Written by Katy Watson

I get asked a lot why I think cosy crime has such an enduring appeal – why we still go back to re-read Agatha Christies, and why Richard Osman has been at the top of the paperback charts for weeks now.

I have a few answers to that question.

I think we read for the satisfaction of a mystery solved – even if we don’t solve it ourselves. And there’s a reason puzzles and murder mysteries and the like became so popular between the wars – in uncertain times, we all like a story that we know will end with the world being set back to right. The culprit is caught, the detective victorious, and life goes on as it should. (I imagine this is also the reason why, so often, the victim is thoroughly unlikeable in murder mysteries!)

But actually, beyond all that, I think we read these books for another reason. At least, I know I do.

And it all comes down to character.

Agatha Christie wrote some fantastic standalone mysteries – ones with twists and incredible solutions that continue to amaze and startle today. But what she’s most known for are her enduringly appealing sleuths – especially Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

The Osman books – while clever and witty and great fun to read – would be nothing without Joyce, Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron. M W Craven’s Washington Poe books are stunning reads in themselves – but what raises them above the pack is the characters of Poe and Tilly, and the wonderful but unlikely friendship they’ve struck up solving murders together.

This is why murder mysteries that are part of a series are so popular. We connect with our detectives, cheering them on, embracing their quirks and idiosyncrasies, learning how they work – whether it’s utilising the little grey cells or comparing every case to something that happened in their tiny English village. And we want to see them do it again and again.

So when I decided to write a crime novel, I didn’t start with a murder, or a clever solution, or even a motive or a mystery.

I started with my sleuths.

The three Dahlias came to life over weeks and months, becoming so solid and real in my head that by the time I sat down to write them, I could already hear their voices in my ear.

I knew I wanted to write about three very different women – all actresses, all famous for playing the same role, Dahlia Lively, Lady Detective – but with huge variance in their backgrounds, character, personality – and their ages. I wanted to write about an alliance, a budding friendship even, across generations, with each detective bringing their own life experience and perspective to the table as they tried to solve the case.

And so, Rosalind King, Caro Hooper and Posy Starling were born. A national treasure with a reputation to protect, a TV actress only famous for ever playing one role (and maybe for setting her ex-husband’s tie on fire) and an ex-child star fresh out of the fame wilderness (and rehab) to play Dahlia in the new movie re-boot.

I was thrilled when, on release, readers really seemed to connect with the three Dahlias, and enjoy getting to know them. But the real magic came when I started writing Book 2 in the series – A Very Lively Murder.

From the first page, it was like sitting down with old friends. I was just so happy to be spending time with Rosalind, Caro and Posy again! I understood them, knew exactly how they’d react and behave. And more than that, I just loved their company.

They were real to me.

Best of all, from the early reviews of the book (which publishes on July 6th in the UK) they were real for my readers, too. Already people are telling me how happy they are to hang out with the Dahlias, solving crime, again.

I’m working on Book 3 right now (currently titled Seven Lively Suspects) and seeing how Rosalind, Caro and Posy have grown – in themselves, in their friendship, and in their detective abilities – is bringing me joy once more. As my agent (always my first reader) said – it’s just such a comfort to be back with them again.

Very few of us will ever actually solve a murder case – unless we’re professionals. But we all know people. We have friends, people we care about. And that’s why often we connect with characters, far more than any other aspect of a book.

I’m thrilled to have written three women readers connect with, and want to spend their precious reading time with. I hope that their adventures, and the mysteries they solve, are engaging and intriguing too, of course. But mostly, I’m just happy to have written characters readers love.

In an uncertain world, where we could all do with a little reassurance about life, I find it wonderfully comforting to think that Rosalind, Caro and Posy are out there, supporting each other and solving murders together. I hope you do too.


Hbk /eBook

Published July 06, 2023

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Katy Watson

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