Murder at the Manor – Lesley Cookman
I am really excited to be hosting a guest post from Lesley Cookman who is a former freelance writer and editor and occasional actor, whose pantomimes are still performed all over the country. She has recently been seen all over the country in the Daily Express and on The One Show due to her former life as an air stewardess in the 1960s!
She is the author of the Libby Sarjeant murder mystery series and shares some of her thoughts on the publication of the ninth in the series Murder at the Manor
The series started with Murder in Steeple Martin, a title chosen by my publishers, Accent Press, after we rejected “Past Imperfect”, which I thought too much of a grammar based pun for a very light mystery. So now all the titles have “Murder” in them and I can’t get away from it! The series follows the adventures of Libby Sarjeant, a former actor and occasional artist, who lives in the Kentish village of Steeple Martin. The village has become a character in its own right and there is a map of it in all the books and on my website. There are several other regular characters, who appear to a larger or lesser degree in each book, including Libby’s best friend Fran, an unwilling psychic, whose “moments” frequently help solve the case. I also have a regular police inspector who circumvents all police regulations and procedures in order to smooth the way for the ladies to investigate. I apologise to the police forces of the UK regularly!
In each book at least one character stands out enough to become a regular, and I’m told by readers who they want to see more of. It’s become apparent that it’s the characters who run the show, not the plot, as I’m told a new Libby book is like relaxing with old friends. I can’t think of a better compliment. However, the plot is important, or the whole thing would just be rambling conversations over cups of tea and glasses of wine – mind you, that’s more-or-less what they are now. But the plots become more and more difficult, as I try to find reasons for Libby and Fran to get involved in yet another murder. Readers are kind enough to suspend disbelief and no-one’s pointed the finger and said “Preposterous!” yet, although I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.
I do try not to be too light-hearted and flippant when exploring serious subjects – murder, after all, is always serious – and have tackled several uncomfortable topics such as illegal immigration and homophobia. The next book, Murder By Magic, will probably cause a little flutter in the belfries, too, but it’s dissension and conflict that are at the root of most crimes, so I shall take it on the chin!
I have to own up to this series being new to me but I shall definitely be going in search of them. Thank you Lesley. Do leave a comment if you are one of Lesley’s regualrs. You can find her at her blog HERE where you can find out more about the series and the lady herself!