Edith here, welcoming Liz Milliron back to the blog.
I love her historical Homefront Mystery series and am delighted I have The Stories We Tell to curl up on the couch with – it dropped on my Kindle today! One lucky commenter will win a copy, too!
Here’s the blurb:
It’s December 1942 and Betty Ahern is enjoying her fledgling career as a private detective, investigating everything from missing jewelry to wandering boyfriends. But when Bell Airplane co-worker Emilia Brewka, whose grandmother recently died, wants Betty to prove the death was murder and not natural causes, Betty thinks Emilia’s grief has her seeing things that aren’t there.
After a member of the visiting Polish government in exile is murdered, she learns the grandmother may have contacted him about a secret involving a wealthy Buffalo family–a secret that goes all the way back to the Old Country and the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war. Suddenly, murder looks more than possible.
Betty and her friends travel between Buffalo’s working-class neighborhoods and the city’s high society, determined to unearth the secret and find justice for Emmie’s grandmother. But mixing with the upper class quickly becomes dangerous and potentially deadly—both for Betty’s career as a detective and herself.
Thanks, Edith, for having me back on Wickeds.
The Stories We Tell is my fifth book (five books, how did that happen?). Since it’s kind of a milestone number, it’s got me a little reflective as I gaze at a field of freshly fallen snow.
What a long, strange year it’s been, hasn’t it? Puts me in mind of the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. I’d like the times to go back to being boring, thanks.
It also makes me wonder how my grandparents would have dealt with all of this, the pandemic and all the political upheaval. I’m specifically talking about my paternal grandparents (my mother’s mother was much more vocal – I know exactly what her opinions would have been).
My grandparents were, without a doubt, the product of their generation. Betty and Clarence Lederman grew up in the Depression. Grandma couldn’t bear even the sight of Karo corn syrup, having eaten it so frequently as a child. Papa had a knack for hiding cash (the stashes my dad found upon emptying his childhood home after his parents died were not trivial). He was also one of those people who was impossible to buy for. At one point, he owned four VCRs. When we asked why, he said, “Because I want them.” He’d gone without for so long that once he had money, as soon as he wanted something he bought it.
They were both no-nonsense people. They had no patience with self-pity. Even as kids, my siblings and I got maybe a day – and usually less – to wallow in misery when something happened. After that, my grandparents’ question was, “What are you going to do about it?”
Papa served with the 1st Armored Division in World War II. He had trench foot twice and was told if it happened a third time, he’d be sent home. Grandma worked at Bell Airplane; my dad says she worked mostly on riveting the plane fuselages. She waited while Papa was overseas.
After the war, Papa worked at Bethlehem Steel for 30 years while Grandma raised two boys and worked in a high school cafeteria. In short, they didn’t have time to feel bad for themselves.
Thinking of them, I wish I could hear what they had to say about current events. The pandemic? Wear the mask, get a vaccine, and do your part (sounds familiar to me – during WWII, it was all about doing what you had to do and doing your part). The events of January 6? I think they would have been appalled, even as they had sympathy for the frustrations of people who believe they’ve been left behind. I’m quite sure they’d have had zero patience with politicians and their games, voting to contest the election and holding up the process. I can hear Papa now, “You lost. Stop being a baby and get on with it. Do your job.”
It’s an attitude I’ve tried to bring to Betty Ahern, my protagonist in The Homefront Mysteries. Got a problem? Say a prayer, buckle down, and get to work. I hear Betty (who sounds suspiciously like Grandma) in my ear frequently. “Complaining won’t solve anything. Do your part.” Times are tough. They’ve been tough throughout history.
Grandma and Papa would’ve also reminded me that everything we’re going through now has happened before and we’re still here to talk about it. The world survived the Black Death and the Spanish flu pandemic. We’ve survived two world wars. Everything bad will end.
My grandparents knew it. Betty knows it. And deep down, I know it.
But I’m sure they’ll forgive me if I hope it ends sooner rather than later.
Readers: What’s something your family taught you that you find particularly applicable to current events? One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of The Stories We Tell (U.S. residents only).
Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and The Homefront Mysteries, set in Buffalo, NY during the early years of World War II. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and International Thriller Writers. A recent empty-nester, Liz lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband and a retired-racer greyhound. http://lizmilliron.com