Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Character Interview & Paperback Book Giveaway ~ THE SNOW JOB by Dianne Ascroft

The Snow Job (Century Cottage Cozy Mystery, #3)
by: Dianne Ascroft
Series: Century Cottage Cozy Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: December 11, 2023

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?

And so begins a fortnight of slippery sidewalks, angst about ancestors, capable firemen and cunning firebugs, unreliable records, swirling Scottish music and swinging tartan kilts, calico cats and smouldering spooks set against the backdrop of snow glistening under streetlamps on serene streets, the comfort of ritual in a cold churchyard, the swish of skate blades in crisp night air and the tang of mouthwatering meatloaf in rural Canada in 1984.

The Century Cottage Mystery series is mainly set in rural Ontario, Canada during the early 1980s.

A tale for fans of Cindy Bell, Leighann Dobbs, Dianne Harman and Kathi Daley.

Good morning Lois. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
I’m fine, thanks. And thanks for inviting me to chat with you today.

Before we get started, can you please introduce yourself to readers?
I’m Lois Stone. I guess you could call me middle-aged - I’m under 55 but not by much. I’m a librarian and work part-time at our town library. It’s strange to refer to it as ‘our town’ as I only moved from the big city of Toronto to Fenwater last summer – just over six months ago. I bought a beautiful grey stone ‘century cottage’ and I share it with my two calico cats, Ribbons and Raggs. My husband, James, died just over three years ago and, although I’m making an effort to move on with my life, I still miss him. I live a fairly quiet life. I enjoy reading and going for walks. I’m also a keen baker. I’ll make anything with apple and cinnamon in the recipe and I also love trying out new muffin recipes.

Can you please tell us about some of the people we’ll meet in your story?
Marge Kirkwood is my closest friend. She’s the same age as me and she’s from Fenwater. She’s been divorced for years and she returned to her hometown last year to keep an eye on her elderly mother. She’s the archivist at the local museum and we met when we worked together at a Toronto library. We now live a couple of blocks from each other on the same street. She and I have been friends for years, and I guess you could say, we’re unlikely friends as she’s the complete opposite to me. She’s outspoken, confident and extroverted. A real social butterfly and she has introduced me to just about everyone in town. She’s been a great support to me since James died but she also lands me in trouble at times. This mainly happens when she gets us involved in police investigations and we end up in over our heads.

That’s how I met PJ Ross, a police constable in the Ontario Provincial Police. She’s assigned to our region and I met her last summer during the first crime investigation Marge and I were involved in. She wasn’t keen on us poking our noses in and ever since then she’s been trying to keep us out of police matters. But, despite the stern lectures she gives us, she’s nice and we’re becoming friends. She’s younger than Marge and I but that doesn’t make a difference to how well I get along with her. I guess it helps that her grandfather’s family used to own the house I live in so we have that connection. That doesn’t mean she goes easier on me when I land in trouble by poking my nose into police business. I guess it’s a good thing that she likes my apple cake or she might go even harder on me when I overstep the line.

I’ve mentioned my calico cats, Ribbons and Raggs. They are from the same litter and have been my close companions for years. Raggs is pretty laid back and enjoys her creature comforts. I can usually find her curled up on a cozy blanket somewhere in the house. Ribbons is the energetic one and she doesn’t miss much. She’s usually hanging around wherever I am in the house. I sometimes wonder if she understands more than I could imagine since she has pointed me to clues when I’ve been investigating and she is never wrong about who to trust.

Tell me about a defining moment in your life.
That would be when my husband died. James went out for a jog in the park at the end of our street one evening and he never came home. A couple of our neighbours found him slumped against a tree after he was mugged. The shock was too much for him and he died on the way to hospital. I discovered later that he had a heart condition we never knew about. After his death, I barely knew how to cope with my grief, and I didn’t feel safe in our neighbourhood anymore, even though we had lived there for more than twenty years. James’s mugging and death completely changed my life.

What’s your most prized possession?
My wedding ring. It reminds me of my life with James. We spent so much of our lives together and shared so much. Since I moved to Fenwater, I’ve met another special man, Bruce, and I’m taking some steps to move on with my life. But I’m not ready to take off my wedding ring yet.

Why do you feel the need to put on your sleuthing hat and investigate murders?
I don’t really. I’ve actually been trying not to get involved because Bruce worries about me and doesn’t want me to get involved in anything that will get me hurt. It’s Marge who pulls me into investigations. She can’t curb her curiosity nor her sense of justice, and this frequently compels her to snoop into police cases. When trouble finds us, it’s usually due to something Marge has done.

When you aren’t investigating murders, what do you like to do?
I’m a keen baker and am always taking a batch of muffins or a cake out of the oven. My friends, especially Bruce, often seem to drop over just when something is ready to eat. I don’t mind. I love spending time with my friends though I do sometimes enjoy a quiet night in with my cats and a good book too.

I’m a romance girl. You’ve mentioned Bruce a couple of times. Can you please tell me about him?
My friend, Marge, has known Bruce Murray since they were youngsters. He’s a carpenter who does furniture and house restoration work and he has his own workshop beside his old farmhouse a short distance outside the town. About six months ago, in the first book in our series, A Timeless Celebration, Marge roped in him and his carpentry skills to help me when I got burgled as a result of delving into a criminal investigation. After spending time with Bruce and getting to know him, a friendship grew between us and it gradually developed into more. We’re taking our time as I miss James and am still coming to terms with his death. But I’m really fond of Bruce and am glad we’re together. He’s so softspoken and easy-going. I love spending time with him. He isn’t one to say much so I don’t always know what he’s thinking, but I trust him. 

The one subject that he is outspoken about though is my involvement in criminal investigations. He asked me to promise I wouldn’t get involved in any more of them. He worries about the scrapes that Marge and I get into. I know he couldn’t stand it if I got hurt. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t let Marge and I down, and he has stepped in to help us catch criminals a time or two. I think he sees it as saving our necks.

You and your creator Dianne Ascroft have worked together for a while now. How do you feel about her and the situations she puts you in?
We get along fine. Dianne is very like me in many ways and there’s a reason for that. After years of doing detailed historical research for her previous historical fiction series, she decided that our cozy mystery series wouldn’t involve a huge amount of research. So, when she created me, she used some of her own traits, and likes and dislikes to bring me to life. Since she has so much in common with me, we ‘hit it off’ and are great friends.

I like the plots that Dianne dreams up but you can’t really blame her for some of the situations I end up in. That’s mostly Marge’s doing. Dianne would be happy if I solved crimes without putting myself in danger. I have to admit that Marge sometimes scares me silly with the things she drags me into, but I think we’re developing a knack for solving crimes and I couldn’t be happier than when we catch a criminal.

What’s next for you?
In December Dianne released The Snow Job, Book 3 in the Century Cottage Cozy mystery series. It’s set in January 1984, and follows Thanksgiving and Theft (a novella) and The Heritage Heist (Book 2), both of which were set in the previous October, in the series.

Would you like to know a bit about the story? 

Yes, please.

Winter is setting in and I’m getting ready for the Fenwater’s biggest Scottish event, the annual Burns Night supper. When one of the committee members dies in suspicious circumstances, I get drawn into the hunt for his killer because Marge decides to do some digging into what happened. I know I promised Bruce that I would stay out of police matters but what harm would it do to ask a few questions?

It's still early days since Dianne released The Snow Job, but she’s already busy sketching the plots for Book 4, and also for a Christmas short story in the series for an anthology which will be released in September. I’d be happy enough to have a quiet time for the rest of the year, without getting caught up in crime investigations, but I’m excited about the ideas she has for both these stories.

Lois, thank you so much for your time.
Thanks for inviting me. It was a pleasure to talk to you.

Purchase The Snow Job from:
(Affiliated Links Used)

The Century Cottage Cozy Mystery Series:

Dianne Ascroft writes the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries, set in rural Canada, and The Yankee Years historical sagas, 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 with her husband and an assortment of strong-willed animals.

Her previous fiction works include An Unbidden Visitor (a tale inspired by Fermanagh’s famous Coonian ghost); Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves: A Collection of Short Stories (contemporary tales), and an historical novel, Hitler and Mars Bars, which explores Operation Shamrock, a little known Irish Red Cross humanitarian endeavor.

Places to follow Dianne Ascroft:

You can follow The Snow Job Blog Tour here.

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  1. Thanks for hosting Lois on your blog. I hope your readers enjoy meeting her and will want to spend some more time with her. Dianne Ascroft

  2. Sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. Like the Scottish setting

  3. Congrats on your tour. Wishing you the very best!


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