Monday Mysteries – My Murder…by Helen Hollick

Mysteries, thrillers, crime novels, who-dun-its,
cosy mysteries
 … real mysteries, historical mysteries…
it’s all a mystery to me!

Let me make one thing clear: I haven’t actually murdered anyone – you can take things a little too far when it comes to research for background information. Although I must admit, there are a few people who have sorely tempted me…

I decided to write my first ‘cosy mystery’ for three reasons:

1) I thoroughly enjoyed Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Mysteries (click here for her recent article about her latest in the series). They inspired me to think “Could I write something like this?”

Hector’s House Bookshop
The Sophie Sayers Murder Mysteries

2) I have wanted to write something based on my thirteen years as a library assistant for some while, but didn’t know where to start or where I could place those years.

3) During lockdown, I wanted to do something different

So A Mirror Murder came to mind. It is set in the 1970s, based around South Chingford Library, where I worked. The people are entirely made up, some of the events (apart from the murder) aren’t.
Semi-autobiographical? A little. I stress – a little.
The library anecdotes are the things that happened, the horses involved in the story are also loosely based on real events (no spoilers, I’ll not say more!) All the police and crime elements are pure imagination though. (Sad to say, outside of the Agatha Christie et al shelves, we never had a murder in the library.)
The Chingford locations are, mostly, real, although I’ve changed the street name where the murder took place. (But with Google Maps you could probably work it out.) The library is still there in Hall Lane (see the image below) although it is no longer a library, just offices. I hear that Waltham Forest Council are intending to pull it down and replace it with housing, which is a shame because it  should be a LIBRARY.
I was barely sixteen when I started work there in August 1969, young, naïve, very very shy and very lacking in self-confidence, and I wanted to bring these experiences into my main female character, library assistant Jan Christopher. 
To balance her I gave her a ‘love interest’ in Detective Constable Laurie (Lawrence) Walker. He is capable and confident – although I’ll ensure that he doesn’t always get everything right!
For future stories I intend to alternate locations – book two (A Mystery Of Murder)  is set at Christmas 1971 in Devon, three (A Mistake Of Murder) will be spring 1972, and revolve around my time on the B.D.S – Book Delivery Service – which is where I took books out to people who were housebound.
I had some lovely people on my round, mostly the elderly, but a few disabled ladies and gentlemen. Our driver, Harry, was a congenial chap – we had a laugh – and always stopped for tea and a bun half-way through the round. 
So a lot of memories to recount when I get to writing this episode of Jan’s life, although I haven’t decided who will be the murder victim yet…

The first in a new series of quick-read,
cosy mysteries set in the 1970s.
A Mirror Murde

Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered…

Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?


“A delightful read about an unexpected murder in North East London.” Richard Ashen (South Chingford Community Library)

“Lots of nostalgic, well-researched, detail about life in the 1970s, which readers of a certain age will lap up; plus some wonderful, and occasionally hilarious, ‘behind the counter’ scenes of working in a public library, which any previous or present-day library assistant will recognise!” Reader Review


A new edition with new additional scenes – launching 21st June – e-book available for pre-order (paperback to follow soon!)

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