Newsletter no.105 September 2016

Our milkman has retired! After all these years of serving the community and working through the night, he hit a bad patch with his health and handed over his customers to a cousin of his. I am sorry to lose Alan, but very relieved to have the milk round continue. When I think how much even a two pint container weighs if I have to tote it back from the shops, I am very thankful for home delivery service.

Work does continue, after a fashion. I’m slower than I used to be, but gradually I can feel my mental muscles returning to some sort of shape, and there are now a growing number of chapters of the new book sitting in my computer.

There are various ways in which a hero or heroine may work to catch a criminal. In a police procedural, different pieces of the puzzle are tackled by a number of people – which is a reflection of how it would be in real life. In the sort of book I write, the hero or heroine meets with and talks to a number of different people until finally some sort of solution becomes clear. In both cases, the genre is that of the hunt, and the protagonist is the hunter. There are many variations on this theme. I try to keep up with all the different ways a crime novel can be written and confess that the older I get, the more I go for the stories in which I can identify with the hero or heroine. It’s a real treat to spend time with some of my favourite authors, especially if they have the gift of description.

Normally when I start to write a book, I have already worked out who dunnit, how, and where, and why. In this particular book, I have the where and the how all worked out, but there was a fuzzy sort of haze about who and why. So instead of having my heroine starting off with a group of people, one of whom is the murderer, I have her following a trail, sorting out the lies and misleading tactics of the characters as she meets them.

The characters Ellie meet may or may not be telling the truth about what they know, and certainly isn’t telling her the whole truth, but they do give her a lead to the next character, and so on . . . all leading, I think, I hope, to the murderer. I’m meeting some interesting characters along the way. One of them is throwing up interesting questions about compromise and how strictly you need to stick to the truth in dicey circumstances. I’m enjoying writing about him, especially since he’s sets his sights on chunky Susan, who is one of my favourite characters.

I don’t usually work this way but, so long as my Internal Editor keeps assuring me that what I’ve written is passable, I hope to produce something readable in due course.

Meanwhile I had to fulfil a promise to write another short story for the Methodist Recorder. I couldn’t do one for midsummer as my brain wasn’t working properly then, but I thought I could manage one for the harvest season. I had a story in mind which shed a light on why our heroes’ difficult friend Corin became so warped in mind, and why he keeps attacking Bruce and Leo for believing in God. It wasn’t an easy story to write, and I had a major problem with the first section, but eventually I thought it was good enough to submit. I’ll let you know when it’s scheduled for publication.

Stop Press: I’ve just received a good review from Publishers Weekly, for ‘Murder in Style’ which came out in the UK at the end of June and will be out in America soon. The review talks of ‘Heley’s well-plotted 17th Ellie Quicke mystery’, and goes on to say ‘A mature woman with keen observational skills and psychological insight into dark human deeds, Ellie is a worthy successor to Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple.

All I can say to that is . . . WOW!

Finally, a blessing; if you lose one friend, may you find it easy to make another.

Veronica Heley

NEW . . . . MURDER IN STYLE, the 17th Ellie Quicke. Out in the shops in the UK on June 16th. ISBN 978-0-7278-86309. This story is set in a fashion boutique started by twin girls who had been unwise in their choice of husbands. When one of the twins tumbles down the stairs and dies, it sets off a chain reaction of greed and malice in those left behind. Ellie tries to sort out the mess and is drawn into danger herself.

MURDER BY SUSPICION, the 16th Ellie Quicke, the large print edition. Also the trade paperback, and now, the audiobook as well. A local house church is after Ellie’s money but their members hold some very odd beliefs – not to mention their unscrupulous methods of getting the funds needed by their charismatic, if misguided, pastor.

The new pop-up by Francesca Crespi, for Noah’s Ark, has a text written by yours truly. Francesca’s work is stunning. Frances Lincoln, ISBN 978-1-84507-937-6.

You can hear me reading various bits and pieces in recordings made by Isis (Soundings) as follows: Podcast & Interview:   Collected newsletters 2011-2014 (one audio file)   Links to individual newsletters (click on each title)

Find details of my E-books at