Episode 48: Frankie Bow

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Inside the navy-blue Victorian house two blocks off Main Street, four women sat around a sturdy kitchen table. As you watched them chatting and sipping sweet tea, you might assume you were observing a church committee or a quilting circle. You would be wrong. -- Frankie Bow, The No-Tell Motel I am thrilled to chat with author Frankie Bow, who has not only her own delightful series of campus mysteries -- the Professor Molly Mystery Series -- but also writes in Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune Mystery Series. Her latest, The No-Tell Motel, is hot off the presses as this interview goes live. I would love to offer you a list, in order, of her books, but they are too many and too varied. Instead, I will link you directly to her website, where you can find these goodies for yourself. Although I will point you to the first in the Professor Molly Series, The Musubi Murder. Musubi looks like a Spam sushi roll; if you've never seen one -- or simply don't believe me! -- you must check out the photo on a guest post Frankie did for Lori's Reading Corner. Other unexpected uses for Spam are also included. I do want to mention yet another series that Frankie writes: the children's books about Alice Mongoose and Alistair Rat, illustrated by her father. Together, they work under the name of Mary Pfaff, an "author" who is also a plot point in one of her Professor Molly Mysteries, The Invasive Species. These books are absolutely charming in their own right, and if you have children in your life, you should definitely check them out. Interested in campus mysteries? Here's the link to Frankie's guest post about why campus mysteries are so much fun, on the blog Christa Reads and Writes -- a blog well worth a look for mystery lovers, filled with reviews and interviews. Frankie gives a shout out to fellow writers of academic mysteries Cynthia Kuhn, Joanne Dobson, Amanda Cross, and Sarah Caudwell, as well as one of the first American detective novelists, Anna Katharine Green. Meanwhile, I give a shout out to Leslie Karst, whose cozies are also on the less-sweet side. Enjoy! -- Laura Transcript of Interview with Frankie Bow Laura Brennan: Like the protagonist in her charming Professor Molly series, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike Molly, Frankie is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues and a perfectly nice office chair. And, I would hope, fewer dead bodies to stumble across. Frankie, thank you for joining me. Frankie Bow: Thank you, Laura. LB: The first thing I want to talk about is your Professor Molly series. Your series is definitely amateur sleuth, it's a campus mystery, there's a strong supporting cast of recurring characters and a love interest. Would you consider it to be a cozy? FB: That's a really good question because I think, of all the categories, it fits into cozy best. But it's really on the least sweet end of the cozy spectrum. There's a very sort of cynical -- cynical and realistic -- worldview behind it. Things are resolved, but the good guys don't always triumph. The bad guys get away with things sometimes, just like in real life. And Molly has to be fatalistic, and work within a corrupt system. So, yes, it's cozy in the sense that it's small community, recurring characters, amateur sleuth, but it isn't really, really sweet. LB: That's interesting that you say she has to live within a corrupt system, because that's what the University she works at is presented as, that kind of thing. FB: Yes! And I have to hasten to say that this is not my actual employer that I am depicting here. I actually look at the higher education news and I pick all the juiciest and most scandalous news items out, and I think, how can I put that into my story? So, for example, you might have somebody who actually went to jail for -- a Dean went to jail for fraud, to prison for fraud, for fixing students' grades so that their pass rates would be higher. And it's like, oh,

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