September 12, 2019 Galit Gottlieb

JUDITH FLANDERS, Sam Clair Mysteries

Judith Flanders, born 1959 in London, spent her childhood in Montreal, and returned to London after college. She worked as an editor for years, before publishing her first book, A Circle of Sisters, in 2001. Two years later, The Victorian House was shortlisted for History Book of the Year by the British Book Awards. She published three more books: Consuming Passions, The Invention of Murder, and The Victorian City, (in addition to contributing to many newspapers and magazines), before starting the Sam Clair Mystery Series in 2014, with Murder of Magpies and continuing with three additional books so far.

“Oh, just kill me now.” I didn’t shriek that out loud, just clenched my teeth more tightly. It was eight thirty and already the day couldn’t get much worse. I’m always at my desk by eight, not because I’m so wonderful, although I am, but because it’s the only time of day when no one asks me anything, when I can get on with some work, instead of solving other people’s problems.” From Murder of Magpies, page 1

Samantha Clair is an overworked London book editor whose gossipy fashion industry friend has written a racy manuscript. After the friend goes missing, it becomes clear that somebody wants to stop the manuscript from being published. Sam, with the help of her Goth assistant, her wealthy, well-connected mother, and her cute boyfriend, Scotland Yard detective Jake Field, is on the case. In another book in the series, Sam and Jake attend a neighbor’s theater production expecting lots of drama and death. They’re not at all shocked when the second act opens with a body hanging from the rafters, until they realize that it is an actual person, who has been murdered. And that person is the play’s director, who, it turns out, was not at all well-liked.

The Sam Clair mysteries are filled with snappy dialogue, Sam is not shy about sharing her thoughts, her mother is a hoot, and it was entertaining to be swept along into the apparently exciting life of an editor. I imagine the author sitting at her desk all those years, thinking about ways to kill people off, maybe even authors whose work she was currently editing.