EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
Real Elves: A Christmas Story
(Emily Castles Mysteries)
by Helen Smith
Here's a short story to get you in the Christmas spirit. It's Real Elves by Helen Smith, and it can be yours for only $0.99. This short mystery is a standalone story set in London. The Emily Castles Mysteries can be read in any order: Three Sisters, Showstoppers, Invitation to Die, and Beyond Belief.
Keep reading to find out how you can get Helen's newest short story FREE, and enter a giveaway to win 12 print books in time for Christmas.
In a department store in London, a little girl called Sophie visits Santa’s magical forest with her grandfather. As they emerge from the forest, Sophie’s grandfather reports her missing … but the little girl’s right there. Is she a ghost, a twin, an alien abductee - or is there some simpler explanation? Twenty-six-year-old amateur sleuth Emily Castles has fifteen minutes to figure out the puzzle before the police are called and Christmas is ruined.
“I want you to think of all the ways you could injure a child,” said Miranda. She was dressed as an elf. “I mean, really hurt them—not just a bump or a bruise. I’m talking about snapping a limb or bashing in a head, or even”—she lowered her voice—“loss of life.”
Emily loved the run-up to Christmas, it was like the start of a poem: spicy cinnamon and glints of gold, green leaves and red robes, fairy lights and children singing. Even in the final scramble, in the week before everything shut down, when people frenziedly bought presents they couldn’t afford and drank too much at office parties, she always tried to remain cheerful and calm. Now, standing at the entrance to an enchanted forest, on the third floor of a department store in London, dressed in a red robe with a hood, carrying a wicker basket, she tried to be helpful. “I suppose you could hit them really hard with a cricket bat?”
“I think you misunderstood me,” said Miranda. “I’m not suggesting you deliberately injure a child. I’m asking you to consider how a child could be injured by accident. In there.” She pointed into the dark interior of the forest, where exotic flowers had bloomed overnight, where the gnarled limbs of almost-human trees joined protectively over a meandering pathway that led to Santa’s grotto, where gold and silver baubles were strung up among strands of twinkling white lights that threaded through the branches.
Praise for this Series
"Helen Smith has created a great little cozy series with the charming Emily Castles." ~ Criminal Element
"Emily Castles is one character you cannot help but fall in love with!" ~ Julie's Book Reviews
"Very funny indeed ... There seems to be a winning line on every page." ~ The Bookbag
"Helen Smith is a master story-teller." ~ Socrates Book Reviews
"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, Edgar award winning author of The Wicked Girls
By Chris Keen
What a wonderful story - a great introduction to the Emily Castles world. As the book opens, Emily is helping at a Santa's Christmas Forest set up in a department store. When they invite Sophie and her grandfather to take a pre-opening tour to test the display, Sophie goes missing. But she is still standing beside her grandfather. What has happened? Is it magic or something more sinister? Will Emily get to the bottom of it before the police arrive?
This is one of those stories that make readers say "wow, I MUST read every other book this author has written!" It's a cozy mystery in every sense of the genre. Nothing vulgar, no blood, no violence; just a cracking good little mystery with quirky characters and so well written it was as if I was right there with them!
From the Author
The paperback edition of this short story will make a nice hostess gift or stocking filler, while the ebook is intended as a taster for readers who are not familiar with my Emily Castles Mysteries, or a fun Christmas addition to the series for those who are.
As with my other Emily Castles stories, this is a clean mystery suitable for readers of any age. And, as it is a Christmas story, there are no murders for once!
If you buy the paperback, you can get the ebook free through the Kindle Matchbook program.
About the Author
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 Wired.com 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 traveled 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.
Plus, enter the Noorosha Killer Christmas giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Beyond Belief by Helen Smith, along with 11 other print books (open internationally; ends 4 December).