Thursday, August 13, 2020

Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison | Blog Tour with Guest Post and Giveaway

Death at High Tide: An Island Sisters Mystery by Hannah Dennison

Death at High Tide: An Island Sisters Mystery

Cozy Mystery

1st in Series

Publisher: Minotaur Books (August 18, 2020)

Hardcover: 304 pages

ISBN-10: 1250194482

ISBN-13: 978-1250194480

Digital ASIN: B0818PVX81

About Death at High Tide

Death at High Tide is the delightful first installment in the Island Sisters series by Hannah Dennison, featuring two sisters who inherit an old hotel in the remote Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall and find it full of intrigue, danger, and romance.

When Evie Mead’s husband, Robert, suddenly drops dead of a heart attack, a mysterious note is found among his possessions. It indicates that Evie may own the rights to an old hotel on Tregarrick Rock, one of the Isles of Scilly.

Still grieving, Evie is inclined to leave the matter to the accountant to sort out. Her sister Margot, however, flown in from her glamorous career in LA, has other plans. Envisioning a luxurious weekend getaway, she goes right ahead and buys two tickets — one way — to Tregarrick.

Once at the hotel — used in its heyday to house detective novelists, and more fixer-upper than spa resort, after all — Evie and Margot attempt to get to the bottom of things. But the foul-tempered hotel owner claims he's never met the late Robert, even after Evie finds framed photos of them — alongside Robert's first wife — in his office. The rest of the island inhabitants, ranging from an ex-con receptionist to a vicar who communicates with cats, aren't any easier to read.

But when a murder occurs at the hotel, and then another soon follows, frustration turns to desperation. There’s no getting off the island at high tide. And Evie and Margot, the only current visitors to Tregarrick, are suspects one and two. It falls to them to unravel secrets spanning generations — and several of their own — if they want to make it back alive.


About the Guest Post

The Importance of Setting

As an avid reader and writer, the importance of setting can never be underestimated. I’ve just finished devouring M.M. Kaye’s epic Trade Wind that is set in 19th century Zanzibar — “an earthly paradise fragrant with spices and frangipani.” 

The story covers a range of topics from piracy, smuggling, abduction, a cholera epidemic, and, of course, romance. If this book was set in present-day Zanzibar, it would be a completely different story and the characters would be reacting to their situations in a very different way too. There would probably be a lot of helicopters and explosions!

Setting is more than a geographical location or time period that serves as a backdrop to the story. It’s the context in which a story occurs. It’s the bowl that you make the cake in. We are creatures of our environment. Our outlook on life is colored by the setting in which we live. It contributes to our personalities, values, attitudes, and often, our problems.

As a writer, choosing a setting is a serious thing. When a friend of my sister mentioned that she had spent eight years working on Tresco, a private island resort in the Isles of Scilly, I was immediately intrigued. 

Located just twenty-eight miles from the southwest coast of Cornwall and with a combined population of 2,200, there are five inhabited islands and over one hundred and forty small rocky islets. The islands are famed for their Soleil d’Or narcissus, the gorgeously scented daffodils. Along with seasonal tourism, these flowers have been the main source of income for more than a century. 

Tresco has a landscape of contrasts — from dramatic rocky outcrops to dazzling white sandy beaches. There are Bronze Age burial sites, romantic castle ruins,
and exotic gardens peppered with figureheads of galleons
salvaged from the many shipwreck sites that pepper the surrounding ocean floor. It’s also a world-class birding destination — droves of golden pheasant, quail, and partridge wander the narrow lanes. 

The great thing about being a writer is that you get to make stuff up! For the Island Sisters Mysteries, I created a sixth inhabited island called Tregarrick. I have shamelessly based it on the real island of Tresco, (and yes, Tresco knows — in fact, I taught a writing retreat there last Fall), and a hotel called Burgh Island
Burgh Island
in Bigbury-on-Sea in South Devon, just a few miles from where I live. As a side note, Burgh Island was the location for Agatha Christie’s TV Mini-Series And Then There Were None. The hotel has a fascinating history too and has had more than its fair share of famous guests, from the disgraced Edward and Mrs. Simpson to Agatha Christie herself. It’s worth a visit. 

Tresco boasts one general store, one post office, one pub, and one beach cafĂ©. There is no hospital or doctor on the island. In case of a medical emergency, a hospital launch is sent from the main island of St. Mary’s. There are no cars, no streetlights and … best of all … no police presence! 
Sea Tractor

The police force is based on St. Mary’s. It consists of one sergeant, two constables, one police community support officer, and one volunteer. Policing is … by bicycle. 

I couldn’t think of a better setting for my two sisters, Evie and Margot — one a young widow and the other soon to be divorced — to start a new chapter as chatelaines of the fictional Tregarrick Rock hotel.

Leave a comment on your favorite setting in any book that you have enjoyed for a chance to win a copy of Death at High Tide.

About Hannah Dennison

Hannah Dennison was born and raised in Hampshire but spent more than two decades living in California. She has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant, and Hollywood story analyst. For many years Hannah taught mystery writing workshops at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program in Los Angeles, California.

Hannah writes the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries and the Vicky Hill Mysteries, both set in the wilds of the Devonshire countryside where she now lives with her two high-spirited Hungarian Vizslas.

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