Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Omnimystery Book Tour: Murder on the Cliffs

Book cover
Title: Murder on the Cliffs
Author: Joanna Challis
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: November 2009, Minotaur Books
ARC, 292 pages
Book Source: Received for review as part of the Omnimystery Book Tour


"The storm led me to Padthaway. 

I could never resist the allure of dark swirling clouds, windswept leaves sweeping down cobbled lanes or a view of the sea stirring up its defiant nature. The sea possessed a power all of its own and this part of Cornwall, an isolated stretch of rocky cliff tops and unexplored beaches both enchanted and terrified me. 

It is not a lie to say I felt drawn out that day, led to a certain destiny... 

So begins this new mystery series featuring young Daphne du Maurier, headstrong, adventurous, and standing at the cusp of greatness.

Walking on the cliffs in Cornwall, she stumbles upon the drowned body of a beautiful woman, dressed only in a nightgown, her hair strewn along the rocks, her eyes gazing up to the heavens. Daphne soon learns that the mysterious woman was engaged to marry Lord Hartley of Padthaway, an Elizabethan mansion full of intriguing secrets.

As the daughter of the famous Sir Gerald du Maurier, Daphne is welcomed into the Hartley home, but when the drowning turns out to be murder, Daphne determines to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Padthaway—in part to find fresh inspiration for her writing, and in part because she cannot resist the allure of grand houses and long buried secrets."

My Thoughts

I am embarrassed to admit that I've never read anything by Daphne Du Maurier, but reading Challis' mystery has made me strongly desire to remedy that. Many thanks to Lance and the folks involved with the Omnimystery Book Tour for Joanna Challis' breathtaking first book in her Daphne Du Maurier series. I'm excited to be a part of this tour!

I could not put this book down. The writing was breezy and flowed beautifully and I couldn't help but get wrapped up in the mystery and the characters involved. Challis has painted vivid scenery, emotions, and characters in Murder on the Cliffs. The mystery, though not particularly suspenseful, is well-done, with the blame shifting to and from the various suspects until the very end, when the real murderer is finally revealed. I enjoyed Challis' portrayal of Du Maurier as an amateur sleuth and her interaction with all of the characters. I was equally impressed by Challis' full-bodied, well-developed characters. Love them or hate them, they all played a key role in this story, be it large or small.

What really shines about this book is the element of historical fiction and the idea that this story led Du Maurier to writing her most famous work, Rebecca. Combined with Challis' talent for characterization and vivid descriptions, you have a book that will sweep you away into another world. If you enjoy mysteries, amateur sleuthing, and quality writing, I urge you to pick up a copy of Murder on the Cliffs. I truly don't think you'll be disappointed.

My rating: 5 stars

About The Author

Joanna Challis lives and writes in a colonial house with wrap-around verandahs and an English garden in Queensland, Australia, surrounded by family, old paintings, and anything fleur-de-lys. She is the author of several romantic suspense novels; Murder on the Cliffs is her first series mystery.


Joanna Challis is giving away a signed copy of her book, Murder on the Cliffs, to one lucky tour visitor. Simply go to her tour page,, enter your name, email address and this PIN: 3383 for your chance to win! Entries from Melissa's Bookshelf will be accepted until noon (PT) tomorrow, Thursday, December 3rd. No purchase required to enter or win. The winner will be announced on Challis' Book Tour Page next week!


  1. I'm with you, Melissa, I'm unfamiliar with Daphne Du Maurier - but anxious to read Murder on the Cliffs. The setting alone sounds intriguing.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful book and one that is right up my alley. Thanks for hosting a stop and for reviewing the book.

  3. Sounds like a good book. Even the cover gives a mystery feel to it. Another book to add to my list.

  4. I´m embarrased to say that I´ve never read anything by Joanna Challis :( Your review of the book made me start looking for her books to see if I could find any translated to my language.

  5. ok, you've never read one of her novels...but surely you have seen movies based on her works? no? the movies are great and made before i was born but... and the books!!! run, don't walk to your nearest library!!!

  6. Fantastic review! This book looks and sounds wonderful!

  7. Thanks, everyone! I really can't recommend this one enough. It was the writing that really hooked me. It read like a classic in the making...

  8. I love the cover and it sounds great. Glad you liked it so much. I'll have to look for this one.

  9. I definitely want to read this! :) great review! I'm adding it to my TBR list. :)

  10. I have yet to read this book but I am definitely glad that it encouraged you to read the works of Du Maurier's. She was an excellent writer and I myself have only discovered this fact this year. I hope that her books will meet your expectations.

  11. Wow, this sounds like a great book! Would not have heard about it except for this post, so thanks for the heads up!



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