Monday Mysteries – with Debbie Young and Sophie Sayers

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

A Year of Mysteries in the Cotswolds – with Sophie Sayers

As Murder Lost and Found, the seventh of Debbie Young’s Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, is launched in paperback and ebook, Sophie reflects on reaching the end of her first year in her new home in the Cotswold village of Wendlebury Barrow…

You’d think inheriting a cottage in the country is the sort of thing that will never happen to you, but I reckon it’s no less uncommon than winning the lottery – and someone has to be the statistic. In my case, it was my dear old Great Auntie May who bought me my lottery ticket, so to speak.

Even so, I could hardly believe it when my parents told me she had left me her beautiful little home, set on the glorious Cotswold Way that winds up and down the gently hilly terrain between Cheltenham and Bath.

Of course, I’d rather she had remained alive and in residence. I always enjoyed spending summer holidays with her as a child. But her generous legacy came at a very convenient time for me. I’d fallen into the bad habit of letting Damian, my boyfriend since university, dictate my life. Inheriting May’s cottage gave me the courage and the opportunity to break free from him, although Damian did his best to put me off moving to Wendlebury. His excuses ranged from “Nothing ever happens in sleepy English villages” to “you’ll never get a job” and “you’ll be bored” to “you’ll be murdered in your bed.” I think he was getting Midsomer Murders mixed up with reality tv.  

Even so, I was a little nervous at moving alone into May’s cottage, and it took me a while to trust my new neighbours, but soon I had thrown myself into village life. You hear about village communities that are hostile to incomers, where you have to be resident for thirty years before they’ll give you the time of day, but Wendlebury Barrow is not a bit like that. Everyone was kind and welcoming, and soon I’d landed a lovely job running the tearoom in the local bookshop.

I’ve made such good friends of all ages, from little Jemima, one of the local children to whom I give reading lessons in the bookshop after school, to old Joshua, my next-door-neighbour, who also turned out to be May’s former childhood sweetheart. Not to mention my boss at the bookshop, the gorgeous and charming Hector Munro.  

There have been plenty of surprises and not a little danger along the way. Not long after I’d arrived, an amateur actress from the local drama group was found dead on a carnival float at the village show, and no-one but me believed it was murder until I nearly got killed myself in trying to solve the mystery. 

Universal link to download free ebook
of Best Murder in Show

Then along came the strange new vicar, the Reverend Neep, who threatened to divide the village when he banned Halloween and staged a grisly Guy Fawkes Night party with startling consequences. There were fireworks a-plenty that night, and not all in a good way!

Then at Christmas came the disastrous production of the nativity play that I’d written as a joint production for the village school and the Wendlebury Players. Although it went wildly off-script, with a stranger accusing the whole congregation of murder, I was relieved that it all ended happily. Well, it was Christmas, after all.

New Year, new revelations: Hector had an identical twin brother! Horace was so different in personality, though exactly alike to look at. He wasn’t the only long-lost sibling that turned up to cause trouble in Wendlebury as I tried to revive the flagging fortunes of The Bluebird in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.  

By this time I was beginning to learn that despite the steady pace of village life, punctuated by its wonderful traditions and customs, you never really know what’ll happen next. Who could have foreseen that in the run-up to Easter, I’d find the Easter Bunny left for dead in an open grave? The best outcome of that little adventure was my acquisition of a dear little black kitten. I do like to look on the bright side. 

By the spring, I was ready for a change of scene, and I jumped at the chance to travel to a tiny Greek island to take part in a writers’ retreat. It all went haywire from the moment I got on the plane, and I soon found myself accused of the murder of the guest speaker at the retreat, a leading romantic novelist. Fortunately village life had made me more resilient, and when freak weather kept the Greek police away, I determined to solve the mystery myself. By the end of the week, we’d all learned more about ourselves – and I realised how much I loved and missed Hector.  

You can imagine my horror to discover not long after my return that in my absence Hector had appointed a beautiful young intern to work in the shop with us. I don’t know which I found more challenging: controlling my envy and suspicion of Anastasia or solving the mystery of the dead body I found in the village school’s lost property cupboard at the start of the summer holidays.

All in all, my first year in Wendlebury Barrow proved Damian completely wrong about life in an English village. I’ve never been busier or happier. And thanks to the writers’ retreat in Greece, I even found the confidence to start recording my adventures in a series of seven books, running the course of the village year from one summer to the next. 

As we begin to prepare for another village show, I have my fingers firmly crossed that this year we’ll all survive that important event in the local calendar. Who knows what the next year might bring? But one thing’s for sure: I’ve persuaded Hector to come with me to visit my parents in Inverness and to explore the Highlands and Islands. He’s taking a fascinating gift to my mother, an old book with an intriguing inscription in Gaelic, which she’ll be able to translate for us. I’ve a funny feeling it may be the springboard for a whole new adventure north of the border. I’ll let you know!

Love, Sophie

To find out more about the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, visit Debbie Young’s website at, where you can also download a free Sophie Sayers cosy mystery novelette, The Pride of Peacocks, when you join her Readers’ Club.

You can also connect with Debbie Young on social media:




Debbie Young also writes the Staffroom at St Bride’s novels (school stories for grown-ups!) and the Tales from Wendlebury Barrow, novelettes featuring Sophie Sayers and friends.


Universal link to download free ebook of Best Murder in Show:

Universal amazon link for Best Murder in Show paperback:

Universal ebook buying link for the new book, Murder Lost and Found:

Universal Amazon link for paperback of Murder Lost and Found:

photo: Laura Young

About Debbie

Originally from London, Debbie Young moved to the Cotswolds 30 years ago and now lives in a Victorian cottage with her Scottish husband and their teenage daughter. She writes the old-fashioned way, with fountain-pen and paper, in a small wooden hut at the bottom of her garden. Twice shortlisted for the BookBrunch Selfies Award for the best independently-published adult fiction, she is also founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors, a course tutor for Jericho Writers, a contributor to Mslexia, public speaker and writing competition judge. She is never bored. 

All cover designs by Rachel Lawston of

Line drawings © T E Shepherd of

Would you like two additional stories (for free!)? click here to Discovering Diamonds, for the contribution Debbie made to our series of short stories for Christmas.

Christmas Ginger
It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas.