Welcome to my stop on the Maggie Ryan Mystery Series Virtual Book Tour, presented by Goddess Fish Promotions. Today's post will feature Murder is Academic, the second book in the series. Please leave a comment or question for author P.M. Carlson to let her know you stopped by. You can enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. You can also follow the rest of her tour here, the more stops you visit, the better your odds of winning.
PM: Most civil rights movements take place over many decades, but the sixties and seventies were especially active. Even in the protected atmosphere of universities, the stresses of the times invaded lives. Male students had draft lottery numbers, and had to keep up their grades or they’d be drafted. Women struggled to reach tenure. Gays were closeted or threatened. Blacks fought to have their achievements recognized and their culture understood. Rape victims were disbelieved and blamed by police and even by friends. Veterans with post-traumatic stress had to find their own way out. All of these problems, and more, are reflected in the Maggie books, because it’s dishonest to write about those days without acknowledging the struggles. And people felt that getting their problems recognized was a step in the right direction. In the books, the characters are involved in very personal ways. Me: Maggie deals with many scientists in the mysteries. How has science changed? PM: In addition to the obvious answer, that almost all fields of science have advanced dramatically, there is the strange situation that in the US, at least, scientific work has become politicized. In Maggie’s day, the dark side of new technology such as nuclear power plants was recognized and fought over, there were some people who believed that evolution was anti-religious, anti-vivisectionists fought against the use of laboratory animals, but science itself was generally respected by most Americans. Medical advances were celebrated and there was national jubilation when the US landed a man on the moon. Me: Why did you decide to write a Vietnam-era series featuring a statistician and an actor? PM: I didn’t, not consciously. I decided to write a mystery with a detective who was a working mom, like me. In traditional mysteries, the majority of famous detectives were loners-- Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Nero Wolfe. Mothers were minor characters who begged the hero not to take risks, if they existed at all. Even Nancy Drew had no mother, just an indulgent dad. But even though I was a working mom, I was definitely against crime, and it was fun to think about having adventures. So I decided my detective would be a working mom, and that I’d begin writing about her when she was still in school, turning into a mother who could juggle work and family and crime-fighting. I set the early books at universities in the Vietnam era because I knew that scene so well. Selecting a field of study for Maggie took some thought. I’d worked in several areas that Maggie could have gone into. As a character, she chose statistics because, in the first book, she has a very painful emotional experience and wants to get away from literature and theatre to lick her wounds. To me as a writer, the advantage of her choice of statistics was that it got her involved with a variety of projects in the sciences and social sciences. Although my degrees are in linguistics and experimental psychology, I loved reading and volunteering for campus shows. Eventually I married an actor/director/professor of theatre. It seemed to me that Maggie also would like having a life that included theatre and family and an interesting outside job. I haven’t done much active crime-fighting, myself. But Maggie’s taller and more athletic, so I figured she could handle it.
By P.M. Carlson
Maggie Ryan and Nick O’Connor, Book 2
Publisher: The Mystery Company
Release Date: September 28, 2012
Length: 196 Pages
About the book:
Vietnam, assassinations and riots. In the spring semester of 1968, a series of brutal attacks draws campus women together to study self-defense and the psychology of rape. Graduate student Mary Beth Nelson struggles to keep the Lords of Death at bay by immersing herself in researching Mayan languages. Her new housemate, Maggie Ryan, has her own secrets. When murder strikes close to home, Maggie investigates with a little help from her friends.
MURDER IS ACADEMIC (Maggie Ryan 1968)
An Anthony Award nominee
ExcerptNear an upstate New York University, June 1968.She was dead now, no more threat. The murderer pushed aside the long dark hair and, very carefully, cut the triangle into the young cheek. Done. Now, walk to the car calmly, get in. Back to the highway, driving coolly, back in control again.The Christian conquerors teach that days don’t begin until midnight. The Maya know that it takes longer to hand over the burdens of time, and that the influence of the incoming god may begin at sunset. The day known as Monday, June 17, to those who count by the Gregorian calendar was pleasantly breezy, as befitted the Ixil 9 Iiq; but shortly after sunset it became one of the most tragic of Mary Beth’s life. A Mayan traditionalist might have attributed the change to the coming of that doubly unlucky day, 10 Aqbal.But it had all begun quite cheerfully.Maggie had borrowed Sue’s backpack in case Nick needed one for the picnic, and had packed her own and Mary Beth’s with the camp stove and the food. She hummed lightheartedly as she worked.“You’re happy to see him, aren’t you?” Mary Beth had said, tightening the top of the salad dressing jar.“Yes, but that’s only part of it,” Maggie had confessed. “It’s just good to know that’s behind me. It was a very bad time, and Nick was there. But I can see him now and just enjoy the friendship. The bad memories are there, way in the background, but the good ones are too. It doesn’t hurt anymore. It hurt quite a lot for a while.”
P.M. CARLSON BIO:
P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.