Haunting works of Victorian mystery.
Amanda Quick, one of the many pen names used by prolific author Jayne Ann Krentz, writes stories of romantic suspense set in the Late Victorian era, including her most recent novel, Crystal Gardens. She calls the period “outrageously ideal for my kind of plots not just because of the fog-and-gaslight atmosphere but also because those Victorians were such a fascinating bunch! The historical realities of the period give rise to all sorts of jumping off points for stories.” This week she recommends two sources of inspiration as well as a favorite of the genre she pioneered.
By Judith Flanders
“This is one of those wonderfully intriguing books of social history that you can open to any page and be assured that you will find some fascinating detail. From the strict routine of the nursery to the complicated wardrobe required for proper mourning, the Victorians offer unlimited material for plots. And, I might add, it was the bits about Darwin’s marriage and family life that got me through what otherwise would have been an excruciating dinner with the captain — a big fan of Darwin — during a recent cruise. (No, not that captain and not that cruise!)”
By Alex Owen
“There are a gazillion books on the topic of the Victorian fascination with the paranormal, but this was the one that opened my eyes to the role of women in what was often a lucrative business. It’s a scholarly work and somewhat heavy going but worth if for the nuggets of plot gold I uncovered. The Victorians took paranormal research seriously, especially the search for proof of life after death. Seances and exhibitions of psychical powers were all the rage, and women were generally held to be uniquely qualified to be practitioners of the paranormal. This opened up a whole new career path for women! There was money involved, of course, but also power and, yes, sex. (No, I’m not going to elaborate. Check out Chapter 8.)”
By Carol K. Carr
“This one is just for fun. I’m a fan of this fresh, breezy mystery series set in the Victorian era not only because the author has a terrific, entertaining voice, but also because the heroine, India Black, plays against all of the female stereotypes associated with the period. She is the proprietor of a high-class brothel. When a gentleman from the War Office dies in her establishment, India does the logical thing and makes arrangements to quietly dump the body. Things get complicated from there. Enjoy!”