Clemmie Jackson is the winner of A Tale of Two Murders!
Welcome, Heather! I love the concept for Heather’s A Dickens of a Crime series. Heather is giving away a copy of A Tale of Two Murders (US only) to someone who leaves a comment.
I’ve always been a sucker for “fun” crime fiction, the kind with food and friends and light hearts despite the ugliness of the crimes that happen in cozy mysteries. As a writer though, I seem to return to English historical settings, most often the nineteenth century. So when I had the chance to write a mystery novel, I had to come up with some kind of concept that allowed me to both write to my strengths and my interests.
What did I envision? A young Charles Dickens mystery series!
The word “Dickensian” these days brings up the image of Victorian horrors – workhouses, London squalor, and of course, little orphan Oliver Twist from Dickens’s novel of 1837. This is a change from how the word was originally seen. In his time, he was known for putting Christmas back onto the map in England, and the word “Dickensian” meant something much jollier. He’s known for writing about food (just like me) and he created extraordinary characters. Luckily for me, he was quite a character himself!
I start A Tale of Two Murders, the first in my A Dickens of a Crime series, on January 6, 1835, the night he (could have) met his future wife, Kate Hogarth. I inject the enthusiasms of a young man building his career, his friendships, and his future, into my crime fiction.
I have to admit it’s been both fascinating and a challenge to write mysteries set during the relative dawn of London policing. 1829 saw the founding of the London Metropolitan Police, but the Bow Street runners were still around and the police force didn’t have Scotland Yard yet. Coroners were holding inquests in pubs and murder victims were left in place so jurors could examine the scene of the crime in person. There isn’t a lot of detailed information out there, which leaves me much room to invent while still being as accurate as my research allows.
As much as I enjoy modern crime shows and fiction with all of their specialized technology, it’s a delight to go back to a time where solving a murder meant burning shoe leather and actually talking to people, learning their secrets, instead of dancing fingers across computer keys.
I’m amazed by what Charles Dickens could accomplish with just a quill and a piece of paper and I hope I embody the spirit of his times in my books.
Readers: If you were trying to solve a crime without modern techniques like fingerprints, how would you proceed?
Heather Redmond bio:
First published in mystery, Heather Hiestand/Redmond took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last known British ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile and lover of all things nineteenth century. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, received a starred review from Kirkus and has been a bestseller at various booksellers. Visit her at http://www.heatherredmond.com.
A Tale of Two Murders short blub:
On the eve of the Victorian era, London has a new sleuth . . .
In the winter of 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at his editor’s estate, Charles is smitten with his boss’s daughter, vivacious Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the evening. Charles and Kate rush to the neighbors’ home, where Christiana Lugoson lies dying on the floor. With a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times . . .