How to commit the perfect murder: Mary Paulson-Ellis

The Times bestselling author Mary Paulson-Ellis on how she would commit her perfect (fictional) murder . . .

We questioned Mary Paulson-Ellis, author of the intricate and intriguing historical mysteries The Other Mrs Walker and The inheritance of Solomon Farthing, on how she would commit her perfect (fictional) murder.

What is your weapon of choice?

A glass of whisky (a not inexpensive brand). Alternatively, the seeds of the laburnum tree. Or perhaps both – one to make the other go down.

What is your motive?

Do I need one? All families are murderous one way or another, particularly sisters. Mothers and daughters too. That’s all I’ll say.

Where is the scene of the crime?

In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps… Or at the bottom of a garden, hidden beneath the branches of that laburnum tree.

What is your getaway vehicle?

A coffin or a tunnel in the grass.

Who is your accomplice?

There are no accomplices. Or rather, not that they know about. I do have a solicitor though. His name’s Mr Nye Senior.

Do you have a calling card?

Many. An emerald dress. A photograph. A Brazil nut with the Ten Commandments etched in its shell. Also six orange pips sucked to within an inch of their lives. But you’ll have to work out which is the most significant i.e. the one that will lead to me.

The Other Mrs Walker

by Mary Paulson-Ellis

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the floor.

A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back in the city she thought she’d left behind, finding a a job at the Office for Lost People.

But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know, is just how entangled her own life will become in the death of one lonely stranger . . .

The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing

by Mary Paulson-Ellis

An old soldier dies alone in his Edinburgh nursing home. No known relatives, and no Will to enact. Just a pawn ticket found amongst his belongings, and fifty thousand pounds in used notes sewn into the lining of his burial suit . . .

Heir Hunter, Solomon Farthing – down on his luck, until, perhaps, now – is tipped off on this unexplained fortune. Armed with only the deceased’s name and the crumpled pawn ticket, he must find the dead man’s closest living relative if he is to get a cut of this much-needed cash.

But in trawling through the deceased’s family tree, Solomon uncovers a mystery that goes back to 1918 and a group of eleven soldiers abandoned in a farmhouse billet in France in the weeks leading up to the armistice.