I don’t very often read short story collections, but when Elizabeth Ducie got in touch to tell me about Coombesford Calendar Volume 1 I just couldn’t resist. It’s published for kindle tomorrow – also available on other platforms and as a paperback – and currently available for pre-order at just 77p. My thanks to Elizabeth for sending me a pre-release e-copy so that I could write my review.
I have, of course, read and really enjoyed Elizabeth’s writing before. It’s not only short stories that I don’t often read – you won’t find many reviews of thrillers set in the murky world of international pharmaceuticals either, but I thoroughly enjoyed both Deception! and Corruption! (links are to my reviews) two of the Jones Sisters thrillers , and think many others would too. I then went back and read her standalone Gorgito’s Ice Rink – the book that first drew her writing to my notice – and it was an engrossing story told with a very sure emotional touch, an opportunity to explore a culture and way of life that was totally outside my experience (you’ll find my review here). Last year she produced a quite wonderful cosy mystery (another genre I very rarely read) – Murder at Mountjoy Manor, the first in a planned series, the Coombesford Chronicles – and it was a totally unexpected delight (you can read my review again here).
This book isn’t the next in the series – that will be Villainy at the Village Store, due out in October 2022 (and one I’m rather looking forward to). This collection is more of a companion piece, and one you can enjoy as a standalone – not mysteries, and no murders, but a series of tales about the people of the village, introducing a number of new characters but also including a small number of already familiar ones.
A year of stories from an English village
Outwardly peaceful, the village of Coombesford has, at times, been the scene of murder and mayhem. Nestled between the Haldon Hills and Dartmoor in Devon, England, what secrets does Coombesford hide behind its quaint façade?
The residents of this idyllic-seeming village may not be entirely what they seem. Who is the Little Princess, really? What grudge does the editor of a local paper have against the amateur theatrical society? What plots does the parking attendant devise on her time off?
Meet some of the residents of Coombesford in this collection of twelve short stories, and catch a glimpse of what they get up to when not solving – or committing – murder.
This collection really was quite delicious in every way. Twelve stories, one for each month of the year – and as the whole book’s only 90 pages long, they’re all quite short. But every single one of them is simply wonderful – well drawn characters, that perfect village setting, a touch of light intrigue, a sprinkling of humour – with some really unexpected twists in their tails.
You might choose to read them one at a time – that had been my plan too, but the temptation to try “just one more” was far too great, I read from cover to cover in one thoroughly enjoyable sitting. And you might find you have your personal favourites – the three mentioned above might just be mine – but I guarantee that every single one of them will entertain and leave you with a wide smile on your face.
Such a lovely read – and one I’d thoroughly recommend to others.
About the author
When Elizabeth Ducie had been working in the international pharmaceutical industry for nearly thirty years, she decided she’d like to take a break from technical writing – text books, articles and training modules – and write for fun instead. She started by writing travel pieces, but soon discovered she was happier, and more successful, writing fiction. In 2012, she gave up the day job, and started writing full-time. She has published five novels, several collections of short stories and a series of manuals on business skills for writers.