to play soldiers on both sides. In the closing scene, a company of these men relieved the nine men of the title who had been under attack from the ‘Italians’. You can see a short extract from the film, including a glimpse of the beach, below.

 

 

 

 

 

Sam at #1 for the Fourth Time

This week, Sam’s Song reached #1 on the Amazon private investigator’s chart for the fourth time. Many thanks to everyone who has read the book 😃

Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery Series book twelve, features an archaeological dig at Kenfig. The dig explores the legacy of the Second World War, left behind in the sand dunes. From real life, here are two Second World War bombs found in the dunes.

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Kenfig, the setting for Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery Series book twelve, is regarded as one of the most important sand dune sites in Europe, and has been designated a ‘Special Area of Conservation’. The dunes and large freshwater pool attract a wide range of rare flora and fauna, including this bee beetle photographed on a pyramidal orchid.

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In A Parcel of Rogues, Sam flies in one of these, a Citabria, with Mac as the pilot.

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And enjoys these aerial views of Cardiff.

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Sam is in Cardiff, in A Parcel of Rogues, searching the streets and parks for a missing husband. Here is a lovely short film about the city.

 

Amazon’s #1 Private Investigator

Many thanks to all my readers for making Sam Amazon’s number one private investigator for the fourth time. As Joseph Conrad rightly said, “One writes only half the book; the other half is with the reader.” The Sam Smith Mystery Series goes from strength to strength, and this is due to my readers. So, once again, thank you.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Private Investigators
#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Women Sleuths
#15 in Kindle Store > Whispersync for Voice > Literature & Fiction

Pontypridd and Cardiff

Chapter One of A Parcel of Rogues, Sam Smith Mystery Series book thirteen, is set in Pontypridd, South Wales. Pontypridd is famous for being the hometown of legendary singer, Tom Jones. It is also famous for its Old Bridge, pictured. The stone bridge spanning the River Taff was built in 1756 by William Edwards. At the time of construction, it was the longest single-span stone arch bridge in the world. Notable features are the three holes of differing diameters cut through each end of the bridge, placed there to reduce weight. Due to its steep nature, horses and carts found it difficult to cross the Old Bridge, so Victoria Bridge was constructed adjacent to it in 1857.

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As mentioned earlier, Pontypridd is the hometown of the legendary Tom Jones. Towards the end of his career, Tom returned to his roots. And never sounded better.

Sam, my narrator, visited Cardiff City Centre this week, in A Parcel of Rogues. The city centre contains a number of notable buildings, most dating from Edwardian times. The buildings include the City Hall, the Central Police Station, the National Museum, Cardiff University and the Crown Court. A splash of green is provided by Alexandra Gardens, a regular landmark in my books.

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A Parcel of Rogues is set in October. Roath Park will feature in the story, so this autumnal picture of the park seems appropriate.

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This is NOT a Hannah Howe novel. However, this cover created by the multi-talented Cusper Lynn has given me an idea for a story set in the 1920s or 1930s with The Cardiff Caper as the title. This illustrates why I like to have my covers in place before I start writing, because visual clues from the cover can suggest facets of character and that in turn suggests plot development. Two examples of this from my original covers – Sam’s Song and Sam’s long hair, and Ripper and the roses on the river. Both covers had a big impact on the shaping of my characters. So, The Cardiff Caper is not a Hannah Howe novel yet, but with such a striking image to inspire me, it might become one in the future.

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Casablanca

My Ann’s War mini series is a mystery series set against the backdrop of the Second World War and the Home Front. The first story, Betrayal, is set in March 1944. During that month, Casablanca, one of the most popular films of the war, and of all time, won Best Picture at the Sixteenth Academy Awards.

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One of the lines most closely associated with the film, “Play it again, Sam”, was not actually said. The line is, “Play it once, Sam, for old time’s sake.” And, “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’.”

Another famous line from the film is, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” That line was not written into the draft screenplays, but has since been attributed to a comment Humphrey Bogart made to Ingrid Bergman as he taught her poker between takes.

