Archives December 2021

The Dark

The Anagramist, The Frame, The Cutter, three titles with some common areas, the main one being… The Dark.

I’m well known for my light-hearted work; the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, the Midthorpes, Mrs Capper, but like everyone else, I have a dark side, and that tends to manifest itself at this time of year.

This video will explain.

So you can expect new dark titles and some changes to this site come the New Year. In the meantime, the darker titles are exclusive to Amazon, which means Prime members can read them free as part of their allowance, and you can find them at:

The Anagramist

The Frame

The Cutter


Were she still with us, my mother would have celebrated her 95th birthday today. She passed away of a congenital heart condition 23 and a bit years ago. I recall speaking to the hospital on the night she died and they told me to get a move on if I wanted to see her. The missus and I jumped in the car and I must have broken the land speed record getting from Manchester to Leeds, but she died ten minutes before we got there.

She was a tough lady. A tiny woman, always frail, and yet she was afraid of nothing and she was the only person who ever had any control over me. Even today when I’m down or annoyed, there are times when I could do with speaking to her if only for her to kick my arse and tell me to get on with it… whatever “it” may be.

The anniversary of her birthday is one of the reasons I don’t care for Christmas.

It seems fitting, therefore, that the release of Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #24 A Deadly Twixmas, is today:— her birthday.

As Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries go, it’s darker than the usual tales. There’s a still a dash of humour, obviously. It wouldn’t be a Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery without. But the underlying tone, the murder of  a police officer and his wife, compounded by a third killing, threats against Joe and his two best friends, the invasive presence of the media, even the setting, the cold days between Christmas and New Year, make for a moody tale.

But it’s one I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

And don’t forget, there’s an official launch event on Facebook starting at four o’clock (UK time) this afternoon. No invite needed, just forget the Christmas shopping, come along and join in, and I’ll see you there.

You can find A Deadly Twixmas at:

And the Facebook launch is at:


Yes, I’m here again, and with just two days to go to the release of Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #24, A Deadly Twixmas, I have not one but TWO Christmas titles to give away and there are no strings attached. You just help yourself.

The first is Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #4, A Murder for Christmas. First released in 2012, one of the most popular Sanford Mysteries, it sees Joe and co at a fancy hotel in Leeds for the Christmas break, and everything’s fine until a noted academic is murdered. As always, the cops tell Joe to mind his own business, and as always, Joe ignores them.

It’s #FREE today and tomorrow, and you can find it at:

And it doesn’t end there. The second freebie, also covering today and tomorrow is Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #10 Christmas Crackers.

A slight change of format sees Joe, Sheila, and Brenda invited to an awards dinner in Whitby, where they’re badgered by a reporter into telling her half a dozen tales of Christmas murders from the past, but events take a turn when there’s a fresh murder the day after the dinner and Joe is called into action.

Christmas Crackers is #FREE today and tomorrow and you can find it at:

That’s it for the freebies, but don’t forget, A Deadly Twixmas , STAC #24 is released on Thursday.

You’ve still time to pre-order at and remember there’s a launch event on Facebook starting at four p.m. UK time. Everyone welcome, just invite yourself at:

And I’ll see you there.

The Time Draws Near

And no, I’m not talking about Christmas… well, I am, but not so’s you’d notice.

I don’t do Christmas. It’s nice seeing family, but even that’s subject to some nervousness again this year, so we might see them only on video. But I can’t do with the “goodwill to all men”. Where’s the goodwill in the pillocks who block up the box junction outside Tesco making it almost impossible for cars to get out of the supermarket? Prats.

The worst thing about this time of year are the short days and long nights, and where we live on the edge of the Pennine Moors, you know exactly where the wind’s coming from and where it’s going. Give me the summer anytime.

To make matters worse, Her Indoors is going to the hairdressers tomorrow and then taking me Christmas shopping… again! And I thought I’d suffered enough already. My poor credit card is in a worse state than me and that’s going some.

Thanks but no thanks, I’ll leave Christmas to Mrs Capper

On the plus side, we do have a new roof, but the picture’s not very good because they haven’t shifted the scaffolding yet. We’re hoping to see the back of that in the next few days.

So what did I mean when I said the time draws near?

It’s this Thursday and it’s the release of Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #24, A Deadly Twixmas, in which we find Joe and co in Blackpool for Twixmas, and coming under threat from a wannabe gangster who claims to be the brother of Brenda’s late husband… a brother he never had.

And there’s a launch event on Facebook.

You don’t need an invite, just come along and enjoy. I’ve set it for a late start (4:00 pm UK time) and it’ll go on until I get fed up.

So forget the Christmas shopping (you should have it done by then anyway) and come along to the Facebook launch of A Deadly Twixmas. You’ll find it at:

And I’ll see you there.

Exclusive to Amazon, there’s still time to pre-order A Deadly Twixmas:

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is upon us. Either that or some greetings card company is spamming me via snail mail.

And right now, of course I have not one but two Christmas titles on the go. The first of Mrs Capper’s Casebooks, Mrs Capper’s Christmas is live and selling, while A Deadly Twixmas, the 24th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, is on pre-order, scheduled to go live on December 23rd.

