Priscilla Masters – “Life is full of stories. Novelists simply thread them together like pearls on a string”

Priscilla Masters, author of the Joanna Piercy and Martha Gunn mystery series, has many strings to her bow – or perhaps we should say harp. With a background in nursing and a hand in the antique market, Priscilla uses her breadth of

Priscilla Masters

Priscilla Masters

experience to inform her fiction; in particular her main characters Martha Gunn, coroner, and DI Joanna Piercy.

To mark the release of her latest Martha Gunn mystery, Recalled to Death, we talked to Priscilla and uncovered some facts that you probably didn’t know about the talented Ms Masters.

Did you know…?  

  • “I used to play the harp. In fact I still have my harp, though not tuned to concert pitch as the pull on the ancient sounding board would probably cause it to explode – the demise of many nineteenth century harps.”
  • “From the age of seven to sixteen I lived in the garden of my parents’ house in a wooden Roman gypsy caravan.”
  • “Since retiring from nursing my Saturday job is working in my husband’s antiques shop in Leek, Staffordshire (the setting for my DI Joanna Piercy books).”
  • “I am the third of seven multi-racial children adopted by an orthopaedic surgeon and his Classics graduate wife.”

Books I shall never get rid of:

  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
  • Priscilla’s Caravan by C.H. Abrahall (published in 1939), bought in a second hand book shop in Shrewsbury when I was three years old and the inspiration for an indulgent father’s purchase and the above decampment from house to caravan a few years later.
  • The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. (No need for introduction.)
  • And a copy of The Six Wives of Henry VIII signed by Antonia Fraser.

Favourite film:

One of the films I can watch again and again is The Painted Veil (2006), an adaptation of a novel by Somerset Maughan, starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. It is the story of an ill-fated marriage between a social butterfly and a bacteriologist who works in China dealing with a cholera epidemic. It reminds me of the time my husband and I spent doing voluntary work in Lesotho, and the isolation and romance of working in such a foreign environment.

Available now in the UK, and in the US and in eBook October 1. ISBN 9780727885272

Available now in the UK, and in the US and in eBook October 1. ISBN 9780727885272

Priscilla’s latest book, Recalled to Deathis the story of a homeless man who is found murdered and Martha Gunn’s journey to uncover his identity.

On Recalled to DeathPriscilla says:

“This is the sixth case for coroner Martha Gunn to become involved in, a widow with teenage twins, Sam and Sukey. I like the role of a coroner who is usually in a position to give the dead an identity, dignity and personality. In this case, it’s hard to do. Our homeless man is anonymous. Coroners are in a position to make social comment, even as far as suggesting change in legislation (seat belts, fireproof nightdresses, the ban on celluloid dolls and so on). As such the role of coroner or crowner, which dates from the 11th century, is a socially important one.”


Why You Should Read…The Case of the Dotty Dowager

If you’re looking for your next cozy read, here’s some reasons why you should take a look at THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER by Cathy Ace, the first in the WISE Enquiries Agency series:

THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER has everything you could want in a murder story: a body in the dining room, a duke’s ancestral home, and four brilliant ladies working together to solve the case. Think MISSION IMPOSSIBLE meets Lord Peter Wimsey, except the sleuths are Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and English ladies of varying ages and descriptions. THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER is a traditional mystery that manages to be classic and thoroughly modern at the same time. Enjoy this one over a nice cuppa, but don’t spill it when things get exciting.

James W. Ziskin, Anthony nominated Author of the Ellie Stone Mysteries: STYX & STONE, NO STONE UNTURNED, and STONE COLD DEAD

“Start with an irresistible premise, confound expectations with four top-notch characters, and we’re off! THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER is a fun-packed romp through three of the four UK nations, where everything from outlandish antiques to this-minute technology adds up to a devious, delicious, disarming debut. Can’t wait to meet the WISE women again in book two.”

Catriona McPherson, Anthony, Agatha and Alexander winning author of the Edgar-nominated THE DAY SHE DIED

Need more persuading? Here’s what Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal had to say:

Available now in the UK and in the US and eBook from July 1.

Read the opening chapter

  1. “VERDICT: The author of the Cait Morgan mysteries . . . launches a gratifying contemporary series in the traditional British manner with hilarious repercussions (dead bodies notwithstanding). Cozy fans will anticipate learning more about these WISE ladies.” – Library Journal Starred Review
  2. “Ace introduces a pleasantly quirky set of detectives who have their own diverse methods of crime-solving.” Kirkus Reviews 

If these recommendations aren’t enough to entice you, then perhaps the fact that Cathy Ace has just won the 2015 Bony Blithe award for best light Canadian mystery might make a difference!

However, you could always just make up your own mind – read the opening chapter exclusively here. 

THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER is available in the US and in eBook from July 1.

Editor’s Pick – The Flood


Available in the UK 26th June, in the US and in eBook October 1. ISBN 9780727885258

With his first novel with us at Severn House, David Hewson has swept away the competition and been selected as June’s Editor’s Pick. Known for his Scandinavian and Italian crime novels, we think that his latest novel, THE FLOOD, will win David new fans whilst pleasing existing admirers.

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David Hewson – photo credit Mark Bothwell

Kate said: “We are delighted to welcome to Severn House the highly acclaimed author of the Nic Costa series and THE KILLING novelisations with THE FLOOD, the proposed first in a brand-new series set in Florence, Italy, and introducing idealistic English art student Julia Wellbeloved and cantankerous Italian detective Pino Fratelli as a fascinatingly mismatched pair of sleuths.  Wonderfully atmospheric and steeped in the culture of Tuscany’s most mysterious city, THE FLOOD is a darkly thrilling tale of violence, excess and forbidden desire which takes the reader on a tense and twisting journey into some of the more disturbing aspects of Florence’s past.   A thoroughly absorbing, complex and intelligent read, this had me gripped from the outset – and I recommend it highly.”