Dear Readers, I’ve loved Margaret Brownley books since I read the first one. And this Undercover Ladies series is one of my favorites.
He never met a Pinkerton detective he liked;
She never met a man so stubborn. –Calico Spy
Welcome back, Margaret. How did this book come about?
Lena, thank you for
letting me visit. Calico Spy is the third book in my Undercover Ladies series. Katie
Madison is a Pinkerton detective working undercover as a Harvey girl. Someone is killing off the
waitresses and Katie hopes to find the killer before the killer finds her—or
before she burns down the restaurant trying.
Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.
I think this is my favorite cover of the series. The scene takes place at the Harvey House where my heroine is working undercover to solve the
murders. If you look closely you can see the train out the window. Train
passengers had only a half hour to eat. To accommodate them, Fred Harvey
invented “fast food” service. The cup in the heroine’s hand plays an important
role in the story.
Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.
All the information about Fred Harvey and his restaurants is factual. Also factual is the information about Pinkerton detectives. Many people don’t realize that Allan had an entire department of female detectives. He hired his first one in 1856 and quickly saw the advantage. Women could go where men could not and were able to befriend the unsuspecting wives of outlaws.
How much research did you have to do for this book?
Before starting the Undercover series I read sixteen of Allan Pinkerton’s books to learn how crimes were solved before fingerprints, DNA, and cameras were available. For Calico Spy I read every book written on Fred Harvey and the
girls. I also took a trip to Barstow, California to the old Harvey house there. It’s now a Chamber of
Commerce and museum but is still intact. I used it as a model for my book.
What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you
weren’t able to use in the story?
I’ve come to believe that Fred Harvey is one of the unsung heroes of the west. His restaurants put thousands of young women to work in respectable jobs. More than five thousand women who traveled west to work at his restaurants also found husbands. I think that gives him the world record for matchmaking.
What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?
I never plan or plot a book in advance so I’m always surprised at how a book turns out. The thing that surprised me most in this book is the hero’s story and how his faith was tested.
What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?
My main goal in writing any story is to entertain the reader. I also love making people laugh, so you’ll always find humor in my stories. The hero’s struggles certainly made me think about my own faith and what I would do in his shoes. I wouldn’t be surprised if readers have similar thoughts.
What is the next project you’re working on?
I just finished the second book in my new Match Made in
Texas series. The first
book, Left at the Altar will be
released in November followed by To Win A
I’ll be looking forward to those books, too. Be sure to schedule them on my blog. What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?
I usually call up my grandchildren to see if any of them can play.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Katie Madison tied the black satin ribbon at her neckline and frowned. The lopsided bow wouldn’t do. She yanked the ribbon loose and tried again. Today she was all thumbs and everything that could go wrong, did. Already she’d broken a shoelace, snagged a stocking, and torn the hem of her dress.
Just as she finished tying the bow for the third time the bedroom door flew open and her roommate’s brunette head popped inside. “Katie! Hurry or you’ll be late.”
“I’m trying, I’m trying.”
Mary-Lou’s green eyes narrowed and her southern drawl grew more pronounced. “Pickens has a burr in his saddle. Said if you don’t hurry he’ll have your head!”
Katie’s stomach knotted. She was already in trouble with the restaurant manager. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
“A minute might be too late.” The door slammed shut, and Mary-Lou’s footsteps echoed down the hall as she yelled for the other
Harvey girls to hurry.
“Y’all better hurry now, you hear?”
Katie whirled about for one last look in the mirror and hardly recognized the image reflected back. The black dress with its high-collar, starched white apron, black shoes and stockings made her look more like a nun than one of Pinkerton’s most successful female detectives.
Even her unruly red hair had been forced to conform to Fred Harvey’s strict regulations. Parted in the middle, it was pulled back in a knot and fashioned with the mandatory net. The rigid hairdo did nothing for her, appearance-wise. All it did was make her eyes look too big and her freckles stand out like brown polka dots.
Wrinkling her nose, she turned away from the mirror. It’s a good thing she’d chosen to be a detective as she had neither the looks nor housekeeping skills needed for landing a husband.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website: www. margaret-brownley.com
Thank you for letting me share my story!
Thank you, Margaret for sharing this new book with us. It's always a pleasure to have you on the blog.
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Calico Spy (Undercover Ladies Book 3) - Amazon
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