But while you lot are out there planning to take life easy over the extended holiday, I shall be slaving away over hot keyboard working on the early titles for next year, and principle amongst them are the second of Mrs Capper’s Casebooks, working title Mrs Capper’s Curse and the 25th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, working title A (Dead) American in Sanford.

And as a special, pre-Christmas treat, let me show you what’s in store for 2022 (aside from another half dozen Covid variants). Here are excerpts from the opening chapters of both projects, starting with…

Mrs Capper’s Curse.

It’s early February and Christine Capper is determined to take life easy, stay indoors where it’s warm, but circumstances might demand otherwise. Now read on.


Dennis once said that when he looked into the bedroom before leaving for work, he had a toil telling the difference between the various lumps populating the bed. He didn’t know which was the ruffled duvet, which might have been Cappy the Cat, and which was me. Naturally, he only ever said it once. Not that I would necessarily disagree with his observation, because I did tend to bury myself in the duvet, especially during the winter months, and Cappy the Cat was not only the laziest cat in Haxford, but also the untidiest.

Even so, I refused to let my husband get away with describing me as a ‘lump’. “You didn’t think I was a lump all those years ago when you were having your wicked way with me on the back seat of your father’s Ford Cortina, did you?”

“There was less of you then.” Before I could react to this, he went on, “And as I remember right, it was you having your wicked way with me.” While I tried to think of a suitable response to this, Dennis pressed on. “And it wasn’t a Ford Cortina. It was an Austin Allegro.”

“Well, thank God it wasn’t a Robin Reliant or neither of us would have got our way, would we?”

“Reliant Robin.”

I seem to recall that he left for work at that point, making sure that a) he had the last word and b) a proper argument couldn’t develop.

Winter. Even without Dennis’s unkind comments, I loathed that time of year, and in a curious way, February was the worst month of all. You expect it to be cold, icy, snowy in December and January, but with the dawn of February, the nights are drawing out just little, and you’re anticipating the spring. Warmer days, trees and flowers budding, Cappy the Cat disappearing for longer than thirty seconds at a time. But February could be so varied, and so it proved on the morning of Thursday the third. The previous day had seen sunshine all day, no wind to speak of, and the opportunity to bask in genuine, spring-like temperatures, albeit in the cocoon of our small conservatory.

But on the morning of the third, mists clung to the hills, and the cloud threatened rain, sleet, possibly even snow. I had nothing on that might tempt me to get out of bed in hurry. The body of Dr Graham Ainsley had been found in Wickersley Woods the previous day, and I wanted to do a little research into him before preparing a tribute. Whether as a text blog or a video, that piece would probably go out on the eleventh, and once it was prepared, I planned to idle away the day in front of the computer, preparing and possibly recording my vlog for the episode on the fourth.


A (Dead) American in Sanford

Not to be outdone, in the run up to Easter, Joe Murray and his pals from the Sanford 3rd Age Club are ready to greet  party of American visitors, members of the Sanford 3rd Age Club (Florida) and we open with Joe arriving at The Lazy Luncheonette in his finery.


Joe Murray walked in through the rear door of The Lazy Luncheonette, passed through the kitchen and stood in the centre of the dining area, where he turned, held his arms wide, and asked, “How do I look?”

It was early afternoon, the lunchtime rush was over and the few staff were cruising down to the four o’clock closing time. There were only a couple of customers in, both of whom gave Joe a quick glance and went back to their muted conversation, leaving him at the mercy of his nephew, Lee, Lee’s wife, Cheryl, and their friend and fellow assistant, Kayleigh Watson.

In place of his customary whites, Joe wore a dark grey, three-piece suit, a pale blue shirt with a matching, soft-patterned tie, and on his feet, where normally they would find a pair of shabby trainers or ageing loafers was a pair of brand new, shiny, black leather shoes.

Cheryl looked him up and down, pursed her lips to show how impressed she was, and turned to The Lazy Luncheonette’s newest assistant. “What do you think, Kayleigh?”

The young woman smiled as she looked her boss over. “I think you look very smart Uncle Joe.” Kayleigh had always called him Uncle Joe, even though, unlike Lee and Cheryl, she was not a relative. “It’s just like you’re off to a funeral.”

He frowned. “It’s a reception not a funeral.”

“A wedding, eh? And will there be a cake, you know, for you and the receptionist to cut?”

Joe sighed. There were times when getting the simplest of concepts across to Kayleigh was like pulling hen’s teeth. “It’s a civic reception, luv. Me, Sheila, Brenda, the mayor of Sanford, we’re all there to greet a party of Americans visiting Sanford.”

“Oh. Right.” A frown crossed her pretty face. “America’s a long way for people to come just to see the mayor get married, though, isn’t it?”

Joe gave up the impossible argument. “Yes. Yes it is.”

From the kitchen where he was cleaning down those appliances he would not need for the remaining two hours of business, Joe’s nephew, Lee piped up. “Funny thing, though, Uncle Joe, I thought the mayor were already married. Is he having two wives or what?”

