Death in a Blackout

Jessie, in New Hampshire, grateful for a drawer filled with wool socks!

Back in September, I sent out a newsletter to my subscriber list announcing the sale of a new series, The WPC Billie Harkness mysteries. I am delighted to be able to share a bit about the first novel, Death in a Blackout, and the cover here today!

Billie Harkness grew out of my ongoing interest in exploring the lives and roles of women throughout time and to imagine the sorts of individuals who helped to push societal boundaries and to expand opportunities into the ones we are familiar with today. Adversity calls many things into question and war is more efficient than most other circumstances for reinventing business as usual. My heroine, Billie, finds herself at a place and time where the world is in flux, and her desire to have a larger life is made possible by global suffering.

I am always drawn to creating characters who make the best of the situations in which they find themselves and I wanted to make the circumstances direr than any other I had attempted thus far. As I delved down the research rabbit hole I came across information concerning the city of Kingston-Upon-Hull, UK, during WWII, and knew I had found what it was that I sought. Hull was a city that managed to keep soldiering on despite massive air raids that left 90% of its housing stock damaged or destroyed. Who better to explore perseverance in times of difficulty than the people of that city at that time?

While the subject matter and circumstances were darker than my Beryl and Edwina novels, Billie was enormous fun to write, as was her partner on the police force, Peter Upton. The supporting characters tickled my fancy as well, particularly Avis Crane, Billie’s superior in the department, and Lydia Harkness, Billie’s older and more sophisticated cousin. The first book in the series, Death in a Blackout, will release in February in the UK and in May here in the States. I hope you will enjoy reading about these new characters as much as I have enjoyed making them ready for you!

Here’s the back cover copy to pique your interest:

The first in a brand-new WWII historical mystery series introduces WPC Billie Harkness – a female police officer who risks her life to protect the home front in the British coastal city of Hull.

1940. Britain is at war. Rector’s daughter Wilhelmina Harkness longs to do her duty for her country, but when her strict mother forbids her to enlist, their bitter argument has devasting consequences.

Unable to stay in the village she loves, Wilhelmina – reinventing herself as Billie – spends everything she has on a one-way ticket up north. Hull is a distant, dangerous city, but Billie is determined to leave her painful memories behind and start afresh, whatever the cost.

The last thing Billie expects on her first evening in Hull, however, is to be caught in the city’s first air raid – or to stumble across the body of a young woman, suspiciously untouched by debris.

If the air raid didn’t kill the glamorous stranger, what did? Billie is determined to get justice, and her persistence earns her an invitation to the newly formed Women’s Police Constabulary. But as the case unfolds, putting her at odds with both high-ranking members of the force as well as the victim’s powerful family, Billie begins to wonder if she can trust her new friends and colleagues . . . or if someone amongst them is working for the enemy.

DEATH IN A BLACKOUT is a perfect pick for fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Rhys Bowen and Susan Elia MacNeal.

Readers, do you enjoy books set in times or places different than your own?

45 Thoughts

  1. Excellent cover, Jessie! If a compelling story written with deep insights from the lead character’s point of view, I love books set in different times and locations.

  2. Congratulations Jessie! This book does indeed sound like quite a thrill ride to be had. I will be adding it to my list to be on the lookout for in May.

    While I do enjoy books set in other time periods (World War II seems to be a time period I’ve found a lot of enjoyable stories in particular), it is still all about the story being captivating. If it doesn’t draw me in, it wouldn’t matter what time period a story is set.

    1. Thanks so much, Jay! I agree that the story has to be the main draw, but do confess there are times that just don’t pique my interest as much as others.

  3. Congrats! I love the cover and the whole idea of the character! Looking forward to reading it.

  4. Most definitely! If the author’s done their homework, it gives ones a chance to experience that time in history. Not just the statistics but he heart and soul of the time. I especially enjoy the late 1800’s and the first half of the 1900’s which gives me a glimpse in how life was for the grandparents and parents before my time.

    Love your books and can’t wait to dive into this new series with reading “Death in a Blackout”. Keep them coming!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. This sounds super cool, Jessie. I always find mysteries set in the UK during the 30s and 40s fascinating. Looking forward to it’s arrival!

  6. I love reading historical novels and books set in different locations, it’s like traveling and time traveling without leaving home. The new series sounds wonderful!

  7. Congratulations on the new book. I look forward to it’s release here in the US. I very much enjoy books set in another time and/or place than this one. I like to be transported to new places and times so I can ” experience” what life was like at a time or in a place unfamiliar to me. It adds to the story and tends to add to my interest.

    1. Thanks, Laurie! I totally understand the feeling of being transported somewhere and “some when” else by a novel. I feel that way when I read them and also when I write them.

  8. Congratulations, Jessie!

    Love the cover and the storyline is fabulous. British WWII stories always draw me in. The concept of keep calm and carry on in action is awe inspiring. I’m old enough to have heard first hand accounts that are stranger than fiction, but they’ve all been London accounts. I can hardly wait to move my focus to Hull.

    1. Thanks, Kait! Hull is not as talk of as London or Coventry but the bombings there were so savage; awe-inspiring indeed!I have to confess that the research often reduced me to tears.

  9. Yes. I always learn something new that I did not know before. Thank you for sharing.

Comments are closed.