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Invitation to Die (Emily Castles Mysteries) [Kindle Edition]

Helen Smith
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Twenty-six-year-old Emily Castles is out of work… again. So when famous romance author Morgana Blakely offers her a job helping out at a conference in London, Emily accepts. Just as eagerly, American blogger Winnie Kraster accepts an invitation from Morgana to attend as a guest, not realizing she has, in effect, accepted an invitation to die.

As a cast of oddball characters assembles at the conference hotel, grievances, differences, and secrets begin to emerge. When Winnie goes missing, and then is found murdered nearby, Emily begins to suspect that someone involved with the conference is responsible. Could it be one of the organizers, one of the authors, a member of the hotel staff, or even the supplier of the chocolates for the conference gift bags? Emily teams up with guest speaker and eccentric philosophy professor Dr. Muriel to find out.

Offbeat and engaging, this entertaining comic mystery is the first full-length novel featuring amateur British sleuth Emily Castles.

Product Description


"Invitation to Die is a quintessentially English murder mystery featuring an astutely drawn mix of larger-than-life characters... The book is very funny indeed... There seems to be a winning line on every page." -The

"An intelligent, likeable contemporary heroine and a clever plotline… Like a modern day Agatha Christie." -Just a Normal Girl in London

"Quirky, whimsical, smart, and engaging... I flat-out loved it. A must-read for romance readers." -Connie Brockway, bestselling romance author and two-time RITA award winner

"Entertaining, gripping and fast paced with laugh-out loud moments." -Bookfabulous

"This book is full of great lines. I was giggling through the book." -Wall-to-Wall Books

"Invitation to Die is a fast, funny, easy read with many enjoyable comic moments." -Mystery People

"I love Helen Smith's writing. Her brand of mystery, shot through with clever observational humour and the sharpest of wit, is something that's been missing from the genre for far too long." -Alex Marwood, bestselling author of The Wicked Girls.

About the Author

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. In addition to the Emily Castles mysteries, she is the author of Alison Wonderland, Being Light and The Miracle Inspector.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1758 KB
  • Print Length: 209 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1480555959
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (19 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,992 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Sign up for Helen Smith's Book News and receive a FREE Kindle copy of one of Helen Smith's books:

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. Her books have reached number one on Amazon's bestseller lists in the US, UK, Canada and Germany. They have been praised in The Times, The Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Time Out and and appeared on "best of the year" lists in For Books' Sake, The Cult Den, The Independent and the Guardian. Her books have been optioned by the BBC.

Helen Smith travelled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both - from cleaning motels to working as a magician's assistant - before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel. Since then, she has read at literary events and festivals in London and New York and points in between - including, most recently, a cruise ship en route to California via the Suez Canal. Her work has been read or performed at the National Theatre, The Royal Festival Hall, the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, Amnesty International's Headquarters, The Edinburgh Festival and The University of London. She's a Literary Death Match champion and the recipient of an Arts Council of England award.

Helen Smith is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The Crime Writers' Association and English PEN.

"Smith is gin-and-tonic funny." Booklist

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delicious medley of drama and wit 24 May 2013
By Peter Piper TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Occasionally, one comes across an author who has developed a particularly engaging recipe of character and format - in my opinion Helen Smith's Emily Castles mysteries are exactly one such combination. The author's ability to draw characters is exceptional, they are all so well observed and consequently all the more appealing.

Since reading the first two highly entertaining short stories 'Three Sisters' and 'Show Stoppers', I have been looking forward to being able to luxuriate in a full-length Emily Castles story. 'Invitation to Die' is another thoroughly British mystery, this time with American connections, in which tensions between review bloggers and rival romance authors boil over until bodies begin to appear. As if that wasn't enough, there is a chocolatier, a hotel manager and a chef, all of whom have devious reasons for being involved one way or another. Each of the colourful and eccentric characters has secrets; Emily's job is to learn what they are and to determine which might be a motive for murder.

This is a thinking person's mystery. Amidst the fantasy are references to the real life concerns of ethical writing and oppressed ethnic groups. Unsurprising for a story centred around authors and bloggers, there are quite a few hints between the lines about the secrets of successful writing - a considerable bonus for aspiring writers. I hadn't even thought about similes, until they were mentioned as a feature of this type of novel, and then there they were, all bright as buttons, gleaming around the various threads in the plot.

