Pre-Order Jewel of the Thames starting today!

Pre-Order Jewel of the Thames starting today!

Pre-order your very own copy of Jewel of the Thames starting TODAY!!! Go now! Share this with friends! Save the whales!

Also, because pre-orders are very good karma, there is SWAG for pre-orders – like fun badges of Baker Street, awesome tea named after PORTIA and other Fierce Ink specialities!


Character Profile: Irene Jones

As part of making a more fulsome description of Portia’s guardian in Casebook 1, I thought it was time to give a little more detail (but not too much – Irene is after all a secretive woman ; ).
The full list of Character Profiles can be found here.

Irene Jones
Irene Jones

FULL NAME: Irene Jones (one of several aliases she has used over the years).

AGE: in 1929 she is 71-years-old, born in April 1858.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Hazel eyes, steel grey hair shot with her original black, high cheekbones, beautiful skin despite her age, tall with a womanly figure. She uses a cane because of bad knees.

LOCATION: Unknown though she has homes in several European countries including the UK.

EDUCATION: Unknown, but probably a girls college and a finishing school.

PREFERENCES: Adores the finer things in life from food to wine to fashion to residences.

SOCIALLY:  In every iteration of her aliases she has maintained a strong socialite presence.

Damaged Characters need not apply!

A post I’ve been thinking about for a while based on some advice from potential agents is a trend towards creating damaged characters in order to somehow justify their actions.

This happens in all kinds of genres, from comedy to tragedy to yes, detective fiction.

For example:

Show Damaged Character
The Pretender The
Oh Jarod, you damaged genius you… kidnapped from his parents as a child and raised in an evil secret lab, this man solves crimes and saves people by using his brilliant ‘mind’ to pretend to be whomever and whatever the situation requires.
The Mentalist The
I never watched this show because of its stupid stupid name, but according to IMDB, Patrick, the lead character, is a very damaged soul – having lost his wife and daughter to a ‘madman.’ Ya. Cause you can’t pursue justice unless you’re a damaged man.
The Finder The
I only got introduced to the finder in an episode of Bones (coming up, don’t you worry!) – and discovered that the detective known as The Finder was ‘damaged’ by the wars in Iraq. It is this damage that allows him to miraculously see connections between seemingly unrelated things and solve crimes! Well thank God the man is a veteran!

At some point we need to talk about why so many shows are named by the adjective that most simply describes the activity of the lead, including ‘The Closer,’ and ‘The Ghost Whisperer,’  [Honestly, as an audience, I can take a little more depth of thinking ok Fox?]  but that is a whole other blog post.

Back to the point at hand – the predilection to create characters who have gone through something horrible in order to become the amazing detectives they now are. I touched on this a bit in my post about creating villains here, and the concept is the same – it’s ok to be motivated by something OTHER than trauma.

It’s why Bones is not on the list – despite having childhood trauma (Brennan was abandoned in her teens by her parents who turned out to be running from their criminal friends) – she actually earned the abilities that she uses to solve crimes by going to school and become the best Forensic Anthropologist in the country. So yes, her past does drive some of her passion, but her skills are something she nurtured over decades of schooling and experience.

I think that is a fair mix – everyone has baggage, some more than others, but for the love of God, it has to be ok to be a talented person in your field without the damage.

What do you guys think?

More smelly posts

Another post on how to describe smells? Look, our girl Portia is working with less senses these days, so unless you want her tasting her clues (like a hunky RCMP officer we all know and love) we are going to talk about describing your smells.

Anyways, I want my reader to be able to imagine the smell, to remember what that smell is, to actually experience it as Portia experiences it. What I did was to experience the smell and write about it. So I took a fresh piece of mint, crushed it up and described it.

These are some of the adjectives for describing smells: wispy, pungent, rancid, airy, musty, stale, fresh, putrid, faint, light, floral, and acrid.

The borough of Stepney

Photo taken by John Gay. "On a cold day a woman walks past the Chevrah Shass Synagogue, which is tucked away down an alley. The carriage archway from the street is flanked by local shops."
Photo taken by John Gay.
“On a cold day a woman walks past the Chevrah Shass Synagogue, which is tucked away down an alley. The carriage archway from the street is flanked by local shops.”
For my latest villain (she’s not so bad, but she does tend to blow things up poor dear) I was looking for an area of London where she could set up a home base.

Stepney is the borough I chose because it was a friendly place for immigrants, which my villain is.

It’s in East London, on the North side of the Thames.

Stepney Station

Land Mines and their usages

Landmines after World War I
Landmines after World War I

I’ve decided that Portia is going to suffer her injuries (that lead to the hearing and speech loss) via an explosion of a land mine.

The specific land mine in question will be activated via tripwire run between railway tracks.

It turns out that mines were used in the U.S. to derail at least two trains during the Civil War, so my scenario is feasible. I’m trying to decide between the 1kg Soviet EZ Mine and the 5kg Tellermine 29 (which literally feels like overkill) because both existed in 1932 when this casebook occurs.

One person will be killed, Portia will be injured, and one other person will lose a limb from this blast, making me think the 1kg mine is (Gods help us) sufficient.

Police Ranks of Scotland Yard

Wikipedia table of rankings
Wikipedia table of rankings

With all the movement within the staff of my Scotland Yard, it’s time for people to be promoted, namely Sergeant Jeryl Hudson Michaels (click the name to read more about him on his Character Profile page).

In Casebook 10, I intend to promote Michaels to Inspector and bring in a new character as Sergeant, not sure who right now, but someone who will disrupt the harmony of the Yard and Portia’s relationship with it for sure.

I was going to promote Constable Brian Dawes as well, but I think he’s only been on the force for two years, so it’s just too early, and there doesn’t seem to be an official step between Constable and Sergeant.

Pride and Poetry

“You mean the money that Simmons has apparently come into since leaving the police force, or the fact that Edwards had been waiting outside the bank for Simmons for more than an hour?” I replied, my eyes following them as far as I could before the falling snow and the shadows of the cityscape obscured them.

Yes, yes I am.


Sometimes you write something that makes you very pleased. For some reason, this is a very pretty piece of writing to me, so I thought I’d share it.  It’s from Casebook 9.

History of Harrods Department store

Fashion plate of 1909 shows upper class Londoners walking in front of Harrods Department Store (from Wikipedia)

I just added a scene wherein Annie and Portia are shopping at Christmas-time, 1931, and I needed to make sure Harrods of London actually existed back then. It did indeed, on Brompton Rd. in the Knightsbridge area near Hyde Park.
Phew! Love it when history supports my scribblings in the Moleskine!