Thursday, July 1, 2021

Tracy Clark

Tracy Clark is the author of the highly acclaimed Chicago Mystery Series featuring ex-homicide cop turned PI Cassandra Raines, a hard-driving, African-American protagonist who works the mean streets of the Windy City dodging cops, cons, killers, and thugs. Clark received Anthony Award and Lefty Award nominations for her series debut, Broken Places, which was also shortlisted for the American Library Association’s RUSA Reading List, named a CrimeReads Best New PI Book of 2018, a Midwest Connections Pick, and a Library Journal Best Books of the Year. In addition to her Cass Raines novels, Clark’s short story “For Services Rendered,” appears in the anthology Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors. A native of Chicago, she works as an editor in the newspaper industry and roots for the Cubs, Sox, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks equally.

Clark's new Cass Raines mystery is Runner.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I am lucky to be reading an advance copy of Death at Greenway, by the fabulous Lori Rader-Day. I love her writing. The strength of every sentence, the easy rhythms, her rock-solid plotlines. Awesome always.

Death at Greenway is a historical novel that is set at, get this, Agatha Christie’s estate, Greenway House! Okay, right off the bat, Lori’s got me. I cut my writing teeth on all things Agatha Christie, and how she artfully weaves the Great Lady into the story is absolutely captivating. We get sneaky little glimpses of Christie throughout -- she’s there, then she’s not, like a ghost, but her aura looms large over every page. It’s giddily fascinating.

The book takes place in England during WWII. Nurse Bridey Kelly has signed on to escort and then care for ten evacuated children fleeing from war-torn, bomb-ravaged London. The “vacs” are relocated to Christie’s estate in Devon, spitting distance from the English Channel. At wartime. With enemy planes flying overhead. Loaded with bombs. What? Wouldn’t have been my first choice for a safe refuge, but…

Bridey’s running away from some heavy stuff that happened in London that she’s keeping secret, and she’s hoping to redeem herself through her work at Greenway. But in true Christie fashion everybody at the estate has something to hide. All’s relatively well, the kids are settling in, until, bam, a body is found in the quay. He’s been murdered.

You’re never quite sure who’s on the up and up and who’s leading you down the proverbial garden path in Death at Greenway. I like that. In that, the book’s a great hat tip to Agatha Christie, who was the mistress of misdirection.

Rader-Day’s attention to detail, from the way the characters talk to what they wear and how they live, will transport you back to those frightening, turbulent times when the world was at war and nothing was certain, not even your next breath. You can feel the tension, the uncertainty as you follow Bridey through a maze of intrigue and murky motivations, as you wait for the other shoe to drop.

And then there’s “the death” at Greenway. You can’t forget that. Somebody killed that poor guy. Sounds like the perfect case for Hercule Poirot or Jane Marple, but Lori had other ideas.
Visit Tracy Clark's website.

Q&A with Tracy Clark.

My Book, The Movie: What You Don’t See.

--Marshal Zeringue