Guest Post: “It’s about time I had my say!” Meet Victoria Hopkirk by Elizabeth J. Duncan

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Guest Post

It’s about time I had my say! I’m Victoria Hopkirk, and I’m the long-suffering best friend of amateur sleuth and watercolour artist Penny Brannigan. We met, oh, about ten years ago now in a book called The Cold Light of Mourning, when I needed a place to stay and Penny kindly offered to put me up. 

I had returned to Llanelen, North Wales, after my divorce and had been stopping with  relatives. But their little terraced house was crowded, and I was putting a child out of her bed, so it was wonderful of Penny to open her home to me. 

Since then, our lives have become completely intertwined. Beyond friendship, we’re also business partners – together we own and operate the Llanelen Spa – and we’re also well, I wouldn’t call us sleuthing partners, but Penny does get involved in situations that sometimes require my input. Sometimes I provide a common sense approach, or even state the obvious. The situations she finds herself in also require my cooperation. Occasionally she needs to take time away from the spa to go sleuthing and we always find a way to make that happen. I look after the day-to-day operation of our business, so I’m needed more around the place than she is. 

People sometimes ask me what it’s like for me to be the Watson character to Penny’s Holmes. Even though it’s not something I signed up for, I mean nobody actually sets out to become an amateur sleuth, it just happens … I like it. Penny and I share a passion for ferreting out the truth. We don’t have any fancy notions about handing out justice, or anything like that, we just like to see things put right, especially for the victims’ families. 

Oh, and did I mention I’m also her driver? She doesn’t drive, so it often falls to me to get her where she needs to go. But I don’t resent it, because I know that a day spent sleuthing with her will always be much more interesting and fun than anything else I could come up with on my own. 

Penny is the kind of person anyone would want for a friend. She’s reliable, has a wicked sense of humour, and is a lovely, kind woman. We’ve been through good times and bad together. In her latest outing, On Deadly Tides, she finds a happiness and contentment that had always eluded her, and I couldn’t be happier for her. After all, what kind of person would I be if I didn’t want the best for my best friend? 

About The Book

Penny Brannigan is enjoying a mid-summer painting holiday when she discovers the body of a journalist on a secluded beach in On Deadly Tides by @elizabethduncan

About The Book:

With a picturesque black and white lighthouse, pebble beaches and stunning views of sea and mountains, the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales is the perfect place for an idyllic mid-summer painting holiday.

And watercolour artist, businesswoman, and amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan is enjoying the retreat enormously – until she discovers the body of a New Zealand journalist on a secluded beach just as the tide is going out, threatening to take the body with it.

The post mortem reveals the victim died from injuries “consistent with a fall from a great height,” and the death is ruled accidental. But Penny thinks there’s more to the story. Curious how the victim came to such an untimely end at this most inhospitable spot, she uncovers a link to a mysterious disappearance several years earlier.

And as her holiday romance with a wildlife photographer turns to love, she learns some truths about herself, too, that surprise her.

As the winds of change blow through Penny’s own life, she sets sail on a friendly tide for a future she never dreamed possible, in a beautiful place she never imagined.

Book Links: Amazon /   B&N  / Bookshop / IndieBound

My Thoughts

In “On Deadly Tides,” Penny Brannigan and a friend have booked into a seaside hotel in Wales for a painting retreat. It seems like a perfect place to get lost painting, with its distinct lighthouse and pristine beaches. at the opening night mixer, Penny meets a journalist, Jessica, who has been sent by her paper to interview a local artist. She reveals to Penny and her companion that she is also in town to follow up on a possible murder. The next morning while setting up to do some painting, Penny finds Jessica dead below the lighthouse cliff. When the young woman’s mother shows up asking questions and ends up in the hospital, Penny and her friends do what they can to help.

This was my first read in the Penny Brannigan Mystery series, but it felt like coming home to old friends. While there is obviously a great deal of history between Penny and her cast of friends, the reader doesn’t feel left out at all and can pick up with, and settle into, the story arcs right away. This story has the feel of a first book, in that there is obviously a shift in Penny’s life to a new direction. One that I am looking forward to visiting at a later date.

Descriptions of the surrounding areas and the little tidbits of welsh lore tossed in here and there, definitely made this book a pleasure to read. I did have the villain figured out soon in the story, but the why took a bit longer, and it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the big reveal in the end. The clues were laid out wonderfully with just a hint of a red herring here and there. I am for sure thinking of playing catch up with the other books in this series.

I received a free copy of this book for the purposes of review. all thoughts and opinions are my own.

About The Author

About The Author:

A two-time winner of the Bloody Words (Bony Blithe) Award for Canada’s best light mystery, Elizabeth J. Duncan is the author of two series: the Penny Brannigan mysteries set in North Wales and Shakespeare in the Catskills featuring costume designer Charlotte Fairfax. A former journalist, public relations practitioner, and college professor, Elizabeth is a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers. She divides her time between Toronto, Canada, and Llandudno, North Wales.

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