Brittle leaves rattled around outside and scratched against the glass door of Longfellow Books in Portland. A group of bibliophiles, many of them writers themselves, listened to James Hayman channel Poe. This wasn’t poetry though, it was a reading from the latest in his murder mystery series set in Portland, Maine: The Girl in the Glass. Jim read aloud:
Forcing reluctant eyelids open, she was blinded by the sudden glare of a sun almost directly overhead. She quickly closed them, waited a few seconds and then tried again, opening her lids more slowly this time. When her eyes had, at last, adjusted to the light, what she saw filled her with dread. A dozen crows, maybe more, circling above. All large, loud and very black. All focused on this wounded thing that lay beneath them. A murder of crows. That’s what the English called them. A parliament of owls. An exaltation of larks. A murder of crows. Birds as black as night. Harvesters of death.
He had me at the crows, but as he read further, I learned that the plotline of The Girl in the Glass transcends two time periods – 1904 and 2012 – as well as two, related murder victims (Aimee Whitby and Veronica Aimee Whitby) who meet their fate in identical fashion. I asked Jim why he decided to take his police procedural into a dual timeline plot. Jim shared with the audience,
I’ve always wanted to write historical fiction and the plot for this book gave me that opportunity. It was fun to capture a voice from the Victorian era, as well as work with the unofficial historian of the Portland Police Department. He provided me with copies of police investigations and newspaper reports from the turn of the century.
A Girl in the Glass is the fourth in the McCabe and Savage thriller series and Hayman is already working on the fifth book. One member of the audience asked if he knew how the new book – or any of them for that matter – would end. Jim said,
I never know the ending of my book when I’m writing. For Girl in the Glass, I had two or three characters in mind as the killer, but I didn’t know which one had done it until I myself reached the end. I sometimes even worry that I won’t be able to figure it out! Each book has been getting successively more complicated and so I’m making it harder for myself and my readers.
If you’re anything like me, you’re enjoying the surge of Maine murder mysteries that are continuing the Stephen King tradition. I’m thinking about Paul Doiron (I just read Precipice mere weeks before hiking up at Gulf Hagas), of another former islander Brenda Buchanan and her Joe Gale series and of John Connolly whose Wolf in Winter I just read. So since I treated myself for Halloween with a copy of The Girl in the Glass, I encourage you to do the same.
Written by Patricia Erikson, Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at http://www.peaksislandpress.com.