Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder at the Observatory the second book in the series.

 Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva

(the first book in this series)

is in with my publisher

and you may recall that so far there are 2 additional books I am working on:

Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder at the Observatory

Ms Birdsong Investigates: Murder at the Safe House

Murder at the Observatory wasn’t intended to be a Ms B. story to begin with, but as I started writing I felt the location had to be on the Berkshire/Oxfordshire Downs – remote after-all – and a suitable place to build an Observatory; all that space and blackness.

The Vale of the White Horse - Lavinia Birdsong's home on the Berkshire/Oxfordshire Downs

The Vale of the White Horse – White Horse Hill

And if I used the Berkshire/Oxfordshire Downs then I had to include my former MI5 Officer, Ms. Birdsong who has already been busy investigating the Russian Mafia people traffickers, Ukrainian drug and gun runners whilst searching for a missing woman, Ali Yelling, in Murder in Ampney Parva.

After-all, she is the sort of woman who cannot let a good mystery pass her by without taking more than a passing interest.

I think it would be pushing it a bit to create two sleuths living in the same area, don’t you?

My visit to the Observatory at Herstmonceux a while back, got me all fired up.  

It was a birthday surprise. A thrill if ever there was one.

As my family and I walked up the long road to the Observatory, the main buildings barely visible in the pitch black, with only a torch and the red glow of the huge domes to give us a sense of direction, I told my companions that it was an ideal setting for a murder. 

The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux. (c) 2010 Science Projects Ltd.

I guess the germ grew and grew and as soon as I got home I began to write the first few chapters.

At the time I had not completed Murder in Ampney Parva and so it had to take a back seat for a while.

Now that Murder in Ampney Parva is in with my publishers I can concentrate on the two books I have already started; this one and Murder at the Safe House.

My Observatory is loosely based on Herstmonceux but instead of Sussex I am placing my Observatory somewhere familiar; in the Vale of the White HorseLavinia Birdsong’s home following her ‘voluntary’  early retirement from MI5.

Cobweb Cottage where Ms Birdsong lives in Ampney Parva

Cobweb Cottage where Ms Birdsong lives in Ampney Parva

Lavinia Birdsong lives in Cobweb Cottage, not a stones throw from her young cleaner, Mercy Farthing’s  rented cottage which is a bit worse for wear.  

Mercy has created a wonderful wildflower garden, and her next door neighbour who employs a young Polish Nanny, Claudia Polanski, who often chats with Mercy over the garden fence as she tends her garden.

 Claudia feeds Mercy’s cat if ever she is away.

 (c) Jane Risdon 2011

Mercy Farthing has cleaned for Lavinia ever since the former MI5 Officer moved into the village and has always been reliable and a hard-worker.

She recently joined a Facebook Group, ‘Star-gazing,’ who are all fans of astronomy and include professional and amateurs in their membership.

Murder at the Observatory - cottage opposite Ms Birdsong in Ampney Parva (c) Jane Risdon 2014

Mercy Farthing has a regular boyfriend, Lou-Diamond Smith, whose mother is a bit Hollywood star-struck –  hence her son’s name –  and an avid fan of ‘Escape to the Country’.

Ampney Parva is a small rural village in the Vale of the White Horse where Lavinia Birdsong has settled having found herself in need of a bolt-hole away from London and her past life, and those who might seek to find her.

 Old habits die-hard and she’s keeping her neighbours under a mild form of surveillance, recording their daily activities and events which she writes up on her tablet each night before going to sleep.

Ms Birdsong is  inquisitive, observant and methodical;  nothing seems too small or too insignificant to be of interest to her and when her gut instinct kicks in, there aren’t any secrets safe from her.

When Mercy Farthing fails to turn up for her Monday cleaning appointment Lavinia’s finely-tuned instincts go into over-drive.

Mercy’s cottage seems to be deserted, her garage is empty and has been since the night before, and she hasn’t arranged for her cat to be fed.

Having investigated the disappearance of Ali Yelling, Lavinia Birdsong is anxious to get cracking once more.

She sets about searching for her young cleaner and soon discovers that it’s not only astronomers searching for answers up on White Horse Hill, in The Vale of the White Horse…

I’m hoping to complete Murder at the Observatory this year, then it is on to

Murder at the Safe House which is part the way completed….

Murder at the Safe House book three Ms Birdsong Investigates (c) Jane Risdon 2013

not to mention a possible sequel to Only One Woman…

I’ll update you as soon as I can.


    • Thanks Kelly, it will be part of a compilation of my Crime stories and also a stand alone Ms Birdsong Investigation….Murder at the Observatory. Just thought this story needed to be with her as it is on the Berkshire Downs. How is your writing coming along?


      • That’s good then Jane. Tests okay, it was what I thought the effects of PTSD. It can cause some crazy stuff to happen with your brain. I’m trying out a new, Melatonin based pill for the depression and sleep problems. I have to take them for a couple of weeks first, not sure about them yet.


        • Sounds horrendous. Sorry to hear of this, not a nice thing to live with. I do hope they work for you and you feel better and can sleep. I have used Melatonin when doing lots of long hauls on top of each other. Helped a lot. 🙂


          • Had it for 43 years Jane at varying levels. I guess getting older doesn’t help with it though. I hope these pills work. I was on some 10 years ago and they sent me crazy at times. -)


  1. Yes Yes Yes! Sounds like an awesome read…I cam’t wait to hear the announcement that it’s ready to buy! And I love the photos…especially the horse. Is it anywhere near the roll right stones? My heroine, steampunk agent Harry Tremaine, (sort of a female James bond in the 1890s) lives near the stones…it would be cool if the horse were also in walking distance. Any road…write faster (iI know, demanding aren’t I 🙂 ) want to buy your mystery!


    • Wow! You are such a star. I shall write as fast as I can. I know the Roll Right Stones, used to pass them on the way to Chipping Norton. Had a look round them once. Yes, the Vale of the White Horse is not too far away, near Oxford and Reading. It’s not in walking distance, sadly, but you could get there by car easily, just head for Wantage then Uffington and there you are. I shall check out Steampunk agent, Harry Tremaine again. The stones are known as the King’s Men and there is a stone called the King’s stone from what I recall. Thanks so much, really appreciate your enthusiasm. 🙂


  2. Jane – Oh, I’m delighted to hear you’re doing this! How marvellous! I am very much looking forward to reading your story when it’s done.


    • Thanks Margot. It sort of grabbed my suddenly and then there was no stopping me….Ms B appears but it is a one-off stand-alone Ms B. She stuck her nose in before I could stop her. LOL.


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