Today’s Wednesday’s Guest is Mary Reed, who, with her husband Eric Mayer, wrote the historical mystery Murder in Megara that I reviewed this past Sunday. Mary is here sharing a bit about chance meetings and old friends, both topics that bring a smile.
Since this is all very British – except WordPress wanted all the spelling to be American English instead of English English – I thought tea and crumpets would be appropriate refreshments to serve. Do help yourself.
Hi, Mary here. First, I want to thank Maryann for inviting me to be a guest today. Pardon me if I take a sip of tea first. Ah, very nice.
Now for my post. For a change of pace in reading I occasionally choose a book on spec, often picking a title I find intriguing.
One such random pick was The Cryptogram by James de Mille, published in 1872. It struck my fancy because like many mystery readers I enjoy trying to solve coded messages before the characters are able to unlock their contents. Alas, I regret to report de Mille’s novel turned out to be a farrago of nonsense.
This sad state of affairs was partly due to the fact that, as I wrote in my review, “more than one character must have had bad eyesight because it’s astonishing how they did not recognize close relatives after several years apart — surely their voices at least would have given them away?”
Perhaps the novel’s most egregious example of non-recognition after an unexpected meeting was connected with an attempt to murder the heroine by abandoning her on a sinking yacht. Fortunately she was rescued by her husband, who was traveling incognito from India to England for the purposes of the plot — yet neither of them recognized the other.
However, in my case an unexpected meeting involving non-recognition was turned around as the result of an impulse I still cannot really explain.
It happened in Oxford, England. The pavement was fairly crowded — it was a sunny day such as an English summer will often feature, despite rumors to the contrary — and on my way to buy lunch I was passed by a tall, dark-haired man with a villainous beard. A few steps further on, I found myself, for no reason I could give then or now, turning around and glancing back at him.
He had done the same and was standing a few yards away, looking after me.
The bearded man had not spoken to me, but it must have been, in some subconscious way, we had recognized each other as we passed, for he was a cousin I had not seen for at least fifteen years — and furthermore when we last met he had been clean shaven.
The chances of us meeting that way were minuscule in that while I worked in Oxford he was only visiting it that particular day.
A similar unexpected meeting, though this time involving immediate recognition, had occurred in London some time earlier. I, too, was only there for the day and, to my amazement, met, purely by accident, a trio of my friends, all of them London residents. The odds against all of us being on the same street at the same time in a city that size must be astronomical.
Two old friends play an important part in Murder In Megara, our latest John the Lord Chamberlain adventure, releasing in October 2015. John’s friends had remained in Greece and took very different paths from John, but he meets them again under very different circumstances when he’s exiled to his estate near Megara.
As for my chance-met cousin? We had a pleasant chat, caught up on family news, and parted. I have not seen him since, nor do I expect to given he remains in England, and I am now living in the US. However, you never know what chance might bring in the future.
Readers, do share any stories of chance meetings or rekindling friendships in the comments.
AUTHOR BIO – The husband and wife team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer published several short John the Lord Chamberlain detections in mystery anthologies and in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine prior to 1999’s first full length novel, One For Sorrow. The American Library Association’s Booklist Magazine named the Lord Chamberlain series as one of its four Best Little Known Series and Murder In Megara is the eleventh entry. Writing as Eric Reed, their World War Two novel The Guardian Stones,set in rural Shropshire, will be published in January 2016.
BOOK BLURB – Exiled to his Greek estate, John realizes the solution to Murder In Megara does not lie in the dark alleys of Constantinople where previous investigations have taken him, but in a far more dangerous place — his own past. Can he find his way out of the labyrinth of lies and danger into which he has been thrust before disaster strikes and exile turns into execution?