Category Archives: Josephine Tey

When You’re Twins, the Magic Just Never Ends*

One of Ronald Knox’s rules for detective fiction holds that,
 

‘Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.’
 
The idea here was that it’s not fair to the reader to raise that question of identification. And, of course, crime fiction fans do want the author to ‘play fair.’

And yet, there are lots of twins in crime fiction. Some of them are identical, and some are fraternal. All of them, though, seem to have a unique sort of relationship – one that we don’t always see among other siblings. And it’s interesting to see how twins are treated in crime fiction.

For instance, in Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar, we are introduced to the various members of the Ashby family, a once-‘better’ family that’s fallen upon very hard times. But that’s about to change for Simon Ashby. When he turns twenty-one, he’s set to inherit a vast fortune. Out-of-work actor Alec Loding knows this, as he knows the Farrar family very well. He also knows that Simon had a twin brother, Patrick, who was believed to have committed suicide years earlier. One day, Loding meets an ex-pat American, Brat Farrar, who looks a lot like the Ashby twins. That gives him the idea that Farrar should impersonate Patrick. Since Patrick was the older twin, if Farrar can pull off the deception, he’s set to inherit a lot of money. All Loding wants is a part of that fortune. Farrar agrees and plans are laid. But it’s not going to be as easy as it seems. As it turns out, Patrick did not commit suicide. Instead, he was murdered. Now, the same person intends to try again, this time more successfully.

Matthew Gant’s short story The Uses of Intelligence introduces readers to eleven-year-old twins Patty and Danny Perkins. They’re both exceptionally intelligent, with genius-level IQs, and a strong bond. One day, they discover that an acquaintance of theirs, banana seller Aristos Depopoulos, has been killed. At first, it looks as though he was killed by one of the workers at a nearby construction site. But the Perkins twins aren’t so sure of that and decide to find out the truth for themselves. When they discover who killed Depopoulos, they engage in a little blackmail, hoping to profit from what they know. What they haven’t counted on is that they’re not the only ones who are geniuses…

In Peter Corris’ The Dying Trade, Sydney PI Cliff Hardy gets a call from wealthy Bryn Gutteridge, who wants to consult him on a ‘private’ matter. Hardy agrees to at least talk to the man and goes to his home. It seems that Bryn’s twin sister, Susan, is being harassed and threatened. Bryn wants it to stop, so he wants to hire Hardy to find out who’s responsible. On the surface, Susan Gutteridge doesn’t seem to have any enemies. She works with several social causes and hasn’t attracted negative attention. What’s more, she’s not in good health, spending her share of time at a private clinic. There doesn’t seem to be much motive there, either. The twins’ father, Mark Gutteridge, made quite a lot of money, but was, according to his widow, a swindler. So, it’s possible one of his enemies has decided to target Susan. Bit by bit, Hardy learns some of the family history and some family secrets that play their roles in what’s been happening. He also discovers how that all ties in with Mark Gutteridge’s business practices. In the end, he finds out who’s behind the harassment.

Scott Turow’s Identical is the story of twins Cass and Paul Gianis. Paul is leading in the race to become mayor of Kindle County, and his prospects look good. But then, everything changes. Cass is released from prison after serving 25 years for the beating death of his girlfriend, Aphrodite (Dita) Kronon. Her brother Hal believes that Paul was also involved in some way, and wants the case investigated. For his part, Paul doesn’t want this matter raked up, and sues for defamation. But, for his own reasons, Hal is very much opposed to Paul becoming mayor and will do what he needs to do to prevent that. That conflict between the families means that some very dark secrets are going to be raked up.

Of course, not all twins have a lot in common. For example, Teresa Solana’s Barcelona PIs Eduard and Josep ‘Borja’ Martínez are twins, but they’re very different. They don’t look much alike, they have different politics, and they have different temperaments. Borja is more extroverted, more willing to take risks, and better able to ‘sell’ clients on the brothers’ services. Eduard is a little more stable, a planner, and, perhaps, more realistic. They are complementary, but their differences can sometimes lead to friction.

Detective Inspector Kim Stone, whom we first meet in Angela Marsons’ Silent Scream, had a difficult, sometimes quite traumatic childhood. She spent quite a lot of time in the care system, and that’s given her, in a way, a hard edge. She’s not what you’d call dysfunctional, but she does have her issues. One of the things that haunts her is that she had a twin brother, Mikey, who died when they were children. She slowly comes to terms with that tragedy as time goes by, but it’s still hard for her. And, as we learn what happened in their childhoods, we see why.

Priscilla Masters’ Martha Gunn is the coroner for Shrewsbury, which means she gets involved in all cases of unnatural death. As if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she is the mother of twins Sukey and Sam, who are twelve when the series begins. They have different interests and friends, so Gunn does the best that she can to treat them as unique individuals. In some ways, they are quite different, too. But they also have their own special connection.

There are a lot of other stories in which twins figure (I know, Agatha Christie fans. It’s just hard to mention those examples without spoilers…). It’s a fascinating relationship and can make for character layers and plot points in a crime novel. And that gives an author all sorts of possibilities.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Philip Bailey and Little Richard’s Twins.

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Filed under Angela Marsons, Josephine Tey, Matthew Gant, Peter Corris, Priscilla Masters, Ronald Knox, Scott Turow, Teresa Solana

Packed Together Like a Can of Sardines*

In Agatha Christie’s Hickory Dickory Dock, Hercule Poirot works with Inspector Sharpe to find out who killed one of the residents of a hostel. As a part of the investigation, Sharpe interviews the various residents. This is what one of them has to say:
 

‘‘There’s a lot of spite about here, Inspector.’
The Inspector looked at him sharply.
‘Now what exactly do you mean by a lot of spite about?’
But Nigel immediately drew back into his shell and became noncommittal.
‘I didn’t mean anything really – just that when a lot of people are cooped up together, they get rather petty.”
 

And there’s something to that. In this case, the hostel’s residents aren’t trapped. But there is a certain lack of privacy. That, plus the fact that they’re disparate people, adds tension to the story, and creates an interesting atmosphere.

Of course, Christie isn’t the only crime writer to make use of that strategy to build suspense. Put a group of people together, even if they are free to leave, and you’re bound to have differences. Reduce their privacy, and there’s an even bigger likelihood of petty and not-so-petty differences that can have all sorts of consequences.

We see that sort of atmosphere in Ellis Peters’ Cadfael series. Those novels take place in 12th Century England, at Shrewsbury Abbey. The monks and others who live there are not prisoners; they are free to leave (although it is complicated). But they are in a situation where they have little personal privacy. They are also at close quarters with very different sorts of people. Monks come from a variety of backgrounds, and have, of course, many different sorts of personalities. Through it all moves Cadfael, who became a monk after a career as a soldier. He’s spent plenty of time in the larger world, and it’s impacted his perceptions. That means he doesn’t always agree with his more sheltered fellow monks. But they are all Benedictine monks, and all expected to work together. There’s an interesting layer of tension in some of the novels as these differences, even pettiness, come up.

Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes takes place mostly at Leys Physical Training College, a physical education college for women. The college principal, Henrietta Hodge, has invited Miss Lucy Pym to give a lecture on psychology to the students. Miss Pym has recently written a major bestseller on the topic, and she is much in demand. She agrees to give the lecture, but it’s not long before she wonders about her decision. The early-morning wakeups, the unpalatable (to her) food, and so on are all unpleasant. Still, she goes through with her agreement. Then, she gets drawn into a case of murder when one of the students is killed in what looks like a terrible accident – or was it? One of the sources of tension in the story is disparate set of personalities, all cooped up together. The students and faculty are not trapped at the school, but the lack of privacy, and the different sorts of personalities, make for some very tense moments.

Nicolas Freeling’s Double Barrel is the story of the small town of Zwinderen. It’s the sort of place where everyone knows everyone. People are in the habit of leaving their curtains open, and it’s thought odd at best, and suspicious at worst, to claim any sort of real privacy. A series of vicious anonymous letters wreaks havoc in the town, causing two suicides and a mental breakdown. The local police haven’t gotten very far in finding out who is responsible for the letters, so Amsterdam detective Piet Van der Valk is seconded to Zwinderen. Part of the tension in this novel comes from the friction among some of the residents, and from the fact that people don’t really have very much private space.

