J. A. Menzies is the alter ego of award-winning author and speaker N. J. Lindquist. Her first book collection was the entire Trixie Beldon series. She now collects the work of Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, Desmond Bagley, and Louis L’Amour. Plus she reads a variety of contemporary authors, including Donna Andrews, Louise Penny, Alan Bradley, Peter Robinson, and T. Jefferson Parker. She’s also read a lot of baseball books, especially memoir, the most recent ones about Lefty Gomez, R. A. Dickey, and Dirk Hayhurst.
J. A. is currently working on her third Manziuk and Ryan mystery, which should be published in 2014. She’s a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.
She’s also on twitter @jamenziesauthor
Since I was 8 or 9 years old, I’ve watched or listened to baseball games and read mysteries.
No, I was never any good at playing baseball. But that’s never stopped me from loving the game. I think it has something to do with the fact that both mysteries and baseball involve a lot of strategy and mind games.
One memorable day, I found a mystery about baseball. Ahhhh
From that time, I’ve always been on the lookout for more, and now and then I find one, but there aren’t very many.
And then one day it occurred to me that I could write one.
After all, I’d just written my first mystery, Shaded Light. So I knew I could handle the writing part.
But could I handle the baseball part?
Can you know enough about something from just watching it?
How do you write a mystery about baseball?
Well, I already had a team of detectives: Paul Manziuk and Jacqueline Ryan. They’d just solved their first case together.
And I had a location, since they live in Toronto. (Well, figuratively at least.)
Okay, the book’s half-written already.
So what more did I need?
A victim and a few suspects.
Oh, and since it was about baseball, I needed a team and a stadium. (Yes, I know about the Toronto Blue Jays, but I didn’t think I should use them. And besides, it was way more fun to create my own team.)
After days of research and tossing names around, I came up with the Toronto Matrix. And I came up with names for the general manager, the manager, a coach, a few pitchers and a starting line-up, all of whom were potential victims or suspects. I also gave the team a rich owner and a gorgeous indoor stadium called the Diamond Dome.
But there was a problem.
I didn’t want to make it so much about baseball that a fan of mysteries but not baseball wouldn’t want to read it.
So I decided to throw in some of the sports media people, and bring the focus more on them than on the players. I mean, we all read the news in some format and listen to radio or TV, right?
I came up with a rival male and female talk hosts and their producers, and competing newspaper columnists, also a man and a woman.
It was fortunate that one of my detectives (Paul) is a baseball fan, while the other (Jacquie) knows absolutely nothing about the sport. So readers could naturally identify with one or the other.
Now I felt comfortable.
Well, except that I still needed a crime; the murder that nearly every mystery requires.
At which point, I heard some guys on our sports station, the FAN 590, talking about how this annoying hockey player should be taken outside and have some sense knocked into his head.
I had a crime.
What if there was an annoying baseball player, and one of my radio talk show hosts said on-air that someone needed to knock some sense into his head with a baseball bat, and somebody did? And the player died.
Why, then you’d have a baseball mystery!
Of course, I added a few little details to spice things up, like a player who defected from Cuba, a romance between the two rival newspaper reporters, a fan of the female sports talk show host who calls in a lot and could be a stalker, a mysterious man who gets the Cuban pitcher’s wife out of Cuba, and a poor-little-rich girl who seems to think she’s the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe and wants a baseball player to be her Joe DiMaggio.
If this sounds like a fun book to write, it was. Actually, writing it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had. (Yes, I fit into the nerd category nicely.)
As for the title, it’s Glitter of Diamonds. “Diamond” has two meanings: the baseball diamond, of course; but also the gem itself, and all the hoopla that goes with it. “Glitter” came from one of my favourite lines in one of my favourite plays, The Merchant of Venice, “All that glisters is not gold.” You might have to read the book for that to make sense.
Glitter of Diamonds
After Stasey Simon, an outspoken and defiant sports talk-show host, asks on-air for a volunteer to knock some sense into the home team’s temperamental new pitcher, police detectives Paul Manziuk and Jacqueline Ryan have to scramble to stop a murderer swinging a lethal bat.
“[Menzies], a master of plotting, seeds her tale with concealed clues and innuendos that keep readers guessing until the very end. Reminiscent of golden age mysteries, her latest will appeal to fans of classic mysteries.” Library Journal
“Baseball. There are few things that say lazy, hazy summer days than that sport. But this book is anything but lazy or hazy – and is one hell of a read. A Christie-style mystery, this one does a good job of it….” Mysterical – E
Glitter of Diamonds was published in hardcover and paperback under the name N. J. Lindquist. The name J. A. Menzies is on the new digital book. Long story.
Both Glitter of Diamonds and Shaded Light are now available as digital books for the low, low price of $2.99.