The next Higgins & Hawke cozy historical mystery is coming soon!

The next Higgins & Hawke cozy historical mystery is coming soon!

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I only lived in Boston for a year, back in 2005, but the city had an indelible impact on me. The Higgins & Hawke mystery series is the second book series I set in the city.

Being a Canadian west-coast gal, I wasn't used to the depth of the history found in the east, particularly in the  New England states. I fell in love with all the brick, the cozy, European-style walkways and neighborhoods, and activity on the harbor overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I learned about the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere's ride, and the events that led up to the revolution. (Actually, these historical moments are featured in the books of The Clockwise Collection if you're interested in time travel romance). 

The summers are humid and the winters are cold, but the overall character of the city is warm and friendly. I look back on my time there with my family with fondness. 

On that that note, I'm excited to announce that the 6th book in the Higgins & Hawke series ~ DEATH AT KING'S CHAPEL ~is releasing July 30! (One day before my birthday, so happy birthday to me 😎)

Death is so cryptic!

In 1932, Boston’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Haley Higgins is called to view bones at the crypt at King’s Chapel. Finding old bones in a crypt isn’t unusual, but finding new bones is! Together with her good friend and investigative journalist Samantha Hawke and in co-operation with the police, Haley works to unravel the mystery behind the lost soul abandoned in the crypt. Who was the victim and why was the body left in the crypt?

Suspects range from caretakers at King’s Chapel, to members of the Boston historical society, to local government officials.

As the mystery unravels, it’s clear to Haley that they’re dealing with a sinister mind and a culprit who wouldn’t stop at killing again.

PREORDER HERE

 

 Haley & Samantha

If you've been following along, you'll have noticed how our two friends, Haley Higgins and Samantha Hawke, have grown through challenges, both personal and outside, over the course of the six books. Haley went from being the assistant medical examiner - a major accomplishment for any woman in the 1930s, to the Chief Medical Examiner - definitely a woman ahead of her time. Her self-image is improving with her professional confidence, but, up to now, she's remained unlucky in love. Will she find her way to romantic happiness?

Samantha Hawke, like Haley, has had to fight and scratch her way into the world of journalism; still saddled with fluff pieces, even though she has proven her mettle time and time again. She's devoted to her daughter, and everything she does is with Talia in mind. This leaves little room for romantic endeavors, yet, her heart longs for love. Will she find it?

  

Fashion 

One of the many things I love about writing historical fiction is presenting the fashion of the day. The 1930s offer so many iconic looks. The era had an air of struggle and seriousness due to the advancing depression, unlike the twenties that exuded an on-going party atmosphere. Fashion reflected this with hemlines lengthening from the knees to mid-shin. The boyish, long-waisted frock was replaced with form fitting dresses synched at the waist with a narrow belt, as opposed to the  broader ribbons worn on the hips. Embellishments and adornments in general shrunk in size with diminishing flair.

The thirties also saw the advancement of wide-legged pants for women. In much of the same way the women of the twenties rebelled against the Victorian restrictions of the corset and a nest of long hair, with short cut hair and shapeless dresses, the modern woman of the thirties grasped for equality through fashion by donning what had been considered men-only wear. 

 

Social Issues in Boston 1932

The prohibition era, which lasted from 1920 to 1933, brought its own set of challenges. The ban on alcohol led to the proliferation of speakeasies and a rise in organized crime, as gangs sought to control the lucrative illegal liquor market. This period saw increased police activity and corruption within law enforcement as they battled bootleggers and gangsters.

Women’s roles in society were also evolving. The early 1930s saw women increasingly entering the workforce, driven by necessity as families faced financial hardships. This shift began to challenge traditional gender roles, laying the groundwork for future movements toward gender equality.

Overall, Boston in 1932 was a city struggling with economic despair, social inequalities, and the complexities of changing societal norms. 

 

Fun Facts 

Here are five fun facts about Boston:

1. Harvard University: One of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the U.S., Harvard, continued to be a major center of education and research, attracting scholars from around the world.

2. Fenway Park: The iconic home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, was already a beloved landmark, having opened in 1912. In 1932, it was a popular destination for baseball fans.

3. Boston Marathon: The Boston Marathon, which started in 1897, continued to be one of the most important long-distance running events in the world. In 1932, it celebrated its 36th annual race.

4. Beacon Hill: This historic neighborhood was known for its beautiful brick row houses, narrow streets, and gas lamps, maintaining much of its 19th-century charm even in the 1930s.

5. The Great Molasses Flood: Although it occurred in 1919, the aftermath of the Great Molasses Flood, where a storage tank burst and released a massive wave of molasses in the North End, was still a topic of conversation and part of local lore.

 

 Important Boston Landmarks

You can't write about Boston without mentioning these three important landmarks.

Boston Common: Established in 1634, Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States. It served as a central gathering place for the city, hosting events, protests, and recreational activities. The park's historical significance and central location made it a prominent landmark.

Faneuil Hall: Known as the "Cradle of Liberty," Faneuil Hall was a key site for public speeches, debates, and town meetings since the 18th century. It played a significant role in the American Revolution and continued to be a bustling marketplace and a tourist attraction in the 1930s.

Old North Church: Famous for its role in Paul Revere's midnight ride, the Old North Church, built in 1723, is Boston's oldest surviving church building. Its historical significance as a symbol of the American Revolution made it a major landmark and an essential stop for visitors interested in the nation's early history.
In DEATH AT KING'S CHAPEL, obviously, the historical King's Chapel Church and the old crypt are featured extensively. King's Chapel Church, located in Boston, is a historic Unitarian Universalist church founded in 1686, known for its beautiful Georgian architecture and rich history. The church's crypt, one of the oldest in New England, houses the remains of early colonists and offers guided tours, providing a glimpse into the city's colonial past. Both the church and crypt are significant landmarks, reflecting Boston's architectural and religious heritage.

 The Burying Ground next door.

 

Historical Highlights

Whenever I start a new book, I always spend time researching what was going on in the world during the time period of my mystery novel.  

The year 1932 was marked by significant historical events that shaped the global landscape. Amid the throes of the Great Depression, economies worldwide were grappling with unprecedented financial hardship. In the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidential election, promising a "New Deal" to help lift the country out of economic despair.

In Europe, the political landscape was equally tumultuous. Germany saw the rise of the Nazi Party, with Adolf Hitler consolidating power. The July elections were a pivotal moment, as the Nazis became the largest party in the Reichstag, setting the stage for Hitler's eventual dictatorship. Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin's regime was intensifying its grip, marked by forced collectivization and political purges.

Asia also witnessed significant developments. In China, the conflict between the Nationalists and Communists continued, leading to further instability. Japan's military expansionism was evident with the occupation of Manchuria, an act that signaled growing tensions leading up to World War II.

The year also saw notable achievements in science and culture. Amelia Earhart made history by becoming the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. In literature, Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" was published, offering a dystopian vision of the future that remains influential today.

Overall, 1932 was a year of profound economic, political, and cultural shifts, with events that resonated across the globe and had lasting impacts on the course of history.

 

I hope you enjoyed this "highlight reel" for Death at King's Chapel. Did you learn anything new? What was your favorite part? let me know in the comments. 

 

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6 comments

I grew up in that part of Boston (the north slope of Beacon Hill, before urban renewal in the ’60s, was considered part of the West End). Been an ex-pat for over 50 years, but still consider it home. Thanks for the nostalgia.

Janet

Thank you Lee. I enjoy the whole package. The fashion, political, economical, and world news outlooks. It’s how you present it that makes it all resonate, with the photos being the icing on the cake. :)
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Shop Lee Strauss replied:
You’re welcome! So glad you enjoyed reading it.

Laura

This was a timely blogpost. We just came back two weeks ago from a week in Boston and I’d forgotten about King’s Chapel as we only went through the cemetery. Thanks for reminding me. We really enjoyed our trip- including a game at Fenway Park against our Detroit Tigers! I enjoy reading these historical insights.
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Shop Lee Strauss replied:
Sounds like you had a great time!

sue s

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog about Boston. I love history, especially about my own country and now, although it’s a long way from Texas, I want to visit Boston and see all these places for myself!
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Shop Lee Strauss replied:
A visit to Boston is worth it!

Joan Brown

I, too, enjoyed reading the historical information. I’m a US West Coast (California) gal, going back many generations, and feel divorced from Colonial history. I learned the basics in school, but was far more fascinated by local history. Famous names and places rattle around my brain as foreign objects. Reading about the fashion changes, social issues and the great molasses flood were most interesting to me. It fascinates me how we went from conservative attitudes at the turn of the century to loosening up and then getting conservative again. Eras continued to shift back and forth, which must have been very confusing for those living through it all. I often wonder what my mom, who was born in 1920, made of all the changes.
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Shop Lee Strauss replied:
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the historical content. I also found it interesting that styles got more conservative after the 20s, but I’m assuming hard economic times made people more serious overall.

Sheryl

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