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Allison Montclair Books In Order

Publication Order of Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery Books

The Right Sort of Man (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Royal Affair (2020) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Allison Montclair
Author Allison Montclair grew up watching James Bond movies and reading hand-me-down Agatha Christie paperback books. Due to this deplorable upbringing, she got addicted to stories of intrigue, crime, and espionage. Now, she spends her spare time poking through the nooks, corners, and crannies of history in order to find the strange mysterious bits and turning them into novels of her own.

Allison had some grand ideas about her abilities from early on, as some will, and thought that before she began writing the Great Work, she should write something rather easy. Like a mystery novel. It wound up not being so easy for her, and her first mystery she now regards as her practice novel. She spent three years writing it, and it is never going to see the light of day, which she feels is as it should be.

She got the idea for Sparks and Bainbridge because her editor, Keith Kahla, recommended this non-fiction book about a real marriage bureau two women started in London in 1939. He thought it would be a good starting spot for a mystery. By the time she made it back home from this conversation, Iris and Gwen had come alive in her mind and were talking with each other.

She just allows them to speak to her, and is unsure if they inform her or if she informs them. Allison believes that Iris’ voice (and maybe her image of her) comes from young Glynis Johns, with just a bit of the madcap Katharine Hepburn thrown in. Gwen is a bit of a Madeleine Carroll type: coolly elegant on the outside, but with the inner turmoil of her own.

She decided to change the setting to post-war London because she found the transitional period to be a fascinating one, and she didn’t want to write a wartime setting.

Allison was interested in how all the women that lived through the war were impacted, even traumatized. She felt not enough books had addressed it. The idea of a business enterprise conceived of and ran by women, and then going up against the resistances of the period, be they financial, or social, or whatever, was intriguing, too.

Allison knew the character Sally and the first two scenes he was in, but he was a lot of fun that he found his way into more and more of the novel, so she accommodated him. Inside her head, he sounds a lot like Stephen Fry.

To research the novel, she read general histories as well as specific histories on topics that she required, for things like fashion, rationing, the London spivs, etc. She also read every installment of the London Times for the period it took place in, including the ads which provide quite a few juicy tidbits about daily life.

Allison writes the “Sparks and Bainbridge” series of historical mystery novels. The first one, called “The Right Sort of Man”, was released in the year 2019.

She has written historical mysteries in the past, as well as “fantasy, horror, non-genre fiction, theater, and science fiction. Allison Montclair is a pen name.

“The Right Sort of Man” is the first novel in the “Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery” series and was released in the year 2019. First comes love, and then comes murder.

In London, which is slowly recovering from the second world war, two vastly different women join together in order to launch a business in the heart of Mayfair- called The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, a widowed and practical woman with a son, and Miss Iris Sparks, who is quick witted and impulsive. They are determined to achieve a bit of independence and do a bit of good in a quickly changing world.

The promising beginning to their marriage bureau gets threatened when Tillie La Salle, their new client, is found killed and the guy arrested for the crime is her prospective husband they matched her up with. The police are convinced they have the killer in custody, Sparks and Bainbridge aren’t. In order to clear his name, and to rescue the reputation of their fledgling operation, they decide to investigate the matter on their own. They use the contacts and the skills they have acquired through life and individual adventures during the war. What they don’t yet know is this is going to put their very lives at risk.

Iris and Gwen are the stars here, and they alone make the book worth reading. The mystery unfolds in such a way to keep you turning the pages, as do the revelations about Iris and Gwen’s pasts. The historical details are vivid, there is beautiful prose, and unforgettable and witty characters. Readers cannot wait to check out more books in this series, after having enjoyed this one a bunch.

“A Royal Affair” is the second novel in the “Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery” series and was released in the year 2020. London in 1946. The Right Sort Marriage Bureau is now starting to take off and the owners need a bigger office and a secretary to handle the growing demand of the place. They just don’t have the necessary means, at the moment. A cousin of Gwen’s arrives, with a quite remunerative and interesting proposition, both of them are all ears.

Lady Matheson, Gwen’s cousin, works for the Queen in “some capacity” and needs some discreet investigation done. It appears that Princess Elizabeth has developed some feelings for a dashing Greek prince and there is a blackmail note that has shown up and it alludes to potentially damaging information about this prince. The palace, who needs to find out what skeletons could lurk in the closet of the prince, but also needs to keep it out of the palace’s gossip circles, turn quietly to Iris and Gwen.

Without making a stir, the two have to find out about the secrets lurking in this prince’s past, before his engagement to England’s future Queen is announced. There is a lot more at stake than just the future of the Empire, there is their potential new office that lies in the balance.

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