Five on Friday with Victoria Dowd @victoria_dowd

Today I’m delighted to feature award winning crime writer Victoria Dowd. Her debut novel The Smart Woman’s Guide to Murder won The People’s Book Prize for fiction 2020/2021 and was also named In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel’s Book of the Year 2020. The second book in the series, Body on the Island, is also long listed for the People’s Book Prize for fiction this year. Book 3 in the series, The Supper Club Murders, was released on 16th September and is an unusual take on the locked room mystery. Her books are dark, comic murder mysteries featuring the Smart women.

Victoria is also a short story writer and was awarded the Gothic Fiction prize for short fiction in 2019. She was the runner up in The New Writer’s writer of the year award and long-listed for The Willesden Herald International Short Story Competition. Her work has been published in many literary journals and magazines. She also writes the Adapting Agatha series, focusing on TV and film adaptations of Agatha Christie and regularly speaks at various festivals on this subject. This year, she appeared at the International Agatha Christie Festival.

Originally from Yorkshire, she studied law at Cambridge and was a criminal law barrister appearing at the Old Bailey for many years but hung up her wig in favour of writing about crime. She is now co-convenor of the London chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association.

Over to Victoria:

Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. Just hearing those opening few notes takes me back. It’s also the song my daughter puts on when she thinks I’m driving too slowly!

Love Like a Bomb by Oasis. Travelling through Tuscany with my husband a long time ago, we played this a lot. I’d managed to hire the smallest car in the world!

For You by Topers. I love this band! All the band are godparents to my children except the lead guitarist. He’s my husband.

Suite Bergamasque Clair de Lune – Debussy. My wonderful grandfather would play this. He was a very special man.

Fake Tales of San Francisco by The Arctic Monkeys. I’m from Sheffield. Some of my family lived in Hunters Bar and I’m fairly sure this is the only song that ever talks about that place. The band come from High Green in Sheffield which is where I lived.

What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.


My garden

The sea

Pen & paper


Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?

Don’t stress the small stuff

Just keep going, it will happen

Don’t worry about everyone’s opinion, just the people you love

Enjoy the moment

It’s ok to change what you’re doing. If it doesn’t make you happy, stop.

Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you

I escaped from the Tower of London (at night long after the gates had been locked, I climbed over a very large wall)

I swam round Burgh Island on my own

I was filmed at Glastonbury

I like to do elaborate April fool hoaxes

I love hide and seek and have been known to hide for hours

Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.

Travel down the Nile

Go on the Orient Express

Be fluent in French

Continue to write books that get published

Own a signed copy of an Agatha Christie book

Many thanks for joining me today Victoria, always happy to meet another Yorkshire lass! it’s been lovely to discover more about you and thanks for introducing us to your husband and friends via their music. Can’t fault the things you couldn’t live without out. While I have no painting ability I am drawn to certain artists and also books about art which has drawn me to your first book which I’m now keen to read. Your escape from The Tower of London sounds interesting, I think the thought of spending the night there with all it’s history would inspire me scale a very high wall! I hope you get to travel down the Nile and the Orient Express is something I’ve often thought of. I have a couple of close friends who would also love to own a signed Agatha Christie so I suspect there’s quite a bidding war when they appear. But never say never, following your advice to the younger Victoria ‘just keep going, it will happen’!

Victoria’s Books

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

The Supper Club Murders (Smart Woman’s Mystery Book 3)

The phones are out.
The roads have flooded.
There’s no way in or out.
And the murders have begun.

Ursula Smart and her mother are invited to a supper club at Greystone Castle on the edge of a picturesque Dartmoor village, along with their ever-adventurous book group.

But as the dinner party begins, their hosts Lord and Lady Black begin to reveal festering resentments. Lord Black, who actually bought his title, looks like he’s having an affair with the maid.

Then as midnight strikes, someone is found brutally murdered and the Smart women find themselves investigating another perplexing crime.

On this dark and stormy night, with the castle cut off by flood waters, who will be the next to die?

Body on the Island (Smart Woman’s Mystery Book 2)

An uninhabited Scottish island.
Ten stranded strangers.
A murderer on the loose.

Ursula Smart, along with her dysfunctional family, heads to Scotland for a gentle weekend of foraging and camping in the Outer Hebrides.

Their boat capsizes. Washed up on an uninhabited island, the Smart women face starvation, freezing conditions and — worse — no Wi-Fi.

A fun break swiftly turns into a desperate battle for survival. Someone begins killing them off one by one.

Will our gang of Smart women escape or will they be next?

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Murder (Smart Woman’s Mystery Book 1)

A faded country house in the middle of nowhere.
The guests are snowed in.
The murders begin.

Withering and waspish, Ursula Smart (not her real name) gate-crashes her mother’s book club at an isolated country house for a long weekend retreat. Much to Mother’s chagrin. Joining them are Mother’s best friend, Mirabelle, Aunts Charlotte and Less, and Bridget with her dog Mr Bojangles. It doesn’t matter that they’ve read Gone Girl three times this year already, this retreat is their chance to escape bustling suburbia. But someone has other ideas.

A body is found in the grounds.

Is a lone killer hunting them? Or has one of their own group embarked on a killing spree?

What they need is to stop sniping at each other long enough to solve the mystery before the killer strikes again.

What they need is a guide to survive.

The Painter of Siena

A young artist in Mussolini’s Italy must work for the propaganda machine if he wants to continue to paint.
His obsession with his muse Mathild drives him to make any sacrifice. But his adoration for her forces him into new and dangerous circles.
The art world of 1940s Rome is beguiling and glamorous but threaded deep within is a frightening world where no-one should be trusted and it is very easy to disappear without a trace.


  1. I am with Jill on books, sea, garden and paper. I would love more paintings, but the ones I have are home grown by family so full of meaning. How true that every person should know it’s okay to change what you are doing. My old school friend just got in touch out of the blue, she is doing research. We had not been in touch since college days, but turns out neither of us had done the career we were training for!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a hard thing to accept it’s okay to change. From being young, parents, teachers etc guide you into what they think is right and it can be hard to break free from that. I rebelled at 18 by not going to University as it wasn’t what I wanted. I finally went when I was 22, to do the course I wanted and got far more out of it – including my husband!


  2. […] As an ardent fan of Desert Island Discs, I was very excited to be interviewed by the wonderful Jill Doyle for her blog, the premise of which is that the author chooses five things they can’t do without, five things people don’t know about you and, of course, five songs that have been part of your life. It brought back a lot of wonderful memories. You can read the full article here. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great post. I do love smart women sleuths, so thanks for introducing me to Victoria Dowd and her books. II also love her taste in music. I very much enjoyed the Topers song.

    Liked by 1 person

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