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About Karen Charlton
Karen Charlton is the international best-selling author of The Detective Lavender Mysteries which are set in Regency London and feature Bow Street’s Principal Officer, Stephen Lavender and his humorous side-kick, Constable Ned Woods.
Her brand new series, The York Ladies' Detective Agency Mysteries features two enterprising young women, Jemma and Bobbie, who launch a private inquiry agency in York during WW2.
In addition to this, she has written a stand-alone historical novel, 'Catching the Eagle', based on the true story of her notorious criminal ancestor and a non-fiction genealogical book, Seeking Our Eagle that explains how she and her late husband tracked down the jail-bird in their family tree.
A former English teacher, with two grown-up children and a small grandson, Karen lives in a Yorkshire fishing village with two cats and writes full-time.
A stalwart of the village pub quiz team, Karen joined them when they competed in the BBC’s famous Quiz Show, ‘Eggheads’ – a TV programme she’d never watched before. Much to her surprise, they won.
Karen loves historical fiction and TV costume drama and has always enjoyed a good mystery.
She also loves to hear from readers and you can easily contact her via her website: www.karencharlton.com
For the latest news about her novels, public appearances and some special offers sign up for her Occasional Newsletter.
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Titles By Karen Charlton
But nothing is as it seems at the mysterious Willow Marsh Manor. They soon realise they’ve come across this feuding family before – in the direst of circumstances. With no dead body and no sign of the woman who summoned them, Woods fears someone has planned a murderous revenge.
Meanwhile, Lavender dreads the disclosure of his greatest secret. A secret that, if revealed, will destroy both his career – and his relationship with Woods. Haunted by ghosts from the past, Lavender and Woods must tread a careful path through this watery and dangerous terrain in order to solve one of the most perplexing mysteries of their career.
Northamptonshire, 1810: As a new canal network snakes across the landscape, a vicious mob stakes its claim to the county. Every local constable is out on the hunt for the ruthless Panther Gang. When an elderly man is robbed and murdered in sleepy Middleton, the beleaguered magistrates send for help from London’s Bow Street Police Office.
Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Ned Woods soon discover there’s more to William Sculthorpe’s demise than meets the eye. Mystery surrounds the old man and his family, and the stench of revenge hangs heavy in the air. Are the Panther Gang really responsible or is something more sinister afoot? As Lavender delves further into long-hidden secrets, Woods has demons of his own to contend with: ghosts from his past that stalk him through the investigation.
Uncovering decades of simmering hatred and deceit, Lavender and Woods must use all their wit and cunning to solve this evil crime.
‘An unsuitable job for a woman…’
When her husband goes ‘missing in action’, Jemma James returns to the city of her birth to set up a private detective agency with her best friend, Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Baker, with whom she shares a passionate love of Golden Age crime fiction.
These two enterprising young women soon find themselves embroiled in a series of mysterious cases, shadowing blackmailers and bigamists, and investigating the perplexing history of a wealthy young woman who seems determined to wipe out her past. And it’s not long before they stumble across an unsolved murder.
But the dead don’t stay dead for long in historic York.
As the ‘phoney war’ draws to a close, and the sky above the soaring twin towers of the twelfth century Minster darkens with menace, Jemma learns that even she is not above suspicion in wartime Britain.
As the battle for supremacy in Europe rages in France, York’s beleaguered police are baffled by a series of crimes at the city’s museums.
A bungled break-in at the prestigious Yorkshire Museum is quickly followed by the murder of Lance Richards, a sub-curator at the neighbouring Castle Museum, who is bludgeoned to death.
The main suspect for the murder is the dead man’s co-worker, Anthony Gill, a quiet and unprepossessing clerk. But he doesn’t have an alibi and is stubbornly uncooperative with the police. His desperate lawyer employs Jemma and Bobbie, from Smoke & Cracked Mirrors, The York Ladies Detective Agency, to investigate the crime on Gill’s behalf and prove his innocence.
Meanwhile, the women join forces with King’s Detective Agency to find evidence for a high-profile divorce case between wealthy aristocrat, Baron Stokesley, and Jodie, his Hollywood starlet wife.
In a twisting series of events, which take the women from cramped hotel bathrooms to danger in the wine cellars of historic country houses, Jemma starts to suspect that their cases are entwined.
Vengeful passions and a dark crime lie beneath the civilised, genteel, and slightly dusty veneer of those elders who preserve our history.
But which of the thousands of antiquities owned by the museum is the murder weapon?
And if Anthony Gill didn’t murder Lance Richards, who did – and why?
London, 1812: Treacherous gangs roam the capital, and not even the Palace of Westminster is safe. When Detective Stephen Lavender is called in to investigate a highway robbery and a cold-blooded murder, both the cases take a dangerous and disturbing personal twist.
And when Lavender’s trusted deputy, Constable Ned Woods, finds a mysterious severed foot washed up on Greenwich Beach, they soon realise that these ancient bones are more sinister than they first appeared.
