You may have read my glowing review last week of A Dream of Death by Connie Berry. The more I know about this author, the more I like her and I highly recommend you start following her Kate Hamilton Mystery series!
Connie Berry was born in Wisconsin to second-generation immigrants from Scandinavia and the British Isles. She loves antiques, cold weather, off-season foreign travel, cute animals, and all things British. Connie lives in Ohio with her husband, a champion left-side-of-the-road driver, and her completely adorable Shih Tzu, Millie. You can learn more about Connie and her books at her website: www.connieberry.com.
SERIES: A Kate Hamilton Mystery #1
GENRE: Traditional Mystery/British
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane Books
RELEASE DATE: April 9, 2019
On a remote Scottish island, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton wrestles with her own past while sleuthing a brutal killing, staged to recreate a two-hundred-year-old unsolved murder.
Autumn has come and gone on Scotland’s Isle of Glenroth, and the islanders gather for the Tartan Ball, the annual end-of-tourist-season gala. Spirits are high. A recently published novel about island history has brought hordes of tourists to the small Hebridean resort community. On the guest list is American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton. Kate returns reluctantly to the island where her husband died, determined to repair her relationship with his sister, proprietor of the island’s luxe country house hotel, famous for its connection with Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Kate has hardly unpacked when the next morning a body is found, murdered in a reenactment of an infamous unsolved murder described in the novel—and the only clue to the killer’s identity lies in a curiously embellished antique casket. The Scottish police discount the historical connection, but when a much-loved local handyman is arrested, Kate teams up with a vacationing detective inspector from Suffolk, England, to unmask a killer determined to rewrite island history—and Kate’s future.
Hi Connie! Welcome to the blog! I’m honored to have you on the blog! Thank you so much for chatting with me 🙂
Connie: Hello Carrie. I’m delighted to be your guest today! You’ve come up with some interesting questions.
Connie: Apples—no peeling required. Seriously though, apples always remind me of my precious Danish grandmother. She had two large apple trees in her backyard, and they produced the most wonderful apples—sweet but tart, firm-textured, red with a green blush. I wish I’d thought to ask her what variety they were. She made wonderful chunky applesauce and, of course, apple pies.
Carrie: mmm that reminds me of the homemade applesauce my grandma made – yum!
Connie: Winter for sure. I know, I know. I’m in the minority. But my heritage is definitely northern (Scottish, Scandinavian) so it comes naturally. I far prefer putting on sweaters and curling up in front of a fire with a cup of tea over sweating (I hate to sweat). I love snow. One of the items on my bucket list is to spend a night in one of the famous ice hotels in Scandinavia. Getting my husband onboard is the problem.
Carrie: See? I knew I liked you. Winter is my fave as well – for all the reasons you mentioned.
Connie: Audiobooks. I love listening to books—especially when I’m driving because music can make me sleepy (not good when you’re behind the wheel). I need something to keep my mind alert. And with audiobooks, I get a lot more wonderful books “read” these days.
Carrie: I do love music, but I am slowly coming around to listening to audiobooks (or podcasts) on long road trips!
Connie: Dogs. Okay—I hear groans from all you cat lovers out there. I do love cats, but I need a pet that will cuddle and greet me joyfully at the door when I come home. Some cats do that, I’m told, but the cats I’ve known in my life tended to prefer their own company and tolerated human beings with disdain and only when necessary.
Carrie: I’m solidly with you on this answer. If I could meet a cat that was as cuddly and loyal and affectionate as a dog, I might change my mind 🙂
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Connie: Reading is a wonderful superpower to have, but since you’ve already taken that one, Carrie, I’ll have to say my superpower would be telling stories. As a child, I loved telling stories and sometimes embroidered the truth to make the story better or to generate a little excitement. Once as a four-year-old child I walked to a house several blocks away, knocked on the door, and told the woman who answered that I was visiting my grandmother from out of town and was lost. She gave me milk and cookies (yay!) and immediately got on the phone to see if she could locate my grandmother. In the meantime, my poor mother was frantic. I don’t remember how I got home, but I do remember the look on my mother’s face—and her telling me that making up stories is lying. I still make things up, but today I put them in books.
Q: Books are kind-of-a-big-deal around here. Other than the Bible, what are five of your most cherished books?
Connie: This is a hard question because books are a big deal around my house as well. But if I had to choose just five, I’d say:
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Some have called it the greatest novel ever written, and I wouldn’t disagree. I read this book almost every year, and it never grows old. A couple of years ago my husband and I had the privilege of visiting Jane Austen’s house in Alton, Hampshire. I saw the small table where she wrote and imagined her pausing, pen uplifted, as she contemplated the conversation between Elizabeth, Caroline Bingley, and Darcy in the drawing room at Netherfield.
- The House at Pooh Corners by A. A. Milne. Before I was born, my mother was an elementary school teacher, so naturally she read to me constantly. She was a dramatic reader, using different voices for each character. Every time I open The House at Pooh Corners, I hear her voice.
- My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. This classic daily devotional is one I return to over and over again. Wisdom.
- The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie. This was the first of Dame Agatha’s books I read, and from then on, I was hooked. Reading this book led to a lifetime of devouring mysteries set in the British Isles—and eventually writing one.
- As You Like It by William Shakespeare. A play, of course, but I read it many times before ever seeing it performed on a stage. I remember being riveted when in the final scene—the Epilogue—the male actor playing Rosalind steps onto the bare stage and, breaking the imaginary “fourth wall,” sweeps the audience into the play: “If I were a woman, I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleas’d me, complexions that lik’d me, and breaths that I defied not; and, I am sure, as many as have good beards, or good faces, or sweet breaths, will, for my kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell.” Later, in graduate school, my thesis was on the role of the audience in Shakepeare’s comedies.
Carrie: While Darcy isn’t my favorite of Austen’s heroes (I prefer Knightley), Pride & Prejudice IS my fave Austen novel (the wit and romance is perfection). And My Utmost For Highest is so full of great wisdom. When I read it, I have to read each devotional about three or four times to just ingest it lol
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled while researching a book?
Connie: Writers often joke about finding law enforcement officers on their doorstep because of their online research. I felt that way when I Googled “How does a body decompose in fresh water?”
Carrie: haha! I bet.
Q: What surprised you about your books or your characters as you wrote their stories?
Connie: I’m definitely a plotter when it comes to writing. While I admire pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants, without prior planning), I need an outline. Usually a pretty detailed outline. Sometimes, however, one of my characters will say or do something completely out of the blue. Interestingly, those unplanned elements often turn out to be just what was needed. For example, in my second book, A Legacy of Murder (October 2019), Kate is asking Ivor Tweedy, owner of an antiquities shop, about Lucien Finchley-fforde, a suspect in the death of a young academic intern:
Ivor Tweedy pursed his lips. “I’ve heard the rumors. That’s all they are.”
“How can you be sure?”
Ivor replaced the tortoiseshell box in the drawer and closed it. “Because Lucien Finchley-fforde is dead.”
I truly had no idea he would say that.
Carrie: oh wow!
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from A Dream of Death?
Connie: The satisfaction of a story that made them laugh, cry, think, reflect, and dream. And, of course, want to read the next in the series!
Carrie: Well, you’ve accomplished that with me, for sure!
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Connie: As I mentioned, the second in the series, A Legacy of Murder, will be out on October 9, 2019. Right now I’m finishing up the copy edits before it goes off to the printer. When that’s finished, I’ll get back to the third in the series, as yet untitled. This spring I’ll attend the Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda, Maryland (May 3 to 5), participating in a panel discussion entitled “Murder With A Sense of Place.” This autumn I’ll be in Dallas for Bouchercon 2019: Denim, Diamonds, and Death (October 31 to November 2). If you are at either one, say hello!
There’s a few days left for this giveaway – enter now!
This giveaway is hosted by Great Escapes VBT, not RimSP
Follow along with the tour HERE
But first! Comment below 🙂
What about you? What interests you most about Connie and/or her series?