Helena Dixon – Murder in the Belltower Blog Tour

Murder in the Belltower: An utterly gripping historical cozy mystery (A Miss Underhay Mystery Book 5) by [Helena Dixon]

Kitty Underhay’s hymn book is open… at murder.

Winter, 1933. Kitty Underhay is enjoying a restorative break from sleuthing on a visit to her family at Enderley Hall. The only thing marring her peace – aside from the uncomfortable sensation she has of being watched – is the obvious history between her beau, ex-army captain Matthew Bryant and another guest, the beautiful Juliet Vanderstafen. So, when the parish clerk is found dead on her front doorstep, Kitty leaps at the chance of distraction.

The police are happy to conclude that Miss Plenderleith met her unfortunate end on a patch of ice, but Kitty isn’t convinced this was a case of bad weather and worse luck. And when the Reverend Crabtree fails to show for tea the next day, she heads to the church to speak to him. But she arrives to find the clergyman hanging from the bell rope, dead.

With Matt seemingly wrapped up with his alluring Austrian, Kitty must solve the case on her own. But as she snoops into parish affairs, she makes some less-than-saintly discoveries. Just who has broken the sixth commandment? Meanwhile the killer is preparing a churchyard grave for Kitty, and she’ll have to use all her wits to avoid falling in…

An addictive, absorbing and completely unputdownable Golden Age cozy murder mystery, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

I absolutely love finding new writers from genres I enjoy, and I was really looking forward to publishing his historical murder mystery. I’m delighted to be able to share my review of this classic crime read that drew me in from the very first paragraph and kept me entertained and amused by its setting and characters until its very final page.

A crime novel that features stately homes, a missing Reverend and an alluring Austrian to boot – I mean, what’s not to love? These were some of the many reasons that I was drawn to Murder in the Belltower and why I’m so grateful to Noelle Holton & Bookouture for inviting me to participate in this blog tour – although this is thefifth Miss Underhay novel, you can absolutely read it as a stand-alone and I’m sure you’ll be off to look for the back catalogue once you’ve finished

I love immersing myself in a setting and feeling like I’ve actually travelled back in time whilst I’m reading and this book really achieves this as you feel like you are there witnessing the events at Enderley Hall right there alongside Kitty & her family – I know it’s already been said plenty of times – But it really made me hopeful that this quaint and addictive read will be part of a series of books that I can enjoy on the screen shortly- I am already casting Kitty in my mind’s eye and think it would be a fab Sunday night series

Because you’re definitely in a safe pair of hands, with a writer who clearly knows and loves her subject matter and can craft a perfect cosy crime tale,  you feel like you can totally surrender to this reading experience and spend a few days in the company of this eclectic and memorable cast of characters. I really felt like I could imagine the House and I absolutely loved the 1030s setting, which was wonderfully recreated on the pages.

It was lovely to lose myself in this cosy crime read after a few months where I’ve been mostly reading contemporary writing and non-fiction.  It’s funny that I get into reading zones and I’m now on a real Crime Fiction mission and have received a stunning edition of Death On The Nile for my birthday and am looking forward to losing myself in another of my favourite era’s crime stories. I am trying not to give any spoilers at all as I do not want you to be able to guess what’s about to unfold for you once you open the covers of this wonderful take on cosy crime, but you should prepare to be absorbed, entertained and charmed by the idiosyncrasies of these characters and take note that sometimes the most surprising clues can turn out to be pivotal…

The host of engaging characters and their complementary character quirks in this  charming and entertaining read allowed me to escape from everything COVID and just focus on the twists and turns of the mystery. The way that we get to see the ensuing complications of the more Kitty unfolds as she attempts to solve these mysteries was one of my favourite things about this book and it certainly does a fine job of not allowing you to put it down as it gives you a solid case of ‘one more chapter’ as you wonder whatever is going to happen next and how her unorthodox crime-busting techniques will win the day.

This was the perfect second-Lockdown read for me – and if you’re growing absolutely fed up with this never ending series of restrictions and feel like everything is too much for you and you just want an escape from it all –  then this would be a perfect book to lose yourself in.  Fans of the cosy crime genre will have hours of entertainment trying to solve the mystery for themselves whilst managing to raise a smile and a theory or two themselves as they go.

