Two seasonal books – Murder in Midwinter by Various authors, and Christmas Calamity at the Vicarage by Emily Organ

Sideways on, but I think you get the idea…

Murder in Midwinter by Various Authors

A collection of seasonal stories from various classic well known authors, this particular selection was published in 2020. This book has several tales that are set at Christmas, but they can certainly be read and enjoyed at other times as examples of very good writing. 

It includes writers who have featured in other collections from Profile Books; I was especially pleased to see Dorothy L. Sayers featured once more in a short story “The Queen’s Square”  that originally appeared in the 1933 collection “Hangman’s Holiday”, a country house mystery. As in other collections, there are contributions from Cyril Hare, Margery Allingham (Mr Campion) and an impressive story from Arthur Conan Doyle. Anthony Berkeley writes of mysterious motives and more. John Mortimer’s Rumpole has an eventful Christmas for once, and Ruth Rendall’s story of a would-be sleuth is startling in its domesticity. My favourite is undoubtedly Ellis Peter’s classic “A Present for Ivo”, which looks at the power of books in a completely novel way…

As always it is difficult to sum up what each story is about without giving away the point of the story. I thought that each of these stories work very well in setting up the context of the action, the main characters, the nature of the mystery and the solving of the crime where appropriate. It is very difficult to establish and achieve so much in such a short narrative, while conveying special information which may be very linked to the story. Well known characters like Rumpole are well known for their idiosyncrasies so perhaps less character building has to be done, whereas introducing new characters as attempted by Ellis and Rendall needs a little more exploration. Each author is skilled at writing stories that sit well in their time context, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed each one. 

Christmas Calamity at the Vicarage by Emily Organ

This novella is a super introduction to two redoubtable private detectives, Mrs Churchill and her assistant Miss Pemberley who have the privilege of living in an English village at some indefinable point in the twentieth century. This particular story is set just before Christmas when as expected from the title they are invited to the Vicarage for a Christmas party. The ever hungry Mrs Churchill is enticed to attend by the offer of a famous “mince pie mountain” prepared by the cook as well as the entertainment of recitations and the orphanage choir. Copious amounts of sherry are taken and the behaviour of some of the village characters are accordingly affected. 

The very hungry Churchill is dismayed when she cannot find the whereabouts of the mince pie mountain or indeed any other food. Instead she gets rightly upset to discover the choirmaster shouting at the perfectly competent singers for their performances, and frustrated when trapped in a long performance of “A Christmas Carol”. Fortunately for the intricacies of the story this is the sort of old Vicarage that has many rooms, exits and entrances, so the discovery of a body throws the local police into some confusion and excitement. Soon Churchill and Pemberly find themselves in hot water and discover that proving their innocence can be harder than tracking down the real culprits. 

As cosy murder mysteries go, this book follows many formulas of an enclosed group of people in a large house that holds many secrets. The official police investigation is at best incompetent, and yet the talented amateurs are struggling to prove their version of events. It is a funny book which depends heavily on characters and expectations, as well as a small badly behaved dog. I found it an amusing book which I recommend as full of interesting ideas and funny incidents, though probably not aimed at the serious crime enthusiast.     

Five Books for the Festive Season – Five novels with a festive theme of Christmas briefly reviewed

Five books – unstacked!

Five for the Festive Season 

This year I have read a lot of Christmas books – some set very much at Christmas itself, some in the lead up to it, some just mentioning the days in passing. I have reviewed some of them on this blog – mainly over the last month or so depending on tours etc. 

Here are five more I found on my “to be reviewed” pile – and I am not going to get to write a post on all of them in a reasonable time. So here is a brief rundown…

A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley (2019)

Scarlett and her family make a discovery on Christmas Day 2018 that rocks everything to its foundations. Left embarrassed and confused, Scarlett spends the next year confused and trying to work out what to do. Finding herself in the same village in Cornwall she tries to find out more. An enjoyable read with a lot of observations about people and their pasts, present and future.

An Island Christmas by Jenny Colgan (2019)

Apparently the fourth of a series, I read this and concentrated on working out the back stories of some of the main characters, who were very well drawn. The setting of a small isolated community, genuinely cut off by a ferocious sea, gives emergencies an intensity and the people second guessing what is really going on. I thought it was fascinating and moving. 

A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley  (2015)

Possibly my favourite of this set, this older novel starts with everything going really badly for Tabby, as she loses everything including her cat, the challenging Pye. Rescued by the wonderful Quaker Mercy Marwood, she is at last able to show her true abilities and is encouraged to make changes in a cracker business despite the major discouragement of Randal who is intent on looking after his inheritance and his new girlfriend. As usual, Trisha draws a brilliant set of characters in a slightly unusual setting which it is so easy to visualise. Fun, but with some strong underlying themes which are more challenging. 

The Merry Christmas Project by Cathy Bramley (2021)

Possibly more of a straight romance at Christmas than the other books, Merry is a young woman who wants a real family of her own, but seems to be getting further away from her dreams than ever. She has got good friends, a new business and a cottage for the time being. When she accidentally volunteers to run the village Christmas celebrations, she has to use all her contacts, even those who she has just met. Cole is a man who is enduring a separation from his children, and thinks he has little time for anything or anyone else. A well written novel of Christmas deadlines and discovering friendships.

I Wish It could be Christmas Every Day by Milly Johnson (2020)

An unusual book in some respects, dealing with some bigger issues implied, including what real celebrations mean when other distractions are gone. Six people are trapped by the weather in a deserted Yorkshire pub, though happily with generous food and drink, logs for the fire and beds to go round. Robin and Charlie are a devoted couple but all is not well. Bridge and Luke were once passionately in love, now meeting to finally divorce. Will they remember the past more? Mary is a devoted and capable PA to Jack, but does he really know she is there? Painful truths, cracker jokes and love in many forms, a surprising and lovely book which made me want to read more from this author, especially for her brave tackling of challenging themes.   

The Switch by Beth O’Leary – two women, generations apart but needing answers

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Sometimes books that contain contemporary romance feature only young women like Leena, but this novel also looks at the character of Eileen who is about to turn eighty. In some ways it is Eileen who possesses the drive and imagination in this tale of two women who swop lives when disappointed in love and life. Both are affected by a common tragedy, they are both given the same name, but at least at the beginning are separated by decades and understanding. There is a certain amount of levelling up in terms of technology, and sometimes the work is tackled by other characters who surround both women. There are communities not only in the rural village where they are usually expected, but an emerging one in largely anonymous London. This is a mature and satisfying blend of north and south, romance and reality, love of various kinds and much more. Technically clever, as the two women narrate alternate chapters of their stories they meet unsuspected challenges that seem to come with living in each place, of a badly behaved dog or a lonely woman among others. There is genuine humour arising from situations, but also a real depth of feeling for the people that are in both places. This is a very enjoyable book on so many levels, funny, moving and impressive.

Leena is in a difficult place when the book begins, desperately worried about leading a presentation. The reason for her struggle is the death of her much loved sister Carla, which has left her mother completely stuck, and her grandmother Eileen vigilant about her daughter’s state.  Eileen is also coming to terms with her husband’s desertion which she is really happy about. It comes as she is running so many groups and events in the village, organising people’s lives on many levels. She realises that she is getting older and is determined to look for love one more time. Sadly the potential men in the village are not very desirable; she should know, she has made a list. When Leena turns up, she is distraught having been given two months paid leave which she has been told to take. Her boyfriend works in the same field, but has very little positive to offer her. It is decided that she will move into her grandmother’s house, while her grandmother moves into her shared house in London. It is a culture shock for both women, as Eileen has to come to terms with fast moving life in London, computers and new ways to meet people. Not that she is on her own in the flat; Leena’s flat mates are remarkable characters, and they need help just as much as the people in a tiny Yorkshire village used to in a different way. Meanwhile Leena discovers that life in a village has many responsibilities if she is really to take Eileen’s place. One job is taking a local teacher’s dog for a walk, a task for which she prepares thoroughly. A series of mishaps gives her an interesting introduction to the village, but she soon realises that people’s appearances are concealing a lot. 

This is a fascinating book of contemporary people in situations that are new to them. It is sharply observational, funny and moving, with surprises and twists that maintain the entertainment throughout. I really enjoyed this book, with the points it raises and the questions it poses. It has much to say about love, loss and new starts, real problems and potential answers. It is written with humour and an enormous understanding of people, and I recommend it. 

The Mother of all Christmases by Milly Johnson – a story of various women as they discover their pregnancies

The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson

Three women become pregnant, and because their babies are due in December or January they join a new club – “The Christmas Pudding Club” – a lively group of women. Perhaps their babies are much longed for, a complete surprise, or a way out of a way of life; each woman brings her own thoughts to the group. Each woman has come from a different background, a different way of life, which seems to separate them on one level, but also bring them together in new ways. Not that everything is plain sailing by any means – being pregnant brings back difficult memories and deepens feelings for the women and those close to them. There are also many laughs to be found in this book; the humour of people working in a small business, the confusion in a company established to celebrate winter, the determination to improve a life. There are so many fascinating characters to read of, so many fascinating decisions, in a realistic group of settings. Though this book does not really mention Christmas itself, it has something of the magic of the season to be found. It certainly could be read at other times of the year with great enjoyment and feelings of so many kinds.

