FEATURED AUTHOR: CONNIE BERRY
American antique dealer Kate Hamilton’s Christmastime jaunt to a charming English village leads to an investigation of a missing ruby . . . and a chain of murders.
It’s Christmastime and antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is off to visit her daughter, Christine, in the quaint English village of Long Barston. Christine and her boyfriend, Tristan, work at stately-but-crumbling Finchley Hall. Touring the Elizabethan house and grounds, Kate is intrigued by the docent’s tales of the Finchley Hoard, and the strange deaths surrounding the renowned treasure trove. But next to a small lake, Kate spies the body of a young woman, killed by a garden spade.
Nearly blind Lady Barbara, who lives at Finchley with her loyal butler, Mugg, persuades Kate to take over the murdered woman’s work. Kate finds that a Burmese ruby has vanished from the legendary Blood-Red Ring, replaced by a lesser garnet. Were the theft and the woman’s death connected?
Kate learns that Lady Barbara’s son fled to Venezuela years before, suspected of murdering another young woman. The murder weapon belonged to an old gardener, who becomes the leading suspect. But is Lady Barbara’s son back to kill again? When another body is found, the clues point toward Christine. It’s up to Kate to clear her daughter’s name in Connie Berry’s second Kate Hamilton mystery, a treasure for fans of traditional British mysteries.
Title: A Legacy of Murder
Author: Connie Berry
Genre: traditional mystery
Series: A Kate Hamilton Mystery, book 2
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (October 8, 2019)
Print length: 336 pages
On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours
Q: If you could live in any time period, which would it be?A: As much as I adore history, I have to say right now—the present. Not only do we enjoy the physical comforts of reliable heat and light, a safe food supply, and modern medicine, but we also have access via the internet and vast archives to the documents of the past. Think of the olden days when we had to search through card catalogs, locate the books we wanted (which may or may not prove helpful), lug them to a desk somewhere, and pour over them word by word. Now, from the comfort of our own homes, we can learn the schedules of ships sailing between New York and Glasgow in the eighteenth century. We can read actual diaries written in the time of the Great Fire of London. We can pull up inventories included in the wills of people who died in past centuries. We can even translate works written in other languages. And then there's word processing. When I typed my master's thesis, I produced three error-ridden pages for every acceptable one. Now, typos vanish without so much as a thought. If I had to choose a time period other than the present, I'd probably choose the beginning of the nineteenth century, but I'd insist on permission to pop back to the present every once in a while for a bath, a change of clothes, and a clean bed.
Q: If you could be anything besides a writer, what would it be?A: I've already done it! For twenty-five years I taught theology and trained leaders in a class of more than five hundred. Not once did I consider it work. When I retired three years ago, I decided to write full time—and I love this, too. Considering all the possible jobs I might have had in business, medicine, academia, or public service, I lucked out. The work I've done and am doing suits me to a tee.
Q: If you had to do community service, what would you choose?A: One community service organization I've been associated with over the years provides a helping hand to the needy, the elderly, and the homeless. The elderly hold a special place in my heart. I love to listen to their stories of the past. Many of them did amazing and courageous things, and they should be treated with the utmost respect and kindness. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case, and it breaks my heart. Elderly men with their instinct for gallantry are especially dear to me—which makes my husband very happy.
Q: If you were on the Amazon bestseller list who would you choose to be one before and one below you?A: Since this question takes us into the realm of fantasy, I'll be bold and say I'd like to be wedged between Louise Penny and Deborah Crombie. I aim high.
Q: If you could meet any author for coffee, who would you like to meet, and what would you talk about?A: Choosing just one author to meet for coffee is a challenge—and my answer might change, depending on what I'm reading at the moment and what I'm writing. Today I'd probably choose Louise Penny since I just finished her wonderful new book, A Better Man. I'd ask her how she plots out all the possible suspects and their secrets. She kept me guessing until the very end.
Five things you need in order to write:• a comfortable place to sit. We've all heard about J. K. Rowling, writing the Harry Potter series while sitting in a coffee shop. I guess it's true, but since writers spend so much time sitting, the first thing we need (in my opinion) is a comfortable chair. Mine is adjustable, so I can vary my position from time to time.
• my computer. As I mentioned before, the ability to correct and revise seamlessly is one of the great benefits of living in the present day. Years ago I wrote everything out in longhand first and then transferred it to the word processor. I can't even imagine going to all that extra work now!
• my keyboard. I took keyboarding in high school and perfected my lightning-fast typing speed at Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School in New York. My computer keyboard is a direct link between my brain and the printed page.
• something to look at. My favorite place to write is our cottage in northern Wisconsin where I can gaze out at the lake and the woods. At home in Ohio, my desk faces a wall, but I've put up a bulletin board with photographs of the most important women in my life—my mother, my aunts, my friends, my mentors. They inspire me.
• my dog, Millie. Millie is a Shih Tzu, one of the sweetest dog breeds in the world. She follows me around like Mary's little lamb and when I'm writing, finds a comfortable place to curl up near my feet. She's quiet and calm, but every once in a while, she insists on sitting on my lap as I'm writing. Not the most convenient, but I don't mind. Millie is my silent partner and ever-faithful companion.
Five things you love about where you live:I live in central Ohio, just north of Columbus, our capital city. The five things I like best are:
• The Ohio State University (and yes, "The" is an official part of the name). I don't go in much for sports, but the university definitely adds to the cultural richness of the city and surrounding areas. When my sons were small, I got my master's degree in English Literature there. A friend's husband, now retired, audits classes every semester. The university is a wonderful asset.
• German Village, a neighborhood just south of downtown Columbus, settled in the 1800s by German immigrants, who recreated their hometowns with small houses on cobbled streets. Most of the old homes have survived and are now beautifully renovated while retaining their Old World charm.
• the vibrant Short North area between the university and downtown, filled with wonderful restaurants and unique shops.
• Thurber House Literary Center and James Thurber Museum. The house, on the National Register of Historic Places, is home to evening chats with authors, summer literary picnics, adult writing workshops, and a summer writing camp.
• living near my sons and my friends. Any place feels like home when the people you love are there.
Five things about you:• I'm more logical than emotional.
• I have a touch of OCD, mostly visually.
• my favorite household task is doing laundry—and I love to iron.
• I'm a pretty good cook, but I don't enjoy cooking and rarely use recipes (too much work).
• I adore animals—all kinds. I'd have a whole menagerie if I could, but we travel too much. So I'm content with Millie.
Five favorite things to do:• traveling internationally. Tours and cruises aren't really my style because I want to eliminate as many filters between me and the culture as I can. That means slow travel—meeting people, eating their food, participating in local events, and generally trying to see life from another perspective.
• walking, preferably in the countryside. My husband and I spend time every year in the British Isles, and I love the fact that Brits are able by law to walk anywhere they like, as long as they stay on marked paths and don't bother grazing animals or tramp down growing crops. Following walking guides is a wonderful thing to do, incorporating a bit of map reading and guess work. And ending, usually in a small village with a pub.
• having a wonderful meal in an historic British pub. The cuisine in Great Britain has come a long way from the overcooked roasts and mushy peas of the past—except that mushy peas are now back on the menu as a favorite throw-back to childhood.
• reading—especially crime fiction set in the British Isles. My current favorites are Anthony Horowitz, Deborah Crombie, Elly Griffiths, Tana French, and Charles Todd. My favorite secret crush is the Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton. I've heard that her latest, Beating About the Bush (not yet released in the U.S.) will be her last. I'm already feeling symptoms of withdrawal.
• Getting pedicures. No explanation needed.
Five things that drive you crazy:• drivers in the U. S. who can't figure out how to navigate traffic circles.
• educated people who apparently never learned proper verb tenses, especially past participle.
• same as above but with pronouns: Using me, him, or her as the subject of a sentence should be punishable by law—with a stiff fine.
• paintings hung too high. Art work should be hung at eye level. Always.
• people who mistreat animals. Don't get me started.
