Edith here, so happy I have another Counterfeit Lady mystery to read! Victoria Thompson joins us today to present City of Schemes.
Here’s the blurb:
The Great War is over, and Elizabeth and Gideon are busily planning their wedding and welcoming home old friends now discharged from the army. One of them, Captain Logan Carstens, the son and heir of a wealthy family, seems less than happy to be home and with good reason. While Logan was in France, he fell in love with a beautiful French woman named Noelle. He desperately wanted to propose, but he was already engaged and felt bound to honor his commitment.
When Logan receives a letter supposedly from Noelle begging for money to help her flee the terrible conditions in France and come to America, Elizabeth is suspicious. There is no way to verify the letter is actually from Noelle, and she fears that a con man or woman might be trying to take advantage of Logan in his vulnerable state.
But that is not all Elizabeth has to worry about. Vicious thug Oscar Thornton has gotten wind of her wedding announcement and realizes the woman who conned him is still alive and well. Gideon and Elizabeth have to figure out a way to help their friend while making sure their worst enemy does not destroy their future. . .
Take it away, Victoria!
Have you ever wondered how writers come up with their clever plots? Well, sometimes it is by sheer accident! That’s what happened to me when I was writing my new Counterfeit Lady book, City of Schemes. As you may already know, the series features the adventures of reformed con artist Elizabeth Miles. Elizabeth now uses her skills to help people with problems for which the law cannot get them justice. I’ve been wanting to use the Spanish Prisoner con in one of these stories, so I started with that one. A returning soldier is asked to send a large sum of money to help a young woman he knew in France during the war escape to America, but is she really the one making the request? Elizabeth and her fiancé Gideon Bates must help him!
But now that the war is over, Elizabeth is also planning her wedding to Gideon. What would she fear most about marrying Gideon? Why, having her old nemesis, Oscar Thornton, see the wedding announcement in the newspaper and realize she isn’t dead, as he believed. Sure enough, he does, and he returns to blackmail her. She must figure out how to con Thornton and eliminate him as a threat to her and Gideon once and for all.
Then there’s the problem of Gideon’s dear friend being engaged to a perfectly horrible woman when he really wants to marry someone else. Shouldn’t she help him as well?
Before I knew it, Elizabeth was involved in three very complex cons. What fun! I was halfway through the book, and then I realized that each of the cons could be satisfactorily tied up with about one page of dialogue. Oops! The book would be way too short if I did that, so I sat down with a piece of paper and a pencil and actually drew a chart of each con and who was involved and where they overlapped. Suddenly, I saw the second half of the book coming together as Elizabeth used all the players and their situations to make everything come out right.
Will Elizabeth and Gideon’s wedding come off without a hitch? Do you even need to ask?
Fortunately, most of us have no personal experience with con artists, but the internet has opened many new opportunities for people to be cheated.
Readers: what warnings have you found most helpful in avoiding online scams? Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of City of Schemes.
Victoria Thompson is the USA Today bestselling author of the Edgar® and Agatha Award nominated Gaslight Mystery Series and the Sue Grafton Memorial Award finalist Counterfeit Lady Series. She has published 26 mysteries. She currently teaches in the Master’s program for writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.
Contact her at: www.victoriathompson.com