A Virtual Authors’ Panel


I should be at the Tucson Festival of Books today, talking books with fellow readers and writers. Instead, due to Coronavirus, the festival was cancelled, and like most of you, I’m hunkering down at home. However, one of my panels had an advance copy of our questions from our moderator, David Nix. The show must go on, right? So, I’ve asked my fellow panelists to answer some of the questions, and I’m posting a virtual panel! This is a little longer than my usual post, so take a seat, and imagine yourself in sunny Tucson, Arizona, surrounded by thousands of book lovers.


I give you the Then and Now panel.

First I’d like to ask each of you why do you choose to write historical mysteries and thrillers instead of mysteries set in contemporary settings.

Iona Whishaw: I think, quite simply, I like the idea of people having little recourse to technology. There is something intriguing and atavistic about people having to use their wits. There are things they cannot not know easily. If they are up a mountain and their horse has bolted, they can’t look for cell phone bars and get someone to come get them. It is a people and resourcefulness-driven world. Relationships between people become the central coin of the narrative, and in a past with no portable technology (ok, flashlights and guns) people must deal with each other more directly.Iona book

Rosemary Simpson: I’ve always loved to read historical fiction, including historical mysteries. The research is engrossing and recreating authentic settings and characters an enormous challenge. I think that if you are going to spend up to a year working on a book, it should be set in a time, place, and social structure that you really enjoy. I may live in the modern era, but I can write in a past of my choosing!

Dianne Freeman: Historical fiction is the genre I most love to read because it takes me to a world I can’t visit in reality. I can travel to London, but not Victorian era London. I’ve always been a history buff and with each book I write, I learn more about the era. It’s like time travel.

How and why did you choose the era and locations you write about in your newest books?

Rosemary Simpson: DEATH BRINGS A SHADOW is the fourth book in the Gilded Age Mystery series. The first book, WHAT THE DEAD LEAVE BEHIND, was set in March 1888 in New York City, which was really the center of the extravagant lifestyle that has come to be called the Gilded Age. By the time of DEATH BRINGS A SHADOW, we have moved on to May of 1889. Each book, in addition to being a mystery, also has a social issue as one of its themes. I chose to take Prudence and Geoffrey to a sea island off Rosemary bookthe coast of Georgia because the isolation of the island reflects the lack of fundamental change in the everyday lives of its inhabitants nearly a quarter century after the end of the Civil War.

Dianne Freeman: The Countess of Harleigh mysteries are set in London in 1899. The time and place came from my fascination with the transatlantic marriages between American heiresses and British lords during the last quarter of the 19th century. Hundreds of new-money millionaires traded their daughters, and large amounts of cash, for titles, by marrying them into the British aristocracy. This didn’t strike me as the basis for a happy marriage. The dowry was handed over to the husband, who often left his new bride at his country home, while he returned to his bachelor ways. I wanted my protagonist to be one of those heiresses, and the time to be about ten years after the exchange of title for cash. What could possibly go wrong?

Iona Whishaw: Post war Canada was almost a fluke for me…I wouldn’t have said I was that interested in the period before I started. I was born in 1948, just after the period I write about, so my parents and other even older people I knew had lived in that period and even in the period of the first war, so it is at once familiar and exotic to me. I started my first book simply as a way to imagine my own mother, unmarried, and thrilling to the purchase of her first house in her new country.

At the moment we are surrounded by people who are struggling with their experiences of having been at war, and I was interested in what that would have meant for people who’d just come out of the Second World War. We have of course heard that my parent’s generation is called the ‘greatest generation’. And while probably in reality not particularly better than gens before or after, there was an agreeable lack of what my mother would call ‘fuss’. She herself had experience doing espionage during the war, but it was simply something she knew to be her job. She had skills of languages, and unbelievable courage and charm to spare, and she was asked to use it on behalf of her country. When the war was over, it was relegated to a job she had done, the way my father having been a bomber pilot was. It was duty. I think people tend to think that women of the pre-“liberation: period must have been victims of the sexist laws and restrictions placed on their choices, but the women I knew thought feeling sorry for themselves was rubbish, and simply went about doing what they wanted. I know that is not true for every woman; my mother belonged to a relatively affluent well-educated British cohort, but she never believed in making herself a victim of anything.

And finally, post war Canada has proved, as I have continued the narrative over 7 books, to be full of intriguing material including, for example, being chock-a-block with Soviet spies.

Please tell us how the era in which you locate your mystery comments upon and illuminates the present, especially gender roles, racial stratification, issues of marriage, divorce, sexuality and economic dependency for women.

Dianne Freeman: The Victorian era brought a great deal of social change, but it didn’t always apply to every class. In England, the 1880s introduced laws that allowed women to own property in their own right. Acquiring that property in the first place was the hard part, particularly among the upper crust, the status of my protagonist. Working for a living was a middle-class lifestyle, beneath the aristocracy. Men could get away with it to some extent. Men needed something to occupy their minds and challenge them, as long as it didn’t interfere with their social obligations. Women were still expected to be satisfied with domestic pursuits and allow their families; husbands, fathers, sons, to take care of them. If an aristocratic woman let it be known she worked for a living, she was both accusing her family of neglect, and being “mannish,” a double whammy. Society wouldn’t put up with such eccentricity and the woman would likely be dropped from many invitation lists and lose her social standing.Dianne book Having said that, prominent women of the day headed many charitable and social organizations, showing they clearly had the skills, but they didn’t earn an income from this work.

Iona Whishaw: I was surprised to see how utterly relevant those issues as I cover them in books taking place during and after the second world war are today, and how they resonate with readers. In particular the role of women in society and within their families. In spite of the massive legal advances in the status of women, issues of domestic abuse, unequal treatment, and pay disparities continue. By the same token, I want to make the point that there were very ‘liberated’, strong independent women in those times. I knew them, from my own mother on, these were women of prodigious courage, intelligence and action. As well, one of my books deals with the callous and often abusive treatment of the Home Children, who were children who were scooped off the poverty-stricken streets of big English cities and sent to ‘better lives’ in places like Canada and Australia. In fact, the callous treatment of children who come into care, or indeed, arrive at the border, is as alive today as it was in the historical settings I depict. And finally, of course, the adaptation that are of necessity made by immigrants or refugees to a new country continue to be familiar across the many decades.

By the same token, I think it is important to depict the past with balance and fullness. I was once quite vociferously challenged when I was on a panel that it was unfair to have the ‘bad guy’ have the bad attitudes, and that things like racism were rampant…racism was certainly more open and accepted as the norm than it might be today, but then as now, there were people who did not have those attitudes.

I received a wonderful letter recently about my treatment of a gay couple in my fourth book, expressing gratitude for how the story was told. My point is, that even in an England where the police hunted down and persecuted homosexuals as they did during and after the war, there were policemen who were not inclined to do that and would rather concentrate on serious crime, and I wanted that story to be told as well.

Rosemary Simpson: One of the attractions of writing about the Gilded Age is that it was a period of rapid change throughout all aspects of American society. It was a time of invention, political upheaval, enormous wealth contrasting with deep poverty, mass immigration and the phenomenal growth of cities, immense industrialization, sprawling public transportation, and the growing demand by women for equality before the law. Think telephone, electricity, and the automobile, just to name three of the many things that changed daily life forever. Any era that embodies that kind of transformation also entails the conflict of social transformation and reordering. I find it mirrors many things that are happening today. And where you have social conflict you have a fertile field for the mystery author to plow.

What can you accomplish in an historical mystery that you can’t in a contemporary mystery?

Iona Whishaw: I think really allowing people to ‘get away’. Mystery fiction is by its nature escapist, and I think historical fiction is even more escapist. The world pummels us with anxiety producing information every minute of every day. Being able to get away to a simpler world is a boon. So while I take great care that any historical facts I use are as accurate as they can be, I still like to place readers in a world where they can be truly entertained and comforted. In fact, I receive numerous letters from readers who in particular use my books to get away, however briefly from the difficult stresses in their own lives.

Rosemary Simpson: I think one of the most important contributions of an historical mystery is that if the research is accurate and liberties are not taken with the events and personalities of the period, the reader learns a great deal about a past that she might not have explored otherwise. It’s a completely painless history lesson that entertains as well as instructs. There is also the challenge of solving a mystery when the protagonist cannot depend on modern technology such as DNA testing and instant communication.

Dianne Freeman: Crime fiction is always a social commentary. When it takes place in another time, it allows us into the lives of the people who lived in that time and shows us their hopes, fears, vices, and virtues. It’s time travel through reading.

Panelist bios: 

Iona Whishaw was born in 1948 to English parents in British Columbia and brought up in Mexico and the US. She worked as a youth worker, taught high school and served for 16 years as a high school administrator in Vancouver, Canada. She earned a Masters of Arts degree in creative writing from UBC and was the recipient of the YWCA Women oWhishaw_Iona_AnickViolettef Distinction in Education award and a Canada’s Top Principals award. Her first work was a children’s book, Henry and the Cow Problem, and because she has loved mysteries since her early love affair with Nancy Drew, she has recently embarked on a well-reviewed period mystery series beginning with A Killer In King’s Cove and Death In The Darkening Mist. The books are set in 1946 in a charming backwater community in BC that the author lived in as a child. It is a community that cannot, alas, escape the press of the wider darker forces of the world and the effects of the war they have just come through. Her main character is based to no small extent on her own mother who engaged in espionage during WW2, and provided a life of travel and high adventure for her daughter. Her next book in the series, A MATCH MADE FOR MURDER, releases in April.

Rosemary pic


Rosemary Simpson is the author of two standalone historical mysteries and the Gilded Age Mystery series featuring Prudence Mackenzie and Geoffrey Hunter. The fourth book in the series, DEATH BRINGS A SHADOW moves the protagonists from New York City to the sea islands off Georgia.

dianne amaz picDianne Freeman is the acclaimed author of the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series. She is an Agatha Award and Lefty Award winner, as well as a finalist for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award from Mystery Writers of America. She spent thirty years working in corporate accounting and finance and now indulges her love of writing, history, and mystery. Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband split their time between Michigan and Arizona. Her third novel in the series, A LADY’S GUIDE TO MISCHIEF AND MURDER, will release in July.

Posted in Author Interview, Author panel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Juggling Through February

A writer’s life often involves a lot of juggling, and apparently, so does the month of February. This short month had me juggling work on five different books. I know many authors do that, but since I write one book a year, it’s a little unusual for me, and can be very confusing!

When February began, I’d just finished the second draft of book 4 (Scandal and Murder!) and sent it off to my critique partner for her review. The same day, I was contacted by my Spanish publisher. Book 1, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, had just released in Spanish. Hooray! They wanted me to do a short video introducing the book, and they’d add subtitles in Spanish. What a great idea—except I’ve been working on book 4 for the past six months. What’s book 1 about again? Once I refreshed my memory, this is what I came up with:


By the time I finished that little project, I received page proofs in the mail for book 3. (Mischief and Murder!) Page proofs are the final, type-set version of the book, and the author’s last chance to find and correct any errors. There is nothing automated about this process. You just go through the pages, with painstaking care, until your vision blurs. It’s a necessary evil. Page proofs
Before I finished the page proofs, my critique partner returned book 4 with her comments. I was eager to dig in, but I’d just come up with a great idea for book 5 and I had to jot down my thoughts before I forgot them. One thought led to another and that led to the end of the day, but I finished with a strong blurb and a shaky synopsis. I’ll call that a win.

By the third week of February, I’d finished the page proofs and was back into edits for book 4. But on the 21st I had to put them away to be part of a panel for the Desert Nights-Rising Stars Writers’ Conference at ASU with fellow Desert Sleuths Deborah Ledford, Shannon Baker, Denise Ganley. We were talking about crafting mysteries and our most recent books, which for me is book 2. (Gossip and Murder!)
I’m a very linear person. I like to work on one book until it’s done, then go on to the next one. That’s just how my brain works. But I have to admit, it was fun to have a little project going for each of them this month, even the one that’s just an idea!

Desert nights panel

Posted in Countess of Harleigh Mysteries, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

A Debut in the Midst of a Feud

As if a young American heiress didn’t have enough to worry about when making her debut in London society, Virginia Bonynge had to make her splash while her parents were in the midst of a feud with another prominent American family; the Mackays.

Bonynge and Mackay had astonishingly similar backgrounds. Both were Irish immigrants. Both spent their early working lives in the mines around Virginia City, Nevada. Bonynge left the mines to become a stockbroker and Mackay gained his wealth from his mine-contracting business. Both met their wives in Virginia City in the late 1860s. Rodie Daniel, the future Mrs. Bonynge, was struggling to raise her daughter, Virginia, while her husband served a sentence in San Quentin for killing a man in a fight. She and Bonynge fell in love. She divorced her first husband and married Bonynge who raised Virginia as his own daughter. The family moved to San Francisco where Bonynge continued to amass his fortune.

Back in Virginia City, Louise Bryant, a young widow with a small daughter of her own, was taking in sewing and laundry to earn their keep. The local Catholic priest brought her plight to Mackay’s attention, and before long, the two married and also moved to San Francisco, where Mackay became a client of Bonynge’s.


John William Mackay

The bad blood came years later, when Bonynge made some unfavorable public statements about Mackay’s business schemes. This began the cold war between the men that would heat up to a Hatfield-McCoy style feud. By 1886, both families had settled in London. Louise Mackay, a social climber, had already tried to gain social prominence in San Francisco, New York, and Paris but found all her millions still couldn’t open those doors. She decided to try her luck in London society. The Bonynges came to London in the hope of achieving a brilliant match for Virginia.

The first strike came from the Mackays. Presentation at court was vital for acceptance in society, but shortly before her presentation, a London paper revealed that Rodie Bonynge was divorced, which meant she had to stay home while her daughter was presented, a huge embarrassment they attributed to the Mackays. In turn, the Bonynges provided some details of Louise Mackay’s past as a laundress in Virginia City.

The attacks went back and forth for years. Both families hired agents to feed information to the newspapers, who gleefully printed each nasty word. The final strike came when Virginia Bonynge accepted the proposal of Ronald Greville, the eldest son of Lord Greville. Almost immediately, word got out that Virginia was not the daughter of Mr. Bonynge, but of a murderer who served a term of imprisonment in San Quentin. Since Mackay (and Bonynge) were in San Francisco at the time, the story must have come from Louise Mackay.

Though the scandal ended her engagement, many stood by Virginia and the Bonynges including Princess Christian, which allowed them to maintain their social standing. The story spread however, and back in the US, Bonynge sat down with a reporter from the San Francisco Call, where (without naming him) he discussed Mackay’s attempts to libel him. Mackay was outraged and upon spotting Bonynge at a bank where he also had business, strode into the office and punched the man in the face. The men, both in their sixties, fought until bank employees managed to separate them.

Lady deerhurst

Viscountess Deerhurst from The Lady’s Relm, 1904 

Eventually the feud was called off. Both families had attained their standing in society and Virginia received another offer of marriage from Viscount Deerhurst, heir to the Earl of Coventry. After all she had to deal with, one hopes it was a happy marriage.


Posted in American Heiresses, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Titles and Covers and Blurbs (Oh my!)

Sometimes coming up with a book title can be more difficult than coming up with a story. When I sold the Countess of Harleigh series to Kensington, I knew book three would take place amid the events surrounding Frances’ sister, Lily’s wedding. In my mind that book was titled A Lady’s Guide to Weddings and Murder. There’s a wedding. There’s a murder. Why not?

The title held through the writing of the book and submission, but when my editor asked for cover ideas, I ran into a snag. I needed Frances on the coverFrustration, but this wasn’t her wedding. Yet, the title indicated this story would be about a wedding, so I needed a bride and groom, right? I discarded idea after idea. Every cover I thought of seemed contrived and really didn’t express what actually happens in the book. I agonized over this, trying to make something work. I just couldn’t come up with a cover image that went with the title and the story. Then it dawned on me, I had the wrong title.

Here’s a short blurb of the book:
Wedding bells are ringing for France’s sister, Lily and her fiancé Leo. They want to forgo the fanfare of a society wedding in favorA Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder downsized of a quiet ceremony, and George Hazelton offers his family home in the countryside for the festivities. The groom’s family joins Frances and Lily at Risings where a shooting party is already in progress.

While Frances and Lily plan for the wedding, the houseguests amuse themselves with the usual country pursuits—shooting, riding, and the random romantic dalliance. But this bucolic setting harbors a menace, and their pleasure is marred by injury, and even death, when mysterious accidents befall the household and guests. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears the intended victim is Leo.

