Murder Among Friends had a unique session this June when we “doubled-up” on reading two books for the night: Tasha Alexander’s And Only to Deceive and Andrew Grant’s Run. The reward for doing so was having both Tasha and Andrew come and join our discussions on their books! They not only shared insights into their books, but what life is like when two mystery authors happen to be married to each other.
This was especially interesting as Tasha and Andrew write very different kinds of mysteries. We read the first in Tasha’s highly-praised, historical mystery series, And Only to Deceive featuring Lady Emily Ashton, a young widow in Victorian London, England. Andrew writes high-speed, suspense/thrillers. We read his book Run, thinking it was a stand-alone – but it is actually the first in his Cooper Devereaux series. The second book False Positive, is also in the Lisle Library collection, with the third book in the series due out next January.
As one might guess these two genre forms have very different challenges. We asked Tasha about the research involved in doing not only a historical, but one set in a different country. We all were amused that Tasha (American born and bred) sets her novels in England, while Andrew (who is definitely British) sets his in America. They both do a splendid job of making their settings and characters believable and real. For Tasha, this is the result of on-going, in-depth research as well as visits to England. For Andrew, it is based on living a large part of the year in America and listening closely to his American friends. And as a pair of writers, they definitely take advantage of what each knows about the other’s settings – and are valued beta readers for each other.
Both shared stories about their stories: what kind of geek craziness Andrew knows about from his time working in telecom, and how it can be wilder than what Marc Bowman faces; how the handling of antiquities both during Lady Emily’s time and today do deal with fakes and stolen items. We were all fascinated to learn that the British Museum really did maintain a program where well-to-do patrons could borrow works from the Museum! (This is no longer the case.)
After answering other questions on the fates of favorite characters, we adjourned to the cake table where Tasha and Andrew not only became our first couple to “Stake the Cake” – they individually let their marks on it! We all had a wonderful time with them and they could not have been nicer – or more fun! We’re hoping we’ll all get together again.