A Wicked Welcome to Alyssa Maxwell! **plus a giveaway**

by Julie, enjoying mild weather in Somerville

I’m delighted to welcome Alyssa Maxwell back to the blog today!

A Deadly Endowment
by Alyssa Maxwell

Hello all you wonderful Wickeds and your fabulous readers! Thanks for having me on today, I’m delighted to be back. I have a question for everyone:

Which Kind of Person are You?

I maintain there are two kinds of people: puzzle people and game people. Now, that doesn’t mean puzzle people can’t enjoy playing games, or that game people can’t enjoy doing a puzzle now and then. But I think most people have a preference as to which they enjoy more. Now me—I’m a puzzle person. I love the solitary challenge of fitting pieces together, whether it’s actual jigsaw pieces or the number patterns in Sudoku, the turns and twists in a maze, or the letters in a word search or crossword. The patterns must fit together to complete the whole, and I enjoy watching a kind of story unfold as I work to solve the puzzle.

So, when it came to games growing up, I tended to like the ones that also told stories as you played. In Monopoly, the story is about buying real estate and managing your money. In Life, you earn a college degree (or not), start a career, get married, have children, etc. And in Clue, aways my favorite, a murder is committed and we must deduce who done it, how and where. We walk through the rooms of a manor house and interact with the other characters/suspects.

When I started writing A Deadly Endowment, I didn’t mean to channel my favorite boardgame, but that’s kind of what happened. I had a rather lengthy cast of characters, first of all, and needed to make each one distinct so my readers wouldn’t get confused. Clue makes it easy for us by color coding each character: Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, etc. Along with each color are their personalities, depicted on the playing cards. You couldn’t confuse who was who. I didn’t color code my characters exactly, but I made each one very different from the rest both in appearance, temperament, and social strata. So, for example, we have semi-retired and somewhat bumbling Dr. Bishop (Professor Plum?); the young and fashionable magazine writer, Ophelia Chapman (Miss Scarlet?); the dowdy widow, Arvina Bell (Mrs. Peacock?); her skittish ex-soldier son, Hayden; and so on.

We also traipse through the house featured in my series, Foxwood Hall, just like in Clue. With finances having taken a frightening downturn since WWI, Phoebe and Eva are conducting a first-ever house tour of Foxwood Hall to try to generate extra income to help with repairs on the tenant farms and to bring more people into the village to shop. Although Phoebe’s grandmother is horrified by the idea, her grandfather reluctantly agrees, and on the big day a busload of local schoolchildren plus six members of a local historical society eagerly pull up on the drive. We start in the Great Hall. Then it’s into the library, the dining room, drawing room, conservatory . . . Room by room, people lag behind or sneak off elsewhere, and it’s all Phoebe and Eva can do to keep track of everyone. Just as they lead their guests back outside and think they’re home free, they realize someone is missing: Arvina Bell (it’s in the blurb, so no spoilers here). Eva goes in search, and finds her . . .

In the library, strangled with a drapery cord (or in Clue, with the rope).

From there, the story branches out to the village of Little Barlow and it’s surrounding areas. I take Phoebe and Eva—and readers—to places they’ve never been before in the series, for a closer look at how people might have lived based on their wealth and position in society. It was an adventure for me as well as I discovered, for instance, a book store and a new tea shop I never knew existed in the area before, along with another grand estate—although, times being what they are, perhaps not so grand, despite the owners’ attempts to keep up appearances. Every suspect has a secret, some going back decades, but there are also secrets at Foxwood Hall itself, from a stolen 70-year-old photo to a member of the Renshaw family who’s gone missing. Phoebe and Eva need all their wits about them as they play a deadly game of sleuthing and attempt to solve several devilish puzzles!

So, for a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of A Deadly Endowment (U.S. residents only due to shipping costs), tell me, are you a game person or a puzzle person? And have you ever dealt with a real-life mystery you needed to help solve?

Blurb:

The lean times following the Great War continue to require creative solutions for England’s noble class. But Lady Phoebe’s proposal to open up the Renshaw estate to guided tours for additional income strikes many in the family as a “vulgar enterprise.” Phoebe’s grandfather, the Earl of Wroxly, however, reluctantly concedes the necessity.

Their first tour group consists of members of the Historical Society, a magazine writer, and a flock of students. It’s a large group for Phoebe, her sister Amelia, and Eva to manage, and when the widow Arvina Bell goes missing, Eva goes in search of her—only to find her in the library, strangled with a silken drapery cord.