 

Past, Present and Future

January to June saw record-breaking sales figures for the Sam Smith Mystery Series, so many thanks to everyone who read one of my books. Currently, I’m polishing Digging in the Dirt, book twelve in the series, ahead of its September 16th publication. I have just completed the storyboard for A Parcel of Rogues, book thirteen. I am very excited about both books in terms of subject matter and series development. I’m also researching Boston, book fourteen, for next year.

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I have a number of storyline ideas. Some of these ideas won’t fit into the Sam Smith framework, so I’m developing several miniseries to run alongside my main series. My first miniseries will be Ann’s War, a collection of five novellas set during the Second World War. Betrayal will be book one in Ann’s War, and I hope to publish this story in November. Betrayal will be available free from Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and iBooks. Amazon control the prices on their websites, but I hope Betrayal will be free there too.

In addition, I’m working with my narrator Suzan Lynn Lorraine on the audio book of Family Honour, Sam Smith book seven. As usual, Suzan is doing a fantastic job. Suzan has agreed to narrate Ann’s War as well, and we hope to produce the first audio book in that series early in the new year.

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #19

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #19, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

Digging in the Dirt, book twelve in the Amazon #1 Sam Smith Mystery Series, is now available for pre-order, price $0.99/€0.99/£0.99.
The blurb:
Someone had posted a dead rat through Jana Jakubowska’s letterbox, and scrawled obscene graffiti on her garden wall. Harmless pranks, or something more sinister? Her boyfriend, Tom Renwick, hired me to find out.
During my investigation, I met Jana’s charming four-year-old daughter, Krystyna, her estranged former lover, Matt Taylor, and a local hoodlum called Naz.
As the case unfolded, the trail led to murder, and a situation that placed Krystyna in danger. The Rat Man had revealed his ruthless streak, but surely he wouldn’t harm a child?
Meanwhile, Faye Collister, my friend and colleague, was trying to reconcile her feelings for Blake the handsome bodyguard, and dismiss her troubled past.
Digging in the Dirt, a story of passionate love, and extreme hate.
In a Facebook group, we have been discussing the colour blue, which prompted me to write this blues. With apologies to all blues lovers. Picture, B B King.
The Hannah Howe blues.
Woke up this morning,
With the dog on my head.
He said, “You don’t look too good, girl.”
I said, “I’d better get out of bed.”
Staggered into the bathroom,
Bounced off the wall.
Opened the pill cupboard,
But could find no pills at all.
The dog followed me in,
Wagging his tail.
He said, “Good golly, Ms Howe,
You don’t half look pale.”
Wandered into the kitchen,
Where I spied a bottle of wine.
The dog said, “Are you sure?”
I said, “That’ll suit me just fine.”
Took a sip of the nectar,
It really hit the spot.
So I tilted my head back,
And I drank the lot.
Sat down to write,
But my mind was in a fog.
My canine said, “That’s what you get, Ms Howe,
When you sample the hair of the dog.” 😃

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Does the full moon influence criminal behavior? Psychology Today
Advice on writing from Stephen J Cannell, author and screenwriter on projects too numerous to mention.

This completes the Sunday Supplements for the time being. Many thanks to everyone who showed an interest in these posts.

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #18

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #18, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

The writing of Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery Series #12, is nearly complete so my thoughts are turning to A Parcel of Rogues, book #13. All my books are based on psychological or sociological issues and that will continue with A Parcel of Rogues. I also use real-life situations in my books, in fictitious form, and that will also continue. New characters will be introduced alongside old favourites and I hope this will keep the stories fresh. Meanwhile, I’m also researching material for Boston, book #14

 

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In Digging in the Dirt, Sam finds herself in a cave surrounded by flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites and helictites. Helictites, pictured, swivel on their axis during development, thus defying gravity. Delicate with their radial symmetry, they are brittle, fragile in their beauty.

