A Load Of Old Bones
(pub. in hardback July 2007 by Constable & Robinson Ltd)
ISBN:978 1 84529 581 3
Introducing a rather unusual vicar and his most singular cat and dog
A Load of Old Bones takes a nostalgic romp through a mythical 1950s Surrey, where murky deeds and shady characters abound. Moving from the inner city to the country, the Reverand Francis Oughterard is anticipating an easy life and a bit of peace and quiet. Instead he becomes entangled in a nightmare world of accidental murder, predatory females, officious policeman, wrathful parishioners and a drunken bishop. As the vicar's life spirals out of control it is up to his supercilious cat and bone-obsessed hound to take the initiative and save his skin.’
Suzette A. Hill's clever and laugh-aloud tale brings a whole new slant to the world of murder mysteries.’
Reviews of A Load Of Old Bones
. . . this novel delights in turning the detective fiction yarn on its head. The characters are unlikably lovable, the plot hilariously improbable, and the prose crafted to perfection. "A Load Of Old Bones" is laugh-out-aloud funny, and there aren't many whodunits you can say that about!
Sarah Mayo, Waterstones, Godalming.
Oughterard, it has to be admitted, isn't really a detective - just a murderer. But he is such an entertaining character that I felt he just had to be included here! . . . all written with verve and humour, and is great fun to read.
To be read while eating strawberries and listening to a brass band'
'A delightful romp'
Historical Novels Review
'An intriguingly quirky read! And Maurice the cat is a very clever puss indeed!'
Leslie Phillips OBE
' . . . the excellent writing, a rare template for how the English language should be used'
'This leisurely thriller is as eccentrically English a story as can be imagined: E.F. Benson crossed with Jerome K. Jerome'
What a rare treat. This book is written in impeccable English, and the 1950s characters are superb, especially the cat and the dog. I loved it.
A Mystery Bookshop & More
Suzette A. Hill's elegant, old-fashioned style is without pretension, and fits her choice of period. If you want a relaxing funny book to read, one that has a shadow of darkness at its heart, try this one.
The Church Times
'An amusing story, cleverly told'
This is a hilarious book . . . It really is exceptionally funny, and hopefully the author will write more!
Newsletter of the Church of the Good Shepherd
Bones In The Belfry
(pub. in hardback May 2008 by Constable & Robinson Ltd)
ISBN: 978 1 84529 582 0
More vicissitudes for the vicar! Having extricated himself from the embarrassment of murdering a lady parishioner, the Rev. Oughterard is now plunged into the traumas of art theft. Forced by the shady Nicholas Ingaza into being a fence for stolen paintings, he endures the investigative probings of terrifying amateur sleuth and female novelist, Maud Tubbly Pole, hell-bent on portraying him in her next novel.
Haunted by the recent murder and fearful of exposure in his new role of ‘receiver’, the Reverend blunders haplessly in a mesh of intrigue and risible deceit. As before, his antics are commented upon by his cat, the acidic Maurice, and redoubtable bone-grinding ally, the dog Bouncer.
Unabridged audio book version of A Load Of Old Bones with urbane performance by Leslie Phillips, pub. Joyful Productions Ltd. Currently available from The Talking Bookshop, Audible.co.uk, and other online audio sites.
Reviews of Bones In The Belfry
This dry, funny British gem, with its eccentric cast of characters, will leave readers laughing and eagerly awaiting the next episode.
A welcome return for the Rev. Francis Oughterard, Bouncer the dog and Maurice the
cat . . . . Quite why this series should be charming, astringent and witty, instead of emetically twee, I am not sure, but it is entirely delightful!
Another mystery-romp featuring Francis Oughterard, the vicar of Molehill . . . For fans of Saki, E. F. Benson and P. G. Wodehouse.
Soho Press, U. S.
Broad humor enlivens the novel from the names of characters and places to the dialogue and trenchant observations. Fans of cozy English mysteries will enjoy the setting and characters in Bones in the Belfry, a humorous tribute to Agatha Christie and other British mystery writers. A cliffhanger ending provides scope for a sequel.
Gumshoe Review, Aug. 2008
(pub. in hardback June 2009 by Constable & Robinson Ltd)
ISBN: 978 1 84529 937 8
This is the third novel featuring the Revd Francis Oughterard, genteel murderer of parishioner Mrs Elizabeth Fotherington. Once more he is in the grip of his blackmailing pal Nicholas Ingaza who has instructed him to steal a valuable figurine from an eccentric collector.
The project plunges the vicar into a maelstrom of panic, misadventure and murder, embarrassing not only himself but also his bishop, the pompous Horace Clinker. Dramatic consequences ensue which leave the vicar bloodied but unbowed! As before, events are watched and chewed over by his animal companions, the sniffy Maurice and chummy Bouncer.
Reviews Bone Idle
Utterly wonderful, sparkling dialogue, bring on the next!
Mystery Women Magazine
The third in the funny series featuring the murderous Reverend Oughterard . . . Imagine a darkly funny, very British version of Rita Mae Brown.
Hill's highly amusing third clerical mystery . . . The outrageous plot will keep readers guessing until the end.
The humour is dry. The ending for Bone Idle leaves it clear that the adventures will continue. Long may they flourish.
Amazon. com reviewer
I highly recommend this book to readers who like British style humor / mystery / culture - not to mention readers who ignore advice from their pets.
Amazon. com reviewer
Bones in High Places
(pub. in hardback August 2010 by Constable & Robinson Ltd)
More from Maurice and Bouncer, and the hapless Rev. Oughterard.
Foreign parts and fresh imbroglios! This time the Rev Francis Oughterard, persuaded by blackmailing Nicholas Ingaza, journeys to the French Auvergne engaged on yet another project of dubious kind and painful embarrassment.
Pursued by murderous thugs and ensnared in the posturings of a cranky religious sect, Francis and his new companions plus stowaways Maurice and Bouncer blunder their way through a network of absurd and perilous escapades which temporarily, at any rate, distract the vicar from his own dark secret...
Reviews Bones in High Places
Hill's delightful fourth 1950s clerical mystery takes the Rev. Francis Oughterard, canon of St. Botolph's in Molehill, Surrey, to the Auvergne in the south of France, where he has inherited a villa from Elizabeth Fotherington, the annoying woman he murdered outside his vicarage in 2007's A Load of Old Bones . . . To Francis's astonishment, his dog, Bouncer, and his cat, Maurice, for whom he made arrangements back in England, also turn up in France, where they all become involved in yet another comic and dangerous romp. Evocative descriptions of the French countryside, an intriguing puzzle, and a host of lively characters will leave series fans and newcomers alike eager for the next installment.
Suzette A. Hill continues the utterly delightful and black humoured adventures of the hapless Reverend Oughterard who just can't seem to stop running into annoying people and often killing them rather reluctantly. Bones In High Places (Constable $ 25) is the fourth in this unique series.
Mystery Lovers Review
I would normally shun any book in which I am privy to the musings of any animal other than those of the human variety. Not so with Hill's fabulous series! I can't wait for the next book! Start the series with A Load of Old Bones. You'll love the twist in the middle and you will be hooked, guaranteed.
For an amusing picture of the contrast between the usual hauteur of the feline and the shaggy dog enthusiasm of the canine, I cannot refrain from directing folks to the very entertaining and charming novels of Suzette Hill, starting with 'A Load of Old Bones' where they must 'rescue' their 1950s down beat Vicar from himself and the consequences of his one foolish moment of inadvertantly murderous madness- and of course, thereby preserve their own cushioned life style! In those stories it's the dog who collects his bones, a habit disdained by the superior feline, Maurice! Wonderfully funny!
The Spectator blogspot: posted by Hadrian 5/10/10
A Bedlam of Bones
(pub. in hardback May 2011 by Constable & Robinson Ltd)
Who is the menacing blackmailer stalking a previous blackmailer and the bishop? Can the bishop survive the threat of being 'outed'? Why is there a body in the polyanthus bed and can Lavinia Birtle-Figgins really be as dippy as she seems?
These and other imponderables immerse the vicar in a fresh web of danger and subterfuge while his animal 'minders', Maurice and Bouncer, try their best to make sense of all this human bedlam.
Reviews A Bedlam of Bones
Hill's diverting fifth mystery . . . that blithely mixes cosy elements with black farce.
The author's style is cheeky, chirpy and witty. She's also got a nice plot, a tale of a blackmailed bishop amidst treacle tarts, waistcoats and buggery . . .
Historical Novel Review
(NB. the above reviewer did have reservations about my use of footnotes which apparently confused rather than illuminated. Mea culpa!)
It is a pleasure to follow the foibles of Canon Francis, Bouncer & Maurice, and the rest of the cast . . . I rarely like anthropomorphic pets, but Hill makes it work. I enjoy each new instalment more than the last, as I come to appreciate the characters in different ways. The climatic ending is not one I would have expected.
