Congratulations Margie! You are the winner for the giveaway. Jessie will contact you via email to arrange to send you your prize!
Barb: I was thrilled when I discovered Jessie and I would have the same pub day for our next releases. Jessie brings us the fourth book in her Beryl and Edwina Mysteries series, Murder Comes to Call. I’m releasing the second book in my Jane Darrowfield series, Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door. I’m a huge fan of Beryl and Edwina, so I’m excited to have this new book.
Jessie: I was delighted to have the same pub date too! I don’t think we have had books released so closely together since our very first were each in August of 2010! I am eager to get to chat with you about what you have in store with your latest!
Barb: That is so funny. I remember that first release week. Pat Remick was President of Sisters in Crime New England and she ran from one launch to the other. I remember her raving about your giveaway matchboxes.
One thing we noticed about our current books, our characters have taken on sleuthing as a business, though in very different times and places. Beryl and Edwina run a private inquiry agency in post World War I (they don’t know it’s I) England. Jane works as a hired “professional busybody” in contemporary Cambridge, MA. Jessie, how do Beryl and Edwina go about attracting clients?
Jessie: Since they are private investigators they really sort of fell into the first case they solved. As the series has gone on that has changed. By book 2 they are hired by the local vicar and in this new release, they are actually approached by a government official to lend a discreet hand. How does Jane go about building her business?
Barb: Wow! That makes me even more eager to read Murder Comes to Call. Jane gets most of her business from referrals from satisfied clients. Her business is hard to understand so people who’ve experienced it are the best people to send new clients along. She also has a discreet sign at the end of her garden walk that reads, “Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody. Office hours M-W-F 8:00 A.M. to Noon. No job too small.”
What are some of Beryl and Edwina’s proven sleuthing techniques?
Jessie: One of the things that serves them best is their sort of two-pronged approach to the task. Beryl is all for breezily striding ahead and poking her nose in where it doesn’t belong. She generally gets away with it, in part because she is a celebrity and folks are awed by her presence. Edwina, on the other hand, is someone who understands village politics, alliances and gossip. She able to put clues together through a lifetime of keen observation and local knowledge. I think of your Jane as somewhere in between these ladies in terms of her personality and approach. How does she get to the bottom of her own cases?
Barb: Of course Jane has technology available that Beryl and Edwina can only dream of and she does spend time gleaning information from the internet. But Jane’s best approach is her ability to take the bull by the horns and have difficult conversations with people. She finds that very often her clients’ inability to speak up and speak frankly spirals into misunderstandings and hard feelings that can be easily sorted when they are discussed.
Tell me about the case Beryl and Edwina pursuing in the new book.
Jessie: This one was particularly fun! I love it when my research turns up historical tidbits that really resonate with me and this book was no exception. I was dead chuffed when I discovered that the 1921 UK census was taken at just the time I wanted to set the story. So, I had the opportunity to explore concerns about private information, posterity, the roles and rights of women at the time and prejudice against the Irish. Beryl and Edwina are hired to investigate the theft of a batch of census forms their fellow villagers filled out. They end up pursuing an investigation of murder whilst they are at it!
What is Jane up to in her latest adventure? I am always curious about what she could be investigating when I see your intriguing and delightful covers!
Barb: Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door begins when Jane’s new neighbor approaches her with a plea: “I want you to figure out if I’m crazy.” Jane is hesitant because she’s not in a position to assess anyone’s mental health. But after the woman promises to seek professional help if Jane finds no other cause for her symptoms, Jane takes the case. She’s beginning to make progress when her client disappears. Jane has to work against the clock with her friend Detective Tony Alvarez to find the missing woman.
What aspects of Beryl and Edwina’s characters make them successful sleuths?
Jessie: What a great question, Barb! And one I thought about whilst developing the series idea. Beryl is up for most anything and is always eager to try her hand at something new. But more than that, she has been lonelier than she realized. Her life of adventure has been rather devoid of intimate friendships and she finds that she is surprisingly eager to make the best go of a joint venture with a companion. Her gumption seems like her best weapon but I think really it is is her motivation to make a success of it that she can rely upon the most.
As to Edwina, it is her powers of observation and her reputation as a woman of good breeding and better sense that assist her when following up leads or questioning suspects. She knows when to press, when to back off and when to let Beryl take over. But in the end, I would say her strength is just the same as Beryl’s. She is delighted by the notion of growing her business, and thus her life. She is a surplus woman and as such is already experiencing a journey that was not one she would have been raised to expect. She is shocked to discover how much being an independent businesswomen pleases and challenges her and she is completely dedicated to making a triumph of it.
What about Jane? She has already been a success in her career before retirement. Does she bring the same skills and characteristics to her investigation business? Is she developing new ones?
Barb: Jane is my updated, American Jane Marple. When the series opens with Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, my Jane has just retired. I always say if Miss Marple learned everything about life by observing the villagers of St. Mary Mead, Jane Darrowfield gained her knowledge of human beings as she climbed the executive ranks at a major telecommunications corporation. But you’re right that running a department of a company is not the same as working as the sole proprietor of a business. Through the series, Jane has had to learn to reach out for help and involve others when she gets in a tough spot.
Readers: What do you think? Would you be a successful sleuth? What aspects of your personality and background would contribute to your success? Leave a comment to be entered in the random selection to win a copy of each of these newly relesed books!