Friday, March 29, 2013

Evolution of the Mystery Genre

Whose Body?                                                        
Dorothy L. Sayers

This was Sayer’s first Sir Peter Wimsey novel, published in 1923. It begins with a call from Wimsey's mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver. She telephones to say that Thipps, an architect hired to do some work on her local church, has just found a dead body wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez in the bath in his flat. The official investigator, Inspector Sugg, suspects Thipps and his servant; Wimsey starts his own enquiry. Sir Reuben Levy, a famous financier, has disappeared from his own bedroom, and there has been a flurry of trading in some Peruvian oil shares. Inspector Parker, Wimsey's friend, is investigating this.

The corpse in the bath is not Levy, but Wimsey becomes convinced that the two are linked. The trail leads to the teaching hospital near the architect's flat, and to surgeon and neurologist Sir Julian Freke, who is based there. Wimsey discovers that Freke murdered Sir Reuben and staged his 'disappearance' from home, having borne a grudge for years over Lady Levy, who chose to marry Sir Reuben rather than him. He also engineered the trading in oil shares, to lure Sir Reuben to his death. He dismembered Sir Reuben and gave him to his students to dissect, substituting his body for that of a pauper donated to the hospital for that purpose, who bore a superficial resemblance to Sir Reuben. The pauper's body, washed, shaved and manicured, was then carried over the roofs and dumped in Thipps' bath as a joke. Freke's belief that conscience and guilt are inconvenient physiological aberrations, which may be cut out and discarded, is an explanation for his conduct. He attempts to murder both Parker and Wimsey, and finally tries suicide when his actions are discovered, but is arrested in time.

The book establishes many of Wimsey's character traits - for example, his interest in rare books, the nervous problems associated with his wartime shell-shock, and his ambiguous feelings about catching criminals for a hobby - and also introduces many characters who recur in later novels, such as Parker, Bunter, Sugg, and the Dowager Duchess. There is a passing reference in the book to Freddy Arbuthnot, Wimsey's friend and contact for the stock market, being in love with Sir Reuben Levy's daughter Rachel and wanting to marry her. This theme is picked up in Strong Poison, taking place seven years later, when Freddy at last manages to convince Rachel's family to consent to the match despite his being a gentile - after Freddy compared his long wait with that of the Biblical Jacob for his Rachel.

Dorothy Leigh Sayers

(June 13, 1983 – December 17, 1957)

Dorothy L. Sayers was a renowned English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and Christian humanist. She is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between the First and Second World Wars that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. Her novel, Guady Night was ranked #18 on The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time by the Mystery Writers of America.

Lord Peter Wimsey burst upon the world of detective fiction with an explosive "Oh, damn!" and continued to engage readers in eleven novels and two sets of short stories; the final novel ended with a very different "Oh, damn!". Sayers once commented that Lord Peter was a mixture of Fred Astaire and Bertie Wooster, which is most evident in the first five novels. However, it is evident through Lord Peter's development as a rounded character that he existed in Sayers's mind as a living, breathing, fully human being. Sayers introduced detective novelist Harriet Vane in Strong Poison. Sayers remarked more than once that she had developed the "husky voiced, dark-eyed" Harriet to put an end to Lord Peter via matrimony. But in the course of writing Gaudy Night, Sayers imbued Lord Peter and Harriet with so much life that she was never able, as she put it, to "see Lord Peter exit the stage".

Lord Peter Wimsey novels:
• Whose Body? (1923)
• Clouds of Witness (1926)
• Unnatural Death (1927). The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)
• Lord Peter Views the Body (1928; 12 short stories)
• Strong Poison (1930)
• Five Red Herrings (1931)
• Have His Carcase (1932)
• Hangman's Holiday (1933; 12 short stories, 4 including Lord Peter)
• Murder Must Advertise (1933)
• The Nine Tailors (1934)
• Gaudy Night (1935)

Friday, March 22, 2013




Nike Chillemi

Lucinda Byrne lost her husband and parents at sea. When she discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society finacee, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, acuses Lucinda of murder. She struggles on shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness of her situation. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he's a ladies' man, but soon realizes he may be the only one in her corner.

Hank Jansen, the county ME who's had his share of pain and loss, doesn't know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she's too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can't deny he's fallen head over heals for the accused, and also is crazy about her son. A huge problem is there's a leak inside the investigation and the murderer is always one step ahead of them.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Dianna T. Benson

When U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond refuses to follow an order to bury evidence in a high profile case, her superior inexplicably hires a hit man to kill her. Lelisa barely survives the first attempt on her life, but someone close to her is mistakenly murdered in her place.

Lelisa sets off on a daring mission to bring down the man who ordered her execution. A man in a high position, with powerful friends. A man who will stop at nothing to protect his son.

Can she take him down, before he sends someone else to silence her forever?


