A Nest of Spies

Yesterday, A Nest Of Spies (Justinia Wright Private Investigator Mysteries, Book 5) went on pre-pub sale.

In this new mystery, Tina meets some old friends, we learn a bit more about her mysterious past, and are with her as she fends off the FBI and the Patriot Act. Pick up a copy for just 99¢!

I decided to collect books 0 through 4 into an omnibus edition: Justinia Wright Private Investigator Mysteries Omnibus Edition. At $7.99, it’s 60% off the individual volume retail. If you haven’t met Miss Wright, this is a good time to do so!

The traditional mystery is my cup of tea, particularly the private eye mystery. I don’t read mysteries for the puzzle. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? As with all the fiction I read, I read for the characters. I am more interested in how the sleuth reacts to the problem than in looking for the clues to solve the case ahead of the detective.

They’re also somewhat slower paced. I don’t particularly care for thrillers. There’s too much frenetic activity in them for my liking.

After the third Quiller novel, I stopped reading. They were all same and the situations Quiller found himself in and how he got out of them stretched my sense of credulity to the breaking point.

The same with Jack Reacher. I read the first two books and my reaction was meh. Lots of action kept me turning pages, but in the end I didn’t care for, nor even much liked, Jack Reacher. He was too perfect and pretty much made of cardboard.

Lee Child created Reacher to be that person who gives all the playground bullies the thrashing they deserve and don’t often get. Unfortunately, for me, he does so too perfectly and has such a bland persona I don’t care about him.

On the other hand, I love reading Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. Eccentric to a fault, Wolfe is nevertheless likable. And wisecracking Archie Goodwin? How can you not like him? The banter between Wolfe and Goodwin truly spices things up in a way no thriller can touch.

If you like a solid traditional private eye mystery, take a look at Justinia Wright. The pacing isn’t frenetic, but there are plenty of thrills and spills. Along with eccentricities, there’s wit, wisecracking humor, and good old sibling rivalry.

Comments are always welcome and, until next time, happy reading!

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Vampire House and Other Early Cases

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Justinia Wright and her brother, Harry, are my favorite creations. They weren’t the first of my imaginings to spring to life on paper, but they are the ones who have been in my mind the longest.

Tina and Harry sprang to life shortly after I read Raleigh Bond’s short story “Meet Athalia Goode” in an issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine way back in 1982. However, it took seven more years before I chronicled their first adventure: Festival of Death.

What I realized in writing my first novel is that I wasn’t ready to write a novel. The manuscript went into a filing cabinet drawer and stayed there for 25 years. When I pulled it out in 2014, the book was hopelessly out of date. I kept the first chapter, with modifications, and rewrote the novel; sticking more or less to the original idea.

The result was a much better story. Sometimes, one simply isn’t ready. Sometimes, one needs to learn more. And sometimes, one must simply wait and experience life.

Vampire House and Other Early Cases of Justinia Wright, PI is now available for pre-pub purchase for a mere 99 cents. Do get a copy before the price goes up on Halloween.

This new addition to Tina and Harry’s oeuvre is a collection seven cases that chronologically pre-date Festival of Death and form a prequel of sorts. Hence my numbering of the volume as Book 0.

I enjoy short stories and short novels very much. Prefer them, in fact, to the massively thick tomes that seemed to be popular today.

The reasons I enjoy short works, I think, are two: I grew up with them and I often find I don’t have the time to do a larger work justice.

Think about it. Books for kids are short. In many cases they are actually short stories or novellas. One of my favorite books is Wingman, a YA “novel” by Daniel Pinkwater. It is a mere 73 pages of large print text and pictures. Yet, it is one of the most moving stories I’ve ever read. Good things do come in small packages. Which is why I’m baffled when I read or hear of folks who don’t like short stories because they don’t contain enough character development or the storyline is too skimpy. Some of the most powerful pieces of fiction I have ever read are short stories. Stories such as “Sredni Vashtar” by Saki, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” by Conrad Aiken, and “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway are merely three among many.

The other reason is time. A 500, 600, 700 page novel a major time investment. Especially if I want to keep all the characters and story lines clear in my mind. That takes a degree of concentration, which if I’m busy is sometimes difficult to muster. Reading a hefty novel is something that requires, for me anyway, more than one or two sittings and sometimes reading a book of substantial length may take me upwards of a month. I’m not the world’s speediest reader. A short book, on the other hand, I can knock off in an hour or a couple days at the most.

As the average age of the fiction buying public gets younger, I think the demand for shorter works will increase. The Millennials and Gen Z folks have never known a world without computers. Statistics reveal a different pattern of reading for these people. Information and entertainment is consumed via their smart phones. They are used to short presentations which are often video. Presentations and attention spans are shorter. Think YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, and one minute vids on Snapchat or other social media. Short is in. And considering half of all books are read on a smart phone, there is a compelling case for short fiction. I think there is a real danger that fiction as we know it might just wander off into oblivion under the onslaught of other entertainment forms. That’s something to think about.

Short is in. In spite of what Amazon and the Big 5 want to believe. Amazon’s penalty in KDP select for short works by switching to payment by the page read. The Big 5’s insistence on mandatory long page lengths for novels, so they can justify printing. That kind of thinking reveals those folks to be dinosaurs catering to us Baby Boomers and older folks, who unfortunately are facing the end of our days. Short is in, whether we older folks like it or not.

Vampire House and Other Early Cases of Justinia Wright, PI is a collection of short stories and a short novel. They were fun to write and are hopefully fun to read. They’re packed with humor, sibling rivalry, dastardly villains, a touch of love, and puzzles to solve.

I love Tina and Harry and I hope you do too. Vampire House and Other Early Cases is only 99 cents until Halloween. Take the treat now! A mere buck for a rollicking good time.

Comments are always welcome! And until next time, happy reading!

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Interview with Justinia Wright, PI

Today it is my privilege to interview the famous Minneapolis private investigator, Justinia Wright. I’m sitting in the equally famous oxblood oversize wingback in her office, where many have sat before me in much less happy circumstances.

cwh: Miss Wright, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

JW: You are very welcome.

cwh: To begin, how long have you been a private investigator?

JW: Eight years.

cwh: And before that you worked for the CIA, is that correct?

JW: Yes. I worked seven years for The Company.

cwh: What made you leave and decide to become a PI?

JW: I can’t give you specifics. Let’s just say I didn’t see eye to eye with my boss and what he was asking me to do. As for becoming a PI, I didn’t do that right away. I opened an art gallery and sold art with a partner for two years.

cwh: Where was that?

JW: In San Francisco. When that didn’t work out, I moved to Minneapolis and got my private investigator’s license.

cwh: Why Minneapolis?

JW: The Twin Cities aren’t an overly large metro area, yet are large enough. There is a wonderful mix of cultures and the area offers many opportunities for musical and artistic expression.

cwh: So why become a PI?

JW: From my time in the CIA, I knew how to get information and perform surveillance. In a sense, it was going back to what I knew without all the bureaucracy.

cwh: How is being a spy similar to being a private investigator?

JW: As I mentioned, gathering intelligence and conducting surveillance. Where it differs, is that I have to do my own analysis.

cwh: To date, what has been your most difficult case?

JW: [She rests her chin on steepled fingers for a few moments before answering.] I’d be inclined to say the case Harry has called Festival of Death.

cwh: Harry’s your brother and assistant, right?

JW: Yes, that is correct. He and Bea, his wife, keep the office and household running efficiently. [She pauses.] Although the case he is currently writing up, about the poor murdered minister, was quite puzzling. So either of those.

cwh: Do you investigate yourself or do you have a support team?

JW: A team. The best team. I don’t know where I’d be without David Nagasawa, Gwen Poisson, and Ed Hafner. Or Harry. I do a little field work. Mostly, though, I work as a handler, so to speak, and analyze the information I receive.

cwh: Do you find being a woman to help or hinder you?

JW: I don’t find being a woman to help or hinder. There are many more women in the business now than ever before. What matters is if you get results. And I get results.

cwh: Do you work often with law enforcement?

JW: Yes, I do.

cwh: How would you describe your experience?

JW: Overall, I’d say positive. I’m frequently called in to assist on difficult homicide cases, something I like very much. They especially like getting results and I, of course, get results.

cwh: Do you have a liaison?

JW: Yes, Lieutenant Cal Swenson of Homicide.

cwh: Now, Harry has given us a certain picture of your relationship with Cal. Is that picture accurate?

JW: Cal and I are friends and I think I’ll leave it at that.

cwh: What motivates you as an investigator?

JW: My sense of justice and fairness.

cwh: I understand you can be difficult to work with sometimes. Do you care to comment on that?

JW: [A big smile appears on her face.] Depends on how you define “difficult”. Do I expect competency? Yes. If that is being difficult… [She shrugs.]

cwh: Competency, yes. But what about your interactions with your clients and Lieutenant Swenson? As your brother portrays those interactions, well, it just seems—

JW: That I’m difficult? Well, that’s Harry. He does tend to get a bit melodramatic in my opinion. Sometimes, clients don’t know what they know or what they think they know can impede an investigation. My job is to cut through the crap, so to speak, so I can help them.

cwh: And Cal?

JW: The police are a bureaucracy. Sometimes Cal is a bureaucrat against my better judgement. All in all, I don’t think I’m any more difficult to work with than anyone else.

cwh: You’re an amateur painter and pianist. Any thoughts about going professional?

JW: No. Not really. But I do like painting and performing, so who knows?

cwh: I see our time is up. Thank you very much, Miss Wright for giving us this opportunity to give your fans a bit more information about you.

JW: My pleasure.

You can see Justinia Wright in action in Festival of Death and Trio in Death-Sharp Minor, available on Amazon and soon in other fine online retail establishments.

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