Good Reads (Reviewer Tom)
Hill instils A Bedlam of Bones with her wonderful wit and keen sense of the silly.
Good Reads (Reviewer Marie)
The muddled murdering vicar takes a backseat to his clever pets and a startling ending . . .
A Little Murder
(pub.in hardback May 2013 by Allison & Busby)
ISBN: 978 0 7490 1368 4
Set in London in 1953, this tale relates the problems of Rosy Gilchrist who, demobbed from the ATS eight years previously, is attempting to lead an untroubled life working at the British Museum. However, such hopes are brutally shattered by the murder of her aunt - an embarrassingly colourful lady - dispatched in more than bizarre circumstances.
Since aunt and niece had little in common Rosy is reluctant to become involved; but insidiously she is drawn into a mesh of murky intrigue, wartime espionage and personal danger . . . Who for example is the wooden-legged night visitor? What precisely is the ghastly Miss Collinger seeking? Is the Jesuit lush as innocent as he seems? And what guilty secret does florist Felix Smythe harbour - or for that matter the self-serving artist Clovis Thistlehyde? Who are Rosy's allies and who the predators? And what exactly does happen on the seafront at Bexhill . . . ?
Reviews A Little Murder
For classic crime enthusiasts A Little Murder ticks all the right boxes ... The result is a delightful mix of mystery and nostalgia, just perfect for the deckchair.
The Daily Mail
Wittily written, tightly plotted and fun to read . . . A sparkling gallery of characters.
Simon Brett, author of the Charles Paris & Fetherington crime series etc. etc
A perfect mix of funny and acerbic, with a cast of colourful characters and a school of well deployed red herrings. A Little Murder is wholly delightful.
Laura Wilson, author of Stratton’s War, Dying Voices, The Riot etc. etc.
I love Suzette’s elegance as a writer, and her wonderful sense of the ridiculous.
Dr Ruth Dudley Edwards, political historian & author of the Baroness Troutbeck satirical crime novels etc.
If Barbara Pym had decided to write a murder mystery, it might have turned out a bit like A Little Murder, with its drolly amusing characters and persistent digs at ‘polite’ society . . .
Blogspot: Caught Up in a Book
. . . All is washed down with the contents of numerous decanters. Wittily and fluently written, with a neat plot that twists and turns to a satisfying conclusion, A Little Murder is fine entertainment.
Historical Novel Society (reviewed by novelist Ruth Downie)
The Venetian Venture
(pub. in hardback by Allison & Busby May 2014)
Rosy Gilchrist, heroine of A Little Murder, is sent to Venice by her irascible British Museum boss to find a rare edition of the Odes of Horace.
She expects a wild goose chase - or at best a ‘working holiday’. But what she finds is a sinister bookseller, an assortment of the shifty and feckless, dotty ex-pats, a couple of murders and a dire threat to herself.
Her slightly fragile companions of the previous escapade, Felix and Cedric, lend dubious assistance.
Reviews The Venetian Venture
Set in 1954, this charming, gentle and very witty thriller follows the expedition of the British Museum’s go-to girl Rosy Gilchrist to acquire a rare edition of Latin verse. Particularly enjoyable is the last fifth of the novel where the bodies start being disposed of in the Grand Canal and both the plot and the humour take on the dark hue of the waters flowing there.
The Venetian Venture features the feisty Rosy Gilchrist packed off to Venice to locate a rare book . . . This is crime with more fun than menace, but as a gentle, relaxing read it could hardly be bettered.
The Daily Mail
Adventure and mayhem . . . misty waterways and shadowy piazzas. The elegant social whirl of Bellinis at Harry’s and espressos at Café Florian offer light relief and tempting descriptions of Italian delicacies – so much so that you’ll be planning your very own Venetian venture by the end of the book!
The Royal Overseas League (Quarterly Journal)
This is a charming and delightful tale told with a gentle but dry wit and held together with firm plotting . . . Yet it is not entirely ‘froth-and-bubble’ with added murder. Set in the fifties, memories of the recent war are still fresh for several of the characters, and Rosy herself grieves silently but deeply for loss of parents and RAF pilot fiancé, casualties of the conflict. Beneath the skulduggery and drollery lie tiny pinpricks of sadness. Highly recommended.
Hill remains unaffected by fashion and her latest novel is an absolute must for all discerning aficionados of the currently overcrowded detective story genre; it will have a special appeal to those readers who continue to mourn the passing of its Golden Age and hanker nostalgically after the vanished world of gondolas gliding serenely past decaying palazzos and drinks at Harry's Bar.
Charming, astringent and witty.
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