Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Please welcome, friend and author...

... Alice Castle to my blog today. Hi Alice, thanks for being here and I believe you have a new book to tell me about.  So over to you...

Thanks so much to Angela for hosting me today.  It’s lovely to be able to talk about my second novel, The Girl in the Gallery.  Like my first cozy crime whodunit, Death in Dulwich, the story owes a lot to its setting.  I’ve always loved Dulwich Picture Gallery and, when I realised it was celebrating 200 years as a public gallery this year, I was determined to use this extraordinary building as a backdrop to the latest crime that my amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane, sets about solving.  I started the book this April and have just managed to get it out before the year is over – it is being published on 19th December by Crooked Cat.

about the book... It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane has sneaked off to visit one of her favourite places, the world-famous Picture Gallery.  She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display.  Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.  Who is The Girl in the Gallery?  Join Beth in adventure #2 of the London Murder Mystery series as she tries to discover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.

Dulwich Gallery
Those who know Dulwich Picture Gallery will either love or hate its cool, neo-Classical façade and strange internal layout.  The building was designed by architect Sir John Soane and he was quite clear that it was his favourite creation.  It broke a lot of rules at the time and its use of light from above, provided by enormous glass lanterns set into the roof, was considered revolutionary.  One of the effects of this technique, as well as providing plenty of natural light flooding the gallery, was to give a huge quantity of wall space to hang paintings, as there are no windows to break up the long gallery vistas.  It is this which gives the gallery a rather odd, blank look from the outside, which Soane dealt with by creating false arches in the brickwork.  Beth imagines these are looking at her quizzically as she approaches the Gallery on page 1, when she is just about to make a horrible discovery in the mausoleum which lies at the heart of the building.

As you can imagine, the mausoleum gets quite a lot of attention in my mystery, so I won’t say any more about it here, except to say that you definitely won’t find anything like it in any other art gallery.

Cards carrying the portrait of Mrs Moody
available from the gallery
I have as much difficulty as Beth in deciding which of the art treasures displayed at the Picture Gallery is my favourite but, like her, I have a particular soft spot for the portrait of Mrs Elizabeth Moody by Gainsborough.  As you’ll read in the book, there is a very sad tale behind this glorious picture.  Another canvas with a moving backstory is the portrait of Venetia, Lady Digby.  Though she looks as though she is peacefully asleep, the rose shedding its petals on the corner of her coverlet is the clue – Lady Digby was in fact painted by Van Dyck the day after her death.  Her widower, Sir Kenelm Digby, was inconsolable and took the canvas with him wherever he went.  It was a tragic ending to a great love affair; the couple had married in secret, against the wishes of his family, as she had a rackety past and he was a straight-laced poet and scientist. 

Dulwich Picture Gallery is full of stories.  I’m very proud to have added one of my own to the list.  If you’d like to read The Girl in the Gallery, you can find it on Amazon, or at Village Books, Dulwich Books, Herne Hill Books or Clapham Books in south London.  It’s the sequel to Death in Dulwich, but both books can be read as stand alone stories.  My next book in the series is Calamity in Catford, due to be published by Crooked Cat in 2018, with Peril in Peckham to follow shortly. 

Thanks again to Angela for hosting me and if you’d like to find out more about Beth or my series, do visit me at www.alicecastleauthor.com. I’m also on Facebook and on Twitter at @DDsDiary.


  1. Lovely to be here today on your blog, Angela, to chat about The Girl in the Gallery – thanks for having me!

    1. Thanks for visiting and good luck with the new book.