About The Heritage Heist
The Heritage Heist (Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries)
2nd in Series
Publisher: Independently Published (December 15, 2020)
Paperback: 278 pages
Digital ASIN: B08QMHW6DD
A fall fair, a cornered craftsman, an heirloom heist. When an antique quilt that is a cherished part of Fenwater’s past disappears from the market before her town’s fall fair, it’s up to Lois to resolve the quilt quandary.
Middle-aged widow Lois is enjoying her second season in her new town and her century house, away from the dangers of big city life in Toronto. She can’t wait to experience her first old-fashioned fall fair, complete with hot apple cider. But when the local market is burgled, her enthusiasm for the upcoming festival plummets. During the break-in one of the security guards is badly injured and an antique quilt, on loan from the museum, vanishes. Her friend, Bruce, designed and built the display case and has one of only two keys to secure it. That makes him a prime suspect in the theft. Lois won’t let Bruce’s reputation, nor the trust his customers have in the bespoke furniture maker, be damaged by the allegation. She’s determined to piece the clues together to find the quilt, clear Bruce’s name and save a piece of Fenwater’s history.
And so begins a week of deepening friendships, hot apple cider, calico cats, backseat shenanigans, hazy housemates, and few puzzle pieces to work with, set against the backdrop of a rustic market building amidst stately stone architecture, the crackle of flames in the hearth, a blaze of colour on leafy residential streets and the scintillating scent of cinnamon.
The Century Cottage Cozy Mystery series is set in rural Ontario, Canada during the early 1980s.
A tale for fans of Cindy Bell, Leighann Dobbs, Dianne Harman and Kathi Daley.
About Dianne Ascroft
Dianne Ascroft writes the Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries, set in rural Canada, and The Yankee Years historical sagas, set in WWII Northern Ireland. She has a passion for Ireland and Canada, past and present. An ex-pat Canadian, Dianne lives on a small farm with her husband and an assortment of strong-willed animals.
Her previous fiction works include An Unbidden Visitor (a tale inspired by Fermanagh’s famous Coonian ghost); Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves: A Collection of Short Stories (contemporary tales), and an historical novel, Hitler and Mars Bars, which explores Operation Shamrock, a little known Irish Red Cross humanitarian endeavour.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DianneAscroftwriter
For other countries: https://books2read.com/u/4XLYBN
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Special Character Post
Excerpt from The Heritage Heist, Chapter 1:
Lois glanced at her watch then picked up her pace. She wasn’t far from St Andrew Street and the market was only a couple of blocks away at the other end of the main street, but she wanted to give herself plenty of time to look around the stalls before she had to start her half-day shift at the library. Although she only needed vegetables, and maybe a treat from the bakery stall, she never knew what else she would find there. She loved wandering up and down the aisles, waiting for something to jump out and claim her attention.
A sharp bark sounded behind her then a woman spoke. “Isn’t that a fresh morning?”
Lois sighed then smiled resignedly to herself. The easy company of her own thoughts and the peace of the quiet side street were about to disappear but Connie Harris and her dog weren’t a completely unwelcome interruption. She liked her chatty neighbour.
Lois looked over her shoulder. “Hi, Connie. Yes, it is a bit cool this morning but, after the heat we had this summer, we shouldn’t complain.”
Connie laughed. “You can say that again! I prefer this weather. It’s easier to keep up with Snowy when I’m not about to burst into flame!”
Lois glanced at the energetic white dog as Connie and her canine companion drew alongside of her. Since she first met her neighbour a few weeks ago, she had never seen the West Highland white terrier still. Most days as the pair passed her house, Connie was tugged along the sidewalk. The dog always seemed in a hurry to get somewhere. Lois was thankful that she could enjoy her walks at the pace she chose. She was sure she was much better suited to being a cat owner.
“Are you heading anywhere in particular?” Lois asked.
“No, just out for our morning walk. Snowy doesn’t have the patience for me to make any stops on the way. What about you?”
“I’m working at the library this morning. I don’t start until ten but I want to stop by the market first. You get the pick of the fresh vegetables if you get there early.”
The two women chatted as Lois picked up her pace to match Connie and Snowy. So much for her contemplative start to the day. She would have to enjoy the brilliant scene fall had painted on her street on her way home this afternoon.
In the middle of the main street the women parted. Connie veered onto a side street to continue the square circuit back to her house opposite Lois’s, and Lois continued along the main street to the market.
When she reached her destination, from the opposite corner of the street, she gazed at the barnlike structure in anticipation. It was wonderful to have a fresh produce and crafts market so close to her home. Last summer she had relished stepping inside the building to escape the sun’s fierce rays. Today she would enjoy its warmth. But, no matter the season, she never tired of wandering its aisles.
