A ‘New Day’ For the Women of the WISE Enquiries Agency by Cathy Ace

The Case of the Missing Morris DancerAnnie Parker couldn’t sleep. Used to the thrum of traffic carving its way through south London at all hours, she was having a problem settling into her new home in picturesque Anwen-by-Wye, Wales. The sixteenth-century thatched cottage overlooked the heart of the village which, at this hour, was as quiet as the graveyard of St David’s Church, just across the green. Wrestling her pillow into submission in the deafening silence, she wondered if her mother Eustelle, who was in the guest bedroom across the landing, was faring any better.

Eustelle had insisted upon coming from London to help her daughter move in, and Annie had been grateful for her company. Until about three weeks ago. Now she could hardly wait for her to leave. Which made her feel guilty.

Sighing, Annie swung herself out of bed, chastised the bedside table for being a bully when she stubbed her toe, then hobbled to the little window. Street-lamps at each of the four corners of the village green did their best to pierce the darkness, with little effect.

Four lights, four women. Annie and her three colleagues at the WISE Enquiries Agency had decamped to the ducal estate of Chellingworth in the rolling countryside of Powys to benefit from free office-space, peppercorn rents for housing and the chance for a continuing future as investigators; their income just wasn’t up to supporting them all in London any longer.

Annie opened the casement just an inch, and enjoyed the chill of the February air; her fifties were turning out to be more sweaty than she’d imagined possible.

She was the only one who’d needed convincing to make the move. Carol Hill, her friend for many years and now her colleague, had jumped at the chance. Born and raised on a Welsh farm, Carol was happily married, enjoying her thirties and blissfully pregnant. She didn’t miss her stellar career as a high-flying computing whizz in the City at all, and had nestled into the substantial Georgian house just across the village green in a matter of weeks. She was the technical genius of the agency who gathered information and passed it to the other three for them to be able to take action.

Mavis MacDonald was thriving too. She and Althea Twyst, the dowager duchess of Chellingworth – now a sort of honorary WISE Woman – were as tight as two ticks living at the Dower House together. Althea was almost eighty and used to the best of the best, whereas Mavis was a Scottish retired army nurse in her early sixties with what Annie always thought of as short arms and long pockets when it came to the agency’s finances. Despite their differences, the two women were as giggly as schoolgirls when they took their walks to Chellingworth Hall with Althea’s little Jack Russell, McFli, yapping ahead of them.

And of course Christine Wilson-Smythe had landed on her feet, snapping up the little apartment above their office in the recently converted barn, where she frequently entertained the dubious Mr. Alexander Bright. She might be the daughter of an Irish viscount, but she can’t half pick ‘em when it comes to men, thought Annie. Got her uses when it comes to contacts though, she mentally, and grudgingly, accepted.

Annie knew she was the only one flapping about like a flounder. She didn’t like the countryside; it was empty, boring and, at this time of year, ridiculously bleak. She wished she was looking out at London’s lights at that moment; it was so full of life. Bustling. Here, in the countryside, almost nothing happened. Well, okay, there’d been the theft and murder that had originally brought the WISE Women to the area . . . and she herself had been kidnapped there too. But that wasn’t usual. Not at all.

Mavis always told Annie off for using the word “gumshoeing”, but she liked it – the word, and doing it. Fat chance she’d have to do any real undercover work close to her new home; her dark skin made her instantly noticeable. Annie admitted to herself she had just finished a nice job in Cardiff where she’d gone largely unnoticed acting as a barmaid, gathering evidence for a case involving a gold-digging girlfriend. But now? She’d go to the office in the morning to see if Mavis had brought in something from any new clients. She usually had – she was good at sniffing out business. Maybe Annie would get another break from her mother, who wasn’t due to leave until after the Big Day next Saturday; at least Annie was going to be a guest at the wedding of a duke to his new duchess, which she supposed wasn’t bad for a girl born to immigrant St. Lucian parents scraping by in the East End of London.

Crawling back under the covers, having told the bedside table to not leap out and give her a thump, she heard a cockerel cry in the distance. A couple of hours and it would start – another uneventful day. At least, that’s what Annie thought . . .

The Case Of The Missing Morris Dancer is the second WISE Enquiries Agency Mystery, published by Severn House Publishers, February 2016.

All comments are welcomed.