With Bow Street Police Office undermanned and in disarray, it will take all of Lavender and Woods’s wit and skill—and some help from Lavender’s spirited wife, Magdalena—to unmask the fiend behind the mayhem, restore peace and justice to the beleaguered city and solve the tragic mystery of the severed foot.
But will they do so in time to foil a plot that threatens to plunge the country into chaos?
On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances.
Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realise that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.
With the Napoleonic War looming dangerously across the Channel, this is a time of suspicion and treachery. Following the clues from the seedy back streets of Covent Garden up through the echelons of society, Lavender and Woods begin to fear that the case is much bigger than they’d dared imagine—and worse, that they are at risk of becoming mere players in a master criminal’s shadowy drama.
It will take all of Lavender’s skill and wit, and help from the beautiful Magdalena, to bring the mystery of the Sans Pareil Theatre to a dramatic conclusion in the final act.
London, 1812. At a fashionable address in leafy Mayfair, a far cry from Detective Stephen Lavender’s usual haunts, a man is found dead in his room. He has been brutally stabbed, but the door is locked from the inside and the weapon is missing.
The deceased is David MacAdam, an Essex businessman with expensive tastes. As Lavender and Constable Ned Woods travel between London and Chelmsford seeking to understand MacAdam’s final hours and unearth the grisly truth, they uncover a tangled web of deceit behind his stylish facade. The unusual circumstances of MacAdam’s death are nothing compared to the shady nature of his life and it seems the house on Park Lane is at the heart of a dark conspiracy.
But when a second body turns up, everything they think they’ve learned is thrown into doubt. Can Lavender and Woods find out who’s behind these shocking murders before more lives are ruined?
Northumberland, 1809: A beautiful young heiress disappears from her locked bedchamber at Linn Hagh.
The local constables are baffled and the townsfolk cry ‘witchcraft’.
The heiress’s uncle summons help from Detective Lavender and his assistant, Constable Woods, who face one of their most challenging cases: The servants and local gypsies aren’t talking; Helen’s siblings are uncooperative; and the sullen local farmers are about to take the law into their own hands.
Lavender and Woods find themselves trapped in the middle of a simmering feud as they uncover a world of family secrets, intrigue and deception in their search for the missing heiress.
Taut, wry and delightful, The Heiress of Linn Hagh is a rollicking tale featuring Lavender and Woods—a double act worthy of Holmes and Watson.
Revised edition: This edition of The Heiress of Linn Hagh includes editorial revisions.
February 1814: London is gripped in the thrall of the worst winter in living memory. When the River Thames freezes over, thousands of people descend onto the ice to enjoy the Frost Fair, an exciting, frozen extravaganza.
But Detective Stephen Lavender and his loyal constable, Ned Woods, are distracted from this carnival of colour and noise by the perplexing case of a missing man. Their investigation takes on a sinister and more dangerous twist when a body is found on the rapidly thawing ice beneath the arches of Blackfriars Bridge.
Set against the thrilling backdrop of London’s last Frost Fair – which is also one of history’s darkest moments – this bone-chilling short story is a superb introduction to the Detective Lavender Mysteries and a bonus read for the half a million readers who already enjoy this series.
But why should he feel so uneasy, so reluctant to accept this case? Can he trust the wealthy, powerful politician who's summoned him?
In this short story, Lavender and his loyal assistant, Constable Woods, plunge into the seedy backstreets of Regency London and steer a tricky path through the opulent drawing rooms of aristocratic suspects in pursuit of the missing diamonds.
Welcome to the world of Stephen Lavender, a Principal Officer with the Bow Street Runners, whose further adventures can be followed in 'The Heiress of Linn Hagh.'
London 1803: Following the discovery of a body down a well, newly-promoted Principal Officer, Stephen Lavender, is summoned to Hampstead by Constable Ned Woods to help solve the gruesome murder of a young barmaid.
Confronted with class prejudice and the indifference of the authorities, the keen, young detective embarks on a frantic race against time to gather evidence to convict the killers. But when help is offered from an unlikely source, Lavender must make a decision between justice or truth that carries serious consequences for both his career and his friendship with Ned.
'The Death of Irish Nell' is a prequel to the full-length novel, ‘The Willow Marsh Murder’ (publication: February 1st, 2020). Both of them can be read as standalone works of fiction.
As the occupants of historic York nervously adjust to the onset war, two best friends, Jemma and Bobbie, snatch a few pleasant hours together and reminisce about their love of Golden Age crime fiction and their childhood dream to launch their own detective agency.
But when a passing motorist claims he witnessed a murder in a furniture shop window, the police are baffled. There’s no body, no murderer and not a drop of splattered blood in sight.
It falls to the two women to explain the inexplicable and solve the mystery of Mad Alice Lane.
Welcome to the world of The York Ladies’ Detective Agency.
This introductory short story is the prequel to the first novel in the series, Smoke and Cracked Mirrors (published: 15th April, 2022).
Both can be read as standalone works of fiction and are ideal for fans of Richard Osman, Alexander McCall Smith, Agatha Christie and the TV series, ‘Foyle’s War’.