This story fits the cosy mystery description splendidly, being cleverly constructed and full of red herrings. It rapidly becomes a real page-turner, one which sweeps the reader along as if in a well-upholstered carriage, rather than a hair-raising roller-coaster. If you enjoyed the first two Emily Castles mysteries, I think you will be as least as delighted by this one and I hope there will be many more.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great as a serial or all at once! 14 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Having read both of the Emily Castle Mysteries, I was excited to read the new one and I think that the idea of it being a serial story is exciting. This first segment does a great job of setting up the story and introducing the characters. I love how Helen Smith creates these very real and very quirky characters in her stories. She has a wonderful ability to describe people and places so well that you feel like you are right there in the story. I am anxious to see more of Emily, who was only briefly introduced in this episode!

Now that the series is complete, I want to add to my original first episode review and give a better idea of the book as a whole. Every book in the Emily Castles Mysteries has painted a better picture of who Emily is. There is something very appealing about this character. She finds herself in these random and bizarre circumstances and yet remains inquisitive and unflappable. I think part of what I like the most about Emily is that she is so down to earth and "normal" and yet she is constantly surrounded by these eccentric personalities that are so well developed and described by Helen Smith.

It is not necessary to have read any of the other two Emily Castles stories to read and enjoy Invitation to Die but if you haven't I highly recommend that you check out Three Sisters (Emily Castles Mysteries) and Showstoppers (Emily Castles Mysteries). They are both great!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, Eccentric, Addictive. 13 Nov. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved this from start to the last page. Helen Smith has created a book that is clever, amusing, witty and utterly readable without ever being patronising without ever being elitist or boring. There is is a murder of a blogger at the Romance Writers Conference in Bloomsbury London and the characters that Smith creates are wonderful. Having a few author friends I got many of the nuances and humour that was leveled at the profession but this book is not cliquey. It is quintessentially English the perfect book for any lovers of English eccentricities and murder mysteries. I got drawn into the world of the romance novelists, Zena, Ceris, Morganna and the others and so will you if you buy this book. A thoroughly good dose of quirky escapism.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great characters and setting 10 Jun. 2013
By LondonS
Format:Kindle Edition
Invitation to Die had enormous potential and the makings of an entertaining "whodunnit" and while it did entertain I felt that something was missing. To my own discredit, I can't tell you what that something missing was, exactly. Part of my issue was the end of the book-it felt really rushed and I wanted more... more pages... more Emily... just more explanation even. The conclusion felt a bit rushed to me. To be fair, Invitation to Die was originally issued as a Kindle Serial so maybe knowing that threw me off a bit?

I also got the hint that there was a backstory to heroine Emily Castles; Smith drops in little clues about Emily's relationship with Detective Rory James and Dr Muriel among other things that I didn't get at all. I'm assuming that's because I've not read either of the short stories (Three Sisters, Showstoppers) featuring Castles. As a standalone novel, Invitation to Die could have done with a bit more backstory on Emily.

Enough negativity! Helen Smith's writing style is very easy to read and enjoy. She's very clear and concise without seeming sharp but also doesn't dither away on little details and "fluff" in her writing. There's nothing worse than a writer going on for paragraphs about the "dewey morning" or what-have-you.

And the characters-whoo wee! I Loved (that's right, big L!) the writers in the RWGB, particularly Zena and Nic, the hotel manager, had me in fits. I currently work in the conference and events industry so it was fun to read a book based in a setting that I'm (very) familiar with-minus the murdering. So far, anyhow.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery at Romantic Writers' Conference - Everyone Welcome!
Having read the Emily Castles mysteries (The London Stories), I looked forward to reading this full length novel. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Kay Smillie
5.0 out of 5 stars and very funny, primarily by Ms Smith's sharp depictions of the ...
A very interesting murder mystery set at a romantic writers convention. The author introduces (and hilariously skewers) a variety of eccentric characters, tossing in enough red... Read more
Published 8 days ago by William
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic cozy mystery!
This is a great book. You won't have a clue to who did it! I loved it! This one is going on my must re-read list. It really is that good of a mystery. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Haggielady
5.0 out of 5 stars great read not my normal type of book but title ...
Book, great read not my normal type of book but title gave me some thought and i did enjoy it
Published 2 months ago by Mr. S. H. Dunsmore
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great read
Published 5 months ago by Buffy
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Story a bit long winded but readable.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
plenty of suspense
Published 7 months ago by P. O'hara
1.0 out of 5 stars Invitation to die
This is one of the rubbish book's I have read couldn't believe the characters l kept leaving it and going back ( I hate not finishing a book) it was drawn out to much detail on... Read more
Published 8 months ago by stjamespark
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast pace story
Emily Castles is a most unusual detective who manages to stumble upon murder and solve it through the use of her notebook. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Fran M
2.0 out of 5 stars lightweight
Read better!
Published 9 months ago by Marion Aspel
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