December Newsletter


This week, The Big Chill, book three in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, made the top one hundred on the Amazon private detective chart, alongside Sue Grafton, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert B Parker.

Set at Christmas, and with a snow storm gripping the city, someone is out to murder private detective Samantha Smith. Using her wits and skills as a detective, Sam sets out to track down the assassin leading to a dramatic showdown in her snowbound apartment.

HH Book 3 The Big Chill FINAL RGB

I have storyboarded Boston, book fourteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. This story takes place over Christmas and features a range of new characters, including Gabe, a Boston private eye. The picture shows a south-east view of Boston, c1730.


In chapter three of Saving Grace, my forthcoming Victorian mystery novel, Daniel Morgan, my advocate, meets Grace Petrie, his client, for the first time. Grace reminds Daniel of Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s paintings, in particular the sensuality of the lady in ‘The White Hat’, pictured, and the vulnerability of the girl in ‘The Broken Vessel’.


The picture below is from my research into Victorian fashions for my forthcoming novel, Saving Grace. Saving Grace is set in 1876 when slimline dresses, bottom left of picture, were in.


Below, the location for the dramatic finale in Betrayal, Ann’s War Mystery Series book one. This location also features in the Sam Smith Mystery Series.

If you have any comments or questions about my books please feel free to contact me via my website. Thank you.







Saving Grace Background #1

It’s wonderful when your imagination and research overlap. In my mind’s eye I pictured Daniel Morgan, Grace’s advocate in Saving Grace, as Byronic in appearance. During my research I read that the real-life advocate Daniel is based on was also described as ‘Byronic in his handsomeness’. I think only a romantic would choose to speak up for Grace. In contrast, his rival advocate (in real-life and my book) had a weak chin, an unkempt moustache and he wore a monocle.


Carys is a Welsh word for love while the Beaumond, or Beaumont, family were medieval lords. Carys is a young widow with an interest in books. As the story starts, she is translating early medieval manuscripts. She is also concerned about her friend, the extremely rich Grace Petrie, who is suspected of poisoning her husband. And so she hires the dashing Daniel Morgan, a lawyer, to save Grace. Picture, a coat of arms associated with the Beaumonds.


Sker Grange, photographed c1901, Grace’s home in Saving Grace.


Florrie Williams was Grace Petrie’s maid. She was the first on the scene when Charles Petrie was poisoned and a key witness at the inquest. Meanwhile, here is a maid’s typical day.

5.30 am Clean the kitchen floors

6.00 am Hot water

6.30 am Wake seniors, lay and light fires, lay servants’ breakfast, deliver nursery breakfast

7.30 am Water and tea-trays to family, empty chamber-pots

7.45 am Servants’ breakfast

9.00 am Family breakfast

9.30 am Clear and clean

12 noon Servants’ lunch, nursery lunch

1.00 pm Family lunch

2.30 pm Clear lunch, rest

4.30 pm Tea-trays for household

5.30 pm Servants’ tea, nursery tea

6.00 pm Lay dinner, help in kitchen

7.00 pm Family dinner, serve and clear

9.00 pm Servants’ supper

10.00 pm Bed

Wages in 1876, £20-25 per annum

Picture: a maid with her fellow servants and a guest, enjoying a tea and cake break.

Victorian Maid

Take a ride on a Victorian train.


November Newsletter


October was a busy month for me with book projects and writing ideas aplenty. First, a reminder that my latest Sam Smith Mystery, Digging in the Dirt, book twelve in the series, is now available. This is a personal favourite of mine so if you should read the book I hope you enjoy it.


Over the autumn months I’ve been writing A Parcel of Rogues, book thirteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. This book is now available for pre-order at my usual pre-order price of $0.99/£0.99€0.99. You can learn more about the book here Hannah’s Amazon Page.


Also this month the announcement of Saving Grace, an exciting new project. Saving Grace is a mystery set in Victorian times, in August 1876 to be exact. It is based on a true story, a remarkable unsolved mystery that has baffled the police, the judiciary and readers for nealy 150 years. After extensive research I believe that I have found the solution to this mystery. All will be revealed in Saving Grace.


More news of Sam and Saving Grace next month. In the meantime, thank you for your interest and support.


Sins of the Flesh

Sins of the Flesh

A Victorian Morality Tale

This is a true story about real people. The principal characters are Mary Ware, a thirty-six-year-old housewife, her new-born son and the Rev. Daniel Lewis, a Calvinistic Methodist Minister. The story takes place in the village of Kenfig Hill, South Wales. The transcript below is taken from the Glamorgan Gazette, published in May 1860. If you read this transcript you can place yourself in the position of the three magistrates and decide whether you support Mary Ware’s testimony, or that of the Rev. Daniel Lewis.

