Well Hello there, and Happy August to you.
Summer is marching on apace round here, and after eighteen months of lockdown some recent relaxations have allowed my husband and I to get out and about, so we went to Somerset with some friends and had a wonderful time just being together, eating great food, reading, looking at vast green landscapes and just being together in a house in the country.
And speaking of big houses in the country, while I was on holiday Death at Dukes Halt was published. This is the book I have wanted to write my whole life. It’s a classic English Country House mystery but updated and populated with all the humour, intricate plotting, satire, anger and love that the Danny Bird mysteries have become renowned for.
The book sees Danny Lady Caz and Ali leaving London behind and heading to spend the weekend at the Warren family’s imposing country estate Dukes Halt, where Lady Caroline is determined to keep a promise made to her (newly deceased) friend George Warren, and Danny is roped in as her accomplice.
As they set about achieving their mission, Danny, Lady Caz & Ali are joined by a classic cast of characters including a Hollywood actress, a right-wing Member of Parliament and an Albanian gangster.
Shenanigans inevitably ensue.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an authentic country-house weekend without a murder or two and pretty soon Danny and the gang are on the track of the killer in their midst.
As the plot ingeniously twists and turns in every direction Danny wrestles with another deeper, sadder mystery hidden in the pages of a secret diary that he realizes may just hold the key to everything.
Lots of early readers have said absolutely lovely things about this book.
Here’s what some of my fellow writers say…
Praise for Death At Dukes Halt
“Death at Dukes Halt is everything you could want from a Danny Bird mystery – and then some. This is Farrell’s coming-of-age novel, a book that shows his newfound maturity and nuance as a writer who is a master of character, humour and heart.” –Neil Broadfoot, author of The Connor Fraser thrillers
“The Danny Bird series aren’t just funny, they’re brilliantly plotted – and this one is the best yet. There aren’t many great comic crime novels around these days, but I’d put the Danny Bird series up there with Bateman, Brookmyre and Block.” –Simon Bewick , editor of Noir From The Bar
“Death at Dukes Halt is a gritty, glamorous and adrenaline-filled pageturner, powerfully written with a perfect blend of warmth and edge. I’m totally addicted.” –Norma Curtis, author of The Last Place You Look
“Derek Farrell is a born storyteller and I truly love his books, characters and situations. His books would be perfect to watch on TV!” –Julia Wild, author of the upcoming The Secret Notebook
“In Derek Farrell’s latest Danny Bird mystery, Death At Dukes Halt, our hero enters the masterfully-realized, gorgeously fleshed-out world of the Warren family and the stately––but slightly seedy––Dukes Halt. There’s a murder, of course, and mysteries and secrets, but what makes the novel so satisfying is not just the gorgeously clever whodunnit/howdunnit stuff, but the unveilings of the secrets and mysteries of the human heart. And the book is funny––think Agatha Christie, Noel Coward and David Sedaris meet for high tea. Death At Dukes Halt shows an author at the height of his storytelling powers.“ –Jo Perry, author of Pure.
“Death At Dukes Halt is a weekend party that Agatha Christie herself would die for. A twisty, gripping mystery that reads like a perfectly chilled dry martini on a hot summer day.”–Valentina Giambanco, author of the Alice Madison mysteries
“Of all the books that I love the Danny Bird Mysteries are the ones I go to when I need to feel hope. Flawed and a bit bonkers Danny and the gang renew my faith in humanity every time. The books are witty, clever and they have such great heart. Being part of Danny’s family is a great privilege.”–Barbara Nadel, author of the Cetin Ikmen mysteries and the Hakim & Arnold mysteries.
Wow!!! If you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can read the first three chapters of the book for free over on the Fahrenheit Press website: Just click HERE.
And just after the book came out, this lovely little video appeared on the interweb, giving an atmospheric flavour of the book, and sharing some of the lovely pre-release quotes. I’m really quite pleased with this one (both the book and the video).
Then last weekend, I got to celebrate the long-awaited publication of the book with some wonderful crime-writing friends at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Writing is difficult. Not coal-mining difficult. But sitting alone in front of a keyboard or a notebook and trying to make the people in your head do things that make sense; transferring that to paper (or kindle) and transferring emotions and dreams using only type. All of these things can be strangely isolating and there are a few things that really make it all worthwhile: Readers who enjoy the books and say so (leave a review if you haven’t already. They really make a difference to writers.) Family who put up with you being off with the fairies half the time, and never ask when you’re going to dedicate a book to them. And friends – especially other writers, who know how weird it can all seem, how difficult it can be, and how joyful it can be when it comes together and the magic happens.
So getting to spend a few days with other writers – hell, realising that these people whose work I have loved for years are not just my friends but my peers – was almost beyond wonderful. And we had an idea for something to properly celebrate publication of Death at Dukes Halt, which is so cool. Basically, we…
Ah, but that’s a surprise for another day.
Until then, I really hope you’re enjoying Death at Dukes Halt. And if you have enjoyed it, please do leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, wherever you can leave a review (but probably not Checkatrade cos that would be weird amongst the plumbers and electricians).
Thanks for reading, and I hope your August is filled with sun, fun and some fictional criminality.
The Hollows – Mark Edwards. This one is wonderfully spooky and so well plotted with shades of King and Carpenter in a tale of a holiday gone horribly wrong.
From the outset there’s something a little eerie about Hollow Falls —strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest—but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.
It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and his daughter Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.
Every chapter here drives the plot forward, the relationship between father and teenage daughter is wonderfully drawn, and the rationale for the terrible crimes the story uncovers is both believable and wonderfully chilling.
Black Widow – a Marvel Comics Universe film that also feels like a James Bond story with spies, villainy and special effects galore. There’s motorcycle chases, aerial combat scenes, more bangs flashes and whizzbangs than one might think seemly and Scarlet Johannson Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh
Makeover – kd lang. This selection of 90s remixes of Ms lang’s pop hits is perfect for summer days spent lounging in the sunshine sipping a cold drink, and reading a good book. And speaking of good books, did I mention that Death at Dukes Halt is now available for your pleasure? <winks>