Monday, November 26, 2012


Welcome back, Mary Jane! -- Mystery Maven

It’s been almost a year since I’ve been here at Mystery Maven and I’m really glad to be back in this celebration of Canadian mysteries and Canadian mystery writers.

Today I would like to lead you into The Next Big Thing: which involves answering ten questions about my work in progress, although I have to call it our work in progress as it’s a collaboration with my daughter, Victoria. We are writing as
Victoria Abbott. The Christie Curse, the first in the book collector mystery series, will hit the stands on March 6 and we are already working on the second book. We love talking about our latest project.

These questions come from our friend, Barbara Fradkin (and before that from Vicki Delany). You can find Barbara over at and Vicki at Both are always well worth reading!

So here are the Q’s followed by our A’s.

What is your working title of your book?

The Sayers Swindle is the second in the Book Collectors series, following The Christie Curse, which debuts in March 2013.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea came from a discussion with my editor and agent followed much evil plotting with my collaborator and daughter, Victoria Maffini and the addition of one cat and one pug. I have always been interested in the unexplained disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926, a disappearance that is still shrouded in mystery. Of course, that would have to be connected with the idea of a newly discovered manuscript, possibly an unknown Christie, the idea that drives the book. Did Agatha have time to write a play in those few days? What collector wouldn’t salivate over such a manuscript if she had? Oh yes, it might be deliciously dangerous.

What genre does your book fall under?

It seems like a good example of a cozy mystery, a sub-genre we both love. If there was a sub-sub-genre of humorous cozy with rare books, mysterious manuscripts, valuable antiques, vintage clothes, criminal relatives and cats with really sharp claws, it would be a really really good example of that.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

We’d see the remarkable Ellen Page as Jordan Bingham, our protagonist, Mary Walsh as Vera Van Alst, Ryan Gosling as the spectacularly hot reference librarian, Lance DeWitt, and David Paetkau (that’s handsome Sam from Flashpoint)as Officer Tyler(Smiley) Dekker, Mark Critch as Uncle Mick of Michael Kelly’s Fine Antiques, Kevin O’Leary (in a rare non-speaking part) as Uncle Lucky, and Sean Cullen (in a never-shutting up part) as Uncle Danny. Other uncles are on the way and last but not in the least least, Elvira Kurtz as Senora Fiammetta Panetone.

We’re not sure if there’s a career in casting ahead for us.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Missing first editions of Dorothy L Sayers classics, lead to mayhem, murder, mud, mutts and more for Jordan Bingham, book sleuth and reliable dogsbody of reclusive collector Vera Van Alst, the most hated woman in Harrison Falls, New York.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

We are represented by BookEnds Literary Agency and published by Berkley Prime Crime.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

We’re half-way through the second book. We expect it to take six months or more in total, but that doesn’t include advance planning, intense plotting and re-reading all those wonderful Dorothy L. Sayers books. I’m in the middle of Busman’s Honeymoon now.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think it is like cozy mysteries, like Erika Chase’s Ashton Corners series (we think you might know her). There’s a lot about relationships, books, especially mysteries, friendships, food, a bit of romance and of course, the pesky bodies.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The love of classic mysteries was the big thing. The authors Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers created works that continue to entertain today and they changed the face of crime fiction. In the course of writing the books, we learned a lot about the two amazing woman who shaped the modern mystery.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Well, who doesn’t like a magnificent old house, a library full of collectible books, a bi-polar Siamese cat, vintage clothing and jewelry, a pampered pug, Italian food, a bit of romance, some crooked relatives and a few recipes? Never mind the grumpy boss. Nothing’s perfect.

We were supposed to send you forward to five other mystery authors, but (true story!) our five mystery authors have been kidnapped by aliens and so couldn’t take part in time. Never mind, I’ll tell you about their books in this and other blogs as the year wears on. I look forward to it.

Mary Jane Maffini rides herd on three (soon to be three and a half) mystery series and a couple of dozen short stories. Look for the new Victoria Abbott website starting on Wednesday -


  1. This one sounds really good..just got added to my infinite tbr list. Great post.


  2. SO great to see you back in the saddle, MJ.