We talk Death in Dulwich, Art Galleries and Whodunits…
Tell us a little about your latest release, Death in Dulwich.
Death in Dulwich is a cosy crime mystery set in an affluent south London suburb. It’s the story of single mother Beth Haldane, who’s in her thirties and struggling to make ends meet. Much to her surprise, she lands a great job at a posh local school but things start to go horribly wrong right from the first day. Before she knows it, she has to clear her own name as a murderer prowls the pretty, tree-lined streets…
What inspired you to write it?
I love Golden Age murder mysteries, from writers like Margery Allingham, D L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and, of course, Agatha Christie. I do also love contemporary thrillers with a harder edge, but I knew when I started to write whodunits that I wanted to create a modern twist on the village murder. In an age when many of us live in sprawling, anonymous cities, there’s a yearning for a time when everyone knew their neighbours and there was more of a sense of community. But living in each other’s pockets can bring its own stresses, and my books are about the moments when those cracks in an apparently perfect surface are revealed.
I was brought up and went to school in south London and worked as a journalist in Fleet Street and Docklands, before moving to Brussels for almost ten years. When I returned to the UK, I settled in Dulwich, getting to know the ways of the place from the inside out. It’s probably a good thing that I moved away a couple of years ago! I now look on its habits, good and bad, as a very affectionate outsider.
Can you give us any clues as to what you are working on next?
At the moment I’m very busy getting the sequel to Death in Dulwich ready for publication next year. It’s called The Girl in the Gallery, and again stars my amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane. I’m really excited about it as it deals with some tricky issues surrounding teenage girls and eating issues. I think it will strike a chord with parents trying to understand their daughters. Its setting is based on one of my favourite places in the world, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which is 200 years old this year.
When The Girl in the Gallery is finished, I’m moving on to the third book in the series, which will test Beth to the limits, as one of her friends is in mortal danger.
Favourite place you have ever visited anywhere in the world?
One of my favourite places, apart from the Dulwich Picture Gallery I’ve already mentioned, is the Medici Chapel in the Palazzo Riccardi in Florence. This tiny space is patterned on all four walls with amazing frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli. It depicts the journey of the Magi and there is so much going on – little dramas and conversations, plenty of jostling for power and position, romances and, of course, the odd crime being committed too. It’s incredibly beautiful – and the rest of Florence isn’t bad either! I also love Sicily and have just visited Corfu for the first time, which was gorgeous. I’ve had some great holidays in Sweden, too. The temperature there suits me much better and reminds me of all the wonderful Scandi noir whodunits which I love. My favourite place to visit with my daughters is New York. There’s no place like it, crackling with energy and possibilities – and stuffed with great shops, too.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your writing?
Someone once told me they’d wet themselves after reading a funny passage in my first novel, which was quite a compliment! It’s also great to get reviews saying people are looking forward to seeing what I’ll write next. Like many authors, I’ll take any tiny scrap of praise going and then hoard it away, against those dark moments when I’m writing in a room on my own and suddenly have a ‘why am I doing this and why do I think I have anything to say?’ moment. One of the reasons I started writing was seeing London commuters reading and looking grim on their way to work. I’d just like to put a bit of a smile on people’s faces.
Your one piece of advice for anybody writing in your genre?
Try not to leave any of those smelly old red herrings lying around at the end. Whodunits are complicated to write and details can run away from you. And never underestimate your readers’ eagle eyes for detail. I’m sure I should take my own advice and do some sort of a graph so I can make sure the body really is in the library at the same time as the lead piping. Maybe with the next novel!
You can buy Death in Dulwich via the link below:
You can follow Alice on her Facebook Author page here:
Alice also has her own website:
And she’s on Twitter:
Here’s the blurb:
Already described by early reviewers as ‘murderously good fun’ (author TP Fielden), a ‘keenly observed page turner … highly recommended’ (Amazon) and ‘well-written, engaging and fun,’ (author Jo Blakeley), Death in Dulwich is the story of thirty-something widow Beth Haldane.
Beth has her hands full – she has a bouncy nine-year-old son, a haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and a ton of bills to pay. She loves her little home in plush south London suburb Dulwich, but life here doesn’t come cheap.
That’s why she is thrilled to land a job as archivist at top local school Wyatt’s – though she has an inkling the post is not what it seems and she doesn’t think much of her new boss, Dr Jenkins, either. Then, on her first day at work, Dr Jenkins is brutally murdered. Beth finds the body, and realises she is the prime suspect, with means, opportunity and a motive.
Beth has no choice but to try and clear her name, bringing herself into conflict with the police and the school. But who is the real culprit? And is the cause of the killing a horrifying secret buried deep in the school’s past, or does evil lurk behind the comfortable façade of daily Dulwich life?
Beth grows in confidence during her dogged pursuit of the murderer and, by the end of the book, is ready for any adventures that may come her way. Which is just as well, because there’s trouble brewing at the Dulwich Picture Gallery ….