Today it is my great pleasure to welcome friend and fellow mystery author Kate Carlisle! Kate and I met at Bouchercon a few years ago and hit it off immediately. I no longer remember which of our mutual friends introduced us, but the lovely thing about Kate is that she’s at home in any crowd. She’s a true lady, as gracious as the day is long, so naturally one of my favorite things to do is to make faces at her from the audience to try to get her to crack up. Looking forward to seeing you in Northern California later this month, Kate!
Thank you so much for hosting me here at Murder She Writes, Sophie! It’s always a pleasure to visit with fellow whodunit lovers.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to what it is that we mystery readers love about mystery novels. For me, one of the biggest draws of mystery novels is that, with a lot of them, I can learn something while being entertained. What a concept! I especially love reading amateur sleuth mysteries, in which the hero or heroine is not a detective or a cop, but is in a completely non-crime related career field and somehow gets caught up in solving mysteries. The best of these books include passages that show the protagonist doing the work at which she excels, so that we don’t think she’s a bumbling fool all the time.
The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters are an excellent example of this. Amelia is a wealthy heiress and scholar, a “confirmed spinster” at the start of book 1 (Crocodile on the Sandbank) but married by the end of it. From that point on, she, her husband, their baby, and their menagerie of friends, travel annually to archaeological digs, mostly in Egypt, taking the reader along for the fascinating journeys. The Amelia Peabody books teach the reader not just about the world of archaeology, but also about history – the ancient history of Egypt and the more recent history of what it meant to be a late 19th-century woman who didn’t want to stay home and make babies.
I hear from a lot of readers who enjoy a glimpse into Brooklyn Wainwright’s job as one of the world’s top experts in restoring old books. I have a passion for the subject myself, and have taken bookbinding classes as a hobbyist for many years. (Yes, I’m a book geek!) Most of the books are centered around solving a murder, but I do take time to show the reader that Brooklyn is an expert in a truly fascinating field. Here’s a brief excerpt from the latest Bibliophile Mystery, ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE:
Closing the cover, I turned the book over and carefully began to thumb through the gilded pages. That’s when I discovered the fore-edge painting.
“Oh, my God,” I whispered. Was the entire collection painted? If so, the books were beyond priceless. The set belonged in a museum. I wondered if Grace would consent to donating them to the Covington Library.
The technique of fore-edge painting came into popular practice in the 1800s, and it was done by fanning the pages and clamping the book tightly. Then an artist would paint a watercolor painting on the fanned edge. When dry, the book would be clamped at its normal angle and the fore edge would be gilded in the typical way.
So when the book was closed, it would appear to be a normal, gilt-edged book. The painting couldn’t be seen unless the fore edge was fanned. It was a charming surprise for any antiquarian book lover.
What interesting tidbits have you learned from reading mystery novels? Has one of the characters in your favorite mystery series inspired you to take up a new hobby?
By the way, for you puzzle aficionados, I’m holding a contest right now on my website. Two lucky members of my mailing list will win this 513-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring the beautiful cover of ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE! Visit www.katecarlisle.com and join the mailing list for your chance to win!
Kate Carlisle is the New York Times bestselling author of the Bibliophile Mystery series, which launched in 2009 with HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER. The latest Bibliophile Mystery is ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE (Bibliophile Mystery book 5). The Bibliophile Mystery series follows San Francisco-based book expert Brooklyn Wainwright as she restores classic texts to their former glory, and solves contemporary murders linked to each book. Visit Kate online at www.katecarlisle.com.