Isobel Blackthorn

Author of “Murder in Myrtle Bay

A warm welcome to Isobel Blackthorn, who has just published her novel, “Murder in Myrtle Bay”, reviewed here by Fiona Forsyth . . .

Content on this page © Isobel Blackthorn 2023


When feature writer Ruth Finlay and her elderly neighbor Doris Cleaver visit an antique and collectibles market in the small town of Myrtle Bay, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

After Ruth’s old tennis coach is found dead, they discover that there’s no lack of people who harbor a grudge against the victim, and a tangled web of family ties and lies begins to unravel. But can Ruth and Doris find the killer in time to avert a second murder?

A quirky feel-good mystery laced with intrigue, Murder in Myrtle Bay is the first book in Isobel Blackthorn’s ‘Ruth Finlay Mysteries’ series. Set in small town Australia, it is a sure pick for any fan of classic whodunits and cozy mysteries!

© Isobel Blackthorn 2023


Ruth Finlay is tied to Myrtle Bay, a small town on the southern coast of Victoria, Australia, and I can’t see her getting out any time soon. She’s far too busy, and even solving a murder has to be fitted in to all her other commitments!

Ruth’s actual job is as a writer but fortunately as she herself says, “I’d learnt early in my career that writing took the amount of time you gave to it, expanding or contracting to fit your circumstances.” I was a little envious at how quickly Ruth can pen polished prose, but she is an experienced journalist and she does have a lot on. Ruth goes for a run every morning and her dad won’t eat the perfectly reasonable food at his care home so Ruth has to whip up a host of gourmet meals every other day. Meanwhile her next-door neighbour, the redoubtable Doris has to be driven to the local antique centre in search of Tupperware, played cards with and served coffee and newly-baked cake at frequent intervals.

Ruth is also kept busy investigating the strange murder of her old tennis coach, David Fisk. David was killed at the antiques centre, and you know what those places are for having corners to hide around – how on earth can Ruth pin down exactly who was where and when? Fortunately, at her side is Doris, whose knowledge of the people of Myrtle Bay takes the two sleuths on many a wild goose chase. It is quite extraordinary how many people hated the murdered man and Ruth’s somewhat rosy memories of him are shredded within a few chapters. Thank heavens for the charming handyman Ciaran!

As you can see, there is a lot of humour in this book, and some of it is quite dark: Ruth’s beloved father lives at a care home named “Peaceful Rest” which would put me off even if I didn’t know about the staff, and there is a splendid scene when one of our suspects builds an erotic rockery in Doris’ back garden!

The action bowls along for the most part, though long descriptions of meals, and some dead ends in the investigation do slow down the middle. Characters are well drawn, and I guarantee that the one you’ll remember is Ruth’s next door neighbour Doris who is a one-of-a-kind: my favourite description of her was “She belonged on an album cover by Jimi Hendrix.”


Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including gripping mysteries and dark psychological thrillers.

The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey received an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Reader’s Favorite book awards. A Prison in the Sun was shortlisted in the LGBTQ category of the 2021 International Book Awards and the 2020 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her short story ‘Nothing to Declare’ was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019. Her dark thriller A Legacy of Old Gran Parks won a Raven Award in 2019. The Cabin Sessions was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award 2018 and the Ditmar Awards 2018.

Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism from the University of Western Sydney for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel The Unlikely Occultist and the full biography Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy.

Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Six of her novels are set on the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. These standalone mystery novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction.

Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including asylum seekers and family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives in the Canary Islands, Spain.


© Isobel Blackthorn 2023

And “Murder in Myrtle Bay” can be found at : 

Content on this page © Isobel Blackthorn 2023

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