A Sigh of Relief

January 2. My favourite day of the year. Why? Because Christmas and New Year are all over and we’re back to some semblance of normality. Quirky this year because it’s a public holiday in England, but even so, Her Indoors will take the decs down today and that’s it for another eleven months.

You may be tempted to ask why, if I’m so against this time of year, have I produced no less than 10 novels focussed on Christmas and New Year.

To begin with, I’m not anti-Christmas. It’s great seeing the family and friends in the dead of winter, and I do enjoy the various parties the missus and I attend.

But it’s the hype I can’t do with and it starts as early as September/October. I’m also anti-winter. How many times have I said the days are too short, the nights too long, and it’s too bloody cold? I’m a spring, summer, and autumn person.

Other people, however, are the exact opposite. They love Christmas, they love the build-up, the parties, the exchange of gifts. And I write my comic mysteries for others, not for me. It’s as simple as that.

For all that, however, the eight Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries and the two Capper casebooks set around Christmas don’t actually concentrate on the festivities. They’re murder mysteries, and they focus on the crimes and investigation.

So there you have it. I don’t care for mid-winter, I don’t care for Christmas and as far as I’m concerned, January 1st bears a striking resemblance to December 31st.

Footnote: changes, in the form of guest posts, are coming to this site, if I can ever get around to sorting them out. I’ll keep you posted as and when they’re happening. For now, best wishes for the coming year, and you can check out all my published works HERE

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Here It is

This is the second time in a week that I’m announcing the release of a new book, and today it’s…

Murder at the Christmas Meddlercon, the 26th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery. In which we see Joe, Sheila and Brenda, and other members of the Sanford 3rd Age Club attending a fan convention with the stars of TV series, the Meddler Murder Mysteries, and as always, it’s not long before they’re embroiled in a murder.

It’s almost 11 years since Crooked Cat published the first STAC, The Filey Connection, and at the time I figured five or six, maybe ten before the series was played out, and here we are at #26. And there are more to come yet.

There are times when I feel they’re getting tired, but the number of pre-orders would dispute that. Readers seem to find them as popular as ever. In truth, with my 73rd birthday looming, it’s more likely me getting tired.

I do find it harder to come up with reasonable scenarios, and in the case of Meddlercon, the idea came from my editor, the estimable Maureen Vincent-Northam, who used to attend such conventions… but obviously, not for the Meddler Murder Mysteries because they’re not real. They’re a product of my imagination.

If Joe’s attitude to life is a bit cynical, it’s because he’s an extension of my personality. I’m not really as snappy and tight-fisted as him, but I do keep a careful eye on finances, and I can be blunt, short, and outspoken with people who rub me up the wrong way. And as I get older, I seem to meet more of them.

Joe’s ambivalent attitude to Christmas is another example of me. It’s nice seeing and chatting with family, even if it’s only on Zoom, but at heart, I’m not fond of this time of year. The nights are too long, the days too short, and it’s too bloody cold. Give me spring and summer any time.

One of the great joys of being a writer is that I can pass on my troubles to the characters. Joe’s gastric problems, his need for the toilet every five minutes, his wearing of incontinence pants, is a mirror of my own problems of that nature over this past year.

I’m currently undergoing a series of tests to confirm or eliminate colorectal cancer. The signs are good, but I’m in hospital again early in January for what we hope will be the final endoscopy examination and removal of a sessile polyp, the kind which can turn cancerous. My wife and I remain optimistic and we’re grateful for all the good wishes friends and readers have sent over the past 12 months, but it’s always there at the back of your mind, and if I can lumber Joe with the same problem, it helps me handle it.

With STAC #26 now sailing the choppy seas of publication, what am I up to? #27, obviously. Once again, it’s an idea which came from a fellow writer, friend, and reader, Iain Pattison, who writes as Jay Raven. The working title is A (Dead) American in Sanford and it involves the deferred visit of the Sanford 3rd Age Club (Florida) to Sanford West Yorkshire. Aside from an ocean getting in the way, there is a significant difference between Sanford Florida and Sanford West Yorkshire. The American town is real, the place in Yorkshire doesn’t exist.

And with that it remains only for me to thank you all for your support, and wish you all the very best for Christmas and New Year.

