Sunday, May 22, 2016

Knock on wood - again! by Annie Parker of the WISE Enquires Agency

The county of Powys, Wales
Hiya - how ya doing, doll, alright? Me? Well, truth be told, I've been better. I've been living in this little cottage for a couple of months now, but I can't seem to stop knocking my noggin on that blessed oak beam across the top of the door every time I walk in or out of the place. Got a lump on my forehead now, I have. You'd think I'd remember to duck, wouldn't you? Being five-eleven there are a lot of places where I have to be careful how I go, and now my very own front door is one of them.

If you'd told me a year ago I'd be living in the village of Anwen-by-Wye in the rolling Welsh countryside today, I'd have bet you fifty pounds you'd be wrong. A hundred pounds, even. But here I am, settled in a thatched cottage that looks like it belongs on the lid of a box of chocolates, having said goodbye to my ex-council flat in Wandsworth (which I'm pleased to say I managed to shift for a pretty penny, giving me a nice little nest-egg in the bank). We all moved. Yes, all four of us - lock, stock and barrel. Not that any of us owned such things, but you know what I mean.

Hang on a mo' - I've got to have a sit down. My plates are killin' me. Plates? Plates of meat - feet. Sorry, sometimes I lapse a bit into my old Cockney slang. What do you mean am I a real Cockney? Course I am. Born within the sound of Bow Bells I was. I might be black like my mum and dad - they're from St. Lucia, see - but if you cut me open I'll have "East End of London" written right through me, like a stick of seaside rock.

I didn't want to leave London, but now I'm here, I'll admit I'm beginning to like the place. The lot up at Chellingworth Hall aren't as lah-di-dah as I thought they would be. I'm not used to mixing with dukes and duchesses, but Althea Twyst - she's the Dowager Duchess now, her being a widow - is lovely. Almost like a normal person. Loves Monty Python, she does, which makes me laugh. She's sort of joined the rest of us when we work on some of our cases.

Welshcakes and a Welsh cozy mystery
Who's "us"? We're the four women who run the WISE Enquiries Agency - and we specialize in making exceedingly confidential enquiries for our clients. There's Carol Hill - she's the W in WISE, 'cos she's Welsh. Lovely she is - we've been friends for years and now we work together. Brightest person I've ever met when it comes to computers and stuff like that. I'm not bad, but her? Let's just say she could be coining it big time if she'd stayed on at her job in the City of London, but she's just had a baby and she's loving it here in what she keeps calling her Homeland. Then there's the Hon. Christine Wilson-Smythe. Yeah, I know she sounds a bit posh, and she is. Daughter of an Irish viscount (she's the I in WISE) but down to earth and doesn't suffer fools at all, let alone gladly. If I had the contacts she's got there'd be no stopping me. Then there's Mave (she tuts if I call her that!) Mavis MacDonald. Used to be an matron in the army before she retired. She's a bit bossy, but someone needs to keep us all in line, I suppose. Good at bringing in the clients. Scottish and proud of it. So she's the S in our company name. Then there's me.

Me? Annie Parker; English through and through, like I said, and happy to work undercover when I can. Love developing the characters' backstories, I do. Mind you, I won't get to do much of that sort of work in the local area  - I reckon I'm the only non-white person for miles around; the Welsh countryside's a bit milky, if you know what I mean. But we get lots of jobs in places like Cardiff where no one notices my skin color. What they do notice is my accent; if they pick me up on it, I give as good as I get. I'm the E in WISE, and there's a good bit of history between the English and the Welsh, see?

Now we've moved from our office in Sloane Street to a converted barn in the grounds of Chellingworth Hall to run our business, we're all still finding our feet, but I reckon we'll be a lot happier in the end. You'd think there might not be enough cases for us to all work on in south Wales, but you'd be wrong...the things that go on around here! The people in the village are - well, "villagey" I suppose. You know, a bit set in their ways and all peering through the net curtains to see what everyone else is up to. We first came here when the duke hired us to investigate why his mother was acting a bit dotty, and we got to the bottom of it all for him. Of course, me getting kidnapped wasn't something any of us had banked on, but it's a long story...too long for here. Then there was that young man that went missing. What a to-do that all was, and right before the duke's wedding!

Anyway, I'm off to make a cuppa before I settle down to watch The Antiques Roadshow now. I'm a bit frazzled - I've been working behind the bar at a pub in Cardiff on The Case of the Gold-digging Girlfriend (the landlord reckoned she was after him for his money, and he was right, poor thing). I like giving our cases names like that; Mave says I'm too fond of alliteration, but I don't let that stop me. Ha! If she saw me putting a teabag in a mug of boiling water she'd have me guts for garters too; very particular about her tea, is Mave. Right-o then, see you later, doll. It's peace and quiet for me for a few hours now. Nice to meet you.

Meet Carol, Christine, Mavis and Annie in The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries - cozy mysteries set in Wales featuring four softly-boiled PIs...and their sleuthing sidekick the Dowager Duchess of Chellingworth, Althea Twyst. Written by Cathy Ace, the first is THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER, the second THE CASE OF THE MISSING MORRIS DANCER. You can find out more about Cathy, the WISE women, and her other series of traditional whodunits, The Cait Morgan Mysteries, here: and you can connect with her on Facebook here:


  1. Sounds quite interesting and unusual, but fun I am sure. Looking forward to reading this. I love to begin with the first in a new series.