We at Penkhull Press are delighted to report that Winter Downs byJan Edwards(and published by our good selves) has won the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize, announced over the weekend just past.
In the January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.
Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?
A page-turning read from the start, this is a wonderful murder mystery set in a fascinating time. Bunch Courtney and her sister Dodo are engaging, interesting sleuths, as is Chief Inspector Wright, the enigmatic detective seconded from Scotland Yard for the duration. Jan Edwards’s characters are very real and you sense they’re full of hidden depths to be gradually revealed through the series. A satisfying mystery, puzzling and unpredictable with – like the times – an edgy sense of urgency and danger. The atmospheric setting is superb with the snow-bound Sussex Downs as central to the story as Morse’s Oxford. I love the way the author depicted a newly changed rural community with all its sense of loss and intrusion. The period detail is effortlessly done, absorbing the reader into Bunch’s world. A great treat.
I’ve talked about my book at “Hot Air” the literary festival in Stoke-on-Trent, where I live: set up a Facebook page: sent out a pre-publication news-letter: searched the internet for bloggers who review women’s fiction: given out review copies: talked to everyone and anyone I’ve met and have just invited friends and neighbours to the first of a number of celebratory tea/mini launch at my house at the end of July. (There will be more such events, living room is too small to have everyone at the same time.) There will be coffee, cake and wine, hopefully followed by a few book sales.
Much as I enjoy all this, there are also the moments of panic familiar to all the writers I know about whether their book is good enough to see the light of day, let alone be read by the thousands/millions of readers we are hoping for.