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Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Dianne Ascroft writes the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries, set in rural Canada during the 1980s, as well as The Yankee Years, an historical fiction series set in WWII Northern Ireland. She has a passion for Ireland and Canada, past and present. An ex-pat Canadian, Dianne lives on a small farm in Northern Ireland with her husband and an assortment of strong-willed animals. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

Fenwater’s Big Night

Thanks for letting me drop in, Anastasia. I’m Lois Stone and I’m the main character in the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series. The books are set in Fenwater, a fictional small town in rural Ontario, Canada that was founded by immigrants from Scotland during the early 1800s. The residents of our town have a strong connection with its Scottish heritage so the annual Burns Night supper is the biggest event on our calendar.  

I’m a bit conflicted about it, though. I moved to town about six months ago. My friends want me to celebrate my Scottish ancestry since I live in a really Scottish-Canadian town, but I don’t want to acknowledge my Scottish roots. You see, my grandfather was a bit of a scoundrel and my mother refused to talk about him. My Scottish roots come from his side of the family so I don’t want to explore them and upset my mother. I’m also kind of scared of what I might discover. But I can’t seem to get away from my ancestry here in Fenwater. Everyone around me is excited that Burns Night is coming and they want me to delve into my ancestry. 

I might have been able to avoid all the fuss about the Burns supper if I didn’t play the bagpipes. As The Snow Job opens, our pipe band is practising for the supper. I’m actually looking forward to that part as this is the first Burns supper that I’ve played at with this band. I’ve learned all the tunes we’re playing and I’ll even know lots of people at the supper. Though I’m still new in town, it will make me feel like I’m part of the community. 

Oh, excuse me, I’m rambling. Do you even know what a Burns supper is? If you have any Scottish ancestry, you may have attended one. But for those who haven’t, a Burns supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of Robert - or Rabbie as he is more commonly known - Burns. Rabbie Burns was a poet and song lyricist from Scotland. Born on January 25, 1759, he was only 37 when he died in 1796. He is regarded as the most prominent poet to have written in Scots, a UK regional dialect that is recognised as a minority language. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is one of his works.

Burns Night is celebrated annually in Scotland, in Scottish communities worldwide, and especially for those abroad, it has also become a chance to celebrate all things Scottish – sort of like St. Patrick’s Day without the green beer. The first supper was organised by nine of Burns's friends on July 21, 1801, the anniversary of his death. The suppers have become an annual occurrence and are now normally held on January 25th, the poet's birthdate. 

Burns suppers are respectful and fun. There’s a traditional meal which consists of tatties (potatoes), neeps (turnips), and haggis, which was a favourite dish of the poet. What is haggis? Haggis is made from a sheep’s liver, lungs, and heart and mixed with suet and oatmeal. Believe it or not, it really is tasty – sort of like a spicier minced beef. Guests are piped in to the dining room, and a Scottish grace is said. The haggis is then piped in with great ceremony, and before the meal commences, a guest recites Burns’ poem the 'Address to a Haggis', which extols how wonderful haggis is. 

After the meal there are several toasts and speeches, including the ‘Immortal Memory’, a tribute to the poet. At our supper, Dave Stewart, who has an antique stall in our market, is giving ‘The Address to the Lassies’, a humorous thank you to the women who prepared the meal. My friend Marge will ‘Reply to the Laddies’, rebutting any comments Dave might make about women. I’m rather nervous about that as you never know what she’ll come out with. 

Preparations for our supper were going well until one of the Burns Night committee members died in suspicious circumstances the week before the event. I didn’t know him but I was sad to hear of his death. Marge worked with him at the museum, and she asked me to help her find his killer. I’ve promised my partner Bruce that I’d stay out of police matters, but Marge is very persuasive. So, I turned my thoughts from getting ready for the Burns Night supper to helping Marge find the killer. What could possibly go wrong?

The Snow Job

A Century Cottage Cozy Mystery, Book 3


A Scottish shindig, a pretty pin, a cold corpse. 

When a well-liked and respected townsman is murdered on a snowy street in Fenwater, it’s up to Lois Stone to sift through a multitude of motives to find the killer.


Middle-aged widow Lois is beginning to feel part of the Fenwater community, and as winter sets in, she is getting ready for the town’s biggest Scottish event, the annual Burns Night supper. But when one of the committee members dies in suspicious circumstances, Lois has more to worry about than the fate of this year’s celebration. She tried unsuccessfully to revive the man and her friend Marge worked with him. So, they want to find his killer even though Lois promised her partner Bruce that she would stay out of police matters.


But, what’s the harm in asking a few questions? Such as does someone want to safeguard their inheritance or give their business a boost? Will finding the motive for the murder lead them to the killer or maybe more?

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1 comment:

Dianne Ascroft said...

Thanks for hosting Lois and I on your blog today. She enjoyed telling your readers about Burns Night in her town.