About the author
Cathy Ace was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, and worked in marketing communications for decades across Europe. Having migrated to Canada in 2000, she now lives in beautiful British Columbia, where her ever-supportive husband (and two chocolate Labradors) ensure she’s able to write full-time. Bestselling author Ace writes two series of mystery books: the Cait Morgan Mysteries, and the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. Her fourth Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse with the Platinum Hair, won the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery.

Visit Cathy at cathyace.com, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Case Of The Missing Morris Dancer. US and Canadian entries only, please. The giveaway will end February 1, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

91 responses to “A ‘New Day’ For the Women of the WISE Enquiries Agency by Cathy Ace

  1. I almost requested it but some reason I didn’t. It sounds,good.

  2. Enjoyed the first book and would love to win the secong book and then donate to my small town library.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER, Ruth, and I hope you enjoy finding out ‘what happened next…” 🙂

  3. Eleanor Jones

    Now, why do I expect this day to be anything but uneventful? This looks So. Good. Cathy is a terrific author. I would love to win this one.

    • Very funny, Eleanor, and well spotted! I’m delighted you like my work. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to say so – I really appreciate it. 🙂

  4. Beverley Ann hopper

    Sounds good thank you

  5. Nancy Roessner

    I’d love to read a book set in Wales!

  6. Barbara Jones

    I am intrigued! I like the idea of a setting I know nothing about so I am sure I will learn something new along with being entertained. Thanks for the chance to win a copy and I will definitely be reading the first one.

    • I’m delighted to have intrigued you Barbara! Wales is a wonderful place, so I hope you enjoy it when you visit the WISE Women 🙂

  7. Sounds like I need to find the first one in this series. Looking forward to reading with these gals can do! Sounds like an interesting bunch.

    • Hi Donna – what a great idea! THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER was the first in the series, so – by all means – get to know the characters there, then come hot-foot to the second book 🙂

  8. Morris dancing is delightful to watch. Wales is a wonderfully fascinating country. I would love to win this book so I can dream of traveling there.

    • You’re right, Amy. I love to watch it too – and the sounds they make while they are dancing (all the tinkling and banging) is great fun. Good luck! 🙂

  9. A must-add to my WishList…..
    Thank you for the giveaway…..

    • I’m delighted my work has made it onto your wishlist, and I hope it makes it onto your TBR list too 🙂

  10. Time for me to play catch up and read the first book.

  11. Janice Crombie Cross

    Now I want to read the rest – can’t wait to see how the ladies are settling in to country life!

  12. elainehroberson

    Another new-to-me author to try. Thanks for a chance to win a copy. It sounds like a series I would really enjoy.

  13. I love that expression “flopping like a flounder”—I think I might do that a lot of the time. Thanks for the contest.

  14. “Gumshoeing”, “flopping like a flounder”, if these are just a sample of the terminology used in this book I’m sure it will be interesting to me. Thanks for the chance to enter the giveaway. robeader53@yahoo.com

    • I’m glad they tickled your funny-bone, robreader. I hope you get to read more about the WISE Women 🙂

  15. Loved the excerpt. I remember the first book and enjoyed it, even though I am more prone to reading hard-boiled mysteries. 🙂 I shared a link to this on my blog.

    • Hello mcm0704 – thanks ever so much for sharing the link – and thanks for hanging in there with softly-boiled PIs for a change 🙂

  16. I’ve been looking for the first in this series at my library, but they don’t have it. If I win this one, I’ll buy the first one and then donate them both when I’ve read them. They sound so good.

    • I’m sorry your library doesn’t have THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER, Gail – I know they have to choose carefully how to spend their money, and a new series often doesn’t make the cut in favor of better-established characters. Maybe if you give them the heads-up about there being a second in the series they might buy the pair 🙂

  17. Sounds like a great read.

  18. Yes please Dru, I’d love to win this book.. I went online to both the Brooklyn and Queens libraries and they have NOTHING by Cathy Ace. That is truly a sad state of affairs.

    • Hi noraadrienne – I’m so sad your local libraries don’t have my books (any of them, sob!) on their shelves. I know my publishers try to get the word out, and THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER even got a starred review in Library Journal. Another good review that recently appeared in Library Journal for this book might tip the balance – I hope! Tell you what – let’s all write letters (yes, with a pen, on paper!!) to our local libraries 🙂

      • The only book they have in the Queens library is a Effective promotional planning for e-Business
        By: Ace, Cathy.Chartered Institute of Marketing.
        Give it 1/5Give it 2/5Give it 3/5Give it 4/5Give it 5/5
        …Published in association with the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

      • I don;t seem to be able to respond to your follow-up comment, noraadrienne, so I’ll do it here! Yes, that’s also one of mine! I had nine post-grad textbooks on marketing communications published before I turned to crime 😉 Nice to know they have that one, but I cannot imagine it’s going to leap to the top of your TBR pile.

