Guest- Victoria Thompson

Jessie, in New Hampshire where the star magnolia is gloriously in bloom!

I am sure all of you know the work of Victoria Thompson, if not the woman herself. She writes both the Gaslight Mysteries and the Counterfeit Lady Mysteries and often can be spotted in person at conferences like Malice Domestic. Victoria is as sparkling, fun, and interesting as her novels and I have truly enjoyed getting to know her online and in person. I also have the pleasure of participating in the Sleuths in Time group on Facebook with her regularly. If you are interested, we will be appearing there together live on May 10 to launch each of our latest releases. We’d love to see you there!

Fun Facts

By Victoria Thompson

Mark your calendar!  Jessica Ellicott and Victoria Thompson will be discussing their new releases, Death in a Blackout and Murder on Madison Square, in a Facebook Live presentation on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:00pm ET.

When I was researching the 25th novel in my Gaslight Mystery Series, Murder on Madison Square, I discovered that the very first auto show ever held in America happened at Madison Square Garden during the time this book was set.  Of course, I had to include it, since my protagonist, Frank Malloy, has purchased a motorcar and is very interested in them. In the year 1900, when the book is set, three types of motorcars were available.  Frank has chosen a gasoline-powered model, but these are the least popular since they are noisy, smelly and difficult to start and drive. The engine must be cranked, and if it backfires, the crank would suddenly reverse and could break a thumb or an arm or it might be propelled into the air with enough force to fracture a skull. Yikes. Second in popularity was the steam-powered motorcar, but they took at least 30 minutes to build up enough steam to operate and if you ran out of water in the middle of nowhere, you were stuck.

The most popular motorcar at this time was the electric, which was quiet, odorless, and required no effort at all to start.  Since this was true, you’re probably wondering why electrics fell out of favor and weren’t taken seriously again for another hundred years. We could have been independent of fossil fuels for the past century!  What happened?  For one thing, as easy as the electrics were to drive, they couldn’t go very far on a battery charge, only about 25 miles or even less.  This was fine in the city, but you couldn’t take a trip, for example.  Also, finding a place to charge your battery could be a problem, since most houses weren’t yet wired for electricity in 1900.  Even Thomas Edison wasn’t able to develop a longer lasting battery.  But the final nail in the coffin of the electric motorcar was the fact that ladies preferred them because they were so easy to drive.  Manufacturers started designing the electrics to appeal to ladies, even adding a vase for fresh flowers!  And wouldn’t you know, men started refusing to drive them because they were for women.  This affected sales, naturally, and when Henry Ford put an electric starter in his gasoline-powered Model T, making it as easy to start as an electric, that sealed the fate of the electrics.

Readers, it’s interesting to imagine how different our world might be if the electric motorcar had maintained its position as the most popular type of vehicle.  In Murder on Madison Square, Frank Malloy buys his wife, Sarah, an electric, which seemed like the proper thing to do.  Do you have an electric or hybrid vehicle?  Have you considered getting one?  Why or why not? 


Victoria Thompson is the Edgar® and Agatha Award nominated author of the Gaslight Mystery Series, and the Counterfeit Lady series. Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.  

Follow her on Facebook at Victoria.Thompson.Author and on Twitter @gaslightvt.  Visit her webpage


Sarah and Frank Malloy must catch a scheming killer in this latest gripping installment in the USA Today bestselling Gaslight Mysteries 

Former policeman Frank Malloy is frustrated when a woman requests his private detective services to implicate her wealthy husband in adultery, the only legal grounds for divorce in New York state. Although Mrs. Bing seems genuinely distressed about her marriage and desperate to end it, she refuses to tell Frank the reason she absolutely must divorce her husband and admits she has no legal grounds. Frank explains he won’t manufacture evidence for her and sends her on her way. 
The following week, Frank and Sarah happen to be attending the first-ever auto show in Madison Square Garden when they meet the woman’s husband, Alfred Bing, who has invested in a company that produces one of the electric motorcars on display. A few days later, the newspapers report that millionaire Alvin Bing has been found dead, pinned beneath one of the wheels of his very own motorcar. But who was driving it? The obvious suspect is Mrs. Bing, but Frank and Sarah find that nothing is as it seems in their puzzling, dangerous search for truth. 

28 Thoughts

  1. Welcome back to the blog, Vicki! We have been a two-Prius family for years and I love my little hybrid. If I need another car in this lifetime, it will be all-electric. We have solar panels on the roof for free sun-based charging.

    The Bailey electric was developed right here in Amesbury, which nearly became America’s Detroit because of its well-established carriage industry. A Bailey descendant still owns an electric over a hundred years old that he brings out for our annual antique car show. I didn’t know that about women preferring electrics – and men making yet one more ill-advised decision. It’s ever thus!

    Congratulations on the new book! I can’t wait to read it.

  2. Isn’t that interesting about ladies and electric cars, I didn’t know that! My husband’s next truck will be electric, he says. I have driven a hybrid and I did like them, although it made me a little nervous when it switched over to electric, just for a minute. Would take some getting used to, I think.

  3. As we look over our shoulders, the advances in hand-held devices help us glimpse how technology in automobiles will probably progress. Unfortunately, we have yet to solve the infrastructure issues, but that will happen, too. Between now and then, there will be early adopters who propel the solving of these issues. New battery tech may well be the key to it all.

  4. I had no idea about the electric cars back then. Interesting. We don’t have electric or hybrid cars. I would be afraid to have an electric car for fear of the battery dying because of lack charging stations along the way. I live in a rural area and everything is a distance away from home.
    Congratulations on yet another Gaslight Mystery. I love Frank and Sarah.

  5. We don’t and for the same reasons as way back when. They hybrids might, but the all electrics don’t go as far as we would need when traveling. We often drive long hours and far distances to get some place so as not to spend out time getting there but to enjoy our time there. Although not as rigid as we once were since we are retired and have more time, but the finances to make more stops would still limit the time at the final destination if one had to stop more often. Hoping that with time, they will improve the distance, have more charging stations and have it to where charging isn’t as time consuming.

    Love both of your books and can’t wait for the opportunity to read copies of “Death in a Blackout” and “Murder on Madison Square”.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. No, I don’t have an electric or hybrid car. My daughter-in-law has an electric car which is perfect for local driving, they use my son’s gas powered car for longer trips. Their next family car will be a plug in hybrid, once the supply chain improves & car prices get back to normal.

  7. Congratulations on your latest!

    No electrics for me. I live in the far reaches of northern Maine and our winters do not agree with electric vehicles. Hopefully, that will change in the future!

  8. Hi Victoria. Welcome back to the blog! It’s interesting electric cars were rejected because they were “for ladies.” Kind of like cozies!

    We’ve had an electric VW on order for a year–and it will probably be another year before it’s delivered! However, that has made me aware of charging stations, which have been popping up at reststops and hotel parking lots since we placed our order.

    1. The wait may pay off for you! Our library is getting two charging stations for our parking lot, and I noticed the local Walgreens has one. Soon they’ll be everywhere!

  9. I’m on my second Prius, this one is the plug-in hybrid model. I love it. The only thing I don’t have is the garage to put it when it’s charging. I have to run a heavy-duty (read heavy) extension cord from the house to the parking pad and I can only do it when the weather is good. I get about 35 miles out of a full charge (depending on whether I need to run the heater or air conditioning).

    My daughter now drives my original Prius – 10 years, 100,000 miles and still going strong – and she loves it.

    I’d look into an all electric for my next car, assuming I have a garage to put it by then.

      1. My daughter showed me an ad for a luxury electric car line that has a range of 1,000 miles per charge. It’s only a matter of time.

        Plus a plug-in hybrid isn’t designed to go the long distances. You use the hybrid-assist gas engine for that.

  10. Since I’m still a few books behind (read #20 earlier this month, so I’m getting there), I had to smile at Frank buying a car since that is something that was being discussed in the one I just read. Nice to see how that thread plays out.

    Got this one pre-ordered. Looking forward to it, when I get caught up.

    I don’t have an electric car, and I’m not interested in one at this point for the same reason they failed back then. Well, one of the reasons. They still don’t have enough power to get me to visit my family in Northern CA without stopping somewhere to charge for hours. Since it’s already a six hour drive, I don’t need to add several hours along the way. They just aren’t practical yet, unfortunately.

  11. I LOVE Victoria’s books! Can’t wait to read the latest. I love the idea of electric cars. My only concern is that I’m starting to see reports about the environmental toll of mining elements needed for all these lithium batteries powering our electronics – including cars. I miss NYC and mass transit. That’s truly the most planet-friendly choice.

  12. No to both. I am on disablity. We only go out once a week unless we have doctor appointments. We do not have the money to spend on a new vehicle.

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