Today I’m delighted to welcome writer Clare Chase. Clare writes gripping mysteries and while her latest series is described as cozy, don’t make the mistake of thinking them twee and gentle. They are engaging, contemporary, police procedurals, with a great female lead in Tara Thorpe. If you haven’t yet discovered Clare’s books then I urge you to do so.
Clare Chase writes mysteries set in her home city of Cambridge and is fascinated by the location’s contrasts and contradictions. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium. As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
So over to Clare
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. My mum used to play this album on long car journeys – often when we were travelling to Aldeburgh in Suffolk to visit my grandmother. Listening to it now still gives me a feeling of excited anticipation.
The Little Sweep by Benjamin Britten. This is an opera especially for children, and relates to Aldeburgh too, where the composer lived. I can remember going to a wonderful performance of it at Snape Maltings. I love the music, the story’s compelling and there’s some audience participation too!
What Time is Love? by KLF. This was played frequently at the weekly Churchill College disco where I met my husband. I’m back on the dance floor when I hear it!
The Carol Symphony by Victor Hely-Hutchinson. This is a real crossover piece that links my childhood to my adult life. I got to know it because it was used in the TV and radio adaptations of the magical children’s story The Box of Delights by John Masefield. I loved both the book and the dramatisations and read, watched and listened to them repeatedly. When I had children of my own, my uncle and aunt gave me the DVD of the TV series, and we watch it every year – even though we’re all well and truly grown-up now! The music has that wonderful, mystical eerie feel that some Christmas compositions have – bits of it give me goosebumps!
The Shocking Miss Emerald by Caro Emerald. My children gave me this album for Mother’s Day a few years ago. I’d heard them singing songs from it, but never listed to Caro Emerald herself before! It’s classy, fun and sassy and will always remind me of my son and daughter. (I secretly wish I was glamorous like Caro too, so there’s a bit of aspirational appeal there!)
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without
Books – in any format. There’s nothing like escaping with an enthralling read! And then there are various volumes I use for research too – from Blackstone’s police training manuals to the Royal Society of Chemistry’s guide to forensic science, From Crime Scene to Court. (Thanks, Andrea – a fantastic birthday present!)
A notepad and pen – for scribbling down story ideas and to-do lists when I’m on the move.
My laptop – once I start work on a novel, I go straight to the keyboard.
My MP3 player – I listen to downloads and podcasts when I can’t sleep, so I’ve become a bit reliant on it!
Marmalade – I love the dark, thick-cut bitter sort, spread generously on toast! (Though recently, someone gave me a recipe for a gin cocktail which used it as an ingredient too. (Credit to Margaret – I was surprised at how good it was!)
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Hold your own – be less scared and self-conscious.
Always ask questions if you’re in doubt – you look more stupid (as you’ve now repeatedly proved) if you try to bluff your way instead…
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Save your energy for what really matters.
Listen to the opinions of others carefully – advice can be invaluable. But then make up your own mind.
Your mother worries about you, even if she seems like the most liberal of all your friends’ parents. It’s no coincidence that she’s downstairs each time you come home at 3 a.m., having a cup of tea because she ‘just happened to be thirsty’. You always knew how much she cared, so you might have worked this one out for yourself, without older me telling you!
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you
I’m not massively shy in real life, but posting on Facebook make me strangely anxious. (I want to join in though, and I enjoy seeing what other people are up to, so I keep on going!)
I love buildings – walking around cities with interesting architecture is one of my favourite pastimes.
Colours have a big effect on my mood. The right sort of sea green makes me happy!
I really like visiting castles and historic stately homes, but curl up with embarrassment if I’m accosted by members of staff in period costumes, acting in character!
I lived in New Zealand for six months as a child.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
To arrive in New York on an ocean liner. (It’s not really the cruise I’m after, just the actual arriving and then some time in the city!)
To explore some ancient pathways. I love the thought of past generations tramping the same historic routes. I’d like to choose a few and follow them myself, finding out about the stories that go with them as I travel. (This desire has been heightened by reading Robert Macfarlane!)
To study A level psychology. So far, I’ve bought a text book! I find the subject fascinating, and I’d like to know more about it to support my writing too.
To learn more about architecture and its history. I used to work at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Architecture, helping to administer research grants there, and I’ve got lots of books on the subject, but I’m still far too ignorant. I’d really like to attend some lectures or classes.
