Showing posts with label Libraries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Libraries. Show all posts

Friday, August 11, 2023

New crime short story by Val Culley


Shelved in Shepshed


By Val Culley


Sallie knew it was going to be ‘one of those days’ before the library had even opened to customers that cold Thursday afternoon.

She was kneeling in the entrance porch, emptying the returned books customers had posted into the drop box, when she became aware of a large woman standing over her. “Can you look a book up for me on your computer system? I can’t see it on the shelves,” the woman asked.

Sallie had never been a big fan of the concept of the Smart Library, which was introduced soon after she started work at Shepshed Library. It had taken her a while to find another job after being made redundant from the library she had worked at previously. She had then encouraged her former colleague, Jo, to apply for a job at Shepshed Library as well.  

Sallie and Jo had both now got used to the customers, with their little quirks, such as Mr Austin, who used the computers but never took a book out, who would come up and mutter things to them. They would smile and nod but feel uneasy, knowing neither what he had said nor what they were smiling about.

"Sallie and Jo had both now got used to the
customers, with their little quirks"
Then they were told that their hours and pay, along with those of their colleagues, were to be cut by the local authority that employed them, as a result of the introduction of the Smart Library.

Sallie didn’t like the thought of customers letting themselves into the library when there were no staff present and doing whatever they liked, having simply signed a vague agreement  to ‘look after the library,’ but she had no choice other than to go along with it.

She occasionally had clashes with Smart customers, who pounced on her as soon as she arrived and vented their frustration at her, because they had been unable to work the computer, or print documents, with no staff present. When she pointed out they had signed up to use the library without staff assistance, they would unleash a tirade of abuse at her.

On this occasion, she stood up, in as dignified manner as possible, but found she was still at a disadvantage, looking up at the tall woman, who had long, untidy grey hair and large glasses.

“We’re not actually open yet,” Sallie pointed out.

The woman gestured impatiently. “I’m sorry! All I’m asking is for you to do your job! But I’m not surprised by your attitude really, because, can I just say, I have never felt any warmth in this library.”

“That’s strange because I just found a note on the counter from a customer complaining the library was too hot while she was using it in Smart this morning.”

“I didn’t mean that! I meant that the staff here are not at all friendly.”

“None of them?”

“Yes, none of them. I’ve never felt any warmth from any of the staff.”

Sallie looked at her carefully. She was sure she had never seen the woman before. “Do you perhaps only use the library when there are no staff present?”

“Oh, for goodness sake. You’re useless. I’m wasting my time talking to you. I shall complain to the manager.” She marched to the doors, which opened automatically to let her out.

"The usual wave of people approached the
desk, clutching their phones"
After the library had opened to all the customers at two pm, the usual wave of people approached the desk, clutching their phones, which were all showing labels that needed to be printed urgently. Most of them weren’t library members, but they couldn’t join because they had no ID with them, and wouldn’t be able to print anyway, because they weren’t carrying any money. Sallie and Jo were kept busy at the counter dealing with them, and had no time to discharge the contents of the drop box.

They made a good team. Jo was petite with short dark hair and an elfin face and was very kind, while Sallie was taller and more generously built, with blonde hair and blue eyes and the ability to be firm but fair with customers. The third girl on duty, Lauren, a young, library assistant with long, glossy, brown hair, was doing her best to try to shelve the mountain of books in danger of falling off the returns trolley, flicking her hair out of the way constantly.

Sallie noticed Paula was waiting in the queue. Paula was a Reading for Community Health volunteer, who had started to use the meeting room at the library to help adults with literacy problems. The staff had agreed to keep an eye on her when she was in the meeting room with a client and she could call on them for assistance if she had any problems.

Sallie unlocked the door of the meeting room for her and propped it open with a door stop so they would be able to see Paula when they were shelving non-fiction returns. She noticed that Paula, whose long, mousey hair was scraped back into a pony tail, looked thinner than ever and her eyes were red rimmed as though she had been crying.

“Are you okay, Paula?”

“Yeah, I’m all right, thanks,” she replied listlessly

An old man barred Sallie’s way as she attempted to walk back to the counter. “Do you have a book called ‘The Soldiers of Shepshed’?”

“Yes, it’s with the local history books along here,” Sallie said

But when she searched the shelf where it was kept, she couldn’t find it. Worryingly, the book appeared to be missing. There were only two copies of ‘The Soldiers of Shepshed’ in the entire county. Sallie had made the Shepshed copy available as Reference only, so that it couldn’t be taken out of the library. It seemed to have disappeared and she was concerned someone might have stolen it. A customer had told her the book was now out of print and there was only one copy left on Amazon, for which the seller was charging £150.

"But when she searched the shelf where it
was kept, she couldn't find it"
As the afternoon wore on, the three girls were all run off their feet. At one point, while Sallie was shelving fiction, she noticed a smartly-dressed young man bending down and studying the Mary Balogh novels. She was just about to ask if she could help him, when an old man appeared in front of her and asked, “What’s this Smart thingamajig?”

Sallie sighed. “Do you mean the Smart Library?”

“I don’t know. I just want to be able to get in.”

“Get in where?”

“The library.”

“You’re in it now.”

“I know that, but this morning there were people inside when I went past and when I tried to get in, I couldn’t.”

“Have you joined the Smart Library.”

“Yes, of course.”

Sallie took the man’s card and went to the desk and after checking on the computer found he wasn’t yet registered as Smart.

“Can I become Smart?” he asked.

Sallie was just about to say that she thought it highly unlikely, when a shrill scream came from non-fiction. Then Lauren ran to the counter looking terrified. ‘It’s Paula! She’s dead!”

Sallie and Jo raced to the meeting room where they found Paula, slumped lifelessly in her chair with red marks on her neck.

The next hour seemed to go by in a blur. They closed the door of the meeting room, called the police, and rang their supervisor. Two uniformed officers arrived and said it looked as if Paula had been strangled. There was no murder weapon in the meeting room, but they could see that a length of cord had been cut from one of the window blinds.

The first detective to arrive was taken to the meeting room by Sallie to join his uniformed colleagues. He said: “I expect your prints will be all over everything by now. Why haven’t you sent all the customers home and closed for the day?”

"Two uniformed officers arrived and said it
looked as if Paula had been strangled"
“I’ve read enough crime fiction to know not to touch anything, and I didn’t ask anyone to leave because I thought you might want to interview them. We closed the door of the meeting room so no one could go in, and put the front door on exit only.”

Lauren was still very shocked, so Jo made her a cup of tea. They all sat in the office together and thought back about the events of that afternoon.

Sallie remembered opening the door of the meeting room to admit poor Paula. Jo remembered seeing Paula’s client arrive. She said he was tall and looked as though he was dressed for going skiing and was wearing a hat and had a scarf over his face. He had walked towards the counter purposefully, but then suddenly turned right and gone straight to the meeting room. None of them had seen the client come out afterwards.

Later, an older detective arrived to take over, and said Sallie could open the front door again. He put one of the uniformed men on the door and asked him to take the names of customers as they left and he sent the other uniformed officer and the patronising, young detective away to make further enquiries.

Sallie showed him the crime scene and explained what Paula was doing in the meeting room. The detective was tall and thin, with grey hair, and Sallie thought he had an intelligent face. She relayed her version of events to him, and then he spoke to Jo and Lauren in turn.

When the pathologist arrived, the detective took him into meeting room and they viewed the body behind closed doors.

Later, Sallie and Jo were both behind the counter when they saw Paula’s client come back in and walk purposefully towards them. They both gasped with excitement, but he just asked calmly if he had left his bag next to the kiosk. Jo recovered quickly and told him a bag had been handed in. She asked him to describe his bag and Sallie offered to fetch it from lost property.

But on her way, she went to the meeting room and knocked on the door. She told the detective the client had returned. He took the client into the kitchen to speak to him, but after taking down his contact details and statement allowed him to leave the library with his bag.

"Sallie noticed Lauren, who had somehow
managed to change into a little black dress"
While Sallie was trying to deal with the growing mountain of shelving, the detective came to tell her his officers had been to Paula’s home and spoken to her neighbours. They had told the police she was unhappy because her husband had left her for another woman and that he wanted to sell the house immediately because he was desperate for money. They said Paula had been refusing to cooperate.

A wedding picture of Paula and her husband had been in the lounge and the officers had texted him an image of it, which he showed to Sallie. “But her husband’s been in the library this afternoon! I saw him earlier, rummaging about among my Mary Baloghs!” Sallie exclaimed.

The detective ordered the uniformed officer to search the area around the Mary Balogh novels. To Sallie’s horror the cop heaved piles of books off the shelves enthusiastically. Then he brought ‘Soldiers of Shepshed’ to Sallie, which he had found at the back of the shelf, saying: “I’m no librarian, but this don’t look like romance to me.”

The uniformed officer then found a piece of blind cord and the detective took it into the meeting room to compare it with the cord on the window blind.

On her way to the shelves again, Sallie noticed Lauren, who had somehow managed to change into a little black dress with a side slit, was dancing a tango with the uniformed cop near the audio books. This shift is becoming more and more bizarre, she thought.

The nice detective came to thank Sallie for all her help. He said: “We’ll get that poor girl’s murderer bang to rights. It’s a classic domestic. There’s no one else in the frame, so we’ll soon have him in custody. I hope you don’t mind me saying this, and I’m sure people must have said it to you many times before, but you have the most beautiful, blue eyes. When you’ve finished work, would you be kind enough to join me for a drink so I can go over my notes with you to make sure I haven’t missed anything.”

“But I thought it was an open and shut case,” Sallie said.

“Well, it’s more a case of murder by the book,” he said, looking into her eyes. He held his hand out to her and she found herself reaching out to him as well, but then there was a loud thud…

Sallie woke with a start and saw she had dropped her book on the floor. She had fallen asleep while reading in front of the fire. Her black cat was curled up on the sofa next to her and there was a half empty glass of wine on the coffee table. “Oh dear, I must have dreamt the whole thing,’ she said, stroking the cat, who purred contentedly. 

“Do you think it’s time I retired from the library, Desdemona?”

 The End



Monday, February 8, 2021

Enter a Queen of Crime from New Zealand


How Ngaio Marsh first started writing crime stories

Ngaio Marsh in a picture thought to have been taken in around 1935
Ngaio Marsh in a picture thought to
have been taken in around 1935
Dame Edith Ngaio Marsh, a New Zealand writer and theatre director, wrote 32 detective novels featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn, a gentleman detective working for the Metropolitan Police in London.

She became known as one of the Queens of Crime, sharing the distinction with the English writers Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham.

Agatha Christie led the way with The Mysterious Affair at Styles, published in 1920. Then came Dorothy L Sayers with Whose Body? published in 1923, followed by Margery Allingham with The Crime at Black Dudley, published in 1929.

Ngaio Marsh was born and educated in Christchurch New Zealand and studied painting before joining a touring theatre company as an actress. She divided her time between New Zealand and the UK from 1928 onwards, when she started up an interior decorating business in Knightsbridge, London.

The idea for her first crime novel, A Man Lay Dead, came to her in 1931 when she was living in a basement flat off Sloane Square.

In the preface to my copy of an omnibus edition of her first three novels - A Man Lay Dead, Enter a Murderer and The Nursing Home Murder - Ngaio Marsh writes about how she came up with the character of Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn.

It was a wet Saturday afternoon in 1931 and she had been reading a detective story borrowed from a library, although she couldn’t remember whether it was a Christie or a Sayers. By four o’clock, as the afternoon became darker and the rain was still coming down relentlessly, she had finished it. She wondered idly whether she had it in her to write something similar.

The Ngaio Marsh Collection, Book 1, published by Harper
The Ngaio Marsh Collection,
Book 1, published by Harper
Then she braved going out in the rain to a stationer’s shop across the street where she bought six exercise books, a pencil and a pencil sharpener. And that is how the writing career of the fourth Queen of Crime from New Zealand began.

With many eccentric detectives already operating at the time, such as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey, Ngaio decided to opt for a professional policeman, with a background resembling that of some of the friends she had made in England.

Revealing her interest in the theatre, she chose the surname of an Elizabethan actor called Edward Alleyn, gave him the Christian name Roderick, inspired by a recent visit to Scotland, opened an exercise book, sharpened her pencil and began to write.

In A Man Lay Dead, Inspector Alleyn is asked to investigate the murder of a guest during a country house party. The host had suggested they play the Murder Game, which at the time was very popular with guests at weekend parties, but when the lights go up it is discovered that the victim is dead for real.

Alleyn arrives at Frantock ‘a delightful old brick house’, views the corpse, interviews the guests and gathers evidence with his team of police officers,

He enlists the help of one of the guests, a young journalist called Nigel Bathgate, as his ‘Watson’.

Bathgate later becomes a friend of the detective and appears in several of Ngaio’s 32 Inspector Alleyn novels.

The mystery centres round a valuable Russian dagger, which ends up in the back of the corpse, a disappearing Russian butler, a criminal gang of Russians in London and the victim’s unfortunate habit of philandering.

Alleyn picks up on the smallest of clues, such as a button from a glove and a trace of face powder on a man’s suit. He eventually tricks the murderer into giving himself away.

A Man Lay Dead was first published in 1934. It is now available in a variety of formats.

Buy from:    


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Crime fiction comforting during pandemic

Library ‘click and collect’ services are providing a lifeline for readers

Avid readers are braving the snow and the rain during the winter lockdown to go to the door of their local library and collect a bag full of books.

Although the library service is closed for browsing during lockdown, staff are operating a click and collect service, which is being much appreciated by their customers.

Death in the High City, The Shooting in Sorrento
 and The Body Parts in the Library on display
together in a library
Readers can either request books on line, or telephone with their order, and staff will issue the books and put them in a carrier bag for them to collect at the front door of the library.

Customers cannot ask for specific titles, in case the library does not have the book on the shelves, but they can ask for a particular genre, such as crime, or historical, and also mention their favourite authors.

The library staff can also look at their borrowing history to get an idea about what sort of books a customer might enjoy and can check that the customer has not already had a particular book out, before issuing it to the customer’s account and putting it in the bag ready for collection.

The service has been very well received by regular library users. Some have said it has been ‘a real treat’ to have books chosen for them. Others have said that the library staff have helped them discover new authors to enjoy, that they might not otherwise have tried. Many have said the books are a welcome distraction from the bad news about the pandemic, or the many television programmes that they don’t want to watch.

Libraries have large print versions and audiobooks of many of the popular tittles by well known authors to make them more accessible to customers.

The crime, or mystery genre, seems to be the most popular with library users. Maybe the drama and suspense of detective fiction is more palatable than the horrific events currently taking place in the real world. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Crime at Black Dudley

Margery Allingham introduces her series detective Albert Campion

Fans of classic crime fiction still enjoy reading the work of authors from the Golden Age, who were writing between 1920 and the beginning of the Second World War.

A measure of the popularity of this genre is the amount of TV and film versions of the books that are still being made.

When people talk about the Queens of Crime from that era, the names Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers will immediately spring to mind, with the New Zealand author Ngaio Marsh not too far behind.

You can usually find books by these three talented ladies on the shelves in the crime sections of most public libraries.

Margery Allingham's first
crime novel
But you might struggle to find any of the novels of Margery Allingham, the English writer who was the fourth member of the elite Queens of Crime club.

Margery Allingham was born in 1904 in London and began writing at the age of eight when she had a story published in a magazine.

Her first novel was published when she was 19, but she did not make her breakthrough as a crime writer until her novel The Crime at Black Dudley was published in 1929. This introduced her series detective, the gentleman sleuth Albert Campion, even though he appeared only as a minor character in her first book.

He was at first thought to be a parody of Dorothy L Sayers’ hero, Lord Peter Wimsey, but Campion matured as the series of books progressed showing there was a lot more to him than you see at first glance and he became increasingly popular with readers.

Vintage Books, part of the Penguin Random House Group, have now republished all Margery’s novels featuring her series detective Albert Campion, making it likely that some of them will eventually be stocked by public libraries.

While Agatha wrote an amazing 66 detective novels, Ngaio comes in second with 32, and Margery is third with 18, finishing ahead of Dorothy, who wrote a total of 16 crime novels during her career.

I had never read any of Margery’s books and so, because I like to begin at the beginning, I started with The Crime at Black Dudley.

A group of young people have been invited to a country house party for the weekend, which is being held in a remote mansion in Suffolk. The story is told from the point of view of a young doctor, George Abbershaw, whose book on pathology had made him a minor celebrity. He is a friend of the host, a distinguished scholar named Wyatt Petrie.

Margery Allingham wrote 18 detective novels
Margery Allingham wrote 18
detective novels
When the host’s uncle is murdered, the young people find themselves being held hostage by a small number of armed men, who claim that an important item has been taken from the body of the victim and that the guests must remain at the house until it is found and handed in.

It is a novel full of suspense and there is violence, fighting and many shots are fired. My first thoughts were that it was unlike the Poirot and Miss Marple novels of Agatha Christie or the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L Sayers. The atmosphere of action and danger was more like that of the The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, which was published seven years earlier.

George Abbershaw eventually solves the crime with the help of the other guests, including a strange young man named Albert Campion, who no one seems to know anything about.

It is a satisfying conclusion, and although the society and way of life Margery describes might seem rather dated now, it has left me wanting to read more. Next on my list is Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham, first published in 1930.

Margery died at the age of 62 of breast cancer and her final novel, Cargo of Eagles, was finished by her husband Philip Youngman Carter and published in 1968, two years after her death.

The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham is available in a variety of formats from Amazon.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Merry Christmas from the shed library

Did the book inspire the shed, or did the shed suggest the book?

Earlier this year I converted our old, wooden garden shed into a library to house the overflow of books from our house, and the many books we have been storing that had belonged to my parents and my husband’s parents.

Inside the Shed Library
Simultaneously, I was working on my third novel, The Body Parts in the Library, a cosy crime story about Sallie and Jo, a couple of women who have been made redundant from their jobs in a village library and replaced with a group of volunteers. 

When a silly prank is played on one of the volunteers, Sallie and Jo are suspected of being behind it and find themselves shunned by the rest of the village.

They set out to find who was responsible for the prank and the other bizarre events that happen subsequently, to try to prove their innocence.

But after a grim discovery is made in the library, they have to become amateur detectives, to try to identify the culprit so that village life can return to normal.

At the same time, they decide to open a library in Jo’s garden shed to raise money for charity and allow the villagers to borrow books from their own extensive collections..

The Body Parts in the Library was published in September this year and is now in stock at three Leicestershire libraries as well as being for sale on Amazon as either a Kindle e-book or paperback.

After putting up our Christmas decorations this year, we used up the left over tinsel to decorate the pictures on the walls of our shed library. And, after our Christmas Day walk, we took a bottle of wine and some nibbles down to the shed library to kick off our Christmas celebrations, because all the pubs in the village were closed because of Covid 19.

As I looked round at the shelves full of books, which had finally come out of the boxes we had been storing them in for so many years, I wondered if it was a case of art imitating life, or life imitating art.

Whatever the answer, I am pleased that I have managed to finish writing The Body Parts in the Library, after many years of working on it, and that I have finally been able to unpack all the books that have been hidden away in boxes for so long.

So as New Year’s Eve approaches, I can reflect on the two good things that have come out of 2020 for me.

It has been a horrific year for the whole world. So let’s hope for a better 2021 for everyone, everywhere. 




Saturday, November 14, 2020

On the shelf

The Body Parts in the Library arrives at a library!

Partners in crime
There are many significant milestones when you write a novel, such as completing the first draft, sending the revised final version out for publication and receiving a printed copy to hold in your hands for the first time.

But you can’t know the names of everyone who buys your book and find out what they think about it having read it. Once it’s out there you have lost control over it to some extent, a bit like when your child starts school for the first time. 

So it was a lovely moment for me today to see my latest novel, The Body Parts in the Library, on the shelf in a library for the first time. And it was particularly special for me because it was the library where I have a part-time job.

The Body Parts in the Library is a cosy crime novel about strange things happening in a village library being run by volunteers after the long-serving staff have been made redundant. Published in September this year, it introduces a new detective duo, the Library Ladies.

I have always been a big supporter of libraries and am now a champion of the role of the Library Assistant, which I hope comes across in the novel.

New in stock

I took a photograph of The Body Parts in the Library on the shelf next to another of my books, Death in the High City, which was published in 2014.

However, it didn’t stay on the shelf for long. We are operating a Click and Collect service at the moment and when we received a request for ten crime novels, we couldn’t resist popping it into the bag.

The Body Parts in the Library is now in stock at Shepshed, Loughborough and Ashby libraries in Leicestershire. It is also available for sale on Amazon as a Kindle e-book or a paperback.





Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Don’t mention the V word

Have library assistants become an endangered species?

Libraries have been under pressure for several
years because of economic cuts
I have always been a huge supporter of libraries, having been taken to one from being a small child, and I have enjoyed borrowing, reading and returning books from many different libraries over the years.

For the last seven years I have worked as a part-time library assistant in a village library and this has turned me into an enthusiastic champion of the role of the library assistant.

I have seen at close quarters the wonderful job done by many of my colleagues when providing service to their customers and I have been amazed by their dedication and hard work.

But in the last few years, economic cuts have led to a lot of library assistants being made redundant and replaced by unpaid volunteers. Following on from that, other library assistants have had their hours cut because the introduction of so-called ‘smart technology’ has enabled customers to use the library when there are no staff present and to serve themselves.

