Enter the world of first-century CE Roman Alexandria and participate in the perilous adventures of Miriam bat Isaac, budding alchemist and sleuth extraordinaire. Join Miriam and her deputy Phoebe as they struggle to solve nine of their most baffling cases. The stories, ranging from cozy to noir, begin with the locked-room murder of a sailor. There Miriam is confounded by not just who killed the sailor but how the killer could have entered and escaped from the room. Each adventure stands alone, but if you read the stories in order, you’ll see how the major characters develop and the minor ones earn a place in later stories.
TheBigThrill caught up to author June Trop to learn more about her intriguing collection of short mysteries, THE DEADLIEST DECEPTIONS:
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
I wanted to set my story in ancient Alexandria, the cauldron of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures. I also wanted to base my protagonist on a woman who’d actually lived. And so I based my Miriam bat Isaac on Maria Hebrea, who came to be the most celebrated woman in the Western World for 1500 years. Maria Hebrea, as she is known now, practiced alchemy, a pursuit condemned as a capital offense by the emperor who was afraid the alchemists in synthesizing gold, would undermine the currency and over throw the empire. So, I knew I had the makings of an intelligent, intrepid amateur detective.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I would like my readers to see that justice is sometimes more than and outside of following the law and that human problems are universal regardless of time place, race and culture.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
For me, it wasn’t a case of knowing or even imagining the journey ahead. I just got an inch and, like with any purposeful project, made a commitment to do it. Then I drew on persistence and determination, my long suits, to carry me through the rough times.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
The story I’m working on now is about a 15-year-old girl who disappears on the eve of her betrothal to a wealthy old lecher. Miriam is hired by her father to find her but soon has second thoughts. If she finds the girl, is she then obligated to report her whereabouts to her father? The case becomes more complicated when the old man is found murdered in a sleazy waterfront inn.
June Trop has focused on storytelling her entire professional life. As a professor of teacher education, she focused her research on the practical knowledge teachers construct and communicate through storytelling. Now associate professor emerita, she writes The Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series set in Roman Alexandria. THE DEADLIEST DECEPTIONS is her first collection of short mysteries.
To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.