by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of Jane Tesh’ new mystery novel Now You See It, along with an interview with Jane and a chance to win a copy of the book–details at the end of this post.
Now You See It: A Grace Street Mystery By Jane Tesh
Review by Cynthia Chow
Since the car crash that devastated his life David Randall has managed to pull his life together through the unlikely means of running a detective agency out of the boarding house of his friend Camden, a psychic and David’s occasional detecting partner.
It only takes a glimpse of a picture of his daughter Lindsey to send David into the spiral of guilt and depression though, and he is shocked when he stumbles across a DVD of her last dance recital. Unable to bear viewing the performance, David instead concentrates on his two new cases, one that involves hunting down a stolen diamond bracelet for the wealthy but charitable Sandy Olaf, and the other far more intriguing case of finding a missing magic box once owned by Harry Houdini. A member of Wizards of Wonder, Lucas Finch and his brother used the box to hide a key as part of bet, which would reward the winner access to the Finchs’ magic memorabilia collection. While the six members of WOW all are aware of the existence of the box, none have claimed the prize so Lucas Finch suspects that a rival magician group Wizards and Amazing Mages (WAM) is responsible.
Unfortunately, a bigger concern arises when David’s first ventures to The Magic Club to question the eccentric magicians and assistants who include Rahnee the Magnificent, Jolly Bob, and wannabe Wizboy. Alerted by an auditioning magician’s dog, the detective instead discovers the body of Taft Finch stuffed inside a magician’s trunk. The owner of the club Rahnee Nevis hires David to hopefully prove that the death was an unfortunate accident but if not reveal who was responsible.
With three cases on his agenda, David seeks an opinion from, but does not rely on, the psychic advice from Camden, who has his own burdens placed on him by his often exhausting and overwhelming “gift.” Since David also ordered his girlfriend and fellow boarder Kary Ingram away from his investigations since her last adrenaline-fueled pursuit had her joining a group of neighborhood superheroes, and nearly costing her her life, he is not only on the outs with Kary but David also must rely on his own skills and connections. Camden has the distraction of his own girlfriend, the aggressively opinionated Ellin Belton, who is infuriated that the Psychic Service Network has forced her to take on a new host for her “Ready to Believe” program.
While Camden prefers to stay out of the spotlight and clerk at a boutique he also cannot remain on the sidelines when a phony psychic inflicts harmful predictions on vulnerable believers.
The third in the Grace Street Mysteries has David recovering from the loss of his family while forging a new one with the eccentric but caring residents of Camden’s boarding house. Incredibly fun and fascinating is the exploration of the world of professional and aspiring magicians whose ethics and rivalries often having them warring amongst one another. While Tesh keeps up the tradition of never revealing the secrets behind the illusions, she does illuminate the dwindling cadre of magicians and illusionists who must balance secrecy with their need to pass on their skills to apprentices in order to keep their professions alive. Fun facts about the dispute between Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle also enhance the mystery and completely engage the reader in a very lively plot. David’s personal struggle balance nicely with his detective endeavors and he always manages to somehow find the patience and compassion to cope with the unique Grace Street residents.
Use this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help KRL:
Interview with Jane Tesh
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Jane: I wrote my first poems when I was four, so that would be 59 years!
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? A little about it?
Jane: My first novel, A Case of Imagination, was published in 2005. When her friend Jerry Fairweather inherits an old house in the small NC town of Celosia, ex-beauty queen and struggling private investigator, Madeline Maclin, decides this is the place to open her own agency. She’d hoped to escape her unhappy pageant past, but when one of the contestants in the Miss Celosia Pageant is found murdered backstage, Madeline takes the case.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not what else have you written?
Jane: I have written several fantasy novels, which have yet to find a home, some poetry, over 30 children’s plays for Plays Magazine, and recently, two children’s musicals with songwriter Joni Klein-Higger.
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.