At the Bridgend Petty Sessions, on Saturday last, before Richard Franklyn and A. O. Lord, Esqs., and the Rev. C. R. Knight, Mary Ware, a married woman, aged thirty-six, appeared personally to prosecute against the Rev. Daniel Lewis, a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist minister, a charge of being the father of her illegitimate child. She had no legal advocate. Mr. Llewellyn appeared for Mr. Lewis, the defendant. The court was densely crowded with spectators. Mr. Stockwell, the magistrates’ clerk, said the charge is that Daniel Lewis, Minister of the Gospel, is the father of the child of which Mary Ware was delivered in November last. The plaintiff, through an interpreter (Mary was a Welsh speaker, the sessions were held in English) deposed as follows:

“My name is Mary Ware. I live at Kenfig Hill, and am a married woman. My husband went to Australia three years ago the third of March last. I have not seen him since, but I have had letters from him. I am thirty-six years of age, and have had five children by my husband. Three are living with me, and two I have buried. I do not live in lodgings, but keep a house of my own. My husband sent money to me a little time back. I have had a child lately – a boy, born the 14th day of December last – not the 24th. The father of the child is Daniel Lewis – that man – the defendant in this case. He is a minister of the Methodist persuasion. He is a married man, so they say; he lives at Merthyr. There is a Methodist chapel at Kenfig Hill; I was a member of it. I did not sleep in my own house. I slept in my father’s house, which is next door. The connexion, took place on the Saturday night – that was the first night. I found myself pregnant fifteen weeks afterwards, and went to meet the defendant at Pencoed. I was told he was there preaching, and I went to him, and saw him. I asked him how he was; he asked me how I was; and I told him I was not well, and had not been since he was in my house, and I was afraid it was in consequence of what had occurred between him and me. He told me it was impossible – it could not be that – it must be a cold. I told him I would make an oath there had not been anything between myself and anybody else but him. I heard a part of his sermon, but he had began before I got there. I did not see him again until after I was confined. Some weeks after my confinement, while I was still in bed, the Rev. Mr. Howell, of Swansea, and Mr. X of Bryn, came to my house with Leyshon Williams and Isaac Williams. These men are all Methodists. They all came into the room; and Mr. Howell, of Swansea, put some questions to me. Amongst them he asked me who the father of my child was. I told him I had only one father to it, and the Lord was witness to it. And he asked me who it was, and I said it was Daniel Lewis; and Daniel Lewis then told me that I had been a temptation to him; and I said he had been a temptation to me, and both had fallen into the pit together, and I was in it yet, and I would try to keep him out of it. By that I meant I would not publish it. The first time that I found myself to be in the family way was when I went to him at Pencoed. He told me he would see me in six weeks at Cornelly, and I said I would then tell him the truth, whether I was in the family way or not. He did not show any anger. He did not come to Cornelly, but sent a letter by Morgan Rees, stating that new arrangements prevented his coming. I did not communicate with him any more after the fifteenth week, until after the child was born. That was owing to the fact that he lived so far off, and I was not going out of the house. My two brothers communicated the fact to him. I told them to say him that I was confined, and had no father to the child.”

But cross-examined by Mr. Llewellyn, Mary said: “It was the first night that Mr. Lewis came when I had intercourse with him. This was on the Saturday, and at no other time. He came by the seven p.m. train, and arrived at my house at eight p.m. He came into my house. That was the appointed place for the Methodist minister in the district. Mr. Lewis went to bed about eleven p.m.; he had no tea; he refused it. The intercourse took place between eight and eleven p.m. When I saw Mr. Lewis at Pencoed, he did not positively deny being the father. He did not say, ‘You put me in the way of temptation, but I resisted you.’ He did not say, ‘I kept clear of you, not withstanding your provocation.’ Mr. Howell and some gentlemen came as a committee of investigation. I did not hear Mr. Lewis deny, on that occasion, he had no connexion with me. He said it was impossible for me to be in the family way for as much as passed between him and me on that occasion. I have been married sixteen years the 3rd of May. I knew Mr. John Evans; he is not living now. He kept a shop at Kenfig Hill. I purchased goods off him fifteen years ago. He was a young man and I never saw any wife. Sometimes it might be late when l went to his shop – as late as ten o’clock. I used to stop to talk, and no more.”

