by Victoria Benchley
Book 1: The Merlon Murders
When hot shot investigator and math genius Duncan Dewar decides to head a life insurance inquiry, he has no idea what he’s soon to encounter. Hoping to learn more about his ancestry, Duncan is drawn to the village of Taye, Scotland, where his past and future are about to collide, altering the trajectory of his life forever. Was the laird of Castle Taye accidently crushed by a merlon from his own battlement, or are more sinister forces at work? Is the alluring widow and beneficiary of eleven million pounds to blame, or innocent? Is a ghost seeking vengeance against members of Clan MacNab for the slaughter of her loved one hundreds of years ago? Will Duncan be the next victim of the merlon murders? Follow Duncan on a culinary tour of breathtaking Scotland as he navigates through relationships with the villagers of Taye in his quest for answers.
“The book is filled with interesting suspects and characters who add humor to this fascinating mystery. Ms. Benchley also includes tidbits of village life and plenty of local color in the story.”
“Glimpses of Scottish tradition, hospitality and life round out a well told mystery narrative that kept me keen with excitement. I would greatly encourage anyone who enjoys a thrilling mystery with local Scottish flavour to read this exemplary book.”
“The mystery thrilled me every time I turned the pages.”
Book 2: The Merlon Murders II
Tracking down a killer could be deadly for hot shot insurance investigator Duncan Dewar. Someone or something just tried to push him from the battlement of Castle Taye. As Duncan falls deeper for Caroline, he discovers evidence that points to something sinister. Hoping to learn what really happened at the castle, Duncan travels from beautiful Scotland to London and back again, sampling local cuisine along the way. Will the evidence lead to an accident, conspiracy, or crime of passion? Can Duncan unravel the case and protect Caroline in the process? Who will be the next victim of the merlon murders?
“This book was definitely a page turner for me.”
“What a fun mystery this was and I really enjoyed the UK flavor.”
“Ms. Benchley mixes touches of humor with culinary details and adds a pinch of Scottish history into this brew of riveting suspense.”
A Crime at the Bakery (short story)
While Duncan Dewar is away on a case, something strange is going on in Taye. Special Constable Donald Merriwether is called to investigate a crime at the village bakery. The prime suspect is his nemesis and former girlfriend, Abigail Neward. Events unfold unexpectedly in this short story featuring villagers from Taye.
“This book really caught me by surprise. I thought i had figured it all out, but boy was I wrong. Great mystery read!”
“A sweet little whodunit that’ll leave you with a smile and ~ warning ~ a craving for napoleons!! Nothing like a good short story with a dash of Scottish wit in the mix.”
Book 3: The Cook’s Comeuppance
Hoping to combine work with pleasure and jump start his new company, Duncan takes a lucrative case in Spain investigating an accidental death at an exclusive artist enclave. Almost immediately he senses something is amiss. Did a chef use a stove to kill a cook? What other secrets lurk in the charming village and artist colony? Duncan must solve a murder without motive. Joined by family members and associates, can he crack the case?
“The joyful way of the prose is quick and witty to read. The characters have depth and interact with one another in a credible way. This story is set in Spain and again Victoria gives us an abundant background of the culture cusine and idioms of speech of the Spanish people.”
“A nice, light and enjoyable read for when one is in the mood for a little escape.”
The characters are quirky but likable.”
Book 4: The Laird’s Labyrinth
By all accounts, Lindisfarne Island in Northumberland is a special place. For more than a thousand years, visitors have sensed The Other there, more so than anywhere else. The veil between the physical and spiritual realms is known to be thin on Holy Island, an isolated spot cutoff from mainland England twice a day by the North Sea. When Scottish detective Duncan Dewar agrees to solve an age old mystery on the island, he has his doubts. Discovering clues hidden in an ancient labyrinth at Norcroft Manor and uncovering an almost century old murder could get him killed. Will he meet the same fate as his predecessor or discover an early monastery’s hidden riches?
“Still smiling a day later. Excellent!”
“A good combination of adventure, suspense, mystery, and dialogue, with some good humor thrown in.”
