Today I’m delighted to feature Joy Kluver the author of the DI Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel series comprising Last Seen, Broken Girls and Left For Dead.
Joy Kluver has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. More recently she’s been escaping the madness of motherhood by turning her hand to crime novels. A book blogger, she’s also part of the First Monday Crime team and if you’ve been to any of their events it’s likely you’ve eaten one of her cookies. She also organises author talks for her local library. Joy lives in SW London with her husband and three children.
Over to Joy:
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
To be honest there’s nearly always a melody in my house, whether it’s the opening bar of the Grange Hill theme tune for when things have gone wrong, or the Eastenders drums for when things have gone REALLY wrong, or the Countdown clock for when we’re running out of time. There are also the silly songs we’ve made up over the years to encourage the children to do things. But I’m not sure I’d want them on a soundtrack for everyone to hear. So here are my five choices:
Careless Whisper by George Michael. I was a teen in the Eighties and I was a Whamette. Careless Whisper is my all-time favourite song. For me, it’s George Michael at his best (although A Different Corner comes a very close second). What makes this song extra special is that I used to know the saxophonist who played the iconic sax solo. His name is Steve Gregory and he’s one of the most humble people you could ever meet. I haven’t seen him for years now but would love to meet up with him again.
Largo (middle section) from Winter, The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. This is the piece of music that I walked down the aisle to for our wedding. It’s not as well known as Spring but it’s incredibly graceful. We went to Florence a few years ago for our twentieth wedding anniversary and there was a Four Seasons concerto on the actual day. It was so lovely to hear it again on our anniversary.
Nimrod from Enigma Variations by Elgar. This piece always reminds me of my Dad. He died not long after my wedding (he had managed to walk me down the aisle) and it’s pretty much impossible for me to not cry when I hear it.
Greatest Day by Take That. From death to birth. My youngest child was born to Greatest Day after a twenty-nine hour labour. I was exhausted and elated! We really were watching the world come alive.
OK, now I have a problem. I’ve given you two pop songs and two classical pieces but I’m a musical theatre girl at heart. And I can’t choose just one – really, I can’t. So, can I be cheeky and have musical theatre as a whole please? (Very cheeky! but as I found a compilation video you got away with it.)
What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
My name is Joy and I’m a chocoholic. In fact, I’m eating chocolate as I type this. In case anyone needs to know, my favourites are Lindor and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Books. Obviously I’m biased on this but books are wonderful! I read every day, normally at night before I go to sleep.
Television. I remember the heady days of three TV channels and the excitement when Channel 4 launched. Even though we have Netflix and Prime, I still think the best programmes are on the main five UK channels.
Cinema. Before Covid, my husband and I had cinema passes and in 2019 I saw twenty-six films. We’d planned to continue that in 2020 but obviously couldn’t. We have been back a few times more recently and hope to continue that.
Theatre/Concerts. Yes, I’ve been a bit sneaky here by putting two things together but it’s essentially live entertainment. We made it to a Prom last summer but I’ve yet to see a musical again. Hopefully soon!
Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to dream big. I always wanted to be a teacher (and I was for five years) but during my teens, there was a period when I wanted to be a music journalist. Maybe if I’d had the courage to change direction at that age, I’d have started writing novels much earlier.
Get fit and stay fit. I hated PE at school because there wasn’t a single sport I was good at. So I’ve never really wanted to do exercise.
Eat healthily because one day your metabolism will catch up with you.
There’ll always be someone who’s better at something than you, and there’ll always be something that you’re better at than someone else. I actually heard this advice when I was a teen. Someone had come in to do a school assembly and it’s stuck with me. I think it strikes a good balance between knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
Weigh advice from others carefully. Sometimes you’ll get conflicting advice so it’s really about going with what’s best for you. And that might involve taking a risk. Which brings us back to don’t be afraid to dream big.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
My name is Joy. Not Joyce. Nor Jo. I’m not a massive fan of my name but I really dislike it when people get it wrong.
I like to bake but I’m not very good at decorating so I leave that to my daughter who’s superb at it. I make cookies for book events and you might even have tasted one of my triple chocolate cookies. I have to confess though that I use Lorraine Pascal’s recipe and they’re super easy to make.
I’m stupidly allergic to lots of different things. I never used to be but I had a very bad chest infection several years ago and I’ve been reacting ever since. So hay fever, most animals (I can’t come to your house if you have a cat or a dog and I’m even allergic to our rabbit), most perfumes, any kind of smoke (wood, cigarette, incense). If I start coughing for no reason, then there’s probably something in the air that I’m allergic to. Or I’m choking on my drink. I do that quite a lot.
My books are set in Wiltshire and I’ve always had this weird affinity with the place even though I’ve never lived there. A few years ago though, I found out that my great great grandparents lived in Swindon with their huge family and that some of them worked on the GWR.
I love to sing. I was in a choir before Covid but my voice is horribly rusty at the moment so I’m singing to myself in my writing shed instead.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
I’d love to have my DI Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel series optioned for TV. I can’t decide between Zawe Ashton or Jessica Plummer for Bernie.
I’d love to write a bestseller that’s remembered for years to come.
