Holly, Baubles and Murder:
A British Cozy Murder Mystery with a Female Amateur Sleuth
(A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery) by Victoria Tait

About Holly, Baubles and Murder

Holly, Baubles and Murder:
A British Cozy Murder Mystery with a Female Amateur Sleuth
(A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
8th in Series
Setting – Yorkshire, England
Kanga Press (October 20, 2023)
Number of Pages c. 240
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0C9NXPJ1X

A joyful Christmas festival turns deadly when a corpse ends up as the chilling centerpiece. Can an amateur sleuth unwrap the tinsel-tangled mystery before the merry cheer melts away?

Talented antique enthusiast, Dotty Sayers, is thrilled to be organising a Christmas display at a Yorkshire country house. She enjoys decking the halls, but the season is far from jolly when the chief guide is found dead, her body as cold as ice.

When cops dismiss the death, Dotty turns to her prickly American colleague, only to learn he has his own secrets to solve. But when he disappears, this amateur detective fears the festive charades have become far deadlier.

Can Dotty string together the clues and bring to light the killer?

Recipe for Parkin, a variation of Ginger Cake from Northern England

Parkin, a variation of ginger cake, originated in Northern England in the eighteenth century. Fitting for inclusion in my latest cozy murder mystery, Holly, Baubles and Murder, two of the earliest references to it were crimes.

In 1797, a husband attempted to poison his wife with ‘a cake of parkin laced with arsenic’. In an earlier crime of culinary passion in 1728, Mrs Anne Whittaker, a housewife, admitted to stealing oatmeal as she needed it to make parkin.

The origin of the name is a mystery. It could be from ‘perkin’, the medieval term for a cake made from peasemeal, or similarly, from the word ‘parkin’ which meant pea flour.

But it could originate from the Old English word ‘pearroc’ meaning ‘pork’. A cheaper form of fat, often used in older parkin recipes, is lard made from the fatty parts of pigs.

Whatever its origin, it is a moist, sticky and spicy cake which can be eaten throughout winter, but which is synonymous with ‘Parkin Sunday’, the first Sunday in November. In modern times, this has transferred to Bonfire Night, on the 5th of November, which celebrates the failure of Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

The oatmeal in the recipe, which can be made from pulsing porridge oats, gives it a chewy texture (but I just used fine oats). Yorkshire recipes use mostly sticky black treacle, whereas those from Lancashire use more of the lighter, Golden Syrup.

The recipe I tried had more golden syrup and gave a lighter, spongier cake. Also, although I suggested corn starch as a substitute for Golden Syrup, it isn’t really, and you may want to use more black treacle, or molasses, as I’ve suggested in the recipe below, to create a darker, stickier version.

The lighter version can be eaten straight away, but for one using more treacle, it is best left for 5 to 7 days to become softer and sticker. Parkin can be served cold, or hot with a dollop of rich yellow custard.

Parkin Recipe


200 gms (8 ozs) butter, plus extra for greasing

2 large eggs, beaten

200 gms (1 cup) golden syrup (or light corn syrup)

85 gms (1/4 cup) black treacle or molasses

(or for sticker version, 170 gms (1/2 Cup))

110 gms (1/2 cup) light brown sugar

(or dark brown for a darker version)

80 gms (1 cup) oatmeal, or fine porridge oats

250 gms (1 ¼ Cups) Self Raising Flour

4 teaspoons of Ground Ginger


1 – 2 teaspoons of Ground Nutmeg

1 teaspoon of mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice

Milk – if too stiff


  • Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas mark 3/320F/280F fan oven.
  • Line a deep 22cm square cake tin with baking parchment, and grease with butter.
  • Beat the eggs.
  • In a large pan, melt the golden syrup, treacle, sugar and butter until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Mix together the oatmeal, flour, ginger (and other spices) and stir into the syrup.
  • Stir in the beaten eggs, and if too stiff, some milk.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake feels firm and a little crusty on top.
  • Cool in the tin and then wrap in more parchment and foil. Leave for at least 5 days before eating, so it becomes softer and stickier.

About Victoria Tait

Victoria Tait was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. After following her military husband around the world, she drew on her life’s experiences, and a love of Agatha Christie, Father Brown, and Murder She Wrote, to write British-based cozy mysteries.

Her determined female sleuths are joined by colourful and quirky teams of helpers, and her settings are vivid and realistic. As you’re compelled to keep turning the pages, you’ll be irresistibly drawn into a world where you’ll experience surprises, humour, and sometimes, a tug on your heartstrings.

Do you like tea, mysteries, and books? Then why not join Victoria’s TeaCozy Club for regular news and updates, and download the free prequel to the Dotty Sayers Antique Mysteries series as a gift by visiting VictoriaTait.com

Who doesn’t like tea, cake, and a slice of murder?

Author Links

Website: https://victoriatait.com/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/victoria-tait

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriataitauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/VictoriaTaitAuthor/_saved/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20373879.Victoria_Tait

Purchase Links Book2Read Amazon


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