Edith: Delighted to have a new book out! Giveaway to a commenter today, too.
Thanks for all the congratulations, friends. It’s a huge thrill to have the second Lauren Rousseau book out, at last. Speaking of Murder, the first book, was my first completed mystery novel, and it will always have a special place in my heart.
I loved writing what I knew: I have a PhD in linguistics and remember the academic world well. I’ve been a Quaker for a long time, and was intrigued by how I could work that aspect into Lauren’s life without letting it take over the story. And her boyfriend Zach is a video forensics expert, using software that I used to write the manuals for.
With book two, Bluffing is Murder, Lauren is on summer vacation at home in a fictionalized version of Ipswich, Massachusetts, where I lived when I wrote most of this book and all of the first. It’s a lovely place to be, with salt marshes, quirky characters, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. Lauren’s academic life doesn’t play as big a role in this book, but her facility with languages definitely does.
Several critical scenes in the book are set either on a fictionalized Crane Beach or at the Crane Estate, called Holt in the book. The Crane mansion, built in 1924, is a magnificent building now used for tours and weddings.
Richard Crane was a plumbing magnate who spared no costs to build a summer retreat away from the oppressive midwestern heat of Chicago. Parts of the building and its decor remind me of the opulence of Hearst Castle on the opposite coast. The fancy shower heads and sinks could fit into any modern house and all the toilets still work ninety years later.
I had the good fortune to go on the “Hot and Cold” tour a couple of years ago, which takes place in the back halls and stairways of the mansion, the realm of the maids and butlers. It was fascinating. We explored the pantries, the trunk room, the furnace area (hot), the rooftop, the ventilation system (cold), and much more. We traversed a hidden spiral staircase. We peeked into the old lift used to bring wood upstairs for fireplaces and checked out the dumbwaiter in a pantry the size of a small apartment.
Boy, did I come away with ideas. What if a body was stuffed in a trunk in the cellar? How about if Lauren was lured into the safe, a green-felt lined room used to store the considerable silver collection? Once the heavy door swung shut and the combination twirled, she’d have no way to call for help.
The antique elevator looked intriguing and dangerous with its door that resembled a jail cell door. That wood lift, with its pulleys, ropes, and rotting infrastructure. And the slanted concrete slab that coal slid down? Oooh.
So you’ll have to read the new book to see out how the mansion plays a role. I’ll give away a copy of Bluffing is Murder to a lucky commenter today! And did you know you can order it from Barking Rain Press for thirty-five percent off? Use this code at checkout: 96DA2F590CD7
Readers: What’s your favorite academic mystery? Mystery set on a coast? Ever read about a body stuffed in a trunk or locked in a silver safe?