To go on a photography course. I love street photography – little vignettes that tell a story, and snapshots in time that convey the atmosphere of a place – but I don’t get the results I’d like when I try it myself!
Thanks so much for taking part Clare, I think I could spend a lovely day with you walking around and looking at architecture. History and buildings are two of my favourite things too! I love the advice to your younger self, and your mother sounds lovely. I hope you get to cruise into New York, but if that’s not an option, take the plane, it’s a fascinating place – with lot’s of opportunities for street photography with architecture and history – multiple ticks on the bucket list.
Frost sparkles on the bare winter branches, as night falls over the quiet country lanes bordering the fens. But nestled beneath an ivy-covered bough, a body lies pale in the bright moonlight…
When a promising local artist disappears, the victim’s brother begs Detective Tara Thorpe to take the case. It seems there’s no evidence of foul play… he simply disappeared without a trace.
Tara agrees to do some digging… never mind that her unorthodox approach to policing has got a few of her colleagues’ backs up. Amongst them is her former supervisor Detective Patrick Wilkins… he’s had enough of Tara calling the shots and will do anything to knock her down. She must be careful.
At least she has an ally in their boss, Detective Garstin Blake. He’ll always back her hunches. If anything, they work together too well… at least, that’s the rumour around the station these days.
When a body of a young woman is found frozen near the fens, Tara’s evidence suddenly becomes key to solving a high-profile murder. Is their missing artist still a victim… or in fact a clever murderer with a deadly plan?
The winter light dapples a gently winding river, and the breeze rustles a bank of reeds as the first snowflakes begin to fall. But the river’s smooth surface conceals a watery grave…
When a body is pulled from the deep and watery fens on the outskirts of town, everybody assumes it was a tragic accident. But Detective Tara Thorpe, newly joined and determined to prove herself, suspects there’s more to the story.
Tara is desperate to investigate further, but her supervisor Patrick Wilkins has other ideas. He would rather die than let this ambitious upstart show him up – even if it means some digging in Tara’s carefully concealed past to keep her under his thumb. After all, it’s not like he can report her – everyone knows that his boss Detective Garstin Blake and Tara have a history…
When another body is found, it becomes clear that there’s a killer on the loose. Could the murders be linked to the secrets that Tara has been keeping from her team… and can she solve the case before another innocent dies?
The sun rises on a lush, stone courtyard, where birds sing and ferns shade an ancient, burbling fountain. But in the fountain’s murky depths, a young woman’s body grows cold…
As the sun rises, a beautiful young professor – Samantha Seabrook – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a locked and empty Cambridge courtyard, the only clue – an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.
It’s Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving death threats… rather like the one that landed on the doorstep of Tara’s little cottage the night the woman died.
Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara tracks the killer to the dank and dangerous fens on the outskirts of the city. But there’s something Tara can’t quite admit to Blake about her past – and it could make all the difference to whether they live… or die.
The truth can hurt, and sometimes it leads to murder …
After becoming embroiled in a murder investigation, Nate Bastable and Ruby Fawcett have decided to opt for the quiet life. But crime has a habit of following them around.
When her work dries up, Ruby finds herself accepting a job researching and writing about Diana Patrick-John, a colourful and enigmatic Cambridge academic. Simple enough. But then there’s the small fact that Diana was found dead in suspicious circumstances in her home – the very place where Ruby has now been invited to stay.
As she begins to uncover Diana’s secret life, Ruby’s sleuthing instinct kicks in, leaving her open to danger and retribution. But can she rely on Nate to support her? Especially when his behaviour has become increasingly distant and strange, almost as though he had something to hide …
What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most?
When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution.
But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…
But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?
Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell the good guys from the bad …
Freelance journalist, Anna Morris, is struggling to make a name for herself, so she’s delighted to attend a launch event for a hip young artist at her friend Seb’s gallery.
But an exclusive interview isn’t all Anna comes away with. After an encounter with the enigmatic Darrick Farron, she is flung into the shady underground of the art scene – a world of underhand dealings, missing paintings and mysterious deaths …
Seb is intent on convincing Anna that Darrick is up to no good but, try as she might, she can’t seem to keep away from him. And as she becomes further embroiled, Anna begins to wonder – can Seb’s behaviour be explained away as the well-intentioned concern of an old friend, or does he have something to hide?
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