“A sparkling and witty crime debut with a female protagonist to challenge Miss Marple." Lin Anderson, Award winning Scottish crime author
A Death in the Family – Book One of the Euphemia Martin Mysteries
In December 1909 the Very Rev Joshia Martins expires in a dish of mutton and onions leaving his family on the brink of destitution.
Abandoned by her noble grandfather, Joshia’s daughter, the eighteen year old Euphemia, takes it on herself to provide for her mother and little brother by entering service. She’s young, fit, intelligent, a little naive and assumes the life of a maid won’t be too demanding. However, on her first day at the unhappy home of Lord Stapleford she discovers a dead body.
Euphemia’s innate sense of justice has her prying where no servant should look and uncovering some Stapleford secrets…
About the Author
Caroline Dunford has previously worked as a psychotherapist, a journalist and a non-fiction author. She has a deep love of story, which she believes is at the heart of human nature. She first declared, at five years old, that she wanted to be a writer but was told there was little options of it being a full time job. Undeterred, she started writing short stories, plays and mini novels. She became known for writing plays at primary school including casting and directing the performances. She then grew up and went to university, studied sensible subjects and decided she didn't like the 'real world' one bit. She started out as a freelance journalist and writer, sending off short stories to every magazine she could find and received rejection after rejection until she learnt to better her writing. As a journalist, she was somewhat of a failure as she didn't like upsetting people and therefore never made it to tabloid press. She then studied a part time degree in psychology, which she enjoyed more than her past studied subjects. Caroline then spent years working with other people helping them shape their personal life stories (she is a Freudian at heart) until she decided to take the plunge and write her own stories full time. She believes that writing fiction is now the only way she can stay sane.
Euphemia Martins was partly inspired by the family legend of her great, great grandmother, who ran away from a very rich family and ended up working in service. Unlike Euphemia, she found the life far too hard, but was rescued by a tobacconist, whom she married and with whom she had thirteen children.
Murder casts a sharp light over those around it, revealing characters and morality in unique sharpness. What forces one to take the life of another and how those around react reveals so much about human nature and the fragility of society. Caroline finds the period before WW1, when everyone was setting their playing pieces on the board for global conflict fascinating. She is also intrigued by the start of female emancipation and the class-system breakdown that was taking hold.
Caroline loves puzzles and finds human beings the most exciting puzzles of all. But above all, she believes life must be enjoyed with humour. We must all bring whatever light we can to the darkness.
Read an Excerpt
In December 1909 England was gearing up for a general election, Russia was rumbling with the undercurrent of revolution, and my father – the very Reverend Joshia Peter Martins – expired, face down, in his dish of mutton and onions leaving Mother, myself and my younger brother Joe at the whim of Bishop Pagget.
Quite in character Mother was more concerned with the immediate rather than long-term consequences. ‘Why did he not call for the dishes to be removed before port?’ she had cried when our housekeeper had summoned us to the fateful table. ‘To be found among such common fare. Oh, Joshia!’ As it was rare for her to use his Christian name I immediately realised this was my mother in deep despair.
‘He looks very peaceful,’ I offered tactfully. In fact, my father looked if anything deeply relieved. He had the aspect of a man who had welcomed death, albeit he had found it among the gravy, and this helped me bear the awful, wrenching pain I felt at his loss.
‘Oh, Euphemia, if only your father…’
‘There was really nothing he could do about it,’ I countered fairly.
My mother lifted a haughty eyebrow at me. ‘Do not interrupt, young lady. It is not at all becoming. I was going to say if only your father had not been a vicar.’
‘I’m sure he didn’t take the decision lightly, Mother.’
‘I have no way of knowing. It was before he met me,’ Mother paused and then shook her head. ‘It really will not do. I will write to your grandfather.’
‘I will be only too delighted if he offers to help us, but you have been writing to that man for most of my life, Mother, and he has never bothered to reply.’
‘He is not “that man”, Euphemia. He is your grandfather.’
‘He has never behaved as one,’ I declared, grief lending my tone a sharpness I did not intend.
‘Just like your father,’ my mother snapped and left.
Despite my glossy, abundant chestnut hair and clear, grey intelligent eyes, I fear at 18 I am not – nor ever will be – my mother’s ideal of a good daughter. Between us lay the not inconsiderable hours I had spent at my father’s side in his study, while he taught me what he could of the world; how to think analytically and what little he had grown to understand of the human soul during his time as a man of the cloth. My mother considered intelligence ‘as much use on a young girl as a pair of hooves and about as attractive’. I once pointed out how this could occasion a very great saving on shoes and Pa had to stand by as I was sent to bed without supper. Mother and Pa were not close, but without Pa all our futures were dangerously uncertain. The eviction letter was sent by his secretary the day after my father’s death.
So while Mother retired to her room to grieve and continue her one-sided correspondence with my grandfather, I took decisive action. I began to write letters of my own to various country houses. I cannot say where the idea came from. It was certainly born of desperation, but I confess at this point it appealed to my sense of romanticism which I have failed to repress despite witnessing the outcome of my parents’ love-match.
Naturally, I took precautions to protect my identity. I directed all answers to the nearby post office and chose a nom-de-plume. I told the post mistress I was collecting letters for my cousin, who was to join us shortly. This blatant falsehood cost me some sleep, but I doubted anything would transpire of the scheme.
So, I was somewhat taken aback when, after a flood of rejections, I received a positive reply. How on earth would I tell Mother?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kept my interest. Interesting premise and unusual characters.