Read The Magic Chair Murder by Diane Janes Online


Introducing amateur sleuths Frances Black and Tom Dod in the first of an intriguing new historical mystery series set in the north of England. 1929.The night before she's due to make a speech to the Robert Barnaby Society on the subject of the famous writer's 'magic chair', committee member Linda Dexter disappears. When her body is discovered two days later, fellow membeIntroducing amateur sleuths Frances Black and Tom Dod in the first of an intriguing new historical mystery series set in the north of England. 1929.The night before she's due to make a speech to the Robert Barnaby Society on the subject of the famous writer's 'magic chair', committee member Linda Dexter disappears. When her body is discovered two days later, fellow members Frances Black and Tom Dod determine to find out the truth about her death.Could Linda have discovered something about Robert Barnaby that got her killed? Or does the answer lie in the dead woman's past? As they pursue their investigations, Fran and Tom find the Barnaby Society to be a hotbed of clashing egos, seething resentments and ill-advised love affairs - but does a killer lurk among them?...

Title : The Magic Chair Murder
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780727887597
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 215 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Magic Chair Murder Reviews

  • Susan
    2018-12-23 11:03

    Set in 1929, this is the beginning of a new series, featuring Fran Black and Tom Dod, who pair up to investigate a murder. Fran has been lonely since her husband left her for another woman and so she enjoys the company of the Robert Barnaby Society; a society set up to champion the work of a children’s author, whose characters transport themselves to different periods in history with the use of a magic chair. The chair itself is said to live at Furnival Towers, now a hotel hosting the society’s annual conference.One of the members, Linda Dexter, was supposed to be giving a paper – “The Magic Chair: Fact or Fiction,” which she promised would cause a bit of a furore. However, she disappears, much to the disapproval of the Society Chairman, Hugh Allonby, who takes the opportunity to give his own talk. Controlling, bureaucratic and official, Allonby does not seem at all concerned that Linda seems to have vanished, but suspects she was too nervous to give her talk. However, this does not seem at all likely to Fran and, when fellow member Tom, calls to say a body has been found, the two throw themselves into finding out what really happened. This is a fairly interesting start to a series, although it sometimes feels a little modern and out of period. As Fran is unavailable – separated, but not divorced – the author has created a scenario where her friendship with Tom cannot really develop (he has his own personal issues) and it will be interesting to see how she overcomes all these barriers she has thrown between them. I liked Fran, with her friend Mo, difficult mother and her bemusement about the fate that life has thrown at her. WWI shadows the book, with most of the major characters affected by events from that time and the after effects. I liked the way, for example, Fran – having voted for the first time – is bemused that it feels such an anti-climax.Overall, a reasonable start to a series. I would certainly read on, even though I felt that the plot could have been tighter and the period more realistic. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley. Rated 3.5

  • Judy Lesley
    2018-12-24 13:05

    Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House Publishing for a digital galley of this novel.One of the things I found interesting in this first novel in a new series is that there is no police presence in the book. The two main characters, Fran Black and Tom Dod, do all the investigating on their own with no help or hindrance from anyone in the official policing community. The story moves along at a rather sedate pace with Fran making many trips through the Dales on public transport busses to meet Tom (who does have an automobile) for investigations or meetings to compare notes. Luckily Fran is able to afford a telephone because that instrument is invaluable in keeping Tom and her friend, Mo, apprised of the progress of the investigations. Fran and Tom are members of the Robert Barnaby Society, a nationwide group established to honor the famous author of children's books. At the yearly conference one of the speakers goes missing before she can give a speech which had the potential to cause dissention among the membership. Now it seems that the Executive Committee of the society would prefer to have Linda Dexter's death be quietly ruled a suicide so that no hint of scandal attaches to them. Fran and Tom see the possibility of more going on and decide to try to find the truth.The time period of 1929 is a little hard to feel in this novel even after reading about Fran taking advantage of her first opportunity to vote for Prime Minister. The author does a good job of trying to keep the language true to the period but I did find myself reacting a few times to particular words or phrases. Not enough to ruin the book for me, just enough that I noticed. The author has also written the matrimonial situations for both lead characters in such a way that it is hard to see how they can remain sleuthing companions without involving themselves in personal problems. I hope there will be some way out for these two who are obviously attracted to each other and yet have two such unusual marriages. The pace of this novel is rather slow, but very thorough in revealing the facts uncovered by the two amateur sleuths. That very slowness is the reason the resolution of the crime struck me as so rushed and unsatisfactory. One level of the novel I really enjoyed was seeing the inner conflicts and positioning of the members of the Robert Barnaby Society. Those segments of the book rang very true and will be easily recognized by anyone who has ever been involved in a group of this type. The hint of a second book is pretty plainly stated at the end of this story so it probably won't be long before this investigating duo is back at work trying to find the truth behind their next mystery.

