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Nancy Martin Visits ENLR Today!

EDITED MARCH 4 – WINNER WINNER – KELLEE – Contact me at arkansascyndi  at  sbcglobal . net


I am SO THRILLED to have Nancy Martin here today (**fangirl squeal**) Nancy is a WONDERFUL mystery writer famous for her Blackbird Sisters Mysteries. (She also has a shady past as a ROMANCE AUTHOR!)

Visit her website http://www.nancymartinmysteries.com/ for more information on her Blackbird Mysteries (which I just LOVED) as well as links to buy these books.

Today, Nancy is kicking off a BRAND NEW series starring Roxy Abruzzo. Roxy isn’t your usual good girl heroine, in fact, I don’t believe “good girl” has even been used to described Roxy! Read more about Roxy here on Nancy’s website.

To celebrate Nancy’s new series, I am giving away one autographed copy of OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION. And you have TWO chances to win. Leave a comment here, then go to my review of OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION on my blog HERE and leave a comment there. Good luck.

Take it away, Nancy!


By Nancy Martin

In his Ten Commandments for Detective Novels, Ronald Knox declared that no mystery should include a “Chinaman.”  He composed his list in 1929, mind you, but a lot of mystery buffs still take those rules very seriously.

If you write such stories, thou shalt obey these laws: *

  1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
  2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
  4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.
  6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
  8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
  9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

* In truth, most of these rules have become outdated in current mystery fiction.

Mystery readers, in general, I’ve discovered, have a lot of rules.  I learned early in my mystery writing career that hardcore mystery lovers particularly hate sex.  On the pages of their mysteries, that is.  Hate it.

So like a good girl, I wrote my first mystery, HOW TO MURDER A MILLIONAIRE, making sure that my amateur detective and Philadelphia society columnist Nora Blackbird, kept her panties on.

But in a previous career incarnation, I paid the mortgage by writing romance novels (I have more than 40 under my Gucci belt) and I couldn’t see why a red-blooded woman needed to be celibate in order to solve crimes.  Or why she needed to have such an unbalanced life.  So a “love interest” soon strolled onto pages of my Blackbird mysteries. When Mick Abruzzo, felonious son of a powerful mafia kingpin, meets genteel Nora Blackbird, for him it’s love at first sight.  He determines to leave the life of crime and make a life with her instead—although his criminal tendencies tempt him like an addiction. Nora and Mick long and lust for each other, despite their differences in class, sensibility and moral code—classic romance novel stuff, right? But it worked in a mystery novel. At least, I thought so.

Turns out, my Blackbird readers were women like me who like to see the rules broken now and then.  They actually wanted their detectives to have love lives.  So in the 3rd book in my Blackbird Sisters series, Nora and Mick Abruzzo had sex.  In a car.  In the parking lot of a Home Depot.  I couldn’t help myself!  Neither could they!  And lots of readers seemed to love it. (Note from Cyndi – OMG is Mick H-O-T. The classic bad boy. And that scene at Home Depot. Scorched my fingers holding the book! But back off ladies…Mick is ALL MINE!)

Sure, I heard tsk-tsking from the mystery poohbahs.  My books were too romantic, they hinted, to be taken seriously in the genre.

Well, fasten your seatbelts, everybody, because my new mystery series features Roxy Abruzzo—Mick’s naughty half sister who has a lot of sex.  With a lot of different men.  Anytime, anywhere. She’s got a problem that way, in fact, and readers will learn why this certain addiction afflicts her. She’s going to struggle against it, give in, then fight all over again in a terrible, heart-breaking, sometimes unsavory battle.

Already I’m hearing shrieks from the sidelines.

She’s too unlikable! She’s not nice! She’s a con woman! Who’s corrupt! And worst of all–she’s promiscuous!

Well . . . aren’t a lot of male detectives unlikable?  How come one currently revered male detective even tells readers about his diarrhea, but he’s still beloved?  Many male detectives actually enjoy beating up people and taking multiple women to bed.  And don’t get me started on the overload of drunks in mystery fiction.  More than half the male detectives are alcoholics, but women don’t dare forget to feed their kitties or readers scream.

Do I smell double standard?

Or is sex the hot button for readers?  Killing is grand, but don’t kiss anybody? Does lovemaking give mystery fans the heebie jeebies?  And if so, don’t you think it’s time for a little group therapy?

Okay, I’ll admit that Roxy Abruzzo’s sex life is unsavory.  She knows it, too.  Like a serial killer, she keeps little tokens from each of the men she seduces. A little twisted, right?  She’s Got Issues that will require many, many books to resolve, just as those alcoholic male detectives do. If you’re one of those don’t-forget-to-feed-the-cat readers, Roxy’s not for you.  But if you like to read about a character who struggles with problems, I think you’re going to enjoy OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION.

