You never actually meet Charles Eagle, husband to Marie Adams, and father to Portia Adams in the books. The reason is simple: he was killed in the first world war when Portia was 5 years old so she never knew him. His gravestone is described in Book 2 as “on some distant French shore” like Normandy or Juno Beach. He was but 26 years old when he died, leaving behind a young wife and child in Toronto, Canada.
In my mind’s eye, Charles was a tall, handsome man, his eyes the same blue as Portia’s, described by Marie Adams as periwinkle in colour. He was a hero who died in the war, and remembered by his family as social and kind. Where Portia is madly curious by nature, she did not inherit that trait from her father, who was content to enjoy a simpler life with his family and friends. He would have had the opportunity to be highly educated, but turned it down, preferring to work with his hands, perhaps as a carpenter or tradesman of some type. He chose to move the family from San Francisco to Canada, looking for work as the extreme downturn in the economy made it harder to support his growing family.
At the beginning of Jewel of the Thames, Portia believes her father was an orphan. She was told that by her mother, who it turns out lied to her about that, choosing to hide his true parentage from Portia.
It is not till her mother has been dead for almost a year that Portia figures out her father’s real origins, and discovers that her paternal grandparents are very much alive.
Charles Eagle and Portia Adams share a few traits, and one of the sadder ones is that neither grew up with their father. I like to think that were he alive, he would be proud of our brave detective. What do you think?
As I am writing this post that title is exactly how I’m feeling. Jewel of the Thames just came out day before yesterday, and the book launch is on Friday, so most of my attention and writing have been focused on promoting it and the events around it. Thing is though, I had to share a bit about the new casebook I started while in France two weeks ago.
My husband has a thing for World War locations, so the first four days in France were spent travelling all over Normandy, from Vimy Ridge to Juno Beach. Suffice to say, as much as I enjoy museums and such, climbing into trenches and imagining the bloody warfare is not so much my cup of tea.
That is until we got to Arras. If you don’t know the story (and don’t be embarrassed, I didn’t know it either), Arras was a key battlefront for the British/Allied forces. The Brits decided to take advantage of the chalk mines beneath the city to tunnel their way into the German’s backyard and catch them unawares. Yes, I believe it was as crazy as it still sounds.
What this meant was that a crew of mostly New Zealand miners tunnelled under Arras, linking up chalk mines for six months, averaging 80 metres a day. Their amazing hard-work eventually allowed for 24,000 troops to amass under Arras waiting patiently until they emerged in the early morning of April 19th, 1917 to begin the battle of Arras.
I got to thinking about these mines and all those men down there, and a story started to form in my mind about Brian Dawes finding himself trapped down here almost 14 years later in the abandoned passages. I’ve tentatively called it ‘The Constable’s Case’ and it’s told from his point of view.
In the order of casebooks, I’m placing it after casebook 10: Clear as a Bell.