  • Betty
    2019-01-04 04:41

    New series and the first time I have read this author. It is set in 1005 in England. A historical novel with some mystery. It covers how women were perceived and treated especially where a marriage is involved. Francis Black and Tom Tod are the protests and both have noncompliant marriages. About 1/2 through the book there is a major shift in the story and it becomes a cold case mystery. The story has elements of the Nora and Charles' books.Francis and Tom at an of Robert Barnaby Society conference when Linda Dexter goes missing and is later her body found smashed on a railroad track. Francis and Tom decided to look into Linda's papers on Robert Barnaby. They discover that Linda was a principle in a murder about twenty years earlier. Does her death date back to the previous murder or is the cause of new information about the "Magic Chair" is the cause? I recommend this book. Disclosure: Many thanks to Severn House for my copy for review. The opinions expresses are my own.

  • Deanne Patterson
    2019-01-09 09:46

    1929 Northern England . Book one in the Black & Dod Mystery series. A woman, committee member Linda Dexter disappears the night before she is to make a speech to the Robert Barnaby Society on the subject of the famous writer’s ‘magic chair’. This intriguing historical cosy mystery has amateur sleuths Frances Black and Tom Dod who are fellow members determined to find out what really happened when they take the mystery into their on hands. Could the woman have been killed to silence her from telling what she has found out and does a killer walk among the members or is it a random killer? I enjoyed the historical atmosphere presented in the book.Pub Date 01 Mar 2018Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review.

  • Lesa
    2018-12-28 12:01

    There are a lot of creepy people in Diane Janes' The Magic Chair Murder. Who would guess that the mystery, set in the 1920s in England, would revolve around the author of children's poems and stories?The Robert Barnaby Society is having a conference. Robert Barnaby was a poet who wrote about a magic chair. Child characters in his poems would sit in the chair, and be transported into the past for a series of adventures. Barnaby died in the Great War, and now adults come together to address the serious subjects in his poems. Some dress in costume, but the overall intent is to discuss Barnaby and his writings. And, Linda Dexter, who is to speak to the group on a topic she suggested may be controversial, doesn't show up.Most people at the conference don't seem at all upset that Linda Dexter isn't speaking. But two of the younger members find it disturbing. Fran Black and Tom Dod team up to find the missing woman. Before they can do much, Linda's burned out car and her body are found by the police. But, the amateur sleuths are curious as to why the society wants to shut down all mention of Linda's involvement. They may prove to be unpopular with the group, but Black and Dod want answers.The Magic Chair Murder is written in the style of 1920s mysteries. It's leisurely paced and intricately plotted. The story is character-driven with a great deal of conversation. It will be a little slow-paced for some. Even the humorous bits were a little old-fashioned. When Black and Dod were mentioned, I didn't trust the book to be accurate, so I researched to learn that Dod does mean death in Scandinavian. The amateur sleuths are Black Death, or Black and Death.The mystery was a little slow, a little too involved for me. But, there are already hints of a new mystery for Black and Dod.

