Recent Events. Thursday, 2 February Priscilla Masters. Carol Westron talks to Priscilla Masters. Priscilla Masters is a prolific writer of detective stories, with two long-running series to her credit, featuring Detective Inspector Joanna Piercy and Coroner Martha Gunn as well as many stand-alone novels.
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She has recently embarked on a new series featuring Claire Roget, a forensic psychiatrist. When you wrote Winding up the Serpent , the first DI Joanna Piercy novel, in , did you think of it in terms of the first in a series? And are there things you would have altered if you had realised Jo Piercy was going to be with you for so long? How would her life pan out? How sad — being hooked on your own series but I suspect I am not alone in this. Carol: For nine years after Winding up the Serpent you wrote Jo Piercy novels and several stand-alone novels. When you wrote the first Martha Gunn book, River Deep , were you aware that she was going to join your team of strong, tenacious women who were going to insist you made them part of a series?
Priscilla: Actually it was a combination of the move to Shropshire and starting work in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital plus a suggestion from both my agent and my publisher that I should consider starting a second series using my medical background rather than a police procedural. It took me a while to get to know Martha. I found her more complicated — perhaps an older version of myself.
Being a widow gave her a bit of baggage I was unfamiliar with as was the experience of being a single parent mum - to twins! Her job — dealing with the aftermath of death was more familiar but I wondered, as she was in the serious role of coroner, from never knowing the person whose death was featuring in her court and how could I stop her from being a sad person.
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Carol: I was fortunate enough to review Dangerous Minds last year and absolutely loved it. The central protagonist is Claire Roget, a forensic psychiatrist, and the way you ratcheted up the suspense, notch by notch was masterly. I get the feeling that you are fascinated by abnormal psychology, as I am. Am I correct about that? Priscilla: In my role as a nurse I have worked in psychiatric units and had dealings with patients labelled as schizophrenic, personality disorders, psychopaths, criminals and so on.
We lose our point of reference. Once or twice I have been actually frightened by this unpredictability. More by personality disorders than by other psychiatric diagnoses. What I discovered surprised and intrigued me. And Claire Roget fitted neatly into my fascination with unusual and abnormal minds combined with crime writing.
The two fit together like a handmade glove. Carol: Dangerous Minds is billed as the first book in a new series. When is the next one due? Priscilla: Called The Deceiver I have actually completed it but it needs some polishing and personal circumstances have unfortunately intervened. But hopefully Fingers Crossed Spring Carol: The roles of police detective, coroner and forensic psychiatrist are all different branches of the justice system.
How much research do you have to do for the different books and how did you go about it? Also people confide in nurses. I choose my friends very very carefully, almost vetting them as I go along, my antennae rising if I hear the word detective, psychiatrist or anyone else connected with the criminal justice system. At parties I mix and ask questions. Drop into the pond the fact that I write crime novels which frequently bears fruit. I can still remember the shiver that ran through me when I read the first few pages of Frozen Charlotte. How naturally does it come to you to write the deepest nightmares?
If I should be asked what is your favourite type of mystery? I can say it is Frozen Charlotte. In short one of the best books I have read in a long time. It is compelling, fascinating, intriguing - a real mystery. It moves at an incredible pace, every chapter taking the reader to a new place, more questions, and more interesting characters. I wanted to follow all their lives, so intriguing were they masterly proffered. Although, the conclusion was eminently satisfying, there are a couple of tantalising personal situations left open, making me hot to read the next book.
Mar 02, Shirley Revill rated it it was amazing Shelves: crime , crime-fiction , murder , mystery , fiction , thought-provoking , thriller. Wow,what a totally amazing story and now one of my favourites that i will listen to again in the future. I love a good mystery and this one had me guessing throughout the story. The version I listened to was the audiobook version of this story and the narration was absolutely brilliant.
I will certainly be looking for more from this author. Jul 14, Caroline rated it it was amazing. Martha Gunn steadily improves - shes an amazing character and I love that her and the other characters in the novels progress as you read more stories. This is a hard hitting story about a woman who arrives at A and E with a baby that has been dead a long time. I love that the series has an unusual protagonist, i'm looking forward to reading the next in the series. Sep 13, Kathleen Hagen added it Shelves: audio-books , mysteries. A woman appears at the emergency room of a hospital.
Finally, when a nurse spots her, they find she has rolled in a blanket a dead newborn baby who is practically mummified. As the police and the coroner, Martha Gunn, begin investigating, they find it becomes more and more complicated to determine who the baby is, and why it was found dead in a space covered by a hot water heater in the house the woman, Alice, lived in who found the baby. Three different families lived in the house. The pathologist says that the baby has been dead for more than five years.
On the surface, no one in any of the families seems to have had a reason to kill a baby, and, in fact, they all seemed too old to become pregnant. But, as time goes on, and as further tragedy strikes, the mystery is finally solved. A very good book with many twists and turns. The conclusion was a surprise. The narrator was very good. Jun 29, Damaskcat rated it it was amazing.
Staff get a shock when they realise the baby has been dead for several years and is mummified as well as being male not female. Martha Gunn, the coroner, feels there is more to the case than meets the eye as does DI Alex Randall. This is a fascinating and chilling mystery which will lead the police and Martha herself down some strange byways of human behaviour before the solution is finally unravelled.
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I found this an absorbing read. Martha and Alex are interesting characters and I like the way, both they and their relationship are being slowly developed through the series. If you like mysteries or crime novels which are a bit different then try the Martha Gunn series. They can be read in any order but reading them in the order in which they were published gives extra insight into the relationship between Martha and Alex. Sep 21, Deb rated it liked it.
A dead baby is found in an attic by a new home homeowner.
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The woman that finds the baby acts very strange by going to a hospital emergency room with the dead baby wrapped in a brand-new pink blanket. She calls the baby "Poppy". The police arrive as well as the coroner, Martha Gunn. The baby's been dead for four or five years so the search begins as to the previous owners and finding out who did this.
The new homeowners when investigated act strangely which only makes the police more suspicious. Several of the people that are investigated have things to hide and all of this comes out even though it's not related to the dead baby. The mystery is eventually solved and one that was a surprise.
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May 09, Chris Wackett rated it liked it. I enjoyed this leisurely read. I enjoyed the different form of story telling: detailing the minutiae of the characters lives and personalities might have been boring but somehow kept me hooked and there were often long gaps between "progress" being made in the case filled in with details of family life. I am currently listening to kissed a sad goodbye on audible by the same author.
Jul 22, Martha rated it really liked it Shelves: mystery. First mystery I've read of late that did not bore or irritate me yes, I've just been choosing badly, I know there are good ones out there!
Very intriguing premise--slightly deranged woman shows up at a hospital with the corpse of a newborn that has been dead for several years--and enough twists and subplots to keep me interested to the very end. The heroine seemed to arrive at the solution somewhat inexplicably, but maybe I'm just dim--I have this impression often when reading mysteries.
I ma First mystery I've read of late that did not bore or irritate me yes, I've just been choosing badly, I know there are good ones out there! I may look for her previous books in the Martha Gunn series. May 06, Minnie rated it really liked it Shelves: audio-books. This was a very very good listen. Of late I have convinced myself that I prefer books read by men. However the actress Patricia Gallimore has made me reconsider.
She enacted a wide range of voices from teenagers to distressed adults with total conviction. The book is quite slow-moving with seeming random stories and characters but it all serves to make up parts of a good story.