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Jane used to own a rare book and antiques store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and now lives in New York City with her husband. Jane is the Chair of the Wolfe Pack's literary awards, including the Nero and the new Black Orchid Novella Award (in partnership with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) and is President of the Mystery Writers of America, New York Chapter. The second Josie Prescott mystery, Deadly Appraisal, will be published in spring 2007.

APRIL AUTHOR: JANE CLELAND

Q: Did you actually choose to work in the Mystery genre and if so why?
(What does it offer that others do not?)

A: I love mysteries... when I decided to try my hand at fiction, it never occurred to me to write anything else.

Q: How much of your protagonist is based upon yourself and/or important figures in your life?

A: Very little. Well, okay, I don't know. I guess that as I think of it, my mom and dad were pretty darn wise and passed on their views of the world. And my dad was fascinated by business. And I owned a rare book store in Portsmouth, NH for four years. And my best friend is named Jo-Ann.

Q: You use, for lack of a better phrase, Parental Pearls of Wisdom throughout the book revealing much about Josie's internal conflicts and motivations as well as providing unique clues to the plot for those readers paying attention. Is this sage advice giving something pulled from your own childhood and if so, how has it helped you in your writing and/or personal life?

A: Most of the sayings are, in fact, things my mom and dad said as I was growing up. My dad died when I was young, barely 17, and I was utterly unprepared for the world. My mom was a writer and incredibly supportive, but she was widowed young and didn't have terrific coping skills herself. I left home at 17. It was a lonely, difficult time. Thinking of their words, remembering how much they loved me, helped me get through many tough experiences. Still does, if the truth be known.

Q: The emotional issues Josie confronts in her second outing are intense and heart wrenching: the sense of isolation haunting her as she attempts to rebuild her life. Have you gone through a similar experience which has helped infused the story with such authenticity or do you draw from other areas to fuel this part of the human drama in the story?

A: Thank you so much for the kind comments about DEADLY APPRAISAL. Isolation is a cruel punishment whether it's self-imposed or forced on you by others. Shunning is used by many societies to enforce conformity to the community's standards. Thus, whistler blowers like Josie get shafted. I've never been shunned, thankfully, but I can't imagine much worse. I empathize with Josie very much.

Q:Which of your books comes closest to accomplishing your intention and why?

A: I think I'm too new to answer this. I try really, really hard to be clear and to write an engaging story.

Q: Who or what have been your major influences regarding your writing?
(What particular book/writer/film/person/event made you want to write and why?)

A: My mom was a writer and a major influence on me. As to others: Rex Stout, Ed McBain, Robert B. Parker, and Georgette Heyer. Movies: Body Heat and Sea of Love.

Q: What new projects do you have in the pipeline?

A: I'm trying my hand at a thriller. I'm enjoying writing in the third person and I'm enjoying crafting a bigger, more global plot.

For more information on Jane, visit: www.janecleland.net

 

Consigned to Death

Nominated for 2006 Agatha

"Best First Mystery"

Deadly Appraisal

In Stores April 2007

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 Review by Nancy Gratton:
Deadly Appraisal, St. Martin's Press, 2007, 307 pp.

For lovers of cozy murder mysteries, the pickings have been slim in recent years. Gruesome forensics and gritty police procedurals have all but muscled out the more genteel conceit of the amateur sleuth swept unwittingly into the investigation of small-town friends and neighbors in the pursuit of justice. For those who are looking for something new to read that will tempt them away from their well-thumbed Agatha Christie's, author Jane K. Cleland offers the misadventures of Josie Prescott, antiques appraiser and sometime detective.

Cleland's Deadly Appraisal (St. Martin's Press, 2007) is her second entry for in the mystery genre. Her first book, Consigned to Death (2006), introduced Josie and her world to readers who have had to search high and low for a truly satisfying traditional mystery. Consigned to Death has been nominated for the Agatha Award for "the best first novel in the tradition of Agatha Christie."

Cleland's heroin, Josie, has moved to the quiet seacoast of New Hampshire to recuperate from her participation (on the side of the angels, of course) in a high-profile scandal in the Manhattan antiques trade. Here she hopes to create a quiet haven for herself, opening an appraisal-cum-auction business and slowly earning a place in her newly adopted community. Events conspire against her, however. The world of antiques is one that evidently inspires desperate actions, and twice, now, Josie has been forced to turn her sharply appraising mind to the solution of crime. A newcomer to town, she can trust only her own instincts and the wisdom she has learned from her much loved but, sadly, now-departed father.

Cleland skillfully combines a charming locale (coastal New England), an intrepid heroine, and a unique milieu - the high-stakes world of the antiques trade - to create a solid basis for what her readers can only hope will be an enduring series. Amid the crimes, clues, and red herrings, author Cleland sprinkles antiques lore with aplomb, as befits someone who has herself owned a store much like the one run by her character. Whether she has Josie appraising a 14th century Chinese vase, exploring the peculiariities of life along New Hampshire's abbreviated coast, or indulging in her passion for home-cooking, Cleland displays the deft touch of a writer who knows whereof she writes.

Consigned to Death stands quite comfortably on its own as a satisfying excursion into the traditional mystery genre, but readers new to this author will be well rewarded should they choose to begin at the beginning and scoop up the series' opening volume as well. As any good series writer should, Cleland builds her characters over time, and the enjoyment-quotient of this second volume is only enhanced when readers take the trouble to get to know Josie - and her newly adopted community - from the beginning.

 

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