Monthly Archives: October 2021

The Pickwick Murders – an excerpt

Charles realized he was alone. In a maze. Also, that metallic odor that he had first smelled when peering into the trapdoor had probably been blood. This man had been dead before he’d ever gone through the opening, and probably for quite some time before that, though given the coldness of the underground space, he had no idea how long.

He stilled as horrifying thoughts struck him. What if those footsteps and other noises had been real? What if the killer was still here? His heart rate picked up. He had to get out.

Standing, he crept against the wall as if it might shelter him, and raised the lantern. The light beam slipped past his free hand. It was splotchy. He brought it closer to his eyes. Blood. That sticky substance had been blood, on the other side of the maze’s center. What terrible events had happened here? Had the body been moved after the murder?

His gaze darted around the space, in and out of the light. He couldn’t remember how to get out of the maze. He’d never known how to get out. Was there a ladder somewhere? Another door? Should he go back to the start and climb up the rope? Was that trapdoor still open? What if Mr. Yupman had planned to leave him down here? Did he know there was a dead man in the maze?

“Get hold of yourself, man,” he whispered fiercely. No reason existed to hold him in this maze. While he couldn’t convince himself that this death had been an accident, it could be a suicide. Though the specific mortal injury made it unlikely.

He searched the space, hunting for the deadly knife. It didn’t appear in the lantern’s beam. Could it have fallen under the body? He shuddered and couldn’t bring himself to look.

He only saw one exit to the central space, which was also the entrance. Speeding into a trot, he went in that direction and reversed himself through the maze. What had he expected to happen? Not this. It made no sense to enter the maze and then return the way he’d come.

Although he did have the lantern. It proved he’d been in the center. Surely there were men upstairs, ready to celebrate his initiation. As the president likely had been, before he met his death.

The lantern also proved something else. It proved he’d been near the body. And he had blood on his hands.

The Characters of The Pickwick Murders

Joanna Baillie*73A famed poetess and playwright
Lady Byron*43A scandalous lady of good reputation

As my readers know, I’ve been including a cast of characters in the front of these books, so that readers can separate fact from fiction. I always offer up at least one interesting person of the times, in addition to the real life Dickens and Hogarth families.

This time, I had fun dipping into literary London, lady style! Joanna Baillie is one of those people highly famed in her time, though forgotten now. A poet and playwright, she was a friend of the Hogarth family, so I brought her into the story along with her sister and Lucy Aikin, another famed writer. And all of this led me to…Lady Byron, the widow of Lord Byron and the mother of Ada Lovelace. She’s a fascinating woman in her own right and I enjoyed researching her and her home.

Ada Lovelace is known as the first computer programmer. I was one for fourteen years myself, so learning about how the profession started is interesting to me. Ada shows up quite often in fiction and nonfiction, and she’s very close to Charles and Kate in age. Did Charles Dickens know her? Of course. He knew everyone! But for now, we’re only encountering her mother on the page. Someday, I’m going to have to write about Lord Byron as well…

New Release: The Pickwick Murders

Book #4 in my A Dickens of a Crime series is here! Last year we all were thrilled by the stunning gold cover. This year we get purple! It’s available in hardcover, ebook and audio.

I took some risks with this book. For the first time, made a teensy departure from Dickens’s real life because in every murder mystery series, you need a time when your sleuth is the suspect! I had a lot of fun thinking up how this could have happened. And because our Charles is clapped into Newgate Prison, this meant that Kate Hogarth has to come to the front of the story for the first time. We’ve never seen her point of view in the series before. I hope you enjoy the twisty literary puzzle that is The Pickwick Murders by Heather Redmond.

Cover copy:

In this latest reimagining of Dickens as an amateur sleuth, Charles is tossed into Newgate Prison on a murder charge, and his fiancée Kate Hogarth must clear his name . . .
London, January 1836: Just weeks before the release of his first book, Charles is intrigued by an invitation to join the exclusive Lightning Club. But his initiation in a basement maze takes a wicked turn when he stumbles upon the corpse of Samuel Pickwick, the club’s president. With the victim’s blood literally on his hands, Charles is locked away in notorious Newgate Prison.
Now it’s up to Kate to keep her framed fiancé from the hangman’s noose. To solve this labyrinthine mystery, she is forced to puzzle her way through a fiendish series of baffling riddles sent to her in anonymous poison pen letters. With the help of family and friends, she must keep her wits about her to corner the real killer—before time runs out and Charles Dickens meets a dead end . . .

New Release Party on Facebook 10/26

Stop by Jackie’s on Tuesday, October 26th to celebrate The Pickwick Murders release! The posts go up starting early in the morning and end at 11 am PST. There are two contests which will close at 8 am PST on October 27th.

I will be doing two other Facebook parties, on November 1st and 4th. I’m also doing a big Zoom Christmas presentation on December 1st, so stay tuned!