Heley, Veronica 1933- (Victoria Thorne)

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Heley, Veronica 1933- (Victoria Thorne)

PERSONAL:

Born June 28, 1933, in Birmingham, England; daughter of Sidney Hossell and Gladys Pike; married George Heley (a probation officer), 1964; children: Frances. Religion: "Methodist." Hobbies and other interests: "Gardening, reading, meeting friends, talks about writing."

ADDRESSES:

Home—London, England. Agent—Watson Juliet Burton Literary Agency, 2 Clifton Ave., London W12 9DR, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Has taught in Junior Church and run both youth and holiday clubs; operates a church bookstall, and writes and edits a monthly prayer letter.

MEMBER:

Association of Christian Writers, Crime Writers Association.

WRITINGS:

CRIME NOVELS

Sue for Mercy, R. Hale (London, England), 1974, new edition, Chivers (Chippenham, England), 2008.

Scream for Sarah, R. Hale (London, England), 1975.

Cry for Kit, R. Hale (London, England), 1976.

Fear for Frances, R. Hale (London, England), 1977.

Death for Deborah, R. Hale (London, England), 1978.

"SAM & CO" SERIES

Break In, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1993.

Trouble, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1993.

Bullies, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1994.

Who Cares!, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1994.

Smoke, John Hunt Publishing (Hampshire, England), 2002.

"ELLIE QUICKE" SERIES

Murder at the Altar, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Murder by Suicide, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Murder of Innocence, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.

Murder by Accident, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2003.

Murder in the Garden, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2004.

Murder by Committee, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2005.

Murder by Bicycle, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2006.

Murder of Identity, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2007.

Murder in the Park, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2007.

"EDEN HALL" SERIES

Eden Hall, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.

The Lady of the Hall, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.

Secret of the Hall, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Master of the Hall, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

"ABBOT AGENCY" SERIES

False Charity, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2007.

False Picture, Severn House (Sutton, England), 2008.

HISTORICAL NOVELS; AS VICTORIA THORNE

My Lord, the Hermit, Corgi (London, England), 1980.

The Tarrant Rose, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1981.

Longsword, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1982.

The Siege of Salwarpe, R. Hale (London, England), 1982.

Kate, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1982.

The Willful Heiress, R. Hale (London, England), 1985, new edition, Dales Large Print (North Yorks, England), 2008.

JUVENILE

Sparrow, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1984.

The Whistler, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1985, new edition, 1993.

Genius at Work, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1986.

Natasha's Badge, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1986.

Good for Kate, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1986, John Hunt Publishing (Hampshire, England), 2002.

Freewheeling, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1987.

Natasha's Swing, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1987.

Sky High, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1988.

Hawkeye of Paradise Row, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1989.

The Paradise Row Gang, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1989.

Fire!, Lion, 1990.

Natasha the Brownie, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1990.

Hawkeye Hits the Jackpot, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1990.

The Boy Who Wouldn't, Lion, 1990.

Dancing Feet, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1991.

Penguin Theatre, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1992.

Natasha's Dare, Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1992.

Natasha (three books in one), Scripture Union (Milton Keynes, England), 1992.

In Deep Water, Lion, 1992.

The Nativity, Frances Lincoln, 1994.

The Easter Tree, Bible Reading Fellowship, 2000.

Scare Me Not, John Hunt Publishing (Hampshire, England), 2002.

OTHER

A Question of Courage (romance novel), Atkinson Press, 1980.

Who, Me? Paul! (biography), Bible Reading Fellowship, 1998.

40 Everyday Saints, Bible Reading Fellowship, 2001.

Contributor of Bible stories retold and "real-life" scripture-based stories to Let's Go, Scripture Union; and Check It Out, Scripture Union. Contributor to periodicals, including articles and reviews to Woman Alive and Together with Children; and storyboards for strip cartoons to PLUS. Contributor of playlets to "Hi Kids!," a Christian children's telephone storyline.

SIDELIGHTS:

British author Veronica Heley was born June 28, 1933, in Birmingham, England. A prolific writer, Heley has produced several mystery series over the course of her career, including the "Sam and Co." series, the "Ellie Quicke" series, the "Eden Hall" series, and the "Abbot Agency" series. In addition, she is the author of a number of books for children, and she has written numerous historical novels under the pseudonym Victoria Thorne. Heley's novels share a number of Christian themes and are written with Christian values in mind.

