I love a good historical detective novel, and always find a Victorian setting adds a gothic darkness that makes the pleasure of reading more intense. Today I’m delighted to welcome author of romantic and historical fiction, Pam Lecky to Unusual Fiction. I loved her last novel, The Bowes Inheritance and greatly look forward to getting my teeth into her new series.
A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?
London October 1886: Trapped in a troubled marriage, Lucy Lawrence is ripe for an adventure. But when she meets the enigmatic Phineas Stone, over the body of her husband in the mortuary, her world begins to fall apart.
When her late husband’s secrets spill from the grave, and her life is threatened by the leader of London’s most notorious gang, Lucy must find the strength to rise to the challenge. But who can she trust and how is she to stay out of the murderous clutches of London’s most dangerous criminal?
Pam Lecky is an Irish historical fiction author, writing crime, mystery, romance and the supernatural. Pam is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors and has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century.
Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award.
Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, whichwas published in April 2018.
What prompted you to write your latest book?
No Stone Unturned has been bubbling away at the back of my mind for some time. My first book was romantic suspense and although I really enjoyed writing it, I wanted to write something a little darker. The initial idea was the prodigal daughter returning home only to be embroiled in a crime, but I also wanted to create a series in which I could develop the characters over time. Initially, Phineas Stone was to be the central character as the private investigator who specialises in insurance fraud, but the more I wrote about Lucy, the louder her voice became. Eventually, the entire book was rewritten from her point of view and the Lucy Lawrence Mysteries were born!
Why do you like to write in your chosen genre?
From a young age I was hooked on historical dramas on tv and devoured historical fiction books. As a teen, I developed a taste for crime, too, and read mostly Dorothy L Sayers and PD James. I guess it was inevitable I would end up combining these two loves and to write historical mystery/crime.
Question 3 Who is your favourite character in No Stone Unturned?
Gosh, that’s a difficult one to answer but if I have to choose, it has to be Lucy. We are starting out on a journey together and I can’t wait to see how she develops over time. By the end of No Stone Unturned, she is already finding her feet and relishing her independence.
Which actors would you have to play the main characters in the film version?
Another difficult one, Fiona! Ok I’d love someone like Laurence Fox to play Phineas and perhaps Rachel Redford or Keira Knightly for Lucy.
Can you please share one of your favourite passages from the book?
This scene takes place early in the book. Lucy is about to be reunited with her family for the first time in ten years.
The murmur of voices grew louder as Lucy neared the blue salon. The pretentious designation made her smile for it had always been just the drawing room when she lived here. Her curiosity about her sister-in-law was increasing by the minute. Could she be a sensible woman? Tonight would give her the answer.
The door stood ajar.
“Have you taken leave of your senses, Richard? It’s the only possible explanation for taking her in to our home.” The strident female voice halted Lucy in her tracks, and she stood motionless with her hand on the fingerplate of the door.
“Sibylla, please! There is no need to discuss this again, I have an obligation—”
“Pooh! What has changed? And I thought she wanted nothing to do with us. I tell you, Richard, you have been taken in. You are far too soft. Before we know it every waif and stray of the county will be presenting themselves.”
“My daughter belongs here with us,” a gentler lady’s voice interrupted. But Lucy could detect the familiar steely undertone in her mother’s voice. It brought to mind the last time they had spoken. And that wasn’t a pleasant memory.
“With all due respect—” Sibylla said.
“How I detest those words,” Lucy’s mother cut in. “Somehow they are always a precursor to the most disrespectful comments imaginable.” There was a pause, then she continued in a firmer tone. “With the death of Charles Lawrence, Lucy is alone in the world so it is only right she return here to her family home.”
“I knew it! This is your doing,” Sibylla exclaimed, her voice trembling. “We will entertain a house full of guests in a few days, and Mrs Hughes has given her one of the best rooms on your instructions. I do not understand why my wishes were ignored.”
“Do you not, Sibylla?” Lucy’s mother asked, her voice silky smooth. Lucy’s ears pricked up; all was not well at Somerville, it seemed.
“Mother and I discussed it at length. Lucy must be treated properly for I will not have it said I shirked my responsibilities to my sister,” Richard said.
“What right has she to expect anything from us now?” Sibylla asked. “Her behaviour has brought nothing but shame to the family. What are we to do with her? Indeed, Richard, I must ask if she is to live off us indefinitely.”
“That is enough! Lucy is recently widowed. Have you no compassion?” Richard demanded.
“Yes, Sibylla, how can you be so hard-hearted towards your sister-in-law?” exclaimed Lucy’s mother. “To err is human.”
“Oh, for goodness’ sake!” Sibylla exclaimed.
Someone cleared their throat and silence reigned for several moments. Sibylla’s crass comments hung in the air, and Lucy’s face began to burn. At that moment she wanted to return to her room and pack her bag.
“Richard, who are we waiting for?” A voice Lucy did not recognise piped up.
“My sister Lucy, Uncle Giles. I explained it all to you earlier,” Richard answered.
“Do I have a niece, Charlotte?” Uncle Giles asked. Lucy’s mind was whirring, trying to place him. She had a vague memory of hearing of a Giles Bradshaw, her mother’s youngest brother, but she had never met him.
“Yes, Giles, you do,” she heard her mother answer.
“Are you sure, Charlotte? I don’t remember her.”
The conversation was taking a bizarre turn, and Lucy couldn’t risk loitering outside any longer in case a servant appeared. Feeling far from confident, she entered the salon as the clock struck the hour.
At one end of the room, which was indeed very blue, sofas and chairs were arranged around the marble fireplace. Two women sat facing each other. Both heads swung around on her entrance and stared as she advanced. Her mother had aged; now silver-haired, a trifle gaunt about the face and in widow’s weeds, her pale blue eyes held little promise of affection. Nothing had changed there. Across from her, a younger woman with red hair regarded her with open hostility. Elegantly dressed in green silk with a delicate fringed shawl draped around her slender shoulders, she was certainly fashionable but not particularly happy, her mouth forming a thin line of disapproval.
A little outside the group at the fireplace, in a wingback chair, an elderly gentleman with white hair and beard sat apart. As Lucy advanced, he struggled to his feet.
Richard came forward to greet her at once. “Good evening, Lucy. I hope you are rested?” he asked, taking her arm and bringing her towards the ladies.
Her mother rose stiffly to her feet and stepped forward, arms wide. “My dear Lucy,” she said, smiling broadly, “You are very welcome.” To Lucy’s surprise she sounded sincere and embraced her, the scent of violets almost overwhelming. Lucy was at a loss for words for Mother had never been demonstrative. Instantly, she was on her guard.
“It is wonderful to have you home. I do hope you will consider staying with us longer than a few weeks?”
her mother said, tucking a possessive arm through hers. Lucy did not miss the significant glance towards the younger woman.
“Thank you, Mother,” Lucy said, fighting hard to control her disappointment. Clearly, she had strayed on to a battlefield.
“And this is my wife, Sibylla,” Richard said.
“Delighted,” the woman said, sounding anything but, as her critical gaze swept over her. A limp handshake was offered. The woman’s comments moments before still rang in Lucy’s ears, and she was determined to dislike her.
As Sibylla’s eyes lowered to take in her unfortunate dress, Lucy pasted a smile on her lips. “It is lovely to meet you at last, Sibylla. Thank you for inviting me into your home for Christmas. So kind and so generous of you.”
Sibylla stiffened and glanced at her sharply.
“Would you do the honours, Richard?” the bearded gentleman asked, as he moved towards them. “Who is this pretty wee thing?”
“Lucy, this is Captain Giles Bradshaw, your uncle,” Richard explained. “I don’t believe you have ever met.”
“No, we have not,” Lucy said.
“Royal Navy, my dear, since I was a lad,” Uncle Giles explained. “HMS … oh, what was it again?” he asked, looking towards her mother.
“Ah yes. What a beauty!” he said, his eyes taking on a dreamy quality. “They don’t build them like that any more. It was an honour to be her captain.”
“Retired Navy Captain,” Richard said with a hint of exasperation. “You must forgive Uncle for his memory is a trifle unreliable. He will probably demand to know your name at breakfast every morning for the next week.”
Soon her hand was enveloped in a crushing handshake as she made her how-do-you-do.
“Nonsense, Richard, nothing wrong with being a little forgetful at my age, eh, my dear?” Uncle Giles asked, smiling warmly at her.
“No indeed, sir,” she said. “One of the privileges, I dare say.”
This appeared to please him. “What a clever young lady you are! I shall take you into dinner. I think you and I will become staunch friends.”
When the second bell sounded, Richard offered his arm to his mother and, much to Lucy’s delight, Sibylla was left alone to trail behind them to the dining room.
No Stone Unturned is available in ebook and paperback and Kindle Unlimited – Amazon
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What would you say is the hardest thing about writing a book?
For me the first draft can be quite difficult. I work part-time so my writing time is precious and doesn’t always coincide with feeling creative!
Writing a mystery novel was much more demanding than romance (but also more enjoyable for me). There are so many threads to the story and you have to ensure all the loose ends are tied up neatly. But, at the same time, you have to leave the ending open slightly so that the characters have room to grow and develop along with the series. Hopefully, I have managed that.
Question 7 What do you have in the pipeline?
The sequel to No Stone Unturned is in its second draft and I hope to publish it before year end. The next instalment is entitled, Footprints in the Sand, and is set in Egypt. Lucy finds herself embroiled in the machinations and professional jealousies of rival English and French Egyptologists. When a prominent member of the profession is found murdered, Lucy must keep her wits about her to solve the case and avoid meeting a similar fate.
I’m also in the developmental stages of a new project for my agent. I can’t give too much away at the moment other than the setting is most likely England just after WW1.
Find out about Pam’s work :