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The Big Thrill Discusses A STOLEN SHADOW with H L Marsay

Book Cover: A STOLEN SHADOWThis winter, the York pantomime opens as a farce but closes as a murder scene…

Chief Inspector John Shadow returns from a rare holiday to Italy but before he can unpack, he’s investigating the theft of an antique sabre. Everyone involved assumes it’s a prank, however later that evening, a reluctant Shadow attends the local pantomime—his least favorite form of entertainment—with his star struck sergeant. They watch stunned as Prince Charming dies on stage. Shadow suspects poison and launches an investigation. When he discovers the missing sabre backstage, Shadow realises the theft was no joke and the entire cast and crew are murder suspects. Then another body is found….

John Shadow is a man of contradictions. A solitary figure who shuns company but is a keen observer of all he meets. A lover of good food, but whose fridge is almost always empty. He prefers to work alone but is assisted by the eager Sergeant Jimmy Chang. Together, the two men must work through an ever increasing list of jealous husbands, angry fathers and spurned lovers to discover the identity of the killer.

Author Photo: H L Marsay

H L Marsay

H L Marsay recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss their latest mystery, A STOLEN SHADOW.

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?

A Stolen Shadow is the seventh book in this series and I couldn’t wait to return to him and to York. I’ve been busy working on two other series: The Secrets of Hartwell Trilogy and The Lady in Blue Mysteries, so returning to Shadow really did feel like coming home!

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

Yes! I was reading an article about Sir Ian McKellen starring as the dame in a touring production of Mother Goose and I started thinking about how my character, Chief Inspector John Shadow would hate going to a pantomime. Then, I imagined what might happen if he was dragged along to watch a production and a member of the cast died on stage! The story took off from there.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

Shadow is a huge fan of music from the 1940s and 1950s, so when I’m wiring one of his books I tend to listen to a lot of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
However, since this books opens with a visit to the pantomime, I also needed to watch a production so I got all the details right. Unfortunately, I was writing this book during the summer, when the traditional season for pantos is Christmas. Thank goodness for YouTube!

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

At the moment, I am working on the next book in the Chief Inspector Shadow series as well as the fourth book in The Lady in Blue Mysteries, my series set during the First World War. It’s a very busy time but I’m not complaining!


H L Marsay grew up binge-reading detective stories and promised herself that some day, she would write one too. A Long Shadow was the first book in her Chief Inspector Shadow series set in York. Luckily, living in a city so full of history, dark corners and hidden snickelways, she is never short of inspiration. She has also written The Secrets of Hartwell Trilogy and The Lady in Blue Mysteries. The Chief Inspector Shadow Mysteries have now been optioned for a television series.

When she isn’t coming up with new ways to bump people off, she enjoys drinking red wine, eating dark chocolate and reading Agatha Christie – preferably at the same time!

To learn more about the author, please visit her website.