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When my old neighbour, Daphne Du Maurier, was suffering in the outlandish heat and dust of Egypt…


When my old neighbour, Daphne Du Maurier, was suffering in the outlandish heat and dust of Egypt with her new husband, Boy Browning – the military moron who thought the Battle of Arnhem was 90 per cent successful – she longed for England.  She dove into memories. Rebecca (1938) was the result.

I thought of Daffers when my latest action-packed crime novel, Invitation To A Few Murders, came out this month.

Where it is like Rebecca is that it was written in a totally different atmosphere. Many pages full of snow were actually written in longhand (all my books are written in longhand) either under a pear tree in my garden or by a bee-loud sedum in what  I call (after Walt Whitman) my dooryard – as in “when lilacs last in dooryards bloomed”.

Where my weather differs from La Du Maurier’s is that I had no desire for ice, snow and Christmas. I was perfectly happy in those summer days.

Why did I write about a New England winter?

It was a mistake. I never should have started it, but once I had started I felt I must finish. The trouble was I kept finishing it and then starting all over again.

There were small errors – like most of the female characters having names beginning with M. I reduced it to two – Mimi and Margot. More serious errors were worked over and over. Much to my surprise when I at last received a copy from the publisher and I dipped at random into the book, it wasn’t half bad.

The point of this lecture, kiddies, is that novels turn out best that are worked over and over again.

I once rewrote one 21 times. It never got published. Then I did one in one week and it was published here and in America, Italy and Germany, and earned me the equivalent of two years’ salary as a Guardian reporter.

I guess that once again I don’t know what I’m talking about.

If someone is foolish enough to start writing novels (real ones and not like that serial killer rubbish that earns millions if done on TV) they are in for a hard, poverty-stricken time, that every once in a while pleases the author when he comes up with something good, like “long legs attached to an English accent” seated at a bar in Invitation To A Few Murders.


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Invitation To A Few Murders

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“He couldn’t believe how thick she was. But beautiful, and horny.”

That opens the batting for my fifth volume of the Boomer Daniels New England hick location  murder saga.

No one is going to read it. I blame education.

I’ve got a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter with high class university degrees and with noses constantly in a book. Well, in Jinny Woolf’s books.

Two of my three sons don’t read nothing. A third, No 2 son, says he’s too busy writing his own stuff for leisure reading. He read the first Boomer, Death Dyed Blonde, and reckoned, by using foul lingo and a bit more blood, he could make a motion picture out of it.

He’s too busy in America getting interviewed on TV and the radio to knock off a script of my little effort.

Also I don’t want to be a film.

And I also don’t mind not being read.

My latest book, with that snappy opening I quoted, is called Invitation To A Few Murders. It is an aid to Christmas cheerfulness.

Unlike current crime bestsellers, Invitation To A Few Murders  doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s what used to be called a dime novel in America, and a shilling shocker in England. It was meant to make you feel OK. With the world the way it is I wonder why the eejit masses are reading about serial killers, vampires and zombies written in words of one syllable. Do they make them feel good? No, it’s because they need a bloody good jolt to get them to read at all. Give them something good to read and their minds start wandering.

My next Boomer Daniels adventure, I’m going at least to make short. A novella. That may assist them. Except, of course, it might be a short book full of long words.

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Invitation To A Few Murders

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Invitation To A Few Murders – A Country House Mystery (Parker Daniels Casebook)

Throw another log on the fire, put up your feet and revel in an old-fashioned, murderous, New England Christmas. Invitation To A Few Murders is the fifth in the Parker Daniels Casebook. A comic dime novel to aid seasonal cheerfulness; and a puzzler with sexy antics. Our old friend Dr Phyllis Skypeck is at it once more; also horny Mimi of the Movies and Vita and Margot Cuncliffe. Evil-tempered millionaire Andrew Burgess is the host everyone would like to see dead at the country mansion in the snowy rural township of North Holford. Murders start happening and Parker “Boomer” Daniels, the police chief, and Sgt Davy Shea have to solve them before there are even more.

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Murder In Arcady

Into the woods of Arcady step murder and farce, with faint echoes of poetry and classical music. This is the fourth Parker Daniels crime novel set in rural New England. There is a big difference, however…..

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Coming Soon…..

mia murder

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June 26, 2014 · 10:27 am

Back when the world was young and journalists worked in Fleet Street…


Back when the world was young and journalists worked in Fleet Street, drinking two hour lunches at El Vino – called El Vino’s by them even when sober – I met some interesting people.

One of them was the late Kinglsey Amis. I often stood or sat side by side with Kingsley and listened to him brag about his collection of 18th Century snuff boxes.

He had many ccurious notions, not all of them inspired by drink.

I recall once, seated at the first table in from the front door, Kingsley getting exceedingly cross about The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic was first published in 1908 and has been loved by one and all ever since – except for Kingsley.

My readers in Rostov-on-Don, Tokyo, Calgary and maybe even Dodo, Australia, may not know or care about The Wind in the Willows.