Eve has inherited a theme park which celebrates all things Winter, including Christmas itself. They employ a large group of people including a group of Welsh workers led by a string minded character called Effin. There is plenty to do at the park, including the maintenance of an erratic train. Not everything is as it seems, especially with romance on the cards. Eve does have a loving partner, whose ideas can be a bit flamboyant, but he is devoted to Eve, whatever happens. Annie is married to Joe, and they have been a loving couple for many years, even if they have always lacked children. They own and work in a small company making Christmas crackers, and are struggling to keep up even with their very modest turnover. Not that their workers are necessarily sad; they tell riotous jokes even online. Annie’s discovery that she is not experiencing the menopause but in fact pregnant is exciting for everyone, especially when she joins the club. Meanwhile Palma is a desperate young woman. Struggling against a poor upbringing, she is willing to do anything to escape the terrible area she lives in. Her desperation involves her in a scheme to act as a surrogate for a somewhat despicable couple in order to get the money for a fresh start. Moving to a new area may solve some problems, but can she really escape everyone from her past, even if she should? Her story is in some ways the most bumpy, and yet written with immense sensitivity. As these women meet together with others they give each other support that they never could have imagined, and lives and expectations are overturned.

This book is not just a straight story; there are interruptions from the local newspaper which feature their very funny mistakes and misspellings. The themes tackled in this book are fascinating, including a short note called “Paul’s Gift”. This book is not just a light romance as it tackles some issues that may well be familiar to many readers, such as the excitement of going to baby scans. I recommend this as a book not just for Christmas, but a thoughtful read for any time of the year.  

One More Christmas at the Castle by Trisha Ashley – a special novel of the preparation for a remarkable Christmas in a castle

One More Christmas at the Castle by Trisha Ashley

A Christmas novel has to be something special to be memorable, and this latest Christmas book from Trisha Ashley has a lot going for it. Set in a part large home, part mini castle set near Hadrian’s Wall in beautiful Northumberland, it has friendship, romance and difficult relationships, as well as some excellent cooking organisation tips. This book is mainly set in the lead up to Christmas, and I think could be enjoyed at other times of the year when the weather suits a cosy read. The characters are so well drawn that they stick in the mind, as well as being enjoyable in the context of the book. Not all behave well, some have complex agendas, and there is much to work out. This book is full of Ashley’s trademark humour, which works well between such excellent characters. Sabine has many memories connected with the building from early childhood, but there are tensions which she suggests in her own chapters that she narrates. The main storyteller is Dido, a young woman whose background is mixed, but who has learned to be self-reliant and make the most of her considerable skills. The other characters in the book may not directly comment, but their parts are crucial to the story as a community comes together in the rather special celebrations of Christmas. This book is a real treat in so many ways. 

The book opens with a character list, which given the arrivals at the castle is useful when the community is assembled and to a certain extent confined to the castle and its grounds. The Prologue describes the castle, stuck in the winter, beyond its beautiful Winter Garden which becomes a feature for more than one character. Mrs Sabine Powys is a wealthy woman, generous to those who work for her, but beset by a relative called Lucy who is ineffective at best. Change is on the way, as housekeeper Maria is not going to be able to continue to run the house. Sabine decides to take action as she knows her time is limited, and with her wealth she is able to work out how to hire a very special service to make Christmas as much as possible as it was when she was a small child, before her family was irreparably changed. Dido and her friend Henry are experienced at running their own business “Heavenly Houseparties” which provides a temporary live in service to run house parties in every detail, especially at Christmas. It soon becomes obvious that their complementary personalities and amazing organisation means that they can turn up at a venue and take over every element of cooking, cleaning and preparation. Not that it is without its challenges, as Sabine has her own ideas, particularly about Dido. Happily a retired Vicar, Nancy, has known Sabine for many years, and has a real gift for making friends. Just to confuse the issue Xan is a young man who has come to write a biography of Sabine’s late beloved husband Asa, and his presence stirs up memories not only for Sabine, but also for Dido. As Sabine is conflicted by difficult situations revived for the Christmas season, Dido realises that she has taken on more than running Christmas as it once was, and must deal with future possibilities.

The book manages to evoke so many themes, of difficult memories amidst the traditions of a spectacular recreation of a childhood Christmas. There is a community of people who temporarily come together at Christmas with their own agenda, and it brings many issues to a climax.This book is written with real feeling for the characters, the setting and the time of year, and I recommend it as a special read for anyone who enjoys contemporary lively stories.    

Murder on a Winter’s Night – Ten Classic Crime Stories edited by Cecily Gayford

Murder on a Winter’s Night – Ten Classic Crime Stories

Every year a book of ten classic tales from Profile books appears, and they are a welcome little treat featuring Golden Age classics from authors such as Margery Allingham mixed with one or two more contemporary tales from the likes of Mark Billingham. Some authors reappear in most of the volumes if not all, such as Arthur Conan Doyle in a chilling non Sherlock Holmes story. My favourite treat is the Dorothy L Sayers story, which is a most satisfying tale in this particular book. Not all of them are set at or focus on Christmas, which is worth knowing, indeed they are more concerned with cold and dark conditions, when everything seems different and more challenging. There is a mixture of detectives, both police and more amateur, and a few where there is a realisation that a crime has been committed. There are a variety of styles, from the sad to the amusing, and sometimes bordering on surreal. All are worth reading, and while some are less surprising than others, all are well written examples of truly classic crime stories where so much is accomplished in a very little space. 

The first story by Cyril Hare is a small gem of surprise, whereas the second by HC Bailey is more detailed. Allingham’s story relates a tale of Mr Campion being impressed, while Julian Symon’s story is a festive treat. “The Motive” by G D H and M Cole is clever, while Billingham’s story is very Christmas based. Conan Doyle’s tale is disturbing and perhaps the least festive, and a second tale called “The Motive”, this time by Ronald Knox, is a lawyer based story. The final story by Edmund Crispin is a clever little tale, as may be expected from a writer known for his interesting twists. My favourite story is the longest in the collection and features the ever popular (at least in my house) Lord Peter Wimsey who is enjoying a country retreat. It is concerned with night time apparitions and a few mysteries that appeal to the gentleman sleuth. There is a distinctive atmosphere of darkness and dampness in this story, as well as some interesting surprises even for the determined Wimsey. Big houses, a village church and country lanes are the setting for a twisty tale beautifully written as ever. 

This is a worthy book of seasonal tales in this gentle series. It is winter crime without the gore, where clever suggestion and mature puzzles dominate the narratives. This is a book that will suit Golden Age of detection devotees and those who enjoy well crafted tales equally, by authors who have stood the tests of time. It is another enjoyable book in this series which I recommend which can be read in any order by many people.    

The Swift and the Harrier by Minette Walters – a tremendous historical novel of a remarkable woman in the Civil War

The Swift and the Harrier by [Minette Walters]

The Swift and the Harrier by Minette Walters

This is an historical novel with much to recommend it, and as it is created by a world famous crime writer there is also the probability that it will be well written.It is a memorable novel for excellent reasons. Set in the Civil War in England, it features the way that families were divided between King and Parliament, and how even within those opposing camps there were leaders and commanders whose abilities varied widely. Also, the main protagonist is a remarkable woman whose firm belief in neutrality is all the more significant because she is working as a physician, willing and able to treat those fighting on both sides, whether fighters or civilians. This book has its brutal moments and some injury details which shows its author’s background, but also says much about the realities of the time. The treatment that Jane Swift becomes involved in is fascinating, very much of its time, but remarkable for its good sense and the fact that a woman is trusted to act. After all, “wise women” had attracted unwanted accusations in the reign of the King’s father, as well as the ambiguous status of those practising as physicians at the time. 

The other element of this book which I really appreciated is the shadowy figure of “William Harrier”, who has the unaccountable talent for turning up when most needed in a variety of guises, ranging from servant to army commander. He is loyal to Lady Alice Strickland, and that lady is portrayed as remarkable in so many ways. This is a novel of disguises, improvisation, dangerous situations and yet humour and dedication, beliefs and love. It is a tremendous novel, set in a fascinating period of history, and I was so glad to have the opportunity to read and review it.  

