I’ve been remiss. I never took a photo of my entire Sanctuary Point historical whodunit series ( Desert Breeze Publishig). So, I finally took one and might as well post it now.
Category Archives: 1940s Murder Mysteries
Let’s take a time-travel trip back to the 1940s to the fictitious village in my historical whodunit novel series: Sanctuary Point. The village is located on the south shore of Long Island. The original setters of Long Island were the Dutch, some German and French settled later, followed by the English, then the Irish and the Scots. Last came the great migrations from eastern and southern Europe after the two world wars.
Mrs. Brogna (heroine Erica Brogna’s mother in BURNING HEARTS) and Mrs. Lenart (heroine Katrina Lenart’s mother in GOODBYE NOEL) are best of friends and neither is a novice in the kitchen. They both hail from Czechoslovakia and both are ardent Christians who are faithful to their little church in Sanctuary Point. Mrs. Lenart plays the piano during worship.
The Czechs call the Wednesday before Easter Ugly Wednesday because traditionally it is the day Judas betrayed Jesus. In past generations, all Easter baking had to be done by the Tuesday of Easter week. Intense house cleaning begins on Wednesday which is a hold over from the ritual cleaning of Passover. Easter eggs are decorated on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Holy Thursday or Green Thursday to the Czechs and Moravians is the day Jesus ate the Last Supper with His disciples. This is a strict fast day when only vegetables can be eaten.
Good Friday in Czech traditions is the most solemn day on the calendar. In Czechoslovakia before the communist takeover, it was a day of prayer and fasting. The Czech Good Friday meal would be meatless, as it is in most European countries.
Easter Saturday is known as White Saturday in Czech tradition. It is the day new Christians are baptized in white robes.
As it is in the entire Christendom, Easter is the most important and the most triumphant feast day in the church Czech calendar. In the early days, red was the only color used to dye and decorate Czech Easter eggs, symbolizing the blood of Jesus. On Easter Sunday, Czech people greet each other by saying, “Christ is risen.” The response would be, “Indeed He is risen.” The Czech Easter table holds whatever the family likes best and features roast lamb, pork, or duck, and for those who hunt, roast rabbit. Many tables display a variety of smoked meats and sausage. Traditionally vegetables include braised red cabbage. There would be salads, hard boiled eggs, Easter breads and cakes with a cross cut into them. And of course strudel.
In PERILOUS SHADOWS, heroine and pioneer newswoman Kiera Devane wouldn’t know her way around a kitchen if her life depended on it. So, hero and ace radio broadcaster, Argus Nye, would most likely take her to the fabled Garden City Hotel for Easter dinner. In the novel, this is where he proposed to her. A 1940s restaurant Easter meal might consist of: a champagne or sparking cider toast, a crudite dish of celery stalks and carrot slices, oysters on the half-shell, roast leg of lamb with roasted potatoes, buttered asparagus, tossed green salad, and praline sponge cake.
Lucinda Walsh, heroine in DARKEST HOUR, and her grandparents Nellie and Daniel Walsh, consider, as all Irish do, Easter to be the most important day in the Christian calendar. In their household, preparation for Easter starts at the beginning of Lent. The house has to be thoroughly cleaned. Many Irish refrain from eating any red meat for the entire forty days of Lent. This does not include Sundays, which are a feast day. They also refrain from indulging in a personal indulgence, such as alcohol, smoking, a favorite food, and the like. The Irish see the forty days of Lent as a time of self discipline.
The Irish take Good Friday very seriously. If they are in good health, many will fast for the entire day. Or at the very least will eat only a bite or two and take only a few sips of water. They remain in prayer from noon until three in the afternoon, the time Jesus hung on the cross.
The Eve of Holy Saturday is a vigil time for the Irish. A time of personal prayer and reflection.
In Irish households, Easter is a time to break out and celebrate. This is the day to be decked out in new clothes. Each family has a feast of roast lamb or mutton, potatoes, stuffing, and leeks, and the like. Easter eggs and chocolate eggs are given to children. This is a time for Irish step dancing.
Often I’ve found that grandmothers have lived long enough, and through enough difficulty they have more forgiving attitude toward mere mortals and their issues, even when there are deep, dark secrets, most carefully hidden. These seasoned ladies have survived quite a bit of stuff, some of it was between a rock and a hard place.
PERILOUS SHADOWS, set in the late 1940s, features Kiera Devane, a pioneer newspaper woman struggling to make it in a man’s world. Grandma and great-grandma recall how hard it was for career women back then. It was a glamorous era, but not all of the men were as gentlemanly as we might like to think. In fact, Kiera’s had it with men. She’s created a tough exterior and has just about given up on the opposite sex. She plans to spend her life alone with only the companionship of her Boxer Aggie.
When a cooed is found dead at the local radio station, Kiera scoops ace radio broadcaster Argus Nye, writing a newspaper story about a new lead in the case before his scheduled broadcast. Everyone warns Argus away from the ‘ice queen,’ but the two decide to team up and hunt the killer.
Mystery readers will love this story as a Valentine’s read. Argus is finally able to gain Kiera’s trust and takes her for a glamorous dinner at the fabled Garden City Hotel, where presidents, politicians, and Hollywood stars have dined. This classic whodunit has no end to twists and turns, and also possesses an unfolding love story.
From Chapter 3
Argus walked Kiera out of the diner and took her elbow as her heels tapped down the cement steps. Her suit was austere, yet somehow she made it sizzle. He shifted his eyes away so as not to be caught staring, but not before taking a second look. “I’ll walk you to your car.”
“No, that’s quite all right. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time.”
“Still, lass, I don’t feel quite right.”
“This is the Tastee Diner parking lot. It’s well lit. What could happen?”
Argus rubbed his chin. “Oh all right, if you insist. I’ll say good night here.” He’d tried to be the gentleman, but she was skittish as a young filly.
“Trust me. I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.”
Fighting against an uneasy feeling in his gut, Argus walked to his car on the other side of the lot. Since Ada’s death, he’d become overprotective toward women. Fishing in his pocket for his keys, he heard raised voices. One of them, Kiera’s.
“Leave me alone. You cheated on me.”
Argus dashed for Kiera’s car, thinking he recognized the male voice, yet he couldn’t quite place it.
“Give me another chance. You misunderstood. It meant nothing.” Paul Gregorski, sportscaster at the station, had a hold of Kiera’s arm.
A jolt like an electrical charge shot through Argus. “Let go of her if you know what’s good for you.”
Paul dropped the arm and turned to face Argus. “So, you bumped my show for your special report, and now you want my girl.”
“My relationship with Miss Devane is purely professional.” He would not allow the slightest insinuation.
Kiera squared her shoulders. “Look, Paul, I wish you well, but let’s let bygones be bygones.”
The sportscaster slanted his head toward Argus. “I don’t want to discuss this in front of him.”
“I’m not going anywhere unless Miss Devane asks me to leave.”
Kiera pivoted away from them and pulled her car keys out of her purse. “I don’t give a hoot what either of you do. I’m going home.” She slid behind the wheel of the Pontiac, backed out of her spot, and gunned it out of the lot.
Argus watched her signal light flash a right. She made the turn and her taillights disappeared into the twilight. He laughed aloud.
Paul growled. “What’s so funny?”
Argus shook his head and walked to his DeSoto, got in, and put the key in the ignition, but didn’t turn it on. She’d never be mistaken for a Carmelite nun. Not in a million years. Blunt, not soft and feminine like his Ada had been. And where’d Kiera get that short Betty Boop hair-do? Not his style at all. No Sir. Where Ada was a sensitive and godly woman, this one was so hardboiled he couldn’t imagine her on her knees praying. So, why was she so captivating?
Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/1euVanJ
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary novel, HARMFUL INTENT, is scheduled to release in the spring of 2014.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). https://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/
As it’s Veteran’s Day weekend, I’d like to honor my dad, Emil M. Navor, who was in the US Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps in the Pacific arena during World War II. Of course he often joked that Army intelligence, counter or otherwise, was an oxymoron.
Dad never spoke about any specifics of the war, or gave any details of his duties or assignments. But he did have a few hair raising tales. These are things he’d say when he was very relaxed…sometimes at the dinner table, or perhaps when he was settled comfortably in a lawn chair after a family barbeque or picnic. He said it wasn’t all that unusual for him to have been behind enemy lines and how scary that had been. More than once, he’d be laying, soaking wet, in a rice paddy while enemy transports rumbled by on a dirt road not more than twenty-five feet away. One time he and his Army buddies were walking on a road in the Philippines and an Japanese fighter jet came out of nowhere, diving at them, strafing the road. He and his buddies dove into the mud and muck in the field on the side of the road and none of them were hit.
He loved the Philippines and it’s people. He brought home a machete from that island nation and I now proudly display it on my bookshelf in front of some of my favorite mystery novels.
I’d also like to honor my uncle Nicholas Novogrodsky who died after the attack on Pearl Harbor but in the waters not far from that base when his plane went down. He was my mother’s younger brother. I wasn’t exactly named for him. Nicola would’ve been the choice had that been the case, but my parents were on the eclectic side, you see. However, the letter “N” was chosen for my first name to honor and remember him. The village of Woodridge, NY, where he grew up and went to high school named a road “Novogrodsky Road” after him as a remembrance. My mother and grandmother never really got over his loss. You see, freedom has a heavy price. It’s not free.
I have a love of the World War II era and the 1940s. That’s why I wrote a post WWII historical whodunit series set on the south shore of Long Island, NY. Book number one of that series, BURNING HEARTS, features a WWII hero who comes home only to find powerful people have framed him for arson/murder.
Well, if not murderlicious, then at least murderable.
The reader has to believe somebody wants to off your victim. Preferably there should be a long line of characters ready to send your victim to the great beyond.
An author can have fun with this. Why not? If you’re not enjoying the writing, why do it? Liz Wiehl, in THE HAND OF FATE, created conservative radio talk show host Jim Fate who has ticked off just about everyone. Some say the Fate character was modeled after Mr. Talk Radio himself, Rush Limbaugh. I’m not casting any stones at Mr. Limbaugh. My point is, I’m sure the author had a great time creating her victim. And since the Fate character had a long list of enemies, he was highly murderable.
Some writers pick people from their past…their ex-mother-in-law, the algebra high school teacher who looked down on them for being math-challenged, In these cases nobody, except the author and perhaps family members and a few close associates, will ever know who the character is modeled after. Of course the author will exaggerate the negative characteristics of said ex-mother-in-law or math teacher. Then again, maybe not. I’ve heard authors say, more than once, they toned reality down because nobody would believe it.
Another way to make your character’s murder believable is to have the victim know something that gets them killed. Robin Caroll did this very successfully in her novel INJUSTICE FOR ALL. In this case the murder victim is a federal judge and his FBI profiler god-daughter, Remington Wyatt, is forced to change her identity, go into hiding, and run for her life.
The third novel in my historical whodunit series, PERILOUS SHADOWS, starts right off at the beginning with a body, that of a pretty, young coed. There is no immediately discernible reason why this young lady was killed. However, as this mid-1940s psychological mystery unfolds the reader realizes most of the characters have something to hide, including the victim.
Knife Photo courtesy of stock.xchange image # 1115700
Team Launching is a whole lot of fun…and summer is the time to do it. What a whirlwind and now DARKEST HOUR is showcased on the tour.
I thought to myself, self, what can I say about DARKEST HOUR that’s new and different. Everyone knows it’s filled with suspense, intrigue, and treachery….not to mention romance. They know it’s set in the mid-1940s and that I’m crazy about the post World War II era.
Ah, but what they might not know is that I’m also in love with the sea…the ocean, particularly the Atlantic Ocean. I love it’s history and lore and love to visit cities and villages on the America’s eastern seaboard. I’m in love with Cape Cod, Key Largo and St. Augustine, Florida, and Montauk, NY (it’s the end.) Stories from the 1800s before the mast, of whaling, or of sea captains who went down with their ships thrill me.
That’s a big part of why I set the Sanctuary Point series on the south shore of Long Island. I created a tiny village first settled by missionaries. Then during prohibition day, a local shipping family made their fortune bootlegging illegal whiskey. This family employs a good many of the residents and thinks it can call the shots. DARKEST HOUR is the fourth novel in the series and the ocean is so integral to the story, it’s almost a character.
A petite widow, medical secretary and sole support of her young son and grandparents, is framed for the murder of her boss. Wealthy village residents conspire with the DA to indicte her and stop further investigation. The medical examiner thinks the shooter was a tall individual. When his report is shoved aside, he starts his own side-investigation trying to clear her and in the process he falls in love with her.
Lucinda Byrne lost her husband and parents at sea. When she discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society finacee, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, acuses Lucinda of murder. She struggles on shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness of her situation. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he’s a ladies’ man, but soon realizes he may be the only one in her corner.
Hank Jansen, the county ME who’s had his share of pain and loss, doesn’t know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she’s too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can’t deny he’s fallen head over heals for the accused, and also is crazy about her son. A huge problem is there’s a leak inside the investigation and the murderer is always one step ahead of them.
Lucinda leaned forward and took his hands in hers. “The ocean has taken so much from both of us. I used to love the beach, the sand, the waves. Now I hate it.”
Concern flashed across his eyes. “Maybe it was a mistake coming to Long Beach. Would you like to go?”
“No, I live in a waterside village. Sanctuary Point is on the bay. Long Beach is on the ocean. There’s not much difference. I’m used to having my enemy near.” She hadn’t meant to get so maudlin. Her mind raced for something uplifting to say, but failed. “Boy, I’m hungry now.” It was the best she could do.
The waitress brought two glasses of ice water and took their order. They both took huge gulps.
“Say, you didn’t tell me how your appointment went with your attorney.”
Lucinda placed her half empty glass on the table. “It went well. He’s going to use your report as the basis for my defense. I told him about your new lead, and he said that sounds promising indeed.” She giggled. “Those were his words, ‘promising indeed’.”
“I’m glad my report is useful to somebody. The angle of trajectory points to a much taller shooter. But do they take that into consideration? No.”
“Maybe when it’s presented to the jury…”
Barnes and Noble/Nook. bit.ly/17Kh6mg
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (penciled might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. BURNING HEARTS, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 in the Romance/Historical Romance category. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, third in the series released July, 2012, and DARKEST HOUR, the fourth in the series released in February, 2013. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). https://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/
Some say I write “Foodie Fiction,” while others say I’m a crime fictionista. I’m okay with both of those. How about I’m a crime fictionista who writes foodie fic that also happens to be action packed, classic, historical whodunits with romance set in the mid-1940s?
Whatever the case may be, I love to pour over recipes. And here are two favorite recipes of mine that would’ve been used my characters in my Sanctuary Point series.
Apple Strudel is mouth watering. My paternal grandmother used to make this delicacy and our entire family enjoyed it so much. It’s a fairly complex confection to bake. There is several steps to it. The end result is well worth the effort. An amazing thing happened after I had finished writing BURNING HEARTS and my editor had the manuscript. I was reading it over and realized Mrs. Brogna was amazingly like my grandmother. I remember my grown father stealing a confection before she was ready to set it out on the table. She smacked him on the behind with a towel and chased my dad around the kitchen table while he laughed. That is something Mrs. Brogna would do.
Apfelstrudel – If I had Mrs. Brogna’s old-fashioned apple strudel recipe, this would be it.
Apple Strudel Dough:
2 ½ C flour
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil
13 tbsp. water
1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl.
2. Stir with a spoon until the dough forms a ball.
3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky.
4. Form the dough into a ball and coat it with additional oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.
5. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a 9X13 rectangle.
6. Keep surface well-floured and gently flip the dough rectangle, keeping the long side toward you. Roll out as thinly as you can without breaking the dough. About 3 ft. X 2 ft. or slightly more.
Apple Strudel Filling:
½ C dark raisins
6 medium to large chopped, peeled and cored Granny Smith apples (not as fine as diced)
¾ C granulated sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest (grated lemon rind)
4 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1. Mix all ingredients together.
Preparing the Apple Strudel:
1 C melted butter
½ C white unseasoned breadcrumbs
1. Brush dough with slightly more than half the melted butter.
2. Evenly sprinkle the buttered dough with breadcrumbs.
3. Spread the filling along the longest edge of the dough as if it were a log.
4. Begin to roll the dough and the log of filling, slowly and gently.
5. Place the rolled strudel seam down in a horseshoe shape on a greased baking sheet.
6. Brush the remaining butter over the top of the strudel. Sprinkle a tiny bit of granulated sugar on top.
7.Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve either warm or at room temperature.
Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?
Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with had fallen in the WWII, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her close friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.
Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs
Amazon/Print and Kindle. http://amzn.to/1b9pulE
Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/16A4y0b
Kolacke (the precursor of Linzer Tarts)
Renata Lenart made hers with raspberry jam and served them on New Year’s Day in GOODBYE NOEL, the Christmas/New Years themed novel in the Sanctuary Point series. If I had Renata Lenart’s recipe, this is what it would be.
1/2 C butter, softened
1 small package cream cheese (3 oz.), softened
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C jam (raspberry, strawberry, or apricot)
1/4 C confectioners’ sugar
1. Cream butter and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer, until fluffy. Add flour, and mix well.
2. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut into circles with a 2-inch round cutter.
3. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon of the jam on each cookie; fold opposite sides together slightly overlapping edges.
4. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes.
5. Remove to wire racks to cool; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?
Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.
Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?
Barnes and Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/18TPVLc
Do you love delish baked goods? Love to pour through recipes? I especially love to do that right before a holiday. I’ll pile up stacks of cookbooks, some of them quite old, many of them with outstanding food photography. Then about a week before the holiday I’ll make myself a strong cup of black tea (perhaps Irish) and spend hours looking through recipes and making my holiday menu.
Do you enjoy reading “foodie fiction”?
What do you love about baking and baked goods?
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