It, along with Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, is essential if one wishes to be on a first-name basis with English as she is written.

Even if one has not had a lower upper middle-class English childhood one can still read The Wind in the Willows at any age and enjoy it.

Ratty and Mole and Badger become close friends, presented to you in Kenneth Grahame’s wonderful style; and E.H.Shepard’s superb illustrations.

But the greatest hit of the book is Mr Toad. He leaps out of the page. He is rich. He lives in Toad Hall. He takes up pursuits, like rowing on the river, caravanning, or driving a motor car with insane enthusiasm, which is quite funny.

When my youngest son was in prep school I used to take him out for weekend treats on the Thames looking for Toad Hall – the house Shepard used for it. Eventually, after a year or so of searching, we found it.

All my sons have been taken to the theatre to see Toad of Toad Hall, A.A.Milne’s excellent comedy. Contemporary morons have turned their backs on Toad of Toad Hall; preferring, I suppose, to murder Shakespeare in modern dress.

But I must return to Kingsley. I sat wondering why he hated Mr Toad. Then I took a good look at him. He was Mr Toad. His bragging about his collection of snuff boxes is just what Mr Toad would do.

Now, of course, almost every man is Mr Toad. I know one writer who has changed the name of his house in the country to Toad Cottage. Most men, however, don’t realize how much Mr Toad they are.

I recall leaving Punch magazine one night to go to the theatre and someone said, “You’re actually going to see Toad of Toad Hall looking like you do?”

I was wearing a tweedy suit of a rather excessive heather mixture and my neckwear was perhaps a trifle ear-splitting.

I did not mind the remark; at the theatre I saw a number of Mr Toad’s in the audience.

But Kingsley was too vain, he could not stand looking in the mirror and seeing Mr Toad.

An old lady enters the blog and says:

“Young man, what has this to do with publication of your wonderful novel, The Summer Stock Murders?

“Nothing whatsoever,” I am forced to admit.

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A number of important people have emailed me over last week’s blog…

Stanley Reynolds Crime Novelist


Readers, yet more maundering.

A number of important people have emailed me over last week’s blog. In it I wrote of stormy weather aiding an author’s plot. Lady Ottoline Morrell 1V, Mr Osbert Sitwell 111, Madame Jacques Reverat, the Viscountess Cecil, V.Sackville-West, Mr T.S.Eliot OM, and Vanessa Bell V, and many other distinguished personages have written to tell me that Virginia Woolf, a leading female in the 20th Century paper trade, exceeded all others with her weather in her novel Orlando in 1928.

Sparing no effort in my desire to right wrongs (NB Miss Desirée, who does my typewriting: that’s right wrongs, not write wrongs, dear) I searched through the numerous piles of books displayed on the floor where I, with an unmade bed by my side, write both books and blogs, also cheques to duns.

There, next to The Waves (1927) and The Years (1937) which was the only novel of Virginia’s to sell 40,000 copies and make it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It topped the list in early June and remained there through July and finally fell off altogether only in late October.

I recently asked an Oxford-educated novelist friend what she thought of The Years. She had a PhD in Virginia Woolf and somehow managed never to have read or even heard of The Years.

In the 1970s when I was fleet of foot and sound of wind and limb I turned down a job to teach literature to the imbeciles at Harvard. Perhaps, if Oxford is anything to go by, I should have gone to Massachusetts and taught the swine.

I digress. In Orlando in the time of King James there was according to Virginia The Great Frost, which historians tell us, was the most severe that ever visited these islands.

She wrote:

“Birds froze in mid-air and fell like stones to the ground. At Norwich a young country-woman started to cross the road in her usual robust health and was seen by the onlookers to turn visibly to powder and be blown in a puff of dust over the roofs as the icy blast struck her at the street corner. The mortality among sheep and cattle was enormous. Corpses froze and could not be drawn from the sheets. It was no uncommon sight to come upon a whole herd of swine frozen immovable upon the road. The fields were full of shepherds, ploughmen, teams of horses, and little bird-scaring boys, all struck stark in the act of the moment, one with his hand to his nose….”

Virginia was such fun among the Bloomsbury Circle.

This excellent stuff comes because in my new summer holiday read, The Summer Stock Murders, the weather rescued me from not knowing what the hell I was going to do for a plot.

I recommend my book, and Virginia Woolf’s, to my many blog-fans.

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A book by its cover, that is what you are not supposed to judge


A book by its cover, that is what you are not supposed to judge. I wonder how true that is. A cover does not have to represent the subject perfectly, but it does give you the Idea!

For example, P.G.Wodehouse was unlucky with his covers.

A recent paperback edition of Leave it to Psmith (1923)has a cover illustrating that major moment when the Efficient Baxter is caught in the middle of the night throwing flowerpots through Lord Emsworth’s bedroom window. On the cover Baxter is wearing blue pyjamas.

This is perfectly in error. Baxter in the book is wearing lemon-coloured pyjamas. Because of this colour Lord Emsworth is able to see him in the dark.

