English village mystery

Author Profile: Jessica Ellicott/Jessica Estavao

Jessica Estavao has always known that she wanted to be a writer. Lucky for us, she is now a talented, award-winning, bestselling author from New England with more than one alter-ego working at her computer.

As Jessie Crockett, she wrote the Sugar Grove Mysteries and “Live Free or Die,” a Daphne du Maurier winner.


As Jessica Estavao, she penned the Agatha nominated Change of Fortune Mysteries.


As Jessica Ellicott, she works on her current series, the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries which has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.

Meet the writer that composed all those wonderful pages, sometimes while listening to sounds of the ocean. She outlines all her books, always works in a comfortable space with a flask of coffee at the ready, and likes to begin new projects with special notebooks, colorfully filled fountain pens, wet erase markers, and a glass ‘scrawl wall’ to plan the story.

NBR: You’ve written several series, each with different time periods, and now the Beryl & Edwina books set in England. How do you choose the time period and the setting? How much time do you spend on the research before starting to write the book? Where do you get all those terrific details in the Beryl & Edwina books and are you continuing the research as the series evolves?

JE: I love historical novels in general and mysteries in particular, so it is a real pleasure to write about different time periods. I choose those that interest me for whatever reason feels intriguing at the time.

 

Some stories grow out of a particular time period like the Change of Fortune series set at the end of the Gilded Age. Since it involved Spiritualists and also the burgeoning tourist industry in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, that was the right time to set it as those things were at the fore then and there. For the Beryl and Edwina books I wanted to look at a lasting friendship between women during extraordinary times. The period between the world wars in the United Kingdom provided a good way to look at that very notion.

 

I love the research phase of any book and I enjoy doing quite a bit of it for each novel I write. The Beryl and Edwina books have been especially fun for this. It is such fun to look into the particular aspects of each mystery like the world of pigeon racing, the role of the Women’s Land Army, or the way the census was taken in 1921.

 

I look to resources like the Imperial War Museum, the National Archive, watch documentaries, and read newspapers and magazines of the day to provide details of life during that time and in that place. 

 

NBR: Some of the initial scenes in Edwina’s kitchen in “Murder in an English Village” revolve around the meager food supplies. That changes as the book develops and Beryl’s contributions improve the situation. Was this approach a result of the post-war research?

JE: I did make decisions about the available food for my sleuths based on research into the economic climate of the time. The U.K. hit a severe economic slump before the States did and for women like Edwina, things were especially difficult. It was a pleasure to give her some respite with Beryl’s arrival.

 

NBR: Do you like to cook? What are your favorite foods?

JE: I have lots of foods that I like but my two favorites are Thai Spring Rolls and Cheese Fondue. I often like to cook but don’t do it as often now that most of my children are grown as I did in the past. I may end up more like Beryl than Edwina for most of the time once the last one heads to college!

 

NBR: Are Beryl and Edwina based on historical figures?

JE: Beryl and Edwina are not based on historical figures. I adore books that feature actual people from history, but wanted to feel free to do just as I pleased with the pair of them. I decided to create them from imagination and a bit of wishful thinking!

 

NBR: People can truly identify with the women in the books. You’ve given Edwina a lovable small black and white dog, named Crumpet. Do you have pets?

JE: I do have a pet. I have a small white poodle named Sam. He’s almost two years old and he is wonderful company for me. He has a bed in my office and he does a great job of getting me to go out for some exercise a few times each day. His schedule helps me to plan my own and I am really grateful for what he brings into my life. 

 

NBR: Beryl’s car is a character in itself. Are you a fan of fast cars?

JE: I am not necessarily a fan of fast cars but I do love ones with distinctive style! And I am partial to those that are cherry red! Someday, I would love to own a car just like Beryl’s!

NBR: What do you like to do when you’re not hard at work, writing in wintry New Hampshire or on the coast of Maine in the summer?

JE: I have a lot of interests. I love to travel. I love long walks, especially on the beach. I am an avid knitter. I adore throwing parties. I recently began running with some regularity and have also started to learn to paint. 

 

NBR: What fun! You can stay physically fit, develop plot points, and do research, all while participating in activities you enjoy. Many thanks for taking time out to visit with the Nightstand Book Reviews community!

JE: Thanks for inviting me for the interview!

 

She loves to keep in touch with readers through her newsletter and hopes you will sign up at https://www.jessicaellicott.com/newsletteri-wanted-to-check/

 

Please check out Jessie’s Book List found here. Links to more information about all her books is included, as well as links to my reviews of several of the titles. The banner below shows the book cover for the new book in the Beryl & Edwina series.