Kenfig Hill 1910

Kenfig Hill, c1900

Leyshon Williams offered this statement: “I live at Kenfig Hill, and was one of the committee appointed to inquire into this matter, and had some conversation with the woman – not before we went up. In the chapel at Cornelly, before we went to her, there was a conversation, with Mr. Lewis as to the paternity of the child. He denied it. When we went up to her, he again denied it, but said the plaintiff tempted him. He told me she had tempted him on the Wednesday night – the following Wednesday after the Saturday night. She was telling that he had an intercourse with her on Saturday night. Everything was settled in Cornelly chapel, that all were to go to the woman’s. He, before the committee, said he was not guilty – he said she had tempted him 11 o’clock Wednesday night. He said that she had been a temptation to him on the Wednesday night and Thursday morning. He said, she was sleeping in her father’s house next door; and early in the morning, about seven o’clock came into the house and opened the door of his bedroom and came in, remained a very short time and went out again; and she afterwards lighted the fire in the other room, and then she came into his bedroom again, and coming up to his bedside, and throwing the clothes off his breast, she leaned on him with her bosom, and put her hand in a place where she ought not. That is his own statement to the committee. He said it occurred on the Thursday morning, and he made that statement in her presence. On Saturday night, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, he slept in her house. When the committee went to her house, Mr. Howell, of Swansea, asked her if she was the mother of the child? She said, yes. Mr. Howell said – there must be a father. She said, there is. Mr. Howell said, who is the father? and she said, ‘Mr. Lewis is the father, and nobody else’ and she added everything that had taken place between her and Lewis had taken place on the Saturday night, and he was denying it, and said nothing had taken place. He only told them the same as he had told the society. She said that both were a temptation, one as much as the other. He did not in her presence state what had been the temptation on the Wednesday; but he did state what had occurred on the Thursday. She did not deny but that the occurrence had taken place as he described it. I have known Mary Ware twenty years. I have known nothing against her until this happened. When reports had spread about respecting him and Mrs. Ware, it was Mr. Lewis who insisted upon an investigation by a committee. He denied the fact, but did not deny the temptation. He told them that when she came to the bed to him, he said to her that she was a married woman, and he was a married man, and that she was no more free because of her husband being in Australia. In the bedroom Mr. Lewis said he was innocent of being the father of this child.”

Isaac Williams, through an interpreter, deposed, “I am a weaver, and live on Kenfig Hill, and belong to the Methodists. I am one of the committee, and know Mr. Lewis. I had no talk with him, that I now remember, between him and myself alone. I remember what he told the defendant at Cornelly. He said it was impossible for him to be the father of the child, from as much as passed between them. He said that he had a great many questions to ask the woman, but she was weak, and he did not ask her. He did not tell us the particulars in committee, but he said the woman had meddled with him improperly. He did say when it was – either on a Wednesday night or Thursday morning.”

Mr. Lord, a magistrate, asked: “Did he say he had refused to do what she wanted him to do?”

Witness, Isaac Williams: “Yes. He said he refused to yield to the temptation. This was in the committee. Am I to tell you all what occurred before the committee in her room?”

Mr. Lord, “Yes.”

Witness, Isaac Williams: “Mr. Howell, of Swansea, the minister, asked him what was the reason, if she had tempted him, that he remained in the house, in the very place of temptation, and that he stayed there on Thursday, eating his dinner? His answer was that it was a delicate matter – that it might have cast a stigma upon the woman had he gone away from the house immediately this had occurred. Mr. Howell replied, ‘I don’t see it was delicate at all. It was worse to stay than to come away.’ In answer to that, Mr. Lewis said he did not like to come away, for fear someone would think she was an indecent woman, or something of that sort. Mr. Howell asked Mr. Lewis why he did not go away immediately after breakfast? He did wonder that, after a temptation had occurred, he should remain in the place of temptation. It was very prudent he (Mr. Howell) said for a minister or any other man to go away from the temptation. In reply to that, Mr. Lewis said he did not like to – it was a delicate case. Mr. Howell said, ‘I don’t see it delicate at all.’ That was in the committee. Then we went to the bedroom. She was very ill; our ministers were very kind to her, and did not press her too much. Mr. Howell said there must be a father to this child. She said, ‘Yes.’ Mr. Howell said, ‘Who is the father?’ She said, ‘Nobody but Daniel Lewis. I can answer before my God I have no other father to it.’ And then, they could not agree as to the night of the temptation; she said Saturday, and he said Wednesday. He described the nature of the temptation by throwing himself upon the bed, and said, ‘Did you not tempt me in this way?’ and she told that he was as much a temptation to her as she was to him. He has not been preaching since then, nor since the committee commenced the investigation. I am a deacon of the chapel. Mr. Lewis has been suspended from the ministry in consequence of this. Mr. Lewis called for this investigation. He wrote a letter requesting that the woman might be brought before the committee face to face with him. He was not quite willing to go to the bedroom, when the complainant proposed it. The woman was to come down to Pyle. She was so ill, however, that she could not be brought. Mr. Lewis objected to go to her bedroom; Mr. Howell said, ‘There is nothing in that; we will meet once more to make an end of it.’ Mr. Lewis denied throughout that he was the father of the child.”