And no one seemed to be able to get the pig right. The Empress of Blandings is a Berkshire Black. That seems easy enough to make her colour known. But no, she is constantly turned into a Large White, a Gloucestershire Old Spot, or something that looks like a a hippopotamus.

In only one Penguin cover is the Empress black and wearing a nose ring, but this is Something Fresh (1915) and the Empress does not appear in the book, nor is she even mentioned.

The first of the Lord Emsworth novels to feature the Empress of Blandings is Summer Lightning (1929). The Everyman’s Library is doing sterling work publishing all of Wodehouse, and on the cover of Summer Lightning the Empressis black. But the Empress is not wearing her nose ring. Another major mistake.

In the Penguin edition of Summer Lightning the Empress appears in a photograph. She is white with black spots and no nose ring.

The sequel to Summer Lightning is Heavy Weather (1933) and none of the several editions I have of this excellent comic work has the pig correct, i.e black with nose ring.

The nose ring is mentioned in the books because it makes it easy to steal the Empress.

What has all this to do with my latest summer reading shocker? There is no pig in The Summer Stock Murders, but there is a scantily-clad bimbo as seen on the cover. The cover even has her filly panties the correct colour, i.e flaming red.

This verisimilitude, I hope, will make you rush out to buy this saga of murders in a New England summer theatre.

There is even a scene where the curvy female is wearing no pants. I won’t go into further details in case older readers suffer cardiac arrests. If so, don’t worry; ten years ago I suffered 127 cardiac arrests, and look at me now, penning sex and murder romps.

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April 26, 2014 · 6:07 am

The Summer Stock Murders


Sitting in my bower in the April sunlight reading my friend Sir Max Beerbohm’s one and only novel, Zuleika Dobson, it suddenly struck me how much my latest masterpiece,  is like the tale of Zuleika.

Men, as in Sir Max’s little effort of 1911, cannot keep from falling in love with my femme fatale, Martha Flowers.

Here is an example: “…Martha suddenly looked at him. He was immediately hooked. Martha allowed him to worship her for two days and then on the third day she dumped him….. That was par for the course with Martha.”

Zuleika’s failed lovers threw themselves into the river at Oxford and drowned. (None of the men in love with my Miss Flowers does this. Their thoughts of love turn inevitably to murder.)

But, dear post-feminist readers, fear not. My gal also attracts women. They fall in love with her too. None drowns, but poor love-struck Roz Quilty plans to throw herself off a ferris wheel.

Will she be saved?

Buy the book while stocks last. Meanwhile I shall be sprawled in the April sun dreaming of those magic days I spent with Sir Max at his house at Rapallo on the Italian Riviera.

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“By the waters of the Parrett we sat down and wept remembering a dredged river,”

m2 (2)“By the waters of the Parrett we sat down and wept remembering a dredged river,” I sang to Handel’s Messiah.

I was far away in the Balkans doing my latest study of the leg-dancers of Bosnia when word of a flooded West Country came to me in the Continental edition of the Langport Leveller. I rushed back to a soggy cottage and decided to come to the rescue with Blog 25.

My television, however, that late night and early morning, was filled with men in helmets bumping into one another and then stopping for what seemed like an eternity before doing the bumping into one another all over again. I then saw that this was being performed before 100,000 persons live in a stadium somewhere in New Jersey (“the short-change state”) while 100 million watched it on their television sets. It was not a form of primitive religion.  No, this was American grid-iron football. Or put it another way: Yes, this was American grid-iron football. The Super Bowl.

It was too late outside to escape and go out to what I like to call a ragamadolion with an off-duty waitress from the Pork and Punter public ‘house. One particular waitress is such the ruggedest voluptuary that even the cops cheer the assorted sex stimuli on display.

I digress, but what the hell else can I do in weather like this?

I suppose I could plug my thrilling tale of blood and lust in the snowbanks of rural New England, Murder In A Cold Climate, or my other amazing murder mystery, Death Dyed Blonde. As you can see by that last title, this is pretty high-hat intellectual stuff up there with Kafka and a few more of the boys down at the existential bistro. When the books were not to be translated into the Grecian and Norwegian I was disappointed. Secondary education in or out of Euroland is not what it was.

Never mind, as a member of the British Davis Cup team, which had a victory over America for the first time in 80 years, said, “Colonel Reynolds has a way with words.” And this was before he read the book.

“Definitely a suitable party piece for any country manor house party,” said Lady Marjorie Truman Capote, authoress of Lunch at Boston’s Shrive, Crump and Lowe, and Brunch at Harry Winston’s.

Does what I modestly call my stuff need further booming? No, what about the rain?

Well, there is a moment in one of Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words, written when he was two years old, which seems to embody all this West Country flooding – a sense of water, of rainfall repetition, the cry of the wind over an interminable watery expanse. These are the subtler emotions which cannot be translated into words, but are to be hinted at by chords and harmonies.

Will this do?

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