Authors Showcase: Death by Misadventure by E. E. Smith
March 30, 2014
The Book: Death by Misadventure
The Author: E. E. Smith
The Story: The sign on her office door reads “ALEXIS J. SMITH – Discreet Inquiries, but a new client of her fledgling detective agency seems to think it means Murder Incorporated. The client, one Kate Faraday, is a former schoolmate (Sacramento High, class of ’41) who wants to hire Lexie to find her husband, Frank. During their initial interview it becomes clear that she doesn’t want him back “dead or alive,” she wants him dead!
If it were anyone else, the intrepid young private investigator would never have taken the job, but there is a problem. Lexie herself has been in love with Frank ever since they were all together in high school. She makes a desperate decision to find him and warn him of his wife’s mad intentions.
She travels to England and finds Frank staying at a country inn called The Old Vicarage, next to a little Norman church still haunted by a 12th Century ghost. What she discovers reveals a woman bent on vengeance, not only on her husband, but on Lexie, as well. Are they both marked for murder? How all this plays out, and culminates in a shoot-out at The Old Vicarage, is the climax of the story — but not the end.
About the Author: E. E. (Evelyn Eileen) Smith first attended the University of Iowa, and later received a B.A. in Fine Arts from California State University Long Beach.
Known earlier as a playwright, her works include PLAYTIME IN LONDON; BOARDINGHOUSE STEW; WARTIME RECIPES; THE TEMPERATE ZONE (based on Edith Wharton’s short story); GHOST WRITERS (based on two stories by Wharton and Henry James); RUNAWAY TRAINS; A FLAG FOR MARIA; PRIVATE LIES (a spoof on the play by Noel Coward); REVELATIONS, A GAME FOR THREE OR MORE COUPLES; three one-act plays, together titled RYAN’S REUNION, and a collection of ten-minute comedies together titled THE BRITISH ARE COMING.
Her plays have been performed in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and both northern and southern California. One play has been published.
Writing credits include a Drama Award from FS Theatrebooks, New York, (for BOARDINGHOUSE STEW); awards from Writers Digest (for PRIVATE LIES and PLAYTIME IN LONDON); and the Gem Award from Jewel Box Theatre, Oklahoma City (for WARTIME RECIPES).
E. E. Smith lives close to her native San Francisco where she now writes books and short stories instead of plays. One story was published in Writers’ Forum: Britain’s Best Magazine for Writers, in 2006.
The play, WARTIME RECIPES, first performed in Oklahoma City in 1998, was reprised there in 2010. Her first novel, BOARDINGHOUSE STEW, was published in 2009, and the New Edition published in 2011. The second novel, TIMES LIKE THESE, was also published in 2011, and IN LOVE AND WAR, a memoir, was published in 2012. She is now writing a murder mystery series.
Review by MikiHope: This is definitely a worthwhile read-and a fast one I might add! A murder mystery perfect for when you have an hour or so to cuddle up and enjoy a good story. The time frame is just after WWII when women were not supposed to be much more then nurses, teachers etc.
Our heroine, Alexie, is a private investigator who is not doing too well mainly because she is a female. Then in walks an old classmate from high school who wants her to find the missing husband, Frank and “Daisy” who is assumed to be a child. Of course the fact that this “old friend” wants this husband killed does not sit too well–but heck–she needs the money and figures maybe she can warn Frank and stop the death from occurring.
And she is worried about the child who has been abducted by her father. So off to England she goes (Frank’s last known whereabouts). Of course you know Scotland Yard is going to get involved along with one of their detectives who is fast falling for our PI and is determined to keep her safe.
As in any good old fashioned story based in England there is the resident ghost———-Not all turns out the way you might think it will and there is just enough comic relief to make me give this a 5 star rating! This is the first in a series.
Review by Harriet Klausner: In 1947, War Widow Alexis J Smith is late for work as a conductor of “Discreet Inquiries because she learned of the blood splattered on two floors of the building where her office is. When she finally arrives, Lexie’s secretary Sandy tells her boss that she has a client with apparently plenty of money waiting for her. Mrs. Kate Farraday offers the sleuth a lot of cash to find her missing husband Frank who vanished a year ago with their baby Daisy and a lot more if she kills him. Lexie is taken aback as she failed to recognize Mrs. Farraday until the woman said she is her 1941 Sacramento High School friend Katie O’Toole and Frank is the boy Lexie loved six years ago.
Believing Kate’s tale of woe is false and fearing her old buddy will find a gun for hire, Lexie decides to locate Frank in London to warn him of his mad mate’s murderous plot. In England, Lexie obtains help from Harry of “The Yard” as she locates Frank at haunted Old Vicarage Inn with Kate trailing the American gumshoe.
This opening act is a terrific historical mystery in which E.E. Smith captures the dreams of high school seniors a few months before Pearl Harbor and life in California and mostly London after WWII ended. Although minor I could not accept Lexie failing to recognize her BFF Katie even with an affluent make-over. Still readers will enjoy spending the 1940s with the heroine as our guide to post-war England, which enhances an excellent investigation made stronger by vivid flashbacks and a stunning twisted motive.