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image of book titled Blood Will Tell

It's time, and past time, for an update again. Since I last caught up, Blood Will Tell, the book set in Cambridge, has come out and gained nice reviews. Publisher's Weekly called it "delightful," and Booklist referred to the "always engaging" series. I hope you like it, too.

In November I finished the book set in Alderney, titled Smile and Be a Villain. The title comes from a line in Hamlet: "One can smile, and smile, and be a villain," and fits the central character beautifully. Itíll be out in America in the late fall of 2016. I wonít say any more about the book, except that itís a little deeper than some Iíve written, while the setting keeps it charming, I hope. The beautiful harbor at Alderney is shown in the photo below.

photo of boats in the harbor at Alderney

Addendum: Smile and Be a Villain is now published, though not yet in full distribution, and when I got my author's copies I was upset. I had somehow foolishly forgotten to send to the publisher an important disclaimer about the characters and setting. It's really important, since I used one real person's name and appearance, with his permission, and I want readers to understand that the character is NOT the same as the actual (very nice) man. Here is my disclaimer.

This year I'm writing two books. One features Dorothy Martin, this time without Alan, at least for part of the time. (I've just begun it, and I'm not sure how it will all play out in the end; my characters make a lot of the decisions for me.) Dorothy goes to Normandy, partly to see an exhibit of sculptures by Gilly, a character in Gentle Art of Murder, and partly to revisit the famous Bayeux Tapestry and other notable Normandy attractions. Alan had planned to come with her, but a minor medical problem sidelines him for a while, so Dorothy goes ahead, somewhat worried about her limited French, but intrepid as always.

While in Normandy, Dorothy visits the magnificent, incomparable Mont-Saint-Michel, shown below, and—could you have guessed?—gets into some trouble. I'm not going to say much about the plot—heck, I donít know much about the plot at this point—but if you know anything about the famous twelfth-century love affair between Abelard and Heloise, you'll be ahead of the game!

The other book is entirely different, a complete departure from anything I've written. It's a straight novel, not a mystery, and it has no title as yet. It will deal with international terrorism, but with a twist. My two main characters are little American boys age ten or so, next-door neighbors and best friends since they could talk. One is named Peter, the other Achmed.

photo of Mont Saint Michel

A horrifying terrorist attack in their town throws their lives into disarray, but they refuse to give way to hatred and retaliation and bigotry, instead trying to convince their elders to fight the horror with love and understanding.

Again, I donít know a lot about the plot yet, except that I fear there won't be a happily-ever-after ending. How could there be, with our world the way it is nowadays? But there will be hope. Thereís always hope.

I have no travel plans for a while; I'm broke! My house, built the same year I was, is having some aches and pains, too. I had to buy a new furnace in the fall, and I need a new driveway and a new roof, not to mention a new car, and there are dozens of small problems to be dealt with. So I'm lucky that friends I've met on my travels can help me with small details about the Normandy book. As for the other, I've very recently become friends with a Muslim family in South Bend, lovely people who have taken me into their hearts and home. I was privileged not too long ago to attend the ceremony in which two of them, Husam (father) and Alaa (daughter) were sworn in as American citizens. Shaymaa (mother) and the two boys, Ameer and Saife, will follow soon. I'm so proud of them!

Nor have I any plans for conferences and conventions for the coming year. Something may come up, but writing two books is going to keep me pretty busy. The Normandy one has to be done by the end of November. Iím not under contract for the other, but I want to get it done as soon as I can, because I think the people of the world need all the encouragement they can get to think "outside the box" in dealing with the horrors of life in this twenty-first century. I'm not arrogant enough to think that my book can make a huge difference. But it might inspire someone else to take other positive action, and the ideas might spread. One can only try.

Meanwhile, I hope you'll all enjoy a summer of reading great books! Do keep in touch. I love to hear from you.

I like to call my books "cheerful mysteries." For despite all signs to the contrary, I continue to believe the world is a good place and most of her people are trying to do their best. So my books reflect that philosophy and I hope this site does, too.

Winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel (1995)

Fans of the English cozy will put the kettle on, snuggle under a lap rug, and sigh contentedly...” - Kirkus Reviews