Thanks to everyone who came out to Queen Books today and wrote a fine mystery story of their own!
Portia meets Brian for the first time outside her townhouse.
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.
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.
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.
You know that old ‘I Love Lucy’ episode with the conveyer belts and the chocolates? Remember how Lucy is just fine wrapping up those tasty treats until the speed overtakes her production and she starts stuffing them into her mouth so that the ‘extra’ chocolates don’t get past her (a crime for which she will be fired)?
Ok, so that is NOT what I am planning for Monday morning when I go from writing in my spare time around a full-time job to writing full-time. The conveyer belt needs to speed up but the rate of production needs to match it!
It’s been a while, but since he plays a part in this latest casebook I am writing, I thought I would give a bit of backstory to ‘Bruiser’ Jenkins next (the full list of Character Profiles can be found here).
FULL NAME: Asher ‘Bruiser’ Jenkins is a retired professional boxer, and semi-retired thief. Bruiser was his name in the ring.
AGE: in 1929 he is 76-years-old, born in September, 1853.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Of African descent, though born and raised in England. Big, close to 200lbs, about 6’2″ tall, with developed muscles, even for his age. He has cataracts, and has fractured the bones in his hands so much over the years that they cause him constant pain.
LOCATION: Brixton, London. In the downstairs apartment of a three-story house.
EDUCATION: Grade school in London, dropped out before grade 9.
PREFERENCES: Prefers beer, smokes copiously, eats well, and enjoys food. Good with his hands, and therefore takes off jobs in construction and building. Likes dogs, racing, gambling and women. His prize possession is a gramophone and his growing record collection.
SOCIALLY: Parents both dead, no spouse or children,very loyal to former partner (and perhaps paramour, that is yet unclear) Irene Jones (nee Adler), and protective of her granddaughter Portia Adams. He has spent some time in prison, probably in his twenties, and has many friends from his old life.
Oh boy. I just had a really cool idea: with Portia Adams the consulting detective now operating from 221B Baker St, how cool would it be if her cousin, another grandchild of Dr. John Watson, was a criminal psychologist?
I like that idea. I’m trying to work out if this new addition to Portia’s life should be a man or a woman. Regardless, there are all kinds of opportunities here for conflict, tension, competition, emotion… the list goes on and on.
This is a story after all, and I personally LOVE it when a character links to another character from canon, it’s like an inside joke between the author and I.
I have to think about it some more, but I had to write it down cause I haven’t stopped smiling since I thought of it.
NB: Just a quick edit, I wanted to make sure it was feasible that a woman at this time could be a practicing psychologist, and yes, it seems the first woman to earn a Phd in Psychology was Margaret Washburn, and that was way back in 1894, a good 30 years earlier. Margaret Lowenfield could serve as a good model for such a character.
I love it when the WordPress Daily Prompt is something I am already thinking about!
The challenge today is: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a member of the opposite sex for a day? What do you think life would be like?
|Portia Constance Adams||Brian Dawes|
I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between Portia Adams and her partner, Constable Brian Dawes. The differences in their personalities aside, what benefits and issues does Portia face as a woman in 1930s London.
Imagining her as a man is an interesting exercise in this case. For example, the fact that she is anti-social and doesn’t really care about her manner of dress or place in society would probably be more acceptable if she were a male of her income and stature. Of course, her choice of profession would be more acceptable, I’d guess that 99% of detectives at this time were male.
In addition, many of the obstacles she faces chasing down her cases would not be obstacles as a man, from the physical restraints to the assumptions made about her ‘place’ in the world.
BUT being a woman also means that Portia is often under-estimated, and is able to gain the upper hand simply through surprise. It also allows her access to people who might not naturally trust a man of her background. Finally, I think being a woman of her demonstrated intelligence (and I say demonstrated because there are many many intelligent women of course, but she has had the opportunity to publicly display her own prowess) sets her apart even more so than if she were a man amongst many other men all of whom were encouraged to flourish in her chosen field.
So that’s my take, being a male detective in 1930s London as Brian Dawes is lucky enough to be is all well and good, but Portia, she’s a class all to her own, and that’s what makes her a memorable character.
Because I found myself writing a rather expansive scene with Portia and Dr. Beanstine today, I felt it was time to take him on next in my list of Character Profiles. The full list of Character Profiles can be found here.
FULL NAME: Henry Aldwin Beanstine, nicknamed ‘Beans’ by his friends, Coroner with the Metropolitan Police of London, more colloquially known as Scotland Yard.
AGE: in 1929 he is 27-years-old, born in January 1902.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Wide brown eyes, black unruly hair, thick eyebrows, 5’8″ tall, slim but well built, handsome in a boyish way, wears very thick glasses for his poor eyesight.
LOCATION: London. Lives in Piccadilly.
EDUCATION: Attended Eton College and then Cambridge.
PREFERENCES: Deferential and kind, Beans enjoys spending time with his friends, and the students at Kings College he teaches. He prefers not to spend a lot of time with his family as he is generally held in low regard because of his choice to have a profession.
SOCIALLY: Beans is the 5th son of Lord Beanstine, and Irish noble who now has a seat in the House of Lords. His mother and brothers are all still alive, his eldest brothers all holding political seats, and he being the only one who has chosen (against his family’s wishes) to ‘work’ for a living. Beans developed a crush on Portia in the ‘Thrice Burned’ that is not reciprocated. He is engaged to Lady Grace by the end of ‘No Matter How Improbable.’