Wednesday, April 25, 2018



The competition is friendly and just a little fierce at the annual Llanelen agricultural show as town and country folk gather for the outdoor judging of farm animals and indoor judging of cakes, pies, pastries, chutneys, jams and jellies, along with vegetables, fruit and flowers. But this year, there’s a new show category: murder.

Local artist, Spa owner, and amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan agrees to help with the intake of the domestic arts entries and to judge the children’s pet competition on show day. When the president of the Welsh Women's Guild isn’t on hand to see her granddaughter and pet pug win a prize, the family becomes concerned. When a carrot cake entered in the competition goes missing, something is clearly amiss.

A black Labrador Retriever belonging to the agricultural show’s president discovers the body of the missing woman under the baked goods table. A newcomer to town, a transgender woman, is suspected, but amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan believes her to be innocent. She sets out to find the real killer, but when a second body is discovered days later, the case is thrown into confusion, and Penny knows it’s up to her to figure out what happened—and why.

Book Details:

Title: The Marmalade Murders

Author: Elizabeth J. Duncan

Genre: cozy mystery

Series: Penny Brannigan, 9th in series

Publisher: Minotaur Books (April 24, 2018)

Hardcover: 288 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


A Canadian ex-pat, Penny Brannigan lives in the picturesque North Wales town of Llanelen, where she co-owns the local Spa. A watercolour artist of some note, she has a growing reputation as an amateur sleuth.


Penny, how did you first meet Elizabeth?

I met Elizabeth J. Duncan on her first visit to the North Wales back in 2005, I think it was, in Llanrwst (fictionalized as Llanelen). We actually passed each other in the street. She was on her way to lunch with friends at the Eagle Hotel, and I was walking up Station Road on my way back to the little manicure salon I had at the time. She didn’t make a great impression on me, to be honest; she just looked like an ordinary tourist. I never dreamed she’d write all those books.

Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
I’ve never really understood that. I wouldn’t have thought my life was particularly interesting, or at least it wasn’t, until the first murder (The Cold Light of Mourning, St. Martin’s Press, 2008).

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I’d love to, but that would give away the ending. I’ll just say it’s delightful because somebody gets her heart’s desire.

Intriguing! Did you have a hard time convincing Elizabeth to write any particular scenes for you?
Not in The Marmalade Murders, but we have had differences of opinion in the past, when she wanted me to become romantically involved with a senior police officer. It made sense on paper, if you know what I mean, and although she tried desperately, my heart just wasn’t in it. In the end, she had to give up on the idea. It just wasn’t meant to be.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
I’m a great rambler and I love roaming the beautiful, rolling Welsh hills with my sketch pad. Sometimes I bring paints and easel. I do my best thinking when I’m walking.

If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
Not in The Marmalade Murders, but in a previous book someone I loved very much drowned. I’d give anything if we could go back and undo that.

Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters?
I love them. Oh, a certain someone can be annoying sometimes, but she always means well and has a heart of gold, so you just have to let it go, don’t you? I’ve lived here in fictional Llanelen amongst these wonderful Welsh people for more than 25 years, and they’re my family now.

Tell us about your best friend.
My best friend is Victoria Hopkirk, my business partner. We met, oh, nine books or so ago, and we’ve solved quite a few mysteries together. I can depend on her for anything, and I hope she knows how much I value our friendship.

What’s your author’s worst habit?
She’s not as disciplined as she should be. The other characters and I hang about for days, sometimes weeks, waiting for the story to get going again. And she definitely plays too much Candy Crush.

What aspect of Elizabeth’s writing style do you like best?
She writes in a clear, simple style that’s easy to read and her dialogue is accurate. As it should be, considering she spends almost half her life her in North Wales.

Describe the town where you live.
Llanelen (the fictionalized Llanrwst) is a market town in North Wales. It’s got a cobbled town square, and a beautiful three-arched bridge designed by Indigo Jones. Some might consider the town old fashioned, but Elizabeth J. knew the minute she arrived here that if she were ever to write a mystery, she would set it in our town. People think that nothing much happens here, but take it from me, things happen. Sometimes dark, evil things.

If you could be “adopted” by another writer, who would you choose?
That’s easy, because I make cameo appearances in the Dorothy Martin series by Jeanne M. Dams, and I have to say it’s always great fun meeting up with Dorothy. And I’m in capable hands with Jeanne!

Will you encourage Elizabeth to write a sequel?
She’s already taken care of that. She’s agreed to write two more books in the series, which will bring us up to 11! Not bad going for someone who never intended to write one book.


A two-time winner of the Bloody Words Light Mystery award, Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of two series of traditional mysteries: the Penny Brannigan series set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills featuring costume designer and amateur sleuth Charlotte Fairfax. Elizabeth divides her time between Toronto, Canada, and Llandudno, North Wales.

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