I have always had a predilection for female amateur detectives, ever since I
first discovered Nancy Drew over forty years ago with The Secret of Shadow
Ranch. That was the first mystery I read, and when I graduated to adult
mysteries, I discovered Agatha Christie and her spinster sleuth, Miss Jane
Marple. I was hooked. As much as I have enjoyed Dame Agathaâ€™s Hercule Poirot,
Miss Marple is still my favorite.
Perhaps the root of my preference lies in my upbringing. My mother had four
sisters, all of whom I knew well growing up. Then there were my paternal
grandmother and her sister, my three paternal great aunts, and of course my
maternal grandmother. They were all strong Southern women with inquisitive
minds, and I learned many an interesting tidbit about human foibles and misdeeds
by playing quietly by myself in the corner while these ladies chatted. (Or
gossiped, whichever you prefer.)
Spinster detectives â€“ or â€ślittle old ladiesâ€ť as they are sometimes called, not
necessarily affectionately â€“ have been part of the mystery genre since 1897,
when Anna Katherine Green introduced Miss Amelia Butterworth in That Affair
Next Door. Miss Amelia established the essentials for the amateur spinster
sleuth â€“ a woman of â€śa certain ageâ€ť with enough financial means to live
independently, an inquisitive turn of mind, and a depth and breadth of the
knowledge of human wickedness that often shocked her more naĂŻve neighbors.
In 2011 I met two sisters, both married with children, who made an immediate
impression on me. Anâ€™gel Ducote Molpus and Dickce Ducote Little are both bright,
witty, and inquisitive, and we quickly became friends. When I was working on OUT OF
CIRCULATION and need two spinster characters who were the arbiters of
society in Athena, Mississippi, I thought of Anâ€™gel and Dickce right away. I
made them quite a bit older, childless, and single, and put them in a book.
Readers loved them, as do I, and when I wanted to write a second series with a
couple of sisters, I didnâ€™t have to look far for the right characters. That was
the beginning of my new Southern Ladies mysteries, and in BLESS HER DEAD
LITTLE HEART, readers can see just what Miss Anâ€™gel and Miss Dickce get into
on their own without Charlie Harris being in on the case. Diesel makes a cameo
appearance. The sisters are cat-sitting while Charlie and his family take a
well-earned vacation in France.
Iâ€™m already at work on the second Southern Ladies mystery, DEAD WITH
THE WIND. Miss Anâ€™gel and Miss Dickce are visiting an old sorority sister to
attend a wedding, and when the bride dies under strange circumstances, naturally
the sisters have to poke their noses into everything. DEAD WITH THE WIND
should be out in October of 2015.
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