Q: What's your favorite vacation spot?A: Anywhere in Europe, but especially the British Isles and Scandinavia, where my grandparents were born. Within the U.S., my favorite spot is the Northwoods of Wisconsin, where we have a lake cottage.
Q: What's your favorite dessert?A: I usually skip dessert, but I'm hopeless in the presence of white wedding cake with buttercream frosting and meringues.
Q: What's your favorite color?A: Red in all its many hues—scarlet, plum, cherry, candy apple, raspberry, brick, ruby, and barn red, to name a few.
Q: What smells remind you of your childhood?A: The smell of bread baking, especially with a hint of cardamom. My Danish grandmother made cardamom raisin bread (systekage) every week. I'll never forget her sparkling clean kitchen and the aroma of bread filling the house.
Q: What book are you currently working on?A: Right now I'm working on Book 3 in the Kate Hamilton Mystery series, with the working title of A Pattern of Betrayal. Kate is back in the Suffolk village of Long Barston, filling in at Ivor Tweedy's antiquities shop while he recovers from bilateral hip surgery. She's thrilled when a wealthy recluse consigns a pricey Chinese Han dynasty funereal jar—Ivor's cash flow needs a shot in the arm. But when the jar goes missing and a body is found in the shop's stock room, Kate finds herself on the trail of a missing daughter, a puzzling local legend, and a centuries-old pattern of betrayal.
Q: What's your latest recommendation for:Food: As we move into autumn and winter, I'm loving short ribs made in the Instant Pot.
Movie: Downton Abbey, of course! It's worth seeing for Maggie Smith alone.
Book: Dear Mrs. Bird, a debut novel by the English author A. J. Pearce. The book has gotten a lot of press and rightly so.
Audiobook: Louise Penny's A Better Man, narrated by the wonderful English actor Robert Bathhurst, who played Sir Anthony Strallen in Downton Abbey.
TV: Two wonderful, older British series, Wild At Heart, set on a game preserve in South Africa; and The Royal, set in a cottage hospital in Yorkshire.
Q: What books do you currently have published?A: A Dream of Death and A Legacy of Murder, books 1 and 2 in the Kate Hamilton Mystery Series.
Book 1: A Dream of Death by Connie Berry
A traditional amateur sleuth, published by Crooked Lane Books on April 8, 2019 (320 pages).
On a remote Scottish island, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton wrestles with her own past while sleuthing a brutal killing, staged to recreate a two-hundred-year-old unsolved murder. Autumn has come and gone on Scotland’s Isle of Glenroth, and the islanders gather for the Tartan Ball, the annual end-of-tourist-season gala. Spirits are high. A recently published novel about island history has brought hordes of tourists to the small Hebridean resort community. On the guest list is American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton. Kate returns reluctantly to the island where her husband died, determined to repair her relationship with his sister, proprietor of the island’s luxe country house hotel, famous for its connection with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Kate has hardly unpacked when the next morning a body is found, murdered in a reenactment of an infamous unsolved murder described in the novel. The Scottish police discount the historical connection, but when a much-loved local handyman is arrested, Kate teams up with a vacationing detective inspector from Suffolk, England, to unmask a killer determined to rewrite island history—and Kate’s future.
A traditional amateur sleuth published by Crooked Lane Books on April 8, 2019 (327 pages).
American antique dealer Kate Hamilton's Christmastime jaunt to a charming English village leads to an investigation of a missing ruby and a chain of murders.
What could be lovelier than Christmas in England? Kate Hamilton arrives in the Suffolk village of Long Barston, dreaming of log fires, steaming wassail, and Tom Mallory, the detective inspector she met during a recent murder investigation in Scotland. Kate also looks forward to spending time with her daughter, Christine, an intern at Finchley Hall, famous for the unearthing in 1818 of a treasure trove known as The Finchley Hoard. But when the body of another intern is found on the estate, romance takes a back seat. Long Barston is on Tom Mallory’s patch, and the clues to the killer’s identity point backward more than four hundred years to a legacy of murder and a blood-red ruby ring.
Connect with Connie:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest
Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Kobo