Alison Gordon’s The Dead Pull Hitter features the Toronto Titans professional baseball team. None of the players is trapped on the team (at least, not in the physical sense), but they are expected to work together. Games aren’t won unless everyone works as a team. But they are different people, with different backgrounds and perceptions. And that can lead to some tension, especially when the team is on an ‘away trip’ where they have even less privacy than usual. Sports writer Kate Henry has a special interest in baseball. She travels with the team, she knows the team members well, and she has a solid sense of who gets along well, and who doesn’t. That ‘inside knowledge’ becomes useful when two of the team members are murdered. Staff Sergeant Lloyd ‘Andy’ Munro investigates the killings, and he finds Henry’s perspective to be helpful. For her part, she’s getting an exclusive set of stories. Each in a different way, the two find out what happened to the players, and who’s behind it all.

It’s not easy to be cooped up, as the saying goes, with little privacy. That’s especially true when there’s a disparate group of people. Tensions rise, and even if the people involved are not trapped, there can be all sorts of consequences, from petty spats to much, much worse. These are only a few examples. I know you’ll think of more.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Billy Joel’s A Room of Our Own.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Alison Gordon, Ellis Peters, Josephine Tey, Nicolas Freeling

Searching For the Truth*

Any writer will tell you that research plays a role (and sometimes a very important role) in creating a quality novel, story, or article. Research can take a person in any number of directions, too; and I’m sure that, if you’re a writer, you’ve got plenty of good ‘research stories’ to share. I know I do.

Research plays a role in crime fiction, too. After all, you never know what research might turn up. And if it’s something that people would rather keep secret, anything might happen.

For instance, in Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, mystery novelist Harriet Vane returns to her alma mater, Shrewsbury College, Oxford, to participate in the school’s Gaudy Dinner and the accompanying festivities. A few months later, she’s asked to go back to Shrewsbury. It seems that several distressing things have been going on at the school, and the administrators don’t want the police involved, if that’s possible. There’ve been anonymous threatening notes, vandalism, and more. Vane agrees, and goes under the guise of doing research for a new novel. In the process, she turns up some things that someone does not want revealed; and it nearly costs her her life. Lord Peter Wimsey joins Vane to help find out the truth, and, together, they discover who and what are behind the disturbing occurrences.

Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse gets involved in some research in The Wench is Dead. In that novel, he’s laid up with a bleeding ulcer. With not much else to do, he reads a book he’s been given, Murder on the Oxford Canal, about the 1859 murder of Joanna Franks on a canal boat. At the time, two men were arrested, convicted, and executed. But, as Morse reads and considers the case, he begins to believe that those men were not guilty. With help from Sergeant Lewis and Bodleian librarian Christine Greenaway, Morse looks into the case again, and finds out the truth about the long-ago murder.  You’re absolutely right, fans of Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time.

Deadly Appearances is the first in Gail Bowen’s series featuring Joanne Kilbourn Shreve. As the series begins, she is an academician and political scientist. So, she’s well aware of the importance and value of research. One afternoon, she attends a community picnic at which her friend, Androu ‘Andy’ Boychuk, is to make an important speech. He’s been selected to lead Saskatchewan’s provincial Official Opposition Party, and has a bright political future ahead of him. Tragically, he collapses and dies just after beginning his speech. It’s soon shown that he was poisoned. Kilbourn grieves the loss of her friend and political ally, and decides to write his biography. The more she researches for the book, the more she learns about Boychuk. And that knowledge leads her to the truth about his murder – and to some real personal danger.

Paddy Richardson’s Rebecca Thorne is a Wellington-based journalist. Her career, of course, involves quite a lot of background research, as any credible story has to be supported. In Cross Fingers, Thorne is working on an exposé documentary about dubious land developer Denny Graham. She’s lined up interviews with people who claim he’s duped them, and she’s been trying to get information from Graham’s people, too, to be as fair as she can. Then, her boss asks her to change her focus, and do a story on the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Springboks’ 1981 tour of New Zealand. At the time, apartheid was still the law of the land in South Africa, and a lot of New Zealanders protested the government’s decision to invite the Springboks. On the other hand, the police needed to keep order, and rugby fans just wanted to see some good matches. The result was a set of violent clashes between protestors and police. Thorne is reluctant to do that story. For one thing, she wants to do her interviews for the Graham story before his victims lose their nerve. For another, she doesn’t see that there’s any new angle on the rugby tour story. Still, her boss insists, and Thorne gets to work. Then, as she does research on the tour, she finds a story of interest. It seems that two dancers dressed as lambs went to several of the games and entertained the fans. Then, they stopped attending. Thorne wants to know what happened to The Lambs, so she starts researching. She learns that one of them was murdered one night, and his killer never caught. The case nags at her, especially when it becomes clear that several people do not want her to find out the truth.