  19. Thanks for the introduction to this series, I think the scene has been perfectly set, now for the nitty-gritty.

    • Hi there carlrscott – yes, the scene is set – but don’t forget, the WISE Women are pretty softly-boiled when it comes to the world of Private Investigators. Of course, if there’s trouble to be found… 😉

  20. I definitely need to add this series to my wish list. Thanks for the chance to win.

    • I’m delighted my characters are making their way onto your wishlist – from there maybe they’ll graduate to your TBR list! 🙂

  21. Emilie-Louise Davis

    This short except of Cathy Ace’s new book sounds intriguing! Just the book to have, on a snowy Monday! I appreciate the opportunity to win this book.

  22. Thanks for this intriguing giveaway and wonderful feature which interests me greatly. Cathy’s books are fascinating and unique.

    • I’m glad you like the sound of it, Ellie – and it also sounds as though you have already found my work….for which I thank you. 🙂

  23. Nice Excerpt (please don’t enter me in the drawing–just wanted to come and comment).

  24. I really have to get the first book. This series sounds real interesting.

  25. The classic, “Sigh. It’s so boringly quiet here. Nothing ever happens.”

    • Glad you liked it, Libby – it’s a great shorthand for what we all know will end up being anything but boring 🙂

  26. Sounds like a good book. Would like to win it but no matter who wins it I think they will enjoy it.

  27. sounds like it wont be quiet for long, sounds like a good series

  28. This series is new to me, but it’s definitely on my TBR list now!

    • Thanks! It’s a giant leap from “unknown” to being on someone’s TBR pile – so thank you for thet 🙂

  29. Doward Wilson

    Love this series. The first book was great and I can’t wait to read this one. Thanks for the chance to win.

    • Thanks, Doward – really appreciate you joining the conversation – and thanks for telling me you enjoyed THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER. 🙂

  30. Just requested the two WISE books from my library – looking forward to reading them.

  31. Sounds like another book to add to my list to try.

  32. What a great sounding book. Definitely on my TBR pile.

    • I’m so glad you like the sound of it….and getting onto a TBR pile is a great thing. Thank you! 🙂

  33. Enjoyed the teaser! And the Wales setting will be fun. Thanks for the chance to win!

  34. sounds like a good book will want to get the fist one as well as I like to read them in order but will look forward to enjoying it.

    • Hello Susan – glad you like the sound of it and, yes, reading THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER first is a great way to get ready for this one 🙂

  35. WOW! Cathy Ace, another new author for me to read. Thanks.

  36. Sounds like another great series to explore.

  37. Looking forward to this follow-up to THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER!

  38. Sounds like a series I would really enjoy.

  39. Another new-to-me series that sounds promising! (I’m so thankful that Dru is always catching me up on books I’ve somehow missed!) Thank you for the chance to win.

  40. Patricia Lafferty

    What a diverse group of women! I love the setting in Wales also. I’m looking forward to reading this and will be looking for the first in the series. Thanks for the chance to win and much luck with this series.

    • Hello Patricia – thanks for your kind words, and for taking the time to post here. Good luck! 🙂

  41. I Know Cathy I will get “Hooked” on your Series… Thanks for The Chance☺️

  42. New series, and I haven’t read it yet. I do love Cathy’s other series, so I know I’d love this one

  43. MaryAnn Forbes

    This book sounds intriguing; my interest is definitely piqued. Added to my TBR list however would be so fun to win! Thanks for the giveaway.

    • I’m glad you’re intrigued! Thanks for stopping by to comment, and thanks too for adding it to your TBR pile 🙂

  44. Jacque Turner

    Can’t wait to read this book! Also love your Corpse series 🙂

    • Hi Jacque, thanks for your kind words…I am so pleased to know you also enjoy my CORPSE books (sounds funny, right!) 😉 There’s a new one of those coming in April 🙂

  45. I don’t want to miss entering this one. The Book sounds so good and I would love to read it. Thanks for the contest…
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com