Set the scene for murder

Have you discovered award-winning crime writer Judith Cranswick yet? If you love cozy mysteries and enjoy stories with eccentric characters, then the Fiona Mason mysteries are for you! I had the good fortune to read her latest, Blood and Chocolate, before its official release date and absolutely loved it.  A coach tour through beautiful locales, passengers who are not always what they seem, a senior sleuth you’ll love, and an intriguing mystery. (What else do you need?)

“The Fiona Mason Mysteries are cozy whodunits with plenty of edge.”

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Fiona Mason is a novice tour manager for a coach company and each mystery is set in a different European country. Her investigations frequently bring her into conflict with the enigmatic man from MI6, Peter Montgomery-Jones, but she can always rely on her West Indian driver, Winston for support. 

Blood and Chocolate is the third in the Fiona Mason mystery series. In this one, Fiona’s hopes of leading a pleasant culture tour of Belgium visiting the great centers of Flemish Art go badly awry. One of Fiona’s passengers is found dead soon after the assassination of a British MP at a rally outside the European Parliament Building in Brussels.

Could there be a link between the two deaths? Once again, Fiona finds herself at odds with MI6 chief, Peter Montgomery-Jones who always appears to have his own agenda.

To whet your appetite for this terrific cozy mystery, here’s Judith to tell us how she came to write the story:

Judith Cranswick Author

Writing Blood and Chocolate proved to be quite an adventure. I am one of those novelists who writes to find out what happens. I’m no plotter. I enjoy the journey.

With my standalone novels, I begin with an incident. this creates my characters and from their reactions the story evolves. After a chapter or two, I may have an idea of my final destination, but the route map is never worked out in detail.

It’s true that writing the Fiona Mason Mysteries is not the same process. Writing a series creates constraints. I know my main character, my tour manager Fiona Mason and her driver Winston plus Peter Montgomery-Jones. Peter is an MI6 chief and he causes me no end of problems. I introduced him in the first in the series Blood on the Bulb Fields. Not only did he insist on a much bigger part than the minor role I had intended, he demanded to come back in the rest – characters DO take over!  This means that there has to be an element of terrorism in every novel. Not quite the cozy setting I envisaged for the series when I set out! As each story involves a coach trip to a different country, I also need the plot to be related to that country so that it could not possibly take place anywhere else.

Blood and Chocolate proved to be the most complicated novel to write so far. It took me into territories I know nothing about from the workings of the Secret Services, or of politics (both mainstream and fringe groups), government departments, UN, unions, Belgian police forces … and the list goes on! The research has been interesting and far from straightforward but I hope the final result is credible. All my pre-release readers seem to think so. Let me know what you think!

Blood and Chocolate is available now on Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK) at a great price. And if you’re one of those readers who likes to start at the beginning, you can find the first two online as well. Meet this intrepid senior sleuth in Blood on the Bulb Fields, and follow her adventures in the Rhine Valley in Blood in the Wine, the second in the series. Get all the details and links at Judith’s website and also via her Amazon US and Amazon UK author pages.

Thank you, readers!

I love meeting new fans and hearing from readers!

Last week, I had the privilege to be included in the Fayetteville True Lit Festival. In addition to participating in a panel about genre writing, I spent the day autographing books and visiting with readers of all ages. The crowd included both established and aspiring writers as well as editors, artists, students, and families–and all of them wanted to talk about books. For a writer, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Some of the readers had already finished Deadly Ties and came to ask about the next one in the Waterside Kennels mystery series. (That would be Dangerous Deeds, by the way, and it’s still on track for publication in a few months.) Others were just discovering the series and were excited to add Deadly Ties to their collection. My favorite moment of the day came when a family came by and stopped to watch the slideshow of readers’ dogs.  The oldest boy was a fifth-grader named Kalen who picked up my book, read the back cover, and turned to his mother. “This one, Mom.” How cool is that?

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It’s always fun to meet readers in person and online. In person, events like the True Lit Festival or Books in Bloom  and book clubs offer a wonderful opportunity to hear from fans. I love asking them about their favorite books and authors and listening to what they like (and don’t like) in fiction. And I get an added bonus: people share their own stories about dogs, the Ozarks, and local folk legends.

Sometimes, my interaction with a fan comes in the form of an email, Goodreads discussion, Facebook post, or Amazon review. Here’s a sampling of some of the recent comments I’ve received:

“If you want a great story, wonderful characters, twists and turns to keep you guessing and an all around great read, you’ll love this book. Can’t wait for more.”

“What originally started out as a nice, homey mystery quickly turned into a breathtaking thriller with such vivid detail that I felt smoke in my lungs.”

“This book was hard to put down. I read 4-5 books at the same time and once I started reading this one I didn’t stop until the end. Great mystery and dogs too. That’s a great book to me.”

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And from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, award-winning crime writer Judith Cranswick has this to say:

Just finished listening to Deadly Ties. I LOVED it. I am very impressed and, believe me, I take a lot of impressing.  Up there with my favourite authors. … What I admired particularly was the build of tension. Many master plot & characterization but getting the pace just right is what singles out the best writers.

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Thanks to everyone for sharing their excitement about Deadly Ties! For those new to the series (or looking for a reasonably priced gift) here are the purchase links:

Audible: http://tinyurl.com/kzvzn75

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nnww9r8

Audible.co.uk: www.audible.co.uk/pd/B00NAFN5W2

Amazon.co.uk: http://tinyurl.com/p9z9x6n