And then there’s Martin Edwards’ Daniel Kind. He’s an Oxford historian whose work gained him not just academic plaudits but also a lot of popular appeal. Burnt out from being a well-known TV personality, Kind moved to the Lake District and more or less dropped out of media sight. He still writes, gives lectures, and so on, though. And he’s still interested in research. His research findings are often very helpful to the Cumbria Constabulary’s Cold Case Review Team, led by DCI Hannah Scarlett. Since her team’s focus is on older cases that are re-opened, she finds Kind’s historical perspective useful and informative. For example, Kind’s research on Thomas de Quincey proves to be key in both The Serpent Pool and The Hanging Wood.

There are other fictional sleuths, too, such as Christine Poulson’s Cassandra James, and Sarah R. Shaber’s Simon Shaw, who do research as a part of their lives. Those skills serve them very well when it comes to sleuthing, too (right, fans of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway?).

Research skills – knowing how to pose questions, look for information, weigh its value, and come to conclusions – are important in a lot of professions. And they can certainly add to a crime novel.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Edwyn Collins.

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Filed under Christine Poulson, Colin Dexter, Dorothy L. Sayers, Elly Griffiths, Gail Bowen, Josephine Tey, Martin Edwards, Paddy Richardson, Sarah R. Shaber

Some Folks are Born, Silver Spoon in Hand*

famous-people-public-and-privateA lot of us get tired of hearing about the doings of famous people. That’s understandable, when you consider the ways the media treats stories about celebrities. The truth is, famous people are, first and foremost, people. And sometimes stories about that side of them can be interesting, especially if they’re done well. Readers can certainly connect to a famous person if they see that person as, well, real.

The thing about famous people is that, like the rest of us, they often have family and friends. They have pasts, too, and often their own secrets. All of that can make for an interesting context for a crime novel, providing that the famous character is depicted as an authentic person.

We see the human side of famous actress Marina Gregg in Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side (AKA The Mirror Crack’d). In that novel, Marina and her husband have just purchased Gossington Hall, in the village of St. Mary Mead. They decide to continue the tradition of an annual charity fête at the hall, and open their new home to the public. One of those most excited about this is Heather Badcock, who is one of Marina Gregg’s biggest fans. She goes to the big event, and actually gets the chance to meet her idol. Shortly afterwards, Heather becomes ill and then dies of what turns out to be poison. At first, it’s believed that the intended victim was Marina, and there are certainly are those who wish her harm in both her professional and personal lives. But Miss Marple deduces that Heather was actually meant to be the victim all along. With some help from her friend, Dolly Bantry, Miss Marple works out who would have wanted to kill Heather and why. As the novel goes on, we learn about the real person behind the famous Marina Gregg, and that side of her plays its role in the story.

In Ellery Queen’s The Four of Hearts, we are introduced to famous actors Blythe Stuart and John Royle. They had a very public, very stormy romance that finally ended. Each married someone else and each now has an adult child. Magna Studios wants to do a biopic on the couple, and Ellery Queen’s working on the screenplay. No-one thinks that the two actors will consent to do the film, but to everyone’s surprise, they agree. What’s more, they re-kindle their romance and even decide to get married. Rather than let this sudden change of plans get in the way of the film, the studio decides to make the most of it and give the couple a Hollywood-style wedding. It’s to take place on an airstrip, and is to be followed by the couple and their children taking off for their honeymoon trip. The wedding comes off as planned, and the plane duly takes off. But when it lands, both newlyweds are dead of what turns out to be poison. Their children are the likely suspects, but each of them claims to be innocent. Queen investigates, and discovers that the truth can be found by seeing the couple as actual people, rather than as celebrities.

