Please welcome award-winning novelist Suzanne Adair, a Florida native who lives in a two hundred-year-old city at the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont, named for an English explorer who was beheaded. Her suspense and thrillers transport readers to the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, where she brings historic towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, dancing, hiking, and spending time with her family. Welcome Suzanne!
Recipe for a Historical Thriller: Unexpected Hero + Hungry Readers + Neglected History
Regulated for Murder, a thriller set during the Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War, will be released 14 October. Reviewer Grace Krispy says the plot is “…a tightly woven storyline that rang true and felt complete.” Of the protagonist, Michael Stoddard, she says, “Driven by a desire to see justice done, no matter what guise it must take, he is both sympathetic and interesting.”
Michael Stoddard appears as a criminal investigator and a minor character in my earlier mysteries Paper Woman, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, and Camp Follower. Michael is a redcoat. More than a year ago, I queried my readers about how much of a challenge the concept of redcoat as hero would present to their belief systems and comfort zones. Turns out I needn’t have been concerned. As an archetypal hero, Michael proves himself a more-than-worthy opponent for villains, particularly the archetypal shadow of the series, Dunstan Fairfax. Reviewer Debbi Mack says,” Hey! I’m cheering for the redcoat. Whose side am I on here? LOL”
All this redcoat business started back in the late 90s, when I went hunting for exciting fiction to read about the Southern theater of the Revolution—and found none. Other readers bemoaned the dearth of such fiction, so I took it upon myself to plug the gap. The result was a trilogy that showcased wartime experiences of women during the Revolution through three female protagonists. Paper Woman won the Patrick D. Smith Literature Award. Camp Follower was nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Award.
I enjoy treating readers to the little-known history of the South’s role in the war. Readers enjoy exploring and learning this history. And not only does my fiction educate and entertain, it helps readers escape the “slings and arrows” of life in the 21st century. Huzzah!
What readers learn is a piece of the past skipped over in American History class. From January through November 1781, North Carolina was a strategic military focal point because the Eighty-Second Regiment, commanded by Major James Henry Craig, occupied Wilmington. We don’t often hear about a successful British campaign in American History class, so I’ve made this occupation the baseline event for Michael’s series. If you never learned that Major Craig’s activities dramatically reduced the efficacy of the Continental Army in the South and prolonged the war almost a year, you probably also don’t know about the strategic importance of Cross Creek (now called Fayetteville, North Carolina) to both the British and Continental Armies early in 1781. Or Major Craig’s desperate attempts to run dispatches to Lord Cornwallis concerning Cross Creek in January and February 1781. Or Cornwallis’s occupation of Hillsborough, North Carolina in February 1781. And history about the Regulator Rebellion, which left its scar on Hillsborough in June 1771 with Governor Tryon’s execution of six men there, is completely overshadowed by the activities of the Revolutionary War a decade later.
I folded all this neglected history into Regulated for Murder. I set Michael up as Major Craig’s dispatch runner to a loyalist contact for Cornwallis in Hillsborough in early February 1781. Then I asked, “What if?” What if Michael found the loyalist contact freshly murdered upon his arrival in Hillsborough? What if Michael had no way to continue his mission except by solving the murder? What if the executions of six Regulators ten years earlier figured into Michael’s February 1781 woes? And what if Michael had a secret that, if exposed, could earn him courts martial and execution? The result was a historical thriller titled Regulated for Murder.
And there’s much more to the Revolutionary War history of North Carolina in 1781. A full, exciting series worth. Welcome to Michael Stoddard’s series. It’s my honor and pleasure to let the rollout of real historical events dictate Michael’s external conflicts while I develop his internal growth across the year 1781 and persuade you to cheer for the redcoat.
For ten years, an execution hid murder. Then Michael Stoddard came to town.
Bearing a dispatch from his commander in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat Lieutenant Michael Stoddard arrives in Hillsborough in February 1781 in civilian garb. He expects to hand a letter to a courier working for Lord Cornwallis, then ride back to Wilmington the next day. Instead, Michael is greeted by the courier’s freshly murdered corpse, a chilling trail of clues leading back to an execution ten years earlier, and a sheriff with a fondness for framing innocents—and plans to deliver Michael up to his nemesis, a psychopathic British officer.
Thanks, Suzanne! Readers can look for Regulated for Murder at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.
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