by Julia Buckley
I've been having a little reading fest lately. First I started on Roberta Isleib's Preaching to the Corpse; readers of this blog may remember that Roberta guest blogged for us not long ago, and I interviewed her today at Mysterious Musings. Roberta should be congratulated on her election as the brand new president of Sisters in Crime.
Next to Roberta's book on my TBR pile are Tim Maleeny's Beating the Babushka and John Dandola's Dead By All Appearances. Tim's book is a sequel to his popular Stealing the Dragon, and John's is also a continuation of a series with 1940s detective Tony Del Plato and M.G.M. publicity girl Edie Koslow. Dandola has also woven in some real people, like Jack Benny and the lovely Marjorie Reynolds, who starred with Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn. Remember her? She's in the photo above. (Photo link here).
In the foreword of his mystery, Dandola explains his interest in Reynolds, whose career never took off the way that it should have, given her talent and beauty. But, as Dandola points out, in fiction we can do anything we wish, and he wishes to give Marjorie Reynolds more time on stage: "On this, the sixty-fifth anniversary of Holiday Inn, I present Marjorie Reynolds as a character in a mystery novel. Perhaps, it will bring about some rekindled awareness of her career."
I love the notion that an author can go back, pick out an interesting part of history, and explore it fictionally. The popularity of historical mysteries tells me that I'm not alone in liking that idea.
One of the people I'd observe, if I were able to fly back in time, is Abraham Lincoln; coincidentally today, November 19th, is the day, in 1863, that he delivered the Gettysburg Address. I would like to stand there for the two minutes or so that it took Lincoln to say those words that would be remembered forever--two minutes of greatness that overshadowed the speech of the "great orator" who came before him, Edward Everett, who spoke for two hours. How wonderful it would be to see Lincoln as a solver of mysteries. Or has someone already written him into their book?
My question today is: Who is your favorite character in a historical mystery, whether they are based on real people or whether they are entirely fictional creations? OR To whom would you give new life, if you could put a historical character into a mystery?
(Lincoln photo courtesy of constitutional.net)