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Tied Up With Strings by Madeline McEwen is a Christmas and Holiday Festival Pick #cozymystery #holid


Author: Madeline McEwen

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Book Blurb:

Big mysteries often come in small packages…

When curmudgeonly private detective Betty Grape visits a young friend, who is house sitting in a remote village in England for Christmas vacation, something seems out of place. Her friend, Catia, is visibly nervous. Is she worried about the young men in the decrepit caravan in next door’s back garden? Or is Catia involved in the disappearance of the homeowner’s invalid wife?

As an American, Betty discovers the locals are full of friendly gossip but taciturn about solid facts. Though they are determined to keep Betty from butting in on their territory, she blunders through the social morass of narrow-minded foreigners and their broad Dorset accents. Can she unravel the tight knots of this mystery? Will she find the perpetrator under thickly thatched roofs or behind floral chintz curtains?


Three days before Christmas in the remote village of Abbeyvayle, on the north coast of Devon, Betty Grape’s taxi drove past a non-descript gravel driveway and stopped by an overgrown hedge.

“There you go, Missus.” The driver pulled her luggage from the boot and opened the car door. “That’ll be ten pounds and fifty pence, please.”

Betty’s boots sunk into a bank of snow edging the narrow road. She struggled with her purse and handed him a purple note. “Keep the change.”

Making a U-turn, the taxi sped away leaving Betty on the brink of a foreign adventure and ankle-deep in virgin white flakes. She pushed down the handle on her trundle suitcase, shouldered her tote, and leaned over to gather a fistful of duty-free bags when she heard someone shout.

“Hope you got a good eyeful! Bugger off, you bloody pervert!”

Betty popped her head up above the greenery, patted her helmet of gray curls into place and saw Catia, standing on the doorstep wrapped only in a towel, clutching armfuls of mail to her chest.

“That’s not much of a welcome.” Betty blundered forward skirting the hedge and headed for the driveway.

“Betty! I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow. I thought you were that Peeping Tom, again.”

“Maybe I’m early.” Betty hauled her battered suitcase through the snow. She paused for a breather. Catia was in no position to help with the luggage not dressed, or rather undressed like that.

A car blocked the driveway. Betty read the license plate CAT, for Catia Ann Titchell, and scoffed at the vanity of the young. She stomped onward, obliterating some other visitor’s footprints. Her progress was slow, hampered by a bulky puffer jacket.

“I’m glad you didn’t stand on ceremony for me.” She reached the doorstep and smiled. “I’ve nothing against informality, but even we Californian’s have a dress code—shoes and shirt required.”

Catia dumped the mail on hall table just inside the front door and threw her arms around Betty. Since when had that slip of a girl turned into this willowy woman? How many years since they’d last met? If Betty hadn’t found Catia like this, in the flesh, would she have recognized her?

“Enough of that, my girl.” Betty shook her off. “Get inside properly before you freeze. Your feet are turning blue.”

Buy Links:

99 cents or free to read on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon US

Amazon CA

Amazon UK

Share a holiday family tradition:

We always serve thirteen side dishes [sometimes more]. I tell my guests, this represents the thirteen apostles, [Saint Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot after Judas betrayed Jesus.] This lie covers the truth which is, initially I chose every family member’s favorite side—there were eight of us at the time—plus five more dishes favored by several people. What are they? They change from year to year, but for 2019 we shall enjoy the following:

  1. Asparagus steamed

  2. Aubergines/eggplant rolled and stuffed with Ricotta Cheese

  3. Beans [green]

  4. Broccoli steamed with crushed dried cranberries and chopped walnuts

  5. Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon and Balsamic

  6. Carrots – sliced and steamed

  7. Cauliflower in béchamel

  8. Chestnuts roasted

  9. Corn Kernel Muffins with a dollop of tomato chutney

  10. Mushroom Medley in Marsala with shallots

  11. Onion compote – pearl, Sweet Maui, and shallots with dry sherry

  12. Parsnips Batons Roasted with Rosemary salt

  13. Peas [frozen]

  14. Potatoes [mashed]

  15. Potatoes [roasted] Yukon Gold

  16. Red Peppers Sliders with crumb topping

  17. Spinach creamed with toasted almonds

  18. Squash [yellow hook] and courgettes/zucchini in garlic butter with caramelized onions

  19. Swede and white pepper & grated nutmeg [Rutabaga]

  20. Sweet Potatoes Roasted and pureed with Mire Poix

  21. Yorkshire puddings

And yes, we repeat the exercise for Thanksgiving!

Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:

A novella is a great choice during the busy rush of the holidays and a brief escape into a cozy Christmas mystery in the heart of chilly England.


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Open internationally.

Runs December 1 – 31.

Drawing will be held on January 3, 2020.

Author Biography:

Madeline McEwen is a Navy brat from the UK and spent a number of blissfully happy years at the Naval base in South Africa. She settled in San Jose, CA in 1995 and has acclimated perfectly apart from her English accent. She has published numerous short stories in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies, both in print and online. The bulk of her work is in the cozy-mystery genre, with a few non-fiction pieces and a couple of LGBTQIA steamy romantic capers, but always emphasizing the hidden humor in daily life. Madeline is bifocaled and technically challenged. She and her Significant Other manage their four offspring, one major and three minors, two autistic, two neurotypical, plus a time-share with Alzheimer's. In her free time, she walks with two dogs and chases two cats with her nose in a book and her fingers on the keyboard. You can find her at

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