In these current times with Covid and climate change, long-distance travelling probably isn’t the best thing to do but I’d love to visit Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If I was only allowed one of those then it would be Canada as my grandfather worked on the Rocky Mountain railway for a short time and I really want to experience that.
Despite my current croaky voice, I’d love to be in a musical. Although I’d probably get stage fright and forget all the words and sing out of tune.
I’d love to buy a property near Florence. I didn’t think it was possible to fall in love with a place but I’m head-over-heels in love with Florence. I’m not sure I’ll ever earn enough money for that though.
Thanks so much for joining me today Joy, I’ve really enjoyed your choices, not least because I was nodding my head at many of them. Careless Whisper is one of my OH’s top 5 records (in case we ever appear on Mr & Mr’s he has to agree once and for all which is top!) I find Nimrod an emotional piece of music anyway without the added associations it has for you. I can safely say I’m also a chocoholic and hated PE at school so you are in good company. I will definitely turn up to one of your book events if I get the chance, nothing at all to do with triple chocolate cookies! I can empathise with your name issues. While Jill wouldn’t be my choice it’s my name, and it’s not short for Jillian or Gillian and I’m not called Gill! Here’s hoping you get to tick off your dream items, I can understand your falling in love with Florence, it’s a magical city.
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Left for Dead (Book 3)
The detective stared at the young woman lying on the bed. She almost looked peaceful, her face like porcelain. Despite everything she had been through, she was still beautiful.
When DI Bernie Noel hurries to Keira Howard’s hospital bedside, she knows that Keira has been lucky. Barely conscious and badly injured, at least she is alive. Convinced that Keira’s attack is the latest in a string of increasingly violent assaults on young women in the area, the next victim might not be so fortunate. So she vows to find the man who did this, and to stop him before anyone else gets hurt.
Spurring her team into action, she quickly hones in on a prime suspect. But then he suddenly dies while on police watch, and Bernie’s investigation goes into freefall. When Bernie’s superiors won’t let her take the case any further, her gut instinct tells her there’s much more to his death than meets the eye. If it was murder, who would want him dead, and why? So she determines to set out on her own to find out what happened.
But the closer Bernie comes to discovering the truth, the more she is putting her own life in danger. And with Keira finally strong enough to talk her about her attack, Bernie worries she may be at risk yet again. There’s someone out there who has killed to stay safe in the shadows; can Bernie stop another senseless death, and save Keira, before it’s too late?
Broken Girls (Book 2)
Brambles catch her dress, scratch her legs, pierce her feet. To escape, she’d had no option but to go barefoot. They’d been laughing together a few minutes before, but things can change in the blink of an eye…
The woman is dark-haired and young, judging by the short red dress. Any other signs of her identity have been erased during her long wait to be found, but it’s clear she was strangled: this was a passionate and personal murder.
D.I. Bernadette Noel knows that every second counts if she is to catch this killer, but she has no leads – until the discovery that the dead woman’s rings match a stolen property report, and the rings’ owner mentions Rosa, her missing nanny.
Just when Bernie and her team think they’re getting somewhere, a shocking discovery about Rosa – and the news that another young girl has been abducted – changes everything the team thought they knew about the case.
Laura is only twelve, and her parents are beside themselves with worry – but Bernie has an additional fear. Laura’s home is right next to the woods where their murder victim was found: are the cases connected?
When Bernie notices similarities between descriptions of the man last seen with Rosa and someone Laura was messaging online, these fears grow stronger. But they still have no clear leads as to the identity of the culprit.
With few options left, and time running out, she makes a desperate plan to trap the predator. But any mistakes will mean another innocent life lost…
Last Seen (Book 1)
I can see her, laughing as she swings as high as she can, her beautiful blonde curls flying out behind her. My little girl. If only I’d listened to my gut. Then maybe she’d be safe here with me…
When five-year-old Molly Reynolds is snatched from the park in the small village of Otterfield, Detective Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel throws herself into the search, sick with worry for the quiet, sensitive little girl and her distraught mother.
Wasting no time, Bernie finds a small green cardigan under a bush in the park. It still has the smiley face sticker Molly won that week at school. It’s the first in a chain of clues – and Bernie can’t shake the feeling that it was left deliberately, as a message.
But Bernie encounters a wall of silence. Otterfield is a close-knit community, yet no one in the village has anything to say about the missing child. And Bernie is sure there is something Molly’s mother isn’t telling her either. Why?
And then she makes a chilling discovery: twenty-five years ago, another little girl went missing from the area. Her name was Sophie, and all they ever found of her was her teddy bear, hidden under a bush, just the same as Molly’s cardigan. Now Bernie knows she’s in a race against time to save Molly’s life.
Bernie’s team work round the clock to find a connection between the two girls – but when they find their proof it comes at the price of a shocking tragedy that strikes right at the heart of the case. Molly’s family have been hiding a secret, and now their little girl is in greater danger than ever.
Then Bernie makes one deadly mistake that places her right in the hands of the most dangerous criminal she’s ever faced. She was willing to go to any lengths to solve the case – but will she stay alive long enough to do it?