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The Cats:Paw Blue Death is the second in the Alex Strand Ellen Higgins amateur sleuth series.
Once again Alec Strand and Ellen Higgins find themselves drawn into danger, mystery and intrigue. Aboard a train bound for the northernmost tip of Scotland Alec discovers himself looking down the business end of a nasty looking handgun just as night is falling and a storm has begun to rage.
Alec and his friend Will Blackwell were expecting a nice holiday on a remote farm doing nothing more dangerous than mucking out the cattle and feeding the chickens for Will’s Uncle Tony and Aunt Carrie when they boarded the north bound train. Now they and a new friend the lads meet on the train are caught up in the center of a desperate race for possession of ‘the blue death.’ The deadly substance stolen from MI6 laboratories has passed hands so many times no one is certain exactly where it is except the frightened girl Will Blackwell knows he must protect.
Higgin’s quick thinking following a short-lived cryptic telephone call from Alec brings that sprightly old bird into the thick of it once more.
Coming in book three:
To be published later in 2000, ‘A Right Awful Murder,’ book three in the series will reintroduce the reader to the petty criminal John Fish, ‘The Eel’ as he nears the end of his prison sentence and wonders if he will live to see freedom. Fish knows too many secrets, and fears that his captors know that he knows.
His desperate race to elude the ones who will stop at nothing to stop him lead him back to Euston Common. Where Higgins and Strand will once more discover themselves in the midst of more danger than they had thought possible.
The terrified expression fixed firm on Marilyn Swiney's face erased Will's smile and brought him straight to his feet. My Word. Huge pleading eyes shone against the pale pallor of the young woman's cheeks. The trembling girl must be scared to death. She cast a stricken, alarmed glance along the passageway behind her. "Please, come in," Will said.
The trembling girl had scarcely stepped into the room before the door slammed shut behind her. Marilyn and Will watched in disbelief when an unforeseen jolting bump coupled with a sharp curve in the tracks quite bounced the dozing Alec from his seat. That bemused young man suddenly found himself sprawled face down on the carpeted cabin floor. Alec struggled to right himself; his face was a study of surprise, astonishment and confusion. "Good Grief." Hardly had the startled exclamation left Alec's lips before the mystery package suddenly was propelled into action and slid over the edge of the baggage rail. It crashed heavily downward.
Marilyn's eyes widened. Unable to move or even to call out, she gasped as Will shouted. "Alec, look out." Will's strident warning cry meant to alert his friend to the danger served only to add to Alec’s bewilderment. Blackwell lunged for the carton hurtling directly for Alec's head. The drowsy fuzziness causing a sluggish reaction from Alec was soon to prove to have highly significant ramifications for each of the three young people.
The fuzzy headed Alec slowly turned to look in the direction where Will was pointing. And, it was that very turning of his head which caused the corner of the box itself to crash forcefully against Alec's forehead before it bounced in advance of striking him again. Unable to help Alec, Will and Marilyn could only gaze in amazement as the second blow landed high on the long haired youth's cheek. This time the carton struck just below Alec's eye ahead of it sliding down to rest on the floor next to his head.
Alec’s rude awakening
Exactly how long he had lain unconscious there on the roomette floor Alec could not say. He slowly became aware that something had happened. Alec did know the train seemed to have stopped moving, it presently stood quite motionless on the track. And, he realized through fuzzy thinking that both Will and the small carton appeared to have disappeared. Odd. Frowning then, Alec tried to remember what had happened, what had caused him to end up here on the floor. Alec had a very clouded, obscure recollection that someone else had been in the roomette with himself and Will. Who was it? More than that, where was Will? And why was he laying here on the floor.
whetted my appetite
"Cat's Paw: Blue Death" by m j hollingshead
A VanGoach Books Publication
"Cat's Paw" is the second book in a series set in London, featuring suave DCI
Patrick Edwards, amateur sleuths Alec Strand, the gentleman lad, and Ellen
Higgins, his sidekick, who reminds me of Miss Marple in a most charming manner.
The story starts in a nice, chatty way. Then, just when you think that coziness
reigns, tension takes over.
"Get on the first available train and simply go. Doesn't matter where. Beetle
off as fast as you can. Just get away from London, Marilyn."
On a train bound for Scotland, terrified, beautiful young Marilyn turns to Alec
for help, involving him n a perilous chase.
Deftly written, the novel entwines several plots. There is George Hawley,
determined to avenge his mother's death and stepping right in the line of
danger. There is a mysterious series of homicides. And there is Sir Henry
Winston, my favourite character. He is lovingly fleshed out, although he is one
of the baddies. But: "For all of his 'hidden'life Lord Henry Winston was a good
and sympathetic person. He never wanted anyone killed without awfully good
This is the kind of humour that m j hollingshead generously sprinkles all over her
nail-biting mystery. At several points I was so startled I almost dropped the
printout into my bubble-bath.
Christine Spindler, editor
read it twice
The CatsPaw: Blue Death by mj hollingshead Reviewed by: Teresa Powell: media consultant>
Felt immediately drawn in - could feel the wetness of the rain and the menace it masked. Author Hollingshead has captured the flavor of London and whetted my appetite for more!
The CatsPaw: Blue Death by mj hollingshead Reviewed by: Patrick Satterwhite: Denver, Colorado>
Read it twice and liked it even more the second time through. Enough to make Sir Arthur Conan Doyle proud! Two thumbs up!
kept me guessing
The CatsPaw:Blue Death by mj hollingshead Review by: Elaine Leeth: Okemah, Oklahoma >
As an avid reader of mysteries, ie: Gardner, Creasey, Grafton, I say I think this will rank right up at the top of the list! It is hard to fool a mystery buff, but this one kept me guessing!
Reviews for "The Cats' Paw: Blue Death"
|Reviewed by MaryGrace Patterson
|I like mysteries and this one seems to be an exceptional one. Thanks for your kind reviews of my writing.................MGP|
|Reviewed by Elizabeth Parker
|This sounds interesting!|
|Reviewed by Dana Reed
|You have quite a way with building suspense in mysteries. Now you're doing the same with westerns, giving credence to my age old adage: Writer's write, and do a heckuva job with all they pursue.
|Reviewed by Janet Terry
|This is the sort of book I love. Judging by the reviews it is off and running. Good Luck MJ.|
|Reviewed by Eileen
|You just keep getting better and better;-) Excellent review!|
|Reviewed by Victoria Murray
|The Cats' Paw; Blue Death, by talented writer MJ Hollingshead is a Mystery To Die For! Great Job MJ...
Victoria Taylor Murray
'Thief Of Hearts'
|Reviewed by Pam Potter (Reader)
|I enjoyed the story very much, you will be surprise by the ending
The characters are told in depth, you will get to know them.
The website lets you order the book by M.O. so if you don't have a credit card like me, you can still order the book. It took about a month, then the book was in my email waiting for me.
|Reviewed by Frances Spiegel
|Enjoyed excerpt greatly|
|Reviewed by Maria Osborne Perry (Reader)
|Reviewed by Richelle Putnam
|The excerpt alone made me want to delve more into this mystery. Good job.|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Review offered by Teresa Powell media consultant
The Review: Felt immediately drawn in - could feel the wetness of the rain and the menace it masked. Author Hollingshead has captured the flavor of London and whetted my appetite for more! The CatsPaw: Blue Death by mj hollingshead through. Enough to make Sir Arthur Conan Doyle proud! Two thumbs up!
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
Cat's Paw: Blue Death
M J Hollingshead
A VanGoach Books Publication
"Teddy had stumbled quite by accident over a tiny particle of knowledge, somehow realized it led to Ralph Carruthers, made an erroneous deduction as to who and what the man represented and had set about to ingratiate himself."
Mix together Teddy, a corpulent, bumbling fool of a small-time hoodlum with George, a widower bent on revenge, a group of young hooligans calling themselves The Chepstow Lads, a sweet but resourceful old lady and a timid bookish young one. Then throw in an evil Alliance chasing purloined vials of something called The Blue Death, MI6 and New Scotland Yard, and you have a recipe for a delicious and charming mystery spanning the countryside from London to Achnasheen, a wee village in Scotland. Much of the action takes place on the train heading first north, then returning.
Several deaths originally thought to be accidental, or possibly heart failures, have been occurring. Men have toppled facedown into their plates in a few cafes about town. The Yard is puzzled, but a connection is beginning to take shape in their investigations. Unsure of quite how they relate, their inquiries take them in several directions.
The Chepstow Lads have nicked a package from a vehicle, unaware of its contents, merely hopeful of its value. Soon thereafter, they realize they're being watched and discover there are forces willing to kill to reclaim the bundle. Flight is seen as the only course of survival. Rolf, one of the Lads, has stowed the package at his sister's and, fearing for his safety and hers, manages to persuade her to leave London, taking the package with her, departing on the first train out, no matter the destination.
On the train, terribly frightened by a contingent of men obviously stalking her, Rolf's demure sister befriends Alec and Will, two English youths on their way to a small village in Scotland. There is a confrontation with members of the Alliance and a plan for escape is hatched. The chase continues north and back.
Meanwhile, events in London are escalating. What next?
Cat's Paw is a fun romp through an intriguing British suspense tale.
Kate Ayers, reviewer
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m j . hollingshead