 

Who was Jack the Ripper? Joseph Barnett, William Bury, Severin Klosowski, Montague Druitt, Sir William Gull, James Maybrick, Walter Sickert, Dr Francis Tumblety, Prince Albert Victor, Aaron Kosminski (pictured in the Illustrated London News, 1888), or A.N. Other? The crucial question is, why did the murders stop? Maybe Jack discovered that there was something good on television at 11.30 pm on a weekday night, and decided to stay in. Clearly, this is a facetious answer because a) everyone knows that the Victorians did not have television and b) everyone also knows that there is nothing good on television at 11.30 pm on a weekday night. So why did the murders stop? Maybe Jack, appalled by his actions, committed suicide. That’s possible, though the psychopathic mind does not, generally speaking, regard murder as appalling; a psychopath does not have a conscience. Maybe someone murdered Jack. Again, possible because Jack was walking dangerous streets at night in areas prone to violence. Against that is the argument that Jack was a professional person, familiar with the human anatomy. If a professional person was found murdered on an East End street, surely that would attract great attention and suspicion? Or maybe Jack was placed in an asylum on matters unrelated to the murders. The Victorians were big on asylums and were quick to place anyone they considered not normal – define ‘normal’ (!) – in an asylum. My Victorian ancestor, Mary, suffered psychological problems after the birth of her fourth child and spent the rest of her life, a further thirty years, in an asylum. So it is possible that someone observed Jack behaving abnormally – it’s highly likely that he displayed such behaviour on a regular basis, away from the murders – and Jack was placed in an asylum. For what it’s worth, I favour the asylum theory. And Jack’s identity? I would select A.N. Other.

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Meanwhile, here is my modern Ripper
Amazon Review: If I could rate this more than five stars I would. Hannah Howe’s Sam Series just keeps getting better and better!
I absolutely love how she entwines a mystery, thriller with the drama of Sam’s personal situation. There are some real surprises in this story (and I’m not revealing any of them), but as a reader, the more I read in each series, the more engaged I am in Sam Smith, her loved ones, and the author cleverly reveals snippets of her life that open you up more and more, wanting more and more from the next book.
The Ripper story itself is great! Its a story we well know of, there is a killer, someone out there after prostitutes and leaving a deadly trail in their midst. But there is more to this story than meets the eye and that’s what makes the Sam Smith Series truly wonderful.
I listened to this on audible and the narrator does an excellent job!
A must read in any format!
It is always satisfying when readers enjoy your books and you feel that you have brought some pleasure into their lives. A review of The Big Chill on Amazon.
I started with book 1 then 2 and 3. Hannah Howe is a wizard with the way she creates suspense and intrigue. As I start each of her books in this series I can’t seem to put them down. My 4th of July weekend has joyously been consumed by reading several of her books. I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed time like that as much as right now. If you are looking for very well written mystery books, this series would be very hard to beat. Get them in order and read at your own pace but, do yourself a favor and read them. I very seldom give a 5 star rating but have to in this case.

 

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #17

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #17, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

This week’s Supplement has a pictorial feel to it. I hope you enjoy 😃
Murder. Research from the Australian Institute of Criminology reveals that most murders stem from revenge, a domestic argument, alcohol or drugs, jealousy or financial gain. However, a fifth of murders display no obvious motive. More men than women are killed over drugs or alcohol, or for revenge or gain, whereas more women are killed through domestic violence, or for no apparent reason. Gruesome, but true.

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Sam has been in Penarth in Digging in the Dirt. Pictured, the pier, the Italian Gardens, the marina and a view of Cardiff from Penarth.

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Doggerland is mentioned in Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery #12. Doggerland, an area now beneath the North Sea, connected Britain to Europe during and after the last glacial period. It was flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500–6,200 BC, a mere blink of an eye ago in historical terms. Vessels have dragged up remains of lions, prehistoric tools and weapons, and woolly mammoths, pictured.
Art for art’s sake. Approximately 32,000 years old, this cave painting in Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc, France is considered by the Guardian newspaper to be one of the world’s ten greatest paintings.

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And finally…

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #16

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #16, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

Many thanks to all the readers who have placed Sam’s Song at #2 on the Amazon private investigators chart this weekend. Sam’s Song has reached #1 on three separate occasions and #2 on five separate occasions 😃
Also this week, Janet Evanovich has been promoting her new book on my Sam Song Amazon page, which I think is a great compliment, and I’m pleased to say that this week the Sam Smith Mystery Series registered its first sales in Brazil.

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Sam has been on Margam Mountain in Digging in the Dirt. Here is a view from the mountain, of Margam Castle and its country park.

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I have been researching the Victorian era for many years and in the near future I hope to write a mystery series set in 1888. This series will run alongside the Sam Smith Mystery Series and Ann’s War. I have set up a Facebook page to feature my research. If you are interested, here is the link: Facebook
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And to close, a thought for the week

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #15

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #15, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery Series book twelve, is mainly set in Kenfig, which is now a huge expanse of sand dunes on the South Wales coast. During medieval times, Kenfig was one of the largest towns in Wales. However, a series of sand storms during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries forced the burgesses to relocate elsewhere, and they established a number of smaller settlements. Around 1450 the sand had encroached to such an extent that the town was abandoned. The area became a sand covered Pompeii and it has fascinated historians and antiquarians for centuries. This picture shows antiquarian Edward Donovan visiting Kenfig and the remains of its castle in 1804.

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Ever fancied piloting a plane? This clip shows a pilot’s eye view of a Skyranger landing at Margam airfield, a location in Sam #12, Digging in the Dirt

Great news. My narrator, Suzan Lynn Lorraine, has completed the recording of Secrets and Lies and the audio book has been sent to ACX for publication on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Even better news is that Suzan has agreed to narrate Family Honour, the next book in the series, and future audio books. Exciting times 😃

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The Royal Ordinance Factory at Bridgend, known locally as the Arsenal, will feature in Ann’s War. The Arsenal was the largest of sixteen Royal Ordnance Factories in Britain during the Second World War. Vital to Britain’s war effort, the Arsenal employed 40,000 people, most of them women, and is regarded as the largest factory in Britain’s history. The picture shows workers leaving the Arsenal at the end of their shift.

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A contemporary local scene – Llanmihangel – from Ann’s War. During the Second World War farmers were encouraged to plant crops and raise milking cattle, so sheep and other farm animals went into decline.

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Telephone directories were a lot thinner in 1944, and phone numbers a lot shorter. Ann had a three digit number, which was common for the time.

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #14

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #14, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

Sam was in Margam this week in Digging in the Dirt. Margam contains many famous landmarks and attractive features including the Orangery at Margam Park, the longest Orangery in Europe, pictured here in 1850. Also pictured, the actor Anthony Hopkins, born at 77 Wern Road, Margam, and Peg Entwistle, a Broadway actress who sadly jumped to her death from the Hollywood sign in 1932. Peg was born in Margam in 1908.
Ann Morgan’s wedding dress, from Ann’s War, made from parachute silk. Strictly speaking, during the war it was illegal to make clothing from scraps of parachute silk. Nevertheless, women did make their own wedding dresses and underwear.

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Porthcawl, a seaside town 25 miles west of Cardiff, has featured in my books Ripper, Family Honour and Sins of the Father. This poster, issued by a railway company to entice people from the valleys to travel to the seaside, c1930, shows the promenade at Porthcawl. This view will feature in Ann’s War.

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The Sam Smith Mystery Series is based in Cardiff Bay. For much of the Victorian era and twentieth century Cardiff Bay was known as Tiger Bay, and in the 1950s Tiger Bay was the setting for a classic film. You can read my article on the film here and watch the full movie on the link below.

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #13

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #13, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

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Mind Games is published today, as a paperback and eBook. This story centres on Sasha Pryce, a young chess player. Chess is featured in the book, but the story is about family relationships and the many aspects of love. Amazon Link

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Digging in the Dirt starts with Sam and Faye sitting outside their office houseboat on a hot August day. They are looking towards Cardiff Bay, known in the Victorian era and throughout the twentieth century as Tiger Bay. Much of the land around Tiger Bay was owned by John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute (pictured). In the late Victorian era John Crichton-Stuart was regarded as the richest man in the world. That wealth came from exploiting the great mineral wealth of the South Wales Valleys and exporting it via Cardiff Docks. Through their business acumen and philanthropy the Butes are rightly regarded as the founding fathers of modern Cardiff.

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Ann’s War is a mystery series set against the social history backdrop of the Second World War. Ann Morgan, the reluctant detective in the series, is fictitious. However, she is loosely based on real women of the period. For example, in the 1940s Melodie Walsh established herself as a private detective. Melodie Walsh’s father was a close friend of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Initially, Melodie worked as an actress – along with modelling, a middle-class career path for young women in the 1930s – before establishing her agency. Her bread and butter tasks included divorces and writ-serving, although glamorous assignments also presented themselves – on one occasion, Melodie went undercover as a model to foil a series of fur thefts. With her father’s social connections, Melodie was in demand, hired by people who wished to gain information while avoiding a scandal. In the 1940s, private detective work was still predominantly a male profession. However, through the likes of Melodie Walsh women were beginning to assert themselves.

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Betrayal, the first story in Ann’s War, starts on Friday, 24th March 1944. On that night this remarkable event occurred. Twenty-one-year-old Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade survived – without a parachute – a fall of 18,000 feet when his Avro Lancaster aircraft was shot down over Schmallenberg (pictured). Alkemade’s fall was broken by pine trees and soft snow. Despite the fall of 18,000 feet he only suffered a sprained leg.
The Gestapo captured Alkemade and interviewed him. Initially, they refused to believe his story. However, after examining the remains of the Lancaster they realized that he was telling the truth.
Alkemade spent the rest of the war as a celebrated prisoner of war. He was repatriated in May 1945.

 

Hannah Interviews Paulette Mahurin

Welcome to Hannah Interviews the third in an occasional series where I interview authors I admire. The questions in each interview are based on the Proust Questionnaire and I hope they will offer an insight into each author and their books. For this interview I am delighted to welcome Paulette Mahurin. Paulette is an Amazon #1 author who donates her royalties to rescue dogs. Over to Paulette and I hope you enjoy the interview.

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What are your favourite qualities in a man?
Honesty, sense of humor, good health habits, good communicator and listener.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman?
Same as in a man.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Balance in give and take. Ability to communicate constructively, effectively, and honestly.

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What is your main fault?
I take things too personally. Oversensitive.
What is your favourite pastime?
Being with family and my dogs, quality time with friends, reading, writing, doing my professional job as a Nurse Practitioner, and volunteer work.
What is your idea of happiness?
Being okay with whatever is happening. Accepting the hand I’m dealt. I may not be able to change it but can I change my attitude about it and find something to be grateful about.

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If not yourself, who would you be?
I’m okay with who I am and don’t dwell on being someone else. Like Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
What is your favourite colour and flower?
Green and I love most flowers, especially natural and wild in nature.
Who are your favourite painters and musicians?
Too many to pick favorites. So many different categories, time periods in history, and ways of expressing. I appreciate talent in any field. And there has never been a lack of talent.

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Who are your favourite prose authors and poets?
Again, too many to enumerate on one, two, or a few. There is a lot of great talent out there from the well-known to the independents struggling to be read.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
The ones that are real, and balanced, and don’t necessarily overcome all the great odds but certainly give it their best. One I can relate to, one that I can read and feel he is organic and authentic.
Who are your favourite heroines in fiction?
Again same as in heroes. And I might add for both not a stereotypical cast character, one that has flaws and emulates the human condition realistically.

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Thank you, Paulette. You can learn more about Paulette’s award-winning books and charity work by visiting her Amazon page.

 

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #12

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #12, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Mind Games has been uploaded to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords. Book eleven in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, Mind Games is available as an eBook for $0.99/£0.99/€0.99 and for £2.99 in print. Many thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered a copy; your support is greatly appreciated Amazon Link

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In Digging in the Dirt, a story about archaeologists, Sam ventures into a cave. One of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries in Wales was unearthed in a cave, Goat’s Hole Cave, on the Gower Peninsula. In January 1823 the Rev. William Buckland found The Red Lady of Paviland (pictured). Buckland identified the remains as female. However, later analysis established that the bones belonged to a man who lived in Britain 33,000 years ago. The skeleton, dyed in red ochre, represents the oldest known ceremonial burial in Western Europe.

