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Mystery Lady was an audio story written by Paul Magrs, prominently featuring the character of Dodie Golightly who originated in the 2013 Iris Wildthyme story The Ninnies on Putney Common.

Publisher's summary[]

It's 1967 and Britain is as cool and fabulous as Dodie Golightly.

She's a mystery writer, is sharp, cool and every woman would like to be her.

Travel with Dodie, her assistant, Cassandra, and her best friend, TV personality, Timothy Bold as they embark on a phantasmagorical journey against the clock. Clues discovered in a mysterious manuscript lead their investigation into a series of literary murders; who are the authors listed in the book and why does Dodie's name have a skull scrawled next to it?

Plot[]

Episode One[]

Having been roped into appearing on her friend Timothy Bold's new TV pop show Smashing Tunes, Dodie Golightly is distracted when her personal assistant Cassandra presents her with a letter from esteemed book publisher Mephistopheles and Company's editorial director Henry Duke who informs her that her work will appear in The Horrible Book of Terror.

Invited for a meeting with Mephistopheles, Dodie and Cassandra headed to Bloomsbury alongside Timothy who was filming another television show in London. While on the train Cassandra witnessed an intense encounter between freelance copyeditor Helen Spedding and a man who attempted to grab the manuscript that she was working on before Helen throttled him into submission. Later, Helen caught up with the trio as they attended a meal at the Knightsbridge and revealed that she was the copyeditor for The Horrible Book of Terror and her attacker had been an agent hoping to get his hands on the book. As Dodie and her friends were visiting Mephistopheles themselves, Helen requested that they take them the manuscript to which Dodie agreed.

Upon their return to Timothy's flat Cassandra excused herself for an early night, in an attempt to avoid the tension between Dodie and Timothy after she rejected his marriage proposal. In her sleep Cassandra had a dream about Helen Spedding being attacked by a moth-like being as she returned home, and she alerted Dodie about this when she awoke. Soon after a blizzard burst through the apartment and ripped open the manuscript tossing pages across the room - Dodie, Cassandra and Timothy found that several pages of the work was missing. Fortunately, the contents page was found by Timothy, but Dodie was shocked to discover strange markings next to the thirteen contributors' names and that her name had a skull written beside it.

Episode Two[]

During a meeting with Henry Duke, the editorial director of Mephistopheles and Company, Dodie learnt about the disappearance of Vaughan Fretwell - one of the anthology contributors. She was also informed that Helen Spedding was a fraud and had not been hired as a copyeditor for the manuscript. Together Dodie and Cassandra visited Vaughan's home at Shepherd's Bush only to find that the place had been abandoned for some time. The house was in complete disarray with maggots and moldy food making the smell unbearable. It wasn't long before Dodie and Cassandra discovered Vaughan - who was barely still alive and attempted to warn the girls about the manuscript before succumbing to death.

Not wanting to remain in the house any longer the pair tip off the police anonymously, and then attend Timothy's Spin the Bottle television appearance. However, things again take a turn for the worse as Timothy is enlisted to perform a magic act - in place of magician Carswell Hobbs who has taken ill - and his assistant, and Carswell's second wife, Doris Hobbs turns up dead on stage having been strangled by her own feather boa after stepping inside the magic box with Timothy. Amidst the chaos Cassandra was approached by Lucrezia Noggins who invited her meet someone who wanted to talk with her, and to Cassandra's shock the individual turned out to be Doris Hobbes herself - who wished to inform Cassandra that Timothy had no part in her murder.

The trio found a strand of synthetic orange hair which they deduced belonged to the murderer, and Cassandra realised that Carswell Hobbs was known for wearing a long nylon orange wig. When Dodie and Cassandra, along with the Detective Inspector, inspected the magic box they discovered Carswell hiding behind a rotating panel. Upon being accused of Doris' murder, Carswell confessed that he had loathed her and wished to frame someone else live on television. Despite Carswell's confession Timothy was forced to head to the Shepherd's Bush prison to make a full statement.

While Dodie and Cassandra were waiting for Timothy at the station, Cassandra was again approach by Lucrezia Noggins who revealed that she was on the the contributors for The Horrible Book of Terror. Lucrezia stated that Fox Soames was a huge fan of her work and that she had contributed to every anthology in the Books of Terror series, despite having died long before the first book had been punished.

Episode Three[]

While heading north to visit Helen Spedding, Cassandra informed Dodie that she was continuing to have visions about the moth-creature who was still active in the village of Ramification. When Timothy Bold joined the girls again, Cassandra was disheartened to find that he was still ignoring her and only had eyes for Dodie. However, Dodie held onto the secret that Timothy wasn't purposefully ignoring Cassandra and only she was able to see Cassandra.

After drinking at The Split Infinitive, the trio were given the address of Helen's sister Edna's cottage by a Pianist but were warned against visiting her as she was a witch. Together the group arrived at the cottage but found Edna to be dismissive of their concerns about her sister, explaining that she was also a witch but had lost her mind. However, when Edna heard about Cassandra's visions of the moth-creature she revealed that she had written for The Horrible Book of Terror under a penname and her story included a moth-lady. Dodie was surprised when Edna was able to acknowledge Cassandra's existence - and the witch identified her as a spirit. The time had come for Dodie to be honest and she revealed the truth to Timothy and Cassandra. The revelation affected Cassandra, and Dodie privately revealed how her death had occurred the previous February when she choked to death on a sausage roll at a book launch for Fox Soames. The pair were interrupted by the moth-lady flying above the village, and were shocked to discover that she was a transfigured version of Helen Spedding herself.

The gang were taken to the Manor house by Edna, which had inspired her short story for the anthology, and she told them that she and Helen had visited the house as children and were taken in by Lady Slike. On investigation of the house it was discovered that the Slike family were long gone, but their butler Smythe still remained - and Cassandra immediately identified him as the man who had attempted to steal the manuscript from Helen on the train. However, Smythe refused to admit any involvement in the current goings on and insisted that he had attempted to obtain the manuscript to protect Helen from danger.

Venturing into the attic Cassandra discovered several chrysalis - and Edna informed them that Lady Slike had been a moth woman, and attempted to pass her abilities onto the two girls. It was Edna's understanding that, like her, Helen had refused Lady Slike's proposal and instead traveled away to university. Although, Edna believed that Helen could have been spurred on by reading her story to return to Slike Hall and take up the mantle of Moth Lady. At this point Helen returned to Slike Hall and attempted to kill Smythe by sucking his blood, as moth women require the blood of animals and men, but Smythe survived and encouraged the others to burn torches to scare the creature away. The manor house caught fire and the place burned to the ground.

Episode Four[]

to be added

Episode Five[]

to be added

Episode Six[]

to be added

Episode Seven[]

to be added

Episode Eight[]

to be added

Episode Nine[]

to be added

Episode Ten[]

to be added

Characters[]

References[]

  • Dodie investigated poisonings at the Cheadle Hulme Women's Institute where strychnine had been added to raspberry jam.
  • An incident in the revolving restaurant at the Post Office Tower in London had changed Cassandra.
  • Dodie lives in the leafy suburbs of Heaton Moor in Manchester.
  • Dodie has two cats Agatha and Edgar.
  • Dodie and Timothy attended Betty Street school together.
  • Appearing on Smashing Tunes are Mervin and his Mop-heads, Gary and the Gonks, Brenda Soobie and Peter and Penelope.
  • Mephistopheles and Company is the name of a book publisher in Bloomsbury. In the 1920s they published the mystery tales of Lady Lucrezia Noggins, and by the 60s were having success with the strange adventures of Oswald Arthur.
  • The Taj Mahal was a Chinese takeaway owned by Uncle Sayeed.
  • The Horrible Book of Terror is volume 27 of an anthology series edited by Fox Soames.
  • Knightsbridge was a French restaurant in London.
  • Helen Spedding had been a spy in France during the war working for the Resistance, but now lived at her sister Edna Spedding's cottage in Ramificashun.
  • Henry Duke's father previously ran Mephistopheles and Company.  
  • Dodie's previous editor was Mr Figgis who operated from a used bookstore in Morecambe.
  • Vaughan Fretwell lived at Shepherd's Bush which was close to the BBC Television Centre.
  • The first short story in The Horrible Book of Terror was Grub Street written by Vaughan Fretwell.
  • Edna Spedding's penname was Bella Andover.
  • Edna was known as a Mauve Witch, while Helen was a Green Witch.
  • Helen studied Cryptozoology at Darkholm University.
  • The spiritual guardian of this valley and local environment.
  • Sir Oswald Arthur once wrote about a glowing skull in a hat shop and evil space rodents.
  • According to Oswald it was bad luck for anyone but Fox Soames to read one of his anthologies' entire manuscripts before it was published, and that several editors, proof readers, typesetters and reviewers had died in mysterious circumstances. One person was mangled in a printing press, another poisoned by puffer fish, and one was trampled by rhinos.

Notes[]

Ebook cover.

  • In 7 July 2021, an ebook version of the audiobook was released.

Continuity[]

External links[]

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