It’s always fun to put together a newsletter and touch base with you all. You’re a very special lot.
Rainbow Gold Reviews is having a marathon chat (with prizes!) on St Patrick’s day 17th March. I’ll be in the 1400 GMT slot, along with Jamie Merrow, Jaime Samms and Lynn Van Dorn. I’ll be offering an Amazon gift card.
I’ve been guesting at Frost Magazine, talking about the inspiration behind the Stewarts’ family home, which features in many a Cambridge Fellows mystery. Jane’s also been guesting at mine, talking digs, as in archaeology.
Don’t forget that I’m also doing an online panel for Portsmouth Bookfest – tickets are free and clearly accessible from all over the world. It’s a light-hearted discussion of US cosy mysteries vs UK ones.
“An American author at the court of Queen Agatha? And vice versa, of course.” | Portsmouth Library and Archives Service (spydus.co.uk)
Then, there’s the wonderful MysteryFest, which has a cracking line-up of guests, including a keynote speaker who’ll be talking about wildlife crime. This is the line up last time, including the wondrous L C Tyler, he of the Ethelred and Elsie mysteries.
MysteryFest | Portsmouth Library and Archives Service (spydus.co.uk)
A blast from the past
I’ve been tinkering around with a new Cambridge fellows mystery, set in 1912, which has turned my mind to the Great War and some of the stories I’ve set there. On the quiet, one of my faves is Awfully Glad.
WWI hero Sam Hines is used to wearing a face that isn’t his own. When he’s not in the trenches, he’s the most popular female impersonator on the front, but a mysterious note from an anonymous admirer leaves him worried. Everyone realizes—eventually—that Sam’s not a woman, but has somebody also worked out that he also prefers his lovers to be male?
When Sam meets—and falls for—fellow officer Johnny Browne after the war, he wonders whether he could be the man who wrote the note. If so, is he the answer to Sam’s dreams or just another predatory blackmailer, ready to profit from a love that dare not speak its name?
Sam couldn’t resist unfolding the note; he’d had these sorts of things before and they were always good for a laugh. The invitations would range from the innocent to the knowingly experienced, although nobody ever suggested something entirely obscene—Miss Madeleine gave an air of always being above such things. This would probably be the usual Might I buy you a drink? I know this little estaminet…
“I’m awfully glad you’re not a girl. J.”
Sam read it again, not trusting the evidence of his eyes, but they’d been right the first time. J? Which of the officers had that been? Jimmy, Jeffrey, Jonathan…Sam had forgotten their names already, even if he’d been told them.
But when had the note been written? After he’d taken his wig off and burst the little lieutenant’s bubble, he supposed, although if he had no memory of the thing being lodged in its hiding place, he equally had no recollection of somebody scribbling the thing—there’d been very little time for it, anyway. And how much more courage would it have taken to do such a thing in plain sight? It wasn’t the sort of note which could be easily explained away if discovered.
He closed his eyes, trying better to picture the scene. There’d been Corry, whom he’d known since he was a lad. Not him. Not his writing, anyway. And the ginger-haired officer hadn’t been anywhere near those pots. So it had to be the quiet, dark-haired chap or the tow-headed one. He wouldn’t have said no to either of those if they’d met in a certain bar in London. Decent-looking lads, a bit of life about them, and clearly with some spark of interest that was more than platonic. But which of them had written it? And how to find out?