London, June 1835: In the interest of being a good neighbor, Charles checks in on Miss Haverstock, the elderly spinster who resides in the flat above his. But as the young journalist and his fiancée Kate ascend the stairs, they are assaulted by the unmistakable smell of death. Upon entering the woman’s quarters, they find her decomposing corpse propped up, adorned in a faded gown that looks like it could have been her wedding dress, had she been married. A murderer has set the stage. But to what purpose?
As news of an escaped convict from Coldbath Fields reaches the couple, Charles reasonably expects the prisoner, Ned Blood, may be responsible. But Kate suspects more personal motives, given the time and effort in dressing the victim. When a local blacksmith is found with cut manacles in his shop and arrested, his distraught wife begs Charles and Kate to help. At the inquest, they are surprised to meet Miss Haverstock’s cold and haughty foster daughter, shadowed by her miserably besotted companion. Secrets shrouded by the old woman’s past may hold the answers to this web of mystery. But Charles and Kate will have to risk their lives to unveil the truth…
Bestselling author Heather Redmond took some time out for The Big Thrill, where she discussed the latest installment of her A Dickens of a Crime series, GRAVE EXPECTATIONS:
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
I dedicated the book to Rachel and Joseph, but didn’t include the information that these are my great-grandparents’ names.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
I approached not just the life of Charles Dickens in this book, but also the history of the Jewish people in London. This was a time of change in how religious subgroups were being treated politically.
Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?
I had just discovered that my Jewish grandfather was born in London when I started plotting this book. This information made me want to learn more about the history of Jewish people in England. It turned out that 1835 was a pivotal year in British Jewish political history. Because my family was in the East End in the garment trades, I wanted to look at different social classes and what the Jewish experience was, not just the upper classes.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Our past continually informs our present. If we can’t resolve the troubles of earlier times, they continue to impact our lives.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
I love digging into the past and seeing how people coped with disturbances in the fabric of their lives. I find the changes in how crime was managed in an increasingly citied and industrialized world fascinating.
Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction and also writes as Heather Hiestand. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Her 2018 novel, A Tale of Two Murders, received a coveted starred review from Kirkus Reviews and was a multi-week Barnes & Noble Hardcover Mystery Bestseller.
To learn more about Heather and her work, please visit her website.