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Great news…Suzan Lynn Lorraine, narrator of my Sam Smith Mystery Series, is very keen to narrate Ann’s War as well. So we are aiming to publish the Ann’s War stories in print, as eBooks and audio books 😃

World War Two. England. 1938. The family at home, tuning in to hear the news on the radio news. They have gas masks at the ready.

The Third Man is arguably the finest British film ever made. Orson Welles dominates the film even though he only appears in ten percent of the running time. You can read more about that in my article on this cinema classic The Third Man

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From the Illustrated Police News, 8 February 1896, Saucy Burglar Robs Amorous Honeymoon Couple! Read all about it!

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Hannah Interviews Denise McCabe

Welcome to Hannah Interviews the second in an occasional series where I interview authors I admire. The questions in each interview are based on the Proust Questionnaire and I hope they will offer an insight into each author and their books. For this interview I am delighted to welcome Denise McCabe, an author of children’s fiction, a thoughtful blogger and a wonderful person. Over to Denise and I hope you will enjoy the interview.

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What are your favourite qualities in a man?
The most attractive thing I find in a man is someone who can make me laugh. Also confident in themselves and treat you as an equal.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman?
Strong, independent. Ones who support and don’t feel the need to compete against each other and who is up for a bit of fun.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Loyalty and knowing they will be there for me no matter what. One who I can be comfortable with and tell absolutely anything to and I know they’ll keep it with them and they won’t judge me.
What is your main fault?
How long have you got! I suppose I am quite impatient. I tend to start things and if I don’t get hang of straight away I walk on to the next. There are times I can jump into things too quick, and while sometimes it can work out, others it’s “Oh dear, maybe, just maybe should have given that one a few more moments of thinking!”
What is your favourite pastime?
Reading, listening to music and of course writing. One of my goals is to get into song writing, I love Irish ballads so currently I’m trying my hand at that.
What is your idea of happiness?
Having a good balance of life and not getting bogged down by things that are out of your control. Enjoying the now and accepting what you have. While I have my hopes and dreams, sometimes it can be just the simple things in life like chilling out in the park joining in playing with the kids, listening to a favourite song and having good positive people around me who I can just have a good chat and a laugh with.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Hard one to answer as so many people admire through the ages for various reasons, so if I was to be someone for a while maybe, as I’ve always been fascinated with the thoughts of other life existing out there so would love to be an astronaut for a bit to see if I could discover other planets, other life.
What is your favourite colour and flower?
Baby blue and sunflowers.
Who are your favourite painters and musicians?
I listen to all genres of music from classical to modern heavy metal, depends on the mood I’m in but one of my favourite singers would be Stevie Nicks.
Who are your favourite prose authors and poets?
I like some of James Joyce’s works. I’m not really a fan of poetry to be honest but I do like some from Maya Angelou as I admire her as a person the way she overcame a great deal of adversity and inspired so many people.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
I suppose one I would have just finished recently would be Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway as it was a story about courage and determination and despite his age he embraced his inner struggles to prove a point to himself, he never gave up wanting to catch that fish!

Who are your favourite heroines in fiction?

Top of my head would be Listbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson Girl with Dragon Tattoo books, young complex girl with her dark troubled past and prodigious skill for hacking, she turns lethal vigilante PI and uses her skills to expose corruption and to pay back those who wronged her.
Thank you, Denise. To learn more about Denise and her books please visit her website and Amazon page.

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #11

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #11, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

The Sam Smith Mystery Series is based in Cardiff. Here is a view of Cardiff Bay. At present, Sam is working from a houseboat. Her office houseboat is moored to the right of this picture, on the River Taff.

