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April 22, 2014

Making It Up



I got a scholarship to Oxford University to study History. The result of this is that I know enough about the subject to know how little I know. One effect of my self-awareness is that I was always wary of writing anything with an historical background. I was afraid of putting in some unwitting anachronism. I remembered too well the story of the Hollywood screenwriter working on some great mediaeval epic, who needed a rousing exhortation from the King to send his men into battle. He wrote a speech which began, ‘Men of the Middle Ages… tomorrow begins the Hundred Years’ War!’

But then I had the idea for the Blotto & Twinks series of books, about a pair of aristocratic siblings who got involved in adventures during that 1920s and 30s between-the-wars cloud-cuckoo-land beloved of Golden Age mystery writers. The social background I thought I could cope with. After all, the books were meant to be light-hearted spoofs, not works of serious historical accuracy.

But the problem of how the characters spoke was less immediately tractable. I didn’t want to venture into the kind of heavy-handed gadzookery that spoils so many historical novels. I knew, however, that there had to be a lot of slang. Anything you see on television set in the 1920s – particularly if it involves the aristocracy – is full of the stuff. And as a lover of P.G. Wodehouse, I knew how much power his characters’ slang added to the narrative.

April 21, 2014

Felony of the Week: Blotto, Twinks and the Bootlegger’s Moll


Now is the winter of our discontent turned (at long last) glorious springtime – at least for this daughter of (New) York. Sun is bouncing off the windows of skyscrapers, a breeze is ruffling the waters of the Hudson, daffodils are frilling the edges of the concrete islands in the middle of Broadway. To celebrate, we’re offering a discount on one of the giddiest, giggliest book in our line: Simon Brett’s gloriously goofy Blotto, Twinks, and the Bootlegger’s Moll. Trust us, there’s nothing funnier than financial collapse, forced marriage to an heiress, and gangster shoot-outs on the streets of Jazz-Age Chicago.

I love spring.

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April 16, 2014

Thursday Quiz: Jewish Mysteries


It’s Jewish Week at Felony HQ, in honor of Passover, so this week’s quiz is all about Jewish mysteries and Jewish mystery writers. Enjoy, dolling! But would it kill you to brush your hair?

    1. This author writes “like a Jewish Damon Runyon,” says one review, despite his spectacularly WASPy-sounding name. Best known for the “Moe Praeger” series (read, in audio-format, by Maggie’s old roommate Andy Caploe!), he’s also written three other series, as well as several stand-alone novels, and has recently been tapped to continue the “Jesse Stone” series originated by the late Robert B. Parker. What’s his name?