Part of the joy of Cozy Wednesday is introducing you to new authors.
Maithili Pradhan self published
Death at Timberly back in March and I am thrilled she could stop by today for a visit.
Reading, writing, escaping
As an eight-year-old I escaped the humdrum everyday of school, play and extracurricular activities by losing myself in Enid Blyton’s fantastical world where children just a few years older than I would catch smugglers and explore caves, sail boats into the great unknown and encounter all manner of magical creatures. With them I caught forgers and kidnappers, climbed down dark staircases, rescued trapped children, and figured out who the villain was. A few years later I accompanied Nancy Drew on all of her detecting forays. And when Agatha Christie introduced me to the world of murder most foul and using your little grey cells, it was only inevitable that I would continue this affair with mysteries and detection for many years to come, and that they would be my comfort when the rest of the world seemed unstable.
I would devour all manner of books, from Pulitzer prize winning novels to memoirs to sci-fi and fantasy. But when I needed a true escape and especially when I needed to feel like everything would turn out okay, it was always in a mystery that I found what I needed. After all, the smugglers always got caught, as did the thieves, and although the killer might get away with one or two more murders, eventually she would find herself trapped as well.
So when 2014 took a turn for the worse at an early stage, I found myself racing through mysteries. I re-read my way through all of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries, and Rhys Bowen and Carola Dunn couldn’t write books fast enough for me. I found mysteries therapeutic. Some meditate. Some do yoga. Some proselytize about Soul Cycle. For me, a couple of hours with a solid mystery – preferably something set in the English countryside or London of a bygone era – gave me the mental and emotional break from reality that I desperately needed. When the murderer was caught, I found myself refreshed. It was comforting and comfortable. After growing up in India, where all the children’s books I read were of the British variety, and a lifetime of devouring classic country house mysteries, I felt at home within the pages of a book that, despite its twists and turns, felt cozy.
When I didn’t have a book in my hands, I started weaving a world of my own. Through hours of daydreaming, Timberly conjured itself in my mind, rising out of hazy mists. Lucy and Maude, my heroines, grew in bits and spurts, sometimes becoming too nice, sometimes too nonchalant, so that I had to pull them back to their real selves. All of the characters were unruly and kept going their own way, and I had to tease them and negotiate with them to see if they would do what I wanted. The plot wouldn’t stay straight and insisted on its own twists, but the fun of tussling with it and drawing it together became a different sort of mental engagement and refreshment that I craved.
As I started putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were), slowly, coherent threads started emerging. I followed each one to see where it led, following the red herrings, seeing how my characters drove the plot and how the plot made them react. I became the detective of my own story.
In fact, when I started writing Death at Timberly, I didn’t even know who the murderer would be. So many of my characters seemed to have good reasons for killing the victim, and I wanted to give them all a chance to have done it. Even researching promising poisons became an interesting game. So much so, that after reviewing my website search history one day, I decided I should probably reassure my husband that although I was looking up everything from curare to strychnine to arsenic, all of these deadly poisons were meant for my fictional victim, not for anybody in real life! (I must say, setting a poison murder in today’s day and age would be much more difficult when you can’t just get some handy poison at the local pharmacy, no questions asked! I did also became grateful that none of these are easily available to the general public these days…we would all be living in daily terror that our neighbors and friends would do us in any day!)
Writing Death at Timberly gave me the same escape that reading cozy mysteries gives me otherwise. Except this time, it was more than just a few hours of delving into a different world – it was months of immersing myself totally into this one world, with characters of my own, and a story I hadn’t heard before. It meant becoming friends with my heroines, Lucy and Maude, and helping them find their way. It became a wonderful way to kill my own demons without inflicting any actual harm! As I plot the next episode in Lucy and Maude’s detecting adventures, I hope that Death at Timberly gives others some of the same delicious escapism that I have found in cozy mysteries throughout my life.
– Maithili Pradhan
Death at Timberly:
A Lucy Belling and Maude Grimsworth Mystery
Publisher: Maithili Pradhan (March 2, 2015)
Paperback: 190 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00TXW355S
It’s the tail end of summer in 1930 and Lucy Belling and Maude Grimsworth head to the Timberly Estate for what promises to be a lively house party hosted by their dear friends, Lord and Lady Hemming. But what starts off as a perfectly fine – if awkward – gathering of friends and family quickly turns into a complete washout when thunderstorms trap the ill-assorted guests in the house, tempers flare, and the host turns up dead. Now Lucy and Maude must put their wits to the test to help the tall, dark, and handsome Detective Inspector solve the crime –before he pins it on one of their friends!
This classic country house murder mystery will appeal to fans of period fiction from Agatha Christie to Downton Abbey.
Readers are introduced to Lucy Belling, Maude Grimsworth, Detective Inspector Harte and Sergeant Maddock. Lucy and Maude are friends of Lord and Lady Hemming and have been invited to their family get together as kind of buffer because Lady Hemming expects some uncomfortable conversations and situations. She never thought there would be a murder. It is that murder that brings the Detective Inspector and his Sergeant to Timberly.
There are several colorful characters and it takes a bit to sort them all out. In this type of story we continue to learn more about each of them the deeper we get into the story. Set in 1930 this was a fun trip back in time. With cantankerous Uncle Reg wanting to change his will every time one of the family doesn’t want to bow to his wishes. His daughter and her husband, the Lady and the Lord, have moved into his home for several reasons but the big one being catering to Uncle Reg’s wishes. Other family members and friends have come to dinner to make announcements of their own or to ensure their places in the will are secure. When a heavy thunderstorm rolls in they must spend the night at Timberly and not everyone arrives at the breakfast table.
This is an old fashioned mystery that reminded me of Agatha Christie but more Sherlock Holmes. Harte and Maddock are much like Sherlock and Watson with they way the approach and investigate a murder. Lucy and Maude observe the family and try to solve the mystery too and try to assist the good detective. Lucy is also an author and she is always looking for ideas for her stories. Nothing like a little murder mystery for her heroine to solve.
The story is well written and the plot is crisp. It is a delightful start for this series and debut for this author. I am excited to learn more about Lucy and Maude. I hope Harte and Maddock return too because we have hardly scratched the surface in the romance that may be blooming between a certain detective and a certain amateur sleuth.
Maithili Pradhan is an attorney and human rights advocate living in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. She grew up in India and the United States on a steady diet of Agatha Christies and Georgette Heyers and is a life-long aficionado of cozy mysteries. Her favorite activity is curling up with a good book, a soft blanket, and a hot cup of tea. She is the author of Death at Timberly, the first book in the Lucy Belling and Maude Grimsworth series.
Find out more on her webpage here.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”