Friday, May 16, 2014

Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison: Guest Author, Review & Giveaway

Murder at Honeychurch Hall: A Mystery

Melissa, thank you so much for hosting me on day 6 of my Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Murder at Honeychurch Hall. When I saw the word “Meows” in the name of your blog I couldn’t help but smile. One of the major clues in my book is actually connected not to a cat … but to a mouse—and a well-known mouse at that!

I am a true feline fanatic and I’ll talk about the love-of-my life, Mr. Tig—my beloved tuxedo cat that passed away a year ago—until the proverbial cows come home. I am sure he would have had a lot to say about introducing “mice” into my stories—even though these are antique velveteen toys! Although Mr. Tig did have an altercation with a rat once—he proudly brought a live one into the house. Fortunately, Mr. Tig and my husband managed to remove the rat with the aid of my husband’s hockey stick and Mr. Tig reading and waiting with his paws outstretched. Needless to say, it did not end well for the rat. 

The reason why I have toy mice providing a vital clue in my new book “Murder at Honeychurch Hall” is quite a peculiar story in itself. As with most things in life, they appeared unexpectedly and I thought them rather cute so I showed them to my editor and we decided they just had to get woven into the plot. As it turns out, my protagonist, Kat Stanford is an antique dealer and she specializes in antique toys. The Jerry mouse was created in 1951 from the character of MGM’s popular “Tom & Jerry” cartoon—now being revived on The Cartoon Network—and made by the Merrythought Toy Factory in Shropshire, England. 

But of course, “Murder at Honeychurch Hall” is so much more than mice. As our story opens, Kat Stanford, a TV celebrity of the show Fakes & Treasures, is shocked to learn that her newly widowed mother has recklessly bought a dilapidated carriage house on the country estate known as Honeychurch Hall. Predictably, the newcomers aren’t popular especially when they discover that Kat’s mother Iris has quite a few skeletons in her own closet—one being the fact that she’s been secretly writing racy-bodice-rippers under the pseudonym of Krystalle Storm. 

An upstairs-downstairs backdrop wouldn’t be complete without a feisty, octogenarian countess but I also threw in a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles. There is a treasure trove of antiques, the occasional haunting and of course, the paparazzi, who are always hungry for celebrity news. When the nanny goes missing and a body is discovered … well, I’m sure you can guess the rest! 

Oh – and if anyone is curious about the Jack Russell on the cover … his name is Mr. Chips. 

Thanks for hosting me today! 


Blurb: In Hannah Dennison's Murder at Honeychurch Hall, Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house at Honeychurch Hall, an isolated country estate located several hundred miles from London.

Yet it seems that Iris isn’t the only one with surprises at Honeychurch Hall. Behind the crumbling façade, the inhabitants of the stately mansion are a lively group of eccentrics to be sure—both upstairs and downstairs —and they all have more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet.

When the nanny goes missing, and Vera, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead in the grotto, suspicions abound. Throw in a feisty, octogenarian countess, a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles, and a treasure trove of antiques, and there is more than one motive for murder.

As Iris’s past comes back to haunt her, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all. A when the bodies start piling up, it is up to Kat to unravel the tangled truth behind the murders at Honeychurch Hall.

What Made Us Purr:

* The setting: No other place calls to me like the English countryside. Devon evokes thoughts of Agatha Christie and the desolate moor in Sherlock Holmes' Hound of the Baskervilles.

* The collectibles: Iris is obsessed with England's royal family, and collects coronation china. Kat collects antique toys. I was especially interested to learn about the Merrythought mice that played an integral part of the mystery, and the Steiff Mourning Bear that commemorated the sinking of the Titanic. I'm a collector at heart too!

* Iris's secret life: I really enjoyed the snippets of the historical erotic suspense novel that Iris writes in longhand and types on an old typewriter. I love her cozy little locked office covered in post it notes.

* A multitude of mysteries: In addition to a murder, a disappearance, and a robbery, how did the earl's wife really die? And is the Hall really haunted?

* The mother/daughter relationship: Kat and Iris bicker like most mothers and daughters but obviously adore each other. It will be fun to see them join forces to make their carriage house a home.

