BY: MAGGI ANDERSEN
She wants the truth, but it may cost her more than she thinks…
An ex-patriot-American living in England, magazine reporter Casey Rowan wakes to find one best friend murdered and another seriously injured. Casey is determined to find the killer, despite running afoul of the detective in charge of the case—a blue-eyed Scot named Rod Carlisle, who considers her a prime suspect. As Casey gets closer to the truth, losing her heart to the sexy cop isn’t the only thing she risks. Now her life is danger, too.
He wants her, but he may have to choose between love and duty…
Rod has no patience with civilians who interfere in police matters, even hot little numbers like Casey. Though he tries to keep things professional, Casey’s beauty and spunk are hard to resist. He warns her that what she’s doing is dangerous, but he only succeeds in alienating her. She refuses to listen and goes off on her own with disastrous results. Now Rod’s in a race to find the killer before the woman he loves becomes the next victim.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: Murder in Devon by Maggi Andersen is more than a standard murder mystery. Sure, there is all the suspense you’d expect when Casey Rowan, an American ex-patriot and reporter wakes in the country home of old college friends to find one murdered and the other barely alive. What’s more, Casey finds herself “a person of interest”—in more ways than one—of Detective Inspector Rod Carlisle, a man from whom any red-blooded woman would be more than happy to raise their arms and receive a personal pat down. Determined to find her friend’s killer, Casey ignores warnings from the police and embarks on a mission that drags her into the shadowy and secret world of Nazi art theft, modern-day fascist politics and interviewing possible suspects including wife-beaters and criminals seeking revenge beyond the jail’s walls—all of this at no small threat to her safety. Of course, tracking her killer isn’t the only danger lurking for Casey. There is also the threat that once she allows a certain detective to breach her emotional defense’s, he won’t stop until he’s cuffed her to him good and proper. Yep, I enjoyed observing as Casey and Rod fought and scratched against each other, moved closer, then scratched again.
Andersen has crafted a sharp, twisting plot. Murder in Devon does not hand over its secrets easily, but drags you along and keeps you riveted until the last page. Her characters are real, filled with humor and pathos and you want so much for Casey to find the killer but also for her to achieve a sense of peace at the tragic loss of her friend. Maggie Anderson has a new fan and I can’t wait to read another of her novels.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Murder in Devon by Maggi Andersen is a murder mystery as chilling as the wintry English countryside it is set in. When American ex-patriot, Casey Rowan wakes to find her best friend murdered and his wife barely clinging to life, she knows her life will never be the same. But she doesn’t know that soon her own life will be in danger. The sexy hunk of a detective, Rod Carlisle tries to warn her—once he stops thinking of her as his prime suspect—but Casey isn’t big on listening. She wants to know who murdered one friend and seriously wounded another while Casey slept upstairs. When the police don’t move fast enough to suit her, she decides to take matters into her own hands. A reporter/editor working for a woman’s magazine in England, Casey is determined to find the killer, and her investigation leads her into the world of modern-day Neo-Nazis and the black market sale of art stolen by their predecessors during Hitler’s Third Reich. But killers and kidnappers aren’t the only thing Casey has to be careful of. Her growing attraction to Rod threatens to destroy the carefully constructed walls she has built around her heart.
Murder in Devon is a fast-paced, riveting tale of greed, politics, murder, and two people trying to find room for love while remaining on opposite sides of a police investigation. He has to operate within the law, and she is willing to break the law to get to the truth. This suspense-filled page-turner deprived me of sleep, supper, and my usual email-and-chat fix in the evenings. I simply couldn’t put it down. You’ll want to visit this one over and over again.
January 2001, Devon, England:
Why did the house feel so cold? Casey leaned her elbows back onto the narrow bed as the memory of the past few weeks ran through her mind, tightening her stomach. She’d hoped to escape the trauma of a broken relationship by returning to England, but the break-up seemed to have taken a piece of her she wasn’t sure she’d get back.
The roughly plastered walls had been painted crisp white since her last visit, and the acrid smell of turpentine hung in the air. Glad of a distraction, she tucked her hands under her head and studied the changes in the room. The Tudor ceiling-beams had been newly stained, and curtains patterned with birds and flowers covered the lead-light windows. She smiled at the thought of Don perched on a ladder with a paintbrush and pulled the duvet up around her shoulders. It was almost nine. The others would be downstairs preparing breakfast. Don loved to cook her and Tessa the great English breakfast. Bacon, sausage and eggs, his cure-all for a heavy night.
Knowing she had to get up, she lifted her head. It began to throb from the toxic mix of jet-lag and red wine. She rose and quickly donned her gown and some oversize sheepskin slippers—an impulse buy at Miami airport. Shuffling over the slippery timber floors, she pulled back the curtains.
The six acres of private woodland Don and Tessa prized so highly stretched out before her eyes. The wind had died down in the night, leaving the lawn bristled with white frost and the pond frozen over. Behind the stone wall, the silent, dripping woods began like the edges of a ragged blanket covering the hills. She shivered at the sight. English countryside in the winter failed to charm her. It seemed lonely and dark. Some miles beyond the woods lay the Devon coastline and the cold, oily waters of the English Channel.
She opened the door and walked out onto the landing, realizing someone must have closed her door during the night. The house was deathly quiet. She descended the sixteenth-century staircase, each step creaking louder than the last. She halted on the bottom step, which cracked like a pistol shot into the silence. Disconcerted by the echo it left and the lack of response, she felt her skin prickle at a thumping noise from the kitchen.
“What’s the matter, Soc?”
The despondent tabby cat stood on the kitchen table, rocking it against the uneven stone-flagged floor. He arched his back, and she stroked him. He replied with a deep, throaty meow.
“Where do they keep your food?”
She searched the cupboards and found a tin. Blanching at the fishy smell, she filled his bowl and replenished the water in his other dish.
With a purr, Soc leapt to the floor and ate. She plugged in the electric kettle, wondering if she should take some coffee up to Don and Tessa. It was late for them.
Reaching for the kettle, she hesitated, aware of the range of strange noises thatched cottages could make.
Caffeine would help, she decided and poured a cup, carrying it into the hall. She paused at the hall table to study a photograph in a gold frame—herself and Tessa in their caps and gowns. Like bookends standing on each side of Don, drinking champagne in the crowded Quad at Oxford. In the misty air, her rebellious brown curls tipped her mortarboard to a drunken angle, creating an untidy counterbalance to petite Tessa, her red hair a neat plait over her shoulder.
As she replaced the photograph, a deathly sweet, unpleasant smell assaulted her senses. She moved towards the sitting room doorway and faltered.
The doors to the terrace stood open, and the leaves had blown in and nestled at the foot of Don’s chair. He sat just where she’d left him the night before.
The cup and saucer slipped from her fingers and crashed to the floor, spilling coffee over the rug. She stumbled over them.
“Don?” His eyes remained open. A stream of blood ran from the corner of his mouth and mixed with the hairs of his neatly clipped beard. The front of his shirt, saturated in blood, pooled into his lap.
She placed her hands on his shoulders to shake him awake. “Don?” The moment she touched him, her legs buckled, and she fell into a crouch at his feet. His glasses lay beside her on the floor. Her bloodied hand hovered over them. Don’t touch them.
A labored but bubbled breath floated through the room. Tessa.
Casey jumped to her feet and scrambled to the other side of the room. Brownish blood spots splashed across the green linen sofa. Tessa lay behind it on her stomach, the back of her ivory nightgown stained bright red, fanning out to a reddish-pink.
“Tessa, Tessa?” Casey touched her gently, but she didn’t stir. She looked just like a waxy porcelain doll some child had thrown down in a corner, limbs akimbo.
She grabbed the phone from the table near the door and dialed.
“What service do you require?”
“Ambulance. Someone’s been hurt. I think she’s dying.”
“What’s the address?”
Her mind went blank. What was the damned street number? She took a huge breath to steady herself, and the number emerged. She leaned back against the wall. Through the open door, she heard rustling in the trees across the lawn. Her heart hammered, and she ran to slam the terrace doors shut. As her clumsy, trembling fingers shoved the bolt home, she saw it. The deer stood stock still, watching her. Suddenly spooked, it bounded away into the woods. She scoured the bare, wintry branches for further signs of life, afraid of what she might find. Could those ghostly trunks shield a murderer? Or was he still somewhere in the house?
“Are you with me, Ms. Rowan?” The words pulled Casey’s attention back into the room. She took a sip of cold, sweet tea from the mug. Someone’s hand reached for her cup, and she moved her gaze up to a pair of concerned blue eyes.
“Ms. Casey Rowan? I’m Detective Chief Inspector Carlisle, of the Devon and Cornwall Police.” He squatted beside her. “I realize you’re in shock. Is there someone I can call?”
