A Free Book but sadly, no Easter egg!

A Freebie for Easter!

To be honest, I’d like both – a free book and an Easter egg – but sadly the egg will have to wait until lockdown ends. Unless the Easter Bunny sneaks in through the back gate. However, I can manage the free book, thanks to my lovely publishers at Crooked Cat Books, so here it is: The Convalescent Corpse, absolutely free on Good Friday, Easter Saturday & Easter Sunday. Tell your friends (oh, go on, do!)

This picture shows Rosalie playing the part of Christabel, the narrator of The Convalescent Corpse.

A story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.
Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters.
Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late – and unlamented – father may not be dead after all.
And on top of that, there’s a body in the ha-ha.

An Amazon Bestseller, this book has been described as: a war story for people who don’t like reading about war. Funny, touching, witty, beautifully-written; it feels like an actual portrayal of the times.With Bobby, the inspiration for the Fyttleton family dog

With the characters’ struggle to maintain a normal family life (though ‘normal’ is never quite the right word for the Fyttleton family) during abnormal times, there are some echoes of the current crisis although I sincerely hope nobody has to resort to some of the meals described in the book. These, believe it or not, are taken from genuine recipes of the time.

I have a pull-out section from the March 1918 copy of the women’s magazine, Home Chat. ‘Plain Puddings and Cakes’. It’s a great example of how people – in this case, women – were encouraged to be resourceful because the recipes are very adaptable. For instance:
Date and Nut Pudding (Hot, boiled) If you can’t get dates, however, figs, soaked dried apples or any other dried fruit can be used for this. Or it is quite nice with a couple of spoonfuls of jam or marmalade instead of fruit. 

4 ounces each of barley or wheat flour, fine oatmeal and dried fruit, or you can use all GR* flour

2 ounces chopped suet or other fat

3 ounces chopped or ground monkey (peanuts) or other nuts

1 heaped teaspoonful baking powder

Half a pint water or any fruit juice

Method:

Stone (if necessary) and chop the fruit. Simmer in half the water for 10 minutes

Mix all the dry ingredients then work in the stewed fruit and water, adding as much more water as required to make a firm dough

Form into a roly-poly shape, tie up securely in a cloth, and put into plenty of boiling water. Boil for two hours then turn out and serve with a sweet sauce. (NB there’s a recipe for a thin, rather nasty sounding custard in the pull-out too)

*GR Flour: ‘G.R.’ (government regulation) flour. This flour was milled coarser than its pre-war equivalent, so that less grain could be used to make the same amount of flour.

I haven’t made this recipe but here are some I made earlier. Hampshire Pie which is strangely lacking in pastry, so it’s a cheek to call it a pie! Or Savoury Fried Oatcakes aka cold porridge mixed with anything you can find and then fried.

So there we are – a distraction from being stuck in lockdown, complete with murder, mystery, authentic recipes and possibly galloping indigestion! Here’s the Amazon link: http://mybook.to/TheConvalescentCorpse And seriously, folks, keep safe!

First reviews for A Crowded Coffin

ACrowdedCoffincover

A Crowded Coffin was only published last Thursday but already two lovely reviews have arrived.

Jane Austen Fan posts on Amazon UK :It was wonderful to see the return of the lead characters from Nicola Slade’s earlier book Murder Fortissimo, in this new murder mystery. I found this book totally gripping and an education as well! I learnt all sorts of new information, about Roman ruins, King Alfred and Art History!
Harriet Quigley is back with her cousin Sam Hathaway attempting to uncover several mysterious goings on in the village of Locksley. There are a variety of new and interesting characters to add to the drama, all superbly introduced throughout the intriguing plot.
I definitely recommend A Crowded Coffin, it keeps you in suspense right until the end, you will not be disappointed!

and Geranium Cat (http://geraniumcatsbookshelf.blogspot.co.uk/) has posted this fabulous review on her blog. (I’m chuffed by the comparison with Hazel Holt’s sleuth, Sheila Malory!)
When I open a book by Nicola Slade I am instantly enchanted, because she includes a Dramatis Personae with, in the proper manner, a few well-chosen words of description for each person. At the foot there’s a list of minor characters; here, assorted cats, dogs, art historians, ghosts and villagers. You know you’re in good hands with a book that starts thus, don’t you!

A Crowded Coffin is a sequel to Murder Fortissimo which I reviewed enthusiastically a year ago. I note that then I approved of Harriet Quigley, retired headmistress, for her cautious approach to investigation; hmm, perhaps that was her convalescent status in the first book, because here she’s a good deal more gung-ho. Okay, she always convinces herself there’s a good reason not to wait but, like her cousin Sam, I keep wanting to tell her to be more careful! And that a young artist who’s recovering from a long period of privation ought to be tucked up in bed at night, and not recruited to go hunting criminals in the dark with women who ought to know better! Maybe Sam is right and Harriet is just a bit too keen on becoming the Miss Marple of Locksley.

Events here are very much focused on Harriet and her family. Sam is moving in next door, something they both anticipate with pleasure. Meanwhile another cousin, Walter Attlin, has had a accident in which he was knocked down by a car. His grand-daughter Edith comes rushing home from the States where she’s been working for several years, full of concern and determined to stay and look after her grandparents. She finds Walter’s making a good recovery, except for insisting that someone did it on purpose. There are new people sharing her family home now, too: Karen the housekeeper and her Polish husband, and Rory Attlin, an artist who seems to be a hitherto unheard-of relation.Edith and Harriet are both very concerned about the apparent attack on Walter, although he now refuses to say any more about it. Harriet is also curious about a young archivist who disappeared after visiting the local pub, and then there are the figures spotted moving around after dark near the Attlins’ farm. There are newcomers to the village too — could one of them be responsible for Walter’s “accident”? There do seem to be a number of suspiciously dented cars around…

Not listed in the Dramatis Personae is the Attlin family’s farmhouse, although you feel it should be there; once known as the Angel House, Locksley Farm Place dates back centuries, perhaps to a Roman villa on the same site. The author conveys the sense of the house’s age and antiquity seamlessly, as Rory learns its history and explores its nooks and crannies, and the reader is left with an impression of great solidity and warmth which permeates the whole book, transforming it from just another murder-mystery into an intimate experience. Harriet Quigley is rapidly joining Sheila Malory as an old-friend-of-the-family who just happens to get involved in mysteries, and I look forward to hearing about her further exploits!

It’s great to know my books give pleasure to readers so I’m delighted to be able to say that all my cosy mysteries will be issued by Robert Hale as ebooks in June and July of this year.
And in another spot of news: rescheduling means that my 6th novel (and 5th mystery), The Dead Queen’s Garden, will be published in December this year.