Mad as Helen (Road River Mystery)
by Susan McBride
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Thriller
Publish Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Witness Impulse an imprint of HarperCollins
When tiny River Bend, Illinois, is hit by a string of burglaries even Sheriff Frank Biddle can’t solve, the clients of LaVyrle’s Cut ‘n’ Curl can hardly talk of anything but. There are no signs of forced entry and no fingerprints, and valuables are missing from secret hiding places, as if the thief knew what he wanted and just where to look.
Helen Evans wonders what the world has come to if even their once-quiet town isn’t safe anymore. Then Grace Simpson, a big-city psychotherapist who had opened up shop in River Bend, is found dead on her bedroom floor, and Helen’s granddaughter is caught with the murder weapon in hand.
Sure of the girl’s innocence, Helen embarks on a little investigation of her own and turns up plenty of folks who aren’t grieving a bit now that Grace is dead …
Why in Helen Did You Write These Books?
by Susan McBride
There’s a story behind my new mystery series and a very good reason why all the titles include the name “Helen,” and it started twenty years ago. That’s when I first got the idea to write a string of cozies featuring a 75-year-old, quick-witted, crossword puzzle-loving sleuth named Helen Evans.
Helen was, in fact, my grandmother. At the time I started writing To Helen Back, the first of the River Road Mysteries, my grandma had been diagnosed with a form of leukemia that would soon take her life. She fought it for all it was worth, enduring various forms of treatment including frequent blood transfusions; but she knew she was just buying time. And she was determined to live out what time she had left doing the things she loved best.
Like the Helen in my books, my grandma was devoted to her bridge clubs and her cat, Amber. She adored her family (well, most of them!), crossword puzzles, crafting quilts, and reading mysteries. Okay, and watching them as well. She was addicted to crime shows on TV. I can’t tell you how many times I visited with her and sat on the sofa, watching endless reruns of Matlock, Barnaby Jones, Columbo, The Rockford Files, or Murder, She Wrote. She was good at figuring out whodunit, too. It was a rare occasion when my grandma didn’t “catch” the killer first.
Top that off with my grandfather once remarking how complete strangers shared their life stories with my grandmother in the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or even a brief elevator ride and I couldn’t help thinking that she would be the perfect Miss Marple.
So twenty years back, I sat down and penned three amateur sleuth tales featuring a grandmother named Helen who lived in a small town in Illinois and whose penchant for puzzles and ear for innuendo helped her solve crimes well before the sheriff.
Unfortunately, those three books weren’t ever published. Thank goodness, I held onto them. As luck would have it, when I made a surprise trip to the USA Today bestsellers list with an earlier mystery in February (Blue Blood, the first of my Debutante Dropout Mysteries which debuted in 2004), my editor asked, “What else have you got?”
As luck would have it, I had the three Helen books gathering dust in my basement (literally). Two of them weren’t even stored digitally. They had to be scanned so my editor could read them. I eagerly revised each to update the storylines and to make the words feel more like the writer I am now. On May 27, my long-delayed dream came true when To Helen Back, the first of these mysteries, was released by Witness Impulse. This fictional tribute to my grandma Helen would finally reach mystery readers everywhere. It was such a wonderful feeling! Then to see To Helen Back on the Nook Top 50 Bestsellers list for a month and the #1 cozy mystery on Kobo was icing on the cake.
I am equally thrilled that the second in the series, Mad as Helen, is now out in digital-first format (paperback to follow in about six weeks!). Yes, these mysteries are entertainment and, I hope, a fun ride for readers. But they’re also a tribute to my grandmother whose spirit definitely lives on in Helen Evans.
She would have so enjoyed reading about her namesake. And I know for damned sure she would have tried like Helen (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) to figure out the answer to the mystery before her alter-ego did.
Susan McBride is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries. Her new River Road Mystery series debuted with To Helen Back in May. Mad as Helen is the second to feature Helen Evans with Not a Chance in Helen to follow in late September. Her first young adult mystery, Very Bad Things, will be published in hardcover this October. She’s also the author of The Truth about Love & Lightning, Little Black Dress, and The Cougar Club, all Target Recommended Reads. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter. Visit her web site at http://SusanMcBride.com for more about Susan and her books.
I am finishing Mad as Helen and shall be posting my review later today. The writing of Susan McBride is something that draws you back into the series like you’ve never been away.
~ Patricia, Room With Books ~
About The Author:
Susan McBride is the USA TODAY bestselling author of Blue Blood, the first of the Debutante Dropout Mysteries. The award-winning series also includes The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night of the Living Deb, and Too Pretty to Die. She’s also the author of The Truth about Love & Lightning, Little Black Dress, and The Cougar Club, all Target Recommended Reads. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter. Visit Susan’s web site at www.SusanMcBride.com for more info.
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