And Now for Something a Little Different
By Alison Bruce
Melodie asked me a very good question the other day. Why is Deadly Season lighter in tone than Deadly Legacy? Both are Carmedy and Garrett mysteries. Both are set in a somewhat dystopian near future…or, as it will soon be, a parallel present.
It’s all about timing.
My mother had died shortly before I wrote Deadly Legacy. In fact, my mother inspired the motive for murder. Things I learned about my mother after her death suggested that she suffered from depression. So did I, but I had to learn more about my own before recognizing the signs.
Here’s the thumbnail history I gave my postpartum depression group. My mother, sister, and father were all diagnosed with various forms of cancer in January. All they had to do was remove the tumour on his kidney for my dad. Joanne had a lumpectomy and radiation therapy for her breast cancer, but it metastasized and attacked her bones. My mother had small cell aggressive lung cancer and died within the year. I found out she was dying just before I found out I was pregnant. At the time I started the support group, I was taking care of a toddler, infant, my sister and father. Frankly, it’s a wonder I didn’t write something even darker…like The Mayor of Casterbridge or Les Miserables.
One of the reasons it wasn’t darker is that I have more of a sense of humour than Thomas Hardy and a more optimistic outlook than Victor Hugo. (Or maybe it’s the other way around.)
Dark isn’t my usual tone. I’m no Pollyanna, especially when it comes to social commentary, but I try to stay away from depressing fatalism.
One of the other reasons Deadly Season is lighter is that it’s written in first person. Kate Garrett, despite losing her father at the start of Deadly Legacy, has a sense of humour that leavens her dark times. As long as she is the voice of the series, there won’t be room for gloom and doom.
Last month Kate Garrett was a Police Detective. Now she’s a Pet P.I.?
Kate recently inherited half her father’s private investigation company and a partner who is as irritating as he is attractive. Kate has been avoiding Jake Carmedy for years, but now her life might depend on him.
Kate and Jake are on the hunt for a serial cat killer who has mysterious connections to her father’s last police case. Kate’s father had been forced to retire when he was shot investigating a domestic disturbance. Is the shooter back for revenge? And is Kate or Jake next?
“Deck the halls with boughs of holly…”
“I thought we agreed no holiday songs in the office.”
“We agreed no holiday music in the office,” I said, hanging fresh holly over the last window. “I didn’t think that included me singing.”
“Well it does,” said Carmedy, scowling.
I gave him my best look of wounded sorrow.
I added my brave waif smile for effect. I took as many drama electives as I could fit in when doing my undergraduate degree in psychology and criminology. It’s amazing how useful they proved to be in my professional life.
The cherry on top was a trembling lower lip a la Little Orphan Annie.
“Oh give it up,” he said, laughing. “I don’t believe that quiver for an instant.”
But I got you to laugh, I thought. These days, that’s victory enough.
By the terms of my father’s will, Carmedy and I became equal partners in his investigation agency. I took a leave of absence from the City Police Services to figure out what to do about that.
Carmedy thought I was crazy. Give up a secure job with benefits in this economy? But when had the economy not been an issue? I knew Dad didn’t expect me to inherit so soon. Well, I didn’t expect to lose my father so soon. Life happens.
He thought I was even crazier to take the cat-killer case. And he was pissed off I didn’t consult him.
Fair enough, but how did he expect me to say no to the Chief?
But that was yesterday’s news. I was determined to reduce the tension between us. For ten years we had been avoiding each other because of a misunderstanding my darling father created. I had miles to go in the grieving department, but was tired of being sad all the time, and walking on eggshells around Carmedy was getting old.
Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of mystery, romantic suspense and historical western romance novels. Three of her novels have been finalists for genre awards.