Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Clare Chase which was first posted in March 2019. Clare writes classic mysteries with the aim of taking her readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations. The original post has been brought up to date to reflect Clare’s latest books.
Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
Over to Clare:
Which five 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!)
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you 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!)
Give five pieces of advice 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 five 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.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
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!
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Tara Thorpe Mysteries
Murder on the Marshes (Book 1)
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…
Samantha Seabrook – an ambitious young woman with a chequered past – is found drowned in the ornamental fountain of a locked Cambridge courtyard. The only clue is an antique silver chain wound tightly around her throat.
It’s local reporter Tara Thorpe’s job to discover what happened to Miss Seabrook – but the case becomes personal when she learns that Samantha had been receiving threatening messages… rather like the one that landed on the doorstep of Tara’s cottage the night the woman died.
Together with Detective Inspector Garstin Blake, Tara follows a lead that takes her to the deep and watery 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 crack the case before the killer strikes again.
Death on the River (Book 2)
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?
Death Comes to Call (Book 3)
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?
Murder in the Fens (Book 4)
When the body of twenty-year-old Julie Cooper is found – her pockets stuffed full of wilting flowers – in an iron-age hill fort on the edge of the fens, Detective Tara Thorpe and her team are called in to investigate. The evidence points to an illicit affair gone wrong… but is there more to the story?
As always at the Cambridge constabulary, the case turns personal. Detective Blake is exhausted after the arrival of a new baby with wayward wife Babette, and Tara is keen to put as much distance between herself and Blake as she can – both at the station and on the hunt for the killer. Charming rookie officer Jez is the perfect distraction… but is he a little too good to be true?
Then Tara makes a startling breakthrough when she finds an unsettling family heirloom hidden in the late victim’s bedroom – a golden statue of a sinister-looking cat with emerald eyes. As she traces its origins, Tara begins to realise that Julie’s murder is no one-off crime, but a sinister plot with its roots in a terrible secret that was covered up decades earlier.
Eve Mallow Mysteries
Mystery on Hidden Lane (Book 1)
When Bernard Fitzpatrick drowns in a river close to his home, the village mourns a tragic accident… and amateur sleuth Eve Mallow is on the case.
Obituary writer Eve is looking forward to her new assignment, as well as spending a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus. But it turns out that it’s Bernard’s death that she’ll need to investigate, not his life. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the world-famous cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?
As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled more than a few feathers. In fact, from the landlords of the Cross Keys Inn to his own seemingly devoted secretary, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers really a cold-blooded killer?
Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve realises she’s spoken to every single suspect. Her notebook contains all the clues she needs. But will she be able to crack the case and identify them… before they realise she’s on their trail and make her their next target?
Mystery at Apple Tree Cottage (Book 2)
Obituary writer and amateur sleuth Eve Mallow is enjoying life in sleepy Saxford St Peter – until a mysterious murder lands right at her door…
It’s spring in Saxford St Peter – time to get back in the garden, listen to the birds, and take gentle strolls in the woods. But for some, it’s the season for murder.
Eve Mallow is relishing the gentle pace of the village until a new arrival stirs everyone up. Ashton Foley is back: a teenage tearaway turned interior designer to the stars. He’s mad, bad and dangerous to know, but charming too – as Eve herself can testify – and every house in Saxford opens its doors to him.
So when he’s found murdered in the woods near his mother’s home, Apple Tree Cottage, there’s no shortage of suspects. A jealous husband? A spurned lover? Or has someone from his past life caught up with him?
The police soon hit on a simple solution, and arrest his mother’s partner Howard. Ashton always hated him, and he bears all the marks of a recent fight. But Ashton’s mother, miles away in New Zealand, is convinced he’s innocent, and enlists Eve’s help to prove it.
There’s just one problem. Eve saw Howard sniffing around Apple Tree Cottage on the morning of the murder, and she’s fairly sure he’s guilty, too…
Mystery at Seagrave Hall (Book 3)
It’s Eve Mallow’s first visit to the fair at Seagrave Hall. But amidst the booths, stalls, tables and tents lurks something darker… A mysterious fall means a new case for amateur detective Eve!
