by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win an ebook or print copy of A Wild Ride, or any other book in the series, and a link to order it from Amazon and an independent bookstore.
A Wild Ride: A Madeline Maclin Mystery Book 6 by Jane Tesh
Review by Cynthia Chow
Madeline Maclin has done what she can to move past her identity as the Miss Parkland, North Carolina’s beauty pageant winner. Not only does she own and run her Madeline Maclin Investigations, Madeline has begun to attract a reputation as a talented artist. While her mother has never truly accepted the fact that her daughter has given up the pageant lifestyle for a career as a private detective, Cecile Maclin is using Madeline’ artwork to promote a fundraising gala. On the board of the Parkland Museum of Art, Madeline’s mother has coerced her daughter into lending pieces to be on display. When a break-in at the museum results in ten paintings – including Madeline’s – are stolen, it is but one of a number of incidents intended to sabotage the museum. Missing grant applications, canceled shipments, and forged artwork purchases all lead to the museum’s director Letticia Booth hiring Madeline to investigate the attacks.
This case is rather fortuitous for Jake Banner, a reporter for Galaxy News Weekly who hopes to film Madeline for their new YouTube Channel. While he usually covers alien abductions and Bigfoot sightings, Jake sees tabloid potential in Madeline’s transformation from beauty pageant winner to P.I. Whether called Pageant PI, Runway to Murder, Tiara of Terror, or From Crown to Crime, Jake will be filming and following Madeline around as she investigates the mundane to the more troubling museum events. Madeline’s budding agency could use the publicity, and it has the added benefit of helping to keep her husband Jerry busy and out of trouble. Working at Deely’s Burger World can get a little boring for the reformed con artist, and Madeline needs to keep him occupied when he isn’t thinking up Wagnerian names for their fictional child. The Valkyries come into play again when they meet a biker gang of women who not only provide connections to those involved in Madeline’s case, they seek her help in planning their own version of a custom car themed beauty pageant. It seems that Madeline can never truly escape her former ways or her Pagentoid fans, but here at least it’s for a good cause helping these Miss Streetwise Designs hopefuls.
This sixth in the series is full of humor as Madeline must reign in her husband, her mother, a wandering poet, and the crime lord Big Mike who is looking to her as a matchmaker. That his intended is Cecile Maclin is both unexpected and rather alarming, especially when Madeline isn’t sure who is more terrifying. Having previously explored the pageant world, wiccans, and art galleries, here Madeline delves into the just-as-fraught arena of museum boards and competing artists. The pace is lively as Madeline and Jerry dart between their town in Celosia and Parkland’s art world, mixing in uncomfortable double-dates and scandalous socialite affairs. Jerry is a charmer as well, having mostly turned over a new leaf and using his Con World connections for good. A delightfully unique pageant and thrilling conclusion make this another fun entry in the life of a reformed beauty queen who has become a relentless and skilled investigator.
Interview with Jane Tesh:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Jane: I have been writing poems and stories since I was four.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Jane: A Case of Imagination, the first in the Madeline Maclin Mystery series, was published in 2006. When former beauty queen Madeline “Mac” Maclin’s best friend Jerry Fairweather inherits his uncle’s house in the small town of Celosia, North Carolina, the two friends decide to move to Celosia. Having been forced into pageants since she was a child, Madeline has sworn off all pageants, but she becomes involved in the murder of a Miss Celosia contestant. Madeline has to solve the murder and solve the mystery in her own heart as she realizes she finds Jerry more than a friend.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Jane: I’ve published over fifty children’s plays in Plays Magazine. I’ve had poems in North Carolina collections. And I’ve also had five fantasy novels published by Silver Leaf Press.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Jane: Since I have always lived in North Carolina, it’s very easy for me to write about the places and the people, especially the eccentric Southern characters.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take
from your work?
Jane: My books are all on the light side with humor and a little romance, but the characters in my Grace Street series are all looking for a home and a family, even if they have to make their own family.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?
Jane: I work every morning from 8 or 9 until 12. If the story’s going well, I’ll write more in the afternoon.
KRL: What is your ideal time to write?
Jane: In the morning.
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?
Jane: I don’t exactly outline, but I go by days. I’ll have a page for each day divided into Morning, Afternoon, and Evening, with events listed.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Jane: Yes! I started sending manuscripts out to publishers and agents when I was eighteen. This is 1968 BC — Before Computers. I would type my manuscript, put it in a box, and mail it to a publisher or an agent. This went on for many years. Then, two months after I retired at age 55, I received the contract for A Case of Imagination.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Jane: I had written a book called Stolen Hearts, the first of what would become the Grace Street series, and an agent was interested in it, which thrilled me beyond words. However, the agent said she could sell the book if I changed my hero, David Randall, to a woman. I can only guess this was because at the time, female detectives were starting to get popular. I had written several books about Randall, his best friend, Camden, and their girlfriends, Kary and Ellin. If I changed Randall to a woman, this would radically change everyone’s relationship. It would change the whole universe I had created.
The hardest thing I ever had to do was call the agent and tell her no. I had been trying to get published for 20 years at this point, I finally had an agent, she was telling me what I had to do to get my book published, and I just could not do it. So, I looked around through my other manuscripts, and one of my other male characters, a fellow named Mac, said, “I’ll take one for the team.” He became Madeline “Mac” Maclin, and his best friend Jerry Fairweather became Madeline’s love interest. I changed his story to A Case of Imagination and sent it to my agent.
She did not like it. So I said, “Thank you. Good-bye.” And started all over again.
Eventually, I found Poisoned Pen Press. They took A Case of Imagination and later took Stolen Hearts with everyone’s gender intact.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Jane: I received my Masters Degree in Education with a concentration in Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. At one of my signings, a young woman picked up one of my Madeline books and said, “Oh, I know you! We had to catalog your books in my class.” Turned out she was studying Library Science at UNC-G and they used my books as examples of How to Catalog Fiction.
KRL: What are your future writing goals?
Jane: I have five more books in the Grace Street series and one more adventure for Madeline and Jerry. My goal is to have them all published.
KRL: Who are your writing heroes?
Jane: Fantasy author Terry Pratchett, who fought through the evils of dementia to complete his last books before he passed away.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Jane: Jerry is a reformed con man, so I have enjoyed researching all kinds of cons and tricks he might have played and still plays if he can get away with it. If a book calls for more research, such as Houdini’s life and career, or the history of hypnotism, then I’ll do research.
KRL: What do you like to read?
Jane: I like to read fantasy. Terry Pratchett, Kage Baker, Jasper Fforde, and Jonathan Stroud are my favorite authors. I also like Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels because her dialogue is so much fun. P.G. Wodehouse is another favorite.
KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?
Jane: My favorite TV shows from the past are The Wild Wild West and Shadow Chasers. My favorite TV shows right now are Bluey and Charmed.
KRL: Have you any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Jane: I hope to goodness it doesn’t take any aspiring or beginning writer as long as it took me to get published! However, there are so many different ways to get published nowadays that were not available to me. Find one that suits you and never give up!
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Jane: I play the piano and conduct the orchestra for musicals at the Andy Griffith Playhouse in my small town of Mt. Airy, NC, Andy’s hometown.
Jane: I have a very sweet white 10-year-old rescue Chihuahua named Pearl.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Jane: My one and only goal in life was to publish a book, and now that this goal has been achieved 18 times, I can die happy – well, as soon as the other six are published.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
To enter to win either an ebook or print copy of A Wild Ride (winner’s choice), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “wild,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 26, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. BE SURE TO STATE IF YOU WANT PRINT OR EBOOK. If entering via email and you want a print copy please include your mailing address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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