Kenfig Hill (dog in street) c1900

Kenfig Hill

Mr. Llewellyn, the Rev. Daniel Lewis’ advocate, then addressed the Bench on behalf of the defendant, expressing his own entire belief in his client’s innocence, of which, he said, he believed the magistrates would also be convinced when the defendant came before them, and gave his own version of what had occurred. His manner, he thought, would convince them that he could not be that guilty person described by the complainant. Her statement was altogether incredible – that she, a respectable person, and he a respectable man, should, within three hours after entering her house, have done what she stated. He might have rested the case where it stood, for the law required some corroborative evidence besides that of the woman, but there was none save that of the woman. But the defendant was not satisfied merely that the case should fail for want of evidence. It was important for him to be restored to his former position, character, and office, and that without delay. He would therefore call not only the defendant, but also other witnesses, to speak as to the plaintiff’s conduct.

Mr. Lewis, the defendant, was then sworn, and on examination by Mr. Llewellyn, said “I am a minister of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Connexion, and have been so for 21 years. In March 1859, I had to go to the Kenfig chapel. I had to go to this Mrs. Ware’s house. It is usual in some churches for ministers to be received at certain appointed houses of the members. I was appointed to be received at her house. I got to Pyle about nine o’clock, the train being late; it should have been there at eight. I went towards the chapel, and saw the woman at the door of her cottage. She came towards me and said that was the house for me to remain at. I had supper there that night. She had a cottage of two rooms – a living-room and a bedroom. Her father and mother lived in the adjoining cottage. She gave up her room, going herself to her father’s to sleep. No familiarities whatever occurred between us. Isaac Williams, the last witness, agreed to meet me at the train, but was not there.”

Kenfig Hill downhill and cart

Kenfig Hill

Mr. Llewellyn, ‘This woman states that you had connexion with her between nine o’clock and eleven that night.’ Witness (in a firm and rather indignant manner) ‘I deny it. I went to rest at eleven o’clock.’ Mr Llewellyn, ‘What was her conduct that night? Had you family worship?’ Rev. Daniel Lewis, ‘This woman was kind to me, and acted as a religious person. She brought the Bible to me, and called in her father, and I read the Scriptures and offered up prayer. I was away on Monday. There is a practice amongst the Methodists of visiting certain small places when the minister comes to Kenfig. I was to be at Pen-y-Bryn. The deacon requested me to make a slight alteration in the arrangement, which I did, and in consequence of that, on Wednesday night I went back to this woman’s house, having duty at the chapel. After chapel, I went to Leyshon Williams, and from thence to the complainant’s house; while there Isaac Williams came in. When he left there was none in the house but myself and this woman. There was something in her language that evening that was very indecent – particularly after Williams went out. I went into the bedroom. She followed me there. She began to recite passages of scripture which had some allusion to adultery. I then left the room. She apologised to me for what she said, I told her to go to her father and mother that night, and go to bed. I went to my room, and in a few minutes afterwards retired to rest. Nothing further occurred that night. On Thursday night, about eleven o’clock, I heard her open the door of the house, and immediately afterwards she opened the door of my room and came in. I pretended to be asleep, though I was not so. She went away and made the fire, and then she came again and opened my door. She came up to my bed, and throwing the clothes off my breast, she smiled at me, and threw herself partly on the bed. I asked her what she meant and said that I was a married man and she a married woman. She seemed to pass it off, and said she was a naughty woman. I am here on my oath, gentlemen, and I say there is the greatest impossibility that I could be the father of her child. When I saw her at Pencoed, I asked her how they were at Moriah; she said they were all well, except herself. She then said, she did not know what was the matter with her, and by her manner, rather than anything she said, appeared to hint that she was in the family way. She said she had not been well since I was at the house. I said, certainly you gave me temptation, but I resisted you, and I have nothing at all to do with what you now hint. She then passed it off, and said perhaps it was only a cold, and she added, she had been with Dr. Cook, at Pencoed, receiving medicine. I understood that she had come up purposely to see Dr. Cook. I concluded by the way she spoke that she inferred I was the cause of her condition. I called to her mind the temptation she had offered me, and how I had resisted it. We were just about to part, for I had to go by the train, when I said to the woman of a house close by, who was waiting to speak to me, here is a woman from Kenfig, and she is a member with us; she is just going by train. Dear me, said the woman, she is not going away without tea. And she invited her in, and she had a cup of tea with us. There were about six of us.’

Mr. Lord, magistrate: “And this was after you knew she intended to charge you with being the father of the child!”

The Rev. Daniel Lewis cross-examined by Mary Ware: “Don’t you remember the conversation at Pencoed, what you said when I told you what had occurred between yourself and me on the Saturday night.”

The Clerk: “What was that?”

Mary Ware: “He said, oh, nothing will happen from that – it was on}y child’s play.”

The Rev. Daniel Lewis: “I deny it.”

Mary Ware: “I asked him on the Sunday night, how he got on in preaching, after what had occurred on Saturday. He said, ‘Oh, I got on very well’.”

The Rev. Daniel Lewis: “I deny it.”

