After a slight delay at the publisher, it’s full steam ahead for the second James & Lettice mystery, The Plutus Paradox.
Set in Vancouver in 1985, it revolves around the sudden kidnapping of Lettice’s father, Harold–a man she thought had been dead for fifteen years. And as If that wasn’t strange enough, the couple are left to care for the missing man’s six year old daughter, Lettice’s sister, also named Lettice.
In a case that spans Vancouver’s preparations for Expo 86 to the reclusive leftover hippie communes of the Sunshine Coast, James and Lettice are on a race against the clock to find out why Harold disappeared fifteen years ago, and who has him now. They soon discover that Harold is a man full of contradictions, but also learn that not everything about his past is what it seems to be.
For now the book is only available through Mundania Press directly, but once it’s available on Amazon or other booksellers I’ll be sure to update the website.
I mentioned before my fondness for 80’s era mystery shows, but you might ask yourself why I feel it’s a good setting for a mystery novel series. It’s not like the books are chalk full of self-aware jokes from the era. There wasn’t a single Miami Vice joke in Getting Rid of Gary, despite the first couple chapters taking place in Florida (to be fair, though, the show didn’t start until 1987).
That’s because the books aren’t about making fun of the era. Before starting I thought about one of the most influential mystery writers – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
You may know that Sherlock Holmes was so popular that some people believed him to be real, or at least as real as a fiction person could be. Maybe they just thought him real in a Santa Claus kind of way, but we all know 221B Baker Street still gets letters for the great detective to this day.
But what was odd about this reaction was that Doyle’s mysteries were never written in the present day, it was always in past, years or even decades earlier. It struck me as odd that people would think about Holmes in a present tense even though the events being recounted were firmly in the past. As time leapt forward for Doyle, it crawled along for Holmes as he became more and more popular.
And I think the reason for that is because of the age Doyle lived in. Gaslight London was giving way to Electric London, and Victorian England was rapidly changing and advancing in technology, perhaps more rapidly than some would like. The horse drawn carriage was slowly to be supplanted by the automobile.
In this time of flux, there must have been something nostalgic and reliable about Holmes, a touchstone to a past that was increasingly romanticized even within the reader’s own lifetimes.
I think we live in such an age now. Only now the obsolescence of tech is sometimes measured in months rather than years, much less decades. I’m sure it’s hard for some people to imagine using a phone that wasn’t also a portable computer with touch screen.
And then there are things that have changed our lives so much just imagining a time before can be difficult. Think about how ubiquitous YouTube or Facebook is and remember that they only came about 11 and 12 years ago, respectively. trying to imagine that you could be in the 21st century and NOT see these things around is mind-boggling.
And yet many of us grew up in a time before all this was (waves at the Internet) all this. And we got along just fine.
I think, much like Gaslight London of the 1880s and 1890s was for Doyle’s readers, the 1980s and 1990s are a similarly nostalgic touchstone, and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s a different time. It’s history. But one we can still touch before it slips away forever.