Ms. Birdsong Investigates

Hello and welcome to my soon to be published series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates.

Thames House home of MI5 Photo: CNrB

Many of you may know something about her already; she has been a work in progress for some time and whilst my other books have been published, she’s been waiting patiently for her chance to be in the spotlight. I trust it won’t be much longer now that she is visiting suitable publishers with my agent.

I thought you’d like to get to know a little about Lavinia and I’ve put together some information which I hope you find useful and which will, hopefully, whet your appetite for her books when she is published.

There are three books in the series so far:

Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder in Ampney Parva – Operation Matryoshka

Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at the Observatory

Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at The Safe House

So far the first book in my series is complete, and in with selected UK and USA publishers. Keep your eyes open for updates from me as the divine Ms. B makes her presence known. I’m really excited that she has someone like Linda Langton of Langtons International Literary Agency, to promote her.

Books two and three are in various stages of completion. Works in progress as we say.

Who is Ms. Birdsong?

Lavinia Birdsong is a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who has devoted the best part of twenty years to the service of her country. She has risen up through the various levels of MI5, her eyes firmly on the post of Director-General of the Security Service, following in the footsteps of Dame Stella Rimington and Lady Elizabeth Manningham-Buller. Lavinia is barely forty, so she still has plenty of time to get there.

Dame Stella Rimington, first female Director General of MI5. Said to be the inspiration for M (Dame Judi Dench) in the James Bond movies.

All her studies at University were undertaken with this in mind. She even took up martial arts to prepare herself and studied languages with her goal in mind. Getting accepted by MI5 was a dream come true. Since then her sights were set firmly on the Director-General’s position

Sadly, her dream appears to be over – for now – following a disastrous joint operation with MI6 – where she had been on secondment for some years – she was invited to take ‘voluntary retirement,’ to save her Pension. Her former MI6 partner, Michael Dante, was sent to Moscow as if nothing had happened. Lavinia was not amused understandably, and has vowed to get taken back by MI5 come hell or high water.

MI6 Building, home of the British Secret Intelligence Services. Photo: Laurie Nevay 2013

Not only has she lost her beloved career but she has lost her relationship with Michael. He was not only her working partner but he is now her former lover. There was no way they could continue sharing a home in Chelsea after what happened. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to forgive him for not taking her side and standing up for her when she was almost frog-marched out of Thames House, the home of MI5.

MI5 where Lavinia Birdsong was an Officer until her forced retirement to Ampney Parva
MI5 where Lavinia Birdsong worked until her forced retirement to Ampney Parva

Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva – Operation Matryoshka.

In book one Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva – Operation Matryoshka – we meet Lavinia early into her ‘retirement,’ and 6 months after she’s arrived in Ampney Parva, a chocolate-box village nestling in the Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire. A million miles away from the chic Chelsea pad she shared with Dante for four years, and her adrenaline-fuelled life in HM Security Service.

The White Horse at Uffington in The Vale of The White Horse

Whilst she is considering her options and desperately wracking her brains to find a way back into the Security Service she decides to write her memoirs in the form of a fictional thriller. Obviously she has signed the Official Secrets Act, and so anything she wishes to publish has to be vetted by the powers that be.

Desperate to get her juices flowing again she spends a great deal of her time on her computer as she begins to write, recalling the various adventures she’s had during her long career. But the memories bring melancholy and to take her mind off the unhappiness she watches – surveils – her new neighbours. Out of habit, she writes notes on each of them which she keeps on her laptop. She’s not spying, she tells herself, just being observant and interested.

Just when she thinks she can’t stand her situation any longer a young local woman goes missing and Lavinia sees a chance to use her skills to help find her and to prove she still has what it takes. As she investigates the disappearance of Ali Yelling events take a very unexpected and dangerous turn and soon Lavinia is back in her element, dicing with danger and death.

Qualifications and Experience:

Here is what is in her personnel file:

CV for Lavinia Birdsong, Intelligence Officer, MI5

Real name: Lavinia Rebecca Snow Birdsong

Alias: Charlotte Guinness

Address: Egerton Garden Mews, Egerton Crescent, South Kensington, SW10

Education:

St. Mary’s Convent, Ascot.  

Somerville College, Oxford University. B.A. English: B.A. History

Languages (various courses privately funded)

Russian, German, French, Spanish, Mandarin/Cantonese

Marital Status: Single

Relationship with MI6 Intelligence Officer, Michael Dante 2011 until 2016 (see separate file)

Joined Service: 1995 – Applied direct

Physical Description:

5ft. 8ins.  Honey blonde hair, blue eyes, slim build.

Recent scar to left leg from knee to ankle 2016.

Family (Parents – Deceased):

Dominic Ladysmith Snow Birdsong: Retired Hedge Fund Manager.

The Hon. Madeline Catherine Sophia Quinlan:  Interior Designer

Sibling(s)

Younger brother: Snow Ladysmith Birdsong: Travel writer and photographer (see separate file)

Address: The Grange, The Ridges, Finchampstead, Berkshire RG40

Courses: Induction course, Initial Training Courses, Firearms, Surveillance

Judo, Karate, Kick-boxing, Unarmed Combat (training privately funded)

Training/Postings:

Trainee Desk Officer Moscow: 1995-1997

Counter Espionage: 1997-2001

Secondment to Metropolitan Police: 2001-2002

Organised Crime – Agent Runner: 2002-2003

Counter Terrorism – Agent Runner: 2003-2005

Counter Espionage Desk Officer: 2005-2007

Northern Ireland Desk Officer: 2007-2008

Northern Ireland Section Leader/Agent Runner: 2008-2009

Moscow Section Leader/Agent Runner: 2009-2011

Middle Eastern Desk Leader/Agent Runner: 2011-2012

Secondment to MI6: 2012-2016 – Operation Matryoshka

Employment terminated – Retirement – 2016

Forwarding address: Cob Web Cottage, Ampney Parva, Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire SN7 (DG access only)

More about Lavinia Birdsong:

Lavinia is a complex character. Growing up in a family that holds the arts and literature in high esteem and duty to one’s country and to one’s fellow human beings, which she takes very seriously, she sometimes appears to be at odds with herself, especially where her career is concerned.

She enthusiastically embraces modernity and the technical age in which she lives but at heart she is quite an old-fashioned girl. Her upbringing was quite old fashioned in many ways with her mother’s family being a huge influence upon her. Her maternal grandfather was a Peer.

When she was 21 she was left a considerable fortune in a Trust Fund set up by her maternal grandfather meaning that she would never have to work for a living, but ever since she was a teenager she has always wanted to be part of the Security Services. Until she purchased Cobweb Cottage, she had hardly touched her legacy.

Cob Web Cottage where Ms Birdsong lives in Ampney Parva
Cobweb Cottage where Ms. Birdsong lives in Ampney Parva – her dream home.

The former Intelligence Officer does not believe in the death penalty but sometimes she wishes she did. Especially when she worked in counter-terrorism.

Lavinia loves hard and heavy rock – with some thrash metal thrown in. R&B, Pop, and Soul float her boat as well. Let’s face it if asked she’d say she loved music -most music – if it is performed well and has great lyrics. She has a vast vinyl album and singles collection, as well as all her original purchases on tape cassette, in addition to the hundreds of CDs she has, and what she has collected on Spotify.

She is also a Gilbert and Sullivan fan – her father played their music every Sunday after lunch when she was growing up. She enjoys some classical music, but nothing heavy.

Her favourite movies include anything with Doris Day, James Garner, and Rock Hudson. Margaret Rutherford and Joan Hickson are her favourite Miss Marples. If pushed she’d say that Some Like it Hot is possibly her all time favourite…but then again she adores Jack Lemmon in The Odd Couple, and then there’s Calamity Jane, and the musician’s movie – Spinal Tap – oh dear!

Lavinia loves art but not modern art. Many of her contemporaries studied art and listening to them explaining the meaning of a few coloured squiggles on a canvas always left her cold. Give her the old masters any time.

She loved to read adventure stories as a child, especially written by Robert Louis Stevenson, Enid Blyton, and Arthur Ransome.

Later she moved on to thrillers, crime, crime noir, cosy mysteries, and espionage novels: Frederick Forsyth, Leslie Thomas, John Le Carre, Len Deighton, Graham Greene, James Ellroy, Dashiell Hammett, Ed McBain, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane, and many others

Lavinia drinks mostly tea, but will suffer coffee if there is nothing else to hand. Dare I say it, if there was a choice between coffee, tea, and a glass of good scotch – whatever time of day – she might be inclined to accept the scotch.

Strong tea and munching on liqourice keeps Lavinia happy when she is working.

Oh, and she loves a good wine – she belongs to a wine club and receives a case of speciality wines monthly. She is a little embarrassed at the amount of wine she consumes and dreads anyone at MI5 finding out, thinking she has turned to drink to drown her sorrows.

Lavinia also loves a good champagne and her favourite is Crystal – created for Alexandra 11 of Russia – and she always says if asked, ‘if it was good enough for him, I can’t see why it isn’t good enough for me.’

Always conscious of her weight, although she is slim, she lives in constant fear of putting even a few pounds on. Her mother was tall, elegant, with an impeccable taste in clothes, and had an enviable figure right up until she died, and she instilled into Lavinia a lifelong fear of getting fat. To her mother, it was a form of defeat, giving in to one’s weakness for excess. Lavinia is always intending to cut sugar out and go on a diet. Nothing ever lasts long, however. She is partial to liquorice and Twiglets and is never far from a bag.

Monthly her wine club sends a case of wines for Lavinia to try and there is always a bag of Twiglets on hand.

She also intends to become a vegetarian. She eats little meat but every now and again she has an overwhelming urge to indulge in roast lamb or a huge juicy steak. However, since moving to Ampney Parva her trips to the local butcher’s shop have managed to feed into her feelings of guilt about the carnage displayed on hooks hanging inside the shop, and she is on the verge of giving up meat and fish. Perhaps tomorrow.

Lavinia loves fast cars and if left to her own devices she’d purchase the fastest car she could find. She has contented herself with a convertible Mercedes, but a recent advert she spotted on the internet has whetted her interest in what she thinks is one of the wonders of the world: a Mercedes Maybach 6 in royal blue with cream leather seats. So far she has kept herself in check. Besides, it is a long car and her garage might only just manage to house it.

Mercedes wows with the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet | The Torque  Report
Photo courtesy of Mercedes.

I do hope you will keep an eye out for Ms Birdsong and as her journey progresses through publishers on both sides of the ‘Pond’ I will be updating her from time to time and so drop back soon.

Don’t forget to explore her photos and my writing progress as her story goes out into the world via my agent.

In the meantime there is a Facebook Group which you might like to join, where I share information about her journey – no plot spoilers by the way – and you can interact with me and others in the group. It is a private group but requests to join are accepted.

Ms Birdsong has her own (private) Facebook Group you can join:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/msbirdsonginvestigates

If you are interested in learning more about me you can find me on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2

I have an Amazon Author Page where you can find all my work:

https//www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Risdon/e/BOO13GJZY8

And, of course you can find me here, on my website:

http://janerisdon.com

You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more.

Take a wander around, discover my photos, my ‘jollies,’ and lots of interviews I’ve conducted with my Guest Authors, and more on my website: janerisdon.com

Don’t forget to take a look at Lavinia’s other pages in the menu on my Website.

Thanks so much for your interest in the divine Ms. Lavinia Birdsong.

I do hope when she hits the shelves you will meet her up close and personal, between the sheets of Ms. Birdsong Investigates. She cannot wait to meet you.

Jane Risdon invites you to find out more about her latest character, Ms. Birdsong.

Please leave a reply and comment - your input is really appreciated. Thanks, Jane

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