The schoolchildren are promptly sent home, but the members of the Historical Society—many of whom also wandered off at times—remain for interrogation. There is also, curiously, a framed photo missing from the library. As the police hastily zero in on a suspect, Phoebe and Eva weigh the clues. Does the crime have to do with rumors of hidden treasure at Foxwood Hall? But they must make haste to solve the widow’s murder—before someone else becomes history . . .

Bio:

Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She and her husband live in Florida, where she is a member of the Mystery Writers of American-Florida Chapter, Sisters in Crime-Treasure Coast Chapter, and the Florida Romance Writers. You can learn more about Alyssa and her books at http://www.alyssamaxwell.com and connect with her on social media at these links:

https://www.facebook.com/gildednewport

https://www.facebook.com/AlyssaMaxwellauthor/

https://twitter.com/Alyssa__Maxwell

https://www.instagram.com/alyssamaxwellauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7163135.Alyssa_Maxwell

80 Thoughts

  1. I really like both. Over the holidays my mom, brother, and I played Dowton Abbey Clue for the first time!

  2. Congratulations on your latest book! I’m a puzzle person, Alyssa, but I especially appreciated your reminder about the game of Clue. The color coding examples fit perfectly with why I use the Enneagram of Personality for developing characters with types, showing distinct behavioral traits as they experience positive and negative events. Next time I post on characters, I’m going to credit you with the brilliant example of Clue!

    As to solving a real-life puzzle, I had to sleuth who within a banking department was stealing cash. The effort involved “salting” the cash with marked bills. Unfortunately, the perpetrator was a young and very naïve person, but catching the culprit served as a lesson to others that if you steal, you go to jail.

    1. As a matter of fact, I worked in a bank in my much younger days. There was a huge scandal when a manager and head teller were caught stealing on a regular basis. It’s crazy what people think they can get away with!

      1. Another I recall involved a complex kiting scheme run by the brass at the largest company in town. It was so elaborate the FBI couldn’t see bringing it to trial. I remember it so well because I drew elaborate graphics trying to get them to understand. Perhaps my artwork was not up to speed! LOL.

  3. I actually like both. My family loves card games such as Skip-Bo, Uno, Rummy, so that’s what we usually play. I tend to leave the puzzles for a snowy/rainy day.

  4. Welcome back, my unrelated sister! Clue was my favorite game growing up, too. I would try to spy on my older sisters to see what box they had checked when they learned something new, and they accused me of cheating. I would say, “But I’m supposed to be a detective!” I still love playing games with family, but cross word puzzles are a regular activity in my house, too. (No Sudoku, though.)

    The new book sounds delightful and intriguing!

    1. Good morning, sister of a different mother! All is fair in love and sleuthing, right? I do remember playing games where we made the rule that cheating was allowed, if you don’t get caught, lol!

  5. Happy 2022. I tend to drawn to puzzles of all kinds. From crossword to jigsaw puzzles I enjoy them. Both types of puzzles are done at my leisure and strictly can be done alone while games generally call for others to be involved. Not that I am a recluse but I’m around people all day long and cherish the time when I can claim it as all my own. That is why I love reading and especially Ms. Maxwell’s books. I’ve devoured three of her Lady Phoebe and her lady’s maid books since Christmas and am looking forward to reading the others soon.

    1. Yes, puzzles give me the time and quiet to think and relax, Like a lot of others, I especially did a lot of puzzles during the lockdown. I’m so happy you’re enjoying the series! Thank you so much!

  6. Welcome back, Alyssa! I love Clue, always have. But I also can like the solitary comfort of puzzles. So I guess I’m a bit of both. No mysteries in my life, though. I save that for the page.

    1. Yes, it’s safer that way and a lot less stressful, lol! Well sort of. Writing can be stressful, so relaxing with a puzzle of some kind afterward is a great way to relieve the tension.

  7. Congratulations on the new book! It sounds like a really great read and I’ll be adding that to my reading list!
    I’m a little of both. I like puzzles, but have to be in the right mood for them. There is a great satisfaction in putting that last piece in and knowing I did the whole thing. My favorite board game is Clue and I even have a great game version on my laptop. Maybe that’s why I love to read mysteries? As for a real life mystery, unless it’s finding something my son has misplaced, than nope, no real mysteries!

  8. Never run into any real life mysteries, but I love both puzzles and board games. I could spend hours doing either.

  9. Love games and we still play them when we have company, but I’m a puzzle person myself. Think this is because it’s something you can do by yourself (or with you spouse) and there’s no time limit. You can do some, go off to do something else and then come back and do more. Also think it’s more personally challenging than games. It’s more about winning for yourself more than beating someone else.