Murder at the Altar is the first installment in Heley's "Ellie Quicke" series. In the book that introduces readers to the character of Ellie, Heley puts the recent widow to work investigating the discovery of the body of a young man lying near the altar at her local church. Ellie sets out to learn more, thereby kicking off an investigation into the death. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "Heley provides all one needs for a satisfying read."

In Murder by Suicide, one of Heley's earliest "Ellie Quicke" mysteries, Ellie finds herself the recipient of a number of poisoned pen letters. A widow in her fifties, living in a suburb of London, she is unused to being a target of any sort. Even more disturbing to Ellie, she discovers that the vicar and his wife both received similar letters just before they chose to move out of town. The organist who played for them at the church was discovered dead at around the same time, an apparent suicide, as she was reputedly involved with the vicar in some sort of sordid love triangle. However, Ellie begins to suspect something else is going on as she sorts through the items that the organist left behind. In addition, the charming widower whom she has been spending time with, a newcomer to town, appears not to be above suspicion related to the case. Rex E. Klett, writing for Library Journal, found the mystery notable for "fluid, chatty prose, recognizable characters, and a quaint setting."

Murder by Accident, another in the "Ellie Quicke" series, finds Ellie concerned with a number of things, including the recent death of her Aunt Drusilla, whose supposed accident in her Victorian home makes Ellie suspicious. A woman with a sharp tongue, Drusilla was also apparently quite well off, though her financial status was a secret (much as Ellie's own is). Ellie sets out to get to the bottom of her aunt's death despite several distractions, including her daughter Diana, who was recently fired from her job. Rex E. Klett, again reviewing for Library Journal, dubbed Heley's effort "a delicious, traditional English cozy," and praised it for its combination of "village setting, hidden motives, and quirky characters."

Heley's Murder of Identity is the eighth book in her "Ellie Quicke" series. When her friend's grandson is accused of murder, Ellie must determine whether he is indeed the guilty party, or whether there has been an instance of mistaken identity. As with any of the cases in which she becomes involved, Ellie must solve the mystery while still attending to her daily life and various duties. In this installment, she finds herself fighting off increasing interest from the vicar while she attempts to do her sleuthing. David Pitt, in a review for Booklist, remarked of Heley's book that the "cozy British mystery won't send chills down your spine," but was quick to note that it is an enjoyable read nonetheless.

Murder in the Park begins when a young mother is attacked by a vicious dog that has been encouraged to go after her by an unsavory teenager. When she dies and leaves three children behind, Ellie's friend, who witnessed the incident, draws Ellie into the case. At the same time, Ellie is dealing with her own daughter, Diana, who appears to be plotting ways to get hold of her Aunt Drusilla's money. Emily Melton, writing for Booklist, ultimately concluded that "this quintessential British cozy will appeal to die-hard fans of the genre."

Heley once told CA: "I am a storyteller, and never happier than when writing—or, sometimes, teaching other people how to write better. I am fascinated by people, what they do, how they dress, how they react and speak. I like to leave people feeling all the better for having read one of my books.

"I try to introduce humour into my books wherever possible, but this is not to say that I ignore the dark side of life. Even in my children's books, I deal with the big problems of society today—dysfunctional families, divorce, death, drugs, and bullying. Perhaps the children's book which had the greatest impact was one dealing with fear (Good for Kate).

"I write straight onto a word processor, working from a pre-planned program of events, though of course unexpected developments do occasionally occur and insist on being worked into the plot. ‘Thinking time’ is extra, so that when I sit down to write, I have the events, and usually also the dialogue, ready in my head. I visualize strongly, and like to work out exactly what my main characters look like and how they would react in any circumstances, before I start work.

"I always have more stories in my head than I have time to write down. I try to work out my stories with my editors before I start writing. Sometimes they ask me for a book dealing with a particular problem. Sometimes the theme for a book comes through prayer.

"Because writing is a solitary business, I find it imperative to maintain contact with other like-minded authors. I also think it is very important to work in a voluntary way in the community. I need this contact, because I find people endlessly fascinating."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2007, David Pitt, review of Murder of Identity, p. 60; February 1, 2008, Emily Melton, review of Murder in the Park, p. 32.

Library Journal, May 1, 2002, Rex E. Klett, review of Murder by Suicide, p. 138; January 1, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Murder by Accident, p. 164.

Publishers Weekly, October 23, 2000, review of Murder at the Altar, p. 61; August 18, 2008, review of False Picture.

ONLINE

Veronica Heley Web page,http://www.veronicaheley.com (October 9, 2008).

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Heley, Veronica 1933- (Victoria Thorne)

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