Alice Castle is the latest author to appear in this series I call Building Character. The author of the London Murder Mysteries series, Alice chose to write about her protagonist, Beth Haldane, who she calls a Marmite character. That means you either love her or loathe her.
But as Alice puts it, “Beth cares about the right things. She loves her son, she hates injustice.” I would say those are commendable traits.
Here I will let Alice do the talking.
Who is your character?
My favourite character in my London Murder Mysteries series has to be my protagonist, Beth Haldane. She’s a bit of a Marmite character, as we say in the UK – you either love her or loathe her, although luckily for me even the people who’ve told me she drives them nuts have carried on reading the books. I think she has enough redeeming features to atone for the fact that she’s a terrible prevaricator. She’s so bad she’ll even put off prevaricating until tomorrow.
What does she look like?
Beth has a long fringe which, as one of my reviewers pointed out, is now almost a separate character in the stories. The rest of her hair is brown and also pretty wilful. She wears it in a pony tail which she has to adjust a lot. She is also very short. The fact that she often can’t quite reach things or see over the heads of other people makes her try a lot harder in many ways and is one of the clues to her determined character.
What is your character’s back story?
Beth is part of Dulwich, as she has lived there all her life, but she has always felt like an underdog, due to her height, her appearance and her family circumstances. This enables her to see the absurdities of the place (and there are plenty) more clearly.
What is your character’s role in your novel?
Beth drives the action – she is forced by circumstances to become an amateur sleuth, then astonishes everyone, including herself, by being rather good at it.
Why should readers care about this character?
Beth cares about the right things. She loves her son, she hates injustice. She doesn’t like the idea of people getting away with bad things. In a city like London, where crime often goes unsolved and people can die unmourned, Beth is determined to get the bottom of the mysteries that she stumbles into.
Give a brief excerpt featuring your character.
Beth Haldane’s small hand tucked itself into DI Harry York’s big, comforting paw. The warmth and firmness of his grip did a lot to distract from the horrible scene in front of her.
‘Can you see the head anywhere?’ she said through half-closed lids.
There was a pause.
‘Nope,’ York confirmed. ‘Looks like it’s been… eaten.’
‘That might explain the crunching sound I heard earlier,’ said Beth faintly.
As crime scenes went, it wasn’t actually the worst she’d ever attended. But the fact that it was in her own kitchen did make things very nasty. And seeing the perpetrator, sitting only a yard away from the grisly remains, was altogether too much.
‘Magpie, you’re a bad, bad cat,’ said Beth crossly. Magpie, looking up from washing her paws after a delicious extra breakfast, gave Beth a mildly affronted glance before continuing her ablutions. Feathers really did stick in the teeth.
(From Revenge on the Rye, published December 2018)
A synopsis of Revenge on the Rye:
Beth Haldane, SE21’s answer to Miss Marple, thinks she is going for a carefree stroll on Peckham Rye with her best friend, Katie, and her annoying new puppy, Teddy. But before Beth knows it, she is embroiled in her most perplexing mystery yet.
Strange events from her family’s past, present-day skulduggery in the art world, and the pressures of moving school in south London threaten to overwhelm Beth. Will she be able to piece together the puzzle before her son’s crucial interview at Wyatt’s? Or will Beth’s insatiable curiosity finally drag down all her dreams for the future?
Join Beth, her irascible on-off boyfriend, Detective Inspector Harry York of the Metropolitan Police, and the dog walkers of Peckham Rye in a tale of murder, mayhem – and bloody revenge.
About Alice Castle
Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.
Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim and also hit the number one spot. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, was published in August 2018, with Homicide in Herne Hill following in October 2018. Revenge on the Rye came out in December 2018. Alice is currently working on the sixth London Murder Mystery adventure, The Body in Belair Park. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.
Alice lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.
She is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website: https://www.alicecastleauthor.com
Links to buy books: http://www.MyBook.to/GirlintheGallery
Death in Dulwich is now also out as an audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07N1VNMLT/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-140657&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_140657_rh_us