Book 5: The Christmas Contest
The Scots didn’t celebrate Christmas for 400 years and the village of Taye is about to make up for it! Hoping for a relaxing holiday and a chance to solidify his relationship with Angela, Duncan finds himself in the middle of numerous contests, ancient Hogmanay traditions, misunderstandings, and a jewel theft. Will Duncan win the contest for Angela’s heart? Joined by family and friends, Duncan is sure this will be a holiday no one will ever forget. Can Duncan solve the mystery and survive this romantic comedy?
“I really enjoyed this fast-paced romantic comedy/mystery. I felt like I was in Scotland with the characters, enjoying Christmas & Hogmanay. There’s plenty of humor, romance and Christmas spirit to go around in this enchanting novel!”
Book 6: The Siamese Suicides
For Scottish detective Duncan Dewar, do bad things really come in threes? People connected to the investigator keep dying, and he has to wonder. Will the past drag him from the promise of a bright future?
Offered a chance to consult with his former employer, Duncan investigates the apparent suicide of an art dealer in Edinburgh. In a case right out of today’s headlines, he learns that the art business has its shady side. Professionally successful once again and engaged, he’s finally ready to move on to the next chapter of his life. However, the past has a way of haunting the Scottish detective, and things aren’t always as they seem.
“I like the story arcs that progress through the successive books. Each book is independent and comes to a conclusion but elements from past stories reappear and are developed further. I can’t wait for the next book.”
Book 7: The Pernicious Pachederm
Will a murder interrupt Duncan’s wedding plans? Has-beens, errant siblings, a gruesome crime, and an elephant combine to make this case a real circus! Whodunnit?
“The author has such a fluid writing style and voice, and the characters are authentic, diverse and well-developed. With most, I feel like they’re practically family now. This seventh in the series is another winner — just as I’ve come to expect. This one though truly left me with a smile and made me fall in love with a little boy and a pachyderm.”
“Wonderful puzzles that are not easily solved.”
“The incredible descriptive language makes me feel as if I’m in Scotland and actually know each of these characters. The plot is intelligent, fun, and sweetly satisfying.”
CIR: What inspired this series?
BENCHLEY: The inspiration for the Duncan Dewar Mysteries came from my ancestors and the time I’ve spent in Scotland and England. From my childhood, I have clear memories of my Scottish relatives. They were a witty bunch and a joy to be around. In other words, they knew how to have fun and, interesting enough, they loved to write. I wanted to capture a slice of their humor while creating a charming fictional village.
CIR: What did you enjoy most about writing this series?
BENCHLEY: The thing I have enjoyed most about the Duncan Dewar Mysteries is seeing where the characters end up. They really do take on a life of their own during the writing experience, and things don’t always turn out as planned. I find this process very exciting.
CIR: What is the main character like?
BENCHLEY: Duncan is a math genius. He stumbled into detective work when his graduate studies led to his invention of a unique fault tree analysis algorithm that allows him to determine the causes of accidents. Duncan now uses this program to aid in solving crimes. He tends to miss certain details, especially those in his personal life, while keenly aware of the facts in his cases. For instance, he has no idea that women find him attractive. Kind hearted, with a close-knit family, he often discovers himself in embarrassing situations, not to mention dangerous circumstances.
CIR: Is there more coming?
BENCHLEY: I have several story lines in mind for upcoming Duncan Dewar Mysteries. We still haven’t met all of Duncan’s siblings and his romantic future is yet to be determined. He’s just beginning to branch out with his own firm and his future looks bright. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Duncan and his family in a few months.
CIR: What messages do you hope your readers will get out of these books?
BENCHLEY: I hope my readers will recognize several themes in the Duncan Dewar Mysteries. I think it’s important to see the humor in everyday occurrences and to recognize the unique God-given qualities in each individual. Some of the Dewars may seem odd, but they all have special gifts. I try to include a spiritual thread in my novels because I believe we have a spiritual side that shouldn’t be ignored. Also, I hope to relay that good conquers evil, on both a small and large scale.