Once again, I think it’s romance fans who are going to lead the way.  Romance readers are famously open-minded and like to see the rules broken.

So, what did Reverend Knox mean when he declared no detective novel should include a Chinaman?  Nowadays, we haven’t a clue.  But I’m tempted to break that rule, too.

Nancy Martin is the author of nearly 50 popular fiction novels, including the Blackbird Sisters Mystery Series and OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION, due in stores today.  She serves on the board of Sisters in Crime and was awarded the 2009 Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award for mystery writing. Visit her at www.NancyMartinMysteries or on Thursdays at The Lipstick Chronicles.  (www.thelipstickchronicles.typepad.com )


30 Responses

  1. I love the list. A few more “Rules” I like.

    On some level the victim needs to deserve to die.
    For God’s sake NEVER kill an animal; you’ll never hear the end of it.
    Be fair. Give the reader a chance to solve the mystery before the last page.
    The best clues are the ones in plain sight.

  2. Nancy Martin! Hello, darlin’…..:)

    For the regular readers of ENALR, Nancy’s a doll and a dear and a good friend. Snap up the Blackbird Sisters books, and you’ll be up all night laughing. Personally, I’m hawking my mailbox for OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION. Roxy sounds like someone else I know, and I cannot wait to read this one….:)

  3. Oh yes. Rule # 2. Mulder and Scully wouldn’t like THAT one, now would they?!?!?!?

  4. I love your list of rules.

    Nancy’s book are great.

  5. Ah, Nancy, Roxy’s going to knock ’em all dead — and I’ve read the book and can attest to the fact that there are no Chinamen, no twin brothers, and only a moderate number of secret passages.

    “the Watson” is my new favorite phrase. It’s a keeper!

  6. As a long time Nancy/Blackbirds fan I am anxiously waiting for Roxy to land in my mailbox. She sounds like someone I NEED to get to know..

    Rules are made to be broken — and Nancy you excel at it. For those that haven’t met the Blackbird Sisters … You should! As for Home Depot Cyndi was right .. that was HOT .. but we can’t forget the phone booth either!

  7. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Blackbirds! But I am anxiously awaiting Roxy and her scooby gang. Nancy is wonderful. Check out her site for the first chapter of her new book and you will be excited too. I’m looking forward to some gratuitous sex. Spice.
    “the watson”…yep…like that too.

  8. Good to see you getting around, Nancy. Blogwise, I mean.
    Folks, I read Roxie and loved her. I think you will, too.

  9. I’ve enjoyed reading all the Blackbird mysteries and am looking forward to reading about Roxy.

  10. Waiting eagerly for my copy as well, and if Elaine likes it, I’m even more excited! It’s so true about double standards — men in life and in literature get so much more leeway, and women deserve full lives, too.
    Rules? Be fair to the reader by presenting the clues, and write well (or have a good editor). . . and this is hard to define, but love scenes romantic, fun, sexy, but not so graphic that they are embarrassing . . . not “icky” (there’s a nice, sophisticated, English teacher word . . . not — but I’ll bet you know what I mean).
    Congratulations on completing another book, still a thrill after so many??

  11. Rules, schmules. I guess what he meant by “Chinaman” was not to demonize one culture as inscrutable. There was a time when there was a lot of that in crime fiction, back in the heyday of noir.

    I’m so looking forward to reading this new book, Nancy, which sounds like a more heavily muscled story than the Blackbirds’ usual adventures. Bring it on!

    And Cyndi, LOVE the new website. I’m adding it to my Google Reader queue.

  12. Gosh, I love Watson! And I see what you mean Nancy, rules are made to be broken. (Except maybe the twin thing, which has to be pretty darn original to work…)

    As for “romance”—how can there be a book about a real person without it?

    And Roxy should be in my mailbox rightn ow..In fact, I do see steam coming out of it… Congratulations!

    (And Hi, Cyndi!)

  13. Cyndi! Fabulous site, baby!

    Nancy’s book is in stores and I already picked up my copies for her to personalize on Friday.

    I happen to think Roxy is a great, challenging character, and as a fan of both romance and mystery, I love her!

    Last night at Book Group we discussed Dorothy Sayers “Whose Body” – her first novel – great book, except for the appearance of fairly blatant anti-Semitism. Rules change, thank God.

    Cyndi – I’m just here for you and Nancy so please don’t put my name in the contest. Since I already have the book, someone else gets my chance!

  14. Almost forgot – sorry Cyndi – if you read “Mick’s Story” at the end of one of the Blackbird’s novels, you already know Mick is, in fact, MINE.

    Okay, he WAS. But I still remember the details. In living color. hah!

