The Jan Christopher Cosy Mysteries

South Chingford Library
the setting for
A Mirror Murder
image © Alison Morton


episode #1

Will romance blossom between library assistant Jan Christopher and DC Laurie Walker – or will a brutal murder intervene?
Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple. 

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered... 

Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?

readers' comments:

A delightful read about an unexpected murder in North East London. Told from the viewpoint of a young library assistant, the author draws on her own experience to weave an intriguing tale.” Richard Ashen (South Chingford Community Library)

Lots of nostalgic, well-researched, detail about life in the 1970s, which readers of a certain age will lap up; plus some wonderful, and occasionally hilarious, ‘behind the counter’ scenes of working in a public library, which any previous or present-day library assistant will recognise!

An enjoyable novella with a twist in who done it. I spent the entire read trying to decide what was a clue and what wasn’t ... Kept me thinking the entire time. I call that a success.”

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Chill With A Book Award


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Chill With A Book

Library Assistant Jan Christopher is to spend Christmas in Devon with her boyfriend, DS Laurie Walker and his family, but when a murder is discovered, followed by a not very accidental accident, the traditional Christmas spirit is somewhat marred...What happened to Laurie’s ex-girlfriend? Where is the vicar’s wife? Who took those old photographs? And will the farmer up the lane ever mend those broken fences?

Set in 1971, this is the second Jan Christopher Cosy Mystery. Join her (and an owl and a teddy bear) in Devon for a Christmas to remember.

Will the discovery of a murder spoil Christmas for Jan Christopher and her boyfriend DS Laurie Walker – or will it bring them closer together?

Readers' comments
"A delightful book filled with twists and turns. I love the fact the book is set in the seventies. A perfect second book in this cosy mystery series."

"A Great Example of the Cosy Murder Mystery Genre
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 September 2021
This is the second outing for Jan Christopher in Helen Hollick’s Cosy Murder Mystery series and it’s another triumph. Is there any genre that Ms Hollick can’t turn her hand to?"

"It’s Christmas 1971 and Jan has gone to spend the holiday with boyfriend Laurie’s family in Devon. Of course, the nature of these stories means that this will be anything but a quiet Christmas…"

"I love the pacing of this story. There are lots of scenes which show the relaxed and laid back country life, but these are woven seamlessly with the revelations which move the plot forward: grisly discoveries, people caught out lying, and lots of red herrings of course. The plot is so clever and yet is delivered so efficiently that you are constantly on the lookout for small, almost throwaway, dialogue or ‘props’ which might or might not be significant."

"This is not just a murder mystery though. It is a real snapshot of life in the 70s, where communication meant telephone calls from landlines, face-to-face conversations or good old snail mail. The human stories are true to life, too. Jan’s insecurities, especially when confronted with Laurie’s friends and, indeed, former girlfriends, from his home town, were all too recognisable. When meeting someone who’s moved away from their home, isn’t there a moment of doubt when being introduced to their ‘past’? This all rang very true."

"A delightful read, a satisfying murder mystery and sitting firmly in its ‘cosy’ category. But that’s not to say this is light, or trivial. Every effort has been made to ensure that we are presented with believable scenarios, characters with whom we can identify, and a setting which, for those of us old enough to remember it, is authentic and nostalgia-inducing. A perfect read for a winter’s night by the fire!"

"Brilliant! I’m so enjoying Helen’s well-researched murder mystery. I’m not giving anything away here, except to say there’s lots of nostalgia, and detail that readers of a certain age (me included) will lap up. A jolly good read. In my opinion, it would make a great television series."

"When so many books are so weighty these days, a nice quick read like this is refreshing and restful. I'm already looking forward to the next one!"

"After reading this, I feel that I've met the main characters myself, know them well, love them and have been taken back to their time and place. This is not a knife-edge thriller with a twist on every page. What happened in the plot, although intriguing, was for me secondary to the way the characters interacted. A family together over Christmas, loving, bickering, finding things don't turn out in the way they expected: what could be more real than that?"

also on Kindle Unlimited

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The third Jan Christopher Cosy Mystery - 
Was murder deliberate - or a tragic mistake?

January 1972. The Christmas and New Year holiday is over and it is time to go back to work. Newly engaged to Detective Sergeant Laurence Walker, library assistant Jan Christopher is eager to show everyone her diamond ring, and goes off on her scheduled round to deliver library books to the housebound – some of whom she likes; some, she doesn’t.

She encounters a cat in a cupboard, drinks several cups of tea... and loses her ring.
When two murders are committed, can Jan help her policeman uncle, DCI Toby Christopher and her fiancé, Laurie, discover whether murder was a deliberate deed – or a tragic mistake?
Episode #4

the 4th Jan Christopher Cosy Mystery ... 

 "As delicious as a Devon Cream Tea!" 
(author Elizabeth St John) 

Make hay while the sun shines? But what happens when a murder is discovered, and country life is disrupted?

Summer 1972. Young library assistant Jan Christopher and her fiancé, DS Lawrence Walker, are on holiday in North Devon. There are country walks and a day at the races to enjoy, along with Sunday lunch at the village pub, and the hay to help bring in for the neighbouring farmer. But when a body is found the holiday plans are to change into an investigation of murder, hampered by a resting actor, a woman convinced she’s met a leprechaun and a scarecrow on walkabout..
paperback: https://mybook.to/MeadowMurder 

Jan Christopher and her fiancé Laurie are on holiday in Devon, staying with Laurie’s parents, But it seems that murder cannot leave them alone. Apart from a delightful mystery, the outstanding thing that a reader finds in all the Murder novels by Helen Hollick is the attention to detail. Every sentence pulls you back into the early 1970s with a mixture of feelings – nostalgia for a simpler life vs. the more communication and information focused time today; the Big Smoke vs. the slower, cleaner country life. A touch of The Darling Buds of May, only not Kent, but Devon.
But the author doesn’t shy away from her characters. Each is well drawn and each has his or her distinctive voice, strengths and foibles. The countryside itself is a character and Hollick imbues it with plenty of emotion, whether a striking sunset or a delicious pie in the pub.
The denouement is very satisfactory, although tinged with sadness. We cannot but feel sympathy. If you enjoy a cozy mystery, but one with great understanding of the human condition, treat yourself to this."