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Two Time the Thrills
New Mystery Series Offer British Delights
It's not surprising that the country that produced such esteemed mystery masters as Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle should continue to be a rich setting for both historical and contemporary whodunits. And like bestseller Elizabeth George, these American authors prove that you don't need Brit blood to craft a compelling mystery set in Old Blighty.
It's been a year of debuts for author Ashley Gardner. In October she released the first novel in her historical romance Pirate series, The Pirate Next Door (written as Jennifer Ashley), and this month she launches a historical mystery series with THE HANOVER
SQUARE AFFAIR. "I noticed that many
historical mysteries are Victorian or medieval/Elizabethan, but there are not many in Regency England, so I decided to set the series there," says the Arizona resident, who counts herself a fan of Elizabeth Peters' and Anne Perry's
While her Pirate series has a humorous tone, Gardner describes the mysteries as darker. Her protagonist, former cavalry officer Captain Gabriel Lacey, saw his career end unjustly and now devotes
himself to righting the wrongs of others. However, Gardner initially had a very
different character in mind.
"At first I wanted to write a Beau Brummell-type dandy who solved mysteries with his fashionable mistress," she says. "But the nature of the character kept changing. Finally, he morphed into a poor ex-Army captain. Then he grew into a very complex character with complex relationships, which evolve a little with each book." Lacey will appear
in at least two more novels, A Regimental Murder (May 2004) and The Glass House (Dec. 2004).
Debut author M.G. Kincaid didn't intend to make Scottish police sergeant Seth Mornay the protagonist of THE LAST VICTIM IN GLEN ROSS. Like the author, that character was originally an American woman.
But when Kincaid's agent said she liked Mornay but didn't find the protagonist compelling, the author knew what she had to do with her revisions. "Her enthusiasm about [Mornay] made it a no-brainer," Kincaid says. In GLEN ROSS, Mornay searches for the killer of a woman stabbed to death in a graveyard.
Although she lived in Scotland for several years, Kincaid, a Florida native, says it was a challenge to create the characters who populate the small Scottish town of Macduff. Fortunately, she knew some natives she could turn to for advice and insight: her Scottish mother, who came to the U.S. in 1967, and cousins who live in Edinburgh. "There are so many nuances that would be easy to lose without some familiarity with the country," Kincaid says. "Scotland is one-third the size of Florida, yet the geographic regions in the country are incredibly diverse. Towns that are only a mile apart can be as diverse as New York is from New Orleans."
With her second Mornay book slated for release next August, the former marine is now working on a suspense novel about—of course—a woman marine. Says Kincaid, "It isn't based on any of my experiences in the corps, but those experiences have played an essential role in its creation."
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