by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of this book, along with a link to purchase it where a portion goes to help support KRL and indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy. We also have a fun interview with Amanda.
The Final Reveille: A Living History Museum Mystery By Amanda Flower
Review by Cynthia Chow
For the battling Union Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the Confederate Division of the King’s Brigade, it feels like the Civil War. For the director of the living history museum of Barton Farms, however, it’s a day spent wrangling nearly two hundred passionate re-enactors, staffers, and over seven hundred tourists.
For the past two years, Kelsey Cambridge has managed to increase the number of visitors with first-person interpreters (who act as though they were living in the mid-nineteenth century), and third-person interpreters (who do chores and create the crafts of the period). It’s especially critical for Kelsey to impress Cynthia Cherry, Barton Farm’s biggest benefactress. She’s the chairwoman of their board of trustees—and Kelsey’s boss. While Cynthia might be enthusiastic about the four-day battle reenactments and is looking forward to the Blue and Gray Ball, her nephew Maxwell Cherry is far less enthusiastic and threatens to cut off support for the museum once Cynthia is gone.
Then Kelsey discovers Maxwell’s body in the Barton Farm brick pit with paramedic Chase Wyatt crouching over him. New Hartford Detective Cherry Brandon considers both of them her most likely suspects, so it’s fortunate that the police chief also happens to be an exuberant re-enactor himself.
Kelsey doesn’t trust anyone, and is further upset when her ex-husband’s unexpected announcement threatens to disrupt the state of their son’s custody.
As the designated worrier of Barton Farm, Kelsey is perfectly situated to investigate the staff and re-enactors who may have stopped pretending to be at war. The Cherry family has its own muddled relationships, and it appears that everyone involved has some sort of hidden connection with everyone else. It makes for a complex web of motives and only validates the brittle Kelsey’s reluctance to trust others.
Chase seems to want to date Kelsey as much as he wants to help her solve the murder—a problematic situation, considering she thinks he’s the most likely culprit. Fortunately, Kelsey has a lively and humorous friends and family, and their assistance will prove vital just when she needs it.
Fascinating historical details and a setting that recreates this part of American history show why so many enjoy reliving the past for education and entertainment. This is the first in a new series by an author who also writes the Amish Quilt Shop mysteries under the name Isabella Alan.
Interview With Amanda Flower:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Amanda: I’ve been a writer ever since I was a child, but I seriously started pursing publishing in college.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called and can you tell us a little about it?
Amanda: It was Maid of Murder. It came out in 2010. It was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Mystery. Here’s a blurb:
“India Hayes is a lot of things . . . starving artist who pays the rent as a college librarian, daughter of liberal activists, sister of an emotional mathematician, tenant of a landlady who has kissed the Blarney Stone one too many times, and a bridesmaid six times over. But she’s about to step into the most challenging role of her life: amateur sleuth.”
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?
Amanda: Yes, I write mysteries for adults and children.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Amanda: The Final Reveille is set in a living history museum in Ohio. When I was in college I worked at such a museum for one summer. I knew it would be the perfect setting for a cozy mystery.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Amanda: I’m all about the entertainment. If my readers laugh, I consider the book a success.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Amanda: I work full time as an author and full time as a college librarian, so I write whenever I can.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Amanda: I write completely from the seat of my pants. I don’t write in chronological order either. As you can imagine, my revision process is intensive.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Amanda: The morning, but that rarely happens because of my day job. I do the bulk of my writing late at night.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Amanda: Yes. It took nine years for Maid of Murder to be published. Some of that was due to me being in college and then grad school, so I wasn’t able to dedicate time to my writing as much as I would have liked. I got over forty rejections for my first book.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Amanda: I met my agent because I canceled a cruise because of a family illness. Instead of going on the cruise, I went to Florida where she happened to be and emailed her on a whim, asking for a meeting. To my surprise, she agreed and signed me at that first meeting. It was a life changing event.
KRL: Wow that’s quite the story. So you have a most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Amanda: I’ve signed books at that American Library Association Annual three times. It is a thrilling and overwhelming experience. Also, it teaches you to right your name really fast.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Amanda: Keep writing mysteries that make people laugh.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Amanda: Nevada Barr and Sue Grafton, even though I don’t write like them at all.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Amanda: I do a lot of research. Since I’m a librarian, I love it. I use books and journal articles for research, but I also like to go to the place that my novels are set to soak up the atmosphere. The feeling of a place is important to me.
KRL: What do you read?
Amanda: Mostly mysteries. I’m on a serious audiobook kick right now. I don’t have a lot of time with a tight writing schedule, so I can listen to mysteries on my daily commute to the library.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Amanda: TV show: Downton Abbey.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Amanda: Just keep writing!
KRL: How do you feel about the growing popularity of e-books?
Amanda: I like e-books. I see them as another way to reach new readers.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Amanda: I also write mysteries as National Bestselling Author Isabella Alan. I write the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries under that name. The fourth book in that series Murder, Plainly Read comes out in October.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you? Other than your other writing identity.
Amanda:I’m a vegetarian even though I spend a lot of time describing meaty dishes in my Amish mysteries.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
KRL: How do you compete in an overcrowded market?
Amanda: I try not to compete. I just write the books that I want to read and follow the advice of my agent. She’s brilliant.
To enter to win a copy of The Final Reveille, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Final,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 30, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Click on this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL and Mysterious Galaxy: