Carola Dunn is the author of twenty-six mysteries and thirty-two Regencies. She was born and grew up in England but has lived in the US for many years. When not writing, she enjoys gardening, reading, and walking the dog. She has two grandchildren and cannot believe one is a teenager. Where did the years go? Learn more about Carola and her books at her website.
The Joy of Walking
One of the features of England that I miss most here in the US, at least in the West, is the public foot paths. They crisscross the countryside, paying no heed to boundaries, climbing over walls and fences with the aid of stiles, crossing farmers' fields as freely as woods, hills, and dales.
Many of the paths are of ancient origin, medieval at least. Legally they are rights of way and can't be closed by landowners. The Ramblers organization zealously guards the public's access.
Cornwall, like the rest of the country, has footpaths everywhere. The main character of my Cornish mysteries, Eleanor, loves walking with her Westie Teazle on the cliffs and moors. She enjoys it the more because she spent most of her adventurous life traveling the world, working for an international charity.
On retiring to Cornwall, Eleanor looks forward to tranquility. She settles in a small fishing port on the North Coast and opens a charity shop, a peaceful occupation. But human nature is the same the world over. When crime comes to Port Mabyn, Eleanor finds the skills learned in far off places are not forgotten and become useful once again.
In the fourth book in the series, Buried in the Country, Eleanor’s talent for diplomacy is called upon by a friend from the past, a government official. He is holding a secret conference at a hotel on the cliffs near Tintagel, and he wants Eleanor to smooth relations between the antagonistic participants.
Megan's niece, Detective Sergeant Megan Pencarrow, is helping with security for the conference, although she's already on another case, the disappearance of a local solicitor. When two strangers turn up at the hotel, she can see they're villains. What she can't guess is whether they're a threat to the conference, connected somehow with the lawyer's disappearance, or contemplating some other nefarious business.
Now Eleanor's enjoyment of walking becomes vital to the story. Her description of the view of King Arthur's legendary castle ruins from the cliff top paths inspires enthusiasm in the young people. Their insistence on going for a walk, whatever the risk of being seen, leads to the revelation of what the two London villains are up to.
Caught in the act, the villains flee with hostages. The ensuing car chase takes them to fog-bound Bodmin Moor at dusk. Eleanor's familiarity with the rural byways helps Megan to follow and to rendezvous with her colleagues. They end up on Bodmin Moor, where the murderers disappear into the fog.
Night is falling. It seems they'll escape. But Eleanor often walks here. She knows the lay of the land and all the hazards: bogs, old mine shafts, precipitous quarry walls. She describes it for the searchers, and when she's denied a part in the search, she goes off hunting on her own.
Using every scrap of her local knowledge, combined with her talent at diplomacy and a few tricks she's learned in foreign parts, Eleanor emerges from the fog triumphant: She has captured one of the villains and he's spilled the beans.
Walking the footpaths of England, you are not at all likely to meet a murderer, of course. Nor will you meet a bear, a cougar, a skunk, a porcupine, or a rattlesnake; you won't even encounter poison oak or poison ivy!
Buried in the Country
After many years working around the world for an international charity in the late 1960s, Eleanor Trewynn has retired to the relative quiet of a small town in Cornwall. But her quiet life is short-lived when, due to her experience, the Commonwealth Relations Office reaches out to her to assist in a secret conference that is to take place in a small hotel outside the historical village of Tintagel.
Meanwhile, her niece, Detective Sargent Megan Pencarrow, is investigating the disappearance of a local solicitor when she is assigned to help provide security for the conference. Two African students, refugees from Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, arrive for the conference, escorted by Megan’s bête noire from Scotland Yard. They are followed by two mysterious and sinister Londoners, whose allegiances and connections to the conference and the missing solicitor are unclear. With a raging storm having trapped everyone in the hotel, the stage is set for murder, and it’s up to Eleanor and Megan to uncover the truth before more lives are lost.