Thursday, February 8, 2024

Murder at the Fireside Inn - An Interview, Review, and Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Kitty Kildare to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Kitty writes the Veronica Vale Investigates Mystery series. DEATH AT THE FIRESIDE INN is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: DEATH AT THE FIRESIDE INN takes place in 1920s England. Why choose this time period and location for your series?

KK: Britain after the First World War was a time of great change and development. Many people saw opportunities to develop new businesses, grow their industries, and explore new avenues. This was particularly so for women, many of whom stepped into roles previously closed to them. They learned new skills, confidence, and were seen as valued in society for more than their ability to be mothers and look after a home. It was the perfect setting to showcase Veronica as she explored those options and dealt with many barriers to her doing exactly what she wanted.

I chose London as Veronica Vale’s base, because it’s such a vibrant place. The city suffered greatly during bombing raids but was quick to rebuild, and that impetus led to a clearing of many previously slum areas, creating vibrant pockets across the city for people to thrive.

As the series progresses, Veronica and her friends will venture further afield. Veronica’s family own a number of pubs and taverns across the country (and many bodies keep showing up in them, which means Veronica has no choice but to involve herself in the investigations,) so she’ll have adventures as far away as Yorkshire and Scotland. 


Kathy: I love that Veronica has a rescue dog named Benji and volunteers at the Dogs’ Home. Are you a dog lover as well?

KK: I’m a huge fan of all animals. Books, animals, and cake are my main three passions in life. When I was younger, an aunty raised and trained guide dogs, so I was often around puppies, helping to socialize them. And for fun, I volunteer as a pet sitter, getting a free holiday in different parts of the country in exchange for looking after houses and the resident pets. In two weeks, I’m taking care of two adorable small dogs in Cambridge.

The Dog’s Home in Veronica Vale Investigates is based on a real charity located in London. In the back of Death at the Fireside Inn, I explore the history of the charity and how it came into being. It now supports thousands of dogs and cats every year to ensure they have a safe space to live and a forever home to go to.

Kathy: Veronica is tasked with writing the obituary of Florence Sterling, an actress found dead in her dressing room. Are you a fan of the theatre?

KK: Very much. I recently attended a performance of Agatha Christie’s the Mousetrap while staying in York. And as a late birthday treat, I’m going to see a play called Murder in the Dark, which explores the trouble people get into when the lights go out in an isolated cottage in rural England.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

KK: One of the things I love about cozy mysteries is how they unpeel the layers of a seemingly idyllic life, to reveal not everything is as wonderful as it seems. Take the example of the British TV series Midsomer Murders. The villages where the murders occur and the residents living there appear to have glorious lives and no problems. But the detective in charge of the investigation doesn’t take long to reveal the dark heart lurking within the village.

Everyone’s life is complicated, and I love exploring the nuances of individuals and testing their boundaries to see what would turn them into a killer.

Another wonderful thing about many cozy mystery series is the inclusion of firm friends and close family. Many people don’t have those strong connections in society anymore, and it can feel like a lonely place. I hope in a small way, my books help to give people a connection to a world where they feel they can belong and be happy.

I call my books mini escape portals because if anyone’s having a tough day, they can crack open the pages or open their e-reader, and return to the people and places they love spending time with.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

KK: I do. I have pen names for sweet romance and sci-fi romance.

My main author name (K.E. O’Connor) writes paranormal cozy mysteries and baking mysteries. These series include: the Holly Holmes cozy culinary mysteries, Crypt Witch cozy mysteries, Witch Haven, Magical Misfits Mysteries, and the Lorna Shadow cozy ghost mysteries.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

KK: Veronica Vale Investigates is all about ensuring justice, relationships, and progress. Veronica wouldn’t be half the woman she is if she didn’t have the strong bonds of her eccentric family around her, a found family at the dogs’ home, and her almost sisterly bond with her best friend Ruby Smythe. Add in her adorable, clever dog Benji, and she has a wonderful support network.

