THE SEANCE MURDERS by Joan Havelange, FI
THE SEANCE MURDERS by Joan Havelange, FI
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The Big Thrill Discusses THE SÉANCE MURDERS with Joan Havelange

Book Cover: THE SÉANCE MURDERS1908: Regina, Saskatchewan, the railroad hub of the prairies, is booming. The foxtrot is the latest craze hitting the dance halls, and silent movies are all the rage. But it’s the newest fad, séances, that intrigues Myrtle Vanhoff.

Myrtle is tired of the constraints put on her by her father, Reginald Vanhoff, a lumber baron, and her mother, Amelia. Her mother is determined to make her and her daughter’s mark on Regina’s burgeoning social scene. But Myrtle has other ideas. On a lark, the rebellious young woman convinces her twin brother, Leopold, to attend Madame Scarlatta’s notorious séances. They find more than restless spirits. Someone murders a bereaved patron while everyone at the table is holding hands. Myrtle and Leopold are determined to find out who and how. A Regina police sergeant is appalled at Myrtle’s unladylike interest in the murders. But Jonathan Chapman of the Royal North-West Mounted Police is intrigued. Jonathan joins Myrtle and Leopold in their search for the murderer. When Myrtle gets too close to the truth, the murderer targets her as the next victim.

Joan Havelange recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her first historical thriller, THE SÉANCE MURDERS.

Author Photo: Joan Havelange

Joan Havelange

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?

My newest novel, THE SÉANCE MURDERS, a historical mystery, has been my greatest challenge. The murder plot at a séance was the easy part for me. The hard part was the research. I needed to know what Regina, a pioneer city on the prairies, in 1908 was like? What were the customs and the dress of the people in that era? The Regina and Saskatchewan historical clubs helped me. And the newspaper archives were an immense help. But just like travel mysteries, a historical mystery is meant to give the reader a feel for the era. But it is not a history book. The murder mystery is front and centre.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

My publisher BWL Inc. has commissioned a historical mystery for each Canadian province and territory. Three of my whodunits occur in Saskatchewan, so I was asked to write a historical mystery for that province. I selected Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

The appreciation for the pioneers who settled in this country, hearty souls who came with nothing and built a home and a future. And, of course, enjoy the mystery.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

The working title is The Blonde Widow. A whodunnit set in rural Saskatchewan. It is rumoured that she might have murdered some of her three husbands. True or not, there is a plethora of suspects when she is killed.


Joan Havelange is a Canadian author, a world traveller and an enthusiastic golfer. She is an accomplished actor and director of community theatre, which lends well to her writing. Always a fan of mysteries, she is an avid reader and writer of cozy mysteries and mystery thrillers. Joan writes cozy mysteries, thrillers, and historical mysteries. Cozy mysteries: Wayward Shot, Death and Denial, The Trouble with Funerals, The Suspects, Murder Exit Stage Right. Thriller: Moving is Murder. Historical mystery: THE SÉANCE MURDERS.

To learn more about the author, please visit her website.