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I am researching background material for my 1944-5 mini-series. Although cars were rare in country areas during the Second World War, and petrol was rationed, my heroine, Ann Morgan, will have access to a vehicle because her husband is a flight lieutenant in the RAF seconded to M15, the security service. The Morgan’s car will be this stylish 1938 Jensen S-type. Anyone fancy a ride! 😃

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Currently, I’m reading Above Suspicion and Assignment in Brittany, the first two novels written by espionage novelist Helen MacInnes, pictured. These novels about the Second World War were written during the war, so they carry the stamp of authenticity. Furthermore, Helen MacInnes was married to Gilbert Highet who served in MI6 as a British intelligence agent. It is believed that Highet provided espionage details for many of MacInnes’ books.
An all-male cast, filmed in one room, no special effects…focus groups would never allow this film to be made today, yet it is spellbinding. Twelve Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon (see below) were directed by Sidney Lumet. The films receive a mention in my book, Mind Games, which incidentally is on course to break the record for pre-orders in the Sam Smith Mystery Series.

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Three posters from Dog Day Afternoon, one of my favourite films, and a film that has influenced my writing. There is a realistic feel to this movie enhanced by the natural interaction between the characters, the lighting and the ad-libbed lines, including the classic Wyoming line. Al Pacino is outstanding, and that can be said for all of the cast. Cinema doesn’t get any better than this.
An interesting insight into the creation of a detective series.

If you would like to follow Ann’s War, my Second World War mini series, on Facebook please follow this link Ann’s War

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Hannah Interviews Ellie Midwood

Welcome to Hannah Interviews the first in an occasional series where I interview authors I admire. The questions in each interview are based on the Proust Questionnaire and I hope they will offer an insight into each author and their books. For the first interview I am delighted to welcome the award-winning, bestselling historical novelist Ellie Midwood. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait. Ellie’s books have been recognized by the New Apple Awards and Readers’ Favourite Awards. Over to Ellie, and I hope you will enjoy the interview.

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What are your favourite qualities in a man? – I like the so-called type A men: driven, hard-working, always trying to improve themselves; who are passionate about what they do; who can be both sensitive and yet firm and who of course will treat their girlfriend/spouse as an equal partner.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman? – Same as in a man, actually, haha 🙂 I like women who are strong, independent and can stand for themselves.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends? – Our discussions about history and politics that last for hours; that we challenge each other and help each other broaden our horizons; that they’re incredibly sweet, honest people; that we always have each other’s back; and that they don’t get mad if we don’t speak for weeks when I’m on my writing spree 🙂
What is your main fault? – Arrogance, I’d say. Every Leo’s fault, I have to note in my defense 🙂
What is your favourite pastime? – It’s simple: reading, writing, doing my research and yoga.
What is your idea of happiness? – In a physical sense – a remote cabin somewhere in the Alps with no people around where I can write my novels while enjoying the nature. In a more vague sense – if all people would stop fighting for their ideas and live in peace without trying to impose their laws/ideas/policies etc on everyone else. Simple like that, just living and minding their own business and contributing to the society in which everyone can coexist peacefully. That would be my ultimate idea of happiness.
If not yourself, who would you be? – Honestly, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I’m perfectly happy with my life/career choice/time that I live in etc. Maybe I could remain myself but travel back to the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s though? That would be amazing, because I’ve always been fascinated with that period of time.
What is your favourite colour and flower? – The flower is easy: I adore lilies! As for the color, it’s a tricky question. To wear, I love black, white and blush; I prefer gray/white colors for the interior of my apartment; and I like blue just to look at. So it depends I guess.
Who are your favourite painters and musicians? – I love French Impressionism, so all the painters belonging to the movement would be among my favorites. As for musicians, I love classical music, so Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and other composers are on my permanent “to listen” list 🙂
Who are your favourite prose authors and poets? – I can’t enumerate all of them because the list will be too long, haha! Russian classics writers of course: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky; Irene Nemirovsky and her wonderful novels about France; Fitzgerald and his incredibly beautiful language; Nabokov; Hemingway; Maupassant; Remarque – I really can go on and on! I’m not that much into poetry to be honest, but Charles Baudelaire wrote poems about quite unorthodox ideas for his time that I loved.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction? – Elie Wiesel’s protagonists both in “Dawn” and “Day”. Those were novels unlike “Night”, so they considered to be fictional characters, however he wrote them with such raw emotion and feeling that I couldn’t stop thinking about them long after I finished both stories.
Who are your favourite heroines in fiction? – The “Anonymous” protagonist from “A Woman in Berlin” that tells a story of the atrocious rape of Berlin by the Red Army in 1945. That was actually a real diary of a real woman, and that made me admire her willpower and strength even more. I love tortured, broken characters who went through hell in their lives and yet remained so incredibly human. Those are my personal heroes.
Thank you, Ellie. You can learn more about Ellie’s books by following this Amazon link.

