Kitchen Witch (Helen Shepherd Mysteries, Book 10) by Cora Buhlert

Release date: May 8, 2017
Subgenre: Police procedural, British mystery

About Kitchen Witch


When Eudora Pembroke, a self-styled witch, is found dead in her house after ingesting a poisonous plant, everybody suspects a tragic accident. After all, Eudora was elderly and might have mistaken the poisonous plant for a benign herb.

But Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd is sceptical. Would a skilled herbalist like Eudora Pembroke really make such a beginner's mistake? And who might have had a motive to poison her?

This is a mystery novelette of 12500 words or approximately 45 print pages.



Rosslyn Grove was exactly what it sounded like, a quiet leafy Hampstead sidestreet lined with Victorian semi-detached houses rendered in red brick.
Once upon a time, these houses would have been middle class homes, occupied by lawyers, doctors, professors, merchants and civil servants, not to mention artists, writers and intellectuals of every stripe. But those days were long gone and nowadays, like all of the nicer neighbourhoods of London and a few of the less nice ones, Rosslyn Grove was the province of millionaires only.
Cause in point, when parking at the curb, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd of the Metropolitan Police had to squeeze her clunky dark green Rover between a silver gleaming S-class Mercedes and a cute little BMW convertible. Helen suspected the millionaire owners of those luxury cars wouldn’t be too happy about that, but then she didn’t give a damn. They should consider themselves lucky she didn’t have their cars towed for obstructing access to a crime scene.
Rosslyn Grove 22 was something of an exception to the rule of the street, since it was a freestanding single rather than a semi-detached house. It was equally Victorian, equally red brick and surrounded by the same type of wall as the other houses on the street, yet something was different.
For starters, there was no car in the driveway, only an old black bicycle leaning to the wall. And while the garden behind the brick wall was certainly beautiful, it was also a lot less manicured than those of the adjacent homes. All over the garden, chimes and crystal ornaments dangled from the branches of trees and shrubs. Fairy circles sprouted from the grass and in a corner, there was a small altar, covered with stones, sea shells, pieces of wood, candles and little figurines. It was all very enchanting, but certainly not the latest fashion in garden design. What was more, the current tenant of Rosslyn Grove 22 seemed to be fond of growing herbs and vegetables in the front garden, something that millionaires rarely felt the need or urge to do.
The front door was flanked by two mischievous looking stone gargoyles, which seemed to positively snuggle up to the two uniforms guarding the entrance. Dangling from the canopy above the door, there were yet more crystal chimes, a veritable riot of them.
“Good morning, ma’am,” Police Constable Martin Jackson, one of the uniforms guarding the door, greeted Helen, “Quite the fairytale glade, isn’t it?”
“It’s certainly lovely,” Helen agreed, “Though not quite the design sensibility I would expect in this neighbourhood. Camden Town, sure, but here? Too wealthy and too upper class for chimes and vegetable gardens.”
“Well, it is Hampstead,” PC Jackson replied, “And Hampstead always had its share of artsy folk.”
“Though nowadays, the only artsy folk who can afford to live in this neighbourhood are washed-up rockstars and actors with delusions of poshness.” Helen looked around the garden again. “I suspect our victim was neither.”
“Not a famous name, at any rate.” PC Jackson pointed at the ceramic tile beside the door that bore the tenant’s name in a script so heavily ornamented that Helen had to squint to make it out. As far as she could tell the current inhabitant of Rosslyn Grove No. 22 was one Eudora Pembroke.
“Though I have to admit, I only read the gossip mags when I’m visiting my gran,” PC Jackson said.
Helen nodded absentmindedly, because a movement glimpsed from the corner of her eye had attracted her attention.
“Talking of gossip, Constable, it seems we have attracted some attention.” She nodded towards the wall separating the garden of 22 Rosslyn Grove from the adjacent one, a wall behind which someone had just ducked in a clumsy attempt to hide themselves.
“She’s been watching us for at least fifteen minutes now, ma’am,” PC Jackson replied, “Seems to be harmless, though. I noticed her as soon as we arrived.”
“Your garden variety nosey neighbour then,” Helen said with a devilish smile, “Come on, Constable, let’s make her day and find out, if she’s seen anything.”
Together they walked over to the garden wall. “Miss,” Helen called out to the woman who rather unsuccessfully tried to duck behind a manicured azalea bush. “Excuse me, do you live here?”
The woman looked up, barely able to contain her excitement. She seemed to be in her early forties, with the sort of casual elegance that required hours spent in spas, cosmetic studios and hair salons to achieve. She was dressed in elegant light beige pants and a cream white silk blouse, both of which looked entirely unsuited to garden work.
“Yes. Can I help you?”
“I’m Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and this is Police Constable Martin Jackson.”
“Oh my God!” The woman’s hand flew to her mouth, feigning surprise, as if she hadn’t been watching the police vehicles parked along Rosslyn Grove as well as the various officers walking in and out of house number 22 these past fifteen minutes. “Has anything happened to Miss Pembroke?”
“All I can tell you at this moment is that we are investigating a suspicious death and that investigations are ongoing,” Helen said, while the neighbour lady emitted another “Oh my God!” for good measure.

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About Cora Buhlert:

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. 
Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. She is the author of the Silencer series of pulp style thrillers, the Shattered Empire space opera series, the In Love and War science fiction romance series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries and plenty of standalone stories in multiple genres. When Cora is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher.


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