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SMRC for 6/5/07 – Featuring Lillian Stewart Carl

Our featured author today is Lillian Stewart Carl, author of the Jean Fairbairn/Alasdair Cameron series. This series features the American exile and Scotland’s finest on the trail of all-too-living legends. Carl describes this series as contemporary amateur sleuth tending toward cozy, but with an edge — and a touch of paranormal.

I confess that I have a copy of THE BURNING GLASS here that I haven’t gotten to read yet and it is calling to me. It says things like “you don’t really need that much sleep and clean clothes, do you? Pick me up. You can go to work next week.”

The Secret PortraitBook One, THE SECRET PORTRAIT, features the revenge of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Fleeing an academic scandal and a broken marriage, Jean Fairbairn has come to Scotland to work for an Edinburgh-based history and travel magazine. Writing about the Scottish national pastime of playing illusion off reality is just the quiet, scholarly pursuit she needs to soothe her burned-out emotions.

But when Jean heads for the Highlands to investigate the 18th century mystery of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s lost treasure, she finds herself involved in a contemporary murder case–and not as an innocent bystander, either.

The Murder Hole (Five Star Mystery Series)Book Two, THE MURDER HOLE, features the search for the Loch Ness Monster. Jean heads to Loch Ness on the trail of Ambrose MacKintosh, a disciple of self-styled black magician Aleister Crowley, who owned a house above the loch. Ambrose claimed Crowley called the monster, Nessie, from another dimension. But Ambrose himself more or less invented Nessie by publishing the first “sightings” in 1933-the same year his wife disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

burningglass150.jpgBook Three, THE BURNING GLASS, Jean and Alasdair face their greatest challenge yet: The Da Vinci Code. In The Burning Glass, Alasdair and Jean are making a deliberate effort to put together a relationship. Leaving Edinburgh to the crowds attending the annual Festival, they move into the caretaker’s cottage of an old and spooky castle near Rosslyn Chapel. Rosslyn has been made so famous by The Da Vinci Code that only tour groups are admitted. It’s a medieval church where the Holy Grail or the treasure of the Knights Templar is rumored to be hidden.

Ferniebank Castle includes a small chapel that’s very similar and obviously related to Rosslyn, but is off the beaten path. Or so they think. THE BURNING GLASS will be available in September.

Lillian Stewart Carl has three books coming out this year and you can find additional information on them, as well as several interviews, on the Who Am I page.

You can find Lillian Stewart Carl’s home on the web at: http://www.lillianstewartcarl.com/

If you haven’t signed up for the Summer Mystery Reading Challenge yet, click here for directions. You are welcome to read along on your own, of course, but only registered participants are eligible for the prizes.

If you would like to comment on a book by a featured author or ask them a question, please leave the comment on their daily page so they can find it easily. Comments about what you are reading, books you have finished, requests for readalikes or recommendations, or mystery related links can be made on the SMRC post for that day so we can all see them. Thanks!

Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com ©2007


Comment from Liz@Reviewed By Liz
Time: June 5, 2007, 5:39 am

Lillian – having been to your web site, I can see that you adore Scotland (your description makes me want to book a trip immediately!) and you got some inspiration there for stories with very appealing themes – but what was your favorite book to write? I’m sure this is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child, but your three books all look very interesting and I am wondering if any of them were particularly magical or inspired. Which one is the book that made you sit down on the spot and start scribbling in the notebook for hours before heading back to the hotel?

And the other question I am dying to ask is if you ate haggis while in Scotland? I can wait on the answer to the perpetual question of what men wear under their kilts, but I do need to find someone who can tell me what haggis actually tastes like!

Comment from Pat Reid
Time: June 5, 2007, 5:56 am

Just finished a book about a man from Scotland and that made me realize how little I know about Scotland. sounds like picking up these books would fill in the blanks for me. I too would like to know what Haggis tastes like – Three books coming out this year must be great.

Comment from Liz@Reviewed By Liz
Time: June 5, 2007, 6:08 am

I imagine that promoting three books per year wears you out. Not to mention the sore fingers from all that typing!

I loved both England and Wales but didn’t get to Scotland. Every time I see pictures, I am itching to go both there and to Ireland. I can do a little genealogical research when I am there. Family legend says we were thrown of out Scotland after losing the Highland wars.

Comment from Lillian Stewart Carl
Time: June 5, 2007, 8:59 am

Thank you, Liz! Fortunately this is the only year I’ll have three books to promote—usually they only come out one a year, but, well, things happen.

Yes, my husband and I have visited Scotland many times. I’m of Scottish ancestry (although I don’t know the specifics) so it’s no surprise the landscape calls to me. There’s a special feel to the place, a sort of mysticism — which can be instantly dispelled the moment you reach a modern city.

You’re right, asking me which book was my favorite to write is like asking me which of my children is my favorite. I enjoyed exploding some favorite Scottish myths in The Secret Portrait. I enjoyed the twisty paranormal romance in Shadows in Scarlet. I enjoyed Ashes to Ashes, my first contemporary novel. I enjoyed doing a novel set right here in Fort Worth, Texas, in Garden of Thorns.

Many times the different aspects of the story will come together in a critical mass—the second half of The Secret Portrait did that.

Sure, I’ve eaten haggis. It’s best, I think, in little chunks breaded and fried and served with a spicy sauce, although I’ve also had just a slice beneath vegetables. Nowadays haggis is less sheep’s innards and more meat, along with oatmeal, onions, and spices. It has an earthy flavor, almost but not quite liverish, which is why I prefer it with condiments.

Haggis is one of those dishes that comes from the days you had to eat anything edible in order to stay alive, but has now taking on ethnic significance.

As for the kilt, the joke is that there are three sorts of undergarments: Briefs, boxers, or “regimental”. Bearing (no pun intended!) in mind that the original great kilt dates back into the mists of history, before Fruit of the Loom was ever founded.

I’ve just returned from the Texas Scottish Festival. In a few days I’ll have a photo on my Who Am I? page of me and musician Brian McNeill. Brian is the original of the character of Hugh Munro, and has been wonderfully good humored about the liberties I’ve taken with him.

Thank you for featuring me in your Reading Challenge! Books rule! (And so do Scots )

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