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Death at Lovers Leap by Catherine Coles #Review#PublicationDay

    Today I am featuring the third in a cozy crime series by Catherine Coles , The Martha Miller Mysteries . Death at Lovers' Leap is published today, on February 16th by Boldwood Books .You can read my review of the first in the series, Poison at the Village Show   here amd the second, Death at the Country Fair   here .     Westleham Village 1948 As Valentine's Day rolls around, Martha Miller finds herself unusually melancholy at the state of her own love life. With husband Stan still missing and with her growing feelings for Vicar Luke still shrouded in secrecy, there’s only one place Martha can go - famous local beauty spot, Lovers' Leap. Legend has it that those with a broken heart throw themselves off the bridge that spans the river, but Martha is certainly not about to do such a thing! But it looks like someone else has had other ideas…. Because there in the river, Martha finds a body. But is this misadventure, a moment of lovesick madness, or is foul play a

Haircuts, Hens and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg ** Blog Tour Review and Extract**

Welcome to the opening day of the blog tour for Stephanie Dagg's Haircuts, Hens and Homicide. It's a lovely romcom/ cosy mystery which is set in France and the first in a new series. Even better, I have an extract to whet your appetite. First though, a little about the story:


Megan finds mayhem when she arrives in France to bury her Gran and sort out her affairs. She expected difficult encounters with civil servants and red tape but not with wandering chickens, an imperious policeman and a dead body. Together with her unlikely new friend, the elderly and grumpy Alphonse and his canine equivalent, Monsieur Moustache, Megan becomes involved in investigating the fowl-related foul play that’s at work in this sleepy part of rural France. 


She’s helped but mainly hindered by the people she comes across. These include the local mayor, who wants Megan to stay and set up a hair salon in his village to help keep it alive. There are the cousins Romain, the gendarme, and Nico, the clumsy but hunky farmer. They have always clashed, but do so constantly now that Megan is on the scene. Michelle, Romain’s terrifying ex who wants him back, appears along the way, as does Claudette, a wheelchair-bound old lady, and Kayla, Megan’s best friend, who is hugely pregnant but not above taking on the forces of French law and order when Megan finds herself the prime suspect after Alphonse is stabbed.

There’s excitement, humour and lots of ruffled feathers in this rom-com slash cosy mystery, the first in a projected series.


                                                                                             Extract



Megan is in France, sorting out her recently-deceased Gran’s affairs. She’s tripping over red tape and having to deal with officious cops and clumsy farmers. And her life is about to  become even more complicated…
After discovering the body of an old man named Henri, whose chickens had turned up at her Gran’s house, Megan has teamed up with an unlikely partner to look into this fowl-related foul play: seventy-something-year-old Alphonse. His equally ancient mongrel, Monsieur Moustache (MoMo for short) has joined in too.
Leaving her very pregnant best friend Kayla fast asleep on her couch, Megan calls by Alphonse’s house to talk about the case, but finds him slumped on the floor in the shed where he keeps his exotic birds. He’s been stabbed – with Megan’s hairdressing scissors, which went missing the previous day. She calls the emergency services, and not surprisingly soon finds herself being interrogated as the possible perpetrator of this attempted murder.   


“Are these yours?”
He laid a photo of my scissors, positioned next to a ruler, on the table in front of me. The scissors were still bloody. I gagged when I saw that.
“I repeat, are these yours?” he continued when I’d pulled myself together.
Here goes. “Yes. I told you that, and they were nicked. Stolen. By Alphonse.”
He ignored my ad libbing. “Are you sure they’re yours?”
I looked up in surprise. I hadn’t expected that question. I mean, that almost suggested he was prepared to entertain the thought that I might not be guilty.
No point lying though. “Yes. My name’s on them. Just here.”
I poked at the photo gingerly.
He looked at me sadly. I got the distinct impression I had just whacked the final nail into my own coffin.
There was a long, long silence.     
“Do you want an avocat?” he asked me abruptly.
What? What the heck was one of those? I just couldn’t think straight at the moment, not surprisingly given the alarming circumstances I found myself in. I was actually pretty impressed that my French had been holding up so well, but now I’d hit a brick wall.
Avocat… avocat…
I’d seen that word somewhere recently. I racked my brains. Yes, the last time I’d been shopping. In the fruit and veg department, I seemed to think. I pulled up the mental image. Yes, there it was. A chalk-written sign on a small blackboard at the head of a box of items: ‘Avocat 1€50 l’unité’. Avocado pears, €1.50 each.
That was the only word that seemed to make sense, although it didn’t at all, but I was too rattled to realise that fully.
I detested those things.
“No, no I don’t. They make me feel sick.”
“I have to say I agree with you but I’m obliged to offer you one.”
Dear Lord, everyone knew about the French and red tape, but this one had to take the biscuit. Presumably the Avocado Sellers Union was strong in France and they’d managed to persuade the gendarmerie to offer an avocado to any poor souls who, like me, found themselves in the interrogation room. I guess they were nutritious and maybe had anti-stress chemicals or whatever, but geez. Weird.
“I can’t stomach them,” I shrugged, feeling further explanation was due.  
The policeman raised his eyebrows. “So, you’ve had cause to use one before?” He jotted something down on his notebook and underlined it and then drew an asterisk by it. That didn’t look good. “Would you care to tell me about that?”
I couldn’t see what this had to do with poor Alphonse’s stabbing at all, but he was the one doing the asking. And he’d said ‘use’ rather than ‘eat’. Had I used one in a non-culinary fashion? Oh yes, just the once.
“Yes, well, I had this really hard one—“
“Hard?” he interrupted.
“You know, tough. Chewy?”
“Chewy?” His eyebrows shot up.
“So I mashed it up, added yogurt and made a face pack,” I shrugged.
He looked at me in blank gobsmackedness. He clearly wasn’t into facial care.
“I even tried some in my hair as conditioner too,” I added helpfully.
Suddenly he smacked both hands to his face and groaned. I looked at the lady gendarme in the corner who appeared to be trying not to laugh. She’d gone red and was making faint whimpering noises. What had I said?
My interrogator regained his self-control. He wiped one hand wearily down one cheek.
“Do you know what I mean by avocat?”
Like, duh. I thought I’d made that clear in my replies. “Of course,” I said haughtily.
“I’m not sure you do,” he sighed. “An avocat is someone who works in the legal profession and, amongst other things, represents clients who find themselves in situations such as yours. I think you might have thought I was referring to an… avocado pear.”
This was too much for the gendarmette. She let loose a great snort of delight and then began a fit a coughing.
“I have to… go and… get some water!” She was almost helpless with laughter.
I glared at her with as much dignity as I could muster. In any other setting, I would have seen the funny side too – such faux pas were part and parcel of the ex-pat experience – but not today. Not here. Not now.
“We’ll take five minutes,” agreed The Interrogator.
He rose from his chair and strode to the door to summon a passing cop to keep watch over me while he went to hit his head against the wall, or maybe hand in his resignation. He didn’t need people like me in his life.
A tear rolled slowly down my cheek. The stand-in guard cop handed me a tissue. I gave him a teary nod of thanks and dabbed my eyes.
What on earth was going to happen to me?
Wallowing in self-pity, and justifiably so, it was a while before I became aware of a kerfuffle going on somewhere nearby – lots of raised voices and an atmosphere thick with Gallic righteous indignation. For a moment I thought I heard Kayla’s voice, and then I knew I did.
“I demand that you let my friend go!” I heard her saying, shrill with anger. “If you seriously think she would ever hurt a hair on anyone’s head, let alone kill them, then you are a bunch of raving lunatics.” Oops, not a good thing to say to a bunch of cops, but full marks for loyalty. “And if you don’t let me see her, then I swear to God, I will give birth to my baby right here, right now!”  
That Gallic righteous indignation was fast giving way to uncertainty. Was there a gallant way to deal with an extremely furious, extremely pregnant woman? She was ranting in her native tongue and I’m guessing – and hoping – they didn’t understand most of what she said. But the general intent must be clear.
I’d read that stress could bring early labour on. I closed my eyes and hoped to heaven that Kayla’s waters didn’t suddenly break. “Stay calm, Kay,” I quietly begged. 

My Thoughts
You are plunged into life in a French village right from the start in Haircuts, Hens and Homicide and there are some pretty interesting characters to meet. Megan seems to take them all in her stride and proves to be a capable young woman who has got used to living on her own resources. She is someone who the villagers take to their hearts from first meeting her and she proves to be a kind and caring person, particularly where the animals are concerned. 

    There is plenty of action in this romantic comedy which seems to go along at a cracking pace. With a mystery to unravel, there is a lot of entertainment for the reader. Megan finds out that there was more to her Grandmother than she ever suspected. With plenty of humour and laugh out loud moments, the story proves to be an entertaining read and is nicely set up for a sequel.

In short: A touch of french chaos.
About the Author 

I'm an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than 'belonging' to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it's been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at www.bloginfrance.com.
I'm married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.     
I'm a traditionally-published author of many children's books, and am now self-publishing too. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at www.editing.zone. The rest of the time I'm running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal's poop.   


You can follow Stephanie here:
Book link: Amazon UK 
Thanks to Stephanie Dagg and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.
Follow the rest of the tour!
  

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