Thursday, March 14, 2024

A Case For the Ladies, by Edith Maxwell

Catriona writes: As someone who, herself, writes all over this beloved genre of ours, I always feel an affinity for fellow authors who do the same. Edith Maxwell is a great example. I first knew her as the author of a Quaker midwife series, but she had some full-on cozies to her name too. And then came a California-set wine-country caper (which is splendid, by the way) and now this! Amelia Earhart investigates. I imagine there wil lbe a bit of premise envy amongst authors who wish we'd they'd though of that first. But great delight amongst readers.

And now, Edith!

Thank you to my pal Catriona for inviting me over to talk about my new historical mystery,
A Case for the Ladies. It’s hot off the press (or off the ebook compiler, according to your preference) and available wherever books are sold. 

You all dwell on (or HAVE?) criminal minds over here. Let me tell you, 1926 Boston had no shortage of them.

Here is the blurb: Amid Prohibition, Irish gangs, the KKK, and rampant mistreatment of immigrant women, intrepid private investigator Dorothy Henderson and her pal Amelia Earhart seek justice for several murdered young women in 1926 Boston. As tensions mount, the sleuths, along with their reporter friend Jeanette Colby and Dot’s maiden Aunt Etta Rogers, a Wellesley College professor, experience their own mistreatment at the hand of society and wonder who they can really trust.

I made up the attacks on young immigrant women, but they could have happened. Most immigrants, especially if they came from poorer countries or didn’t have pale skin, were treated with disrespect and abuse. Gosh, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

I didn’t invent the smuggling of alcohol, or the ruthless nature of the men who ran those rackets. When I read about the Tailgate Gang, run by Irish-American men, I knew I had to include them. This was during the years when the Volstead Act, otherwise known as Prohibition, was the law of the land. This gang would stop trucks carrying alcohol and steal it off the tailgates.

You’ll read casual mention of Mayor James Michael Curley and Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzpatrick, who, if not outright criminals, did their share of shady political dealings. A rumor floats around about Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. having his finger in the alchohol trade, but historically that seems to be inaccurate.

Anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic fervor was also rampant, and the KKK was alive and kicking. Part of my story involves people from The Ville, aka West Medford, a section of that town northwest of Boston settled by Pullman porters. At the time, most residents were Black, and the KKK was a constant menace.

Nearby is also where Amelia lived with her mother and sister while she worked at the Denison Settlement House in Boston (this was all before she became famous, but she was already avid about flying and piloted a plane out of Quincy on Massachusetts’s South Shore, on the weekends).

Speaking of immigrants, the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were in prison in 1926 for murder and armed robbery south of Boston (Braintree, to be precise), but appeals were coming in from around the world pleading their innocence and asking for their freedom. Alas, they were executed the next year in a Boston jail (Charlestown, if you’re local).

One true crime I didn’t bring in was the horrific death of Edith Greene, an unmarried pregnant woman. She went for an abortion in 1926. Instead she died at the doctor’s hands, who then carved up her body and dumped the parts around town. (Insert shiver here.)

I hope you love reading about a real person (Amelia) assisting another real person (my grandmother Dorothy in an alternate reality as a lady PI) to come to the fictional aid of women all over the Boston of nearly a hundred years ago.

Readers: What’s your favorite era to read about? Share any factoids about Amelia you happen to know! I’d love to send one of you a Case for the Ladies tote bag. 

Maddie Day pens the Dot and Amelia Mysteries, the Country Store Mysteries, the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, and the Cece Barton Mysteries. As author Edith Maxwell, she’s the author of the historical and Agatha Award-winning Quaker Midwife Mysteries and short crime fiction. Day/Maxwell lives with her beau and cat Martin north of Boston, where she writes, gardens, cooks, and wastes time on Facebook. Find the author under both names at,, Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, and on social media: Twitter Facebook Instagram


Harini Nagendra said...

Such a fascinating article, Edith! And how brilliant that you've worked your grandmother into your book as a fictional character.

Dru Ann said...

nice article.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Harini! I loved envisioning an alternate reality for Dot.

Thank you, Dru!

Catriona McPherson said...

Welcome to Criminal Acres, Edith. It's lovely to have you and the book sounds fab, Cx

Susan C Shea said...

Hi Edith! So happy to see you here. Favorite era for crime? I guess ones in which women were/are allowed to solve them! I gobbled up Jackie Winspear's Maisie Dobbs books set between world wars, Catriona's 1930s Dandy Gilver series, Rhys Bowen's early 20th century New York City Molly Murphy series and more. But Sara Paretsky's contemporary Chicago makes for a lot of crime to solve, as does Boston. Congratulations on the new book and on your prolific writing career, which I envy!

Edith Maxwell said...

Thank you, Catriona, and for the lovely introduction!

Susan, I love all the series you mention. And thank you for "lending" me your son and his talent for book design! I loved working with Brian on this project.

Carol Pigg said...

Absolutely in awe over the women of this book. It reads like a true life diary.

Anonymous said...

Aww, thank you so much Carol!

Anonymous said...

The previous was from me, Edith / Maddie