The charity fair at Seagrave Hall is a key date in the Saxford St Peter calendar – a chance for the villagers to nose around the house and grounds and cross paths with the rich and famous.
New resident Eve Mallow is particularly excited by this year’s special guest: the explorer Verity Nye, engaged to the heir to the Hall. Eve loves Verity’s determination, and she can’t wait to meet her.
But when they talk, Verity hints that she has something troubling on her mind. So after the festive mood is tragically interrupted by Verity’s fall from a third-floor window, Eve can’t be sure that it’s an appalling accident. Especially when one small boy claims he saw someone behind her…
Soon Eve finds herself tasked with writing Verity’s obituary. As she dusts off her notebook and begins her interviews alongside her trusted dachshund sidekick Gus she realises she has a fine array of s
Mystery at the Old Mill (Book 4)
When the calm of Saxford St Peter is disrupted by a deadly fire at the Old Mill, amateur sleuth Eve Mallow finds herself investigating a most surprising mystery!
Everyone in Saxford St Peter is desperate to get to know Harry Tennant, the charming newcomer who owns the Old Mill, particularly Eve Mallow. He keeps himself to himself, and Eve is sure he’s hiding something… When Harry invites the whole village round for drinks, she can’t wait to find out more.
But two days before the party, a terrible fire sweeps through the mill, and Harry is found dead. When Eve passes the burned remains of his beautiful house, she can’t resist the call to investigate. Especially when it turns out Harry was living a double life as the famous advice writer Pippa Longford, and several of the villagers wrote letters to him. Eve has to wonder what confidences her neighbours shared… and whether one of them was worth killing for.
Accompanied by her reliable dachshund sidekick Gus, Eve starts digging. She soon realises Harry was at the centre of a web of lives – and lies. There’s an angry uncle desperate to inherit, an unhappy woman he didn’t want to marry, not to mention all the people who told him their darkest secrets. Was one of them much closer to home than Harry knew? And can Eve untangle the truth before she finds herself face to face with a killer?
Mystery at the Abbey Hotel (Book 5)
Eve Mallow’s stay at the luxurious Abbey Hotel takes a turn for the suspicious when the owner is murdered – leaving Eve surrounded by suspects!
Saxford St Peter is Eve Mallow’s beloved home, but she can’t resist the chance to spend a weekend in the nearby Abbey Hotel, famed for its glamorous owner Debra Moran and an array of celebrity guests. For a confirmed people-watcher like Eve, it’s perfect: she can observe the rich and famous while sipping tea in the gardens, her faithful dachshund Gus by her side.
But her relaxing break takes a shocking turn when Debra is found lying dead in the shadowy woods around the hotel. One of Eve’s fellow guests didn’t come to the Abbey for fine food and delightful décor – but to kill.
When the investigation gets underway, Eve finds herself trapped with a wide range of suspects. Could it be Debra’s new friend Harper, who inherits everything? Her ex-husband Chester, still seething over their messy divorce? Or her estranged sister Amelia, who came hoping for reconciliation, only for Debra to shut the door in her face?
As Eve roams the hotel, searching for clues and hunting down alibis, she uncovers a whole host of secrets. But can she find the truth before the killer brings her holiday to a deadly end?
Mystery at the Church (Book 6)
When a TV drama crew descends on sleepy Saxford St Peter, Eve Mallow joins the excited throng of extras in a funeral scene. But then a real body is found… and Eve gets a starring role as sleuth!
Eve Mallow is looking forward to her fifteen minutes of fame when Saxford St Peter is chosen as the location for a new drama series. A devoted people-watcher, Eve is thrilled to learn that TV stars are just as glamorous – and tempestuous – as she’s always imagined.
But then someone delivers a bouquet of poisonous flowers to the director Rufus Beaumont, making Eve worry that some of the rivalries she’s noticed are deadly serious. And when Rufus’s body is found in the church where the funeral scene took place, it’s clear that someone’s out for the kill in real life.
