Category Archives: christmas

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 7

Missed the start? Click here to read from episode 1

blue ball on Christmas tree branch

Liv was silent as they walked back. Patrick Fell didn’t seem to notice. He talked all the time, but it was more like thinking aloud than conversation. She caught phrases: borrow a car, sequence of events, intruders, enemy. But he neither asked nor seemed to expect her to respond.

The entrance of the multi-storey car park held a tall Christmas tree, hung with multi-coloured lights that blinked on and off. Liv thought it looked gallant but forlorn among the discarded shopping trolleys. Patrick ignored it and the sign to the  lifts. He took the stairs, still talking.

Liv followed, her thoughts tumbling over each other. Could she trust him? Rosa trusted him but Rosa wasn’t being followed by persons unknown. Did she know him really well? Better than Liv did, anyway?

Above all, why did he take this case? They hadn’t discussed payment. OK, Liv had been anxious, off-balance, not thinking straight. But surely Patrick should have told her his terms of business? Wasn’t that the first thing that a bona fide private detective would have done? Now she thought about it, it felt all wrong. Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 6

Missed the start? Click here to read from episode 1

a man's piercing blue eye

“Good morning,” said Patrick Fell, standing on the doorstep at a respectful distance. He was wearing a snazzy black and white checkerboard mask. You could still see the charming smile in his eyes, currently bent on a visibly melting Mrs Christoforou. “I am expected, I understand. About a car?”

Mr Christoforou, so far from melting, was reverberating slightly. He reminded Liv of a five foot eight thistle with a spine of steel. He said, “Name?”

“Patrick Fell.”

They eyeballed each other, muscular man in jeans and work shirt with sleeves rolled up versus man in designer casual and cashmere coat. Patrick Fell’s charm took on a faint hint of challenge. Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 5

Missed the start? Click here to read from episode 1

blank open notebook on bench with lilac primula flowers on it

The next morning Liv had an early breakfast. Her phone buzzed while she was waiting for coffee. All the other tables in the dining room were empty so she took the call. It was from Rosa.

“I’ve been thinking,” said her friend, without so much as a good morning. “I’m sure it’s not all in your imagination. But I can see why you might be worried. So you must start keeping a diary. Nothing fancy. Just log where you go and who you talk to plus any suspicious sightings.”

Liv reeled a bit. She wasn’t used to a stream of instruction from Rosa. Or anyone except Francis, she thought wryly. And even he had let up somewhat since he left.

“Run that by me again?” she said, with only the faintest irony in her tone. “I didn’t expect to take notes.”

Rosa chuckled. “Sorry. Bit of an info dump there.” She repeated the list more slowly. “That’s what the police advise.” Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 4

Missed the start? Click here to read from episode 1

Liv hardly recognised Carlo’s. The old pizzeria had expanded to absorb the shop next door and there was a glass conservatory at the back. The cheery red-checked tablecloths had gone, replaced by white starch. And the tables were as far apart as the stars.

But Rosa was sitting in their old corner. She looked just the same, hair slightly greyer, but the jewel-coloured cashmere scarf was unmistakable. Today it was emerald. She waved a hand as she saw Liv in the doorway.

Liv went over and sat down opposite her. “What happened to this place?” Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 3

Missed the start? Click here to read from epsode 1

minibar bottles

The hotel receptionist beckoned as Liv went past the desk.

“Oh, Mrs Rossignol. A lady left a message for you.” She handed it over with a beaming professional smile. The envelope was in a sealed plastic bag. Rather like the receptionist, who was wearing a clear plastic full-face visor and what looked like full Hollywood make-up behind it.

“Thank you,” said Liv. “Are you uncomfortable in that thing?”

The girl looked surprised at being asked, then smiled more naturally. “You get used to it. My skin prickles after a long shift. But hey, that’s what moisturiser’s for, isn’t it? And I’m lucky to have a job.”

“Yes,” said Liv. “This virus makes me count my blessings every day.”

In her suite, she slid the envelope out of its plastic protections. She knew who it was from without even opening it. The beautiful Italic script was unmistakable. Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 2

Missed Episode 1? Click here to read from the start

grey van

Liv froze. She could feel her heart thumping, like hammer blows from inside her rib cage.

A grey van was parked two spaces behind her. The driver sat frowning over his phone. Not the first grey van today. Or in the last few days, either.

Or was that her imagination? She couldn’t be sure. For some reason that made her heart beat even harder.

Am I losing my mind? Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 1

London skyline with St Paul's dome and skyscrapers in fog

There was fog over the rooftops when Liv looked out from her bedroom window for the last time. She kind of loved this view of her bit of London. Like Mary Poppins and her sweep, she saw Victorian chimneys, with a distant church tower and, even further away, a block of Edwardian apartments.

There was often a light in that distant top floor. Not this morning. Everything was dark. As dark and cold as the soon-to-be-deserted bedroom, waiting to be emptied of all that she’d not already got rid of. More like Scrooge than Mary Poppins, thought Liv, wryly.

The sky was getting lighter by the minute, behind the fog. Time to go then.

She turned her back on the rooftops. A nice memory. One of the few. Continue reading

Time for Reading at Christmas

Christmas readingOne of the few – the very few – advantages of 2020 is like to be that there will be time for reading at Christmas this year.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. I love doing all the Christmassy things, from putting up the tree, with or without feline intervention, to packing presents at the last moment.

Homegrown Christmas Traditions

Christmas readingChristmas cards go wherever I can throw a washing line to drape them over. I usually fill the house with greenery for the solstice. By Christmas Eve the house smells of pine and foliage and oranges.

And I decorate the tree. Ah, my dear tree. Family tradition was to decorate it on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, while we listened to Carols from Kings on the radio. (It’s still available on BBC3, and also on BBC TV and probably I-player and podcast too.) It was ready, but without lights, for when my father came home from work.

The lights were A Man’s Job. At least one of the little bulbs would need be replaced and he was OIC technology. Continue reading

Christmas Bake-Off with Libertà : Bake Yummy Treats

Christmas is a time to bake…

flour covered hands ready to bake

Image by Lisa Kreutzer from Pixabay

…and here’s Liz’s twist on the traditional mince pies to bake at home.

First the mincemeat. This is a recipe to make your own without the dreaded palm oil, although you can, of course, use your favourite out of a jar. Continue reading

Christmas Reunion in Paris—a writer’s anxiety and joy

The beginning…

romantic novelist busy editingWriting Christmas Reunion in Paris was a curious mixture of fun and anxiety. Maybe it’s always like that. There are always tough moments when you can’t see an ending, when you sit and stare at the screen and the words won’t come. But, mostly, like childbirth, you forget the agonies when all is delivered safely.

It all started when my editor asked if I’d like to write the first book in a three book mini-series – Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotel. My fellow authors, Kandy Shepherd (in Australia) and Susan Meier (in the US) were old friends. I was delighted to team up with them to work on the books that were about three siblings, each with their own painful past.

The collaboration…

writer at laptop smilingEmails flew back and forth as we worked on settings. The boarding school that James (my character) and his twin Sally had attended. The Harrington Park Hotel. The backstory of their parents, a stepfather, the moments that fractured a once happy family.

That was the fun part!

Paris…we’ve done that…

Paris for Christmas reunion

My story takes place in Paris, in the run up to the holiday, so I grabbed the chance to go and do a little research which I wrote about a few months ago.

More fun.

It couldn’t last…

Continue reading