The novel begins on a significant date in Dorset, as on 19th August 1642 two priests are due to be publicly executed in public. Dorchester is thronged with people as the manner of religious observance is important to everyone; the Puritans are gathered in great numbers to witness the torture of two Catholics charged with the spreading of a troublesome interpretation of faith. Jayne Swift is trying to get to the house of her cousin Ruth. Pressed by a suspicious and angry crowd, she falls into the doorway of an older woman who seems to side with the Protestants surrounding her. There are soon hints that all is not as it seems in this strange household, and when Jayne eventually moves on to the desperate Ruth’s house she is grateful for the protection of a servant who turns out to be unexpectedly useful. Indeed, when she arrives at the house it is in the absence of Ruth’s husband, whose return after his bloodthirsty actions will require all the assembled women’s fortitude to withstand. It provides a taste of the desperate times Jayne will have to cope with in a siege that fully shows the brutality of war and the desperation of those determined not to surrender.  

This is a richly textured novel with strands of humanity, family affection and humour, as well as the complexities of a war fought in the homes of so many people throughout the country. With some tremendous characters throughout, Walters constructs a story of those who fought on both sides as well as those who tried to remain neutral and do no harm. As well as the quiet courage and intelligence of Jayne Swift herself, there are other women who either quietly or publicly state their allegiances to family and friends in all sorts of situations. I really revelled in this novel, appreciating its twists and turns, its surprises and satisfying working out of characters. It is superb historical fiction providing a portrait of a time when tensions and loyalties could mean life and death, when war was on the streets, roads and fields of England. The research it represents is immense, though hard facts are never allowed to get in the way of the strong narrative. The Civil War is possibly a time which does not attract as much fictional interest as it could, but this novel makes a strong entry with its female led story, and I recommend it as a really good read. 

This review first appeared on “Shiny New Books” at Thanks to Annabel for keeping me on their lists as a reviewer! (They have many fantastic reviews on this site – why not take a look?)

Murder After Christmas by Rupert Latimer – a 1944 festive murder mystery reprinted by British Library Crime Classics

Murder After Christmas by Rupert Latimer

This wartime novel, originally published in 1944, fulfils all the requirements of a classic festive season murder mystery, and adds a few more themes in an effortlessly funny story. An elderly wealthy relative is staying in a family house for Christmas, a certain number of residents and visitors have access to the establishment, there is snow for footprint purposes, and a death occurs. As detailed in Martin Edwards’ informative Introduction, which reflects a certain amount of detective work in itself, Latimer did not produce many murder mysteries, but they were special for adding devices and humour to the basic storyline. 

This edition from the British Library Crime Classics series is an amusing, clever and sometimes almost surreal presentation of a story with fascinating characters, and quite a complex story of suspicious death and detection. The plot revolves around a big enough house for a sizable party during one afternoon and evening, and those staying there are suitably squashed in with sort of evacuees in outbuildings and some servants. The wartime background is underplayed; it is the reason that Uncle Willie is present, as the “current European unpleasantness” makes it impossible for him to visit one of his foreign homes and makes the hotel where he has been staying eject him for the season. He is much married, including to some famous ladies, and he has amassed a great wealth. His story, and that of his often complicated set of friends and relations, provide an interesting background to his suspicious death, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this entertaining book.

As the book opens, his stepdaughter Rhoda Redpath is revealing to her husband Frank that she has heard from Sir Willoughby Keene – Cotton, and that “he doesn’t say anything about being dead”. Frank is not idly speculating about his death, given that Willoughby is about ninety years old, and has attained a near legendary status for his multiple marriages. He is also known to Aunt Paulina who is present, by some complex relationship, and she shows a typically mild interest in his situation. It transpires that there was a complex inheritance question in the past, whereby it looked as if Willoughby has denied Rhoda an inheritance, and a conversational topic was how to best murder the old man. Rhoda does point out that he did eventually pay the money over, so inviting him to stay for Christmas is not so unreasonable. Indeed, it seems that it may be “Bread Upon the Waters”, a small investment in the slender hope of a financial reward eventually. When Willoughby arrives by train he almost succeeds in murdering himself with his baggage and his progress to the house. He becomes a lively guest, with an interestingly selective memory and a determination to get his own way in terms of ordering in vast amounts of food despite rationing, and quickly establishing his need for a companion secretary to write up notes for his projected autobiography. When the neighbourhood hears of his presence they hasten to obtain invitations to a Christmas Tree party on Boxing Day, and obscure relations also arrive to pay tribute. A lively party duly takes place, in which Willoughby takes a part as Father Christmas rather than sitting around being observed. His body is discovered in the garden the following day, and experiments are undertaken to see if he could have fallen from a window. His death is at first considered to be natural, but John Redpath points out the impossibility of the footprints in the snow, and more investigations take place. A police officer decides to conduct a thorough investigation, and makes some unusual discoveries, especially when wills and inheritances make things more complicated. 