Mr. Lord, magistrate: “How came you to take tea with her immediately after she had charged you with being the father of her child?”

The Rev. Daniel Lewis: “She did not take tea with me alone, neither did I invite her; there were about six persons present—the man and woman of the house; a man and woman of Pencoed; and Mr. Howell, of Pencoed. She did not say at Pencoed that she had come purposely to Pencoed to see me, and that she had walked to Bridgend, to avoid any notice of her departure being taken by neighbours. Mr. Howell, of Pencoed, was present. l had known her before my visit in March, eight or ten months. I had slept in her house once before. On that Saturday night she brought my supper.”

Mr Llewellyn, advocate: “Are you sure you took supper?”

The Rev. Daniel Lewis: “Oh, certainly.”

The Clerk: “You say she came to your room, and threw off the clothes, as you lay in bed?”

The Rev. Daniel Lewis: “Yes, Sir. With that she threw herself partly on the bed. I resisted her, and told her how wrong it was; and with that she went away. She threw her arms round my neck, and I pushed her away. I took breakfast there, about nine or half-past nine, with her and the children, and I was obliged to wait there, or go elsewhere, till the two pm train. Just after breakfast, William Thomas came in, and we conversed. That is my reason for staying in the house after what had occurred. She asked me to perform family worship. After what had occurred – meaning her conduct – I told her I would not read. She said, You must pray. She then went out and returned. She then gave me the Bible. I read a psalm, and prayed; she joined in the observance of the prayer. Her mother came in; then Mr. Thomas took a bit of dinner with the complainant. I have no recollection of speaking with her before leaving. I did not complain of her conduct before her confinement. My reason for that was, I did not like to make an example of her, thinking that her general character was not in accordance with what I had seen, and that it was a casual thing with her. I knew, Sir, I was perfectly free from participation in her conduct, and had rebuked it. Thinking that she was not a person of light character, and that it might not occur again, I did not wish to expose her.”

By the Bench: “Her coming to Pencoed did not shake my belief in her general good conduct. Six months had elapsed since I had seen her, and I knew it was impossible that what she hinted could refer to me. Catherine Davies said I lived with Mr. Evans of Kenfig as servant, in the spring of last year, up to April. I know the plaintiff. We were brought up together. She was in the habit of coming to the shop. She was on good terms with Mr. Evans – but like some other women. I never saw anything improper between her and Mr. Evans; I did not tell Mr. Lewis that I had. I told him that plaintiff used to come in at eleven o’clock at night, and stay ten minutes. I saw her have, not beer and biscuits, but some beer, which Mr. Evans gave her. There was no familiarity – only taking a glass of beer. It was not every customer that took beer and biscuit with Mr Evans.”

Capel y Pil

Capel-y-Pil, Cornelly Methodist Chapel

Mrs. Ann Thomas, sworn, and examined by Mr. Llewellyn: “I am the wife of Mr. Thomas, the Baptist minister, at Kenfig. I went to see Mary Ware, nine or ten days after she was confined. I told you what conversation occurred. Mrs. Ware said, if Mr. Lewis would come and settle about the child, she did not want anything further. I did not say it was like Mr. Evans. I did not tell Mr. Lewis so. I did not say to Mr. Lewis that it was very wrong to charge Mr. Lewis.”

In answer to another question, Mrs. Ann Thomas, with some feeling, said, “I have nothing further to say. I lived by Mary Ware fifteen years, and have nothing to say against her.”

Laughter from the public gallery.

Mrs. Ann Thomas:  “I did not tell Mr. Lewis that Mary Ware had been turned from the harvest field.”

The Chairman (to Mr. Llewellyn): “How can you say anything more favourable to Mary Ware than your own witness is stating?”

The Rev. R. Knight, magistrate: “She (Ann Thomas) is a brother minister’s wife.”

Mr. Llewellyn, advocate: “After you hear what the defendant will state, I think you will be of the opinion that she (Ann Thomas) has contradicted herself.”

Magistrate, “She is your own witness.”

Defendant was then recalled to prove that he took down the statements of the two last witnesses at Mr. Thomas’s house. The Magistrates then held a short consultation, after which the Chairman said, “Daniel Lewis, the magistrates have given their very best attention to this case – as, indeed, is due to all cases – but this is a particularly painful case – seeing that you are a Minister of the Gospel; and they, to the best of their ability, sifted all the evidence; and it is with very great pain that they have come to the unanimous conclusion that you are the father of the child, and they therefore order that you pay 2s. 6d. a week, and the expenses.”

Cheers from the public gallery.

The Magistrates expressed their strong displeasure at this ebullition of feeling, and directed it to be suppressed, and the police to ascertain who had been guilty of such indecorum.

Mr. Llewellyn, advocate: “This decision is a matter of great importance to Mr. Lewis and I have now to give notice of his intention to appeal against it.”

