Kathy: Your new series features London milliner Emily Gates. I love hats! I always wear a hat outdoors. It started with berets and then I gathered a huge collection of fancier hats. Sadly, I was forced to leave most of them behind when I moved across the country. Now you're more apt to see me in a ball cap. Are you a hat person too?
KP: Yes, I love hats, but the ones I see never fit. I have a big head, which I inherited from my father. Or as my mother would say, we both have thick skulls. I would dearly love to find a cloche that fits properly, and when I was younger, loved wide brimmed hats. I'm too old for that style now. I have a sort of ball cap that fits and that I love to wear in the warmer months, since regular ball caps don't fit even with the back strap loosened the whole way. So, yes, I am a hat person, but my head isn't!
Kathy: My most fancy hat was bought when I was quite young at a millinery shop in New Orleans. I also have a fedora made by a hat maker in Buffalo who also created the hats from Indiana Jones! Do you have any favorite hats?
KP: I wish I did. My favorite style is the cloche, which goes well with short hair. Living in a small town, there are no hat makers around.
Kathy: Emily has an interesting way to make ends meet. Is it more fun to write about this aspect of her life?
KP: I love capers, and action and adventure stories. Writing THE KILLING AT KALDAIRE HOUSE was a dream, since I could write about racing antique cars and breaking into houses. Lady Kaldaire, with her habit of telling tall tales at the drop of a hat and convincing Emily to help her do foolish things, is a wonderful instigator. We're all familiar with workaday life. Emily's adventures can be an escape from the mundane. And wouldn't we all like to work for a Lady Kaldaire on occasion.
Kathy: Did you research swindlers and con men of the day?
KP: Yes, from that period, today, and any other stories I could find about audacious cons. I wanted to see how they were presented in film and stories as opposed to the reality of their lives. Then I took the best, the most clever, and wove them into my story.
Kathy: Tell us about your new series.
KP: The new series, The Milliner Mysteries, begins with THE KILLING AT KALDAIRE HOUSE and is set in Edwardian England. It's fun and lighthearted and is meant as a followup to the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, but is set ten years later and the characters are quirkier. The Deadly series is set just before World War II and is a tad more serious, as fits the subject matter.
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?
KP: I was an only child for many years and I've always wanted a large family. Finally, I created one, and made the Gates family as madcap and larcenous as I wanted. In real life, I imagine they would wear on the nerves of any honest members of the family, but in a book? The more the merrier.
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
KP: The next one will be DEADLY DECEPTION, in the Deadly series, where Olivia needs to rescue her father from the gallows and Esther's grandmother from Hitler.
THE KILLING AT KALDAIRE HOUSE by Kate Parker
The First Milliner Mystery
Emily Gates is a respectable shop owner and talented milliner. In fact, her creations are sought after by most of the aristocracy. Sadly, the upper classes aren't quick to pay their bills, if they pay them at all. Desperate to pay her own bills, Emily falls back on the skills of her father and his family and has taken to robbing the rich and holding their property ransom until she's paid what she's owed. While attempting to relieve a favored painting, Emily's plan falls to pieces as she finds the body of the dying Lord Kaldaire. Knowing she can't leave him, she summons for help. Now Lady Kaldaire knows her secret, as does Detective Inspector Russell. Both vow to keep quiet...as long as Emily helps them. So now Emily's using her family's tricks to help Lady Kaldaire discover who murdered her husband and spying on the family she'd rather not know for the police. Will Emily be able to protect her reputation and her business? Will she discover the truth behind the attack on Lord Kaldaire? And, more importantly, will she find time to continue to make her famous hats?
THE KILLING AT KALDAIRE HOUSE is a fun trip back to Edwardian England. Kate Parker infuses the book with fascinating details of the time, from fashion to mourning rituals, and more. Uniquely determined characters inhabit the pages of this first Milliner Mystery. I love Emily's entrepreneurial spirit. Her creation and the idea to bring it to the motor race was brilliant. Emily is proud of her hard earned respectability, but now must do some rather disrespectable things in order to maintain it! Caught between a rock and a hard place, namely Lady Kaldaire and Detective Inspector Russell, Emily is forced to reconnect with the family she'd distanced herself from, engage in the skills she learned from them, and put herself and her business at risk. Her unwillingness, struggle, and eventual capitulation frustrate her to no end and provide readers with great entertainment. As do the secondary characters! Emily's rogue family are a delightful counterpoint to many of the aristocracy, especially the odious new Lord Kaldaire and his wife.
The first Milliner Mystery is an entertaining mystery brimming with exuberant characters, outlandish situations, and fine historical detail.
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