She bit her lip hard, needing to feel something. She wanted to scream and cry, but a cold vacuum seeped through her insides, and a sharp pain at the back of her throat sealed the scream inside. She’d stayed by Tessa’s side until they’d taken her away. Don was gone too, packed into an airless body bag, zipped up tight. “I have to go with Tessa,” she begged him. “Will you take me to the hospital, Inspector…”
“Carlisle, Ms. Rowan. There’s no point in going to the hospital right now. And you can’t stay here. Is there somewhere we can take you?”
“I have to know if Tessa is going to be alright.”
“The hospital will ring you.” He looked down at her left hand, where she clutched her mobile so tightly her knuckles were bloodless.
“Is there somewhere you’d like to go, Ms. Rowan?”
Casey shook her head. The tears flowed and eased the pain in her throat a little. She sniffed and wiped them away with the sleeve of her dressing gown. “Someone has to take care of Soc.” She struggled to gain a hold on herself, not recognizing the strange, high-pitched voice.
“Who’s Soc?” A policewoman came to stand beside the man.
“Socrates is Don’s cat.”
“I see.” The policeman stood and spoke into the policewoman’s ear. Casey didn’t try to listen, her attention drawn to another policeman securing tape to the sitting room door. A fourth packed away his video camera. Be careful of their things, she wanted to say, pick up the cup I dropped.
The blue-eyed man left the room.
“Come on, love.” The policewoman took Casey’s arm. “Now, don’t you go worrying about the puss. We’ll find someone to take care of him. First, we’ll go up and get dressed. Detective Chief Inspector Carlisle has found somewhere for you to stay.”
Casey opened her mouth to protest. “Right near the hospital.”
She shivered and wondered if she’d ever feel warm again.
Romancing the Book:
Thursday, May 17, 2012: Laci of Romancing the Book calls Murder in Devon a good read and gives it a Lovely Rose.
She says: Murder in Devon by Maggi Andersen was a very enjoyable book. It was the very first mostly suspense novel I’ve ever read, so this review is coming from a complete romantic suspense newbie. While there were many things I enjoyed about this book, the main thing that I disliked was the fact that you must have some knowledge of life in England. If you don’t know the different rankings and abbreviations of the police force, then you’ll spend much of the first few chapters running back to the computer to Google the meanings, which is what I had to do. Other than that, though, I really liked reading it…For those who aren’t a romance fan, it’s fairly light in that department, focusing more on the case and the details of the investigation. I prefer a bit more romance in my books. It doesn’t have to be full on smut, but the falling in love emotions. A good read overall if you’re in the mood for a good suspense novel full of intrigue that doesn’t give one hint at who the real culprit is until the very end. Maggi should be proud of Murder in Devon. She did a great job. READ FULL REVIEW
Socrates Book Reviews:
Monday, May 14, 2012: Yvonne of Socrates Book Reviews says Murder in Devon has it all.
She says: “This is a fast-paced mystery that reminds me quite a bit of an Agatha Christie mystery. The suspects are presented in a clear, concise manner giving readers a chance to figure out whodunit themselves. Casey is a very strong-willed heroine who I liked from the beginning. It took me a little longer to warm up to Rod, but I did like him.
This book has it all – a good mystery, great characters, a beautiful setting and a nice romance all mixed into one enjoyable read.” READ FULL REVIEW
Buried Under Books:
Wednesday, May 2, 2012: Lelia of Buried Under Books calls Murder in Devon solid.
She says: “On the surface, Murder in Devon is not much different from many other English mysteries and that’s not a bad thing. There’s a certain comfort to be found in familiar locales and with British police and homes and personalities. A developing romance is not unwelcome and our leading lady is intelligent and perfectly capable of ferreting out some answers although she does jump into the fray a little precipitously perhaps because she herself starts out as a prime suspect. Having said that, I must confess that there’s one thing about Casey that I particularly liked.
Casey stands up for herself.
So often, the heroine defies the police behind their backs and puts herself in harm’s way without thinking through the possible consequences. Casey, though, has a different modus operandi—she tells the detective what she intends to do, listens to him tell her why she shouldn’t do it, and then tells him she’s going to do it anyway. No sneaking around avoiding Rod and, while he may be unhappy about it, Rod knows the score and deals with it accordingly. How refreshing is that?
The mystery here is solid with plenty of possible motives and killers and I, for one, did not figure it out too early. I had my suspicions but that’s all they were until near the end and the unearthing of powerful secrets added a great deal to the story.” READ FULL REVIEW