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A Body in the Village Hall

An utterly gripping cozy murder mystery

Dee MacDonald

Books by Dee MacDonald

Kate Palmer Mystery Series

A Body in the Village Hall

A Body in Seaview Grange

A Body at the Tea Rooms

The Golden Oldies Guesthouse

The Silver Ladies of Penny Lane

The Getaway Girls

The Runaway Wife


Kate Palmer Series

A Body in the Village Hall (Available in the UK and the US)

A Body in the Seaview Grange (Available in the UK and the US)

The Runaway Wife (Available in the UK and the US)


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

A Body in Seaview Grange

Extract - A Body in Seaview Grange

Hear More from Dee

Books by Dee MacDonald

A Letter from Dee

A Body at the Tea Rooms

The Golden Oldies Guesthouse

The Silver Ladies of Penny Lane

The Getaway Girls

The Runaway Wife




Kate Palmer struggled to keep awake as the ‘Grow your own vegetables’ woman droned on and on. She’d begun her lecture with beans – covered at length and clearly her passion – and she’d now got to brassica. ‘That’s your cabbage and your broccoli, ladies,’ she explained to the less initiated members of the Tinworthy Women’s Institute. Kate, sitting near the back on one of the highly uncomfortable chairs, decided that, in an effort to stay awake, she’d try to count all the women she recognised from behind. She’d only lived in Lower Tinworthy for around six weeks but she’d met quite a few of them on account of their bumps, lumps, arthritis and other assorted conditions, which came with the territory when you worked in the village medical centre. This was such a contrast to the life she’d led in West London. She’d moved to Cornwall with her sister, Angie, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It had been the location of many idyllic childhood holidays and they’d always loved it here. Kate hoped fervently that living in such a tranquil location would give Angie some measure of rehabilitation from the demon drink, gin in particular. Hence the Women’s Institute meeting; Kate was determined her sister would find something wholesome with which to fill her time.

Kate looked round at the rustic wood-panelled interior of Tinworthy Village Hall and at the collection of notices displayed. She could decipher the Gardeners’ Club, Mothers and Infants, Tinworthy Train Enthusiasts, the Dramatic Society and the Over-Sixties’ Club, none of which seemed particularly relevant. The Women’s Institute – that backbone of rural life – wasn’t exactly her cup of tea either, but she’d been hopeful that her sister might become interested. She glanced at Angie sitting alongside and decided that probably hadn’t been such a brilliant idea, as Angie was fiddling with her phone and paying no attention whatsoever to the lady speaker and her brassica.

‘Now, when it comes to your carrots,’ the speaker continued, ‘you should always––’

The ladies of Upper, Middle and Lower Tinworthy were never to know what they should always do with their carrots.

Suddenly, the speaker was cut off by a piercing scream. It came from the kitchen area at the back of the village hall.

There was a moment of complete shocked silence.

‘What on earth was that?’ Angie whispered.

Then chairs were scraped back in the general stampede towards the corridor that led to the kitchen.

‘Kate Palmer!’ someone yelled. ‘Come here quick! We need a nurse!’

Kate pushed her way through the throng of women to the kitchen doorway. Betty Calder was half standing, half slumped against the doorframe. She looked like she was about to collapse, her face floury white. She raised a quivering arm and pointed wordlessly through the half-open doorway. Kate looked past her to get sight of what she was pointing at and there, lying flat on the floor, with a large knife sticking out of her chest, was Fenella Barker-Jones, hygienically clad for cake-cutting in plastic apron and latex gloves. There was a growing pool of blood round her body.

‘Someone call an ambulance and the police,’ Kate yelled as she ran to Fenella. She felt for a pulse without expecting to find one and tore away the apron to better examine the wound. The expression on Fenella’s face told Kate – who had thirty-six years’ medical experience – that the poor woman was dead; she looked wide-eyed and horrified, as well she might. Fenella Barker-Jones! She who had won the cake-baking contest at the start of the evening (although everyone knew it was Mrs Tilley, her cook, who’d done the baking).

Fenella, the Women’s Institute chairwoman, the doyenne of the amateur dramatic society, the leading light of the Conservative Club and respected member of the Tinworthy Parish Council! She who, only twenty minutes ago, had introduced the guest speaker before disappearing into the kitchen to sort out the refreshments. And now here she was, lifeless, on the wooden floor.

For a brief moment Kate was stunned, but then her training kicked in and she gathered herself together. As she bent over Fenella’s body, it was obvious from the angle of the knife that it had gone straight through her heart. She’d seen many dead bodies in the course of her career, but never anything quite as dramatic as this. What disturbed her most of all was the look of total shock and disbelief in Fenella’s wide-open eyes. At least death must have been instantaneous.

‘Stand back!’ she ordered as several of the women nosed forward.

They’d gathered around but most were too horrified to go near the victim. Some were phoning the police, the doctor, their husbands. Betty, who’d crept out to help Fenella in the kitchen, was slowly coming round, but another woman had passed out, a couple were openly weeping and most were staring open-mouthed in morbid fascination.

‘Who the hell would do something like this?’ one woman shouted at no one in particular.

‘Plenty might have wanted to,’ someone else replied, ‘but who would

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