Dianna T. Benson

VBT: 2012 was an exciting year for your writing career, Dianna. Tell us about it:

DIANNA: Starting in February 2012, for thirteen weeks I had a pending contract offer from one of the largest traditional print publishing houses. The entire editorial staff and the entire leadership team loved my writing, but in the end the leadership team decided their suspense list is already too full. During this thirteen week timeframe, my agent and the senior acquisitions editor thought it was just a matter of time before my contract finalized, so my agent understandably let go of all the other interest in my writing. Soon after those thirteen weeks with that publishing house, Ellechor Publishing House, a small traditional print house, contacted me and asked me to submit to them my 2011 Genesis Winner, Illusion of Safety. A few days later, they offered for all nine books I submitted to them. My first book, The Hidden Son, releases March 1, 2013.

VBT: You received one of the most fabulous publishing contracts for an unpublished author that I’ve ever hear of. Tell us about it.

DIANNA: My nine-book contract is for three trilogies; all nine books are stand-alones but compliment each of the other two books in the series. My contract is amazing and my publisher, especially my editor and publicist, is a joy to work with; I’m blessed and thankful. I have full say on my book cover designs—I write a book cover concept, and the art department turns my words into a visual that mirror-matches what I have in my head.

VBT: You were a double finalist in the 2011 ACFW Genesis Contest and went on to win with Illusions of Safety in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. How has this helped you achieve your writing goals?

DIANNA: Contest wins look great on a proposal, but in the end the business side of a publishing house makes the final decision on contract offers, and unpublished writing contests have no relation to their current lists, their financials, the market, sales, a writer’s platform, or what constitutes as excellent and high profitable writing. However, due to being a 2011 Genesis Winner with Illusion of Safety, Ellechor Publishing House contacted me with an offer to submit Illusion of Safety for consideration of publication with them. From there, they read The Hidden Son and Final Trimester as well as the premises for Books Two and Books Three in all three trilogies, and they offered me a nine-book contract.

VBT: The Hidden Son is your first published novel. What states will you cover in your two-month book tour?

DIANNA: My publicist is currently planning my book tour and events. The following states are in the plans: Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, Oregon, California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Kansas. Last autumn, I pre-marketed in Paris and London, and the bookstores I visited are excited to sell my books. I may add Europe on my tour. The Cayman Islands are British owned and government operated, and The Hidden Son is the first book in the Cayman Islands Trilogy, so I may add Grand Cayman as well.

VBT: How has your eight-year career as an EMS, Haz-Mat and FEMA Operative figured in your writing?

DIANNA: To be honest, I owe my writing career to my EMS career. I wouldn’t be where I am as a published author without all those years in medic school and continuation education courses, without the countless shifts and varied calls, without all the various patients and intense and dangerous situations. Not only did my EMS career standout my proposal in the eyes of agents and publishers, but it soared my writing to heights I never would’ve been able to reach without all my firsthand emergency medical and rescue knowledge and experience. Since I only work part time, all the firefighters, law enforcers and paramedics I work scenes with inspire me every shift. I have massive respect for these individuals who work an incredible amount of intense hours every week and make low wages while risking their lives and health to help others. I hope my books give at least a little back to them for all their dedication and diligence to strangers in need.

VBT: How do you manage your EMS career, and a family with the daunting writing schedule?

DIANNA: I’m extremely organized and have an overabundant amount of energy, so I apply that energy into things I feel good about spending my life doing. It was rough when my children were young and I was writing, but my youngest daughter is thirteen now, my son is a junior in high school and my oldest daughter is a sophomore in college and all three of them are high-level busy student athletes, so I’m often writing as I travel to their sporting events all over the country.

VBT: Your daughter tried out for the 2012 Olympic Swim team shortly after haveing major back surgery. I know you are proud of her. Tell us about that.

DIANNA: In August 2010, my oldest daughter swam a time that qualified her to compete in the 2012 US Olympic Swim Team Trials for a spot on the 2012 US Olympic Swim Team that competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Unfortunately, she had surgery for severe scoliosis on May 2, 2012, not even eight weeks before the US Olympic Trials. If interested in the details that led to that surgery, see the Medical Blog page on my website: for information on how to view the blog that posted July 2012 titled A Scoliosis Journey, a blog I wrote just two weeks after her surgery (so in May 2012).

Unbelievably, less than eight weeks post her scoliosis surgery that left her with a thirteen-inch incision scar, she competed at the 2012 US Olympic Swim Team Trials. She refused to not go and try to swim her best, so she started to get back in shape only a couple weeks post surgery, and she battled pain as her body adjusted to the new positioning of her spine, scapulas, shoulders and rib cage as well as all the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments. She only began to find her new stroke with her new back when she swam in US Olympic Swim Team Trials.

She excited for the next three years of her college swim career at ACC Championships and NCAA Championships, and then she’ll be back at US Olympic Trials in 2016.

VBT: Any advice for new unpublished authors?

DIANNA: Read countless books in the genre you want to write. Don’t focus on the “rules” you may hear about writing. Just write from your heart, and God will lead you on the correct path for you and your writing. Every person is different; every writer is different. Find your way.

For further advice and information, see the On Writing page on my website.

VBT: Feel free to add any questions on information you would like your readers to know about you.

DIANNA: My website:
Also, The Hidden Son is available on:

1) Barnes and Noble
2) Ellechor Publishing
3) Google Books

DIANNA: Thank you, Virginia, for hosting me!

VBT:  My pleasure, Dianna. Very best wishes on the launch of new novel.