Let’s face it, 2020 has not turned out to be a stellar year so far! And certainly not for this author: In early January, despite having a flu shot months before, I had what I thought was the flu. The doctor said it was just a cold, but if so, it was the nastiest cold I ever had: centered in my lungs, a sense of pressure on my chest, a mild fever and constant, constant, constant coughing. Sound familiar? I’m currently healthy and awaiting an antibody test to see just what I had. And while I was recovering, and watching (with horror) as this pandemic gradually unfolded over the spring, I decided to begin working non-stop on my latest project, a traditional mystery set on a 1950s cruise liner. Normally I don’t like to rush my books out; I find they need a bit of ripening before being released. However, I knew serious readers were desperate for new titles to read, especially since the Big Publishers essentially cancelled their spring offerings. And not being able to travel anywhere or leave the house…I had plenty of time!
So today, May 8th, I am launching the first book in the Lucy Tamerlane series, appropriately titled Maiden Voyage. It’s very different from the Hard Cider Abbey books, although there are still plenty of quirky (and I hope endearing) characters. I’ve become particularly close to Lucy, the amateur-sleuth heroine: At fifty (she was born right at the turn of the century), stuck behind a desk at the New York Public Library, she is not exactly the stereotype prim and grim librarian, though she always prides herself on being a lady. She fears life may be passing her by and retirement is all she has to look forward to, yet she still longs for adventure, and true love (even after two failed marriages). Like most New Yorkers, then and now, she has a bit of a nervous condition, and suffers from the occasional anxiety attack, but when she needs to be, she can be as fierce as her last-name-sake, the ancient Asian conqueror. So, she impulsively takes a job on a round-the-world cruise ship, the Miss Liberty (loosely, very loosely modelled on the SS United States, which launched the same year), running their spectacularly appointed library full, unfortunately, of dreadfully boring books. Soon she becomes caught up in the everyday life of the ship, and gets to know the passengers, soon suspecting something evil might be afoot. Unlike Hard Cider, there are no lofty messages or higher meanings—this is pure escapist fun, and hopefully readers can forget for a while that cruise ships can be floating minefields of virus and disease, and return to the days when taking an ocean voyage could be one of the swankiest things ever to do.
MAIDEN VOYAGE: A Lucy Tamerlane Mid-Century Modern Mystery Available in Kindle form for now, $2.99 (paperback to follow soon)