* Lady Edith Honeychurch's equine cemetery: I come here every evening just to be with my old friends. So many friends, all gone now.

What Made Us Hiss:

* Kat's boyfriend, still married to her arch-nemesis, and a real jerk. Hopefully she's rid of him for good.

* I'm a bit ambivalent about this one, but 7-year old old Harry who pretends to be a famous fighter pilot called Biggles. He's cuter than most, but in general I'm just not a huge fan of kids in cozy mysteries. What can I say, I prefer fur kids to human kids!

Final Catcall: With seemingly everyone in the book keeping secrets, at times I found the book a bit confusing, but was pleased to find everything neatly tied up in the end with a very satisfying and logical conclusion. You can vacation in Devon this summer for merely the price of a book!

Leave a comment by noon eastern on Wednesday, May 21st, for the chance to win a hardcover copy of Murder at Honeychurch Hall. (US entries only, please.)

About The Author
Born in England, Hannah relocated to Los Angeles with her daughter and two cats to pursue a career in screenwriting. Along the road to publication she has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah is the author of the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable UK) and the first, in her new series, “Murder at Honeychurch Hall” (Minotaur). Now living in Portland, Oregon Hannah continues to teach mystery writing at UCLA, has served on numerous judging committees for the Mystery Writers of America and still works part-time for a west coast advertising agency. She is married to an advertising executive and enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing and seriously good chocolate.


Purchase Links


Anonymous said...

Hope yous hav a Pawsum Weekend. ☺

Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses ♥♥♥


Unknown said...

I would love to read this novel, thank you for the chance to win it :)

Acemommy said...

i have this series on my TBR list!

Bea said...

I was wondering if those toy mice were real and the Titanic Stieff bear was both sweet and sad.

holdenj said...

This looks great! Interesting tidbit about Jerry/Tom and Jerry. Thanks for the chance to win!

Hannah Dennison said...

Morning from Portland, Oregon! Thank you so much for hosting me today and reviewing the book.

NoraA said...

I live for stories with reckless characters. They add that touch of "HUH?" to a story. I'd love to be able to add this book to my rather large home library.

Unknown said...

I love the idea of structuring your review as purr vs. hiss. So creative, and a lot more inspiring than mine :)

Although it doesn't sound like one, I love epistolary novels because it gives you an insight into someone else's lives and really brings the story alive. Even though the book excerpts you mentioned aren't letters, they're still excerpts of something from the characters' universe, making the book even more believable!

It sounds great :) Thanks for sharing!

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a fabulous book, I can't wait to read it.


Kaye Killgore said...

Great interview Hannah. The book sounds like fun.

Unknown said...

I love exploring old houses, but maybe without the mice. Though cat and mice antics are just fine in books. Sounds like a winner there. Ronnalord ( at) msn ( dot ) com

Debbie S said...

This sounds like a great read, the part of Kat's mother writing erotic books is hysterical. I love the cover, that Jack Russell looks like he wants us to follow him. Thanks for the chance to win.
momzillasteel at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

I really want to get to know this mother! She sounds like a great "Aunty Mame" type.

Sue said...

Old house on the English countryside--what a perfect setting for a cozy. And a mother with secrets---what fun!

Patricia P. said...

I so want to read this book. Sounds great.


Lovely interview and pawsome review!

Unknown said...

I love the setting , and the mother sounds like a hoot !

Angela - Bookaunt said...

I would love to win this book, it looks really good to me. Thank you griperang at embarqmail dot com

Barbara T. said...

We do not say goodbye to Mr. Chips in this book, do we?

traveler said...

What an enjoyable novel. Ideal setting and fascinating story. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

Thanks for this interesting feature which sounds captivating and unique. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Robin Coxon said...

Being I have ancestry that stems from England, I always love cozy mysteries with some English flavor to it. Can't wait to read this one.

cyn209 said...

would love to read this book!! already added to my Wish List!!
thank you for the giveaway!!

cyn209 at juno dot com

Unknown said...

Very clever way to describe your new book...purrs and hisses.

Anita Yancey said...

It sounds like a fun and interesting book. I love the pretty cover. Thanks for having the giveaway.