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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison--Review, Interview, and Giveaway

Murder at Honeychurch Hall: A Mystery
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (May 13, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1250007798
ISBN-13: 978-1250007797

Synopsis of Honeychurch Hall
By Hannah Dennison
Set against the backdrop of Agatha Christie’s beloved Devon, TV celebrity Kat Stanford discovers that her newly widowed mother Iris has recklessly bought a dilapidated carriage house on a country estate known as Honeychurch Hall. Although times have changed at the manor house, a line still exists between those upstairs, and those down. Iris’s arrival is greeted with suspicion—but that’s not all. Iris harbors an even bigger secret that not even her daughter knows: Iris writes under the pseudonym, Krystalle Storm, and is a best-selling author of racy bodice-rippers.
Throw in a feisty, octogenarian countess, a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles, a treasure trove of antiques; as well as the paparazzi, always hungry for celebrity news. Add the occasional haunting from the resident family of ghosts, and there is more than one motive for murder. Yet at its core, the story explores the relationship between a mother and daughter facing new and uncertain beginnings and makes a good case for the notion that those nearest and dearest to us are often the most duplicitous of all.
My Review:
I really enjoyed reading this cozy mystery.  I would love to visit England, and this cozy let me do that because it had such great descriptions of the English countryside.  I enjoyed reading about Kat and her somewhat eccentric mother, Iris, who has a couple secrets that she is hiding.  It seems Kat has a lot of different mysteries to figure out in this page turner.  I was kept thoroughly entertained throughout this book, not only by the mystery but by the many quirky characters that inhabit Honeychurch Hall and the town of Little Dipperton in the Devon countryside.  I hope to visit this charming hamlet again soon, great job Hannah. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.
About The Author
Born in England, Hannah relocated to Los Angeles with her daughter and two cats to pursue a career in screenwriting. Along the road to publication she has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah is the author of the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable UK) and the first, in her new series, “Murder at Honeychurch Hall” (Minotaur). Now living in Portland, Oregon Hannah continues to teach mystery writing at UCLA, has served on numerous judging committees for the Mystery Writers of America and still works part-time for a west coast advertising agency. She is married to an advertising executive and enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing and seriously good chocolate.
 Purchase Links
How long have you been writing?
You could say I started telling stories the moment I learned to talk and chat to my imaginary friends. My mother would say that I was prone to “telling little white lies” but to be honest, I found the truth rather boring and much preferred my embellished versions.   
Professionally, I started out as a newspaper reporter for a weekly newspaper in Devon in the days of the old Remington typewriter. Unfortunately, all I wrote was the obituary column but later on, that experience became the basis for my first series, The Vicky Hill Mysteries. It was only when I moved to Los Angeles in 1993 to become a screenwriter that I got serious about my writing.
Where did you get the idea for Murder at Honeychurch Hall?
I first got the idea after my newly widowed mother suddenly decided to buy a wing of a huge country house on an estate that had been converted into apartments. At age 76 not only was this really impractical, the house in question was miles from anywhere. After over fifty years of old-school marriage (meaning my father ruled the roost), Mum was excited about doing exactly what she wanted for the first time in her life. My mother is now 84 and—thankfully—still in good health and able to drive. She’s still very happy there. I thought her second lease of life—especially how this impacted her relationship with everyone—would make an interesting backdrop. I hasten to add that although Iris Stanford in the book secretly writes romance as Krystalle Storm, my mother does not!
How many books are going to be in this series?
Hopefully … at least four. I have just turned in the second book that will be published in May 2015, and I have been contracted to write two more. I’m excited because one of the characters is a little boy called Harry who is the heir to the Honeychurch title. I’m curious to see how he’ll turn out as the series progresses. Please note that I write as if Harry will tell me how he plans on turning out! I often find my characters take on a life of their own.
Out of all the jobs you’ve had, what was your favorite?
I worked as a flight attendant for a private jet company based at Heathrow. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. I travelled all over the world and met the most fascinating people from African dictators, Formula One racing car drivers and Hollywood celebrities. It eventually took a toll on my private life however because I lived by a pager (no mobile phones back then) and would often have just two hours to get to the airport not even knowing which country I was flying to or for how long.
Who are your favorite authors?
      I have so many! Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, Diana Gabaldon, Kate Carlisle, Carolyn
      Hart, Dick Francis … there are so many wonderful writers out there.
What are your hobbies?
I love hiking in nature, horseback riding and skiing. I enjoy collecting antiques—just like my heroine Kat Stanford who deals in them. I’m passionate about old houses and one day, I fantasize about buying my own dilapidated house and restoring it.
Where is your favorite place to vacation?
      I’m so predictable. It’s a place where it rains more than it does here in Portland, Oregon.
Ever since I was five years old my family have vacationed on the North Cornish coast in a tiny hamlet called Trebarwith Strand. We still go there every year. I’ve often wondered what it is about that place and I think it’s because it never changes. It’s the only thing in my life that has remained constant.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would return to Africa in a heartbeat. I worked for the Africa division of the Coca-Cola Company during my flying days. Africa got under my skin and I long to go back there.
I see you like chocolate, milk or dark?
I’m VERY picky about my chocolate! I prefer Green & Black’s Organic 85% but to be honest, I’ll eat any kind when I’m desperate.
Thank you so much for inviting me today. I’ve loved answering your questions and I’m happy to be able to give away a copy of “Murder at Honeychurch Hall.”
One print copy is going to be given away, just leave a comment about why you want to read this book, and don't forget to leave your email so you can be contacted.  I will pick a winner on Monday, May 19, 2014.  Good Luck!


  1. A most wonderful and intriguing book which interests me greatly. Thanks for this feature. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

    1. Thanks for stopping by - Melina had some great questions!

  2. I am captivated with this interesting post and the book would be memorable and unique. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Thanks Traveler - like most authors, I love being asked questions.

  3. This sounds like a good read. I look forward to it.

  4. Good for your mom, Hannah!! Never write off us oldsters. I think it's super that she choose to but part of an old home. Bet that has helped to keep her fresh and spunky for those years since. In our house, you never tell someone that they can't follow a dream, because that 's just what will be done! How that fits into your book , should be interesting too. Love cozies and old houses. Would love to read and review this book everywhere!!!! Ronnalord ( at) msn ( dot ) com

    1. Thanks Ronna ... I so appreciate your support! And you are right ... Mum says all those stairs (there are 48 in total on 3 floors) keep her active ... although we recently discovered that she goes up and down on all-fours ...

  5. I would love to read this English cozy! It sounds like a great mystery. I love the title and the cover. Thanks for the chance!

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

    1. I LOVE the cover too! The little dog is called Mr. Chips.

  6. The English countryside, an old house, quirky characters, and a murder---all the perfect elements for a good cozy so I must read!. Thanks for the contest.

  7. Lovevengland kat&herbmom sound perfect for me.

  8. Murder at Honeychurch Hall is one of my favorite books of the year so far!

    1. LuAnn ... so glad you enjoyed it! The second one comes out in May of 2015 ...I just have to think of a title!

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    1. Hi Tad ... I love Donna Andrews too! (And she's a really lovely person) Her books are so much fun. Thanks for stopping by!