“Yes, Lee,” Joe agreed. His nephew had long been the numpty of The Lazy Luncheonette’s small crew, and he seemed determined not to let Kayleigh usurp his number one spot.

“But I thought Big Amy were illegal.”

“She is.” Joe looked to the ceiling as if pleading for patience. He wanted to cry out, ‘bigamy, not Big Amy’, but it would be a waste of breath. If Lee thought it was Big Amy, then Big Amy it was. “They’re making a special case for the mayor.”

“Blooming typical,” Lee grumbled. “One rule for us and another for them.”


So there you go. That’s what’s in store of the first quarter of next year… or at least that’s the plan.

I’ll be with you again this side of yuletide, in the meantime, chill out with a riveting read.

A Deadly Twixmas, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #24, published by darkstroke, exclusive to Amazon, available for pre-order at:

Mrs Capper’s Christmas, Mrs Capper’s Casebook #1, exclusive to Amazon, on sale now at:

Introducing Mrs Capper, Private Investigator

It’s four days to Christmas, the town centre is gridlocked, her car is off the road and she’s waiting for her husband to pick her up and take her to town for a nine o’clock appointment at the library .

That’s the opening scenario facing Christine Capper in…

Mrs Capper’s Christmas.

It’s the first of a brand new series of light-hearted, cosy mysteries starring the eponymous Mrs Capper, a blogger, vlogger, and private investigator.

Over the course of the following four days, she looks into the theft of expensive books from the library, a supposed armed robbery at a bargain shop on the High Street and as Haxford’s very own serial killer, the Graveyard Poisoner, picks up his nefarious activities, Christine finds herself drawn into the case.

Along the way she confronts pernickety council employees, a local self-styled hard man, a tearful teenager, and the obduracy of a police inspector who would prefer it if she kept her nose out. And all this is while she’s dealing with an automobile obsessed husband, a tight-lipped son, and a cat which is both moody, sulky and bone idle. Is it any wonder she keeps forgetting to put Christmas decorations round the wall clock? It’s all part and parcel of a busy life.

Just to whet your appetite, here’s the opening of Chapter One.


“… You’re tuned to Radio Haxford with Reggie Monk, and that was Greg Lake telling us all about how he believed in Father Christmas. Didn’t we all? Ha, ha, ha. It’s half past eight on a cold and gloomy Tuesday morning, we have just four days to Christmas, and here’s a bit of traffic news for you. You know that the news on Reggie Monk’s breakfast show is always good, it’s fun, it’s upbeat? Well, this time it isn’t. Ha, ha, ha. Sorry, folks, but if you’re thinking of hitting town for some late Christmas shopping, then put it off. Police are warning of what they describe as a serious incident on the High Street in the vicinity of Benny’s Bargain Basement. Someone must have found Benny’s wallet. Ha, ha, ha. Seriously, Haxforders, the police tell us that the High Street is closed to traffic while they deal with the incident, and that means Yorkshire Street, Market Street, and Huddersfield Street are gridlocked. Is that one for your weekly vlog, Christine Capper? Ha, ha, ha. We’ll press on regardless and what better way to pass the time in a traffic jam than listening to Radio Haxford and Slade wishing everyone a merry…”

Reggie’s garrulous announcement hit me as a triple whammy. First and foremost, he mentioned me by name, second, would the incident, whatever it was, have any potential for my weekly vlog, and third, I had an appointment at the library at nine o’clock; would the traffic jam make me late?

Hands shaking, anxiety climbing towards panic levels, I looked through the window, saw no sign of him, so I picked up my smartphone, swept my finger over the lock screen, and hit the icon for my husband. While I waited for Dennis to answer I reconsidered my priorities. The library staff, all two of them, were expecting me, so that had to come top of the list. Re the incident’s potential as a vlog post, I’d need a lot more information, and finally, it wasn’t the first time Reggie Monk had mentioned me and my vlog on his breakfast show.

Picking up the call Dennis broke into my thoughts. “Hey up, lass, Reggie Monk’s just mentioned your name.”

I could imagine Dennis’s features split apart by a wide grin. “Yes, I heard it too. Listen—”

“You’re getting too well known, Chrissy. Time you were advertising Haxford Fixers on your fillums.”


He interrupted me again. “I mean, it costs us a fortune to advertise in the Recorder, you know. If you could give us the occasional plug—”

This time, I cut in on him. “Shut up and listen, Dennis.” When I was satisfied that I had his undivided attention, I went on. “You’re supposed to be taking me to the library.”

“I am. I’m on me way to pick you up now.”

“Yes, well, Reggie Monk says the town centre is gridlocked, so you’d better get a move on or I’ll be late.”

“Where do you think I am other than right in the middle of the jam?”


Tempted? And so you should be.

Mrs Capper’s Christmas is exclusive to Amazon, available now in e-format and paperback.

Just follow the link below and immerse yourself in the trials and tribulations associated with…

Mrs Capper’s Christmas.

It’s exclusive to Amazon, available as a Kindle book and in paperback, and if you’re member of Prime, you can read the e-book as part of your allowance.

You can find it…