A Nic & Nora Mystery Book 1
On October 29, 1945, Nicole Owen made her first appearance on the new radio show, Inez Ingalls, Private I. Her career began only weeks earlier when she was hired her to read ad copy and work as an understudy. When lead actress Carolyn Park is murdered, Nic moves into both the starring role and a top spot on the list of suspects. Cecil Park, husband of the murdered woman, wants answers. So does Nora Hahn, Carolyn’s ‘special friend’ for fourteen years.
World War II is over, and those who lived through it want life to return to ‘normal’. For homosexuals, hiding who they are, and living with insults and often-dangerous reactions when others discover their secret, is normal.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I can best answer that question with the author’s note at the beginning of the book: One of the most rewarding aspects of writing historical mysteries for me was the discovery that researching was nearly as fulfilling as writing. In a television interview after the release of my book The Woman in the Wing, also set in the 1940s, the host asked if I was a history buff. My response—“I am now.” Prior to writing that book, I had a passing interest in history. After studying Rosie the Riveters and Women Airforce Service Pilots, and the work they performed, the interest became a passion. I wanted to know the details. My desire to share those details took hold when I discovered that at the end of the WASP program, documents and files were sealed and put into storage in the Pentagon. For thirty years, people wrote about WWII without that information and the stories of the women who ferried military planes went unreported. Women’s achievements are often under-reported or ignored. Without role models, young girls grow up believing there are things they can’t do. Limiting choices and the ability to learn and grow of half the population weakens a society and hurts us all. I write mysteries, but the stories focus on the strength, resilience, and wisdom of women and men—gay and straight. In She Overheard Murder, you will meet the characters of the Nic and Nora Mystery series, a series that, I hope, will entertain, enlighten, and remind you that in all of us, there are more similarities than differences.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Writers become great observers. Everyone we meet ends up in our stories. My characters are a blend of friends, family, strangers, and of course, me.
Seconds after finding a seat on the elevated train, Nic fought the effects of its sedative rocking. She wanted to think, not sleep, and focused on the neighborhood rushing past her window.
Wooden porches tacked on the backsides of brick and stone buildings and connected by a web of clothesline and electrical wire dominated the view. On the topmost porch of one four-story brownstone, ropes and pulleys held starkly utilitarian denim and cotton garments, while across the alley, a collection of colorful fabrics with intricate woven designs danced in the breeze to an unheard drum. To Nic, the clothes waved like flags of the diverse nationalities that called the city home.
Hardship and loss were common during the depression and two world wars of the last thirty-five years. Many, on both sides, rich and poor, lost everything. When an image of Carolyn Park drifted into her thoughts, Nic wondered if poverty could push a person to cross a moral line. Could need, or greed, remove barriers and allow the murder of another human being?
Nic considered Anna the deep thinker in their family, while she went from day to day without questioning the whys or hows of things. This day, questions came and went at a dizzying speed, continuing as she left the train and walked to the Mart. Persisting as the elevator rose to its destination. Refusing dismissal even as the car doors opened and she said goodbye to Sam. It was no surprise then that she approached Marcy and fired off a question before the receptionist noticed her arrival. “Marcy, did you know Carolyn Park very well?”
Jean Sheldon, born and raised in Chicago, spent the first half of her life as a fine and graphic artist. In 2004 she began another creative endeavor—writing mysteries. The Woman in the Wing is a historical mystery about women pilots (WASP) and factory workers (Rosie the Riveter) during WWII. Seven Cities of Greed involves a group of women of a ‘certain age’ on a quest for adventure and the mythical ‘Seven Cities of Gold’ in New Mexico, Jean’s home for over twenty years. Mrs. Quigley’s Kidnapping introduces Mattie Draper, a female detective in Chicago circa 1968, and Flowers for Her Grave is an old-fashioned whodunit in which two amateur sleuths in their early sixties, a gossip columnist and a gardener, solve a 20-year-old crime. An Uncluttered Palette is a mystery filled with art history, oil painting, forgery, and fun! Jean’s newest release, She Overheard Murder, introduces the characters of the new ‘Nic & Nora Mystery’ series—mysteries solved by lesbian amateur detectives in post-World War II Chicago.
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