Josephine Tey’s The Man in the Queue begins as a group of people are waiting outside the Woofington Theatre to see the final performance of Didn’t You Know?, starring famous actress Ray Marcabel. The doors finally open and the crowd moves in. In the confusion, no-one notices at first that there’s been a stabbing and a man is dead. Inspector Alan Grant investigates; and, of course, one of his first questions is the man’s identity. It turns out that the victim was small-time bookmaker Albert Sorrell. At first, it looks very much as though Sorrell’s roommate is guilty. Even Grant is convinced of this at first. But he soon begins to wonder whether he has the right man. So he goes back to the beginning of the case to find out the truth. And as he does, he learns more about the real person behind the famous Ray Marcabel, and that plays a part (pun intended) in the mystery.

Robert Crais’ Los Angeles-based PI Elvis Cole has had his share of encounters with famous people, and has learned what some of them are like behind their public personas. That’s what happens, for instance, in Lullaby Town. Famous director Peter Alan Nelson hires Cole to track down his ex-wife Karen Shipley, mostly so that Nelson will have a chance at a relationship with his twelve-year-old son, Toby. At first, Cole is reluctant to take the case, since it’s very likely that Karen doesn’t want to be found. But Nelson insists, saying that he really wants to be a father to his son. So Cole finally relents and starts asking questions. It doesn’t take him long to trace Karen and Toby to a small Connecticut town, but that’s only the start of Cole’s problems. It seems that Karen’s gotten mixed up with the Mob. She wants to get free of that connection, but that’s much easier said than done. Cole decides that he’ll have a better chance of getting Karen to talk to her ex-husband if she stays alive; and for that, he’ll need help from his PI partner, Joe Pike. In this novel, we don’t just see Nelson as a famous director; we see the human side of him, too.

Kalpana Swaminatham’s The Page Three Murders features a Mumbai house party being hosted by Dr. Hilla Driver, who’s just inherited a very upmarket home and wants to have a sort of housewarming. She also wants to celebrate the upcoming birthday of her niece, Ramona. So she arranges an elegant, ‘foodie’ weekend, with her chef, Tarok Ghosh, in charge of planning and preparing the menu. Several famous people are invited, including a model, a famous writer, a critic, an activist, and a socialite and her husband. All of them have both public and private personas. And it turns out that Ghosh has found out a lot about these guests’ personal lives. In fact, he drops hints about what he knows, and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. The next day, he’s found murdered. One of the house guests, Lalli, is a former police detective who immediately starts investigating. When there’s another murder, she knows she doesn’t have much time to catch the killer. Among other things, the novel gives an interesting look at the lives of Mumbai’s famous people when they’re not in front of cameras, as the saying goes.

And then there’s Peter James’ Not Dead Yet. Brighton and Hove Police Superintdent Roy Grace gets a new assignment when superstar Gaia Lafayette plans to come to town. She’s originally from Brighton, and is coming back to do a film. There’s already been an attempt on her life, and Grace and his team are expected to do what they can to provide security for her and her young son. In the meantime, they’re already investigating a murder, and there’s the usual work that police do, the team has quite a lot going on. But ‘no’ isn’t an option, so Grace and his team get to work to protect the star. As they do, we get to know a bit about what Gaia is like as a person – behind the cameras.

And that’s the thing. Major stars are just people, like the rest of us, despite their seemingly gilded lives. Seeing them as real people can be interesting.

 

ps. The ‘photo is of John Fogerty (on the right, holding a guitar) and his son Shane (to the left, also with a guitar). It’s a nice look at a famous person as just a person with a family.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Creedance Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son.

 

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Josephine Tey, Kalpana Swaminathan, Peter James, Robert Crais

And It’s Fiction Like All History*

Historical Figures as SleuthsThere’s sometimes a fine line between history and fiction. And in crime fiction, that line can become even more blurred when we look at crime fiction that features historical figures as sleuths. In some ways, it’s easy to see the appeal of such a novel or series. Readers who enjoy history, and like to read about historical figures, can see those people in new roles and new stories. On the other hand, it’s fiction. People who prefer their history to be accurate and factual aren’t necessarily best pleased to have historical figures presented as sleuths; it’s far too speculative and stretches credibility too far.

There’ve actually been several crime fiction series based on the lives of real people. It’s interesting to see how the different authors balance authenticity with the goal of telling a well-plotted murder story. It’s not an easy balance, and not everyone is a fan of such crime fiction. But when it works well, having a sleuth who actually existed can add an interesting dimension to a series. Here are just a few examples to show you what I mean.