This is a most enjoyable festive mystery with many amusing touches such as fake bodies and mysterious mince pies. The characters are so well drawn, with some idiosyncrasies that stick in the memory. I recommend this as a great winter entertainment, and a brilliant rediscovery of a classic book.       

The Rector’s Daughter by F M Mayor – a Persephone reprint of a classic novel

The Rector's Daughter – Persephone Books

The Rector's Daughter – Persephone Books

The Rector’s Daughter by FM Mayor

This is a book written with such emotion and powerful thought that it is quite an experience to read, reflecting so much of disappointed love that it is a compelling experience . First published in 1924 it is not a novel of flappers and new ways, it is an ageless tale of three people caught up in a triangle of love and yearning. It has recently been reprinted in a handsome edition by Persephone books with an informative introduction by Victoria Gray, a member of the author’s family.The author, known as Flora, was educated at Newnham College Cambridge when that was a rare thing for a woman. Her own life had its tragic aspects, and this book reflects some of her disappointment. Gray points out that it revolves around four characters, a father, a daughter, a confused young man and unreliable young woman. It is a book of contrasting lifestyles, of a quiet existence, and is carefully composed to create a sense of houses, homes, which reflect characters’ personalities. It is a beautifully written book, and I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review it. 

As the novel opens with a description of the village of Dedmayne, a seemingly featureless place in which Mary was born and has “rarely” left. She lives with her father, Canon Jocelyn, the parish clergyman who was “conspicuous” in the neighbourhood for his superior  spirituality and academic reputation. Her mother has died, her brothers are elsewhere, and her sister Ruth is very ill and fragile.Mary has become the dutiful daughter, full of good works and parish duties when not caring for her sister. She has few friends and no potential suitors, despite the number of men who come to the Rectory to appreciate her father’s academic work. Not that it is ambitious or inspired; he gave up reading any book published after 1895. The Rectory is not suitable for giving dances, its court not encouraging for tennis. Mary could not return hospitality, she had no “coming out”, and her hesitant attempts at writing articles are callously dismissed by her father. Eventually a Mr. Herbert arrives, and even Canon Jocelyn is impressed. Mary is attracted to this particular young man, especially as he chooses to encourage her. Against the background of her dreary life any encouragement is the exception, and as she basks in his appreciation she allows herself to hope that he will propose. In small ways she becomes optimistic, breaks out of her normal way of life albeit temporarily, and dreams of leaving behind her spinster days. A decision on the part of Mr Herbert changes everything, and another woman finds her attitudes to life challenged on many levels. 

This book is full of the domestic routines, small details of life and much more that provides a total picture of life for women of the period. It is a vivid portrayal of women’s experiences and the importance of marriage for her opportunities in society. Mary is a memorable character who is described in great depth, and creates a strong empathy for a woman seen as surplus in many ways. This is a classic novel in so many ways, and I recommend it as a very special read. 

Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels – Heffers, Cambridge

Shown without the bags of books I bought!

Bookshop Tour on Four Wheels – Heffers, Cambridge

One of my favourite book shops since I was eighteen is Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge. Now it is actually part of the Blackwells group, but I think it retains much of the flavour of an independent shop. It is accessible for Morgan, my trusty powerchair, thanks to a wide automatic doorway and a smaller one down a side entrance. Inside the shop itself there are several levels which can be accessed via small lifts which fortunately work well. The front section, at least at this time of year, is devoted to new books and a good selection of older books chosen by the booksellers. The fiction section is big, and includes books from small publishers such as Slightly Foxed. My favourite department is Crime. Richard has been there for over forty years, and the selection of books goes far beyond contemporary crime. There is an incredible choice of literary crime, “cosy” crime and Golden Age Detection. There is a full set of British Library Crime Classics, as well as more obscure reprints of novels of the mid twentieth century which Richard has discovered and promoted. Altogether it is possible to spend a lot of money there…All the staff are friendly and helpful, and I have spent many hours there whenever I have been able to get to Cambridge.

Heffers Bookshop


20 Trinity St


CB2 1TY Cambridge 


Cambridgeshire England


01223 463200


Opening times set on 17/03/2021

MONDAY09:00 – 17:30
TUESDAY09:00 – 17:30
WEDNESDAY09:00 – 17:30
THURSDAY09:00 – 17:30
FRIDAY09:00 – 17:30
SATURDAY09:00 – 17:30
SUNDAY11:00 – 17:00