Hello, book people. I’m excited to introduce you to today’s special guest, a criminal justice professor and the author of the Hannah McCabe and Lizzie Stuart mystery series, including A Dead Man’s Honor, Frankie Y. Bailey. Ms. Bailey will be introducing us to Lizzie Stuart and discussing the idea of the past intruding on our present. Thank you, Ms. Bailey, for taking time of your busy school and writing schedule to visit with us today.
Out of the Past
By Frankie Y. Bailey
I love film noir. Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum, is one of my favorite noir films. I watch it every time it comes up in the TCM cycle. The movie is about a former private investigator who got into trouble and has settled in a small town and opened a gas station under an assumed identity. But he has not escaped his past. He is summoned to a meeting with the crooked businessman who once hired him to locate a woman and his stolen money. The woman, with whom the PI had a dangerous affair, is back with his former client. Mitchum may hope to do what the businessman has demanded and go back to his new life, but Jane Greer, the femme fatale, has other ideas. As you might expect of film noir, even the love of a good (small town) woman can’t save Mitchum.
I don’t write noir fiction. My character, Lizzie Stuart, is a crime historian and the five books in which she has appeared so far are both academic mysteries and traditional classic detective fiction. But, like Robert Mitchum’s character, Lizzie has not been able to escape her past. The fact that she is not sure of who her father was – or is, he might still be alive – means that she must decide later in the series whether she will look for him. There’s also the matter of Becca, her missing mother – who puts in her appearance in Book 4 and can hold her own with any noir femme fatale.
As the series are being reissued, I’m looking back at how it evolved. Book 2, A Dead Man’s Honor, was initially going to be the readers’ introduction to Lizzie Stuart. Instead, it followed a book set in Cornwall, during which Lizzie’s best friend, Tess Alvarez, a travel writer, and John Quinn, a Philadelphia homicide detective were introduced. Lizzie’s vacation in Cornwall, England, followed the death of the grandmother who raised her. It’s Lizzie’s dead grandmother, Hester Rose, who is front and center in A Dead Man’s Honor.
Hester Rose was close-mouthed about a lot of things – including her childhood in Gallagher, Virginia before she climbed into a boxcar and left the town under cover of darkness. In A Dead Man’s Honor, Lizzie has applied for and received an appointment as a visiting professor at Piedmont State University in Gallagher. She has joined the faculty in the School of Criminal Justice. As is the custom for visiting faculty, she has teaching responsibilities. She also has the research agenda that she described in her application. She wants to investigate a lynching in Gallagher. As a young girl, Hester Rose was witness to a lynching involving a black man accused of murder. She was there in the house with the accused man and the young deaf woman who loved him. As the police and angry white citizens gathered outside the house, Hester Rose was put out of a window.
It is usually Lizzie’s voice that we hear in the series. She is the first-person narrator. But she sometimes flashes back to a conversation with one of her grandparents. Only a fleeting thought here and there. A Dead Man’s Honor, the only way to describe the lynching was from Hester Rose’s point of view. From the point of view of a frightened child as she hides in the bushes, watching. As Mose Davenport runs out of the house and is shot by someone in the crowd. As, later, she climbs into the boxcar and leaves Gallagher.
Hester Rose tries to flee her past. Lizzie goes back to Gallagher to dig it up because she wants to know more about her grandmother and herself.
Meet the author
Frankie Y. Bailey is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany (SUNY). Her areas of research are crime history, and crime and mass media/popular culture and material culture. She is the author of a number of non-fiction books, including local histories and books about crime fiction. Her mystery novels feature Southern-born crime historian, Lizzie Stuart, in five books, beginning with Death’s Favorite Child and A Dead Man’s Honor. The books are being reissued by Speaking Volumes. Frankie’s two near-future police procedurals feature Albany police detective, Hannah McCabe in The Red Queen Dies and What the Fly Saw (Minotaur Books). Frankie has also has written several short stories, including “In Her Fashion” (EQMM, July 2014), “The Singapore Sling Affair” (EQMM, Nov/Dec 2017), and “The Birth of the Bronze Buckaroo” (The Adventures of the Bronze Buckaroo, 2018). She is currently working on a nonfiction book about dress and appearance in American crime and justice, a historical thriller set in 1939, and the plots of the next Stuart and McCabe books. Frankie is a past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime.
Connect with the author at her website or Twitter
A Dead Man’s Honor A Lizzie Stuart Mystery #2 by Frankie Y. Bailey
ISBN: 9781628158731 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781628158724 (ebook)
ASIN: B07FTYK444 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 5, 2018 (originally published on January 1, 2001)
Publisher: Speaking Volumes, LLC.
Crime historian Lizzie Stuart goes to Gallagher, Virginia for a year as a visiting professor at Piedmont State University. She is there to do research for a book about the 1921 lynching that her grandmother Hester Rose witnessed when she was a 12-year-old child.
Lizzie’s research is complicated by her own unresolved feelings about her secretive grandmother and by the disturbing presence of John Quinn, the police officer she met while on vacation in England. Add to that the murder of an arrogant and brilliant faculty member on Halloween night and Lizzie has about all she can handle.
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