  • Elaine Tomasso
    2018-12-19 09:00

    I would like to thank Netgalley and Severn House for a review copy of The Magic Chair Murder, the first novel in a projected series to feature amateur sleuths Frances Black and Tom Dod, set in Cumbria in 1928.Fran and Tom are newly elected committee members of the Robert Barnaby Society, a society dedicated to the work of said children's poet and are attending their first annual conference in this role when one of the keynote speakers, Linda Dexter, disappears before she can make some controversial claims about the eponymous magic chair, the apparent source of Barnaby's inspiration. When her body is found on a remote train track close to where her car burned out the police are quick to suspect suicide despite there being nothing in Linda's demeanour that night to suggest it. Fran and Tom think it was murder and in the course of their investigation uncover many secrets others would prefer to keep hidden.I thoroughly enjoyed The Magic Chair Murder which is a good start to the series. The plotting could be a bit tighter as I constantly felt that I was ahead of the game, reading the clues better than Tom and Fran, but I don't feel that it really matters as there is so much going on the novel still held my attention. Who knew one unassuming woman could have so many potential enemies and that the reason for it would be so compelling? In between this Linda tangled in a serious way with the leading lights of the society. I found the portrayal of the petty jealousies, rivalries and characters in this society very apt, to the point and extremely amusing - there's nothing as cutthroat as inconsequential vanities and causes.I found the period detail and sensibilities rather inconsistent but again the mild humour overcomes it. Fran is not a war widow as are so many women of her generation, instead she is in limbo because her husband has left her and the shame of a divorce would kill her mother which means she can't give her cheating husband the ammunition of a new partner to divorce her. This is a shame as she is strongly attracted to Tom Dod but with his own problems he is not free to act either. In many ways this conundrum is so totally alien to modern lifestyles that it is hard to believe and yet it caused a lot of heartache at the time. I'm not sure how convincing the situation is in the novel is because it is surrounded by modern speech and a certain freedom which would not have existed at the time.The Magic Chair Mystery is a light hearted read with a convoluted plot which held my interest throughout and has interested me in reading more so I have no hesitation in recommending it as a good read.

  • S.J. Higbee
    2018-12-19 10:07

    A very simple premise sets up the story - where a guest speaker inexplicably disappears during a conference and when her body is later discovered, it is assumed she has committed suicide. Both Frances Black and Tom Dod don’t believe this is the case and are determined to get to the bottom of why Linda is murdered.I loved this one – Janes has taken care to set up the story and establish the characters in much the same way as Christie did. There is also no shortage of likely candidates when it comes to working out who the murderer is. As the investigation proceeds, we also learn more about Frances and Tom – and why the pair of them might be very willing to spend time and energy worrying about a problem that has nothing to do with their own daily routines. Despite this story consciously harking back to the past, there is no sentimentality in Janes’s depiction of the 1920s. The shadow of the Great War is still lying heavily across the country and although women have been granted the vote during the previous year, the manner in which Frances is frequently dismissed makes me very glad that I wasn’t born in that era.I was also impressed with the worldbuilding and the level of historical detail throughout – at no time did any of it jar. What you don’t get with this book is foot to-the-floor action as the story builds steadily while Frances and Tom discover yet more facts and clues surrounding Linda’s life. Nonetheless I was immersed in the world and wanting to know exactly why Linda was murdered and who did it.One of the pleasures in reading this type of crime novel is trying to guess the culprit and while I won’t claim to be particularly good at it, I can report that I didn’t guess whodunit, yet the murder and why it was committed made complete sense. I came to really like Frances and I’m going to be looking out for more books in this series – luckily it seems that Diane Janes is a prolific author. Yippee! While I obtained an arc of The Magic Chair Murder from Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.9/10

  • Eric
    2019-01-11 09:54

    Diane Janes, as well as writing crime fiction, is the author of four investigations of historic crimes.”The Magic Chair Murder : a 1920’s English Mystery” is set in the North of England at the time of the1929 General Election. Although many of the sexist and class attitudes are of the time, and despite references to the Election, I did not come away with a great sense of period from this book.Fran Black and Tom Dod are members of a Society devoted to the life and works of a children’s writer called Robert Barnaby whose Magic Chair features in the novel.Fran and Tom embark on an investigation into the death of fellow member, Linda Dexter, which most people mark down as suicide. This leads them to research Linda’s background which proves to hold the key to her death. The case also throws up potential scandals in the affairs of the Society. A closeness develops between Fran and Tom, but this has its difficulties due to the complexity of their marriages.I thought the murderer was fairly obvious from early on, but the motive was not guessable until much later. A full explanation is mooted, but not confirmed, and I thought the ending somewhat abrupt. The author does find time to hint at the next investigation.Overall this was an easy read and the main characters are not without interest. The plotting is pretty average but may improve as a series progresses. I will certainly look out for the next.Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the digital ARC.

  • Liz
    2019-01-07 04:46

    When a presenter to a conference does not show, newly elected committee member Frances Black is puzzled since Linda Dexter appeared eager to reveal new information to the Robert Barnaby society concerning the author the group is dedicated to. When her burned car is discovered and shortly thereafter also her body on a rarely used railway spur the mystery deepens. Frances and another committee member Tom Dod become determined to find out what happened.I should have liked this more than I did; it is set in the time period between the two word wars which I normally find interesting. And the main protagonist Frances Black is in the unenviable situation of a woman whose husband has left her for another woman in a time period where divorce reflects badly on a woman's reputation. But she was so annoying as a character, sort of passive aggressive in her reactions that I found myself putting the book down again and again...but curious enough to keep on reading to find out what happened.

