For those who don’t already know, in my non-fiction-writing life I edit a Russian history journal. And despite my best efforts to keep everything moving at a steady pace, every three months—especially in the fall, where we want to have issues available at the annual convention—we end up mimicking Stalin-era shock workers as we pull out all the stops to ensure the issue gets in the mail on-time.
This was one of those weeks, and I hit “send” just minutes before sitting down to write this post, which is why I’m behind my usual 9 am release time. But as it turns out, it’s good that I was late, because I discovered just now that my latest New Books Network interview with Joanna FitzPatrick had gone up ahead of schedule. So, read on to find out more about Joanna’s latest novel, The Artist Colony, then listen to the interview. Carmel, California, as you may never have imagined it—and a satisfying historical mystery to boot.
As ever, the rest of this post comes from New Books in Historical Fiction.
By 1924, Sarah Cunningham has spent years in France establishing her own artistic style, more contemporary than the landscapes that have made her older sister, Ada Belle Davenport, famous. She has just attained her goal—a one-woman show in an exclusive Paris gallery—when Ada Belle dies unexpectedly. Sarah temporarily abandons her own career, traveling to Carmel-by-the-Sea to find out what happened.
Sarah reaches California to discover that the local marshal has already closed the inquest into Ada Belle’s death, ruling it a suicide. The will that appoints Sarah as both beneficiary and executor has gone missing, as has a crucial series of portraits promised to a gallery in New York. Meanwhile, Sarah herself and many of Ada Belle’s friends question the suicide ruling, and as the details of Ada Belle’s final days resurface, the more striking the discrepancies become between the official verdict and the clues discovered by Sarah and her sister’s faithful Jack Russell terrier, Albert.
In Prohibition-era California, Joanna FitzPatrick constructs a fast-paced mystery in which a seamlessly blended combination of historical and fictional characters battle over uncomfortable truths against a background of brilliant sky- and seascapes, viewed with an artist’s eye.
Photograph of a Carmel beach by concalsec via Pixabay.