As Frances and George search for the killer among the groom’s family and friends, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. No one is safe. If they don’t flush out the culprit, this house party, and the groom, could come to a deadly end.

The wedding is the reason everyone is gathered in the country, but it’s just on the periphery of the story. This wasn’t a lady’s guide to dealing with weddings. The wedding wasn’t the problem, it was the mayhem of the wedding guests, family members, and even servants, falling victim to the mysterious “accidents.” I immediately came up with a cover image—something that said, Welcome to this idyllic spot in the country, while implying: it’s very dangerous here! Once I had the cover in mind, the title came easy. A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder, suits the story perfectly. I hope you enjoy it!

Posted in A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder, New mystery, Uncategorized, Writing life | 2 Comments

A Victorian Christmas

The Countess of Harleigh mystery series begins in AHollypril of 1899, just as the year’s social season begins. Book two in the series takes place in July, at the end of the season when the social whirl has died down. Book 3 revolves around a country house party in October, and the book I’m working on now takes the characters back to London in November of the same year. I don’t have any plans at the moment for a Christmas setting for Frances and her friends to solve a crime, but I can tell you how the characters will be celebrating the season.

Many of our Christmas traditions have their origins in the Victorian era. The Christmas tree was introduced to England by Prince Albert in 1841. When the Illustrated London News published a picture of the royal Christmas tree in 1848, it became a must for every Victorian household. By the 1880s wagon loads of trees were brought into London to fill the demand from the city dwellers. illustrated-christmas-PP_7611-001

Frances would definitely have a Christmas tree in her drawing room, lavishly decorated with glass and wire ornaments, candles, fruits and nuts, and decorations she made herself from bits of silk, feathers, and ribbon.

Though Frances doesn’t have a piano, she, Aunt Hetty, and Rose would still be singing the popular Christmas carols while they decorated the house with holly and mistletoe. In the evenings carol singers and musicians would stop by the houses along Chester Street to serenade, hoping for a hot drink and a contribution for their charity.

Christmas eve Aunt Hetty might read aloud from Mr. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, after which Rose would hang a stocking at the end of her bed, hoping Father Christmas will fill it with treats.antique_ornaments3

On Christmas day, George would join the household to exchange gifts. Fires would crackle in the fireplaces. Candles would glow on the tree, and the house would be filled with the aroma of Christmas dinner, complete with roast turkey, cranberry sauce, Christmas punch, and flaming plum pudding. Once the feast was finished, they’d move the celebration on to the homes of their friends and the revels wouldn’t end until late in the night!

This is how I see my characters spending their Christmas holiday. However you celebrate and whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope you enjoy it to the fullest, and may you all have a happy and healthy new year!

Posted in Countess of Harleigh Mysteries, Historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Cover Reveal!

There’s nothing like the first glimpse of a new cover. It’s a snapshot of someone else’s image of my story and it’s such a thrill! I’ve been lucky to have a wonderful cover artist in Sarah Gibb. She’s always managed to capture the historical, mysterious, whimsical, and humorous aspects of the story in one image, and A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder is no exception. I’m excited to share it with you, so with no further ado, here is the cover for the third book in the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series!

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder downsized

Here’s a brief summary of the book:

London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll. . . .

Mischief and Murder releases on July 28, 2020, but it’s available for pre-order through any of the links below.

Barnes and Noble

To celebrate, I’m running a giveaway for the first two books in the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series on my Facebook Author Page. To enter the contest, go to https://www.facebook.com/DianneFreemanAuthor/ and look for the pinned post.

2 countess of Harleigh mysteries

Thanks for sharing this special event with me!



Posted in A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder, Countess of Harleigh Mysteries, Cover reveal, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Bookish Activity

Being an author is the best job I’ve ever had. Not just because I love to tell a story, but because it makes me a part of the writing community. I’ve never worked with a group of people so supportive and eager to celebrate the accomplishments of their fellows. For the last month I’ve been surrounded by the writing community and involved in a ton of bookish activity.

