My guest today is Victoria Dowd, author of the gripping murder mystery, The Supper Club Murders.
Let’s find out a bit more about the book, and read her interview with Ursula Smart. one of the characters from it.
The phones are out.
The roads have flooded.
There’s no way in or out.
And the murders have begun.
Ursula Smart and her mother are invited to a supper club at Greystone Castle on the edge of a picturesque Dartmoor village, along with their ever-adventurous book group.
But as the dinner party begins, their hosts Lord and Lady Black begin to reveal festering resentments. Lord Black, who actually bought his title, looks like he’s having an affair with the maid.
Then as midnight strikes, someone is found brutally murdered and the Smart women find themselves investigating another perplexing crime.
On this dark and stormy night, with the castle cut off by flood waters, who will be the next to die?
AN IMPOSSIBLE LOCKED-ROOM MURDER MYSTERY WITH A TOUCH OF DARK HUMOUR.
It sounds an exciting read, doesn’t it? If you fancy reading it, you can get a copy here:
Now, over to you, Victoria.
Thanks, Karen. I’m joined today by Ursula Smart, the narrator of the award winning Smart women’s mystery series of books. The first of which was The Smart Woman’s Guide to Murder. That was followed by Body on the Island and then, most recently, The Supper Club Murders. Welcome.
Welcome, Ursula. Let me begin by asking something that you must be asked a lot these days. How are you?
Hi. I’m OK, thank you. Better. I’m doing a lot better. There have obviously been some difficult moments over the years but it’s more… bearable now. It wasn’t easy when my father left, well, died. Actually, he was murdered. That was very hard. I almost… But I had a lot of help. Bob the Therapist isn’t with us anymore though. He’s not dead! He ran away to the South American jungle. I had a bit of a relapse after we stayed at The Slaughter House, I mean Ambergris Towers where four people were murdered. After that, we thought the island escape would help but… well, there were some more murders. And then, of course, there was Dartmoor last year with all the murders.
I see. That’s a lot of death. That’s very… unfortunate. You narrate the books for us. That must be very difficult to remain objective when you’re around so much death. It has been said that you’re not a particularly reliable narrator. What do you say to that?
Well, who is? We all see an incident from a slightly different point of view. Ask any number of people who witness something and they will all tell you a story influenced by any number of things, from where they were standing to who they are as a person. There’s no such thing as an entirely reliable narrator. I try to be as honest as I can be… most of the time.
Now, you do have to present a number of different points of view, don’t you, since you are one of a group who have become known as the Smart Women? Can you tell us who they are?
This is a label the press have got hold of and really run with. I don’t mind it so much anymore. Basically, I’m Ursula Smart and there’s Mother. There’s always Mother. She’s Pandora Smart. Then there’s my Aunt Charlotte, who is wonderful but not particularly useful in a crisis. We are faced with a lot of crises. There was Mirabelle, my godmother, but she’s no longer around. Oh, and there’s Bridget. She’s not a relative or very smart but she was in our original book group and does seem to be around every time the murders start. She has a lot of unusual pets.
You mentioned your mother there, Pandora Smart. It’s fair to say you have quite a complicated relationship with her.
Yes, well, who doesn’t? We’ve been through a lot together and she can be… insufferable to put it mildly. Let’s just put it this way, she’s not who you’d want on a life-threatening weekend. She’s quite particular and isn’t afraid to let me know that on a regular basis. She can be a little toxic sometimes. However, we are, what I like call mutually dependent.
I see. How do you deal with that on a daily basis? I know you still live together.
Listen, there’s nothing wrong with living together. We’ve had a lot to deal with and really, we’re the only people who know how it feels to lose so many people in such terrible circumstances. We deal with it together so we don’t have to let the rest of the world invade our sadness. Grief is very bespoke and very personal. We all have our ways.
And one of your ways is a hollowed out Bible with a bottle of brandy in it, isn’t it? And doesn’t your mother now have a similar book with a bottle of gin in it?
It’s not a similar book, it’s Gone Girl. And who told you this anyway?
Your mother. She wrote a piece about it on her blog, Death Smarts. If I can just ask you about that. It’s become quite popular, hasn’t it?
Yes. Mother blogs about our near-death experiences. The articles are supposed to be inciteful and nothing is off limits. Which really means my private life is on display at all times to the general public. She gets a lot of advertising though from people such as funeral parlours, stain removers and cleaning products. She runs pieces on how to remove blood stains. Stuff like that. It’s all related to murder scenes. It’s quite famous now and very lucrative but it does mean the entire world knows everything.
Not everything. We don’t know what’s next for the Smart women. There are rumours of a wedding.
They’re wrong. That’s personal. I don’t answer questions about things that are personal to me and… I don’t talk about that. And there certainly won’t be any press around it.
So it is happening.
I think that’s enough questions. Thank you.
Thanks so much, Victoria and Ursula. I’ll just share some nice reviews of the book:
Murders, laughs and a malevolent wig-stealing monkey — this book is a riot!” Nicola Gill, author of We Are Family
“I absolutely LOVED this book. The Supper Club Murders is another brilliantly original mystery, fizzing with atmosphere and intrigue. A perfect cocktail of devilish plot and ingenious characterisation, all laced with Dowd’s unmistakable wit. Superb!” Philippa East, author of Little White Lies & Safe and Sound
“Victoria Dowd is my go-to author for clever, witty crime fiction full of memorable characters and The Supper Club Murders is no exception! Dark, sharp and dangerously addictive.” Louise Mumford, bestselling author of Sleepless
“Lashings of dark humour, and an edgy twisty yet classic plot . . . A perfect autumn addition to my crime bookshelf! D. E. White, bestselling author of Glass Dolls
“Sheer reading delight from beginning to end. Dowd masterfully mingles laugh out loud humour with suffocating grief in this confounding murder mystery. May the Smart women enchant readers for many more books to come.” Penny Batchelor, bestselling author of My Perfect Sister
“A crazy humorous murder mystery. Certainly something different. I thought it wonderfully written, very imaginative and creative . . . it’s like combining modern-day trauma with Gothic tragedy.” Carol S.
And here’s the buy link again if you fancy reading it: Amazon
Victoria is a crime writer and winner of the People’s Book Prize for fiction 2020/2021 with her debut novel, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Murder. It was also named In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel’s Book of the Year 2020. The second book in the series, Body on the Island, is also long listed for the People’s Book Prize for fiction this year and is nominated for the TCK publishers Readers’ Choice Award 2021. Book 3 in the series, Tales of the Red Monkey, was released on 16th September. Her books are a modern, darkly comic take on Golden Age crime fiction.
Victoria is also a short story writer and was awarded the Gothic Fiction prize for short fiction in 2019. She was the runner up in The New Writer’s writer of the year award and long-listed for The Willesden Herald International Short Story Competition. Her work has been published in many literary journals and magazines. She also writes the Adapting Agatha series, focusing on TV and film adaptations of Agatha Christie and regularly speaks at various festivals on this subject. This year, she appeared at the International Agatha Christie Festival.
Originally from Yorkshire, she studied law at Cambridge and was a criminal law barrister appearing at the Old Bailey for many years but hung up her wig in favour of writing about crime. She is now co-convenor of the London chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association.
Winner of The People’s Book Prize 2020/2021