New Editions of Hazel Holt’s First Four Mrs. Malory Mysteries, with More on the Way

Just in time for Christmas, Coffeetown Press has redesigned its editions of Hazel Holt’s Mrs. Malory Mysteries. The new trim size is 5 x 8, and the cover model is JoJo the Cat, standing in for Mrs. Malory’s Siamese, Foss.

Click the book covers to order. Bookstores in the U.S. and U.K. can now order at the standard discount on Ingram.

All Books are Available in Kindle editions and other eBook editions on Smashwords.

GONE AWAY, or MRS. MALORY INVESTIGATES

Original publication date: 1989

Everyone knows that impertinent Lee Montgomery is marrying Charles Richardson for his money. After Lee vanishes, Charles’ friends breathe a sigh of relief. But Charles loves his pretty fiancée and is determined to get her back. He enlists the talents of Mrs. Sheila Malory, whose pastimes include reading nineteenth-century novels and ferreting out the truth. Mrs. Malory, a reluctant amateur detective, is soon convinced that Lee has been the victim of foul play. The residents of the sleepy seaside village of Taviscombe, England, are about to discover just how difficult it is to keep their terrible secrets with Mrs. Malory on the case.

Gone Away is the first of Hazel Holt’s Mrs. Malory mysteries.

 

THE CRUELLEST MONTH

Original Publication Date: 1991

Widow Sheila Malory has been looking forward to her stay at the Bodleian Library in Oxford as a chance to research wartime women writers and catch up with old friends from her college years, the one “purely happy” time in her whole life. Her relaxing idyll is interrupted when a librarian, Gwen Richmond, is crushed to death beneath collapsed bookshelves. After the “accident” proves to be murder, Mrs. Malory’s godson Tony, who also works in the library, asks her to help investigate. Gwen was manipulative and unpleasant, so there are no shortage of suspects. The dead woman’s World War II diary reveal dreadful truths that may lead to the killer; they will also force Mrs. Malory to revisit the past in a new and colder light.

The Cruellest Month is the second of Hazel Holt’s Mrs. Malory mysteries.

THE SHORTEST JOURNEY

Original Publication Date: 1992

Mrs. Edith Rossiter, a rich matron, also has a wealth of greedy relatives–a cold-blooded daughter, a wastrel son, and a desperate sister. Because she is in excellent health, none of them can hope to inherit anytime soon … So when Edith vanishes from Taviscombe’s finest nursing home, the police suspect the worst, despite the lack of evidence. Mrs. Rossiter was a close friend of Mrs. Sheila Malory, who as usual applies her skills as an amateur detective to delve into the lives of the missing woman and her hopeful heirs. Was Edith addicted to sleeping pills? What did the mysterious couple seen in Edith’s company want from her? The truth will be stranger and more startling than even Mrs. Malory could have possibly imagined.

The Shortest Journey is the third of Hazel Holt’s Mrs. Malory mysteries.

 

MRS. MALORY AND THE FESTIVAL MURDER

Original Publication Date: 1993

Everyone in the small seaside village of Taviscombe is looking forward to the festival. So is Mrs. Sheila Malory—that is, until the unpleasant Adrian Palgrove joins the planning committee. Mrs. Malory, an avid reader of nineteenth century literature, is dismayed to find the man constantly in her path. First Adrian gleefully informs her that he has been appointed executor of the estate of a renowned author, whose private life he intends to expose. Soon his bad behavior has alienated his fellow committee members. One of his many enemies despises him enough to murder him just as the festival is underway.

Mrs. Malory has impressive credentials when it comes to solving murders, but with so many suspects, she hardly knows where to begin.

Mrs. Malory and the Festival Murder is the fourth of Hazel Holt’s Mrs. Malory mysteries.

COMING SOON:

MURDER ON CAMPUS (December 2011)

SUPERFLUOUS DEATH (January 2012)

DEATH OF A DEAN (February 2012)

Mrs. Malory is Back on the Case

Coffeetown Press is proud to reissue the first four novels of Hazel Holt’s Mrs. Malory mysteries, a classic “cozy” series based in the fictional English town of Taviscomb featuring a forthright, middle-aged female detective who has a lot in common with the delightful Hazel Holt herself.

Your biography mentions that you were a television reviewer. Can you tell us more about that phase of your life?

