cassandra chan






"Readers who have somehow missed the first three installments of this series are really in for a treat.  Jack Gibbons is a fast-rising detective at Scotland Yard.  His best friend is independently wealthy, man-about-town Phillip Bethancourt, who is allowed to unofficially assist on some of Jack’s most interesting assignments.  This case takes place in Yorkshire over the Christmas holidays.  Gibbons is in York to check out a murder that might be the work of the serial killer known as Ashdon.  Then a second murder takes place that definitely does not fit the serial killer’s usual style.  Gibbons and Bethancourt take up residence in the Bethancourt York town house and set to work to solve the second case.  It soon becomes clear that the key to the murder might lie in the mysterious past of the free-spirited victim.  Chan’s literate and charming mysteries are rightfully compared to those of golden age British crime fiction (Christie, Sayers et al).  The detectives, one professional and one amateur, are smart, likable, and decent men with a real knack for solving crimes."
--Judy Coon, Booklist


"Christmas in Yorkshire is a nasty combination of pouring rain and murder.
Amateur sleuth Phillip Bethancourt, who’s just broken up with his girlfriend Marla, is spending Christmas at his family manor house. His pal, Scotland Yard Detective Jack Gibbons, who’s just returned to duty after sick leave, has been sent to York to check out a murder that might be the work of a serial killer known as Ashdon. Both friends are cheered by the prospect of a juicy murder. Gibbons, certain that the corpse found in a shop is Ashdon’s work, sends for DS Brumby, who is surprised to find an Ashdon case so far from the killer’s usual haunts in southern England. Then Jody Farraday’s body is found in Mittlesdon’s bookshop in York. Though the murder this time doesn’t fit Ashdon’s style, Gibbons and Bethancourt take up residence in the Bethancourt family’s York townhouse and investigate. Bethancourt knows Mittlesdon’s, where free-spirited Farraday used to work, and has an old flame working there now. But his inside knowledge is of little avail. So many people could have possessed a key that the suspect list is large, and Jody’s unusual background and wandering ways make it more difficult to pinpoint a motive until the sleuths learn more, much more, about the victim.
Chan beefs up the mystery while retaining the Golden Age feel to produce her best work to date." --Kirkus Reviews


"When the strangulation murder of a bookshop clerk appears to resemble the work of a serial killer, Scotland Yard detective Jack Gibbons is sent to Yorkshire to investigate. Phillip Bethancourt, an amateur sleuth and Jack's friend, is spending the holidays with his family in Yorkshire, and his acquaintance with several of the locals connected to the murder increases his usefulness to the police.

VERDICT: With its red herrings and large cast of suspects, Chan's fourth Bethancourt and Gibbons mystery (after Trick of the Mind ) will appeal to fans of the traditional Golden Age British mystery. Her inclusion of humor and her well-drawn characters make Chan a good choice for readers of Martha Grimes." --Library Journal Reviews


"Set at Christmastime, Chan's agreeable fourth contemporary cozy (after 2008's Trick of the Mind) finds London manabout-town Phillip Bethancourt unhappily ensconced at his parents' house in Yorkshire for the holidays. Hoping to dodge his inquisitive family's questions about his turbulent personal life, Phillip jumps at the chance to help his Scotland Yard friend, Det. Sgt. Jack Gibbons, when Jack travels north to investigate a murder possibly committed by the notorious Ashdon killer. When Jack decides the crime scene, a York bookshop, and the victim, a freespirited young woman, don't bear the serial killer's hallmarks, he turns his sights on the bookshop staff. The well-connected Phillip provides ready access to cocktail party gossip and more substantial information. Though the seasoned mystery reader may guess the culprit before the methodical Jack, this is an enjoyable outing into Dorothy Sayers territory." --Publishers Weekly




"A solid plot and a view of some of London's more obscure neighborhoods enhance Chan's third contemporary cozy to feature amateur sleuth Phillip Bethancourt and his best friend, Scotland Yard Det. Sgt. Jack Gibbons (after 2006's Village Affairs). When someone shoots Jack, who's recently been transferred to the Yard's arts theft division, Phillip thinks the crime has something to do with his friend's investigation of an antique jewelry heist. Jack's mentor at the Yard, Detective Chief Inspector Carmichael, provides access to the forensic evidence in the theft case, introduces Phillip to possible suspects and sets up a good dynamic between the official and unofficial investigators involved. While progress in the shooting case is as slow as Jack's recovery from his wounds, Chan pulls off an ending as surprising as it is fitting." -Publishers Weekly




"The independently wealthy Phillip Bethancourt is hoping an interesting murder will take brokenhearted Scotland Yard Detective Sergeant Jack Gibbon's mind off the end of his unhappy love affair. Bethancourt gets his wish when Charles Bingham is found dead in his Cotswolds cottage. Phillip and his girlfriend, Marla, a model, have gone to the area for a photo shoot, and Gibbons soon joins them. Bethancourt, a Peter Wimsey-like character, investigates, along with Scotland Yard, in this leisurely paced mystery. It turns out Bingham was a very wealthy man with a secret girlfriend no one can identify. Did she kill him? Or was it his estranged daughter? Or his business partner? Bethancourt is a charming character with a great interest in and talent for solving crimes as a hobby. A well-developed plot, intriguing and likable characters, solid investigative techniques, and an excellent sense of place distinguish this second in a series." --Sue O'Brien, Booklist


"Chan's second contemporary homage to Dorothy Sayers (after 2005's The Young Widow) lacks the subtle characterization and meticulous plotting of the Lord Peter Wimsey saga, though cozy fans should enjoy the charming Cotswolds setting, in particular the congenial local pub where much of the action takes place. Scotland Yard detective Jack Gibbons and his well-to-do friend, Phillip Bethancourt, go to Chipping Chedding to investigate the death of one of the village's most popular residents, Charlie Bingham. While a possibly accidental mix of sleeping pills and whiskey did Charlie in, his body having been moved to the fireside where it was found raises suspicions. A surfeit of sleuths, including one of Jack's police superiors and Phillip's bumbling host, muddles the evidence gathering. Amid the red herrings, the author provides enough fair-play clues for the discerning reader to discover the culprit." --Publishers Weekly


“Gibbons and Bethancourt’s second adventure is another enjoyably lighthearted look at murder among the upper classes.”
--Kirkus Reviews




"This novel brings together two different strands of the classic English detective story by taking two men as its protagonists: Phillip Bethancourt, a well-born dabbler with an interest in and aptitude for crime solving, and Jack Gibbons, a hardworking and dedicated up-and-comer on the police force. They must solve the murder of a wealthy industrialist, which allows Chan to give readers a modern take on the old English country-house murder tale through the two lead characters, one of whom falls in love with the dead man's widow. The author tells a tale that is part crime story, part family drama, part buddy flick, and part love story, a combination that makes for enjoyable reading."–-Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC


"Chan's sprightly debut, a contemporary homage to Dorothy L. Sayers's classic Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, introduces an appealing pair of sleuths. Jack Gibbons, an ambitious Scotland Yard detective sergeant, investigates the fatal poisoning of successful businessman Geoffrey Berowne, aided by his best friend from university days, Phillip Bethancourt, who's a wealthy man-about-town with a nose for crime. The chief suspect is Berowne's attractive wife, Annette, whose previous two husbands, both much older than she, also died under odd circumstances. When Gibbons rather predictably starts falling for Annette, he seeks another solution to the murder, despite everything pointing to the young widow as the killer. Even if Gibbons and Bethancourt are hardly original as a detective duo, traditional English mystery devotees should look forward to their further adventures." --Publishers Weekly