It’s often said that you become the product of the people you spend the most time with, and I wanted to explore this with Veronica. Although she’s often exasperated by her mother’s determination to remain in her sick bed, Ruby’s flirty, feckless nature, and Inspector Jacob Templeton’s surliness, they all assist her to grow her character and change her own small flaws—although she’d be unlikely to admit that!

As the series progresses, readers will see Veronica come out of her comfort zone and face a series of challenges with her friends and family. I’ve already planted some small Easter eggs about the difficulties Veronica will experience, and she’ll need her friends and family to ensure she can succeed.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

KK: An easy answer would be to say Benji, because who doesn’t love a dog? But I do have a soft spot for Ruby Smythe, Veronica’s best friend. She reminds me of one of my close friends who I met at university. She’s funny, lives for the moment, and occasionally makes terrible decisions when it comes to the men in her life. But she’s loyal, smart, and always there when you need her.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

KK: Inspiration came about through a combination of things. I have an interest in history, so much so, that I trained to be an archaeologist many years ago. The past is fascinating, because you only get snippets of what really happened. The further back you go, the harder it is to unpick the truth. Even recent history comes with its challenges because we interpret it from our modern-day perspective.

The early 1920s have always fascinated me, and I wanted to explore how a woman would live in a society where the values were different from modern day. Changing, but there was still the belief of a woman’s limitations rather than everything she could achieve.

I also wanted to weave in the charitable work undertaken with animals following the Great War. As we’ve seen in modern times, it’s common for animals to be left behind when people flee a war zone, but it’s what happens next that interests me. What hero steps in to ensure those who don’t have a voice are protected too? And that’s why I included the Dogs’ Home in this series. The home was started by one woman, who was determined to ensure stray dogs weren’t left to fend for themselves. From that beginning, a hugely successful charity was created. I always find it inspirational that one person standing up and saying: this isn’t right, and it has to change, and then changing things is extraordinary.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

KK: I’ve been publishing my books for almost ten years. I have my 10-year anniversary in 2025, which is incredible to think I’ve been writing and publishing books for almost a decade.

I love sharing my books and writing them. Even the less exciting parts of publishing, such as checking an edit for the third time or tinkering with book cover designs, still interest me, because they lead to the same thing: sharing the stories for other people to enjoy.

When I was a kid, life wasn’t always fabulous. I was pretty badly bullied and my parents were distracted with their careers and my older brother, so I was often left alone and turned to books as a friend. Books were a place to go to when there was no one to talk to. They made me smile again.

I hope the books I give people provide them with a magical world they can enter, especially if they’ve had a tough day or they’re tired or sick or lonely. The worlds I build are a place people can go to when they want to enjoy themselves.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

KK: Hilary Mantel because I’d love to know how she came up with the twisted tale of BEYOND BLACK. That novel haunts me.

Alan Rickman known for his acting but he also wrote almost thirty diaries, which have since been published. I had a big old crush on him and adored him in Sense and Sensibility.

Neil Gaiman because he writes such sensible advice and helpful tweets to aspiring authors. He’s seems like a decent, intelligent guy.

Barbara Cartland because I think she’d be hilarious and would bring everyone a feather boa to wear.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

KK: MARPLE. It’s a collection of shorter mysteries written by other mystery authors in the style of Agatha Christie.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

KK: I really only have a passion for anything book-related. I visit bookstores, libraries, archives, buildings with connections to authors.

I also love eating cake (it would be a full-time hobby if I could get away with it) but I have a terrible blood sugar response to refined carbs, so I’m cutting back.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

KK: Mushrooms, Chickpeas, Dark chocolate, Tea

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

KK: Veronica Vale Investigates will have 4-5 new books this year. DEATH AT THE DRUNKEN DUCK is her next adventure and releases in March 2024.

I’ll also be working on three books in my Magical Misfits Mysteries, which feature Juno a talking cat as the sleuth and her witch sidekick as they explore magic, murder, and puzzles in the enchanting town of Crimson Cove.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

KK: I get to live so many adventures. One day, I’m exploring an underground tomb to find treasure, the next I’m being romanced by a magical mage, and on Wednesday, I take afternoon tea with a coven of witches.

And I do it all without leaving my chair!



The First Veronica Vale Investigates Mystery

If there's a dog living rough in London Veronica Vale will move heaven and earth to save the pup, working with the police as well as her friends and family. When an actress unexpectedly dies, Veronica is called to pick up her pampered pug. After learning that there's a second pug who was with the woman at the theatre when she died, Veronica heads to the crime scene to pick up that dog as well. When she discovers a family connection to the deceased she decides to do more than write the obituary her job at the London Times entails. Veronica intends to find out just who killed the star.

The thing I liked best about the first Veronica Vale Investigates Mystery is its devotion to dogs. I love the fact that the Dog Home is based on a real place and that there are people who truly care for animals in need. I also appreciate the fact that a main character has shell-shock, suffering from what today is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), after serving in the front lines in the Great War.

The characters are likeable, aside from those who deliberately aren’t, and the mystery solid. I like how Veronica is able to mix with all manner of people, I got a kick out of Mickey Flynn and hope we see more of him. I enjoyed Veronica's mother's complaining about the pugs, all while cuddling them. Indeed her grousing about everything while actually enjoying it all. Benji is a wonder dog, too good to be real. His actions are amazing, yet I feel he wasn’t flushed out enough as a character. Although we know a lot of important facts about the characters, they still come off as a bit stiff and two dimensional. I want to feel more, as well as learn more about them.

DEATH AT THE FIRESIDE INN is a genial mystery filled with interesting characters and wonderful dogs.


 Death at the Fireside Inn: 1920s Historical Mystery (Veronica Vale Investigates) by Kitty Kildare

About Death at the Fireside Inn

Death at the Fireside Inn: 1920s Historical Mystery (Veronica Vale Investigates)
Historical British Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – 1920s London, England
K.E. O’Connor Books (January 16, 2024)
Number of Pages: 225

A fading star, a puzzling death, and a mystery that must be solved!

Veronica Vale spent a turbulent few years serving her country during the Great War - doing more than her role in the exchange network suggested! Now back on British soil and adjusting to life as an obituary writer for her uncle's newspaper, while caring for her ailing mother, Veronica has gotten used to a slower (and safer) pace of life.

Excitement comes from fun parties, walks with Benji, her beloved rescue dog, and volunteering at the Dogs' Home.

When an old family friend, and former superstar of the theatre, Florence Sterling, is discovered dead in her dressing room at the Winter Garden Theatre in London, Veronica is curious to discover what happened to the sweet, funny, ruthlessly ambitious beauty.

Much to the dismay of her sometimes nemesis Inspector Templeton, Veronica is tasked with writing Florence's obituary. And what she learns will blow the roof off the theatre! That's if she survives to tell the tale.


If you love witty dialogue, historical glamour, intrigue, and a fast-paced cozy mystery set in 1920s England, then you'll adore Kitty Kildare's unputdownable whodunits.


About Kitty Kildare

Immerse yourself into Kitty Kildare's cleverly woven historical British mysteries. Follow the mystery in the Veronica Vale Investigates series and enjoy the dazzle and delights of 1920s England. Kitty is a not-so-secret pen name of established cozy mystery author K.E. O’Connor, who decided she wanted to time travel rather than cast spells! Enjoy the twists and turns.

Author Links: 




 Purchase Links: Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA Amazon AU 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for hosting Kitty and Benji. They have lots of new mysteries coming this year. Enjoy the dazzle of 1920s England and help them solve a murder.

  2. What a wonderful and interesting interview. Your background, interest in history and reading and the sweetness of dogs. Benji and Ruby sound special. This series would be memorable and a real treasure to enjoy greatly. Intriguing and fascinating era. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com