Occupation: The Wise Enquiries Agency

At last, here I am back in my beloved home in Ireland – our family estate on the banks of Lough Macnean. The Smythes have been the Viscounts Ballinclare for several centuries now, and my lovely Daddy is the current holder of the title. One day my brother will follow in his footsteps, but not for a good long time, I hope.

Would you listen to me! Back at the family seat for no more than a few hours and I can feel the Irish accent galloping through everything I say, and think, as sure as I can hear the hooves of my dear old Ciara stamping in the stable, keen to get me onto her back to take off across our fields.

This holiday’s been a long time coming, and I just know it’s going to be grand. Everything I could have hoped for. Alexander’s come with me, so we can both have a break from London, and even Wales. Not that I’m sorry I kept my flat in London, nor do I dislike the little apartment in the eaves of the converted barn in Wales where we WISE women run our business, but it’ll sure be good to get away from work for a while. Not that I mind that, either; it’s a heck of a lot better than the drudgery of working in the City of London – yes, being a private investigator suits me down to the ground, that’s for sure.

But having a break is important. I didn’t get much of one during the past twelve months; I volunteered to keep things running while my colleagues Mavis MacDonald, Annie Parker and Carol Hill decamped from London to Wales at the beginning of the year, so they all had a bit of a break, but not me.

I can hear Alexander creaking across the Georgian floorboards above my head. He’s “exploring the bedrooms” he said. That shouldn’t take him long. . .this place is hardly on the scale of Chellingworth Hall in Powys; they have 268 rooms there, whereas we only have about 40, and some of them are in pretty poor shape. The wind whips through the old place something terrible at times. But it’s August, so at least the wind should be a bit gentler than usual.

Our housekeeper and her husband, who does the work on the estate – Brid and Callum – seemed to be a bit put out that I didn’t give them much notice that Alexander and I would be coming to stay for a while; I should have planned better, so I suppose they might be a bit miffed that they didn’t have longer to prepare for our arrival. But I cannot shake the feeling that something’s a bit off with both of them, and I think it’s more than being put out about us being here; Brid’s been stomping about the place huffing and puffing, and Callum’s downright morose. They can’t seem to wait to get me and Alexander out and about to “have a look around the fences”. All a bit odd, if you ask me. Though what could be up, I cannot imagine. Maybe I’ll mention it after dinner tonight, but – for now at least – I’m looking forward to a good strong pot of tea and some of Brid’s famous cake. . .it’s not quite as good as some of the treats we get at Chellingworth Hall, but it’s pretty substantial.

I expect they’ll be nibbling their fair share of cakes and sandwiches back in Wales while I’m away – they have the local croquet tournament taking place while Alexander and I are here. I dare say they’ll have a quiet time of it, as will I. Though I will try to work out why Brid and Callum seem to be so much on edge.

You can find out how the croquet tournament changes – and even costs – lives in the Welsh village of Anwen-by-Wye, and how Christine and Alexander end up in grave danger during their visit to Ireland in The Case Of The Unsuitable Suitor, the fourth book in the “WISE Enquiries Agency” mystery series.

The Women of the WISE Enquiries Agency are back.

When the village’s prodigal son, Huw Hughes, returns and sets his cap at Annie Parker, village publican Tudor begs Annie’s colleagues at the WISE Enquiries Agency to unearth the truth behind Huw having been widowed three times.

With Christine enjoying a break at her family’s Irish estate – where she and the brooding Alexander face a surprisingly dangerous case of theft – Mavis and Carol have to work with dowager duchess Althea Twyst to ensure their unsuspecting friend Annie’s safety, and possibly the lives of more villagers.

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About the author
Cathy Ace’s criminal psychologist, overindulgent-foodie sleuth, Cait Morgan, has stumbled upon Corpses with a Silver Tongue, Golden Nose, an Emerald Thumb, Platinum Hair, Sapphire Eyes, a Diamond Hand, a Garnet Face and Ruby Lips during her globetrotting. Ace’s WISE Enquiries Agency series features four softly-boiled PIs (one is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish, one English) who solve quintessentially British cases from their stately home-based office in rural Wales. Ace won the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery, was shortlisted again in 2017 when she was also a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story. Visit Cathy at cathyace.com, on Facebook or on Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

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