Gerald Elias on SPRING BREAK

 

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My primary goals in the Daniel Jacobus series have been to write entertaining stories, provide a glimpse into the multi-faceted world of classical music, and give lay readers a good beginners’ listening list of some of the world’s greatest music. I’ve generally shied away from wading into political or broad social issues. When I started writing Spring Break I knew it was going to take place in a music conservatory and that a murder would be committed over some bone of contention, of which there are enough to make complete skeletons. I hadn’t determined who the victim or murderer would be, or the motive.

But as I worked through my rough draft, those question marks became exclamation points as, one after another, institutions of higher education became the subject of front-page headlines in highly publicized cases of sexual violence on their campuses. It didn’t matter whether it was a major Ivy League university or a church-administered one. Sexual harassment remains a doggedly tenacious epidemic in our general culture, and no less so on college campuses where, literally, one is presumed to know better. With the setting of Spring Break already established, I felt compelled to address this issue head on.

When drunken frat boys and campus sports heroes rape female students, we wring our hands but chalk it up to bad upbringing or aberrant behavior or extra testosterone or the reason-numbing effects of binge drinking. We decry it but can, to some degree, understand it. But when such crimes are committed by revered university profes­sors, how do we explain that away? Misunderstandings? If a professor can’t discern the difference between right and wrong, who can? Is it that difficult?

We are now engaged in a raging national debate regarding sexual misconduct that goes far beyond the college campus. High-profile men in the entertainment industry, in the media, in government, have been outed for sexual misconduct ranging from an unwanted kiss to pathological pedophilia. Even this is but the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, sexual misconduct in the workplace – in offices, in hotels, in factories, in athletics, in the armed forces – has yet to be fully exposed. And it goes even beyond the workplace. Women do not feel safe from harassment or being groped simply walking down the street, sitting in a bus, or going to a park.

When students and former students have come to me with stories of being victimized by members of my profession, the most important thing I can do is help them regain their ability –which has been so violently compromised – to trust someone, anyone. I try to provide that trust and support. In a society that has no difficulty talking about violence but is unable to openly discuss sex, especially sexual predation, it is no wonder that women are only now coming forward and with such difficulty and with such courage.

We cringe in disgust when Catholic priests are exposed for abusing children. We are outraged when male-dominated cultures of so-called Third World countries relegate women to second-class status. We recoil in horror when marauding mercenaries in Africa rape women as their reward and as a tool to terrorize the populace into submission. Why is it, then, in our supposedly advanced democracy, we’ve continued to tolerate sexual violence throughout our society, and more specifically in Spring Break, on college campuses? To claim we haven’t tolerated it is simply denying reality. The abuse persists, adminis­trations continue to place the prestige of their universities ahead of the well-being of their own students, and the justice system continues to bend over backwards to protect the rights of the accused to the point of victimizing the victims. Why is it we do not demand change? Is it because we’re in a state of denial that ‘the greatest country in the world’ may be no better than the lowest of the low? I don’t really have answers to those questions. I wish I did, but what I at least can do in Spring Break is provide food for thought, and hope that sharing the message will help advance a constructive dialogue for change.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gerald Elias

 

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Click here for more information on SPRING BREAK and PLAYING WITH FIRE, both in the Daniel Jacobus mystery series.

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Jingle those bells! Our December titles out soon . . .

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We’re feeling oh-so-jolly this month with an array of fantastic new reads! Our December titles are available to purchase in the UK from 29 December, and here’s a sneak preview of what to expect:

 

MIND OF A KILLER by Simon Beaufort

1882. Following up a story about a fatal house fire, newspaper reporter Alec Londale discovers that the victim’s death was no accident. But why would someone murder a humble shop assistant and steal part of his brain? Alec is about to uncover evidence of a shocking conspiracy that reaches the highest echelons of Victorian society in this absorbing historical mystery.

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

BAD COPS by Nick Oldham

Two murders, apparently unconnected . . . neither case solved. Six months later, following a desperate plea from a chief constable, Detective Superintendent Henry Christie finds himself travelling across the country to carry out an urgent review of the two killings. His investigations will plunge him into a terrifying world of murder and corruption. How bad can it be when backs are against the wall? Henry Christie is about to find out . . .

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

WHISPER THE DEAD by Stella Cameron

Will appeal to fans of M.C. Beaton and Midsomer Murders.

Construction of a new housing development is already causing the residents of Folly-on-Weir concern when pub owner Alex Duggins is confronted by the terrifying scene of a construction trailer on fire and a man desperately trying to break the door down. Alex and her friend Tony Harrison are soon drawn into a major murder investigation whose tentacles will reach right to the heart of the tight-knit Folly community – and into Alex’s own past . . .

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

FALSE PRIDE by Veronica Heley

Bea Abbot’s plans for a peaceful weekend are disrupted by the unexpected arrival of one of her clients bearing a brown leather briefcase full of expensive jewellery. Magda Summerleys has been working as a housekeeper for wealthy art expert Lucas Rycroft who, she says, entrusted her with the briefcase for safekeeping – and who seems to have disappeared without trace. Bea is soon drawn into the tangled affairs of the dysfunctional Rycrofts . . . and events quickly begin to spiral out of control.

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

MILE HIGH MURDER by Marcia Talley

Maryland State Senator Claire Thompson has co-sponsored a Cannabis Legalisation Bill and wants Hannah to be part of a fact-finding task force that testifies before the Maryland State Senate. Before long, Hannah is in Denver, Colorado – the Mile High City – staying at a B&B with a group of pot pilgrims and medical refugees, some of whom, like her, are on a mission for information. But when one of the group is found dead, is Hannah about to get ‘high’ on murder?

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

LOCK 13 by Peter Helton

Henry Blinkhorn drowned when his boat capsized in the Severn estuary. So how come his photograph appears on the front cover of The Angler six years later? The insurers who paid out a small fortune on his death have asked private investigator Chris Honeysett to track down the elusive Mr Blinkhorn and prove he’s still alive. But Honeysett is sidetracked from the investigation by the sudden disappearance of his life drawing model, Verity Lake, and it soon becomes clear that someone else is on Honeysett’s trail. Who are they . . . and what are they really after?

More details and pre-order on Amazon here.

 

 

#BookExtract: BAD COPS by Nick Oldham

 

BAD COPS by Nick Oldham is the twenty-fifth title in the Henry Christie series, which sees Detective Superintendent Henry Christie agree to travel across the country to the fictional region of Central Yorkshire to carry out an urgent review of two killings. What Henry doesn’t realise is that he’s about to be plunged into a terrifying world of murder and corruption – one where he’ll discover just how bad some cops can be when their backs are against the wall . . . Check out this preview below!

‘Who’s the guy?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘In that case, you need to find out and then do what you have to do.’

‘What the hell does that mean?’

‘You fucking know – sort it, sort him, sort them . . . I don’t have time for this shit just now.’

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Runcie ended the call on her iPhone with an angry stab of her thumb and hissed the word, ‘Tosser.’ She slid the device back into her trouser pocket, wiped the grimy sweat from her forehead, caught her breath and then gathered her ponytail at the back of her head, slid off the elastic band, bunched her hair and fitted the band again.

She had wanted to take the call from Silverthwaite, but it had come in at an inopportune moment to say the least. With her nostrils flaring wide, she looked down at the unmoving form of the man at her feet lying splayed out, face down on the painted concrete floor of cell number six in wing two. It was her favourite cell because, despite its low number, it was situated furthest away from the custody office.

A pool of blood was spreading wide from the man’s crushed face on the non-porous surface.

Runcie swore and squatted down on her haunches, reaching out with the index and middle fingers of her right hand to check for a pulse in the soft flesh just under the man’s chin in the carotid artery.

It was still there. Weak, but there.

‘Is  he still alive?’ Runcie rose stiffly to her full height, her knees popping. She was a tall, rangy woman, just under six feet tall without heels, so she usually wore flats to work. She eyed the man standing opposite her on the other side of the prostrate guy, noticing his suit, like hers, was splattered with flecks of blood.

