C.S. Challinor was raised and educated in Scotland (St. George's School for Girls, Edinburgh) and England (Lewes Priory, Sussex; University of Kent, Canterbury: Joint Hons Latin & French). She also holds a diploma in Russian from the Pushkin Institute in Moscow. She has lived in Southwest Florida since age 30. Challinor is a member of the Authors Guild, New York, and writes the critically acclaimed Rex Graves cozy mystery series published by Midnight Ink, featuring Rex Graves, a Scottish barrister-sleuth.
CHRISTMAS IS MURDER, the first in the Rex Graves Mystery series, reached #1 on the Kindle Bestseller List. This title is also available in large print hardcover through Thorndike Reviewer's Choice. The fifth in the series, MURDER OF THE BRIDE, was a Mystery Guild Book Club pick (hardcover) and a Top Five Books of 2011 Selection by Crime Fiction Lover. JUDGMENT OF MURDER, the eighth Rex Graves title from Midnight Ink, was released in November 2016 to highly favorable reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. UPSTAGED BY MURDER, #9, is slated for release by Midnight Ink Books on July 8, 2018.
Reviews to-date for UPSTAGED BY MURDER:
"...fans--and there are many--will be shouting, 'Bravo!'"
"Challinor, who often modernizes and repurposes golden-age mystery ploys, this time takes the further step of recruiting the stars of those classic novels to help solve the case."
Reviews for CHRISTMAS IS MURDER:
*STARRED* Review from Booklist: "The first installment in this new mystery series is a winner... At times, it seems we are playing Clue or perhaps enjoying a contemporary retelling of a classic Agatha Christie tale (And Then There Were None, or At Bertram’s Hotel) with a charming new sleuth. A must for cozy fans."
~Booklist (American Library Association)
"C.S. Challinor's CHRISTMAS IS MURDER dishes up an English manor house mystery with the traditional elements: a murder, a small contingent of suspects thrown together, and an engaging and witty sleuth... Challinor will keep most readers guessing as she cleverly spreads suspicion and clues that point in one direction, then another.”
~Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
"Shades of Agatha Christie. A disparate group of guests snowed in at an English hotel await Christmas and death. Rex Graves, QC,...uses his prosecutorial expertise to work his way through method and motive until he announces the murderer in a denouement in the classic style. Challinor's debut is a pleasant modern knockoff of Christie."
"It's a charming novel, especially since the violence occurs offstage. CHRISTMAS IS MURDER is full of people with interesting characters and clues... Ms. Challinor was educated in Scotland and England, which explains how she writes so convincingly of both her setting and her characters."
"CHRISTMAS IS MURDER has all the elements traditional English cozy fans have come to love. The plot is tight, suspects limited and an investigation uses Rex’s wit rather than a lot of outside sources. The setting is lovely and the characters entertaining without being so overdrawn as to appear as caricatures. A great start to a new series that is sure to become a modern favorite traditional English cozy series."
~The Mystery Reader **** (4-Star review = Recommended)
"CHRISTMAS IS MURDER is the first book in a new series featuring Rex Graves as barrister and sleuth. The book is an enjoyable and quick read. The setting is great, a Victorian hotel in England in modern times, the characters are interesting and the mystery is engaging. I couldn’t figure out who the murderer was—any of the guests could have done it! This is not a very 'Christmasy' book. It could be read just about any time of the year. I look forward to more books in this series."
~The Friendly Book Nook
"Agatha Christie fans, here you go! You have been waiting for a mystery writer that can hold the torch, well we found her: C.S. Challinor. CHRISTMAS IS MURDER is her first book in the Rex Graves series, and we didn't solve the mystery! In fact, we were not even close. She told such a wonderful story that we were lost in her world for a while!"
"CHRISTMAS IS MURDER is an engaging whodunit populated with an interesting and imaginative mix of characters and a very appealing and charming sleuth in Rex Graves. The story effortlessly combines elements of a classic country house mystery with an Agatha Christie-style denouement to great effect. With some of the guests concealing secret objectives for being present, this quick-reading mystery will keep readers guessing until the end."
"Authors are sometimes compared to Dame Agatha but, in my opinion, few of their books have those characteristics and—more important—the overall feel of hers. CHRISTMAS IS MURDER does."
"Wanted to let you know I just finished the book and enjoyed it very much. I'm thinking of pairing it up with a large assortment box of shortbread at the holidays. Eat some shortbread, make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book."
~Barbara Selvaggio, Walkers Shortbread US
"Cozy fans will want to find CHRISTMAS IS MURDER tucked into their stockings for a cold, winter's night read. This is one to help you while away the hours without scaring you out of your slippers; a delectable tidbit of a puzzle that will leave you hungry for the next Rex Graves Mystery... Challinor, a longtime fan of Agatha Christie, knows that a good plot is essential to a story, and that characters give it a life of its own. CHRISTMAS IS MURDER has an element of romance but is not a love story. There is something, or someone, in the storyline to appeal to readers across the genre...the English setting in her story is spot on... The cast is full-bodied and as enjoyable as a glass of brandy on a cold night, meant to be sipped slowly and savored. Although cozy and comfortable, Challinor's story unfolds in a modern, if timeless, setting. Humor, both dry and bold, makes it all the more enjoyable. Barrister Rex Graves is a character you'll embrace and look forward to. Cozy up, grab a cuppa, and visit Swanmere Manor for a Christmas to remember!"
"Rex gives the reader just enough hints to keep them guessing until the very end when the final pieces to the puzzle are revealed. Look out, Hercule Poirot; Rex Graves will give you a run for your money."
~Once Upon A Romance
"CHRISTMAS IS MURDER is a most enjoyable first mystery in what promises to be a fantastic series. Challinor writes with wit and cheek, and with Rex Graves she has created a thoroughly charming sleuth."
~Rick Miller, playwright, actor, and host of ABC’s prime-time hit series "Just for Laughs"