When Isabelle Darby moves to the delightfully cosy village of Lower Dimblebrook, she’s searching for peace and quiet as well as a chance to escape from heartbreak. After making friends with Fiona Lambourne, another newcomer to the village, Issie is left reeling when tragedy strikes and Fiona is murdered, the second wife Anthony Lambourne has lost in unfortunate circumstances.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the local gossips insist that Fiona had been embroiled in an affair before her death, something which Issie knows not to be the case.
Determined to clear her friend’s reputation and solve the mystery of the rumours, Issie takes on both the gossips and the handsome but stern DI Wainwright, making both friends and enemies along the way!
Julie has shared an extract with us today so grab that tea/coffee, comfortable chair and enjoy.
***** beginning of extract*****
Living in a village on the edge of the Cotswolds, it was easy to imagine life in Lower Dimblebrook and the characters are all the sort of people I would like to meet myself – with the exclusion of the murderer of course! As a lifelong fan of Miss Marple and Poirot, I could imagine the keystones of the village being the vicar and those residents who were have lived in the same houses for generations and know every nook and cranny of their village. I decided to dispense with the vicar in Deadly Whispers but I definitely needed a vicar’s wife, one of those kind-hearted, totally dependable women who provide a rock of support for anyone who asks.
For a moment Issie thought she had found the house empty until she detected a snuffling noise approaching ever closer and the door flew open, two over-excited dachshunds tumbling out to sniff her feet and ankles with all the focus of bloodhounds. A pink-cheeked face appeared a few seconds behind them and Miriam Hollier wiped her hands on her flour-covered apron and tilted her head enquiringly in Issie’s direction.
‘Hello, Isabelle isn’t it? Do come in. Flounder … Scuttle come along now,’ and Issie found herself herded in the direction of a warm kitchen, rich with the scent of baking and with scones and cakes covering every surface.
‘So sorry,’ offered Miriam looking anything but as she cheerfully swept a pile of papers from one of the chairs around the table. ‘Please sit down and help yourself to a cupcake. It’s the scouts’ open day tomorrow and I promised I’d give them a hand with some refreshments.’ Shooing the little dogs away, she reached over to flick the kettle on. ‘Actually, I could do with a breather, I’ve been at this lot all day. So, what can I do for you, dear?’
Miriam Hollier, decided Issie, looked exactly how a vicar’s wife should look. She was neither thin nor fat, she was neither tall nor short, her hair was ordinary, medium length, mid-brown, her face was neither pretty nor ugly. There was nothing about her that distracted the eye, nothing that made you stare. But her cheery face and kind eyes were so warm and friendly that Issie immediately relaxed in her company and the gentle air of encouragement and support that exuded from her was enough to reassure anyone that she could be told absolutely anything and there would be no judgement, just a kind smile and a helpful reply.
‘Tea or coffee?’ Miriam asked and Issie realised that she had sat at the table in silence.
‘Oh, er, tea would be lovely thank you.’
‘I know a little bit about you from Madeleine,’ offered Miriam with a smile, ‘although Maddy is very protective of her tenants and she has by no means been gossiping about you.’ Her voice was pleasant and soothing and Issie felt the tension in her shoulders begin to relax. ‘I know that you moved here from Bristol – a new start. Very sensible choice,’ she twinkled, ‘can’t say I blame you for that one! And I know that you are a talented artist and you illustrate books.’
She set a cup of tea on the table and reached out to gently touch the back of one of Issie’s clenched hands. ‘I also know that you were friends with Fiona Lambourne and I can’t help thinking that maybe that’s why you’ve come to visit me today.’
Issie nodded. She lifted her eyes to meet Miriam’s non-descript but infinitely sympathetic gaze and bit her lip.
‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have just turned up like this but I… I don’t… I mean I’m trying to find out what happened to Fiona and I thought you might be able to help me.’
Miriam nodded slowly. ‘I’ve already spoken to Madeleine, I know that you have your doubts about Fiona and – the affair. She said you might be coming to visit me.’
Issie felt quite guilty that the first time she had done anything more than nod to the passing vicar’s wife was when she wanted help. She had never joined in the regular Sunday service, had failed to take part in the Harvest Festival or the Easter celebration and had never contributed to the cake stall for the Church’s save the roof fund.
‘I’m sorry, I don’t come to any of the services and…’
Miriam was waving her hand in the air. ‘Oh, my dear, if I only spoke to people who came to the services regularly it would be a lonely life indeed!’
She smiled, picking out a luscious pink frosted cupcake covered in tiny sprinkles of silver and popping it on Issie’s plate. ‘You can ask for help, regardless of whether you come to church on Sunday or not,’ she smiled reassuringly. ‘Really.’
***** end of extract*****
About Julie Butterfield…
She wrote her first book purely for pleasure and was very surprised to discover that so many people enjoyed the story and wanted more, so she decided to carry on writing.
It has to be pointed out that her first novel, ‘Did I Mention I Won The Lottery’ is a complete work of fiction and she did not, in fact, receive millions in her bank account and forget to mention it to her husband – even though he still asks her every day if she has anything to tell him!