”Course he fucking is,’ she said.

‘What do we do now?’ The man, older than Runcie, wiped his face, which was also blood-spattered, stretching his tired features.

Runcie’s face twitched. Under her calm exterior, her mind was racing, working out the angles, the possibilities, thinking about what she had in place for eventualities like this – a man beaten half to death in a police cell.

She put her hands on her hips.

‘Let’s think.’ She invited the man – his name was John Saul and he was a detective constable – to consider. ‘We have a man lying on the floor in front of us, who we strongly believe of being the man who abducted and raped four children and murdered them, burying their bodies in the woods . . .’

‘Yet he denies it,’ Saul pointed out insipidly.

‘Oh, he did it, he fucking did it,’ Runcie stated with exacting certainty. ‘So I think this: he’s been in police custody, been released without charge after interview, decided he can take no more and, in a fit of despairing remorse, he tops himself . . . What do you reckon to that scenario?’

A smile quivered on Saul’s lips. ‘All fits,’ he agreed. ‘Just a bit of a problem.’ Saul looked down at the man’s body, which shuddered slightly as a moan escaped from his mouth.
Still very much alive.

Runcie nodded. ‘You got your two p’s?’ she asked. Saul nodded. ‘How many prisoners    are along this corridor as we speak?’

‘Four, I think.’

‘OK, you sort out the CCTV while I speak to the custody officer.’

The two detectives backed out of the cell, closing the heavy, steel-clad door with a gentle clunk. They walked quietly down the cell corridor, Runcie pausing at each cell that was occupied, easily identifiable as all empty cells were left with the doors wide open. She put her eye to each circular, toughened glass peephole just above the inspection hatches and peered into each cell.

Saul had been correct. Four prisoners in total. Two were laid out on their benches, sleeping soundly. The other two were awake, both sitting on the benches, their legs drawn up. As Runcie’s eyes appeared at the holes, each man looked up at her. One stayed seated; the other rose and crossed to the door, but Runcie did not stay to talk.
She and Saul entered the custody office where the single sergeant on duty was making entries into custody records, keeping them up to date. Her name was PS Anna Calder and she eyed the detectives warily as they split.

Runcie approached the sergeant while Saul went to a small office behind the custody desk.

The young sergeant looked strained as Runcie leaned on the desk.

‘The cameras are going off for five minutes,’ the DCI said. ‘That pesky intermittent fault.’

The sergeant’s throat rose and fell visibly as she seemed to swallow something approaching the size of half a house brick. ‘Why?’ she whispered huskily.

‘We’re taking him out . . . so he needs to be booked out, released with no charge,’ Runcie explained.

‘OK,’ Calder said weakly. It was now clear that her mouth had dried up as she swallowed and licked her lips.

Runcie reached across and gripped the woman’s shoulder, grasping her epaulette, which displayed the shiny sergeant’s stripes. ‘Don’t worry, lass . . . it’s all under control.’

She arched her eyebrows and nodded reassuringly. ‘Get his property out and his custody record and get it signed out to him.’

‘I’ll need his signature.’

‘Just mark it, “refused to sign”.’ DC Saul appeared from the back office and gave Runcie a quick thumbs up: the CCTV cameras covering the custody suite had been dealt with. The sergeant unlocked and opened the prisoners’ property cupboard and removed a large, sealed polythene ziplocked bag with the name Sowerbutts on the label. She broke the seal, tipped the few contents on to the desk and made the entry in the record as instructed. Runcie watched her calculatingly. ‘On the custody record itself, put an entry to the effect that the prisoner has been interviewed, denies all offences and, until further evidence is uncovered – or otherwise – has been released without charge. You know the wording.’

The sergeant nodded and complied with a shaking pen.

Runcie looked at Saul. ‘Two-pence pieces?’

Saul shuffled a handful of the copper-coloured coins out on to his palm, four of them and a small ball of Blu-Tack.

Runcie smiled conspiratorially. ‘You know what to do with them.’