Murder at the Christmas Meddlercon, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery # 26 is exclusive to Amazon and price at £1.99. Prime and KUL subscribers can read FREE as part of their allowance.

You can find it HERE

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Christmas is Coming

(Cue theme from Quatermass)

It’s a week and a couple of days to Christmas, a time of year I don’t care for. The days are too short, the nights too long and it’s just too cold. Roll on June.

But that doesn’t mean to say I can’t do my bit for the rest of you, so here’s a selection of reading to entertain you when television becomes too boring and predictable, and one of them is A GIVEAWAY.

First off, it’s a familiar gang of born again teenagers… the Sanford 3rd Age Club.

Murder at the Christmas Meddlercon is the 26th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, and we see Joe suffering gastric problems surprisingly similar to those I’ve suffered this year. In an effort cheer him up, Sheila and Brenda drag him off to Leeds for the annual Meddlercon, a convention for fans, cast and crew of that top drawer TV series, the Meddler Murder Mysteries. Inevitably, it doesn’t take long before they’re all confronted with real murder.

Priced £1.99, Murder at the Christmas Meddlercon is released on December 23rd. It’s exclusive to Amazon, so KUL and Prime members can read FREE, but you can pre-order now at:

https://mybook.to/meddcon (universal link, takes you to your local Amazon store)

Go on. You know it makes sense.

And next, it’s Christine Capper and her 6th outing, Murder at Christmas Manor.

Along with the crew of Radio Haxford, Christine is trapped in a snowbound, lavish manor house out on the moors above Haxford along with dozens of VIPS when they’re confronted with murder. The police can’t get there and they ask Christine to lead the investigation until the snow is cleared. She’s missing her family, she’s dreading the prospect of delivering a radio program to a live audience, and now she’s thrown into the furnace as SIO in a vicious murder inquiry.

At £1.99, Murder at Christmas Manor is released this coming Sunday December 18. It’s exclusive to Amazon, so KUL and Prime members can read FREE, but you can pre-order now at:

https://mybook.to/matm (universal link, takes you to your local Amazon store)

It’s also available in paperback. Just follow the link and click on ‘paperback’.

Next up, it’s a novella, a form I’m not noted for producing.

A Christmas Market Haunting sees putative ghosthunters, Allan Brant, JJ Martin, and Suzanne Daley locked in a haunted market hall on Christmas Eve, seeking evidence of ghosts. Things start to go wrong, and what starts out as a paranormal experiment soon turns to a life-threatening confrontation.

The tone is light-hearted, not really scary. It’s a lively read and a snip at 99p

You can find A Christmas Market Haunting at:

https://mybook.to/haum (universal link, takes you to your local Amazon store).

And finally, the promised FREEBIE.

Christmas Parties is short and packed with punchy humour.

Over the years I’ve produced a number of series and a few standalone novels, and in this little book’s half dozen short stories, you’ll meet the characters from all those series, each celebrating Christmas in their own way.

There’s the Spookies team, the Sanford 3rd Age Club, the cast of Bleaker Cove, the Baldocks of Midthorpe estate, space truckers BB and Gren, and finally and irritable Mrs Capper trying to infuse a hungover Dennis with the Christmas spirit.

And it’s FREE. Just follow this link


And take your pick of the format. E-pub for your e-reader or app, and PDF if that’s your preference.

And that’s your lot for now. I’ll be back to nag you again this side of the big Crimbo, but in the meantime, take care out there and keep warm.

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Hunter’s Revenge by Val Penny

Today, it’s my great pleasure to hand the blog over to Val Penny, talking about her latest novel, Hunter’s Revenge.

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction, and novels. Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.

Val, the floor is yours.

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog today, David. I am delighted to have a chance to tell you and your readers about Hunter’s Revenge, the new novel in my series of DI Hunter Wilson Thrillers.

I have been writing and telling stories all my life. When I was a child, I used to make up stories for my little sister after our Mum put the light out and told us to go to sleep. Later, I wrote documents, contracts, and courses as part of my job, but my time was well accounted for, so I did not create any fiction.

However, I took early retirement when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and there were times when I suffered severe side effects from my treatment. I could not go out, spend time with friends or indulge in many of my favourite hobbies, but watching daytime television got very old very fast, so I turned to reading. It was the only thing I had the energy to do and could do safely.

I read voraciously, as I always have. I particularly enjoy reading crime fiction and thrillers. I indulged this interest with many novels including those by Peter Robinson, Ian Rankin, Linwood Barclay and Kathy Reichs.

After a while, I began to feel a little better and decided to start reviewing the books I read in a blog www.bookreviewstoday.info I enjoyed doing that. Then, as I began to feel better still, I got restless, but was not well enough to do very much and I complained to my long-suffering husband about getting bored. It was then he challenged me: ‘If you know so much about what makes a good book, why don’t you write one?’ I did laugh. However, the challenge set, I have been writing police procedural crime thrillers set in Scotland ever since.

In fact, my publishers, SpellBound Ltd, will publish the second book in The DI Hunter Wilson on St. Andrew’s Day, 30.11.2022. The main character is Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson, in Hunter’s Revenge.

I particularly enjoyed writing Hunter’s Revenge and hope that your readers will enjoy the novel too. SpellBound plan that the next novel in this series, Hunter’s Force, will appear early in 2023. It will take place just after the unification of the regional police forces in to form Police Scotland. I’ll let your readers know more about that in due course!

Thank you again for hosting me, David.

So what’s the story behind Hunter’s Revenge? Here’s the blurb.

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is a loyal friend and a fair leader. He is called to the scene of a murder in Edinburgh where the corpse has been fatally shot. He is dismayed to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Hunter must investigate Reinbold’s murky past in Germany to identify George’s killer.

At the same time, Hunter is tasked with looking into a previously undetected criminal gang supplying drugs from Peru. There seems to be no connection between the murder and the drug supply until Hunter unexpectedly secures help from inmates of the local jail.

Hunter’s investigations are hampered by distracted members of his team and unobservant witnesses.

Reinbold was not the quiet, old man Hunter believed him to be and his killer bore their grudge for a lifetime.

Thanks Val, a pleasure to rap with you again.

And our readers want to know where they can pick up the book don’t they?

Hunter’s Revenge is published by Spellbound Books and is available HERE

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What’s So Special about the Sun Kissed Holiday Park?

Well, it’s setting for the 25 Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, Naked Murder. Aside from that, there is something about the place, but I’m not going to tell you what.


It’s fictitious (obviously) and sits somewhere south of Lincolnshire’s premier seaside resort, Skegness. It’s roughly in the area of Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve. Joe, Sheila, and Brenda are called there to investigate a series of thefts, and the moment they arrive, they’re in for a surprise…or a shock, depending upon how you view the matter.

That’s as much as I’m going to tell you about the tale.

The writing involved considerable research into areas I knew little about, and for that I’m indebted to fellow author, Ted Bun for his assistance.

It’s something of a landmark in that it is #25 in the series, and if it’s taken a while to turn up, that had more to do with poor health than any lack of motivation on my part.

Those same health issues prompted me to set it in the Skegness area. My wife and I were there in the late spring, a time when I thought my gastric problems were settling down. During a day on the seafront, they came back with avengeance and in order to get my own back, I set Naked Murder there. (You see? Even despite my problems, I’ve never lost my daft sense of humour.)

Those tummy troubles are still hassling me, but I’m due for examinations which should a) identify the cause and b) hopefully put it right.

In the meantime, we soldier on. I am such stuff as idiots are made of. The next STAC, Murder at the Meddlercon, should be with you by Christmas, but because of and depending on the results of the medical investigations, I can’t guarantee that. Whichever way it turns out, it should be with you no later than Valentine’s Day.

For now, delve into Naked Murder and have chuckle at Joe & Co’s misadventures in sunny Lincolnshire.

Naked Murder, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #25 is exclusive to Amazon, and Prime and KUL subscribers can read free.

Download it at: https://mybook.to/nakm

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Hunter’s Chase – A Review

Hunter’s Chase – by Val Penny

Running from the man whose fabulous house he’s just burgled, Jamie Thomson stumbles, falls and uncovers the body of a recently deceased woman buried in a shallow grave.

The discovery leads DI Hunter Wilson and his team into a complex web of internecine strife centred on major players in Edinburgh’s criminal fraternity, and there are any number of surprises in store for the various detectives as the case progresses, leading to several unexpected but satisfying conclusions.

The tale unfolds at a moderate pace, gathering momentum as it goes along, and the reader is drawn to like or dislike this character, that detective, this no-hoper, that ambitious individual.

There are various strands to follow, some described in detail, others purposely skimmed to pose further questions. Does DCI Mackay treat Sir Peter with kid gloves because he’s indebted? Does Hunter Wilson take the opposite stand because he has a personal antipathy to Sir Peter?

Police procedures are followed to the letter. When we reach the denouement, there’s no manic car chase, no armed stand-off, no devastating display of Poirot-esque deductive reasoning, merely charges brought on the strength of solid evidence, the result of dogged footwork from a friendly yet dedicated team of CID officers working under the command of a man who is determined yet, like most of us, fallible at times.

Hunter’s Chase is a promising start to what will be an excellent series.

You can find Hunter’s Chase at: geni.us/ic7r (global link)

All about Val Penny

Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction, and novels.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.

You can find Val at:









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She’s Here Again

It’s Mrs Capper’s 5th outing and this time, she’s in a quandary as she faces… A Professional Dilemma.

Called to gather evidence against the wife of a local businessman, that same man’s shady reputation puts Christine in an awkward position. The regulations under which she is obliged to work mean she must deliver the truth to Gus Leach, but if she does, what will happen to the adulterous wife, Petra?

And the matter is only complicated by a murder.

Dennis is getting better, Radio Haxford are asking her for to augment her agony aunt spot with a new role, her infirm, elderly neighbour is pining for a long lost love, and Christine is all at sea try to reconcile…

A Professional Dilemma

Mrs Capper’s Casebook #5, A Professional Dilemma, is exclusive to Amazon, free to read for subscribers to Kindle Unlimited.

Learn more HERE

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Costa del Yorkshire

This weekend we’re shooting off to sweltering Scarborough.

We’ve had long affair with the premier Yorkshire resort. I met the missus there forty-odd years ago and the reason I go back so often is I’m determined to get my own back, so obviously we’ll sign in as Mrs and Mrs Smith.

Regular readers amongst you will know that three of the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries are set in the Scarborough/Filey/Whitby area (The Filey Connection, Murder at the Treasure Hunt, Tis the Season to Be Murdered) the background tale of Christmas Crackers was set in Whitby, and when he’s feeling frisky, Joe visits one or two ladies of his acquaintance in Scarborough. Finally, Mrs Capper’s only daughter, Ingrid, also lives in Scarborough, although we haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting her in person

So what is it about this area that appeals?

When you look at it, Scarborough is hardly conducive to a couple of old crocks, both with clapped out knees (oh, those hills) both diabetic (ice cream, rock, choccies and sweeties in abundance) and one with breathing difficulties which means I go downhill easy enough, but I’m buggered coming back up.

And yet we love that area. We find it more interesting than the west coast, slightly less hassle than Blackpool, and closer to home than Skegness. Added to which, speaking as Yorkshireman, everyone can understand me even if I can’t hear them.

For all you people eagerly awaiting the next of Joe Murray’s adventures, it is in progress, but it’s moving at about the same speed as me when climbing back up from Scarborough seafront to the town centre, but it will get there.

And in the meantime the fifth of Mrs Capper’s volumes is now on preorder with Amazon. Entitled A Professional Dilemma, it’s scheduled for release on August 12. Right now, you can preorder it at the special price of just 99p. Yes. Less than a quid. Even I can afford that.

But the offer only stands until the day of release when the price will revert to normal.

So get over there and get it ordered

A Professional Dilemma, Mrs Capper’s Casebook #5, only 99p/99¢


And that’s it. I’ll be back next week with shocking stories of Scarborough, so in the meantime, behave… or don’t if you don’t want.

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Crisis Apparition?

An absolutely genuine experience for once, but one I have doubts about, and I apologise for the cheap image above, but it’s the only I have that looks ‘spooky’.

Many people will be aware that I’ve been ill over the last week or two. What I thought (and what the NHS said) was simple case of muscle strain turned out to be much more complex. Yes, the muscles of both shoulders and arms are strained, but the problem has been compounded by a full-blown COPD flare-up which materialised a few days ago.

We’re quite familiar with them. I was diagnosed with COPD over ten years ago, and I don’t know how many flare-ups I’ve been through, but on Friday morning this fell into the category “one of the worst”. Intense pain in my left, upper back, breathing was agony, taking a deep breath impossible even with the various inhalers I use. I got through to the doc Friday morning and he doled out the usual prescription: a course of amoxicillin 500mg (antibiotic) three times a day, and course of prednisolone 5mg (steroid) six per day and all six to be taken at one hit after breakfast.

I’m not one of nature’s pill-poppers, but I’ve been through this process before and it’s good stuff. Saturday morning after only one day of the antibiotic (I got them too late in the day for the steroid) I was feeling better and after overcoming my natural reticence to take half a dozen pills first thing in the morning, the steroid began to work its magic.

The missus and I had a tour round town, and I felt good. I could breathe, I was in no pain. I was also cautious. It could have been nothing more than an immediate effect of the pills and fresh air.

At two o’clock, my wife, who’s not used to getting up early, was feeling tried, so she cleared off back to bed. I was feeling good so I got on with a bit of work. Two hours later, I left my seat to visit the smallest room and I saw her in her usual seat in the corner of the settee.

It was impossible. She was still in bed.

I have to clarify the term ‘saw her’. I wasn’t look at her corner. I was focused more on the front windows and the door to the hall, and ‘seeing’ her is my way of describing a fleeting impression on the extreme limit of my peripheral vision.

Over the years I’ve written all sorts of weird tales, and I’m not talking of my general work like the Sanford Mysteries and Mrs Capper. I’ve made an extensive study of the paranormal and come to the conclusion that despite the proliferation of unexplained phenomena, most are illusions.

But ever since we lost our beloved crackpot Jack Russell, Joe, five years ago, I keep getting peripheral visual impressions of him still in the house, and I had to ask myself, was this sighting of Carol the same, or a crisis apparition? To explain further, I’m 72, she is 78, and we both know that if life is a game of football, we’re both well into the second half, maybe looking at extra time.

I rushed upstairs to check on her and… she was fine. Better than that she was playing hell because I woke her two hours before she was due to get up.

So what really happened? This is pure guesswork, but based on logic, reason, rather than the esoteric. As a matter of routine, I have to use a steroid inhaler four times a day. Twice in the morning, twice in the early evening. Couple that to a large dose of prednisolone, a drug which can general illusions and hallucinations (although it has to be said that such events are so rare, they can’t estimate how many people are affected). What does this suggest?

And the impression was so fleeting that it might not have been Carol. It could have been my late daughter, Angela. The one time in her life that she visited us here, she sat where Carol sits, and her birthday was just a few days ago, so she’s been on my mind quite a bit.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was just a trick of the light and a tired mind. Maybe nothing happened at all. But I will tell you this. When I drop it into one of my darker tales, it will be a lot more sinister.

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Yes, it’s here. The fourth volume of Mrs Capper’s Casebooks, Exit Page 10, was released at midnight, and is now on sale in both Kindle format and as a paperback. I’ll give you the link at the bottom of the page.

Exit Page 10 follows on from Blackmail at the Ballot Box, and sees Dennis recovering slowly from his severe injuries. Christine has to care for him 24/7 but at the same time she also needs to maintain an income, which means she calls on the help of her daughter-in-law, Naomi, and her next door neighbour, Hazel McQuarrie.

Christine is a woman under stress and that shows when she meets fellow private investigator Nathan Evanson. Throughout the course of investigating a leak from bestselling novelist Anita Stocker’s laptop, Christine finds herself tempted by Mr Evanson.

Does she yield? I’ll leave you to find out.

For those of you who may be worrying about Christine and Dennis, I can tell you that the stress will begin to ease in the next volume, A Professional Dilemma, which is due for release at the end of August/beginning of September. And I’m telling you no more than that.

So, get yourself into Exit Page 10 and keep up with Christine Capper’s investigative adventures.

You can find it HERE

And enjoy.

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