As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have as my guest, Elizabeth Breck, author of the recently released ANONYMOUS, a Madison Kelly Mystery. While she’s here to visit, she’s going to tell us a bit about her inspiration in creating Madison Kelly.
Will the Real Kinsey Millhone Please Stand Up?
Kinsey Millhone is a fictional private investigator who stars in twenty-five novels penned by the late great Sue Grafton, spanning thirty-six years and the alphabet from A to Y. I was already a state of California licensed Private Investigator when I read my first Sue Grafton novel, and I gobbled them up.
What I liked best about the books was the accuracy of the investigative details. Kinsey investigated insurance fraud, and so did I. Kinsey had to travel to courthouses and halls of administration to get public records about her subjects, and so did I. Kinsey sat for hours in a dark car, bored and hungry, until her subject moved—at which point it was an adrenaline rush of fear and suspense as she tailed without being seen. This was my life. We were both young, female, unlikely private investigators, and I reveled in our similarities. Sue Grafton wrote what it was really like to be a PI.
Until she didn’t. Sue Grafton made the choice to leave Kinsey in the 1980’s so that she wouldn’t age; Grafton was a very successful author so it is hard to argue with any of her choices. But how we investigated changed greatly in the 1990’s and 2000’s. With the advent of the internet, a real-life private investigator went from visiting court buildings to searching for records on computer. And for me, as the accuracy of investigations in Grafton’s writing faded with the passing years, so with it went my interest (it is a testament to her writing that I stuck with her as long as I did, even as I argued with the books). My love of mysteries took me from Agatha Christie to Janet Evanovich to Thomas Perry, but I still had a soft spot in my heart for Kinsey, who had been left in the past by her creator.
In 2015 I returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in Writing. I began writing about my alter-ego, Madison Kelly, during my writing workshops, and I discovered I was able to write a mystery series that I’d always wanted to read: one where the details of being a female PI were accurate. Madison Kelly lives in a small apartment by the beach in the Windansea section of La Jolla, California, just like I did in my thirties. In Anonymous, Madison races to figure out who left a threatening note on her door warning her to stop investigating him. Since she hadn’t been investigating anyone—she’d been taking time off to figure out what to do with her life— she has to do exactly what the note is telling her not to do: investigate. Finding the Anonymous note-leaver takes her straight into the middle of an investigation of two missing women. Throughout this thrilling mystery, Madison is involved in real-life events that have actually happened to me: high speed tails, night surveillance where one is left with only one’s thoughts and the music on the radio, and the never ending challenge of proving yourself as a woman in a predominantly male field. The accuracy of what it is to be a female P.I. is back, along with what might happen if she began investigating a killer who had made her his target: she uses her experience and determination to figure out who he is before it’s too late.
So I guess the answer to the question I posed with the title is: I am the real Kinsey Millhone. I’m starting a journey with my alter-ego, Madison Kelly, but I walk in the footsteps of the greats who came before me.
The note was threatening enough–but its link to two cold cases and a sinister unseen presence sends P.I. Madison Kelly on a frantic search for the truth.
Madison Kelly, a San Diego private investigator, arrives home to a note stabbed to her front door: Stop investigating me, or I will hunt you down and kill you. The only problem? Madison hasn’t been investigating anyone–she’s been taking time off to figure out what to do with her life. But how does she prove a negative? The only way to remove the threat is to do exactly what “Anonymous”, the note writer, is telling her not to do: investigate to see who left it. Could this have something to do with the true crime podcast she’s been tweeting about, and the missing girls?
The girls went missing, two years apart, after a night at the clubs in San Diego’s famed Gaslamp Quarter, and Madison had been probing the internet for clues. She discovers that someone has been one step ahead of her, monitoring her tweets to prevent her from getting too close. Soon Madison’s investigation brings up more questions than answers: are the disappearances connected? Are the girls dead or did they just walk away from their lives? And who is Anonymous, the person who will stop at nothing to keep Madison from learning the truth?
As she closes in, so does Anonymous. Set against a backdrop of surfer culture and coffee houses of San Diego, Anonymous follows Madison as she confronts the reality of the girls’ disappearance in a terrifying climax where the hunter becomes the hunted–and Madison is running for her life.
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About the Author
ELIZABETH BRECK is a state of California licensed private investigator. A native Californian, she had read Harriet the Spy twenty times by the time she was nine, so it was no surprise when she grew up to become a PI. She has worked mainly in the field of insurance investigations, making her the real-life version of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. In 2013, she decided to go back to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in writing, summa cum laude, from the University of California San Diego. Anonymous is her first novel. She lives with a black Labrador named Hubert who is her best friend.
- Website www.ElizabethBreck.com
- Twitter www.twitter.com/theblondepi
- Instagram www.instagram.com/Elizabeth.Breck
- GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/elizabeth_breck
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