He disappeared into the cell corridor.

Runcie followed a few moments later, then both entered the cell of the injured man.

Saul hoofed him over on to his back and recoiled slightly at the vision of the man’s smashed and flattened face, damaged beyond recognition. ‘Shit. He’s a mess.’ He blew out his cheeks.

‘And a rapist, a child molester and murderer,’ Runcie reminded him.

‘Yeah, yeah,’ he conceded.

‘You take his shoulders, I’ll do the legs.’

Saul was a very long-in-the-tooth detective, just short of the f ifty mark, but was still a big, handy man with good strength across his chest and shoulders. He slid his hands under the prisoner’s armpits and heaved him up while Runcie grabbed his ankles. They began to manoeuvre him out of the cell and down the corridor, carrying him between them like a roll of carpet, leaving a smear of blood the full length of the passageway.
As Runcie shuffled along, she checked each occupied cell and saw that Saul’s two-pence pieces were still in place, effectively blocking each peephole in which the coins were a perfect fit, held in place by the Blu-Tack.

Best, she thought, to have no hostile witnesses.

BAD COPS by Nick Oldham is published 29 December 2017 in the UK, and in eBook and in hardback in the USA on 1 April 2018. For further information on Nick and his work, please visit our website here.

Five Things You Should Know About Marcia Talley . . .

Marcia Talley is the author of the brilliantly entertaining Hannah Ives mystery series. MILE HIGH MURDER comes out 29 December and is the sixteenth title in a series which remains ‘as fresh as the day it was born’ (Booklist on Tomorrow’s Vengeance – title number thirteen!). Murder can’t stop following our wonderful Hannah around . . .

1. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but spent the first eighteen years of my life bouncing about the planet as the eldest of five daughters of a career Marine officer. We never lived anywhere longer than two or three years. Dad was the son of Christian missionaries and spoke, read and wrote Chinese as his first language, so we were always getting stationed abroad where Chinese was spoken. I began elementary school in Tsingtao, China and my high school years were spent in Taipei, Taiwan. The one constant in my life during those chaotic times – I attended third grade in three schools – was the library, my consolation and my refuge. Perhaps that’s why I became a librarian, working in school, corporate and government libraries for a career spanning more than thirty years.

2. My mother was an avid mystery fan, and a charter subscriber to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, so mysteries were always around the house. I was also a great fan of that old television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and am grateful that although it appeared on TV late on a Sunday night (a school night – gasp!) I was allowed to stay up to watch it . . . I think my fondness for short stories with quirky endings can be traced back directly to Mr Hitchcock. I’ve written more than a dozen short stories so far, several that have won Agatha and Anthony awards and have been included in anthologies edited by New York Times best-selling authors Lawrence Block, Elizabeth George, Laura Lippman, and Anne Perry.

3. Fans of my Hannah Ives mysteries will be surprised to learn that I am also a serial novelist. I write novels with other women. TWELVE other women. How could this happen to a good little girl from Cleveland, Ohio? Naked Came the Phoenix and I’d Kill for That are set in a luxury health spa and an exclusive gated community, respectively. For the uninitiated, let me explain that serial novels are written in round-robin style: one author writes the first chapter then passes it to the second who picks up the story where the first author left off, then passes it on to the third, and so on . . .

4. Some years ago, I appeared on the cover of the magazine Women & Guns. Buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you the whole story. I’ve never owned a gun, so I was surprised to discover that – out on the rifle range, at least – I was a fairly decent shot. My husband hung one of my paper targets – with the bullet holes clustered in all the right places – on the steps leading down to the basement of our Annapolis home in the hope that it will discourage burglars.

5. I don’t recommend getting breast cancer as a way of helping you decide what you want to be when you grow up, but for me, the diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy and chemotherapy were a wake-up call. It gave me permission to quit a grueling one-hour-each-way commute to Washington DC for a job closer to home. I’d always wanted to be a novelist, and as I faced my own mortality I thought, if not now, when? Thirty years later, I am the author of sixteen published novels (whose heroine is a breast cancer survivor), two collaborative novels (with twelve other women), and more than a dozen short stories. Who’da thunk it?

