Cosy Crime with Myra Duffy
A very warm welcome to Scottish ‘cosy crime’ author, Myra Duffy, who has kindly agreed to share the background and setting to her most enjoyable Isle of Bute series of mysteries. I love Myra’s island setting and the clever storylines that keep me puzzling until the end.
Myra’s new book, Dead Drop at the Bute Circus, has just been released in e-book and print and is available on Amazon. The paperback is also available from the Print Point at Rothesay on Bute. Here’s the blurb to whet your curiosity.
After years of moving around the country, Alison Cameron and her husband Simon decide to spend summer on the Isle of Bute while they decide on a permanent home.
Kanzi’s Circus arrives on the island and a chance encounter with the Ringmaster, Brannan Edevane, gives Alison the opportunity to step in when there is a sudden staff shortage.
But a suspicious death and disquiet among the performers create difficulties which jeopardize the future of the circus and Alison finds herself drawn into a web of mystery and intrigue.
Meanwhile a series of domestic crises threaten Alison’s hopes of enjoying a peaceful summer on the island.
Many thanks for visiting my blog with this interesting post, Myra.
My cosy crime series – the Isle of Bute mysteries – happened almost by accident. My first published book was When Old Ghosts Meet, set in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and at the end of the novel the main character, Alison Cameron, goes on holiday to the Isle of Bute to recover from recent events.
Then one day, walking along the sands at Ettrick Bay on the island, I began to wonder what would happen if there was a large Victorian mansion in the hills above the bay. As Bute was a favourite summer destination for rich Victorians from Glasgow, many of whom had large houses on the island, the premise intrigued me. And so the idea of The House at Ettrick Bay was born and it seemed natural that Alison would be the heroine of the story.
This initial cosy crime novel was well received and by that time the ideas for a series were coming thick and fast! To date there are ten full length novels, including the latest – Dead Drop at the Bute Circus.
Why cosy crime? Firstly, Alison is an amateur sleuth who becomes involved in crimes on the island by accident, though I suspect her nosiness has something to do with the difficulties she encounters. One reviewer described her as “someone you could have a cup of tea with” and her domestic life is an important part of the stories, especially her long-suffering husband, Simon.
Most of the crimes on which the stories are built take place off-stage and the essence of the plot focusses on the mystery – who is the killer and why? Justice always prevails and I hope readers will feel satisfied with the ending. I try to make sure it’s difficult to guess who the killer is – I like to put in lots of clues, but also red herrings. And I make sure the villains of the story are not islanders. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone! The population of Bute is only around six thousand, though that number is swelled by summer visitors.
There are several benefits for a writer in setting novels in a small place, such as an island. Bute is a place I know well and I spend a lot of time there. I use real locations in my books as well as imaginary ones and for many readers this is one of the attractions of the series. I run a bus tour during the Annual Crime Writers’ Festival – Bute Noir – taking people around the locations in the novels and this always proves popular.
But there is another strand to my stories. The history and the geography of the island feature strongly and are often central to the plot. In Endgame at Port Bannatyne, for example, a film is being made about James Hamilton who owned Kames Castle in the 19th Century and Alison is recruited as an assistant scriptwriter. This provides an opportunity to incorporate some of the fascinating anecdotes about his life into the story.
I do write other genres but I’ve become rather fond of Alison, though she can be annoying at times!
About Myra Duffy
As a child, Myra lived opposite the local library, a perfect location for someone who loved to read. Soon she was inspired to write her own novels. One still survives, though at 900 words might prove too short for today’s market. Aged thirteen she won a writing competition organised by a national newspaper. The prize was a puppy – something that wouldn’t be allowed nowadays!
After completing an Honours degree at the University of Glasgow, she spent some time teaching in Madrid and in London.
Myra later returned to Scotland and a career in educational management before becoming Director of an Educational charity.
During this time, she continued to write and be published, mostly in non-fiction, including a series of ten management training books. But success with short stories encouraged her to return to her first love – fiction. The House at Ettrick Bay is the first in her cosy crime series of ten novels and four novellas set on the Isle of Bute, just off the west coast of Scotland.
Myra divides her time between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute where her novels are set. She has family connections to the island stretching back several generations.