Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red by Jacqueline T. Lynch
A post-World War II “cozy” mystery about a museum heist, a missing child, a murder, a recent ex-con and an even more recent widow.
In Hartford, Connecticut, 1949, Juliet Van Allen, a museum administrator, discovers that her artist husband is having an affair with another woman. Just a wee bit shocked, Juliet slips unseen back to her office to mull over her options and wish the earth would swallow her, when she meets an intruder. Elmer Vartanian, recently released from prison for a museum robbery, is coerced into helping scout the museum for a heist by a gang that has kidnapped his daughter. When her husband is found murdered, Juliet becomes the prime suspect, and Elmer is her only alibi.
Juliet, the rebellious only daughter of a wealthy financier, and Elmer, a lower-class ex-convict who has educated himself in prison, must partner to solve their separate crises. She is Elmer’s guide to a post-war world that has changed so much since he entered prison. He feels guilty for having missed his daughter’s childhood, for being safe when friends were killed in World War II, and is bewildered over atomic energy, Modern Art, ballpoint pens, and frozen orange juice concentrate.
Juliet is not sure she believes Elmer’s story. Elmer is not sure she didn’t kill her husband, yet they are compelled to work together, dogged by the scandal-monger newsman, the shrewd police detective, and scrutinized by the even more judgmental eye of Hartford’s elite in world where Modern Art meets old-fashioned murder.
About the Author
Jacqueline T. Lynch’s novels are available as ebooks from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Several of her plays have been published and produced around the U.S., Canada, and one of which was translated into Dutch and performed several times in the Netherlands. Her ONE GOOD TURN premiered as a winner of the 2011 Northern Kentucky University Y.E.S. Festival. Her one-act play IN MEMORY OF TRIXIE GAZELLE was chosen as a winner in the 2010 Nor’Eastern Playwright’s Showcase of the Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre in Rutland, Vermont. She has published articles and short fiction in regional and national publications, including the anthology “60 Seconds to Shine: 161 Monologues from Literature” (Smith & Kraus, 2007), North & South, Civil War Magazine, History Magazine, and writes Another Old Movie Blog and New England Travels blog.
Today I’m happy to welcome Jacqueline T. Lynch to Brooke Blogs. She has written a great guest post about post-WWII history. Read on and enjoy!
The setting of Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red, first book in the Double V Mysteries series, is the spring of 1949. The post-war era was a time of hopeful change and anxious foreboding, for though we reached for the promise of a great future to wipe away the memory of war and Depression, we were also afraid of letting go of the past and everything we knew that was comforting. Immersing the reader into this world is a fun challenge for me, and is largely done through Elmer. Juliet and Elmer are thrown together in this first story for mutual survival to solve the separate mysteries that burden them. The following books in the series will explore their growing partnership as crime solvers, as well as their personal relationship.
Juliet is the rebellious only daughter of a wealthy financier, and Elmer, a lower-class ex-convict who has educated himself in prison. He has only recently been released after seven years away from his family, his friends, and life outside the prison walls. The United States had not yet entered World War II when he was sent away. Now he finds himself in a very different world that is strange to him, fast moving, and a little scary. He is awkwardly trying to find a place for himself, a way to fit in. He feels hopelessly lost and frustrated.
Juliet becomes Elmer’s guide to a post-war world that has changed so much since he entered prison. He feels guilty for having missed his daughter’s childhood, for being safe when friends, and a brother, were killed in World War II. He’s bewildered over atomic energy, Modern Art, ballpoint pens, and frozen orange juice concentrate. Through Elmer’s eyes, the reader—older readers who may delight to be reminded of this era, and younger readers who may have very little knowledge of everyday life in this period—experiences the same sense of being a stranger in a strange land. But that’s okay, because Juliet is their guide, too. We are all standing in line behind Elmer, gawking at his first look at a television set, or a frozen TV dinner.
It’s an interesting period to write about a cozy mystery, because this, of course, is the era before DNA testing, before sophisticated forensics, and cell phones, and all the modern technology that aids modern police and modern cozy mystery crime fighters alike. Making things even more challenging for Juliet and Elmer is that neither has any experience in police work or detection. They are not blessed with any greater insight than the reader when they come across a crime. They have to hash things out together, the reader looking over their shoulders, while Elmer marvels at air conditioning in a restaurant.
But when it comes to the human foibles of greed, jealousy, revenge, and all the other root causes of murder—well, some things never change and people weren’t so different then than they are now.
They just stopped wearing hats so much.