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The Detection Club and the Golden Age

The Calendar:
I will be exhibiting along with Millie Mack, author of the Faraday mysteries, at the Kensington, Maryland, Day of the Book on April 24. This is a delightful outdoor festival on the town’s main street which is closed to traffic for the event.

The Detection Club and the Golden Age

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a London pub, was supposedly the haunt of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Oliver Goldsmith, and other literati of the late 18th century. The Algonquin Round Table in New York City included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Sherwood and others who met regularly for lunch in the restaurant of the Algonquin Hotel. I would love to find such a regular gathering of mystery writers like, say, the Detection Club of the 30s and 40s.

The Golden Age of Murder
by Martin Edwards, author of the Lake District mysteries and a commentator on detective fiction, details the history of this elite club of outstanding mystery writers of the 30s and 40s, “the golden age” of detective fiction. Members included Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley, Julian Symons, Simon Brett, John Dickson Carr, and many others. Edwards’ book lists the members and the year they were elected to the club. The club’s first president was G.K. Chesterton. The last members to join the club were Michael Innes, Michael Gilbert, and Douglas G. Browne, elected in 1949.

This is a delightful book, full of interesting tidbits about the lives and personalities of the club members and guests. It opens with the impressions by Ngaio Marsh, a guest for the evening, of a meeting in 1937. The evening began with a banquet in an opulent dining room. After the meal, everyone rose and the party went to another room. There, the ritual began, with lights out, then a door opens and the Orator enters holding a taper. The rest of the ceremony involves a grinning skull and lethal weapons. For this meeting, an oath was administered to a burly man in his sixties who had been elected to preside over the club affairs. He pledged to honor the rules of the game they played:

“To do and detect all crimes by fair and reasonable means; to conceal no vital clues from the reader; to honor the King’s English…and to observe the oath of secrecy in all matters communicated to me within the brotherhood of the Club.”

Lengthy chapters describe the lives and foibles of Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, Agatha Christie, Douglas and Margaret Cole, and John Dickson Carr.According to Edwards’ account, Dorothy L. Sayers spent her life hiding the fact that she’d had an illegitimate child. Cynical Anthony Berkeley, was witty and charming but loved to confound people’s expections. Agatha Christie was pleasant and likable but her thoughts were hidden.

Edwards also discusses the detective fiction of the time and the influence of politics and two world wars on the novels.

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Learning New Tricks

For months now I’ve been seeking a focus for this blog. Since my cozy mysteries feature the 90 year olds at Whisperwood Retirement Village, I give a talk called “Able, Alert, and Active – Acting Your Age at 90.” The talk is well-received—the audience says it is inspirational and motivational. Suddenly, my blog had a focus: Motivating, inspiring and countering all the little voices in our heads that tell us why we can’t or aren’t or shouldn’t; motivating and inspiring despite the rejections (I’m a writer); motivating and inspiring despite whatever our age or circumstances. That is what this blog is about. Enjoy.

Here goes. . .

Let me introduce you to Captain James Arruda Henry. He was a lobsterman who lived for more than 90 years without being able to read and write. Then he heard about another man Continue reading “Learning New Tricks”

Mysteries for Myeloma

Mysteries for Myeloma

Nancy Lynn Jarvis, author of real estate mysteries set in Santa Cruz, California, and Cozy Foods, a cookbook of recipes from cozy mystery authors, sent out this request.

Her husband Craig was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer, two years ago and would likely be dead by now but instead is doing well because of the great strides made through research, new medicines and new treatments.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has been instrumental in fundraising dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. Supporters have answered their call to do creative fundraising. There’s a cat litter manufacturer who donates a portion of sales as part of a “Cats for Cancer” campaign. Ditto a Louisiana seafood producer who sells “Crayfish for Cancer.” As a mystery writer, Nancy Lynn Jarvis decided she could donate books for sale and dub them “Mysteries for Myeloma.”

On Sunday, March 22, all profits from her e-books purchased from Amazon that day will benefit MMRF. Her Amazon Author page is http://tinyurl.com/6uq4gsx if you want to take a look at the books or get ready to buy one on March 22.

On Launching a Book

My second book in the 90s Club cozy mystery series, entitled The 90s Club & the Whispering Statue, has gone through two critique groups, two editors, numerous drafts and I’m getting ready to launch. This is when the fear hits.

Is it good enough? Will it sustain the reader’s attention? Are my characters developed enough? Does the plot make any sense? I am a worse critic of my own writing than the cruelest jibe expert.

It’s time to get out my copy of Rotten Reviews and Rejections* and read the nasty comments reviewers gave to such famous authors as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Shakespeare. The book is full of examples. Of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, George Brimley in the Spectator said: “More than any of its predecessors chargeable with not simply faults, but absolute want of construction…meagre and melodramatic.”  William Winstanley, 1687, said of John Milton: “His fame is gone out like a candle in a snuff and his memory will always stink.” The San Francisco Examiner rejected Rudyard Kipling with: “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” Of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the New York Herald Tribune called it “A lugubrious and heavy-handed piece of propaganda.”

A reviewer once said of a Laura Lippman mystery that her latest book showed her development as a novelist.  I, too, am growing as a novelist. Each book is the best I can do at that moment. I hope the next will show stronger character development, more intricate plotting, and a greater sensitivity to the human condition.  But right now, this is where I’m at.

I’ll be speaking April 17 at Charlestown Retirement Village in Baltimore on writing, publishing and my 90s Club mystery series. I’m looking for other speaking gigs as well. On April 27, we will have an exhibit at the Amelia Island, FL, Book Festival.

I continue to be astounded at what people in their 90s and 100s are doing in the world. My friend Pat sent me an article about a 100-year-old woman who’s a computer whiz at her retirement community and also creates its gardens. Pat met her at a birding lecture, where she wanted to know what flowers to plant to attract birds. They were sitting next to each other and walked out together. Pat thought she was maybe 70 or so and then came across the article  that she sent to me.

Know someone who is turning 90? Give them a copy of my book, The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase. They’ll enjoy the light touch and positive outlook on old age. High school or college reunion coming up? The 90s Club series is a wryly humourous gift for attendees. Contact me for a 50 percent discount off the cover price for orders of 10 or more. Email:  eileenmcintire@aol.com.

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About The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase: The 90s Club at Whisperwood Retirement Village discovers a simmering brew of thefts, murders, and exploitation bubbling beneath its active lifestyle in this cozy mystery, the first in a series by Eileen Haavik McIntire. Except for the evil underfoot, the mystery accurately presents life in an upscale retirement community while spoofing stereotypes about the elderly.  “A must” for readers of cozy mysteries” – Midwest Book Review.

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* Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews & Rejections, edited by Bill Henderson and Andre Bernard. Pushcart Press, Wainscott, NY, 1998.

Coming soon - New mystery by Eileen Haavik McIntire

Coming soon –

The 90s Club & the Hidden Staircase,

a mystery by Eileen Haavik McIntire

I’ve been posting items about people 90, 100 years old and older who are still active, still pursuing interests and activities like the rest of us, and some still working.  I’ve come across them in researching my new mystery, the first in a series featuring The 90s Club of Whisperwood Retirement Village.

Beneath Whisperwood’s luxurious lifestyle bubbles a simmering brew of thefts, murders, and exploitation. Whisperwood’s 90s Club piles up clues like tricks in a bridge game to uncover the culprits—and almost lose their lives.

Leader of the club is Nancy Dickenson, drawn from a 91-year-old woman I saw swimming laps at a pool party.  The mystery is well-researched and, except for the evil underfoot, accurately portrays life in an upscale retirement community while spoofing stereotypes about the elderly. The characters play off each other, and the dialogue is often humorous. The plot turns upon subtle possibilities for exploiting the elderly, often the targets of scam artists. The villains in this novel, however, walk, talk, and play with their victims.

The book will be available later this spring in both print and e-book editions.  My previous novel, The Shadow of the Rock, is historical fiction that Midwest Book Review called, “a riveting story of time and humanity, highly recommended.”

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