As Susan Breen’s compelling cozy mystery series continues, Maggie Dove’s budding detective agency has given her a new lease on life. Only one thing stands in the way of success: her clients—or lack of them.
After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town.
While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive.
One of the best parts about being a writer is that you get to decorate rooms for free. I can give my characters complete living room sets from Ethan Allen (as long as my characters can afford them.) I can give them vintage furniture or an inherited roll top desk (which I dearly wish I owned). Or I can give them furniture from Ikea and I don’t even have to assemble it.
When I was writing Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency, I was faced with the challenge of decorating her detective office. What sort of vibe would it have?
The challenge was made more difficult by the fact that she has two partners, Agnes Jorgenson and Helen Blake, and those two women are very different from each other, and from Maggie. Agnes in particular is inclined toward in-your-face sorts of furniture (which I discovered when I decorated her house in my first book). She likes heavy pieces of furniture and jaw-dropping artwork, and I figured that since she was the one bankrolling this detective agency, her taste would dominate. However, Maggie’s no shrinking violet, and I knew she would make sure to have some comfortable things in the office as well.
So I went and looked on line to see what your typical detective agency looks like. A lot of the pictures looked like places that Humphrey Bogart could work, but I couldn’t see my three ladies working there. More modern agencies tend to have a bland business office look—think of things you might buy at Staples. But I wanted Maggie’s agency to have some personality. Also, their office is right next to a dentist’s office, so there’s a lot of drilling going on, which doesn’t affect the decoration, but did strike me funny. How would they adapt to that? Lots of curtains, perhaps, as a buffer.
After a great deal of cogitation, I decided they would not each have a desk. Instead, they would all share a large table and do their work there. From a site called All Modern, I found a fabulous 10-foot boat shaped conference table (for only $2,199!) Then there was the question of chairs, and here I felt sure Maggie Dove would vote for comfort. So I opted for some black mesh chairs that bend to absorb the weight of your body and have rollers on them. (Maggie’s young charge, Edgar Blake, has a lot of fun with those chairs.) One of the things that’s important to Agnes is that the agency go after the female market, and so she put in a few feminine touches, such as mirrors and soft lights. Helen, who is the most of the brusque of the three, chose a gray metal filing cabinet. From Staples.
As I think you can see, not only is it fun to decorate, but I learn so much about my characters by doing it. Do you have anything in your home or office that says a lot about you?
About the Author
Susan Breen is the author of The Fiction Class, her debut novel that won the Washington Irving Book Award. Her stories and articles have appeared in many magazines, among them The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Compose, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. She teaches at Gotham Writers in Manhattan; is on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference, South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the Women’s National Book Association; and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime. Breen lives in a small village on the Hudson River with her husband, two dogs, and one cat. Her three children are flourishing elsewhere.
Webpage – http://www.susanjbreen.com/about.htm