Crime in Cornwall (British Book tour Mysteries) by Emma Dakin
About Crime in Cornwall
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Publisher: Camel Press (October 13, 2020)
Paperback: 228 pages
Patrick and Rita Stonning, Claire’s neighbors in Ashton-on-Tinch, dash down from London on weekends to host loud parties. They work in a publishing house and use their Ashton semi-detached home as a break from big city stress. Patrick arrives at Claire’s door distraught, reporting one of his partygoers, Olive Nott a best-selling author, dead. Claire discovers that not only is he dead, he’s been murdered. Patrick is suspected of the murder and has enough motive to satisfy the police. Nott wrote mysteries set in Cornwall and had planned to take his lucrative contracts to a competing company. His latest book dealt with smuggling in the caves of Cornwall. The police, including DI Mark Evans from the newly formed Major investigations Team wonder if he learned too much from his research. Claire takes her six tourists, most from America, to the Cornwall coast in search of sites of mystery novels and hears the opinions of the Cornish people on smuggling. She asks Patrick to meet her in Penzance to give a guest lecture on the smuggling in Oliver Nott’s novels. Claire finds Patrick self-aggrandizing and arrogant but doesn’t agree he would murder and sets out to find the one responsible.
Claire Barclay is enthusiastic about her British Mystery Book Tour business. She enjoys taking her guests, usually from America, to the settings of mystery novels where bodies are long dead. Her neighbor's plea for help to deal with a recently murdered well-known author unsettles her. She leaves the body to the police and takes her guests to Cornwall, including a British tourist who far is too interested in the dead author.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 6:
We met Gulliver and George at the van and headed out to Old Sarum. It was two miles from Salisbury. I guided them through Old Sarum, an Iron Age hill fort and the original Salisbury settlement, in record time, and we were off to Lyme Regis. I took the A354 and turned south on the A35.
“It isn’t possible,” I said as I drove down to the waterfront at Lyme Regis, “to come to this part of the country without running into Jane Austen. This is the setting for Persuasion and that,” I pointed to a stone breakwater that jutted out into the sea., “is the Cobb where Louisa fell.”
George look supremely disinterested, but the women said they would walk out there.
“I’ll take Gulliver,” George said.
I nodded. “Yes, fine. A half-hour?”
They agreed to meet me in a half-hour which would give them time for a cloakroom break and a walk of some literary interest. I walked over to the Cobb Inn and picked up my pre-order of cheese, biscuits and some small cartons of juice. With the apples I’d bought at the Salisbury market, that should satisfy the group during the next section of driving. They were back in time and we started on the three-hour journey to Port Isaac. Most of the group were older. They might be tired and jet-lagged. The snack would help with fatigue. I was going to join the A30 which was a much bigger motorway and smoother than the roads we had been traveling on and with fewer turns. The van was comfortable. I didn’t give any information along this stretch, and eventually, most of the group dozed. Grace was awake and paying attention to the road signs.
“I’ve never heard of a St. Clether,” she said as we passed a directional sign.
“There are a lot of saints particular to Cornwall.” I had never heard of most of them either. Certainly, not outside Cornwall.
She stayed alert and called them out to me softly so as not to wake the others. “St Breward? St Breock. Breock?’
I nodded. Before we reached our destination, she had collected St Issey, St Tudy and St Columb.
The others woke as the van slowed near the car park for Port Isaac. I’d texted from Lyme Regis and a small electric cart with driver was waiting for us. I’d booked us into the Slipway B & B which was right on the harbor. The streets of Port Isaac are too narrow and winding for me to navigate the van through them. The hotel had recently changed hands, and the proprietor had promised great service in an interesting location. It was an historic building, once used, of course, by smugglers and said to contain a ghost or two.
I shook hands with Zoe, the manager who looked to be about twenty-four, dark hair spiked in prongs, large round glasses, metal in her ears and bands on her teeth. She had a huge smile. She had arrived at the car park in a golf cart and bounced out of it to shake my hand.
“Thanks. I’m Claire.”
“Zoe. This is my cat, Alphonse.” It was a shaggy, grey Persian-type that was in possession of the front seat and looked decidedly unfriendly. Possibly, he didn’t like dogs.
“My dog,” I said. “Gulliver.”
“Welcome,” she said again this time to the group who crowded in behind me.
“Isn’t this where the Doc Martin series is set?” Grace stared down at the town.
“In and around here,” I agreed.
“This is a bonus,” Sharon said. “I like that show.”
Zoe took out luggage on the cart and we walked down the winding lanes to the B & B. The cat, Alphonse, followed us, keeping about ten yards behind us. It was like having an escort.
There were eight rooms in this B & B, and we occupied seven of them. Deirdre and Kala would take the eighth. I’d reserved dinner for eight o’clock. Everyone had time to unload their luggage, freshen up, and even take a walk. That would likely be Ellie and Grace, perhaps Lena. Sharon would get into her email, and Holly might nap.
Holly surprised me. She came to me while I was talking to Zoe in the lobby.
“I’m off to explore the town,” she said, “at least this small section of it.”
“The whole town is small,” Zoe, said.” Be sure to check out the harbor and the Squeezy Belly Alley. Dinner is at eight,” she reminded her.
“I’ll take Gulliver for a walk,” I said looking down at my patient dog.
Zoe raised her eyebrows, a feat that jiggled various pieces of metal. “There are towels in your room for the dog,” she said. “The green ones. If you take him on the beach, he’s going to get muddy and wet. No sand here. Just mud and pebbles.”
No doubt, I would take him to the beach, even if there was mud. He loved the smells of the seaside.
“Your other guests are due soon?” she asked me.
I checked my mobile Deirdre had texted from Salisbury.
“Yes, soon. They have two dogs.”
Deirdre would be tired when she arrived. She’d sounded tired when I talked to her last night.
“Could you put a bottle of wine in her room—red, dry?”
“Yes, or Chilean. She likes that too. Put it on my bill.”
“And a soft drink for the child?”
“Good idea and perhaps some nuts or some kind of nibblies.”
“I’ll do that. Thanks for choosing to bring your group here.”
I imagined it wasn’t easy to make a living in such a small town, but it would be packed in the summer. They would have to make enough then to last the winter.
Gulliver and I walked out the front door of the Slipway, across the street and down to the quay. The tide was out. The smell of ozone and decaying matter reminded me of the rare childhood jaunts to the sea that my mother used to arrange with one of my aunts. As always, it was magical.
This shore was not inviting, as Zoe had said. There was too much mud. I kept Gulliver at the edge and walked through the town. I caught up with Holly who was peering in a window reading something.
“Did you know that the pier was built in the reign of Henry VIII?”
“No, I did not. What else does it say?” I asked her.
“That the name Port Isaac is taken from the Cornish words that mean Corn port. Imagine that. Here I thought I might be looking for signs of some historic hero I’d never heard of.”
We walked slowly while Holly looked around her. She seemed a contented woman, just turned seventy according to her passport, and interested in people and new sights. She nodded across the street.
“Looks like Lena and George have something to talk about.”
I followed her gaze and saw them leaning on a stone wall looking out of the harbor but talking. At least George was talking.
“Do you think she’ll eat him alive?” Holly asked.
I considered it. “Maybe.”
About Emma Dakin
Emma Dakin lives in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. She has over twenty-five trade published books of mystery and adventure for teens and middle-grade children and non-fiction for teens and adults. Her love of the British countryside and villages and her addiction to cozy mysteries now keep her writing about characters who live and work in those villages. She introduces readers to the problems that disturb that idyllic setting.