By Jeanette de Beauvoir
A lot of mystery readers will tell you they don’t care about history. For them, reading is all about experiencing a fast-paced modern thriller, a whodunit, a crime drama. Figuring out where the red herrings have been scattered, trying to beat the protagonist to the solution.
But what I’d like to suggest is that mysteries really are, at their core, all about the past.
When you open a mystery, you’re not coming in at the first act. You’re seeing the result of something that happened even before you picked up the book; the beginning of a mystery story always deals with the end of something else. In murder mysteries, that tends to be a human life. So mystery readers and mystery writers are all—in a sense—archaeologists, delving back into the past to see what possibly insignificant detail drove the victim along a certain path to meet their death.
And maybe that’s important. Maybe we always need to find the path from the past in order to get to the future. Maybe history isn’t all that uninteresting.
I’ve been exploring the past in one way or another for most of my life. When my friends in primary school wanted to be astronauts or rock stars or fashion designers when they grew up, I wanted to be an archaeologist. When I started writing (at age ten) I began with a novel set in the middle ages. And I think that a lot of what I write now, present-day mysteries with causation rooted in the past—is a natural development for someone who believes the past never really goes away.
We all have skeletons in our closets, whether the “we” refers to us as individuals, as communities, as families, or as countries. There are things we’ve all done we’d prefer stayed buried. So even as we identify with the detective in a mystery, there’s also a part of each of us that understands the fear or need that drove the killer to act.
And remember that there’s a reason why genealogy is so popular. Uncle Ernie may have had crooked teeth and Grandma could have been something of a drinker—but they’re part of your past, part of your family, part of who you are.
Part of your history. Every story has a beginning, whether it’s the story of your life or the story in a mystery novel, and that beginning can have its roots well in the past. And as a culture, as readers, as writers, we’re imperfect at understanding why we do what we do. We can’t set up experiments to see how situations will turn out, so looking at the past has to be our most vital evidence as we try and figure out why our complex species does what it does.
Jeannette de Beauvoir didn’t set out to murder anyone—some things are just meant to be! Her mother introduced her to the Golden Age of mystery fiction when she was far too young to be reading it, and she’s kept reading those authors and many like them ever since.
She wrote historical and literary fiction and poetry for years before someone asked her what she read—and she realized mystery was where her heart was. Now working on the Sydney Riley Provincetown mystery series, she bumps off a resident or visitor to her hometown on a regular basis.
Jeannette is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Author’s Guild, and the National Writers Union. Find out more (and read her blog or sign up for her newsletter) at her website. You can also find her on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Patreon, and Goodreads.
The Matinée Murders to Début June 1
Sixth Book in Provincetown Mystery Series Showcases Film Festival
Provincetown, MA, May 21, 2020: HomePort Press is delighted to announce the release of bestselling author Jeannette de Beauvoir’s latest novel, The Matinée Murders. Set against the backdrop of the iconic Provincetown International Film Festival, this cozy mystery captures the energy and vitality of one of the town’s most celebrated events.
Wedding planner and local sleuth Sydney Riley has scored a festival coup: her inn is hosting the wedding of the year between movie star Brett Falcone is to marry screenwriter Justin Braden. But when Sydney opens a forbidden door in the mysterious Whaler’s Wharf, she discovers the body of a producer and a legion of unanswered questions, which she sets out to answer in her usual, tenacious fashion.
The Provincetown mystery series highlights Provincetown’s festivals and theme weeks, and The Matinée Murders was in the pipeline well before the pandemic forced the cancellation of several summer events. “It’s ironic, of course,” says de Beauvoir. “Here I have a murder happening, but at a festival that isn’t happening! It’s a little like the tree falling in the forest question—if you kill someone during a festival that doesn’t take place, are they still dead?”
HomePort Press publisher Arthur Mahoney leaves that problem to the reader, though he’s confident the book will help sustain the spirit of the event. “People come from all over the world for the film festival’s superb programs and celebrity appearances,” he points out. “And we’d planned a launch while they were here. Though that won’t happen, I’m hopeful the Provincetown mystery series may fill some small portion of the void for those who attend any of our theme weeks. Jeannette’s stories always deliver an intriguing mystery from a local perspective. Her readers have frequently expressed how the series conjures fond memories, which is why we decided not to delay this release. After all, reading may well be the next best thing to being here!”
Most of what typically celebrates a book’s release—launch parties, personal appearances, book readings, and signings—is personal and high-touch. “It’s challenging to do lots of things right now, and releasing a new book is no exception,” de Beauvoir explains. “For now, everything is virtual. I’m doing a blog tour, visiting mystery groups and book clubs, filming videos, writing articles, and fielding Q&As. Still, nothing compares to meeting readers in person, which is what I love most about my job. You can be sure we’ll be having an in-person launch for this book as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
The eBook version of The Matinée Murders is available now for pre-order on Amazon.
About Jeannette de Beauvoir: Jeannette de Beauvoir is an award-winning novelist whose work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages. She’s the author of mystery novels and historical/literary fiction. More at http://www.jeannettedebeauvoir.com
About Homeport Press: Homeport Press is a growing collaborative that promotes and publishes the work of Provincetown authors. More at http://www.homeportpress.com
Press Contact: Arthur Mahoney: firstname.lastname@example.org