    As for solving a personal mystery, the closest I’ve come is trying to solve was a connection between me and a former in-law. I can remember from my early childhood talk about a distant relative that was pregnant, got bit by a snake, gave birth and they both mother and baby died from the snake bite. They were both buried in the same coffin. Years later I was at a family gathering of my ex’s family when my then sister-in-law talking about tracing her family tree and started talking about a very similar situation. Something so strange seemed unlikely to me not to be connected. With digging and talking to older relatives and research, the mystery was finally solved when we found out that each of our 3rd cousins had married in a completely different state. This made us kin on a family tree but only by a small twig way at the top so to speak. It was fun to put all the pieces to together (like a puzzle) and solve the mystery (like a game) while we put more facts into our histories.

    Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to win a copy of “A Deadly Endowment”. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. What a fascinating family mystery! And connection. I’m sure there are a lot more out there but most of us will never know it. You make a good point about winning for yourself. I don’t consider myself a very competitive person, except with myself. I challenge myself a lot to do better or to try new things.

  10. Both! I love puzzles – jigsaw and crosswords – plus board games and card games (especially cribbage). Clue was always so fun to play, so was Candyland with the kids. I can’t think of any real-life mysteries I’ve had to solve other than where things have disappeared around the house lol!

  11. I’m a both person. It depends if I can find willing participants!

    Yes, I did solve a real-life mystery. People came on our property with dogs during hunting season. They zoomed right past me and drove into the woods. We are a posted property. I flagged down the truck when they drove out. They tried to run me over, but I managed to get a partial plate. The rest was obscured with mud, as was most of the sign on the side of the truck. An officer came, took a report, was very polite, but said I didn’t have enough information for them to do anything. I rallied my inquisitive friends, we tracked the truck, I identified the driver and filed charges. He was convicted. Turned out the trespasser was a registered guide and the responding cop was married to his daughter. All those mystery novels paid off!

    1. Wow! Good for you for not taking the policeman’s word for it and doing your own investigating. Isn’t that just the kind of thing that inspires amateur sleuths in books? I’m wondering if the cop was reprimanded – he should have been!

  12. I love both games & puzzles, more puzzles these days since I live alone. I also love this series, the murder in the china factory was great but this one sounds at least as good a read. Can’t wait to read it!

    1. Thanks, Judith! I’m so glad you liked A Sinister Service. That one was also near and dear to my heart because of my love of Shelley bone china. I hope you like this one as much!

    1. I have two jigsaw puzzles waiting for me as we speak. One is a cityscape of Newport, Ri, so I’m eager to get to it. Unfortunately, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do after the holidays.

  13. When the relatives came to visit, I would enjoy playing games as a child with my cousins. And, my husband and I played games with our children and now with our Grands, BUT I am not really a puzzle or game enthusiast. My choice every single time with free time is to read a good book! I do enjoy cozy mysteries and puzzling out “who done it,” if that counts. Best of luck with your new release!

  14. More drawn to puzzles than games. My siblings and I used to do a puzzle every winter during the school break. Hard to have puzzles around when you have a boisterous cat. I also grew up buying a lot of crossword puzzle books with my newspaper route money. Now I am addicted to Words With Friends.

    1. Yes, I know what you mean about cats. My daughter would love to be able to do jigsaws at her apartment but her cat would never allow it, lol. I’ve never played Words with Friends but I think I prefer solitary pursuits.

  15. Great post! What an interesting hypothesis! I guess I lean more toward games, loved Clue and Yahtzee as a kid. Congrats on the new book and thanks for the chance to win!

  16. I am definitely a game person. I get frustrated trying to put a puzzle together if it has more than 100 pieces. Just too many possibilities to find what I’m looking for.

    Having said that, I love the puzzle of Clue. And mysteries. I just also like the fact that someone else is going to solve them if I get stumped.

    1. I don’t like jigsaw puzzles if they’re too impossible to finish. I like to relax, not be frustrated. And yes, the good thing about reading mysteries is you’ll always have the answers, even if you can’t figure it out for yourself!

  17. I am definitely a puzzle person who enjoys the occasional game. Going through life is like doing a puzzle. As you place the prices together along the way you start to see what the big picture is. When it comes to books I definitely like fitting the pieces together to solve the murder. I’m not always right or even able to find all the pieces but I always enjoy the hunt.
    I would cherish a signed copy of your book. Reading, especially cozy mysteries, is my passion.