The Chairman, “Of course you have a perfect right to do that. [To the police-officer] You had better explain that to the woman (Mary Ware).”

Nottage Court

Nottage Court

Although that was the end of the Petty Sessions, it was not the end of Mary’s story. Through a curious turn of events, she became one of the Rev. C.R. Knight’s eight servants at his grand manor house, Nottage Court. The Rev. C.R. Knight was, of course, one of the magistrates.

Mary Ware remained a Methodist for the remainder of her life. She died on 29th March 1898 aged 74. She was buried in plot D17 at Capel-y-Pil Methodist Chapel.

What of Mary’s son by Daniel Lewis? She christened him Daniel Lewis Ware. Daniel became a clerk at a local tin plate works and  married Margaret. The couple produced nine children, including twins, Ethel and Florence.










Ann Morgan Mystery Series – Cover Reveal

Here are the five covers for my forthcoming five story Ann Morgan Mystery Series. Set in 1944-5, these 15,000 word novellas will be set four months apart and published four months apart, starting in November 2017, so you can read them in ‘real time’ if you so wish. Each story will contain a complete mystery while the five stories will complete Ann Morgan’s story arc. Ann is a private detective’s secretary who, through a combination of circumstances, assumes the lead detective role.

I am delighted with these covers and only hope that my words can do them justice. More news about the series, including the offer of a free book, in the near future.


Sam’s Sunday Supplement #21


Last week, Sam’s Song reached #1 on the Amazon private detective chart for the fifth time (56 on the main chart). This will probably be the last time one of my books tops an chart because I will not be promoting directly to that site in future. Nevertheless, five number ones is a record I’m pleased with and proud of.


Digging in the Dirt was published this weekend. The book broke my pre-order record so many thanks to everyone who pre-ordered it. I hope you enjoy the story. Also published this week, the audio book of Family Honour narrated by Suzan Lynn Lorraine. Please see my Audio Book page for samples of my audio books.


The Austin 10 driven by spy master Charles Montagu in my forthcoming Ann Morgan Mystery Series. Currently, I’m editing Betrayal, book one in the series, for publication in November.

The cliffs at Southerndown provide the dramatic location for the finale of Betrayal, Ann Morgan Mystery Series book one, published in November. Here is a short film showing the cliffs in all their glory.


In case you missed it, here is my appreciation of actress Gene Tierney a woman whose life was far more dramatic than any of the roles she played. Her quotes, taken from her autobiography, are particularly poignant and insightful. This is my most popular article to date.




Gene Tierney

Gene Tierney

Through her looks and life story, Gene Tierney has provided the inspiration for two of my characters – Ann Morgan in my 1944-5 Ann Morgan Mystery Series and Dana Devlin in my forthcoming Sam Smith Mystery Series novel, The Devil and Ms Devlin. Therefore, in appreciation of Gene Tierney’s life and career, I decided to write this article.


Born on the 19th November 1920 in Brooklyn, New York, to a wealthy insurance broker and a socialite mother, Gene Tierney enjoyed a privileged upbringing, an upbringing that included exclusive schools, extensive travel and glamorous parties. Aged seventeen, she met Anatole Litvak, an influential Hollywood director, and he invited the debutante to make a screen test for Warner Brothers. Impressed by her looks and potential, the studio offered her a contract. However, her parents were not pleased.

Obeying her parents, Gene Tierney returned to Connecticut where she endured a mind-numbing season of debutante parties. At the close of the season, she informed her parents of her desire to carve out a career as an actress. On this occasion, her parents offered their support. Her father, Howard, secured mentoring and schooling, and he formed a company, to assist Gene in her ambitions.

Gene Tierney’s early theatre performances attracted the attention of Warner Brothers who, once again, offered her a contract. However, she turned them down; instead, she signed a six month deal with Columbia.

With Gene Tierney’s star on the rise, eccentric movie mogul Howard Hughes entered the picture. He was besotted with her beauty. However, as she later pointed out, “Cars, furs and gems were not my weakness.” And she rebuffed Hughes.

Despite the rebuff, Howard Hughes remained friends with Gene Tierney, one of many influential and powerful people she encountered during her life. At this stage, she was a contract actress with a major studio, reduced to roles dependant on her looks, rather than her acting ability. Then she caught the eye of Darryl Zanuck, of Twentieth Century Fox. Later, Zanuck stated that Gene Tierney was, “the most beautiful woman in movie history.”

In 1940, Gene Tierney played Eleanor Stone in The Return of Frank James. The reviews for the movie, and Gene’s performance, were unkind. Indeed, Gene endured a number of unfavourable reviews throughout her career, and while some of those reviews were merited, you have to wonder if jealousy, over her looks and privileged upbringing, was also at play.