  15. What an..um.. interesting set of rules. That sure blows a lot of mystery books out, huh?

    Last night, I went book shopping. Really just wanted to make sure the B&N had it on the shelves. Guess what! They didn’t!!! *gasp* I know. I had to send the clerk hunting for it, just to make my point that HC’s have to be on the shelves ON their drop day. Or I will call the mgr, whom I know. LOL!

    So, I got a copy. Just to prove the point. Now, I will have to get a personal copy signed. 🙂 Cause I love my Nancy books.

  16. Hi, Nancy! Cyndi, love your site!

    Ordered my signed copy this morning so I don’t miss out, but I’m still hoping Nancy makes it to this neck of the woods at some point. Can’t wait to read about Roxy, and I’m glad to hear she has personal issues to deal with, because, really, who doesn’t?

    I love the list. I feel the need to scour books for Chinamen.

  17. ”She’s too unlikable! She’s not nice! She’s a con woman” – I like the sound of her already. I think I’m going to enjoy this novel.

  18. Oh, wow! I just can’t wait to read this. More on my TBR list.

    Funny, as I read the list of rules, I was thinking how much fun it would be to break them. Like the killer is the seemingly dim-witted sidekick who is really secretly a diabolical genius and the detective discovers the clue by accident, after happening upon a series of myserious passages that lead to the lair of the side-kick’s twin borther who is…..(GASP!) a Chinaman! LOL

    Seriously, I loved the list and I love the sound of this new series. Can’t wait to nab a copy!

  19. Cool site, Cyndi! Thanks for letting us know about Nancy’s post. Nancy, the rules, the rules! How did we not know all this before? Hysterical!
    Ladies, I distinctly saw Mick give me the once-over when I innocently took my car to the garage where he has all his vehicles cared for . . . only my loyalty to Nora kept me from twirling my hair and pretending not to know what was wrong with my car . . . .
    Hey, has Me, Margie read Roxy’s tale yet? Is she gonna be mad about competition? Nancy, will you be able to go to the office without answering to MM?

  20. first, I didn’t design this site. All credit goes to Keri Ford.

    And second, Kathy…So sorry to tell you this, but Mick called me the morning “after” the night withe you and well, it’s over babe. and Laraine? Mick told me he was looking at the lipstick on your front tooth. Sorry. He’s calling me everyday. Sigh.

    But right now, I think I might toss him over for Patrick Flynn – a real bad boy who can cooks…swoon!

  21. Whew! What a day! I am back from 2 TV interviews and a couple of bookstore drop-ins. Launch week is always hectic.–But what a pleasure to be invited by our wonderful Cyndi to guest blog today!

    Liz said it best. As you read the rules, it’s fun to think of ways to break ’em! (Hank, my very first pubbed book had–you guessed it–a set of twins. Hey, it was 30 years ago!)

  22. Welcome Nancy! Your book sounds fantastic…and oh lookie! I’m heading to a bookstore this weekend! Just got one more added to my stack. Liz…we might be up all night long reading this weekend. we can set the chocolate fountain up between us and pass out the rest of the dippers.

  23. You’re on, sister. I’m in the middle of the last guest’s book (Lead Me On)

    Think I’m going to spend a fortune on books in the next couple of weeks. But, hey, the chocolate sounds good. And what goes better with a mystery than chocolate dipped strawberries?

  24. Yay, Nancy, for breaking the rules. Frankly, Roxy will be a little more interesting because of the sex…er, I mean, rule-breaking. As for the stupid Watson. In the new Sherlock Holmes movie, Jude Law’s Watson is extremely intelligent and at times outwits Holmes. (And did I say that I’m a Jude Law fan now?)

    Have fun at your release party!

    ArkCyndi – Great site! Thanks for having Nancy Martin Day.

  25. Another new to me author!! How have I missed you?? The books look like they’d be a fun read.. Please count me in for this.

  26. Keri & Liz—At my last book launch party, we had a chocolate fountain. (For the book MURDER MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH.) A huge mess in the bookstore, but delish.

    This year, we’re featuring a Pittsburgh cookie table—a lavish spread of various cookies typically displayed at a wedding. (After all the dancing, a handful of cookies can be very reviving!)

    Just so you know.—We do book parties big in Pittsburgh. 😉

  27. Oooh, cookies! I could go for a Pittsburgh wedding cookie party. I do love those little white wedding cookies that get all over your clothes but are soooo worth it.

    Eat one for me…and I’ll have a chocolate strawberry for you and we’ll all be happy 🙂

  28. I haven’t read any of your books, looking forward to read one ! 🙂

    and you are a new for me Author !

  29. Ohh! I like it! It’s “different”, and I admire something different from all the others. I loved that title OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION. It draws attention. It’s sophisticated, sassy, and catchy! Love it!

  30. Great list! LOL All your books sound so interesting! And I love the titles too!! 🙂 Off to the bookstore I go! 🙂

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