In October one of my favorite bookstores,


Minerva Spencer and Sherry Thomas

The Poisoned Pen, hosted my friend and fellow author, Minerva Spencer to chat about historical romance and mystery with author, Sherry Thomas. The two played off each other beautifully and the result was a lively and fun discussion. The event gave me a chance to get to know Sherry a little better and I learned she’d been nominated for a Barry Award to be presented at Bouchercon later in the month. Since I was up for a Macavity Award (Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award) we agreed to sit together and cheer each other on.

Neither of us won, but I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been nominated with such a fabulous group of authors. Bouchercon itself, is one big celebration of writing. With over 700 authors attending, you’re sure to meet anyone you ever wanted to meet—but not for long! It’s very fast-paced. I was part of a panel who celebrMelissa's crewated the work of Agatha Christie, from cozy to hard-boiled crime stories. I thought I knew quite a bit about Christie, but I learned a lot from my fellow panelists. I also managed to meet up with two of my agent’s other clients. Meredith Schorr, who has published several rom-com novels and Drew Murray, whose first thriller will release in 2020. It was a whirlwind weekend, but so much fun. And I came home with lots of books!

One week later and I was back at the Poisoned Pen. This time as part of a panel of historical mystery writers, talking about our craft. (See pic.)PP full group

Of course, I was writing during this time too, but not as much as I should. Writing is such a solitary occupation it’s refreshing to get out of my routine and spend time with other writers and readers. Now that I’m back at it, I have much more enthusiasm for this story, and a few twists to add. How about you? Do you find changing your routine shakes things up and gives you a new perspective?

Posted in Conferences, Historical fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I love bookstores!

I saw a post on Facebook last week asking why people still buy books—physical books that is—and I was very interested in the comments. They ran the gamut from wanting to read off-screen from those who use computers all day, to readers who just want to build a library of favorites. Some liked the feel of a book in their hands and others liked the fact they could share thepoisoned-penir physical books.

I’m not at all picky about reading format but I buy a lot of books and whenever possible, I buy them from Independent bookstores. My reason? I want to do my part to make sure there will always be Indy bookstores. They are magical places owned by people who love books as much, if not more, than I do. And they know “things.” You can walk into any Indy bookstore and say, I love Agatha Christie—Miss Marple, not Poirot, at least not as much. What else would I like? And they know!

I love the packed shelves and overflowing boxes. Whenever I travel, I look for a bookstore in the area because they all reflect the personalities of the owners and differ in selection and style.

Author - Dianne Freeman

Chatting with Robin Agnew at Aunt Agatha’s Mystery Bookshop in 2018.

Many bookstores bring authors in to chat with readers. I’ve been lucky enough to live near two in particular; The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ and Aunt Agatha’s in Ann Arbor, MI (sadly, now closed) where I’ve met some of my favorite authors.

I’ve spent so many happy hours browsing the shelves at bookstores I hope physical books and the bookstores that sell them live on forever. How about you? Do you have a favorite bookstore?

NEWS: Bouchercon 2019 will be at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas. I’ll be on the Agatha Christie panel November 1st at 1:00. Then at the Kensington signing until 4:00. If you’ll be there, come by and say hello!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Chance to Read!

My love of reading is what started me on my path to becoming a published author. The sad irony is now that I’m an author with hammock bookdeadlines, edits, and marketing responsibilities, I have much less time to indulge in a good book. Once I turned in book three in the Countess of Harleigh series, that was the end of my contract. I did accept a contract for another three books in that series, but not before taking a little break where I spent many lovely hours with some fabulous books. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you this week.

One of the best things about being an author is that you sometimes get to read books waaay before anyone else. M. L. Huie’s Spitfire won’t release until January 7th and you should mark your calendar, or just pre-order, because you won’t want to miss this one!

Spitfire by M.L. Huie
There’s an adventurous side of me that wants to be Livy Nash, but I just can’t convince my other side, the one that cringes in self-preservation at the very thought. Livy was part of a British spy network in WWII. When the story opens, it’s 1946 and after the trauma and horror she experienced during the war, she’s finding it hard to adapt to civilian life and her dull job as a proofreader at a third-rate newspaper. Only Polish vodka helps her get through the day.

When she’s offered a chance to join the cold war spy game she wavers, knowing she’ll have to overcome her personal demons to do the job properly, but once she accepts, she throws herself into the job with all the breathless audacity you’d expect from a woman the Germans named Spitfire. Unbeknownst to her new employer, Livy’s also looking for a chance at revenge, a goal that isn’t always compatible with her assignment, leading to some dangerous twists and surprising revelations. I enjoyed the settings, the action, and the intrigue, but it was the character of Livy Nash that had me riveted to the page. If I can’t be Livy, I’ll just have to look forward to the next installment.

The Victorian era is my favorite period for mystery, but when it comes to historical romance, it has to be the Regency era. I’ve now read all three books in Minerva Spencer’s Outcast Series and loved them, but there’s something special about this one.

Scandalous by Minerva Spencer
I love the swashbuckling adventure in Minerva Spencer’s books but it’s her compelling characters that keep me coming back. Scandalous is no exception. Sarah is a missionary, capable of taking care of herself, eager to care for others, and used to taking charge. This does not sit well with Martin, a former slave and now privateer, whose ship she seems to be taking over. Martin’s past makes him suspicious of Sarah’s kindness and he reacts by lashing out. Regardless, they have a steamy chemistry, and mixed with Sarah’s patience and persistence, it leads them to an achingly slow and beautiful meeting of the minds and hearts. I could not put this one down.

I always try to read a series in order, but for some reason I picked up book two in the Hester Thursby mystery series first. The Missing Ones can definitely stand alone but it will leave you wanting more so you may just as well pick up book one in the series, Little Comfort, while you’re at it.

The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill
The first time I put down The Missing Ones, I noticed I was at the 42% mark. Uh-oh. How did that happen? I checked the clock and wondered if I could function on only 4 hours of sleep. I managed and it was worth it. The next time I picked it up, I finished it. It’s that kind of book. Hill skillfully weaves a mystery with threads that twist and turn but ultimately take you in the only possible direction—start reading and you’re lost to the story and to the characters, all of whom are a little messed up. Make sure you have a bit of time on your hands because you won’t want to put this book down.

There are more books I could add, but this post is getting a little long. Let me know if you enjoy my recommendations and I’ll keep them coming.

Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy Cozy Mystery Day!

Happy Cozy Mystery Day! Also known as Agatha Christie’s birthday. Why has the cozy mystery community adopted Agatha Christie’s birthday for this celebration? I’m not sure. She was undoubtably the queen of the traditional mystery, but while close, the terms aren’t exactly interchangeable. Agatha christie

A traditional mystery is a work of fiction that takes the reader through the solving of a puzzling crime—usually a murder. So is a cozy. At their hearts, they’re both whodunits, but there are some distinctions. The sleuth in a traditional mystery can be either an amateur or a professional—a police officer, a private investigator, even a coroner—someone who’s job is it to solve crimes. In a cozy mystery, the sleuth must be an amateur.

There are a few other “musts” for the cozy that are optional for the traditional mystery. Generally, sex and violence happen off the page. That’s often true for traditional mysteries too, until you get to those considered “hard-boiled. Ms. Christie wrote those as well. The cozy mystery must take place in a socially intimate community. That’s often translated into “small town” but I think that’s too restricting. Mine take place in London, not a small town in anyone’s book. But they also take place among Victorian aristocratic society, which is a small group, and in London at that time it consisted of the neighborhoods of Mayfair, Belgravia, and Kensington, a pretty close grouping.

The most important aspect of a cozy is the victim and the murderer know each other, a situation that was once known as malice domestic. You won’t find any serial killers or contract killers in a cozy. What you will find are killers who are family members, co-workers, and friA Lady's Guide to Gossip revised HCends. That puts a more chilling twist on the term cozy doesn’t it?

The bottom line is it’s Agatha Christie’s birthday so why not celebrate Cozy Mystery Day? And why not celebrate it with a giveaway? If you’d like to win a hardcover copy of A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (e-book if your address is outside of the US or Canada) just send a message to diannefreemanwrites@gmail.com saying you’d like to win a book. This drawing is for those who follow my blog and subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll run a separate drawing for followers of my author page so if you’d like a second chance to win, you can follow me there. https://www.facebook.com/DianneFreemanAuthor/ I’ll draw the winner Tuesday! Good luck and happy Cozy Mystery Day!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments