16 July, 2023.

Dear Readers,

The Book Hunt

This week I did more speaking to the camera than ever! If you recall, in the previous video, I attempted to introduce my books, only to find that my friends had thoughtfully hidden them … in a garden that will become even more significant in due course.

I set out to hunt them down, ideally in the correct order. You’ll see the measure of my success … or otherwise! I hope that you enjoy the search as much as I did.

Click to play video of Book Hunt - Up The Garden Path

An Unexpected Revelation

Meanwhile, I had an epiphany, which I shall share with you. I’ve been asked which writers have influenced me, and I wrote about The Magnificent Ten, including, as you’d expect, Agatha Christie, J R R Tolkien, and CS Lewis, but another popped out when I was talking about my literary murders to my cameraman Mike Collins.

I was saying that I enjoyed killing off my victims in as humorous a manner as possible. That’s when it came to me: a creative pair of individuals. One was a writer, specifically a lyricist and the other a composer. They reached their peak in the 1880s, and the company they created still performs to this day. Films about their productions and lives have been made over the years, the most recent, I believe, being Topsy-Turvy.

Have You Guessed?

Have I given you enough clues? Friends squired me to my first experience of their work when I was about 12 years old. It was startling, fascinating, and even overwhelming. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I’d only ever been to a theatre once before. Before me unwound a tale of a love-lorn lune who sighed for the love of a lady. A pair of travelling performers at the Tower of London become embroiled in a dangerous plot in The Yeomen of the Guard by W S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Their production company was and is the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.

The Special One

I was to take part in a tiny front room production and, over the years, became acquainted with the entire catalogue. But the operetta closest to my heart was The Mikado, probably what we’d call today, a spoof on the British 19th conceptions of Japan and its culture. I became part of a group planning to stage a production. I made the costumes and props and learned the part of the comically named heroine Yum-Yum. It was never to be staged, but I enjoyed the experience.

Lady Katisha in performance of The MikadoAmong the characters whom I came to know intimately was one Katisha, a noble lady with a macabre sense of humour, and I wonder to what extent she influenced my delight in dispatching my victims in entertaining ways. 


Through the Yeomen of the Guard, I learned a little about how those of Tudor times might have expressed themselves. The libretti (words and lyrics) informed me about people here in the late 1800s spoke. Gilbert had a strong sense of the ridiculous, lampooning the pompous and arrogant.

So I now know that WS Gilbert, in particular, was a formative influence on my writing style and that here I offer him a posthumous tribute. Thank you, William.

Next Week, and Counting To Eight

I return to the village green for the reshoot and, hopefully, a successful attempt to declare what is in my bag! And then … a significant transformation will be wrought. 

Until then, here as always is the Cornish language version of the new reveal video where you can learn to count to 8 in Kernewek (Cornish):

Click to play the Book Hunt video with Cornish subtitles

Happy watching and reading,



PS If you want to start the series now:
Amanda Cadabra and The Hidey-Hole Truth

Available on Amazon

Paperback, Kindle
and Large Print

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About the Author

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Cat adorer and chocolate lover. Holly Bell's life changed in a day. A best-selling author friend telephoned and convinced her, that after years of penning non-fiction, she could write cozy paranormal mysteries. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Holly lives in the UK and is a photographer and video maker when not writing. Her favourite cat is called Bobby. He is black. Like her favourite hat. Purely coincidental.