 

The photos are from Jessie Ellicott’s Facebook page as well as her website.  🙂

 

 

 

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Book List: Jessica Estavao/Jessie Crockett/Jessica Ellicott

Jessica Estavao is a talented, bestselling, award-winning New England author with several entertaining mystery series to her credit. She is one of the “Wicked Authors,” a group of women writing wicked good mysteries mostly set in New England. Take a look at the list of her books below and see if you’ve read them all. (Click on the titles to learn more about the books)

 

Granite State Mysteries  (as Jessie Crockett)

Her debut mystery in the Granite State series, “Live Free or Die”, was the 2011 winner of the Daphne DuMaurier Award for Mainstream Mystery, an auspicious beginning to her career.

 

Sugar Grove Mysteries (as Jessie Crockett)

The series begins “Drizzled with Death,” one hilarious romp through championship pancake breakfasts, maple syrup, and animals on the loose. Who knew that falling dead head first into a stack of pancakes could be used as a crime scene setting?

 

Drizzled with Death” – review here

Maple Mayhem

Sticky Situation

 

 

Change of Fortune Mysteries (as Jessica Estavao)

Jessie moved her next series back in time to 1890’s Orchard Beach, Maine, with a con artist and tarot card reader protagonist. Ruby tries to stay one step ahead of the law, while helping her straight arrow aunt keep her hotel. Great fun featuring an innovative female lead character.

 

Whispers Beyond the Veil” 

review here     

 

 

Whispers of Warning

 

Beryl and Edwina Mysteries (as Jessica Ellicott)

Jessie’s current series is set in post WW1 England and introduces the former Finishing School duo of Edwina, the conservative English character, to Beryl’s adventurous American persona. They reunite many years later in the quiet (or is it?) southern English village of Warmsley Parva when Edwina advertises for a boarder and Beryl crashes onto her property.

Beryl and Edwina, while culturally and personally quite different, are fond of each other even after years apart. They find that their distinctive talents help them wonderfully well in their new business venture, a ‘private inquiry agency’ that solves mysteries in the charming village, while earning them an income.

Ellicott has written a series that is both historically enlightening and entertaining, with the sometimes serious subject matter of the day woven into the story of the two women drawn together by economics as well as friendship. Beautifully researched, the books reveal societal views about women 100 years ago, and peek inside the quaint village shops that have survived despite the post-war challenges.

Edwina’s shrewd intellect and Beryl’s clever approach to the mysteries outwit lesser minds and create a few comical moments to save the day and befuddle the clueless. These two engaging, intelligent women will capture your hearts and minds as you enjoy these wonderful books.

 

 

 

 

Murder in an English Village” 

review here

 

Murder Flies the Coop

Murder Cuts the Mustard

Murder Comes to Call

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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“Murder in an English Village” by Jessica Ellicott

 

“Murder in an English Village” is the first title in the wonderful new Beryl and Edwina Mystery series by Jessica Ellicott (aka Jessie Crockett/Jessica Estevao). Old school mates, Beryl Helliwell and Edwina Davenport, have lived wildly different lives since leaving Finishing School. American Beryl has been a world traveler and well known adventuress, while English Edwina has lived quietly in Walmsley Parva in picturesque southern England. But Beryl is tired of the demands of public life and Edwina needs a boarder now that her post WW1 income has shriveled. A perfect setup for the old chums to meet again after all these years.

 

Beryl discovers the seriousness of Edwina’s plight, but when she takes it upon herself to pay the shopkeepers for some of Edwina’s bills, she also attempts to divert the gossip about Edwina’s situation with an outlandish lie she reveals to the biggest gossip in town.

 

Beryl persuades Edwina that the BIG LIE will not remain one if they work together to solve a few crimes. What crimes? Warmsley Parva is a fairly quiet place…or is it? The seemingly peaceful village has a great many secrets, some tragically kept to preserve reputations. Villains parade as upstanding citizens with devastating consequences.

 

Ellicott’s marvelously descriptive writing transports us to rustic English cottages, dressed country fields, one phone in a sparsely populated countryside, and small shops showing their wear, while revealing societal views about women of 100 years ago. It was a hard life for everyone worldwide that lived during WW1, but England took years longer to adjust to the new economic reality with money, food, and manpower shortages. In a masterful touch of subtlety, Ellicott shows how Edwina’s financial circumstances change because of Beryl’s presence, and dinners become more varied. Even the occasional outing for tea can be enjoyed.

 

One of the interesting historical references in “Murder in an English Village” is The Women’s Land Army, a government program initiated because able-bodied men that might otherwise have been farming the land, were off fighting for home and country. Women committed to a year to work the land, but despite doing a great service, the women were not always looked upon with favor, considered by some to be a lesser class of citizen. This attitude was exploited by some and used to great effect in the book through Ellicott’s deft character development.

 

“Murder in an English Village” is both historically enlightening and entertaining, launching the new series with two engaging, intelligent women who will capture your hearts and minds.

 

Please visit https://www.jessicaellicott.com for more information about the talented Ms. Ellicott and the next book in the series, “Murder Flies the Coop,” out in September, 2019.

 

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