Want to know more? Visit the author’s website or click here for information on the Hannah Ives series!

December Editor’s Pick: MIND OF A KILLER by Simon Beaufort

mind of a killerThis month’s Editor’s Pick is from Kate Lyall Grant, Publisher.

Set in 1882, during the turbulent weeks following the death of the great English naturalist Charles Darwin, and introducing idealistic young newspaper reporter Alec Lonsdale as an appealing new series sleuth, MIND OF A KILLER is the first in an intriguing new Victorian mystery series, and represents an exciting new departure for Simon Beaufort, author of the well-received Sir Geoffrey Mappestone medieval mystery series. I was thoroughly taken by this richly detailed, satisfyingly complex historical mystery, crammed full of period flavour and peopled by a cast of engagingly colourful characters, both real and imagined, and I hope Alec Lonsdale and his spirited female colleague and co-investigator Hulde Friederichs will appear in many more books to come.

The action kicks off when Alec, writing up the story of a fatal house fire for his crusading newspaper, the Pall Mall Gazette, discovers that the victim’s death was no accident but the result of cold-blooded, premeditated murder. But why would someone kill a humble shop assistant and steal part of his brain? Following the discovery of a second body, and then a third, Lonsdale and Friederichs team up to uncover evidence of a shocking conspiracy that reaches to the highest echelons of Victorian society.

The well-realized late 19th century London setting – from posh gentlemen’s clubs like the Garrick and the Oxford & Cambridge to the earthy camaraderie of more humble establishments such as the Dog & Bone public house, down to the grim routines and appalling depravities of the workhouse – effectively highlights the blatant hypocrisies of this class-bound society, hidebound as it is by rigid social conventions and in-built snobberies. Throughout the novel, real historical figures mingle seamlessly with fictitious – and, as it transpires, the death of Charles Darwin and some of the theories he espoused during his lifetime have a particularly relevant (and chilling) part to play in the central mystery.

I would highly recommend MIND OF A KILLER to anyone who enjoys the intelligent, atmospheric and fiendishly plotted historical mysteries of authors such as Antonia Hodgson or S. G. MacLean.

Visit our website for more information on this title.

Behind the Book: BAD COPS by Nick Oldham

BAD COPS is the latest fast-paced, tension-filled thriller in the gripping Henry Christie series. Nick spoke to us about the book, which comes out 29 December.

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BAD COPS is the twenty-fifth novel in the Henry Christie series – a number which still astounds me. The novels tell Henry Christie’s life story – more or less chronologically – from him being a young cop on the beat in Lancashire, to being a Detective Superintendent, retirement and beyond. That said, I still have a whole bunch of stories to tell about Henry from the archives, as it were – and BAD COPS is one of those. Set between the events of BAD TIDINGS (2013) and LOW PROFILE (2014), Henry is off sick recovering from a gunshot wound when he’s basically coerced by his boss, FB, to investigate two unsolved murders in an adjoining police force. Much against his better judgement, Henry cannot resist this temptation, which of course leads him into all sorts of trouble as he finds himself pitted against a ruthless female villain.

Most of my books are set in real places in and around Lancashire and beyond, but unusually, BAD COPS is set in a fictional police force called Central Yorkshire, somewhere in the middle of the real North, South and West Yorkshire forces, but with a coastline on the North Sea. The coastal city in which most of the story is set – Portsea (again fictional) has a significant bearing on the story. Sometimes it’s just fun and interesting to invent fictional places and not to be constrained in any way by geography!

 

Previous titles in this series include:

 

Visit our website for more information on the series.

 

 

FREE FROM ALL DANGER Book Launch in Leeds

 

9780727887535_FCFREE FROM ALL DANGER is the page-turning new novel in the acclaimed Richard Nottingham historical mystery series from Chris Nickson, out now.

The series is set in Chris’s beloved home town, Leeds, in the 18th century, so where better to launch the book than in one of his favourite places – Leeds Library, the oldest subscription library in the British Isles, which has been in the same location since 1808.

Read Chris’s personal account of this special night below!

 

 

 

 

It’s not often you have the chance to work with someone you first met fifty years ago. But when the opportunity arises, why not seize it? Going way, way back, Chris Emmerson and I had our first band together. He played guitar and sang, his brother on drums. I was a scarcely proficient bass player. We were all very young teenagers, at the same school, in love with music. Fast forward several decades, many lives and miles, and we discovered each other again. He still played music. I’d stopped, more than a decade ago, my instruments gathering dust. Instead, I wrote novels and music journalism. With a new novel, Free From All Danger, coming out, I wanted to do something different for a book launch. A performance. Some extracts from the novel, some parts specially written. I asked if he’d be interested in writing the soundtrack to accompany it. He was. The result happened on Thursday, November 9 at the Leeds Library, one of my favourite places. It’s the oldest subscription library in the British Isles, in the same location since 1808. We were in the New Room, an 1880 add-on. I’d spent a month rehearsing. This was so far out of my comfort zone that it was appealingly terrifying. And that feeling only grew as the audience started to arrive.

I’ve done of semi-studio recording of the piece. You can judge for yourself.

People were surprised. It was different. It had music, atmosphere. But I wanted to take people aback. Simply standing up there and reading is fine, but why not give them more if you can? Chris did a glorious job on the music, and a friend, Hal Parfitt-Murray of the Danish band Basco, contributed the fiddle piece.

And then, once I was done, the Hill Bandits took to the stage and commanded it as they performed the traditional folk song ‘Our Captain Cried’. Why that song? Because it contains the line that gives the book its title. A song I’ve loved for years, full of heartbreak and yearning and hope.

I don’t have a recording of their version, but this is another – quite different – take on the song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Flt-HD9s-_k

Done, drained, happy. And full of gratitude to Chris, Hal, the Hill Bandits, Waterstones for coming to sell copies of the book (many were purchased; it’s always an author’s nightmare that no one will want it), Leeds Big Bookend for their involvement, and the Leeds Library for hosting it.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to curl into a tiny ball and spend the next week hibernating.

Click here for more titles in the intriguing Richard Nottingham series from Severn House.

 

 

 

 

Five things you should know about J.R. Ripley . . .

 

 

J.R. Ripley, aka Glenn Eric Meganck, is the creator of the brilliant Maggie Miller mystery series. The latest addition to the series, BEIGNETS AND BROOMSTICKS, is out 30 November.

1. When not reading crime novels – and I read lots of them so I won’t try to pick any favorites – other authors whose books have had an impact on me (and whose novels I see as I look over my shoulder) include Herman Hesse, Aldous Huxley, Kurt Vonnegut (I got a chance to visit the Vonnegut Memorial Library recently when in Indianapolis for Magna cum Murder), Patricia Highsmith, Haruki Murakami and, more recently, Andrey Kurkov and Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I keep their books sitting on my shelves like old friends in rockers sitting around on the front porch. Of course, there are many more, but those spring to mind.

2. I am a singer/songwriter and my music has been featured in rotation on hundreds of radio stations, MTV and other programs. This experience certainly played a role in the Tony Kozol series of mysteries, which feature a working musician who tours the world in the pursuit of his passion and his livelihood. If you Google me or check out glennmeganck.com, you will probably uncover some very embarrassing copies of my tunes and videos! And yes, I warn you, I am planning a modest 2918 tour.

3. A few of my other interests include hiking and other outdoor activities, travel, fitness, motorcycling, sports cars, birding (I also write the Bird Lover’s mystery series), cooking and pets (at its peak, the clan included one dog, two turtles and seven cats!).

4. I am a high school dropout. I quit high school out of extreme boredom at the end of my junior year. However, within a few months, I was enrolled at the junior level at university where I studied anthropology, in general, and Mesoamerican archaeology, in particular. I got my BA in two years, did some graduate work then pursued the life of a starving writer and musician working as needed at dozens of factory, trade and labor jobs, other times working as a copywriter and editor, and even started some businesses. I’m happy to report, I now spend my days doing what I always wanted to do – writing and making music.

5. Like Kitty Karlyle (from my Kitty Karlyle Gourmet Pet Chef mystery series), and unlike Maggie Miller who pokes serious fun at her sister, Donna, for her dietary choices, I am a vegetarian. Like Maggie Miller, I once decided to open a beignet café myself! Having tried it, I learned something very important: I am a much better writer than I am café owner!

Visit Glenn’s website and click here for more information on the Maggie Miller mystery series.

November Editor’s Pick – THE MAGIC CHAIR MURDER by Diane Janes

The Magic Chair Murder

This month’s Editor’s Pick is from Kate Lyall Grant, publisher.

The first in a brand-new traditional mystery series, set in the north of England in 1929, THE MAGIC CHAIR MURDER introduces us to two very likeable amateur sleuths in Frances Black and Tom Dod, and represents an intriguing new departure for romantic suspense author Diane Janes. The action kicks off when a committee member of a local literary society disappears, only for her body to turn up two days later. Teaming up to uncover the truth behind her death, Frances and Tom unearth a series of disturbing secrets surrounding their fellow society members.

At first glance, this is a gentle murder mystery redolent of the traditional Golden Age detection fiction of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers – yet all is not quite as it seems. Beneath the icy politeness and genteel good manners demanded by the rigid social mores and stifling conventions of the period lurk dangerous passions, all the more savage, when finally unleashed, for having been repressed for so long.  There are seriously dark undertones here, ensuring that the story is rather more vicious than it appears on the surface; the characters’ wild and uncontrolled emotions reflected in the wildness and savagery of the bleak Lancashire landscape that surrounds them. I also particularly relished the period detail, which is lovingly and painstakingly evoked: this is a world still reeling from the after-effects of the First World War; where a population still grieving for their lost menfolk is just beginning to experience the distant rumblings of the onset of World War Two.

Cunningly crafted, with its plentiful red herrings, credible suspects and unexpected twists and turns, the plot kept me entertained, absorbed and intrigued throughout, right up to the surprising denouement.  In short, I think this is the start of a highly promising new series and I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of Frances and Tom in many mysteries to come.

Visit our website for more information on this title.

Behind the Book – Vanished by Karen E. Olson

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Baguettes, café au lait, the Eiffel Tower, houseboats along the Seine. Paris is one of my favorite cities. I discovered its charms on my honeymoon, which is perhaps a bit of a cliché, but it really is a perfect place for romance. My love for the city was also inherited, in a way, from my mother-in-law, who was an art historian and spent a lot of time doing research there throughout her life. My husband and daughter and I traveled with her and my father-in-law to Paris in 2009, and seeing it through Edith’s eyes was special for all of us. And when my family went back and rented an apartment for a week, we truly felt Parisian as we frequented the neighborhood markets and navigated an area with few tourists.

It was that trip that made me start thinking about setting a book there.

Tina Adler, the computer hacker in my Black Hat series, was merely a speck of an idea at that point. But when I began writing HIDDEN, without even thinking about it, I realized that she’d spent summers in Paris with her grandmother and spoke fluent French. Which worked really well when she went to Quebec in SHADOWED. I wanted Tina to go to Paris, but because she’s off the grid, it needed to happen more organically than just going there. She needed a real reason. So when she discovers Zeke Chapman is there and possibly in trouble, it’s perfect.

Some of the action in VANISHED takes place in the neighborhood where we rented our apartment, near République in the Marais. Since it’s been four years, I relied on photos from our trip and used my skills as a former newspaper travel editor to bring the city alive for my readers. We used the ATM machine at the corner that I describe in the book. A Google street view – an author’s best friend – showed that the corner was blocked off by construction now, but since this is fiction, I didn’t really have a problem with that.

Will Tina stay in Paris? Sadly, no. But I was happy to spend some time there with her, and dream of the next time I can visit the City of Light.

Visit our website for information on this title and previous titles in the series.