bloody ham
Lights! Camera! Action! …Murder!

A rollicking puzzle and a turmoil of personal relationships, some happy, some doomed, some downright evil.

The third adventure for Belinda and Hazel continuing the pace and humour that readers have come to acknowledge and appreciate.
Excitement and tension begin on the first day of filming a Restoration drama on location at the historic Jacobean mansion, Ham House in Surrey when one of the leading players collapses and dies. With the death ruled non-accidental the director, the producer and two members of the cast are all suspects.

An award winning Hollywood star is brought in to replace the dead actor and Belinda is employed as her stand-in. When another member of the crew is found stabbed to death, Belinda is forced to prove her innocence.

In all this tumult, Belinda finds herself torn between her long-time English lover, Mark, and the energetic and exuberant Australian, Brad, she met again on a trip to Australia.
Read A Review:

Belinda Lawrence and Hazel Whitby are on their way to a film set at Ham House in Surrey. Hazel is supplying some antique silver table pieces for the filming of a period movie. Having recently returned from a trip to Australia, where she reconnected with an old friend,  her relationship with Mark is shaky due to her reluctance to commit to marriage with him after three years. Hazel and Surrey seem to be the answer for her to gain some time to think about her future.

When an actress dies early in the filming things become very different from the trip Belinda had planned. When the new star arrives, Monica Page insists that Belinda be her stand-in for lighting and marks as her regular stand-in is ill. Belinda finds more to the film industry than she could have imagined.

Next the producer is murdered and Belinda's fingerprints are all over the weapon, she held it while standing-in for Monica Page, and she decides that she must find out who is behind the deaths to clear herself.

The third in the Belinda Lawrence series is as tight and well paced as the first two. The friendship between Hazel and Belinda is very believable and one that grows ever forward. Stories and legends about Ham House are deftly woven into the mystery and very enjoyable. I recommend this book for a great visit to an interesting place with fascinating characters and a dash of mayhem on the side.

Mary Fairchild

This book is the third in a mystery series featuring Belinda and Hazel, friends and partners in an antique store business. In this book, Hazel’s antique silverware is being used in a movie and she and Belinda go to the set to keep an eye on it. While there, a young starlet is murdered and Belinda begins to investigate.

I felt I had missed an installment at the beginning of this book. Belinda and Mark, her boyfriend, were having relationship issues that were not hinted at in the second book. I began the book with a disjointed feeling. By the time the murder happened, I was feeling frustrated for feeling like I missed something.

I continue to like Belinda and Hazel with her sharp tongue. I do feel, however, that this was the weakest book in the series so far. I rated this one a 3.5/5.

Melissa A. Palmer

Hazel Whitby follows her antique silver – and her latest lover – to Ham House, the location of a new movie shoot. She is joined by her friend and business partner, Belinda Lawrence, and they’re both present when one of the stars dies. It looks accidental, but it’s quickly ruled a murder, and when Belinda is asked to take the role of stand-in for the Hollywood star who takes over the part, figuring out “whodunit” becomes top priority.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of distractions, including clashing Hollywood egos, a long-time lover wanting commitment, and an old flame Belinda sort-of rekindled on her recent visit to Australia. Then there is another murder…and Belinda becomes a prime suspect.

Though some of the situations seem a bit contrived, overall Bloody Ham is a well-written cozy mystery with likeable and unique “detectives.” They read like real people, complete with petty jealousy, commitment issues, and odd obsessions. They mostly blunder through the mystery, which is quite believable as well as entertaining and if the body count gets a bit high and the police presence seems a little low, well, no book can be perfect.
The mystery itself is well-done as well and fits together nicely. The way Belinda and Hazel solve it is also quite convincing, though it is curious why the police didn’t do some of the things the ladies accomplish. They were mentioned as being involved, and yet there weren’t any police officers as characters, which seems odd. It doesn’t detract from the story, however, and it gave Belinda and Hazel the starring roles they deserved.
One particularly impressive thing was Kavanagh’s use of setting – both the crazy Hollywood set as well as the actual location of Ham House. The two are at odds with each other and yet Kavanagh blends them together seamlessly and manages to use both to commit and solve the crimes. It adds flavor to the story that would be lacking if either element were removed.

Armchair Interviews says: Bloody Ham is a fun, unique read and we look forward to more of Belinda and Hazel in the future.

Vanessa Lee, Armchair Interviews
Rated: B+ Enjoyable ... I'd recommend it

Opening sentence "...In the darkened cinema, Hazel Whitby's fingers transmuted into an unctuous bejewelled spider, Jungle Red fingernail's covertly testing the chocolates for hard or soft centres..."

BLOODY HAM is the third book in a mystery series that follows the adventures of ex-pat Australian Belinda Lawrence. Pressured to make a commitment by her gorgeous boyfriend Mark, Belinda flies to visit her family in Australia to give the relationship serious thought. Here she meets up with an old friend. Brad seems to be everything Mark is not and Belinda returns to England in a state of emotional confusion. She is immediately plunged into another adventure.

Hazel, Belinda’s business partner and best friend, runs an antique business. A film company is filming a historical movie at the nearby Ham House and have hired some of Hazel’s antique silver for the banquet scene. The vampy Hazel has collected yet another younger man, Tim, to console herself after being rejected by her ex-husband for a younger woman. Tim is a film editor for the movie. Belinda and Hazel are invited to the set while the banqueting scenes are filmed – both are shocked to witness the death of the leading lady. A new actress takes over the part within days and filming proceeds. Belinda is asked to be the stand-in for the new actress, which she accepts because it will give her a chance to snoop and solve the murder. A second murder quickly follows and this time Belinda is a suspect as her fingerprints are all over the murder weapon.

I adore Belinda. She is a strong and independent character – in total control of herself. She is in charge of her romantic life, and does not bat an eyelid when Brad turns up in England and she has dinner with him and her English beau, Mark. Since her first appearance in CAPABLE OF MURDER Belinda has grown as a character. Growth is good. Hazel has also changed; at the end of this book she is questioning the way she lives her life. She is questioning just who she is hurting by her love ‘em and leave em attitude? Author Brian Kavanagh doesn’t dwell on the relationship issues of the two women. The issues are there, but the emphasis is on solving the mystery. In this wonderful story twists, turns, suspects, ghosts, romance, and red herrings abound before a satisfactory conclusion.

Kavanagh has many years' experience in the Australian Film Industry in the areas of production, direction, editing and writing. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian Film Editors Guild. One of the ‘rules’ drummed into you at writing school is to write about what you know. Kavanagh knows the film industry, and BLOODY HAM is an authoritive, and humorous, peep behind the scenes.

I have heard a whisper that Brian Kavanagh is working on a yet to be titled fourth Belinda Lawrence story, to be set in Australia. Let us hope we don’t have to wait too long for it.

We’ve heard the movie making business is cutthroat well Belinda’s about to find out just how cutthroat it can be.

Again, I’ve had the opportunity to read Belinda’s third mystery straight after book two and book one.  So, it really wouldn’t be fair to tell you who Belinda’s cohorts are; however, there is a marriage proposal on the table.  Will she or won’t she?  You’ll just have to read and find out.

But never doubt that each book is it’s own stand-alone tale.  I just happen to be a tad fanatical in my series order reading.

This time around, Belinda has been asked to stand-in for a Hollywood actress during the boring hours of movie making.  The same actress who has stepped into the role left by the death of another…murder?  The same actress whose not-so-secret affair with the movie’s producer has ended in murder?  Too bad only Belinda’s fingerprints were on the murder weapon.

“Bloody Ham” is another triumph for Mr. Kavanagh.  Which makes my job as a reviewer that much easier and harder…I thoroughly enjoy “Bloody Ham” but what more can I possibly tell you about Mr. Kavanagh’s writing.
Mr. Kavanagh has not let up on his crisp characters, sweeping mystery, vast subject knowledge, picture perfect settings and dead-on moods.  With each Belinda story just fewer than 200 pages, Mr. Kavanagh utilizes each word for maximum benefit.  There is no wastage within his pages.

Mr. Kavanagh has also managed to keep each recurring character fresh.  He has introduced new aspects to these characters that allow us, his readers, to see them with new eyes and emotions while still keeping them true to their personalities.

I cannot suggest strongly enough that you join Belinda in “Bloody Ham.”

Christine I Speakman, The Muse Book Reviews, 4 out of 4 roses