Eve and dachshund Gus have been on the ground from the start, and now they’re on the case, interrogating the suspects one by one. Is it the devastating diva whose relationship with Rufus was far from professional? The cameraman who caught Rufus doing something he shouldn’t? Or the groupie groundskeeper who’s in the background of every shot? One thing’s for sure – Eve must catch the killer before she stars in their next murderous production…
Mystery at Magpie Lodge (Book 7)
After the black sheep of the Fulton family is found dead, the village of Saxford St Peter is quick to blame it on his past misdeeds. But Eve Mallow is on the hunt for someone closer to home…
When the down-on-his-luck Emory Fulton moves into crumbling Magpie Lodge, and starts running historical tours, the locals are none too pleased. He’s inventing grisly tales about their lovely little village, and disturbing everyone’s peace.
But then he’s found dead in his bath, and everyone is suddenly running scared. Could something strange be happening? After all, the murder mirrors one of Fulton’s stories about Saxford’s dark past…
But Eve Mallow is sure the answers lie in much more recent events.
Accompanied by her stalwart dachshund sidekick Gus, she starts to dig a little deeper. Could it be Fulton’s snobbish bigwig brother, or the suspicious local academic? Why was his goddaughter handing him mysterious parcels, and why wouldn’t his sister-in-law let him in her house?
As Eve unravels the secrets of the living and the dead, one thing is for sure: Fulton was a haunted, hunted man. And if Eve doesn’t crack the case soon, she might find whoever wanted to keep Fulton quiet on her trail too…
Mystery at Lovelace Manor (Book 8)
Lovelace Manor has a famous past… but when a historian becomes history at its annual open day, amateur sleuth Eve Mallow is on the case!
Everyone in Saxford St Peter flocks to Lovelace Sunday, the festival celebrating the romantic history of beautiful Lovelace Manor. This year will be even more exciting, as famous TV historian Cammie Harington is planning a spectacular stunt with a hot-air balloon for her new show.
Eve Mallow jumps at the chance to volunteer – it’s a great people-watching opportunity. But she soon realises there is no love lost between Cammie and the family who owns the manor… so why did Cammie agree to come?
When Cammie’s hot-air balloon tumbles from the sky, Eve feels sure this is no accident. Alongside dachshund Gus, she sets to work investigating the mystery, piecing together all the odd things she’s seen and heard.
Could the killer be discreet Diana, lady of the manor, who fell out with Cammie years ago? Or Diana’s dashing brother Sebastian, whose dark secret Cammie knew? Why was the loyal gardener following Cammie around? And had Cammie uncovered something explosive about the manor’s past, as she claimed?
When someone breaks into Cammie’s cottage and a priceless Lovelace heirloom goes missing, Eve is sure she’s on the right track… but can she solve the case, before the killer brings her crashing down?
Mystery at Southwood School (Book 9 – due 10th November available to pre-order
Eve Mallow’s going back to school! But when a famous former student is murdered on the grounds, Eve must discover who taught her a deadly lesson…
Eve Mallow is delighted when she and her best friend Viv are asked to cater Founders’ Day at Southwood School. It has a reputation as the best – and most secretive – school for miles around, and Viv has shared many dramatic stories about her time there. Eve can’t wait to see what it’s really like.
But when they arrive, Eve realises that the atmosphere is far from scholarly. Natalie Somerson, ex-pupil and infamous talk-show host, is the guest of honour, but nobody seems to want her there… especially when her speech stirs up old gossip. So why was she invited?
To make matters worse, Natalie won’t leave Eve’s boyfriend Robin alone… and when she’s found dead, he becomes the police’s prime suspect. Determined to prove his innocence, Eve starts to investigate everyone with a stake in the school. Is it the prudish principal, worried about Natalie’s influence? Her bitter former teacher, whose life Natalie made miserable? Or the head girl, who seemed to hate Natalie on sight?
With time running out to save Robin’s good name, Eve had better study her suspects and unmask the real killer… before they give her a fatal mark!
London & Cambridge Mysteries
You Think You Know Me (Book 1)
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?
A Stranger’s House (Book 2)
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?
One Dark Lie (Book 3)
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 …