I reviewed television programs, wrote feature articles and did some interviews for “Television Today,” which is the television section of The Stage, a weekly newspaper for the theatrical profession (a bit like the American Variety, though very much more sedate!). One had to have a general overview of the profession and be knowledgeable about the technicalities. I joined the staff part- time after meeting the editor at the British Theatre Museum, where I did volunteer work. Before that I was editor of the publications of the International African Institute for 30 years.

You wrote a very well received biography of author Barbara Pym. Where and how did you meet?

At the Institute, when I was working as an editor. We were close friends for 27 years, and she appointed me her literary executor. After she died, with the help of her sister Hilary (also a dear friend), I made a collection of her letters and diaries that I published under the title “A Very Private Eye.” It made several bestseller lists here and in the U.S. My publisher (Macmillan) suggested I should write the official biography (A Lot To Ask), which also did well.

I know you admire Victorian literature. Are there any contemporary novelists you can name that are on your list of favorites?

I read virtually no fiction published after 1950.

Are you excited about seeing the first four Mrs. Malory books reissued?

I am, of course, delighted. About six of the most recent ones (in the U.S. and U.K.) are still in print in hardback and paperback.

I see that you published roughly one Mrs. Malory book a year between 1989 and 2009 [19 in all]. Are there more planned? Is it useful to read the books in order or can one easily skip around?

I can still manage to produce one a year. Since the main characters appear in all books it is best to read them in sequence, but each can stand alone.

What is your process: do you have a schedule you try to follow? How long on average does it take you to write a Mrs. Malory novel?

I try to write a bit every day, but there are often gaps. Also, since I am now 81 and partially disabled, all my household chores take much longer and so there’s less time for writing. Also I don’t always feel like it! I don’t edit—just read over the bit I’ve written the day before and try to catch any inconsistencies. Fortunately my publisher’s copy editors are very good at spotting these….

When did you move to Somerset? Is Taviscombe a stand-in?

We moved to Somerset from London about 20 years ago when my husband retired and were able to go back to the family home down here, where his family has lived for about 90 years.

Is Flip the original inspiration for Foss the Siamese cat? Is there also a Tristan?

Foss is mostly Flip, with memories of my original Siamese (called Foss) and my Burmese (called Madam). Tris is the West Highland terrier that belonged to an American friend.

Offhand, what percent of Mrs. Malory would you say is based on you? Do you share key elements of her past history?

Mrs. M has many of my opinions but not my lifestyle— she is far more energetic, a bit younger, and much more involved with local affairs. I’ve never sat on a committee in my life.

I’m delighted to say I’m NOT a widow, but I do have a son (who was a lawyer but is now a successful novelist), a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter. I read English at Cambridge but was never an academic as such. I also have a good friend who is much like Rosemary.

What was the impetus for embarking on the Mrs. Malory series?

I can’t remember exactly what sparked off Gone Away; it’s so long ago! But I did find it convenient to set the novels in Taviscombe, which is the name Barbara Pym gave to Minehead in one of her novels—a little in-joke for Pym readers.

Do you have any interesting stories to share about the general response to this series? Fan mail, public recognition?

I do have quite a few fan letters from all over the world. Some of my fans (especially in the U.S.) have become good friends, and one is now practically our adopted daughter!

Jane Austen’s letters the basis for My Dear Charlotte

My Dear CharlotteCoffeetown Press is pleased to announce the release of My Dear Charlotte, the new mystery novel by Hazel Holt.  This thrilling Regency murder mystery will appeal to all fans of mystery novels.  It will also be welcomed by readers of Jane Austen because this unique novel is constructed using the actual language of Jane Austen’s letters.  It’s great fun, and an important new work by the renowned author of the Mrs. Malory Mysteries.  Here’s an excerpt:

Of course it cannot be denied that Mr Woodstock himself will lead a happier life without his formidable spouse, though I do not believe that he could have summoned up the courage to dispose of her!

Mr Rivers will be glad to be rid of one who would have put obstacles in the way of his plans for the Barbados estate, but I do not think that may be considered a sufficient reason for an honourable man to take a life.

Mrs West, however, seems to me to lack such scruples if they stood in the way of her daughter’s advancement. I do not at present see how she could have brought about Mrs Woodstock’s demise, but no doubt, if I give my mind to it, I may presently think of something.

Poor John coachman also had reason to wish his mistress dead, since his whole happiness (and that of Sarah) depended upon keeping his position at Holcombe and if he had been turned away without a character his case would have been miserable indeed.

So you see, there are a number of people who will be happy at Mrs Woodstock’s death. Perhaps I should add myself to the list for the sake of those hours of tedium and the many irritations she has subjected me to!