    1. Great analogy, and so true. So often we really can’t see the bigger picture in life because we’re too focused on the individual details. Perspective can be hard to find.

  18. I’m definitely a game person. Monopoly is a family favorite. Congrats on your book! Thanks for the chance!

    1. You’re welcome. It seems Monopoly has stayed popular through the years based on all the different themed Monopolies there are. When my daughter was in college, there was even an FSU-themed game.

  19. Thanks for visiting today, Alyssa! I have to admit, I am not really either historically. That said, I have surprised myself by recently developing a bit of a passion for digital jigsaws. There is something about them that seems to help give my mind some relaxed focus.

    1. Odd, my reply to this disappeared. So if you see it twice, that’s why. Anyway, I’ve done digital jigsaws but mostly smaller ones. I enjoy the tactile experience of a real life puzzle and It’s always good for me to get away from the computer screen.

  20. Although I don’t do puzzles very often I like to do a puzzle every now and then. I really like figuring out the puzzle in a book. As for games, Uncle Wiggly is a favorite game of mine.
    Congrats on book

  21. Congratulations on your new book, it sounds like a great read! I love boardgames, I love to play Life, Monopoly, Scrabble and I love playing Checkers withy 13 yr old grandson , even though he beats me all the time and I have not beat him since we taught him how to play it, (hmmm maybe once) I still enjoy playing Checkers with him. I also love to play cards with my 3 grandchildren. I love doing puzzles also. Have a great day and stay safe. Thank you for the chance.

  22. Oooh, this book sounds SO good. Being an only child, I seldom had anyone to play games with so I gravitated to puzzles. Nothing is more relaxing than an all-night session with a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of something I really enjoy looking at. I’m frustrated because currently my daughter and her three cats are living with us. Her cats and puzzles are not a good mix. I’m also addicted to crossword puzzles (but not sudoku – not a number person) and always have one with me.

    Nothing more mysterious than where has the cat hidden my stolen underwear has happened to me.

    1. Haha, cats really rule the house, don’t they? My daughter likes jigsaw puzzles but also has a cat, so….. The funny thing about Sudoku is that it’s really not about the numbers. It’s about the pattern they form. They could be anything else–symbols or pictures–but numbers seem to be the agreed upon format.

  23. I love online jigsaw puzzles, word find puzzles and games that make you think. My favorites are Clue and Scrabble.

  24. Oh, how we would love to have a signed copy of your “A Deadly Endowment”…we just love your books, and this one pushes all our happy buttons! We love jigsaw puzzles, and sometimes we listen to cozy mysteries as we try to put together a puzzle. We always have a jigsaw puzzle up. We have put together up to 2,000 pieces, but no larger…we like the 1,000 piece variety better 🙂 As to solving real-life mysteries? I have to solve at least one every day when I go to another room to dog something’s and discover that I have no ‘clue’…so I retrace my steps, put on my Sherlock Holmes hat, and try to find the puzzle pieces that will lead me to find out what was intending to do. I am sure nobody else has this opportunity to play Sherlock Holmes!!! Thank you so much for your incredible writing talents. May you have a very Happy and Prolific New Year. Luis at ole dot travel

  25. Thank you so much, Luis. You have me beat in the puzzle department. I’ve never done a 2000 piece and I don’t think I could finish one. My inlaws always had a jigsaw going out on their porch. Everyone was welcome to sit and place a few pieces, so it became a thing we did whenever we went over. And oh, yes, I know all about the “retracing one’s steps” variety of sleuthing, lol!

  26. I’m more of a puzzle person. I haven’t really had to solve any real life mysteries, but I love reading about them. Looking forward to reading “A Deadly Endowment”.

  27. I think I am more a game person. I have issues with my eye sight so working puzzles can be challenging for me to see the pieces. I have a puzzle in life that has never been solved. We lived across the street from my Mom in a townhouse type apartment many years ago. To make a long story short, there was a fire that started in the unit next to ours. Our dog woke me up. As we were leaving the apartment, I saw a man walking toward the end of the block. This gentleman had knocked on my Mom’s door telling her she needed to get up, that I needed her. She was standing at the door with it open when we walked onto the porch. My Mom and I are the only people who saw this gentleman. We have never seen him since. Happy New Year. Congratulations on your new book.

  28. Hello again, all! I’m back to announce the winner of my giveaway from yesterday: it’s Tessa Floreano! Tessa, I’m going to email you now. Congrats! And once again, thank you to all the wonderful Wickeds for having me on yesterday!

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