Author’s Notes: The Redgrave Murders

This project started one morning, far too early, when I needed a distraction from the pain caused by a herniated lumbar disc. I’d been mulling the plot and the characters around in my head for a while, and my sciatic nerve kept preventing a normal night’s sleep, so the first draft came quickly—this is by far the fastest book I’ve ever drafted. Then I played with it, revised it, and polished it. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

This story doesn’t have as much history as most of my other books (which, no doubt, played a role in how quickly I wrote it), but here are a few notes for curious readers.

During WWII, mail from home was enormously important for keeping up servicemen’s morale, but letters and packages had to compete for cargo space with troops, ammunition, food, and other war supplies. To reduce cargo space devoted to correspondence, the US government promoted V-mail, or Victory Mail. V-mails were written on a standardized form, photographed, turned into microfilm, and then reprinted closer to the recipient’s destination. A single bag of V-mail film could take the place of thirty-seven normal bags, and travel time was usually shortened.

The Thomas Indian School really existed. Unfortunately, the description of what happened to students there is all too accurate, though Gary’s experience is based not just on Thomas but on common patterns found in other Indian residential schools.

Information on the USS Helena and the USS Juneau is based on fact. Readers wishing to know more about what Clive’s WWII experience would have been like might wish to read With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B. Sledge (it’s one of my favorites). I placed Clive in the same battalion (3rd), regiment (5th), and division (1st) that Sledge served in. Gary’s war experience was as a member of the 99th Infantry Division. A fictional version of his time as a POW is included in one of my previous novels, Defiance, where Private Redhawk appears in a supporting role.

Ambulances weren’t as widespread in the 1940s as they are today. Some hospitals had them; some didn’t. Since Maplewick, its hospital, and its university are all fictional, I decided to include things like ambulances and train stations when they benefited the story. Other than the made-up locations, I’ve tried hard to be true to the late 1940s. I apologize for any mistakes I may have made.

Inflation has a way of making monetary values from the past seem less than impressive today. For reference, $100,000 in 1948 would be over $1 million in early 2019, when this novel went to press. The GI Bill’s $50 a month would be roughly $522.

I owe a big thank you to my marvelous test readers: Kathryn Andrus, Melanie Grant, Ron Machado, Kathi Oram Peterson, Charissa Stastny, and Linda White. Their suggestions and enthusiasm were vital to this project.

If you enjoyed this book, I would be very grateful for your review on websites like Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews can be as simple as “I liked it,” and are a key component to any book’s success. They help readers determine if a book is a good fit for them, encourage sales, and open the door
to future marketing opportunities.