 

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #10

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #10, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Mind Games has been edited and proofread, and the manuscript will be uploaded to Amazon next week. The book is currently available for pre-order and will be published on the 3rd June 2017. A print version will also be made available. All my books are in print and available at discount prices through the Goylake Publishing link on the Amazon product pages.

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I have been having fun this week casting actors and accesses from the 1940s in roles for my 1944-5 mini-series. So far, I have found parts for Gene Tierney (pictured), Joseph Cotton, Dana Andrews, Judith Anderson, Mary Astor, Vincent Price, Trevor Howard and Clifton Webb 😃
One of the chapters in Digging in the Dirt is set in Victoria Park, Cardiff (pictured). As the name suggests, the park was named after Queen Victoria and was created to celebrate her sixty years on the throne. The park also contains a sculpture of Billy the Seal who lived from 1912 to 1939 in what is now the paddling pool. Apparently, Billy got tangled in a trawler’s net and was rescued at Cardiff Docks. Billy was popular with the locals and they were saddened when he died in 1939. However, upon Billy’s death it was discovered that he was a she, and maybe should have been called Billie.

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There are several Second World War strands to Digging in the Dirt. One of those strands is loosely based on the life of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade a remarkable woman who in her early thirties became head of the French underground intelligence network, “The Alliance”. The Alliance’s assignment was to gather information about German troop and naval movements and logistics inside France, and transmit this intelligence to Britain, using a network of clandestine radio transmitters and couriers. It was extremely dangerous work. Many of Fourcade’s closest associates were captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo. Some, however, escaped, including Fourcade herself, on two occasions. On the first occasion, 10th November 1942, she was arrested with her staff, but escaped to London. After returning to France she was captured a second time. Her second escape was more harrowing: in the small hours of the morning, she forced her petite body between the bars of a cell window. At the conclusion of the war, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was decorated for her outstanding contribution in the fight against fascism.

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In general, I tend to prefer books to movies. However, with the Maltese Falcon I prefer the movie to the book. One of the finest detective films ever made.

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #9

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #9, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Last weekend Sam’s Song reached #1 on the Amazon.com private investigators chart, the third time in nine months that the book has reached #1. Once again, many thanks to everyone who has read Sam’s Song.

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I am storyboarding a mini series of five novellas set in 1944-5. The series will feature five mysteries with an overall story arc for the main characters. The timeframe includes the D-Day landings, the Welsh Great Escape when 67, 70 or 84 – depending on your sources – German POWs escaped from Island Farm POW camp in Bridgend, and the Victory in Europe celebrations. Pictured, Field Marshall von Runstedt, General Blumentritt, General Heinrici and Field Marshall von Kleist arriving at Bridgend Railway Station en route to Island Farm after attending the Nuremburg war crimes trials.

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Here is a sneak preview of the cover for A Parcel of Rogues, book thirteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. This story will centre around a murder investigation. I have a new cover designer and I’m delighted with the covers. Indeed, this cover actually suggested a plotline for the book, which is why I like to have my covers in place before I write.

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In Digging in the Dirt, book twelve in the series, Sam and another character discuss the poems of Dylan Thomas, including this one, Fern Hill, read majestically here by Richard Burton.
One of my hobbies is genealogy and I’ve traced my family tree back to the mid 1600s. So far, I have not come across any Scottish ancestors or bike manufacturers. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share this lovely picture with you.

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As ever, thank you for your interest and support. More news next week.