Wednesday 15 April 2020

In Honour of Cruising + 99c Cruise Ship Mystery (Virus-free!)

The first ship I ever fell in love with was the Oriana, back in the early 1970s. I was just a little girl, it was my first sea voyage, and my family was travelling between Papua New Guinea and Australia. So it was a relatively short trip but, boy, it left its mark.

I've been in love with cruising ever since. 

And it's not just about the ship, although I do love a glittering atrium, a sparkling Lido deck, and a small but oh so cosy cabin. The truth is, I'm just as happy in a leaky dinghy as I am on a luxury vessel like the Queen Elizabeth, pictured below. I jumped aboard last year, pre-Corona, for my Dad's 80th birthday, and what better place to celebrate? 

I just love being on the water! I love the rich, salty smell and rhythm of the sea, the slapping of the waves against the bow and, most of all, the anticipation and mystery of all that lovely open ocean ahead.

It's no wonder, then, that I set one of my murder mysteries on a cruise ship, this one an imagined replica of a real ship that once sailed the Antipodes—the SS Orient, which I wrote about in a previous blog.

As you all know, cruise ships have taken a battering during this time of the Corona virus, and it breaks my heart, if only for the beautiful, hard-working crew, and for those of you who never got a chance to don your best nautical gear and set sail.

But take heart, I'm sure cruising will be back. I don't think it's such a bad thing if there's a few less of them, though. Massive ships are not exactly great for the environment and we have to consider the next generation. But I do want my kids to experience cruising as I did, just more sustainably, and minus deadly diseases while they're at it!

Until then, here's an exciting voyage you can take from the comfort of your own self-isolation, and it's virus free! Of course that's not to say there's not other dangers lurking somewhere on the ship… 

In this refreshingly modern take on the classic whodunit, the AGATHA CHRISTIE BOOK CLUB set sail on replica steamship the SS Orient and quickly encounter eerie echoes of another murderous voyage—a menacing note, a passenger dead in bed, and more clues than you can poke a blood-soaked dagger at.

With no CCTV, a shipful of slippery passengers, and enough red herrings to fill a seafood platter, the amateur sleuths decide to abandon their shuffleboard and solve the crime before they hit land and the professionals boot them off.

Jump aboard for the second gripping adventure of the beloved book club friends, who include devoted sisters, a dashing doctor, a flighty librarian and two vintage fashion queens. This time there's a new member lurking in the wings, a brusque barman with a bad attitude and a secret that will change absolutely everything.

With a dash of romance, a splash of adventure and plenty of good humour, this is a fun, fast-paced cozy adventure for those who like unexpected plot twists, endearing ensemble characters and a gripping final denouement.


And happy (cruisy) reading everyone!
xo Christina

@AMAZON online
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Thursday 2 April 2020

99c Book Sale + 3 Crime Series To Self-Isolate With

During these mad and worrying times, it's easy to make light of self-isolation, especially if, like me, you feel as though you've been rehearsing for it your whole life.
Even though I have a full house with kids, a hubby and a frisky Blue Heeler, I've always enjoyed my own company and am very good at sneaking away. (Growing up in a large family and then six years in boarding school taught me a few tricks!)
If I'm not hiding out in my sunroom/office to write my latest mystery (Agatha Christie Book Club 4—more on that next newsletter*) I'm usually perched in the sun, on the sofa or under the covers, reading a good book.
And while I've been enjoying the zany way people have been reaching out to each other—from hilarious online memes to singing together on balconies—I must say there is still no better distraction than a book.
But not just any book. It has to be thick with plot, rich with characters and keep the pace and your heart beat galloping.
With that in mind, I've selected three crime series I think tick all the boxes, all by authors other than me. If these don't help you block out the world for a little while, you could always work your way through my seven Ghostwriter Mysteries. The latest, Without a Word, is now on sale online for just 99c. But only for three days so don't dillydally!
And happy (safe!) reading everybody.
xo Christina
*NB: Yes, I have immersed my Agatha Christie Book Club in another mystery, which is why I've gone to ground. I'll try to reach out every month or so but please be patient with me. :-)


I love everything British author Ann Cleeves writes, but my favourite is her series starring the best character this side of Hercule Poirot—Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope.
A seemingly innocuous middleaged copper, Vera has a hilarious ability to sting her opponents with just one look, and you underestimate Vera at your own peril. 
Portrayed brilliantly by the beloved Brenda Blethyn in the BBC TV version, I think the books are even better. Start with her first, The Crow Trap and work your way through all seven.

What's not to love about kick-ass Kinsey Millhone? She lives in somebody's renovated garage, barely has a social life and, as far as I can tell, only three items of clothing, but when you need someone to do a little snooping, this no-nonsense California PI is your go-to gal.
Starting with A is For Alibi—where else?—you'll have an almost complete alphabet of murders to work with. Sadly Ms Grafton never got to pen the final Z, may she rest in peace, which leaves our imaginations wide open...

If you thought I'd leave the Queen of Crime off the list, you're not the most intuitive detective. But don't worry, after a few rounds with Hercule Poirot, you'll get the hang of it, and learn a few French words while you're at it. Miss Marple is just as beguiling.
Once again, start with Christie's first attempt—The Mysterious Affair at Styles—or just select from the 82 detective novels she ended up writing. (Yep, you read that right!)
Okay, that's it from me. I do hope you enjoy my suggestions and stay tuned for updates on my next cozy mystery. If you want to share some riveting book ideas of your own, don't hesitate to get in touch by reply email or leave a comment online. 
xo CA