Sussex pet detective stars in new thriller

Brownlow Checks In (Hobart Books, £9.99) is the new thriller from Shoreham’s Judy Upton.
Brownlow Checks In (Hobart Books, £9.99) is the new thriller from Shoreham’s Judy UptonBrownlow Checks In (Hobart Books, £9.99) is the new thriller from Shoreham’s Judy Upton
Brownlow Checks In (Hobart Books, £9.99) is the new thriller from Shoreham’s Judy Upton

“It’s the sequel to my mystery thriller Sniff Them Out, Brownlow!” Judy explains. “In this second outing for Sussex-based pet detective Sophie Gorage and her sniffer dog Brownlow, the duo are called to an upmarket cattery, The Felinicity Hotel and Spa For Cats where owners board their pampered pets. The cat of a ballet dancer has been stolen and Sophie Gorrage must get it back. The story takes Sophie and Brownlow from Sussex to Sadlers Wells and Paris.

“The first Brownlow novel was about dognappings and this time I wanted to focus on cats. There’s lots of humour about aspects of cat behaviour that fellow cat owners will recognise.

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“I was surprised there is now a whole industry producing luxury drinks for cats, including fine wines – non-alcoholic of course – and my cat had a lot of fun researching this aspect of the story. There are now also internet TV channels aimed exclusively at dogs and cats which we also researched. Pallant House Gallery in Chichester features in the story as does the work of the 19th century French artist Rosa Bonheur. She was an amazing character who painted beautiful and realistic portraits of animals, wild and tame. She also had pet wolves and a lion that followed her around.

“The book is though primarily a mystery story filled with suspense, danger and lots of cats. It should appeal to anyone who likes a cosy crime novel, especially one that is a little different from the traditional murder in the village format.

“I came to write it after the first novel about pet detectives Sophie Gorrage and Brownlow Sniff Them Out, Brownlow! received a great response from reviewers and readers alike. People were asking ‘When is the sequel coming out?’ I knew I wanted to write a mystery featuring stolen cats this time around, so that became my starting point.

“At the beginning of the novel, the pet detective and her sniffer dog have just been called in to an upmarket cattery near Storrington, because a Russian Blue cat has been snatched during a daring distraction theft. We only later discover the reason the cat has been stolen and it will hopefully come as a surprise to readers.

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“One of the rules for the Brownlow novels is that nothing horrible ever happens to the animals. That doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of thrills, chills and spills along the way though. I like the writing cosier mysteries because it’s easier to work in some humour too. The books are well researched though and my heroine Sophie Gorrage is a down-to-earth character who is not glamorous in any way.

“There is a third Brownlow novel in the pipeline. It involves wildlife detection work, but still features the regular characters of Sophie, Brownlow and Quinn James from animal sanctuary Weatherall Fields. That’s all I can say as yet.

“As well as the first Brownlow book, my first novel Out Of The Frying Pan was published in 2021 by Hobart Books. It’s a mystery thriller about a Brighton artist whose flatmate goes missing so she decides to investigate. What Maisie Didn’t Know was also published in 2021. In another crime thriller, Maisie is cuckooed in her Brighton flat by a gang of drug dealers, but decides to make the best of it while plotting her escape. This one features a pet spider.

“I’m a playwright by trade and my stage plays are published by Methuen as Judy Upton, Plays One and Judy Upton, Plays Two.

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“I write because I feel compelled to and love inventing stories. I used to be quite shy and thought being a writer would mean I could work from home and have lots of animals. As it turned out, being a playwright meant hanging out in London theatre-land and meeting lots of interesting people, but I did still have lots of animals too.”