If you love an humorous and intelligent read with memorable characters and a setting that you’ll absolutely fall for then this is the read for you. I definitely enjoyed this book just as much as I’d been expecting to and I’m sure that it would appeal to lots of my Book club readers too.  Treat yourself to a copy this weekend and enjoy this trip into the world of 1930s cosy crime for yourself

Read the praise for this wonderfully enjyable read for yourself

Unputdownable… wonderful… a totally engrossing story… I found myself reading the book through dinner and staying up way too late to finish the story.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Devious plot twists and red herrings combined with exceptional characters make this a must read. Loved it!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Delightful… fast-paced and enjoyable. I loved the characters and the storyline. Lots of twists and turns and a few red herrings. Loved it.’ My Fiction Book Review5 stars

‘An absolute joy to read.’ The Book Jotter5 stars

Absolutely wonderful book… a charming cozy mystery with delightful twists and turns and kept me guessing throughout.’ Blue Pink Books

Deity #Orenda Blog Tour

A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

Everyone that I know is very aware of when there is a new book by Matt Wesolowski due out – I am literally counting down the days because of how much I absolutely love the Six Stories series and I’m delighted to be able to report that #Deity was every bit as wonderful as I’d imagined and absolutely lived up to my level of anticipation. Matt Weslowski has a unique and chillingly hypnotic voice and once you’ve gazed into the abyss alongside him, you’ll be a slave to his writing forever.

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I love the way that Matt’s books give us the writen experience of a podcast so that we get a richer and more multifacteted experience of the story as we hear from all of the characters in turn. I’m a real true-crime addict and this definitely comes up to the standard of some of the very best that Ive ever listened to. Zach Crystal is a fascinating and enigmatic character that you really feel comes alive as you uncover more and more details about his life and secrets. I’m firmly committed to my ‘No Spoilers’ rule, I can’t wait to have a good chat with someone else who’s read Deity so that we can talk over it together and talk about what a fantastic creation it is, comparing notes on the perspectives of Zach that we are exposed to and sounding out our own perceptions from the way that these voices align and contrast across the course of the ‘podcast’

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It’s even the kind of book that is a physical pleasure to read – the stunningly beautiful and iconic design mean that Deity entices you in at the same time as warning you off– it’s not just the story that made me love it so much but the book as an actual physical object. Just look how beautiful it is and how much you are compelled to open it att the same time as you are reluctant to embark upon such a menacingly beautiful book:

The fact that this is now the fifth ‘Episode’ of Six Stories is making me sad, as I very much don’t want this incredibly dark and compelling series to end. I could listen to episodes of this ‘podcast’ forever and feel like I have become so addicted to the voice of this novel that I ‘hear’ it playing in my head as I’m reading and think about it whenever I’m away from the book and long after I’ve closed the final page

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Scott King is a fantastic character – even though on a conscious level I know that he is a device to keep the story going and to stitch all of the interviewees’ perspectives together I absolutely love the way that he manages to structure hs show so that he can coax the truth out of his interviewees. I am a huge fan of podcasts in general and particularly true crime and murder podcasts. Six Stories brings these ‘crimes’ to life in such a way that you almost believe that these crimes have really happened – and it’s not the first time in the Six Stories series that I’ve spent time googling the case when I’m finished the book, so certain am I that these events must have definitey happened…

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I also liked the way that like the very best True Crime podcasts – Weslowski allows space for our own feelings and responses. Our responses to Zach Crystal are not reduced to a simple case of black and white There is enough room for us to ask ourselves questions about who we believe and why that makes Deity such a complex, satisfying and thought provoking read. I found myself genuinely being convinced to see things from a constantly shifting perspective as the novel bore me towards the conclusion and this was a rollercoaster ride that I definitely didn’t want to get off…

This book has a little bit of everything – mystery, social commentary, a ‘true crime’ feel, a fresh and innovative structure. As you can probably tell, I love Matt Wesolowski and am constantly urging my fellow crime lovers to start reading him. Deity is a book that you’ll want to pass on to other people so that they’ll have had the same experience you did, reading it for the first time. There’s only one thing to do now – you’ll definitely have to buy yourself a copy so that you can find out how brilliant it is for yourself

I’d like to thank the lovely Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, it is such a privilege to spread the book love for an Orenda book and after spending tme with them on the Virtual book launch for the wonderful Danny Garvey, it reminded me again why reading any book published by  Karen from Orenda and promoted by Anne Cater is bound to be an absolute winner. This is an unreserved 10/10 from me and i’m excited to see what unfolds in the Sixth episode in this amazingly original and wonderfully dark series.