  • Kathleen Gray
    2019-01-13 09:49

    Interesting start for a historical cozy mystery series. Note that the mystery in some ways takes a back seat to the relationship between Frances and Tom, who are both in bad marital situations and who come together to investigate a murder. 1929 was prime time for fascination with things like Robert Barnaby's "magic chair." Here, Linda, a naysayer, is the one who is found dead. Because Fran is invested in the Robert Barnaby Society, she takes on the effort to find the killer. What a nest of serpents the Society turns out to be. This doesn't always have the same 1929 atmospherics you might expect but it's a well written into to new characters. The mystery isn't too twisty. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I'm looking forward to the next one.

  • Nancy
    2018-12-30 12:42

    Diane Janes has created two very likable amateur sleuths who would be promising characters for a tv mini-series. I loved the premise of the book and its period setting, but found the writing a bit lackluster. She paves a path for a continuing partnership of her two protagonists and I hope that future books in the series will have a bit more sparkle.I found the lonely afternoons with a cup of tea, and evenings with a few gins (and the cat) a bit tedious after a while---but the prospective partnership with a charming male friend might add the needed sizzle to this potential series.Netgalley provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Dgordon
    2019-01-09 04:50

    A good start to a new mystery series with likable, intelligent protagonists. The story was a little slow going in parts and the ending was wrapped sort of abruptly, but overall I look forward to reading the next book in this series. I received this book as an arc from Netgalley for an unbiased review.

  • Zoe
    2019-01-10 06:38

    Thanks Severn House and netgalley for this ARC.Short but very engaging and a good taste of future books.

  • Deborah Crain
    2019-01-10 04:45

    This book is a muddle of a mystery. Fran Black and Tom Dod are attending a literary society meeting when a keynote speaker turns up dead. Despite the society's desire to sweep the murder under the rug, Fran and Tom decide to investigate. I have some concerns with the story should the series continue, Fran and Tom are drawn to each other, yet both are married, which would seemingly affect their relationship and their ability to work together. Fran seems to do most of the investigation, with Tom throwing in a bit here and there. They live in two different places and mainly solve mysteries by comparing notes over the phone,, which is not particularly exciting reading.. Though the crime is solved, I don't think I will be going further in the series. I did not find any reason to make me want to read another installment. I received this book in return for an unbiased review from Net Galley

  • Susan
    2018-12-27 06:39

    The first of a cozy mystery series set in 1929 England. At the Robert Barnaby Society wekkend, the day before she was due to give a talk Linda Dexter has disappeared. While the police carry out their own investigate Fran Black and Tom Dod join forces to delve into the mystety.A enjoyed this easy to read well-written story and liked the characters. A really good start and a series which I look forward to reading more of.A NetGalley Book

  • Chris
    2018-12-20 10:42

    The Magic Chair MurderAnother historical mystery series is born! Award-winning crime author Diane Janes has delivered the first book in a new historical crime series, set in 1929 Northern England. Written in the “cozy” style of Golden Age British crime fiction, it contains the usual: unexplained death, dubious suspects, inept local police and “dog-with-a-bone” amateur detectives. There’s a hint of romance, but no sex or graphic violence.Fran Black is at an annual literary society conference celebrating late author, Robert Barnaby. She and Tom Dod are the only committee members who think there’s something odd about the disappearance of presenter, Linda Dexter. When Dexter’s burning car and body are found, a verdict of suicide is quickly delivered. Fran and Tom are not convinced, as Dexter was about to reveal controversial research findings that could have rocked the Barnaby Society. They decide to work together to uncover the truth.The story is full of action whilst maintaining the genre feel of English cottages, cats and cups of tea. Janes has created a credible protagonist in Fran. She’s an independent 1920s woman separated from her cheating husband, free to meet who ever she pleases, but we want her to find true love. Is Tom the one?The setting could have been any English village; I didn’t get a sense of it being particularly northern. Likewise, other than the direct reference to young women voting for the first time, it could have occurred anytime between the two world wars (women over 30 could vote in the UK from 1918, but 21- to 30-year-olds had to wait until 1928).Janes leaves the door open for Fran and Tom to collaborate on future murder investigations. She has created the foundation for a great historical crime series that would also lend itself to television.By Christine Childs