Soccer mom detective Karen Maxwell gets her first “undercover” assignment-as a soccer mom.
For years after her divorce, Karen Maxwell handled administrative paperwork for her brother’s private investigation agency while he ran around town doing the “fun” part—the investigation. When his partner retires, he finally offers her a chance to take a case of her own. She soon finds out why.
The assignment involves the theft of the local historical society’s most treasured artifact, and her brother figures everyone involved is a little crazy. While Karen poses as a volunteer at the site to catch the thief, she meets a host of dedicated historical re-enactors, one of whom happens to be tall, handsome and unmarried. Unfortunately, he is also a prime suspect.
And not only does she have to spend her Saturdays running around in funny clothes, she has to somehow get her kids to go along with it, too.
Note: This cozy mystery was first published in print as part of the Heartsong Presents: Mysteries series from Barbour Publishing. That version is out-of-print, but autographed copies are available through AuthorsDen.
The Story Behind the Story:
Soon after I discovered the world of 18th Century reenactors and living history, I thought it would be cool to set a murder mystery in the reeancting world. Many reenactors adopt alternative personas and look and act differently than they do in their day-to-day lives. Some even practice their own form of frontier justice, punishing people inside the community without going to the modern police. It had all the ingredients for a great story except…the author. When I tried to write the bleak story in my head about death, revenge and dark secrets, it came out like a 1970s sit-com. Not exactly what I was going for. I put it away and moved on to something else.
A few years later, I learned that a Christian publisher was starting a new cozy mystery series and they were looking for stories. I thought back to my idea about going undercover into the world of reenancting and wondered what would happen if I made the mystery less serious. So instead of dead body, we had a missing artifact. And then my sarcastic female detective became a soccer mom trying to create a life for herself after her divorce. The story took off from there.
So George Washington Stepped Here is full of tension and conflict, but no dead bodies. The end of a person’s life is a serious matter and it deserves better treatment than I can offer in my fiction. But if you want to see the dastardly side of parenting, divorce, and office politics, you’ve come to the right place.
(The picture here is blacksmith Alex Musick at Jerusalem Mill Village, the site where I first discovered living history interpretation. I will be sharing more living history photos on the “About the Author” page and in the revised edition of Everyday Life in 18th Century Maryland.)
“Hays has penned a very likeable, funny character in Karen, and mixed suspense with an enjoyable romance. The family dynamic between Karen and her children is so realistic it is priceless.”
–Susan Sleeman, The Suspense Zone
“I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT!
George Washington Stepped Here is a delightfully funny who-done-it.”
–Debra Gaynor, ReviewYourBook.com
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Fun Background Information:
Guest blog post on camping at a living history event: