A fun tour of Sussex with the extra treat for mystery lovers as Emma Dakin ties places to favorite books
—Rhys Bowen (NYT bestselling author of the
Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series
If you are looking for a cozy crime novel that evokes a wonderful sense of place - look no further. Emma Dakin skilfully weaves a new mystery into a fascinating and informative tour of Southern England featuring heroine and literary tour guide, Claire Barclay, and a host of interesting characters.
—Julie Wassmer, Author of The Whitstable Pearl Mysteries
This engaging story will appeal to traditional mystery-lovers who like their murders set against the authentic backdrop of quaint English villages.
—Clara Benson, USA Today bestselling author of the Angela Marchmont Mysteries
I don’t know whether the idea of going on a “mystery” tour in Sussex or setting up and conducting a tour would be most fun. They sure sound fun in this book. Except, of course, for the murder. Claire, the owner of the tourist business, has so much fun planning the tour. We get to hear about checking out the manor house to make sure it is suitable for her clients. The author is so descriptive that it makes reading like taking the tour or at least hoping to. I loved hoping a book title would pop up here and there and it did.
An apparent overdose victim is found in the manor Claire has booked for her tour. His mother is sure he was clean this time, sure he was working very hard to change his life. She can’t believe he took the drugs and needs an amateur sleuth to help her convince the police.
This was the first book I have read by Emma Dakin. It is book five in a series titled “A British Book Tour Mystery”. I think this can stand alone. I rarely like to go back and read other books in a series, but I think this is a series that I just don’t want to miss any of the books. Hope there will be a Book 6 too.
read an excerpt...
Approaching the small town of Rye, I marked the route to Canterbury and the road to Hastings where I’d take my guests later in the week, I didn’t know this area well but had done two quick reconnaissance trips earlier. Jacqueline Winspear set her books near here in the war years. Her descriptions had given me a sense of familiarity with the green land around me, but the miles of delta before the sea surprised me. Rother Manor, our guest hotel, was large, but not, I was sure, large enough to have ever been a manor house. The name was probably applied to the house recently to attract tourists. The common meaning of ‘manor’ was a large house on a huge estate, but sometimes it just meant a large house. Mark told me that his colleagues sometimes called their police district their manor. I ruminated on the application of the word. I tended to do that. I’d not brought guests here before, but it looked ideal, sufficiently old to satisfy the North American appetite for a romantic setting but not so old it was decrepit. Laura Wright, the manager, had seemed organized and experienced.
I loved trying out new guest hotels and the whole experience of taking a tour to the sites of mystery novels. The tourists shared my itch for mysteries and were usually interested in what I offered. I’d had a career as a teacher of English to executives in many parts of the world. I enjoyed it as I was fascinated by linguistics and the way people use language. Now at forty-eight, I had achieved stability with a reliable partner, my own house and tour business and a legacy from my much-missed step-father. I should be able to feel comfortable, not always expecting a disaster. I admonished myself. This time the tour will go smoothly. This is a beautiful house; you will enjoy it here.
Rother Manor House was a three-storey rambling Victorian and was as close to a gracious house as was possible at the edge of Rye. The grounds were beautiful. Laura's son, Reece Martin, looked after them she’d told me. He was in his late twenties and committed to creating beauty. The owners of the guest house were glad to hire him, Laura had told me, as staff was hard to find. It was unusual to see so much land around a house of this age in a town but it made a picturesque setting for my visitors. Across the street and well below it lay the cricket grounds, still green in the July heat. Beyond the grounds, the salt marsh stretched to the sea. The tourists would love this view.
I pulled my eyes away from the vista and turned into the car park, a graveled area to the left of the entrance. After unloading my small suitcase, knapsack and briefcase from the van, I climbed a few steps to the front door. It was unlocked. I entered into a long hallway and saw a side table with an open guest book and a prominent bell. I called for Laura but there was no answer. I hit the bell. No one came. I hadn’t told her the exact time I’d be here. She was likely nearby. I wandered into the lounge which was off the hallway. A small table held two cups and saucers, sugar and a milk jug and a plate of cake. My guests weren’t arriving until tomorrow. She could have others guests tonight, but I hoped that cake was for me. I dropped my luggage on a chair in the lounge and walked down the hallway to the rear of the house. There was no one in the kitchen. I pushed through the back door and stepped into the garden. The minute I opened the door I heard the keening of a woman in distress, a soft, desperate cry that rose in the air and hung there. There was anguish in every tone. The hairs on my forearms rose and I stood frozen for a moment.
The wail receded, then rose again. It came from the area at the back of the property. I walked towards a shed. I moved cautiously to the open door and peered in.
Laura was sitting on the floor beside a young man who lay still. His skin on his arms was pale, deadly pale. His head was turned so I just saw his dark hair. He was muscular, wearing a black T-shirt, denim jeans, black trainers. At first, I thought he’d fallen or had a seizure of some sort. Then I saw the Prenoxade kit open and the syringe on the floor nearby. Prenoxade, naloxone, the life-saving remedy for drug poisoning. Tour guides carried it; police carried it; teachers had it handy and, apparently, so did mothers.
about Emma Dakin...
Emma Dakin writes a series of mysteries set in Britain. Her protagonist is a tour guide who takes different characters in each book to the sites of mystery novels in the countryside. She appreciates the elegant, people and humor of each area. But in that idyllic country, Claire stumbles on murder. Author Emma Dakin has five books so far in this series with the latest release September 12th 2023. An historical mystery set in Vancouver in 1886 is due out soon. She won a prestigious 2022 Lieutenant Governor’s Community History Award for her non-fiction account of life in the 60s.