Jane: Growing up in the South, I can’t help but set my stories in fictional North Carolina towns. My fictional big city is Parkland, which is loosely based on Greensboro, where I grew up. Grace Street is an older neighborhood that used to be a wealthy area, so there are a lot of large homes and old trees. There is something about a big house with a front porch that’s very appealing to me. The main character in the Grace Street series, David Randall, is a man in search of a home and a family. He’s lost his little daughter in a car accident, his wife has left him, and he’s homeless when his friend Camden offers him a room in his boarding house at 302 Grace Street. Randall is in need of grace, searching for a home and a new family, which is what he finds among Cam’s array of tenants.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Jane: Humor is very subjective, but I would hope that readers are entertained. I like to try to balance humor and drama, but in the case of the Grace Street Series, I’m also dealing with grief and how people handle this emotion.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Jane: I try to work every morning from 8-12 and after lunch from 1-3.
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 have a very rough outline that starts with “Day One” at the top of the first page, and “Tuesday,” if that’s when I want the story to start. I work my way through each day’s action. I never know specifically what’s going to happen, although I may have a few scenes in mind I want to write. My characters start talking, and I write down what they say is basically how my stories evolve.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Jane: Oh, wow. How much time do you have for the Saga of Jane’s Attempts to Get Published? It took 30 years. Of course, I started back in the Olden Days before computers, so I would type a copy of my story on a manual typewriter, and if I made a mistake, as I often did, it would be at the bottom of the page, so the whole page had to be retyped or gummed up with White Out. Then I had to find a box to mail the manuscript in, another box or folder if I wanted the copy back and I did, so I could send it to the next publisher on my list, mail it and wait. And wait. I just kept on sending things out and getting them back until I happened to contact Poisoned Pen Press, the right company at the right time.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Jane: I think the funniest rejection letter I received said, “We’re sorry, but we cannot manufacture the enthusiasm necessary for your project.” I could just imagine a factory cranking out enthusiasm for the masses.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Jane: As I’ve mentioned, I started out in the Dark Ages, so last year at a book festival, a fellow asked if my books were on Kindle, which they are, looked up Stolen Hearts and bought it right there on the spot! I think this is fantastic. He smiled and said, “The only thing bad about this is you can’t autograph it for me,” which I thought was sweet. I love technology!
KRL: Future writing goals?
Jane: I have 10 more books in the Grace Street Series, and I’d love to have them all published before I die!
KRL: Writing heroes?
Jane: Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Jane: As little as possible!
KRL: What do you read?
Jane: I enjoy humorous fantasy, the works of P.G. Wodehouse, English humorist, Georgette Heyers’ regency novels, C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series, and anything by Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Jane: Growing up, I loved The Wild Wild West and Shadow Chasers. I really enjoyed Lost, and I never miss Phineas and Ferb. My favorite movies are Citizen Kane, Monsters, Inc., and the Harry Potter films.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Jane: Don’t ever give up! I hope it doesn’t take you 30 years, but if it does, it’s worth it.
KRL: How do you feel about the growing popularity of e-books?
Jane: I am happy for anyone to read my books in any format.
KRL: Do you read e-books yourself?
Jane: No. As a former librarian, I like to hold books in my hand.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Jane: I have a large collection of stuffed toy bats, and trust me, they are hard to find.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Jane: My website is www.janetesh.com.
My twitter account is www.twitter.com/janetesh.
The Facebook page for my books is www.facebook.com/GraceStreetMysterySeries.
I have an Amazon Author page at www.amazon.com/author/janetesh and a blog at www.janetesh.wordpress.com. I have embraced the internet, even though it drives me nuts sometimes.
KRL: How do you compete in an overcrowded market?
Jane: Well, as seen from all the info in question 22, I’ve had to learn how to navigate all the social media sites. Even though all this is out there, I’ve found that word of mouth is the best publicity, so I tend to give copies of my books to people, hoping they’ll like one and will buy the others.
Check out Jane’s book trailer for Now You See It:
To enter to win a copy of Now You See It, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “See,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 19, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.