She glanced at her watch. After her sprint to the main street with her companions, she was earlier than she had planned. She would have even more time to browse the stalls. Crossing the street at the traffic light, she headed straight for the wide double doors on the side of the building. As she approached them, she was surprised to see only one of the doors was open. Usually both were thrown back against the outer walls. Her eyebrows pulled down into a frown when she spotted a policewoman standing at the entrance. The officer looked like she was on duty, not just pausing on her beat as she passed the building. Lois knew that the market had hired security guards to patrol the building after a theft a couple months ago but she couldn’t imagine why a police officer was also there.
The Ontario Provincial Police officer watched Lois as she neared the entrance and, although Lois knew she had no reason to worry, the scrutiny made her uneasy. She shook her head and smiled to herself. Why on earth does the sight of a police officer always make you feel guilty when you haven’t done anything wrong?
The police officer spoke when Lois was a few feet from the entrance. “The market is closed today, ma’am.”
Lois stared at the officer, noticing that the policewoman’s sandy hair was pulled into a bun under her uniform cap. She still had a toned, athletic figure but she was not right out of police college. She had a more commanding presence than a new graduate.
Lois stared at the officer as her words sunk in. “Closed? Why?”
“Police investigation, ma’am.”
Lois raised her eyebrows. “What are you investigating?” What on earth could have happened at the market?
Special Guest Post – by Dianne Ascroft.
Lois Stone’s World
Even before I began writing cozy mysteries, I enjoyed reading the light hearted, often humorous stories. And I always loved to escape to the charming places where they were set. I think that one of the key elements that draws readers to a cozy mystery is a setting that appeals to them. The place needs to beckon to readers to step in and stay a while.
I kept the importance of the setting in mind when the ideas started to form for my own cozy mystery series. There are some places that just linger in your memory. Something about the atmosphere of a particular location grips you. For me that spot is Fergus, Ontario, Canada, a small town one hundred kilometres northwest of Toronto. It captivated me almost forty years ago when I first visited it, and I knew it was the right location for A Timeless Celebration, the first book in my Century Cottage Cozy Mysteries series. I wanted to create a warm, welcoming place that would be central to my stories, and that readers would want to keep returning to. So, I fictionalised the small town that I knew, and it became Fenwater.
I was delighted to return to Fenwater for this second novel in the series. It felt like coming home as I led my characters back through the streets of the town. The market and the park across the road from it are two of my favourite places in the town, and they were the perfect spot for the fall fair in this story. It was so much fun to create the atmosphere that brings the event to life.
Here’s a snippet from The Heritage Heist that will give you a glimpse into what my main character Lois Stone experienced as she arrived at her first fall fair in Fenwater:
“There was a steady flow of people along the paved central path, perusing canvas stalls on either side. Parents hovered over their offspring on the amusement rides for small children set up in a corner. The marching band from Alderton, their sister town, was playing in the open space in front of the stands where Fenwater Pipe Band had played the previous evening. A small crowd sat in the stands listening to the rousing melody lines of the saxophones and horns and the driving beat of the drums. Lois couldn’t help tapping her foot to the infectious rhythms….As the trio continued along the path, Lois glanced at the stalls on either side. At one stall, a table placed in front of the tent was stacked with jars of homemade marmalade. The sign next to the jars said that the marmalade was available in a variety of flavours. Lois made a mental note to stop by the stall later to get a jar of the apple and cinnamon one.
Colourful ceramics, wood carvings and paintings vied for her attention at several other stalls. The trio walked at a pace that allowed Lois to admire the craftsmanship of the items for sale. A stall selling handmade ponchos caught her attention. She had meant to buy one for ages but had never got around to it. She wondered whether they had any in burgundy or dusty rose.”
I want readers to see the town as Lois sees it. I want them to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the fall fair, and to love the place as much as Lois does. I also want them to get inside her head and experience her thoughts and emotions.
In both novels in the series, events happening around Lois sometimes trigger memories of her life before she moved to Fenwater. While she was glad to get away from the dangers of the big city, she left behind good friends and she has many fond memories of her life in Toronto. As I penned Lois’s thoughts about her past life, I knew that now she was settled in Fenwater, she had to return to visit the city. And when she did there would be mysteries waiting for her to solve. Since I wanted to keep the small town setting for the main novels, I decided to write some shorter mysteries (novellas mostly), set in Toronto. These novellas fit into the timeline of the series between the novels.
Toronto is a bustling, multicultural metropolis and its neighbourhoods show the many faces to the city. Lois lived in a warm, welcoming neighbourhood that is similar to her new town and this is where she returns to visit. So the novellas offer readers a change of place and pace that still have the community feel to them that will appeal to cozy mystery fans. But, before you move on to Lois’s city adventures, don’t forget to spend a while with her at the fall fair in The Heritage Heist.
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