Also in 1940, Gene Tierney’s private life changed direction. She met fashion designer Oleg Cassini and within months the couple were married. Once again, her parents were not pleased and a rift developed within the family. Over time, that rift widened until Gene was cut off financially, and from Connecticut high society.

Stressed, and enduring a string of dubious movies and poor reviews, Gene fell ill. Nevertheless, she remained in Hollywood and continued to work, landing the lead role in the 1943 movie, Heaven Can Wait.

In June 1943, a pregnant Gene Tierney contracted rubella. On the 14th October 1943, she went into premature labour and soon after her daughter, Daria, was born. Tragically, the rubella affected Daria’s development and she suffered from a number of impediments.

With professional help, Gene Tierney and Oleg Cassini raised Daria at their Hollywood home. While adjusting to her maternal responsibilities, Gene landed the title role in Laura, in 1944, arguably the highpoint of her acting career. Although the film received mixed reviews – a consistent thread throughout Gene’s career – it did well at the box office, netting over a million dollars, and now is regarded as a cinema classic. As Vincent Price, one of her co-stars in Laura, said, “No one but Gene Tierney could have played Laura. There was no other actress around with her particular combination of beauty, breeding and mystery.”

The success of Laura should have brought Gene Tierney great happiness. However, Oleg Cassini could not cope with his daughter’s disability and, in 1946, he walked out of the family home.

Before that, in 1945, Gene Tierney starred in Leave Her to Heaven, and received an Oscar nomination for her performance. In 1946, she co-starred with Vincent Price in Dragonwyck and during the filming she met J.F. Kennedy. A relationship developed, but was not pursued because of J.F.K.’s political ambitions.

In 1947, Gene Tierney made The Ghost and Mrs Muir. However, unhappy with her personal life, she decided to leave Hollywood and returned to Connecticut. In 1948, while constantly crying tears for Daria, Gene went through a whirlwind of emotions with Oleg Cassini – they divorced, Gene became pregnant, she gave birth to a second daughter, Christina, on the 19th November 1948 her 28th birthday, and later remarried Cassini.

Unable to cope with Daria’s health problems, Gene bowed to Oleg’s insistence and placed her daughter in an institution. At this point, Gene’s health faltered and she slipped into deep depression. Mood swings ensued. A lack of understanding from the medical profession and the stigma from an uncaring society added to Gene’s problems. She threw herself into her work and later wrote, “As long as I was playing someone else, everything was fine. It was when I had to be myself that the problems began.” She added, with great insight, “Depression is only a temporary thing. I’ve often thought that if people who committed suicide could wake up the next morning they’d ask themselves, ‘Now why in the world did I do that?’”

In the early 1950s, Gene divorced Oleg Cassini for a second time. Her career, personal life and health were in crisis.

In 1955, while working with Humphrey Bogart on The Left Hand of God, Bogart noted that Gene had problems. He alerted the executives at Fox studios, but they dismissed his concerns in flippant fashion. As Gene Tierney later wrote, “It was the fashion at the time, still is, to feel that all actors are neurotic, or they would not be actors.”

On set, Gene continued to work to a high standard, while at home she struggled to cope with the basic tasks of life. In despair, Gene entered a sanatorium. Within the sanatorium, she received electroconvulsive-therapy, a degrading and barbaric practice, now considered inappropriate by many mental health professionals.

In the spring of 1957, Gene Tierney contemplated suicide. In New York, she walked on to the ledge of her mother’s 14th floor high-rise apartment. She later wrote, “I felt serene…totally without fear.” However, she didn’t jump because vanity took hold. She confessed, “I thought of what I’d look like when I hit the ground – like a scrambled egg. That didn’t appeal to me.”

More treatment followed, but thankfully treatment of a saner, helpful variety. Gene entered the Menninger Clinic in Kansas. There, in an atmosphere of peace and quiet, she was encouraged to talk. With support, she developed skills and coping strategies, until she reached the stage where she felt more in control of her illness. Today, even though drugs and other treatments are available, talking often remains the best cure.

While on holiday in 1958, Gene met W. Howard Lee, a Texas oilman. A year later, she resumed her acting career in Holiday for Lovers, but the strain proved too much, and she dropped the part. However, on the 11th July 1960, she did marry W. Howard Lee and stated, “The only time I was really happy was in my childhood – and now.”

After continued treatment at the Menninger Clinic, small acting roles followed, along with greater insight into Gene’s problems. She later wrote, “If you break an arm or a leg it takes months for it to really heal, and years for it to be the same again. So you can imagine the problems with a broken mind.” And, “More than anything, I learned that the mind is the most beautiful part of the body and I am grateful to have mine back.”

In 1962, Gene suffered a miscarriage. Bouts of depression and periods of mania followed, but when they faded she was able to reflect on them with humour, often joking with her new husband.

Although not reaching the heights of Laura, Gene appeared in movies and television series, until 1969 when she quit Hollywood and television for good.