Among other novels and series, Karen Harper has written a mystery series featuring Queen Elizabeth I as the sleuth. The series begins with The Poysen Garden, in which twenty-five-year-old Princess Elizabeth is faced with the fact that several members of the Boleyn family are being poisoned. It’s soon clear that someone is targeting her, too, and she’s going to have to find out who it is if she’s to stay alive. Many of the other novels in the series deal with court intrigue and political machinations; and they follow Elizabeth as she takes the throne and works to protect her rule.

In Daniel Friedman’s Riot Most Uncouth, nineteen-year-old Lord Byron is a student at Trinity College, Cambridge. He’s not much of a scholar, though, preferring to spend his time drinking, romancing and playing cards. Then, his butler tells him that Felicity Whippleby has been brutally murdered in her university rooms. Deciding that he’d much rather find out who killed the victim than actually attend lectures, Byron decides to search for the killer. Byron’s not treated particularly kindly in this novel, and Friedman has taken liberties with the facts about Bryon’s life. But it is interesting to speculate on what a poet like Byron might have been like as a sleuth.

Under the name Stephanie Barron, Francine Matthews has written a series featuring Jane Austen as the protagonist and sleuth. In Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, the first of the series, Jane is visiting her friend Isobel, Countess of Scargrave. Isobel has recently married Frederick, Lord Scargrave, a man several years older than herself, and everyone thinks the match is a very good one. But soon after Jane’s arrival, Lord Scargrave becomes gravely ill and dies of what turns out to be poison. With her friend now drawn into a scandalous murder investigation, Jane decides to stay and try to find out what really happened to the victim. These novels (there are currently thirteen in the series) are written mostly as journal entries, with the stories being told in the first person. Matthews/Barron uses the sort of language and syntax that Austen used to add authenticity to the series.

There’s an interesting series featuring Eleanor Roosevelt as the protagonist and sleuth. The novels list her son, Elliott Roosevelt, as the author, and many people argue that he did, indeed, write the books. There’s other evidence that suggests the novels might have been ghost-written. Whichever is the case, the novels give readers an ‘inside look’ at the world of Washington politics during the Roosevelt years. There’s also a look at the international landscape of the times. In Murder in the Lincoln Bedroom, for instance, a secret meeting is held that includes Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and US General Dwight D.  Eisenhower. During the visit, Special Counsel to the President Paul Weyrich is murdered and his body discovered in the famous Lincoln Bedroom. Since the conference is top-secret, the murder has to be kept secret as well, so Mrs. Roosevelt has to find out who the killer is before the press and public hear about it.

There’s also Nicola Upson’s series, which ‘stars’ Josephine Tey as the protagonist. In the first novel, An Expert in Murder, set in 1934, Tey travels from Scotland to London for the final week of her play, Richard of Bordeaux. On the train, she meets a fan named Elspeth Simmons. The two get along, so it’s a serious shock when Elspeth is found dead in her compartment. It’s clear from the murder, too, that her death has something to do with Tey’s play. Then, the next day, there’s another murder. Tey has to work to find out who and what link the deaths, and why someone seems to be fixated on her play.

There’s also an interesting YA series featuring historical figures. Fireside Books has put together the Leaders and Legacies series, which feature Canada’s prime ministers as young sleuths, and tell the stories of their lives. They’re written by different authors, and take place at different times in history. One, Showdown at Bordertown, was even written by an author who was herself a teen at the time she wrote the novel. It ‘stars’ Paul Martin, who served as Prime Minister from 2003-2006, as the 12-year-old protagonist.  Thus far, to my knowledge, there are five books in this series (if someone knows better, please put me right on that!).

Books that feature real historical figures can be interesting to those who find those figures interesting. And there are lots of possibilities for plots. But there are also major risks. Those who know history very well may object to fictional accounts. And such books do require a lot of research. But they can be quite successful.

What do you think about all this? Do you read crime fiction that features real historical figures as sleuths? What about those (such as Felicity Young’s Dody McCleland series) that include real historical figures, even if they’re not the protagonist?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Unbelievable Truth’s History/Fiction.

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Filed under Caroline Woodward, Daniel Friedman, Elliott Roosevelt, Felicity Young, Francine Matthews, Jane Austen, Josephine Tey, Karen Harper, Leaders and Legacies, Nicola Upson, Stephanie Barron