Welcome back, Donn. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Murder in Disguise is the third book in the Preston Barclay Mystery series. In the first two books, hero and heroine—Press and Mara—had solved two murders on their home campus, one in the fall semester and one in spring semester. For the third book, I took them to the state university for a summer term and gave them a different kind of murder to solve. For once, it was mostly just logic—working out of something different enough to make a new book. Also, as a member of the National Association of Scholars, I've been concerned about universities' routine violations of students' constitutional rights. This setting provided the opportunity to look at some of those problems, though the main thrust of the book of course had to be an entertaining mystery.
If you were planning a party with Christian authors of contemporary fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
To include a suspense writer, I would invite Harry Wegley. He also brings a good background in technology, and he's well read in philosophical subjects. I would bring Kelli Hughett so that if the philosophical discussion got dull she could lead a discussion of pro football. I'd bring Brenda Hupp Norris for her sense of humor and her ability to make the
landscape entertaining. (Actually, she might count for two because she and her
sister publish under the pseudonyms Sadie and Sophie Cuff.) I would add Aaron
Gansky to bring fantasy to the group, and Linda Glaz to balance that with
hard-nosed research into the world of human trafficking. And I'd round out the
group with Deborah Dee Harper, the only writer I know who can punctuate the
tightest suspense scene with something that will make you laugh.
Now let’s do that for a party for Christian authors of historical fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
I would start with Kathy Rouser and Susan Craft to tell us different aspects of the American Revolutionary War period. Then I would add Ann Shorey to bring us into the problems with slavery just before the War Between the States. And I would like Ann Tatlock to tell us stories from more recent times, using her rare talent to explore the emotional nuances. By then we'd be ready for a new subject, so I would ask Latayne Scott to explain who really wrote the book of Hebrews. And to finish the party, I would ask Rick Barry to entertain us with his tales of aviation in World War II. He knows as much about the P-47 as I did about the planes I flew in
and Rick's ability to outpun anyone in sight would send us home happy.
Many times, people (and other authors) think you have it made with so many books published. What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?
My most difficult problem now is finding genuinely new subjects to write about. In my two suspense novels I used my Army and aviation background, plus a good body of research on the international black market traffic in weapons. With Mildred, I took time out for a historical novel, a nostalgia trip to
Mississippi for the years when we grew up there. And with three
mysteries set on college campuses, I exploited my years as a professor. Now I'm
ready for something genuinely new and different, but years of caregiving have
thinned out my reading, so while I write one more mystery I'm scraping around
for that magic subject that will open up a new fictional world.
I so understand. Tell us about the featured book.
Like its two predecessors, Murder in Disguise is a lighthearted mystery that still manages to touch on a few serious subjects. Professor Preston Barclay (Press) has been invited to teach a summer term at the state university. Mara Thorn is there for her own research. But the department chairman who invited Press has committed suicide, and his replacement doesn't make Press feel welcome. Then the deceased's widow asks Press to prove that her husband was murdered. He has enough problems already in proving his competence to students and faculty, for the new department chairman and campus radicals do all they can to undermine him. And the sexy female siren assigned as his student assistant creates problems there and with his courtship of Mara Thorn.
Press’s questions don’t find adequate answers, rumors accuse his friend of disgraceful activities, and Mara’s research reveals a wide range of criminal activity stretching from the community onto the campus itself. The more things don’t add up, the more dangerous the threats become, and the more determined Press becomes to clear his friend’s name and learn the truth about the alleged suicide. The question is whether he can find anything definitive before the people making the threats decide they've had enough . . .
It seemed like a routine summer term at the state university until the threat.
There was the usual process of settling into one of the just-off-campus apartments they keep for visiting professors. There was the matter of checking at the bookstore to be sure the textbooks I’d prescribed were on hand. To keep from getting ticketed by campus police, I picked up my temporary parking sticker, known locally as a hunting license because parking spaces are scarce. And there was the usual difficulty that the department chairman was away from his office.
“I’m Preston Barclay,” I told the bearded student who’d been left to man the telephone. “I’m teaching one summer term. Can you tell me which office I’ll be using?”
He looked up from his book, eyed the briefcase in my hand, and blinked a couple of times. “Uh ... I think it’s right next door, Professor Barclay. But they don’t let me give out keys. Can you come back between three and four?”
I nodded and straightened my trifocals. “That used to be the department chairman’s office.”
“Yeah, it used to be.
said he couldn’t work there because of what happened.” The student tugged at
his beard, perhaps reassuring himself that he’d actually grown one. “The last
chairman blew his brains out in that office. About a month ago. I still get the
creeps just thinking about it.”
“But it’s fine for visiting professors.”
The student looked away. “Dr.
said it wouldn’t worry the temporaries because they wouldn’t know about it.”
“Thanks for keeping me from worrying.”
Recognition dawned in his eyes. “Say, aren’t you the guy ... uh ... the professor ... that solved them two murders in
“Those two murders,” I said, looking for a way to change the subject. “My colleague Professor Mara Thorn actually solved them. I just teach history.”
“I’ve heard about her,” he said. “They say she’s a real h...” I think he was going to say hottie, but he gulped and said, “I’ve heard she was ... well ... what your generation would call ‘a real knockout.’”
“Touch her elbow, and you’ll see who gets knocked out,” I said. After her ill-fated teenage marriage, Mara abhorred being touched. I’d found that out the hard way, though she’d made a few exceptions after we became friends. But I wasn’t going to talk about her with a student.
“I’ll come back later,” I said.
In the hallway outside my office-to-be, I paused and breathed the decades-old odors of waxed floors and oiled hardwood. They brought pleasant memories of other summer terms, but those were now marred with sadness. For my friend Jordan Collier, the former chairman who’d brought me here several times as a visiting professor, was no longer here. One month before, without warning, he’d committed suicide in that office. I not only missed him as a friend, but I could already feel the difference in the department.
I’m eager to read this new book, and it’s on my table right now. But I’ve been completing some of my own writing assignments. It’s at the top of my to-be-read pile. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is www.donntaylor.com and I'm on Twitter at www.twitter.com/donntaylor3. My most active place is my Facebook page. I post something there every day. Five days of the week it's something funny, and others join in to see who can make the worst puns. On Wednesdays it's a serious quotation and on Sundays it's a scripture passage. Everyone is invited to come join the fun. That's at www.facebook.com/donntaylor.
Thank you, Donn. I believe I will be starting your book today or tomorrow. And I know my readers are eager as I am to read it.
Readers, here are links to the book.Murder in Disguise (A Preston Barclay Mystery) - Paperback
Murder in Disguise (A Preston Barclay Mystery Book 3) - Kindle
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside
(Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: