Murder by the Book (Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries #4)

Cover of Murder by the Book
Available in paperback and as an ebook

While Sophie and her friends celebrate Valentine’s Night in The Bluebird, a dead body plummets to the bottom of the village well – and nobody hears it fall.

In this close-knit community where everyone knows each other’s business, is it possible for anyone to get away with murder?

Sophie’s about to find out – and to discover some extraordinary secrets about her boyfriend Hector and his family along the way.

Colourful new characters join the regular Wendlebury cast in this laugh-out-loud cosy mystery tale of love, friendship, loyalty and family ties.

Murder by the Book is the fourth in the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series, which runs the course of the year in Wendlebury Barrow from one summer to the next, but you can read them in any order you like. Read them in the order they’re written, or just pick whichever matches the current season – it’s entirely up to you.

Scroll down the page to read the opening chapter for free…

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What Readers Say

I have never lived in a village but now – for the first time – I wish I did! (That’s despite the murder…) Debbie Young paints a seductive and humorous picture of life on a small scale (I love the cheeky jokes)… Every woman will now want a Hector in her life. – Susan Grossey, author of the Sam Plank detective series

Debbie Young sits behind her characters’ eyes and knows exactly what they would say. Her reproduction of their speech is exact, and is laced so often with the gleam of gentle humour. Each book in the series leads us more deeply into the romance of Sophie and Hector and into the mild humane life of an English village. – Celia Boyd, author of the Reason from the Stars historical novel series

THE OPENING CHAPTER of Murder by the Book

1 Ding Dong Dell, Who is in the Well?

February 14th

In the frosty shadows behind The Bluebird, close to the ancient well, a dark figure stumbled across the cobbles, bumping into the empty aluminium beer kegs awaiting collection by the brewery. Just then, another person emerged purposefully from the pub’s side exit and stalked down the narrow passage that led to the courtyard. A halo of light spilled into the darkness, but didn’t quite reach the low stone wall surrounding the well.

The two figures converged beside the well, conversing with increasing animation, until the second raised strong hands to administer a sturdy thump to the first one’s chest.

Had the pub not been so full this Valentine’s Night, someone inside would surely have heard the shouting and swearing. Had the night not been so chilly, the stay-at-homes might have been walking their dogs nearby, or standing at their back doors to call their cats in, or opening their kitchen windows to admit some fresh spring air.

But as it was, no-one heard the second figure curse as he turned on his heel and march smartly back to the pub door. No-one heard the shout of surprise as the first figure spilled over backwards, legs in the air, to tumble down into the dark round hole in the ground, the low wall sending a shoe flying across the yard. No-one caught the blunt thud as a head struck the side of the well, silencing any further cries of protest or shouts for help. No-one noticed the unusually loud splash, which created a much greater wake than when young Tommy Crowe, for want of anything better to do after school, chucked pebbles and sticks and stones down the well to hear the echo.

There’d be no more sounds in the courtyard until next morning, when the builder’s lorry full of concrete was due to fill and seal the well as the first step in its transformation into a smart new beer garden. It would be the end of an era. The well would echo no more.