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Praise for

A Brush with Death

‘Absorbing, charming and funny, A Brush with Death heralds a fresh and welcome new voice in crime writing. Susie Mahl is also a welcome new detective: witty, warm and very inquisitive.’

Antonia Fraser

‘It’s a big fat BRILLIANT!!!!’

Amanda Prowse

‘This is a crime novel for mystery fans sick of gore and sexual violence. Just curl up and lose yourself happily in this world of animals and toffs – closely observed by a beady-eyed artist turned amateur sleuth who realises all is not as innocent as it looks and is determined to do something about it.’

Ruth Dudley Edwards

‘A delicious new voice in crime writing... Excellent on the English aristocracy and written in a fine, wry style, we will hear much more of Miss Mahl.’

Daily Mail

‘A riveting, charming and very funny new crime series from the fabulously talented Ali Carter.’

Piers Morgan

‘The first book in a promising new series will remind you of Downton Abbey and Miss Marple, except that this Miss M is a pet portraitist with a penchant for rather expensive underwear, and it’s purely for her own pleasure.’

The Bookbag

‘An entertaining read, and one that had me up to the wee small hours.’


‘Carter is a fresh and welcome new voice in crime writing and Susie Mahl a very different new detective.’


‘Brilliantly enjoyable; coolly observed.’

The Tablet

‘A Brush with Death is the first in a charming new series about pet portraitist and amateur sleuth Susie Mahl, and the debut novel from animal enthusiast Ali Carter.’


‘A Brush with Death is a perfectly English mystery, with an abundance of all the right jokes, details and muddy dogs. Author Ali Carter’s first book is a lovely romp and shows promise for a wonderful tongue-in-cheek mystery series.’

Foreword Reviews

‘Animal lovers, Anglophiles and fans of humorous, socially observant whodunits will look forward to the next Susie Mahl mystery.’

Publishers Weekly

‘Fans of country-house cozies will delight in this series debut.’


‘Its rich details on the British leisure class may interest fans of Downton Abbey and G.M. Malliet’s “Max Tudor” mysteries.’

Library Journal

‘A fun read.’

Sussex Life

‘A Brush with Death is a charming and amusing murder mystery. It contains great character observations and is written with humour. She brings to life the world of the aristocracy and everything which goes with it. A pleasant change from the dark Norwegian noir genre. It is definitely a book to take on holiday.’

Country Wives

Praise for

The Colours of Murder

‘It’s a rare talent that creates a work that is both whip smart, fast paced and at the same time gloriously genteel. Carter is that talent.’

Amanda Prowse

‘This is a well paced and exciting read. More please!’

Alexander McCall Smith

‘Charming description of how “the other half live”. The characters come alive and are very entertaining... I loved it.’

Promoting Crime

‘A Christie homage whose upper-crust humour targets readers who recognise the differences between a country house and a stately home.’


‘The gentle pace of an episode of Midsomer Murders and the intrigue of an Agatha Christie novel.’

Sussex Life

‘Whip-smart, pacey, yet effortlessly genteel... Susie is everything a cosy detective should be – absorbing, witty, warm, charming, funny and endlessly inquisitive. Carter has created a character Agatha Christie would be proud of – a sort of 21st century Jane Marple.’


For Geordie, Jack and Laura

Lang may yer lum reek

Far above the old walls of Auchen Laggan Tosh house, a full moon crept from beneath a heavy cloud. An owl hooted in the garden and pines swooshed in a gale. Laughing, swaying, the young Earl and Countess of Muchton and their friends stumbled into the hall. A grand wedding party on the neighbouring estate had finally petered out and now all were safely home.

The guests, a couple, great friends, wished their child’s babysitter on her way and off she went into the night. It was late, and nothing was going to stop these four from heading straight to bed. Nevertheless Eliza, Countess of Muchton, popped the usual sleeping pill. ‘Darling,’ she told her husband, Robert, ‘I like to take one just to be sure.’ He grunted as he wobbled down onto their four-poster bed. Alcohol, not drugs, sent this man to sleep.

Out went the lights and in no time Eliza exhaled an elegant snore. Robert shuffled under the covers as he drifted off. Once again, he couldn’t be bothered to remove his shirt, boxers and socks, not that this troubled his wife – she’d long given up trying to control him. Robert was an unreformed alcoholic, and Eliza had made her peace with the situation – alcoholism wasn’t something to be ‘cured’. She poured her energy into creating a loving home, one where the children could thrive. Mother Nature had not yet blessed her with any, but she had youth on her side and lived in hope.

The Earl and Countess of Muchton’s marital bed was so huge neither ever disturbed the other in the night. Whenever Robert’s dreams took a turn for the worse he would break into an anxious sweat, unbeknown to his wife.

Tonight, these dreams began full of glamour; the wedding had been up there with the best. Their neighbours, one of the oldest families in Britain, had spared no expense giving away their daughter. Eliza had sparkled amongst the other guests, she’d taken some of the best family jewels on an outing around her neck. Countless compliments had come her way, and those dazzling diamonds now lit up her husband’s drunken dreams. Robert’s mind indulged in rich and rare reflections and, as he wrestled under the covers, a subconscious smile appeared on his face.

But soon the dreams darkened, and the worst of his nightmares encroached. His late father loomed above. No matter Robert had been only six when his father died, he could clearly make out those domineering words: ‘Make sure to keep hold of the family fortune.’ But Robert had always lived beyond his means. Relied on the diminishing family trust to keep afloat.

Here now, fast asleep, he ruffled off the covers and slid out of his side of the bed.

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