Gone Away: The First Mrs. Malory Mystery

Gone Away ($15.95, 176 pages, 5×8 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-049-4), is the first book in a cozy mystery series by Hazel Holt. This delightful British cozy mystery series features Mrs. Sheila Malory, a plain-spoken widow residing in the little seaside town of Taviscombe, England. When pretty but avaricious Lee Montgomery disappears, her fiancé Charles Richardson enlists Mrs. Malory’s help. The dauntless Mrs. Malory soon suspects the worst. Little does she realize the terrible secrets her investigation will reveal….

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Original publication date: 1989

Everyone knows that impertinent Lee Montgomery is marrying Charles Richardson for his money. After Lee vanishes, Charles’ friends breathe a sigh of relief. But Charles loves his pretty fiancée and is determined to get her back. He enlists the talents of Mrs. Sheila Malory, whose pastimes include reading nineteenth-century novels and ferreting out the truth. Mrs. Malory, a reluctant amateur detective, is soon convinced that Lee has been the victim of foul play. The residents of the sleepy seaside village of Taviscombe, England, are about to discover just how difficult it is to keep their terrible secrets with Mrs. Malory on the case.

Book One in A Mrs. Malory Mystery

Hazel Holt was born in Birmingham, England, where she attended King Edward VI High School for Girls. She studied at Newnham College, Cambridge, and went on to work at the International African Institute in London, where she became acquainted with the novelist Barbara Pym, whose biography she later wrote. She also finished one of Pym’s novels after Pym died. Holt has also recently published My Dear Charlotte, a story that uses the actual language of Jane Austen’s letters to her sister Cassandra to construct a Regency murder mystery. Holt wrote her first novel in her sixties, and is a leading crime novelist. She is best known for her Mrs. Malory series. Her son is novelist Tom Holt.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

I got out of the car, went over to the front door and rang the bell. I stood for several minutes and then rang again, but there was no reply. So I went round the side of the house, as I had done with Lee, past the stables, and knocked on the kitchen door. Again there was silence. As I stood there, irresolute, there was a strange snuffling, scuffling sound and I swung round quickly. Just beyond the back hedge was the open moor, and a group of wild ponies, made bold by the winter cold, had gathered by the back gate and were pressing near, hoping that someone was bringing them hay or other food, as people did in the really hard weather.

This little incident made me pull myself together and think what I should do. Boldly, I tried the back door, but it was locked, so I moved along and looked through the large, uncurtained kitchen window.  For a moment I didn’t take in the reality of what I saw. Lying on the floor was a woman, face down, with a large kitchen knife sticking out of her back.

….

I drove into the deserted picnic area at the top of Porlock Common and turned off the engine. Everything was quiet and still. The silence felt almost as tangible as the mist around me. The trees and brown grass were sodden with moisture, everything looked totally dead. Not far away I heard a faint sound. It was the thin note of a horn. The huntsman was blowing ‘Gone Away.’ ”

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