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Writer on the Shelf

Matt Wesolowski

Matt Wesolowski is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature Feature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015.

His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio.

You can follow Matt on Twitter here

Why don’t you check out some of the other brilliant blogs taking part in the tour?

Chrystyna Lucyk Berger – The Girl From the Mountains Blog Tour

The Girl from the Mountains: Absolutely heartbreaking and gripping World War 2 historical fiction by [Chrystyna  Lucyk-Berger]

The story of one young woman’s exceptional courage in the darkest of times, set in the stunningly atmospheric mountains of Czechoslovakia during the Second World War.

1938: Magda has led a sheltered life in her small village until the day she is forced from her home by the invading Nazi army. Torn away from her family and the only place she has ever known, she is offered refuge in an alpine villa owned by brilliant Dr Tauber and his talented, beautiful wife.

But despite having friends in high places, the Jewish Taubers are living on borrowed time. When the Gestapo come to arrest them, Magda is asked to protect something more precious than the silver and jewels they leave behind. Their newborn son Samuel.

Magda turns to the local Resistance, who hide Samuel nearby. Determined to help them and save her country, Magda remains in the house to serve the Nazi commander, passing messages and supplies to the secret network. But when she is caught, Magda is forced to flee into the high mountains with a price on her head.

With the Nazis in pursuit, and nothing left to lose, Magda takes up arms with a band of partisan fighters in the hope of rescuing the Taubers and reuniting them with Samuel. Even if it might mean laying down her life to win the freedom of those she loves…

This heartbreaking wartime epic of love, bravery and survival will stay with you long after you have turned the final page. Perfect for fans of My Name is EvaThe Alice Network and The German Midwife.

Feeling so lucky to be reviewing this wonderful book that has allowed me to travel with it to a completely different place and time and immerse myself in a wonderfully written and heartbreaking story. The atmosphere of being in a snowbound house, cut off from the rest of the world as I lost myself in its pages certainly enhanced the experience for me and allowed me to totally immerse myself in Magda’s story as I read it straight through in a single day without even stopping for breath. 

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This is a sweeping, immersive and wonderfully epic tale of one woman’s life in the stunning mountains of Czecheslovakia during World War II which paints an extremely vivid picture of how brutally difficult it was to stay safe and protect your family and loved ones from the many dangers they were faced with, on a daily basis. Magda is an unforgettable character: resilient, brave and not a little intransigent, she sets her sights on survival in spite of everything and her struggle makes for compelling reading.

Magda was born with a large birthmark on her face and is told: “…birthmark is not an excuse for avoiding risks. It should not be the thing that prevents you from performing acts of courage.”. I could imagine myself there as I turned these pages long into the night, comparing my life of privilege and leisure with the reality of growing up in wartorn Czecheslovakia and making decisions that will reverberate across the years…

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If you loved a captivating historical read, depicting life for women in wartime then you’ll find much to enjoy in this novel. The smells and tastes of rural life woven beautifully into the uncertain and dangerous political landscape, mixing the domestic and the historical canvas very skilfully. Some parts are undeniably hard to read as we become close to Magda and her struggles seem endless at times. It’s not just a case of having to survivethat causes Magda sleepless nights, there is also the fact that you never know who to trust and who might be an informant sometimes even your family might be the ones putting you at risk.

I really fell for this tale of the brave and rebellious ‘Warrior Queen’ in this book I found myself transported there and found the individual lives depicted in this evocative novel one of its real strengths. Magda has learned quite rightly to trust no one and her suspicions are often proven to have grounds. We meet a wide range of characters with differing loyalties as we see just how difficult it could be in these times to know who to trust—In choosing to shelter Samuel, she makes a decision that will reverberate through all of their lives with dramatic repercussions and consequences that she could never have anticipated.

If you enjoy immersive and beautifully written stories that transport you back across time and place then you’ll adore Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger’s tale of one woman’s journey in challenging times to persist in being wholly herself in the face of danger and interrogation. Magda is an indomitable character who will come alive for you on the page at the same time as bringing to life the country and the people she is surrounded by.

