Just putting a general query here--any historical crime writers out there yet?

I'm working on my first, set in the late 1890's in Texas. Butch Cassidy will play a small recurring role (I admit, I do crush on that man), and I'm at last shaking the dust off the research I've gathered over the years with this book in mind. I work for an engineering company that does all the mapping for BNSF Rwy., and before that worked at the Railroad itself, and as such had access to some amazing historical documents and photographs. The one thing that truly caught my imagination was the Harvey Houses created by Fred Harvey that were built along the AT&SF Railway lines. They brought a lot of fine culture where it once did not exist. That and excellent food. The young women who worked at the Harvey Houses were adventurous sorts--though being a waitress was frowned upon, the Harvey Girls quickly gained the reputation of being fine young women who were a class above. There were so few options for young women in those days who didn't want to dive straight into marriage--or rather say, acceptable options.

Those chosen to be Harvey Girls had to be gentlewomen of good character and comely looks. (I've read that passage sooo many times in different things). So, of course, I am driven to write a story about a young woman who is on the run from the law for murder, has a highly questionable background, is being sought by more than one man who wants her dead, and another who wants to know what she knows. I start her off in jail (enter Butch, who was quite good at jail breaks).

This story has plagued me for years. Around six or so I'd say, maybe even longer when I first ran across all the contract files on the Pinkertons and the Harvey Houses and Fred Harvey. I've glanced at it numerous times, and passed it by because I wasn't ready to tackle it. At first it was due to life circumstances--my profile says enough about that--and then it was a genuine doubt that I could pull off what I want to do.

Talk about a negative attitude. I've banned those thoughts multiple times but am determined now to make them stick. The amount of research and facts I'll have to make sure are straight is pretty overwhelming, but I can't deny a rabid glee as I read, discovering such gems as the history behind 'red light district.' Railroad related even--as the railroad men who visited the bawdy houses would set their red glass lamps outside while they tended to their pleasure. I imagine there were LOTS of those lamps sitting about, casting a rosy glow over the street. One of my coworkers brought one of those lamps to show us all not too long ago, and the BNSF gallery has several others. It was fun to tell her the history of that lamp, something she didn't know.

Anyway, I'm enjoying being seized into this new area of mystery, letting my love of history finally get out and express itself. I'm literally starting this ms this month--don't actually even have my character's name yet.

Hope there are some other history mystery types out there--would love to get to know you better.


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Comment by Cyndy Salzmann on March 25, 2007 at 11:13am
My current series is a contemporary -- but the mysteries are historical. They are told concurrently. One deals with the Underground RR in the Great Plains and the other with the Sixties counterculture. I know... it's hard for those of us of a "certain age" to view the Sixties as historical. : )
Comment by Carolyn Rogers on March 14, 2007 at 10:10am
Oh greatness! Thanks Claire!
Comment by Claire M. Johnson on March 14, 2007 at 9:52am
Hey Carolyn: Charles King just joined. You should friend him because he's writing a historical mystery set in S.F.
Comment by M.G. Tarquini on March 14, 2007 at 5:57am
Which makes those areas a true red-light district, huh?

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