Monday, October 28, 2013

Guest post, Giveaway & Review: Murder in Thrall by Anne Cleeland

Please welcome author Anne Cleeland as she promotes book, Murder in Thrall.  She joins us today with a guest post on every writer's dilemma.  

Giveaway details: Want to win a copy?  Just fill out the Rafflecopter below. (US only please.)

Publisher: Kensington
Date of publication: July 2013

First-year detective Kathleen Doyle and Chief Inspector Michael Sinclair, Lord Acton, are a most unlikely pair. An Irish redhead of humble beginnings and modest means, Doyle is the antithesis of Acton, the British lord who has established himself as a brilliant but enigmatic figure with a knack for solving London's most high profile homicides. But Acton senses something exceptional beneath Doyle's awkward naivete and taps her to help him with his investigations. And her spot-on intuition is just what he needs to solve a chilling string of murders. . .

My thoughts:

Murder in Thrall was not what I expected  I really enjoyed the book.  I was looking forward to a good mystery and I got one.  But, what I didn't expect was a sweet romance.  The mystery was interesting with a few twists.  I definitely didn't call the killer nor did I figure out his motivation for killing.  I was way off base on that one.  

Acton and Doyle make a great team.  I liked how they played off each other.  Once I got past the fact that Doyle was kind of stalking her for a while, I really liked their relationship.  Doyle is independent and smart, but a little naive.  Acton is a great detective and completely smitten with Doyle.  I loved how he proposed to her.  Not exactly romantic, but in a way that so fits his personality.  

Murder in Thrall was well written, well plotted out.  It has a sweet romance and had a few scenes that made me laugh.  I highly recommend this one!  I look forward to the next adventure with Acton and Doyle.

Every writer’s dilemma: How accurate should you be?
          I am neither British nor a detective, but I write about British detectives.  Furthermore, these detectives tend to interview shady characters who are smoking, even though London does not allow smoking in public places. Despite all appearances, I have only a hazy understanding of English criminal procedure, and worst of all, the characters in my books tend to have successive work days when there really should be a weekend thrown in there somewhere.
            In my own defense, shady witnesses should always smoke whilst smirking—that’s how we know they’re shady in the first place, after all—and when the good guys are hot on the trail of the killer, it really disrupts the pacing to have everyone take a Sunday break.  
            When she started out with “A is for Alibi,” Sue Grafton’s books were specifically set three months in time after the one before, even though the books were published a year apart.  Now that she is up to “W,” she is essentially writing historicals, set in the 1980’s.  I imagine if she had it to do all over again, she’d adopt the Cleeland vague-time-continuum rather than have to study up on historical accuracy when she really just wants to write a great contemporary mystery.  But, as she jokingly admits, when she started out she never thought she’d be where she is today.
            Some writers are sticklers for accuracy and some—like me—are not, but I would bet we get the same amount of mail pointing out our missteps.    That’s because writers like me take great pains to be vague about details that might trip us up; if we’re not tethered to a plot that requires keeping track of the days of the week, well then, there is no reason whatsoever to mention what day it is. 
            In a way, it’s very liberating; the New Scotland Yard in my stories is my own version of Middle Earth, complete with larger-than-life themes like love and death, fate and vengeance, and the occasional hand-to-hand office skirmish.  I know the real building in London contains cubicles, personnel who are jockeying for promotion, and a canteen—and these three elements are all that is needed to create a setting sufficient for my purposes.
            In fact, when you think about it, much of what the reader expects from a detective story is not based on reality to begin with; there can’t be that many serial killers on the loose—or detectives whose personal lives are in such disarray.  And certainly the crooks are not all evil masterminds; in reality, most are dim bulbs. But these are the beloved memes that we’ve come to expect from our detective fiction, and so we all start out the story with the implied understanding that accuracy will play a secondary role to a good plot—does anyone really think that Jack Reacher would have any unbroken bones left, after all he’s been through?

            The police procedural is a popular sub-genre, but the writer has to perform a tricky balancing act; give the reader sufficient accuracy to create an aura of authenticity, but not so much accuracy that the story suffers.  To this end, the occasional liberty has to be taken; it just wouldn’t be the same to have a shady witness smirk whilst exhaling clouds of water vapor from an electronic cigarette.  Some things are sacred.

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About the author:
Anne Cleeland is the author of Murder in Thrall, the first book in a new mystery series featuring Acton and Doyle, two Scotland Yard detectives.   She is an attorney living in California, and also writes a historical fiction series.  Her website is


Anne Cleeland said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Kari, I'm glad you liked it!

Alina Field said...

I really enjoyed the book, Anne, and I agree with you about the accuracy issue. I'd much rather be entertained by a good story than worry about the correctness of legal details or character's work schedules. If I want total accuracy, I'll read nonfiction. Of of course even there you'll get someone's personal spin on what is or was "fact"!

Alina Field said...
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Alina Field said...
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Anne Cleeland said...

Thanks, Alina, I know you write Regency, so I think you have the same concerns when you write your historicals.