Muse du Jour

My name is Marianne Plumridge. I am an artist of mythic fantasy works and fine art images. I also satisfy my creative muse with sewing, cooking, writing and reading. These are my thoughts and adventures with whichever muse drives me each day. You can find more of my art at

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Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Reading Justin Richards...

The Invisible Detective and Friends...
I’ve been reading mysteries and murder mystery books almost exclusively in the last two years, aside from the odd biography or reference books. Sometimes I detour for a young adult novel or children’s book that catches my fancy: usually something to do with mystery, mystery/historical, mystery/paranormal, or mystery/time slip themes. My usual themes, I guess. Anyway, we spent a day in New York City the Monday before last, whilst my husband, Bob, did some business at a couple of publishing houses he works for. After that, the day was ours. We thought about going up to the Field Museum and surrounding shops, but opted to visit bookshops a little closer to the train station. We were pretty tired from the unearthly hour we’d gotten up that morning for the drive and train trip in. We wanted to be awake and able to enjoy a trip to see the dinosaurs at the Field Museum on another trip, so it was bookstores. For the longest time, Bob had been talking about taking me to Strand Books in the city – this time we got there. They had a huge children’s section that I could have spent all day in if I’d been feeling up to it. Still, I managed to pick up a delightful picture book called ‘Mik’s Mammoth’ by Roy Gerrard and discovered English writer, Justin Richards. To be exact, Richards’ ‘The Invisible Detective’ Series. On a whim, I bought all three that they had on display. Titles like ‘The Paranormal Puppet Show’ (released in this country under the pallid title of ‘Double Life’), ‘Ghost Soldiers’ and ‘Killing Time’, really piqued my interest.

I read Richards’ books in order, beginning with ‘The Paranormal Puppet Show’. In doing so, once started, I found that I couldn’t put it down. Now that is brilliant writing! Not only did the subject and time settings (contemporary as well as the 1930s) enthrall me, but the interweaving of the current mystery under investigation, plus intrinsic subplots and placements of information regarding further mysteries that are dealt with in future stories. When I was in my early teens, I would have thought these books were so cool to read, let alone keep. Even at my age, the writing captured my enthusiasm as well as my interest. Richards doesn’t talk down the reader in any way, but involves he or she in what ever is happening like a fellow conspirator. Yes, I did say conspirator. The situation involving the base set up of the Invisible Detective, Brandon Lake, is created and kept secret by four children: Art Drake, who plays the barely visible detective who gives audiences in a dark room, and is the leader of the little group; Meg Wallace, the suspicious, logical one who can uncannily tell if someone is lying; Jonny, the fastest thing on two legs; and Flinch, a little girl abandoned to the streets, and the reason for the subterfuge. The children, or Cannoniers as they call themselves, are trying to raise enough money to buy Flinch some warm clothes for the winter. So, everyone who comes to consult the Brandon Lake on a Monday evening by asking a question, must leave sixpence in return.
The children investigate things as simple as ‘is the publican at such and such a pub watering his beer?’ to a missing person under suspicious circumstances. All this is done between the serious problems of their own lives. Simple things lead the intrepid children into strange and dire circumstances, some way beyond their control. Sophisticated, imaginative, and very well thought out. The cases of the Invisible Detective are set to intrigue, and they do. I’m currently waiting to receive more of the novels…

Meantime, I read Justin Richards’ newest release ‘The Death Collector’. Set in another time with new characters in a new, but no less fascinating setting: The British Museum, in late Victorian England. The pace is fast, the dangers real, and the murders and mysteries just keep piling up. Even the dead walk – but not in the way you imagine. The opening lines from this book capture you from the start: “Four days after his own funeral, Albert Wilkes came home for tea…Even the dog knew there was something wrong.”

Justin Richards is a writer gifted with a brilliant imagination, a love of clockwork, history, mystery and all of the quirks that human history and pre-history has to offer. And he uses it all to fashion stories and people that intrigue the reader, and fascinate the mind – usually at a breathless pace.

He is the author of currently more than a dozen genre and sf novels, as well as non-fiction books, and audio and television scripts. He has moonlighted by editing anthologies of short stories, collaborated occasionally with well-known author, Jack Higgins, been a technical writer, founded and edited a media journal, and contributed articles to many mainstream magazines. Before all that he worked for a multinational computer company. At present, Justin is best known for his role as Creative Consultant to the BBC Books range of Doctor Who novels, as well as writing his own well-received novels for the series.



Blogger david mcmahon said...

Hi Marianne,

Enjoyed that. Nice variety and you are a compelling writer. Did you know that Jack Higgins' real name is Harry Patterson!

Next time you do a risotto, try pumpkin and spinach and a bit of garlic - sensational!

Which publishing houses does Bob work for?

My daughter says to tell you she really likes the background of your template.

I'd like to see some more images/ photographs on your blog. The ones you've posted work really well. More images is a good approach, always.

Keep in touch.



6:24 AM  
Blogger Marianne said...

Hi David,

Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence on my writing. Most of what you see here is a mix of old stuff and new stuff, since I don't always have time to write stuff up. However, I'm dealing with that better these days. :-D We travel so much, and there are always interesting things happening, so I should write more. :-D

I made the mistake of reading seven Jack Higgins novels in a row, quite a few years back. This author not only re-uses plot devices and themes, but plagarizes whole paragraphs from his own books!! I have not read anything much of his since then. :-)

I have a lovely recipe for pumpkin risotto that I use cashews in. It's really yummy. Same for my spinach risotto! Haven't thought about how they'd go together, but it's worth a try. :-D I like to experiment with cooking from scratch - blame all of the cooking classes I dragged myself through in highschool. :-D

Bob's clients in New York? Tor Books, Classic Media, and occasionally a couple of others. However, most of his publishers are situated around the country, like Baen Books, Subterranean Press, Golden Gryphon Press, etc. Bob also does work for the movies - concept design, presentation art, etc. Now his fine art experiments are taking off! His stuff can be found at Bob's ART du Jour

The background for all of our blogs is something I swiped from one of his paintings - appears in his book, 'Dragonhenge' or 'The Stardragons', I think. :-D

Okay, I'll work on photos. :-D We take so bloody many of them!

Gotta run

3:01 PM  
Blogger Marianne said...

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3:01 PM  

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