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