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When the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency are approached by the frantic owner of a historic cottage in a picturesque Welsh seaside hamlet, they agree to help. After all – there can’t be any such thing as a killer cottage, can there? And isn’t a cursed cottage just as unlikely? They’re about to find out – when Christine and Annie take up residence.

Meanwhile, Carol goes undercover to investigate a day spa with some dangerous treatments, leaving Mavis to stake out a man who might be incapacitated because of a work-related accident. Will this bricklayer become belligerent if he spots her on the job?

Because our engaging private investigators are busy with paying clients, it falls to Henry, eighteenth duke of Chellingworth, to try to solve the riddle of the missing silver mugs, which is a pressing priority for his mother, the dowager, as she seeks to take over the organization of the christening of his son and heir.

TheBigThrill caught up to award-winning author Cathy Ace to learn more about the seventh book in the WISE Enquiries Agency Mystery series, THE CASE OF THE CURSED COTTAGE:

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

Every morning I see a photo of my late father and my mum on the beach at the Welsh seaside hamlet of Port Eynon. Nowadays my mum is in a residential care home…in a room named Port Eynon. This book features Port Beynon (changed to protect the innocent!) and has allowed me to represent the seaside where I spent a lot of time in my youth.

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

With 6 books in the series, I have plans for 10 more…this one needed my attention NOW, because my mums getting on, and she LOVES these books. I have promised her I will write as many as I can “for her”, and I know she’ll enjoy the location in this one (see above).

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

Cathy Ace

There are four main characters: the four softly-poached (vs hard-boiled) women who run the WISE Enquiries Agency. I wanted four women coming from very different backgrounds, with synergistic skill-sets, to work as a team – showing how women can lead fulfilling professional and personal lives, being HAPPY. One is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish, one English – hence WISE. One is in her 30s, was raised on a Welsh sheep farm, is happily married with an infant child, and a computer whizz; one is in her 20s, the daughter of an Irish viscount, gave up being an underwriter at Lloyds of London and is the daredevil; one is in her 60s, hails from south-west Scotland where she has two grown sons and teenaged grandchildren, is a retired army nurse and the business mind of the firm; one is from the east-end of London, a true Cockney, born to working-class parents who migrated from St Lucia, and she’s great at winkling information out of people, by relating and chatting to them. I “know” them all – and love them all, too.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

A slice of life for my four main protagonists, as well as enjoying working with them on cases that are both procedural and intuitive. The interplay between life in the Welsh village where they live and the Duke, Duchess, and Dowager at Chellingworth Hall also allows for thoughtful consideration of the British class system – while providing fodder for some entertaining moments. I hope they laugh, cry, enjoy the puzzles, and want to visit Wales!

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

The next book I’ll be writing will probably be Cait Morgan Mystery #13…or it might be WISE Enquiries Agency Mystery #8. To be honest, I haven’t decided yet, as both are scratching the inside of my skull telling me they want to be written!


Cathy Ace’s Cait Morgan Mysteries feature a criminal psychologist sleuth encountering traditional whodunits around the world (optioned for TV); her WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries feature a quartet of soft-boiled female PIs solving cozy cases from a Welsh stately home. Her Welsh suspense novel, The Wrong Boy, has also been optioned for TV. Shortlisted for Canada’s Bony Blithe Award three times, winning once, she’s also won IPPY and IBA Awards; her work’s also been twice shortlisted for Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence, and the CrimeFictionLover Best Indie Novel. She migrated from Wales aged 40, and now lives in Canada.