But, as one of my customers once put it so eloquently: ‘A library without library assistants is just a room full of books.’

This sorry situation has provided the inspiration for my latest crime novel, The Body Parts in the Library, which tells the story of a village library that has been taken over by volunteers.

My latest novel was inspired by my  experiences as a library assistant
My latest novel was inspired by my 
experiences as a library assistant
The Body Parts in the Library is the first in what is planned to be a series of Library Ladies Mysteries, featuring detective duo Sallie Parker and Jo Pudsey, both library assistants who have recently been made redundant after many years of dedicated service and who have every reason to feel aggrieved.

A group of volunteers has taken over the running of their library and when one of them is the victim of a prank, the Library Ladies, as they are known locally, are immediately suspected and find themselves shunned by most of the village.

Determined to clear their names, they try to find out who was really responsible.

But after further bizarre incidents, the story takes a sinister turn as a shocking discovery is made in the library. The Library Ladies set out to conduct their own investigation to make sure the culprit is exposed so that life in the peaceful south Yorkshire village of Upper Mickle can return to normal.

The Body Parts in the Library was published in September 2020 and is available from Amazon as a paperback and as a Kindle e-book.

It should appeal to anyone who enjoys the 'cosy' crime fiction genre, or who happens to love libraries.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

New writers should take inspiration from Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie had her first novel published when she was 30 years old
Agatha Christie had her first novel
published when she was 30 years old
Imagine being the best-selling novelist of all time. Imagine being such a popular and successful novelist that more than 40 years after your death your books are still being borrowed from libraries and film and television adaptations of the stories are constantly being made.

Earlier this month it was the 130th anniversary of the birth of crime writer Agatha Christie, which prompted me to contemplate her amazing success.

To mark the occasion, I put together a display of her books in the crime section and large print crime section of the library where I work.

I had read that Guinness World Records list Agatha as the best-selling fiction writer of all time because her novels have sold more than two billion copies.

For writers just starting out, such as myself, this kind of success is mind blowing.

Agatha wrote a total of 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. Her fictional detectives, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, are familiar to people even if they have never read a detective novel.

Library display of Agatha Christie books
Agatha Christie's books remain hugely
popular with library users
But here’s a bit of information that should encourage new writers: Agatha was unsuccessful to begin with and suffered six consecutive rejections. If she’d given up at that point the world would never have had the huge body of work that has entertained so many millions of people over the years.

The turning point came for Agatha when her novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was published in 1920, when she was 30 years of age. She never looked back.

Agatha’s final novel, Sleeping Murder, featuring Miss Marple, was published in 1976, the year of the novelist’s death.

The lesson to be learned by other writers from Agatha’s life and career is that they should not give up. Success might come, but only if you keep writing.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Death in the High City is now available in Leicestershire libraries

Exciting new local author!
It was a proud moment seeing my novel, Death in the High City, on display in a public library for the first time.

The book, looking slightly unreal in its plastic jacket, was on display on the counter of Shepshed Library in Leicestershire.

It is also in stock at Loughborough, Coalville and Ashby-de-la-Zouch, libraries close to where I live in Leicestershire.

When I left the library, I felt like an anxious mother leaving her child at school for the first time and wondering how it will get on during the day.

Would anyone want to borrow it? What might people say to staff at the library about it when they return it?

Becoming available in the Leicestershire library catalogue is yet another development in the life of Death in the High City since it first became available in Kindle format in May 2014. It came out in paperback two months later and since then I have had some very encouraging feedback sent to me personally by email and also in the form of reviews on Amazon.

In October the book was launched officially in Bergamo in northern Italy, the city where most of the action in the novel takes place. The event was attended by about 60 people who showed a lot of interest and were keen to get hold of a signed copy as it was the first time anyone had set a British crime novel in Bergamo.

But what will Leicestershire library borrowers think about Death in the High City? So far it is uncharted territory and therefore I am eagerly awaiting the reactions of readers.

Death in the High City is a ‘cosy’ crime novel that will please people who like books set in Italy.

It features a freelance journalist, Kate Butler and her partner, a retired Detective Chief Inspector, Steve Bartorelli.

They both speak good Italian and are used to asking questions and finding information. Having recently been made redundant they both have plenty of time available for sleuthing and have already turned their attention to an unfortunate event that has taken place in another beautiful part of Italy…

For more information about Bergamo visit

Death in the High City is available from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle e-book.