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As I lay in the warmth of my window seat, absorbing myself in this fascinating and beautifullly written tale, I was reminded of how much I loved Captain Corelli’s Mandolin This book brought rural Czecheslovakia just as vividly to life for me and I was really sad when I finished reading it. I will definitely look out for more novels by this writer as I’d never encountered her before and it has definitely increased my desire to read more works by historical writers and find out more about the experiences and bravery of women during this period.

It was my absolute pleasure to take part in the blog tour today. There are lots of other fantastic bloggers on the tour and their views on this fantastic read are well worth visiting their blogs for. I’d like to thank Noelle Holton from Bookouture for asking me to take part in the tour and recommend that you invest in a copy for yourself as you will find Magda’s story imposssible to forget…

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger was born in Minnesota in 1969 and grew up in the culture-rich neighborhood of “Nordeast” Minneapolis. She started her writing career with short stories, travel narratives, worked as a journalist and then as a managing editor for a magazine publisher before jumping the editor’s desk and pursuing her dreams of writing and traveling. In 2000, she moved to western Austria and established her own communications training company. She has won several awards for her short stories and novels and now primarily writes historical fiction. During a trip into northern Italy over the Reschen Pass, she stood on the edge of Reschen Lake and desperately wanted to understand how a 15th-century church tower ended up sticking out of the water. What stories were lying beneath? Some eight years later, she launched the “Reschen Valley” series with five books and a novella releasing between 2018 and 2021, in parallel to her WW2 novels and short story collections.

The Last Thing To Burn – Will Dean

He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting …

The Last Thing to Burn Will Dean Tuva Moodyson Marian Keyes

Having enjoyed Will Dean’s Tuva Moodyson series, so much, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Last Thing To Burn as I was really looking forward to a stand-alone read– and the premise sounded so intriguing that I was desperate to meet ‘Jane’ and discover her story. I love Will Dean and his writing and am so honoured to be following the very successful tour for his fourth novel. Let me tell you that it absolutely lived up to my levels of anticipation and I’ve been lost in tis twisted and terifying world during my period of isolation and I’m not planning on leaving any time soon…

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If you already know and love Will Dean’s writing, it will come as no surprise to you that from the very first page, we are plunged headlong into another intriguing narrative that really proves to be every bit as gripping as his three previous novels.  It must be so difficult for crime writers to keep coming up with fresh and exciting angles that will keep their readers turning the pages and I think that this is one of the aspects of Will Dean’s writing that is gathering the most acclaim. You really feel like you get a deep dive into the worlds he creates and their characters sear themselves into your reading mind and make you feel like you are living through these harrowing experiences alongside them.

The Last Thing to Burn Will Dean Tuva Moodyson

I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot of The Last Thing To Burn –  as I want you to be able to experience all the twists and turns as you uncover the full horror of what is going on for yourself – suffice to say that the skilful way that Will Dean weaves the many and disparate elements of Than Dao’s case into the narrative is superbly done and remains convincing throughout.

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I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with books that try and present you witha unique take on human suffering, but make no mistake, this is the real deal, a novel that’s absolutely in its own league and once you’ve started reading it, you will not be able to put it down until you’ve managed to reach the last page. I was holding my breath at times as I turned the pages as it felt so tense at times that I could barely breathe. It’s been compared to both Misery and Room – but this is a book that retains its own unique atmosphere and sense of menace and i cannot stop thinking about it more than a week after i’ve finished reading it.

The Last Thing to Burn Will Dean Tuva Moodyson

I loved the way that this novel wove many threads together – a book packed with tension, that manages to make you connect and feel for its main character and one that deals with a contemporary societal evil at the same time. The Last Thing To Burn  is definitely one of those novels that stays with you long after closing its final page and one that I will definitely be recommending to my friends – it packs a powerful punch and never lets up in terms of keeping its sense of tension and suspense strung tight right up until its nail biting conclusion. Buy yourself a copy here and clear your diary, because once you start this book, you will definitely not be able to stop…

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I can’t wait to see what Will Dean does next. I’m a sucker for a fantastically written crime read and this is definitely one of my reads of the year, so far. I heartily recommend it for whiling away a long dreich Isolation afternoon by the fire.  Away and treat yourself – You’ll thank me for it as it’s just the thing to take your mind off everything that’s going on in these strangest of times.

The Last Thing to Burn Will Dean Tuva Moodyson

Writer On the Shelf

Will Dean
Will Dean

Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying law at the LSE, and working many varied jobs in London, he settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy forest clearing and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.