Writing a Saints Day Mystery
guest, Marilyn Leach
Someone asked me where on earth I got the idea to write an All Saints Day mystery. My question in return was, “After visiting the North of England, how could you not write a Saints Day mystery?” England’s North Country is steeped in abbey ruins, wild winds, and brooding history. Venerable churches, stately homes, lively villages, and the North Sea all set the stage for activating creative thought. It invites storytelling.
|Entrance to the crypt for ancient Celtic pilgrim of faith, Cedd, in the village church at Lastingham, England|
When I visited the little village church in Lastingham, England, I was awestruck when entering the crypt of Celtic churchman, St. Cedd. The setting was truly medieval and the atmosphere hallowed. An historical account has been established of how Cedd and his brother, after ordination in the seventh century, traveled from Holy Island in the North Sea to this very spot. They established a religious community, and the church that sits atop the crypt is still very active and central to the village goings-on. It isn’t just a building. Centuries of people’s daily lives, hopes, fears, prayers, and faith live within the stones of this ancient monument. And what stories could the stones tell? I was inspired. Although All Hallows Dead is a modern day whodunit, its roots are in England’s rich history.
Of course, the fact that my Berdie Elliott mystery series is set in England, and my main character is a vicar’s wife gifted with extraordinary sleuthing abilities, adds to the interest of writing a Saints Day theme. With four other books about her exploits already on the shelf, here’s a bit about the story line for All Hallows Dead.
When Berdie Elliott, vicar’s wife and sleuth extraordinaire, attends a church course with her husband in the North of England, she bumps into her former newspaper boss who calls upon her to investigate beguiling circumstances that spell murder. From the landed Cavendish family to the local pub’s manager, Criswell Abbey and its village are steeped in a centuries-old mystery. The legend of a departed churchman, a mysterious bell tower, England’s tangled history, a delayed marriage proposal, and a wily parrot all help Berdie to declare the truth in All Hallows Dead.
Just for a tickle, here’s an excerpt
Berdie Elliott and her best friend, Lillie Foxworth, often find themselves in hot water, and they’re not brewing tea.
What I found is absolutely priceless. There’s….” Berdie stopped when she became aware of clip-clop steps in the nave. “Shh.” She put her index finger to her lips.
“Why shush?” Lillie didn’t make her voice particularly quiet.
Berdie raised her brows and pointed toward the nave. “Someone’s about the place,” she whispered. “We can’t let on that we’re in here…”
The steps outside became louder. They were advancing toward the tower.
Lord have mercy.
There was a hesitation.
Berdie held her breath. She realized instantly that whoever was on the other side of the door, was perhaps one who knew all the secrets of this place which could mean she and Lillie were in very real danger.
Reading All Hallows Dead isn’t complete until you can snuggle into a comfy chair with a steaming cup of tea. It’s a cozy mystery that’s just right for short autumn days and long blustery nights. Cheers
To find out more about Marilyn, see snaps of England, or view other books she’s written
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At the age of nine, Marilyn wrote her first play with a childhood neighbor, “The Ghost and Mr. Giltwallet”. It was a mystery. And she’s been writing in one form or another, hobby or livelihood, since. As well as teaching art, she’s had the opportunity to co-author several plays that have been performed on both church and secular stages, as well as two screenplays. Marilyn has had the good fortune of “discovering her roots” while visiting England where she developed lasting relationships with wonderful people there. It has greatly impacted her writing. A keen fan of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and David Cook’s Hetty Wainthropp series, Marilyn was inspired to write her Berdie Elliott Mystery series. It takes place in a small English village where the vicar’s wife, Berdie Elliott, is the divine sleuth. Marilyn lives lakeside in a cottage on the outskirts of Denver near the foothills.