I’m delighted to say ‘Happy Publication Day’ to Gina Kirkham as she releases Prunella Pearce back into the world in her latest mystery Murders at the Montgomery Hall Hotel.
After the success of Prunella’s first foray into the world (along with her merry band of ladies from the Winterbottom Women’s Institute) I’m sure this will be equally well received. I can say that with some certainty as I was lucky to be able to attend the sell-out launch party last week. Not only did the event attract over 140 attendees, it raised over £1500 for IncuBabies a local neonatal charity that is dear to Gina’s heart.
The evening was a lovely relaxed affair, with Prosecco, a great buffet and the chance to win a prize in the fundraising raffle. The main event though was a lovely interview and Q&A with Gina, expertly conducted by crime author David Jackson. It gave new readers a chance to uncover Gina’s journey to publication as she discussed her love of writing. A love, which combined with her own bubbly, warm personality resulted in her much loved trilogy featuring Constable Mavis Upton, a character that she admits was loosely based on her own experiences. Each book covers approximately a decade, so Gina felt it had reached a natural conclusion with the third book. It may have meant we said goodbye to Mavis, but not to Gina. A change in publisher gave her the opportunity to proceed with a new set of characters that had taken root in her writing consciousness. Her visits to various Women’s Institutes giving talks about her writing had introduced her to a range of real life characters, characters that broke the stereotypical mould and led her to create Prunella and her associates. The Winterbottom books are warm, cozy crime capers, with the first one alone ratcheting up six ingenious murders – death by lemon drizzle cake anyone! The latest book also guarantees a high body count, though no clues as to the where’s and how’s – we’ll just need to read it. One thing I’ll make sure to imagine when I do, is the real life inspiration behind detective Andy Barnes, the lovely Kenny Doughty (perhaps better known as Vera’s DS Aiden Healy). I will have no problem doing that!
On a more personal note, the evening gave me the chance to re-connect with Sandra Mangan (reviewer with Crime Fiction Lover) and I’d like to say thanks to David and Lisa Jackson for keeping me company.
So lets take a look at the new book:-
Murders at the Montgomery Hall Hotel
A sleuthing librarian and her friends spend Halloween at a generations-old estate where they discover murder runs in the family . . .
Prunella Pearce, Bree, and the other ladies of the Winterbottom Women’s Institute are planning to spend Halloween at the Montgomery Hall Hotel murder-mystery weekend—just as the historical venue’s past comes back to haunt it.
The hotel is now in the incapable hands of Tarragon Montgomery, with its faltering finances overseen by elderly matriarch Cecily.
Meanwhile, the local actress hired to play Psychic Selma for the weekend has been replaced by an impostor. But who is she, and what is her agenda?
Pru and Bree have some experience solving mysteries, but as Montgomery Hall is engulfed by a storm and the bodies start piling up, they may need a little assistance from Pru’s delectable detective, Andy Barnes, in order to crack the case . . .
About Gina Kirkham
Gina was born in the late 1950s to a mum who frequently abandoned her in a pram outside Woolworths and a dad who after two pints of beer could play a mean Boogie Woogie on the piano in the front room of their 3-bed semi on the Wirral. Being the less adventurous of three children, she remains there to this day – apart from a long weekend in Bognor Regis in 1982.
Her teenage years were filled with angst, a CSE in Arithmetic, raging pimples and Barry White. Marriage and motherhood ensued, followed by divorce in her early thirties and a desperate need for a career and some form of financial support for herself and her young daughter. Trundling a three-wheeled trike along a leafy path one wintry day, memories of her favourite author Enid Blyton, ginger beer and solving mysteries along with her lifelong passion to be a police officer, excitedly gave way to an epiphany. And thus began an enjoyable and fulfilling career with Merseyside Police.
On reaching an age most women lie about, she quickly adapted to retirement by utilising her policing skills to chase after two granddaughters, two dogs and one previously used, but still in excellent condition, husband. Having said goodbye to what had been a huge part of her life, she suddenly had another epiphany. This time it was to put pen to paper to write a book based on her experiences as a police officer. Lying in bed one night staring at the ceiling, Gina’s alter-ego Mavis Upton was born, ready to star in a humorous and sometimes poignant look at the life, loves and career of an everyday girl who followed a dream and embarked upon a search for the missing piece of her childhood.
About David Jackson
I was a latecomer to fiction writing, having spent most of my adult life producing academic papers and reports. After some limited success entering short story competitions, I submitted the first few chapters of a novel to the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. To my great surprise, the book was not only short-listed but given the Highly Commended accolade, which stimulated the interest of agents and publishers and eventually led to the publication of PARIAH. Since then, I have written several more crime thrillers, including two series set in New York and my birth city of Liverpool. I still have a day job in Liverpool as a university academic, but now live on the Wirral with my wife, two daughters and a British Shorthair cat called Mr Tumnus.