W. Howard Lee died in February 1981, and from that point on, after years in the spotlight, Gene Tierney decided to live a life of seclusion.

Gene died on the 6th November 1991, of emphysema, a condition brought on through chain-smoking; at the start of her acting career, and showing no regard for the individual, the studio suggested that Gene should take up smoking, to make her voice huskier.


Gene Tierney wrote, “Wealth, beauty and fame are transient. When those are gone, little is left except the need to be useful.” And she served that statement well by writing her autobiography, Self-Portrait, in 1979. Through her frank and honest account of her life, Gene Tierney helped to break down the stigma of mental illness, and along with her numerous movies, that stands as her greatest legacy.

Further reading: Self-Portrait – Gene Tierney with Mickey Herskowitz.







Sam’s Sunday Supplement #20


Digging in the Dirt will be published on the 16th September as a paperback and eBook, with an audio book to follow. The eBook is now available to pre-order. Here is 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 Bodyguard, a handsome hunk, and dismiss her troubled past.

Digging in the Dirt, a story of passionate love, and extreme hate.

I have teamed up with Author Reach 😃 What does this mean for you, dear reader? For a start it means a FREE book. Simply follow the link and you will receive a copy of Sam’s Stories, which includes the stories Over the Edge, A Bad Break and Of Cats and Men, chronicling Sam’s early days as an enquiry agent. You should receive a confirmation email followed by the book instantly, but please check your junk folder because sometimes emails wander into the junk folder.

Author Reach Free Book


Used fictitiously in Sam’s Song as Castle Gwyn, Castell Coch is a nineteenth century Gothic Revival castle built above the village of Tongwynlais in South Wales. The ruins of the original Norman castle were acquired by the Bute family during the Victorian period. At that time, the Bute family were the richest family in the world and with the aid of architect William Burges they developed their fantasy to create a fairytale castle.

Pictured: the main entrance, the banqueting hall, the drawing room, a bedroom and the castle in its beechwood landscape.


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In A Parcel of Rogues Mac builds a coracle. For what reason? All will be revealed in chapter twenty-three 😃

And while you are here, please check out my recently updated Audio Book page 😃



Free Book

I have teamed up with Author Reach 😃 What does this mean for you, dear reader? For a start it means a FREE book. Simply follow the link and you will receive a copy of Sam’s Stories, which includes the stories Over the Edge, A Bad Break and Of Cats and Men, chronicling Sam’s early days as an enquiry agent. You should receive a confirmation email followed by the book instantly, but please check your junk folder because sometimes emails wander into there.


Background on the Books

The Hermit of Hisarya is set in Bulgaria, and the dramatic finale takes place on the streets of Plovdiv Old Town, pictured.


You can read an extract from the book here

One of the characters in Secrets and Lies is loosely based on Dorothy Parker. Here are five of my favourite Dorothy Parker quotes:

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

“I hate writing, I love having written.”

“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.”

“I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem.”


Newton Beach. Sam’s husband, Dr Alan Storey, and a troubled Vittoria Vanzetti walk along this beach in Family Honour.

In the 1920s and 1930s a local physician, Dr Hartland, created an open-air spar on the beach and dispensed spring water. His spar was very popular, and people flocked from miles around.


Sins of the Father features Sam’s dad and his nefarious past. The story includes a brutal murder, which reminds Sam of Bugsy Siegel’s murder, witnessed through archive photographs. Bugsy Siegel, pictured in a 1928 mugshot, was a mobster, one of the most infamous and feared gangsters of his day. He was a celebrity, a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip and a founder of Murder, Inc. A bootlegger during Prohibition, Siegel turned to gambling. Noted for his prowess with guns and violence, in 1939 he was tried for the murder of fellow mobster Harry Greenberg, but in 1942 was acquitted. Either due to mobster infighting, or an illicit affair, Siegel was shot dead on 20th June 1947 by an unknown gunman.

Although not as dark as reality or the mobster films of the 1940s through to the 1970s, Sins of the Father is my homage to that strand of the private detective genre.


The music track is Danny Bailey from Elton John’s classic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. Danny Bailey is lyricist Bernie Taupin’s composite gangster from the Prohibition era.

Looking ahead to 2018 when Sam will be travelling to Boston, I have been researching the past and present of the city and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Puritan settlers from Boston, Lincolnshire gave Boston its name, on 7th September 1630. The Puritan focus on education led to the founding of America’s first public school, in Boston, in 1635. Throughout the seventeen century Boston continued to develop into the largest town in British America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid-eighteenth century. My Sam Smith mystery story, called Boston, will be set at Christmas, amongst the snow.

The picture shows a south-east view of Boston, c1730.




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


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.


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



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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.




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.


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.


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.” 😃


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


And finally…


Sam’s Sunday Supplement #16

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


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.


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.


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
And to close, a thought for the week