A New Nosy Parkers Mystery: The Case of the Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin

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Inspired by the famous Girl Detective, the members of the Olentangy Heights Girls’ Detective Society, affectionately known as the Nosy Parkers, spent their formative years studying criminology, codes, and capers. Unfortunately, opportunities to put their unique skills to work were thin on the ground in the post-war boom of their little corner of suburbia and they eventually grew up to pursue more sensible careers. Until…Heather Munro’s youthful devotion to The Girl Detective led to a passion for digging around in history. Now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Celtic Studies, Heather must balance exploring Edinburgh with her determination to excel in her all–male classes at the University. Unfortunately, on her first night working in the Archives room, she discovers the dead body of a visiting professor, the same would-be lothario she’d hoped never to see again.

As clues come to light, it’s clear someone hopes to frame Heather for the murder. Besides her quirky landlady, whom can she trust? How can she clear her name? The police and the American Consul have plenty of suspects, but only two seem to have both motive and opportunity: Heather and the quiet Scottish historian she longs to trust.

Guest Post: When Setting Becomes a Character

When we sit down to read, we have two settings vying for our attention. When I’m not tired or stressed, I can read in a noisy room—as long as the story has sucked me in. What about you? Do you need the quiet corner of your favorite couch or can you sink into that novel while riding on the bus?

What really counts is the setting we step into, inside those pages!

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I’ve always preferred historical settings because they take me just that much farther away from real life! That fictional setting needs to be compelling whether it’s a place as distant as a mystical new planet or the corner coffee shop you’ve visited just last week. When authors provide what we call a ‘telling detail’, they’ve provided an anchor into that world—the scent of a man’s cologne or a horse barn, the sound of children playing or a four-in-hand carriage rolling down a cobbled street—details that should overcome what’s around us to draw us in.

In The Case of the Clobbered Cad, we hear bits of Scottish dialect, Benny Goodman and the drone of bagpipes. We smell fresh scones, bus exhaust and musty old books. But setting also tells us about the characters. My heroine Heather couldn’t get enough of the old structures of an old city and her reactions differed immensely to those who lived there. That was easy to do. I had the opportunity to visit Edinburgh and walk those streets in just the same way as my awe-struck heroine. I heard the chatter, rode the bus past centuries-old statues and watched rain and big blue skies change the lighting along the Royal Mile. I smelled wet wool, hot tea and spilled ale. While I can’t guarantee you’ll be immersed in my setting as much as I was, I hope you’ll enjoy a ‘taste’ of Edinburgh found my amateur sleuth tale.

I’m not saying every book must have an awe-inspiring setting, because it’s the characters and their challenges that keep us turning the pages. But don’t you love when that setting pulls you that much deeper into that story?

What book settings have you enjoyed enough that you made a point to visit? What ‘telling detail’ do you recall from something you read that made you stop and sigh? Have you ever picked up a book to read just because of the setting?

Thank you for letting me be your guest today! I’m looking forward to chatting about settings with readers!

Readers, when has a setting in a book made an impression on you?

About the Author

Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. She is published with WhiteFire Publishing, Forget Me Not Romances, and contracted with Journey Fiction, and a judge for the Grace Awards for many years. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.

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New Malice Mystery: Highland Peril by Amy M. Reade

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Trading the urban pace of Edinburgh for a tiny village overlooking a breathtaking blue loch was a great move for budding photographer Sylvie Carmichael and her artist husband, Seamus—until a dangerous crime obscures the view . . . 

Sylvie’s bucolic life along the heather-covered moors of the Highlands is a world away from the hectic energy of the city. But then a London buyer is killed after purchasing a long-lost Scottish masterpiece from Seamus’s gallery—and the painting vanishes. As suspicion clouds their new life, and their relationship, Sylvie’s search for answers plunges her into an unsolved mystery dating back to Cromwellian Scotland through World War I and beyond. And as she moves closer to the truth, Sylvie is targeted by a murderer who’s after a treasure within a treasure that could rewrite history . . . and her own future.

Amy, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers about Sylvie? 

The protagonist in Highland Peril is Sylvie Carmichael, an Edinburgh transplant to the Scottish Highlands. She moved there with her husband Seamus and they both have a deep love for their adopted home.

Sylvie discovered a love of photography a few years ago and has made a career out of that passion. Since Seamus is a painter, their lives revolve around art. Together they own a shop in the Highlands that sells antique artwork and they also have a gallery where they sell both Sylvie’s photographs and Seamus’s paintings.

Sylvie is a fierce defender of her husband, though that doesn’t mean they always get along, and it doesn’t prevent her from becoming suspicious of him when his actions and his words don’t add up. She’s a loyal friend and a loving sister and proves herself to be one tough customer when it comes to getting to the bottom of the mysteries that plague her and Seamus.

How much do you and Sylvie have in common?

That’s a question that I’ve had to think about for a while. Sylvie tends to be pretty even-keeled, though she’s been known to fly off the handle once in a while. And as much as I wish I never flew off the handle, I’m afraid there’s a bit of me in that description. I also love the outdoors and I am a loyal devotee of the Scottish Highlands. I suppose we’re alike in those ways. But we’re different in some ways, too—Sylvie is the person I would want to be when danger strikes.

What if you met her in real life? 

How would I feel if I met Sylvie? I think we would get along very well.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

The short answer is “yes.” The longer answer is this: Sylvie and Seamus were not the main characters in the first book in my Malice series—Sylvie’s sister, Greer, was the main character. Anyone who knows Sylvie from the first book will notice that marriage and a career and a home in a ruggedly independent region of Scotland has matured Sylvie. She’s not as selfish as she used to be and she’s more appreciative of the people around her.

Sylvie and Seamus learn some important lessons in Highland Peril about trust. It costs them heartache and time, but they’re wiser for it in the end.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean? 

You bet. Say, for example, someone made me cry in Belfast because he was the meanest man I’ve ever met. I might love to make him a villain/kill him off in a future book. This is just a hypothetical, you understand. I’m not bitter or anything.

Great hypothetical and totally made-up example! Speaking of making things up, how realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

I tried to make my setting as realistic as possible, while taking liberties with certain things like village names. My goal is not to write a perfect representation of everything in the Scottish Highlands, but to give a perfectly accurate account of what it feels like to be there. Readers of my previous books have said they feel like they’re in the setting right along with the characters, and that’s how I want to portray the Highlands, too.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

Rose Leslie would play the role of Sylvie

and Brian Dykstra would be Seamus.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received as an author?

The best advice I’ve ever received was to start marketing early—as in, the day I decide to write a book, not the day I finish it. And the worst? It’s from anyone who suggests I write the book in their head.


About the Author

Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, and recovering attorney. But she also writes (how could she not write with that last name?) and is the author of The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross) and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade. She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.


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