Witty, willful, and way too inquisitive for her own good, Verity Long is a British heroine who loves to take side swipes at modern culture. From TV “celebrities” to wine bars, she laughs at them all, pointing up their absurdities with typical British humour. And a lot of Merlot!
The estate agent’s details mentioned two reception rooms, kitchen, and bath. What they failed to mention was the dead celebrity in the master bedroom.
Personal assistant Verity Long’s house hunt is about to turn into a hunt for a killer.
It will take some fancy footwork to navigate the bitchy world of dance shows, television studios, and dangerously gorgeous male co-stars.
When Verity begins to look like the killer’s next tango partner, she discovers that this dance is … Strictly Murder.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve always loved to read old -fashioned British whodunits and mysteries so, when ill-health forced me into thinking about a new career, I decided to try my hand at writing them myself.
I liked the thought of a smart-mouthed, wine drinking heroine who fought for truth – and justice – and the Verity Long series was born.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Verity Long is the kind of clever, attractive, career girl I always longed to be – but never was.
Her employer, the crime writer, Kathleen Davenport is (very) loosely based on myself – apart from the huge difference between our popularity and earnings, that is!
As for the rest, they’re all people that I’ve met or known in my increasingly long life. Jerry Farish, who becomes Verity’s main love interest, is based on an early boyfriend of my own.
I had been in the job only six months when my employer pulled a gun on me.
“You do see that you have to die, don’t you Verity? That I can’t allow you to live?”
She sat on the opposite side of the desk, perfectly composed, perfectly groomed, not a dyed black hair out of place, her glossy red fingernails curled around the weapon she pointed directly and steadily at my heart.
“I know my typing speeds haven’t been so hot lately,” I began, my voice surprisingly calm though my mouth felt as dry as a sandpaper sandwich.
She smiled grimly. Using the hand that wasn’t engaged in threatening my life, she removed a cigarette from a packet on the desk in front of her and placed it between her red-painted lips. She tilted her head to one side, her eyes never leaving mine. Then she pulled the trigger.
I jumped in my chair, hand clutched to my chest, eyes closed, anticipating the bang, the searing pain and the ensuing darkness. Instead I smelled smoke—cigarette smoke. I opened my eyes.
She still had one end of the cigarette pressed between her lips but now the other protruded into the flame of the novelty lighter she held in her hand.
“Really, Kathleen. You nearly gave me a heart attack. If that’s your idea of a joke I don’t find it at all funny.”
“I’m sorry, Verity, I thought you’d realise the gun wasn’t real.”
She dropped it on the blotter. I picked it up, turning it over in my hand, giving it closer inspection. A clever little piece of work.
“Where did this delightful bauble come from?”
“Hmm?” She drew on the cigarette. “Oh, it’s just some toy of my ex–husband’s.”
I got up and crossed to my own desk on the other side of the room where I dropped the ‘gun’ into my bag. I’d dispose of it later.
“And what’s this about not allowing me to live?”
“Ah yes.” She became animated, stubbing out the cigarette in an ashtray and wafting away the cloud of smoke with her free hand. “It’s my new idea for a story.”
It is my joy, I use the word loosely, to work for the famous author Kathleen Davenport, writer of crime stories featuring the massively popular detective, Agnes Merryweather, a Church of England vicar. Her books sell in shed loads but KD had written nothing in the last two months, claiming writer’s block. In reality we hadn’t found a case meaty enough for KD to get her teeth into. My role in this was to discover and research old cases, spending most of my time in libraries, dusty newspaper archives or trawling the internet. KD would then take the bare bones and basic facts of an old real life crime and, changing names, locations, genders and dates, work her magic to weave them into a new piece of fiction. In some cases she had been known to change even the guilty party, making it the butcher, rather than the baker, whodunit, as it were. As a system it worked and worked well, earning KD a lot of money and giving me an interesting, well-paid job with the added bonus of the occasional cardiac arrest. What more could a working girl ask for?
Lynda Wilcox’s first piece of published writing was a poem in the school magazine. In her twenties she wrote Pantomime scripts for Amateur Dramatic groups and was a founder member of The Facts of Life, a foursome who wrote and performed comedy sketches for radio. Now she concocts fantasy stories for older children (10-13) and writes funny whodunits for adults.
Lynda lives in a small town in England, in an untidy house with four ageing computers and her (equally ageing but very supportive) husband. She enjoys pottering in the garden where she grow brambles, bindweed and nettles along with roses and lilies. Oh! And slugs! Slugs that feed well on everything but the brambles and weeds.
Most of all, she loves to write — it gets her out of doing the housework. She also reads a lot and enjoys good food and wine.
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