I was recently sent Barbara Venkataraman’s Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3, and found it a joy to read. This book set includes the first three stories in the Jamie Quinn series. I also had a chat with the author to find out a little more about the inspiration and behind the scenes creation of the books.
Death by Didgeridoo (Winner of the Indie Book of the Day award)
Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.
The Case of the Killer Divorce
Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father.
Peril in the Park
There’s big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can’t figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.
A preview of the next Jamie Quinn Mystery, Engaged in Danger, can be found at the end of the book. Engaged in Danger won first place in the Amateur Detective category of the Chanticleer Murder & Mayhem Mystery Writing Competition.
The Jamie Quinn series was in fact first inspired by a didgeridoo that Barbara Venkataraman had purchased to help with her sleep apnea (a condition also experienced by her character Jamie). She says “always one to embrace outlandish remedies, I had read that playing the didgeridoo improved the symptoms of sleep apnea, so I tried. And failed. It was so hard that one day I hyperventilated and dropped the didgeridoo, cracking a glass table. It occurred to me that a didgeridoo could be a lethal weapon, so I started asking questions–who would get killed? A music teacher. Who could have done it? Lots of people. Who will get falsely accused? A disabled student. Who will come to his rescue? His cousin, Jamie Quinn, a reluctant family lawyer. And off we went…”
Barbara Venkataraman herself is also an attorney and mediator, specializing in family law and debt collection, and she describes Jamie as her alter ego. She considers both herself and Jamie as “reluctant family lawyers, home-bodies who are loyal to our family and friends with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a snarky side”. However, she also adds that Jamie is “younger, more neurotic, and keeps finding herself embroiled in murder mysteries”.
Unlike Jamie, Barbara is also the author of an award-winning series and has always known she wanted to be a writer. She says, “ever since I wrote a poem about ducks in second grade and my teacher liked it so much she enlarged it and hung it on the wall, I was hooked.” She also talks about her love of words, both writing and read them, saying “I can spend a long time choosing one word, weighing my options and the feeling I want to convey”.
For all you aspiring authors out there, Barbara also describes what her process is like when writing a Jamie Quinn novel. “It’s a very loose process that looks like organized chaos from the outside. I come up with a synopsis and a very loose summary. I usually know the beginning and the end going in, but the middle is fluid and changes as I go. I research the topics I need for the story and paste it to the bottom of the document, so I can refer to it as I go. I write short chapters and send them to my reader girls as I finish them. None of my characters are ever shot so I have to come up with creative murder methods. I have researched so many ways to kill people that I think the FBI will come knocking soon!”
That the victims in the Jamie Quinn books do die more creatively is something I enjoyed about the books. It gave the mystery a little more fun and creativity and was a change from CSI’s common diagnosis of “gunshot wound to the head/chest”.
Jamie Quinn as a protagonist is also ideal for a cozy mystery with a point of difference because she differs from the usual cookie cutter cupcake baker as a family attorney. As an attorney, her involvement in a mystery also makes more sense than the ‘stick your nose in, smarter than the police, baker’ type character. In that vein, I also appreciate how Jamie involves people like private investigator Duke and doesn’t seem to feel the need to confront a killer alone in a dangerous situation.
I found these books to be a great light read and will definitely explore the rest of the series in the future.
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