Please welcome Susan Van Kirk, to introduce her Endurance Mysteries, and don’t miss her giveaway mentioned at the end for her newest in the series, Marry in Haste:
The Endurance Mystery Series
If you are looking for a new mystery series, please check out my Endurance Mysteries. Five Star Publishing/Cengage has published the first two books in the series, and I published a novella as an e-book only on Amazon.
Let me clue you in on some “insider information.” Each of the novels has a title that come from Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac. The last word in each of the novels is “Endurance.” Finally, my three children gave me a word to use in each of these books, hoping to stump me. Hasn’t happened yet. Even “helicopter” fits in.
Endurance is a small town with a history going back to the 1830s, when settlers came to downstate Illinois to found towns and colleges on the edge of the prairie. In our time, the town has a population of 15,000 and places with such names as Patsy’s Pub, the Coffee Bean, the Penny Saved Shoe Store, Shady Meadows Cemetery, and the Homestretch Funeral Home (my personal favorite.) It’s a nice town, you know what I mean … as long as you don’t mind a murder or two.
The main character is Grace Kimball, widow and mother of three adult children. She is 57 and has just retired from teaching at Endurance High School. This means she sees former students all the time, and the reader gets to hear the crazy antics she remembers about their high school years.
Grace has a circle of female friends, but her best friend is Detective TJ Sweeney. Some might say theirs is an improbable friendship, since Grace grew up in a white bread Indianapolis home, and TJ is an intelligent biracial woman who is the product of a broken home. Grace taught TJ and mentored her through high school and college. They are loyal to the end and have each other’s backs, which is a good thing. Grace gets herself into all kinds of trouble because of her curiosity.
Into this relationship comes a mystery man, the 62-year-old Jeff Maitlin, who was a big deal in the NYC journalism community. He has decided to end his career by working part-time with a small-town newspaper, the Endurance Register. Maitlin is a mystery man because no one knows why he came to such a small place or what his past has been.
In the first book, Three May Keep a Secret, we meet Grace and discover she is haunted by a tragedy in her past that she has never been able to put behind her. When shoddy journalist, Brenda Norris, is murdered in a suspicious fire, Grace is hired by the newspaper editor, Jeff Maitlin, to fill in for Brenda, researching the town’s history for a big centennial. Unfortunately, that past hides dark secrets.
When yet a second murder occurs, Grace’s friend, TJ Sweeney, homicide detective, races against time to find a killer. Even Grace’s life will be threatened by her worse nightmare. Against the backdrop of the town’s 175th founder’s celebration, Grace and Jeff find an undeniable attraction for each other. But can she trust this mystery man?
I was told by my publisher that it would be a loooong two-year break between the first and second books. So, I self-published a novella about my complicated police detective, TJ Sweeney, called The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney. It is an e-book and takes us back to the 1940s. A body is discovered when workers are digging the foundation for a new building. TJ Sweeney must identify the victim and figure out what happened to her.
Obviously, we had no DNA in the 1940s, so this will be difficult. We also learn about Sweeney’s past and her complicated feelings about her Caucasian father, who left when she was little. Her mother, a proud African American woman, tells TJ about what it was like to be in a mixed marriage in the 1940s. The victim was last seen at a big band venue called The Roof Garden, and TJ has an amazing conversation with an elderly woman who explains what it was like back then when she danced at The Roof Garden in the 30s. Dead ends, difficulties, and amazing finds … and then, for TJ Sweeney, this case becomes personal.
The second novel, Marry in Haste, is the story of two women, a century apart, living in the small town of Endurance, and both ignoring Ben Franklin’s “Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure.” A huge Victorian house is the setting for much of this novel, and in the house Grace finds a hidden diary from 1893.
It reveals the bittersweet story of Olivia Havelock, who came to Endurance and married a powerful, but abusive, judge. In the present day, Grace’s former student, Emily Folger, is accused of murdering her philandering, abusive husband. Grace sets out to prove Emily’s innocence, working with TJ Sweeney. Can the lessons from the diary help her save Emily Folger? This second full-length novel just came out November 16.
The third book will be out next year, and it is called Death Takes No Bribes. Grace goes back to her old high school, where she taught for almost three decades, when the principal is murdered in a horrific way. It’s a sentimental journey for Grace, who retired a year ago, and now she walks among her old colleagues wondering if one of them could be capable of murder.
Each mystery has a universal theme, and at the heart of the series is the resilience of women and how they support each other. They celebrate family, loyalty, and, often, social issues. History and romance twine their way through each book. So, I hope you’ll consider trying my Endurance Mysteries. Right now, I have a giveaway going on GoodReads for Marry in Haste that lasts until midnight on November 21.
Susan Van Kirk grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, and received degrees from Knox College and the University of Illinois. She taught high school English for thirty-four years, then spent an additional ten years teaching at Monmouth College.
Her first Endurance mystery novel, Three May Keep a Secret, was published in 2014 by Five Star Publishing/Cengage. In April, 2016, she published an Endurance e-book novella titled The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney. Her third Endurance novel, Death Takes No Bribes, will follow Marry in Haste.
Website and blog: http://www.susanvankirk.com