Thursday, November 29, 2018

Rosemary Simpson

Rosemary Simpson is the author of two previous historical novels, The Seven Hills of Paradise and Dreams and Shadows, and two previous Gilded Age Mysteries, What the Dead Leave Behind and Lies that Comfort and Betray. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Historical Novel Society. Educated in France and the United States, she now lives near Tucson, Arizona.

Simpson's newest Gilded Age Mystery is Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Simpson's reply:
I just finished reading Feared: A Rosato & DiNunzio novel by Lisa Scottoline and The Darling Dahlias and the Poinsettia Problem by Susan Witting Albert. I'm about halfway through both A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman and Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird. Since I usually have at least two or three books going at the same time, and I keep yearly lists of what I want to read and what I've read, that should give you an idea of how wide my tastes in fiction are. Most of my non-fiction choices are research tomes for the Gilded Age Mystery series I write for Kensington Books or to explore other historical eras in which to set a novel or another series I'm thinking about developing.

I'm always interested in how other authors grow their protagonists in long-running series. As far as mysteries and thrillers go, I read everything from the really noir to a wonderfully distracting series like The Darling Dahlia books. I can sink into my rocking chair and let Susan Wittig Albert transport me to Depression era Alabama with the assurance that nothing really terrible will happen and that when I've finished the book I'll feel as though I've lived through some of those trying days. Cozies make a great contrast to books like Feared, where the plot demands that the reader be educated in the finer points of the lawsuits that the protagonists' firm pursues. But even while I'm working to untangle the intrigue, I'm noting just how much the author expands on the three main continuing characters as she carries them from book to book. And how much is left for the reader to wonder about.

A King's Ransom is the fifth volume in Penman's Plantagenets series, a sweeping historical novel that takes Richard the Lionheart from his captivity in the Holy Roman Empire to his death seven years later. I bought it as soon as it came out in March of 2014 and tucked it away on my bookshelf where I could glance at it every day until exactly the right moment came to read it. Which turned out to be a few days ago, when I cleared my desk and computer of deadline material and decided it was time to treat myself. Not too fast, not too slow. Just a few chapters a day to make the almost 700 pages last. And even though I was relishing A King's Ransom, when I saw Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen on the library's new books shelf, I knew I had to have it, also. The title piqued my interest, and the jacket blurb lured me on. Based on a true story, it's another historical novel, this time told in the first person. The hook is that the narrator is an ex-slave who enlists in the U.S. Army at the end of the Civil War in order to find freedom in the West. And she's a woman who has to preserve her disguise as a man!
Visit Rosemary Simpson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue