Happy World Book Day!! What a perfect day to host my friend and fellow author Diane Burton. Diane is sharing an article about Private Eyes AND her fabulous new release!
When I started writing the Alex O’Hara mystery series, I pictured my heroine as a grownup Nancy Drew. Alex (short for Alexandra) got into the investigation business through her father. He and his business partner started an investigation agency back in the 1960s. Alex went to work for them in high school, doing menial chores first then rising to junior detective and finally promoted to detective. Along the way, she graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice. When her father and his partner decided to retire, they sold the business to her.
Private Eyes appear to have a glamorous profession, at least in movies and on TV. Remember Rockford? In real life, a detective spends most of his/her time on the internet not in the field. That wasn’t the way it was when Allan Pinkerton started up the first detective agency in America.
Pinkerton got into the detecting business by accident. He’d opened a barrel-making business in 1842. One day while he was scrounging for lumber, he came across a band of counterfeiters. After he set up a surveillance, he helped the police arrest the band. Pretty soon, people were asking him to help the police find and arrest other criminals.
Alex O’Hara is a licensed private investigator. She helped the police arrest an international assassin, a Black Widower gang, and a major drug dealer—all by accident. The assassin underestimated Alex. The Black Widower, who preyed on older women, married them then killed them for their money, didn’t expect his prey to hire Alex to check him out. Alex didn’t set out to find these dastardly villains. She came upon them by accident.
When Allan Pinkerton hired Kate Warne in 1856, she became America’s first female detective. She was able to ferret out secrets that men couldn’t—for example, she became friends of a villain’s wife thereby learning the location of the stolen loot. She even pretended to be a fortune teller and got the criminal to confirm his guilt. Allan Pinkerton claimed Kate was one of his best investigators and had her buried in his family plot.
Even though women have been detectives for over 160 years, the investigation business is still an “old boys club.” Consequently, Alex O’Hara deliberately chose a masculine nickname so as not to be prejudged.
I found several similarities between Allan Pinkerton and Alex O’Hara, after the fact. I didn’t intend for fictional Alex to be like the famous detective. Pinkerton’s agency still does some detecting, though they mostly leave that to the police and the FBI. Today, the agency does risk management assessment along with private security and guard service. Alex hasn’t guarded anyone. Yet.
Interestingly, both the Pinkertons and Alex do employment screening, what Alex calls her bread-and-butter cases. Lately, she’s taking her agency in a new direction—checking out potential mates found on the internet.
Private investigation hasn’t gone too far from its roots, over 160 years ago. Like the Pinkerton Agency, Alex has to be flexible, to see opportunities, like online dating, and move with the times.
In the third book in the Alex O’Hara Novels, Alex is up to her ears in mysteries. After surviving an attempted murder, all she wants is R&R time with Nick Palzetti. But his mother leaving his father (“that horse’s patoot”) and moving in with Alex put a crimp in their plans. Then Nick leaves on assignment and the teen she rescued from an abusive father believes his buddy is doing drugs. Meanwhile, Alex has two easy cases to take her mind off her shaky relationship with Nick—a philandering husband and a background check on a client’s boyfriend. Piece of cake.
Here’s an excerpt:
When two women entered the exclusive dress shop, Ellie left to greet them while her assistant chivvied me to put on the shoes. White socks, black strappy heels, and the gorgeous emerald green bridesmaid dress—I made such a fashion statement as I stood on the platform. Call Vogue.
I so didn’t want to be there, especially when I recognized one of the women. I’d been the bearer of bad news to Nora Finley last week—her Mr. Perfect turned out to be a Black Widower. He and his cohorts had the perfect plan, a plan I thwarted just in time.
“Oh, you’re here,” Nora cried out when she spotted me and tugged on her companion’s wrist, practically dragging her over. “Ginnie, this is the PI that saved my life, Alex O’Hara!”
I cringed while heat bloomed in my cheeks.
Nora looked up at me. “I’ve been telling Ginnie here that she absolutely must hire you to check out her boyfriend—she met him on one of those online dating sites.”
Ginnie winced, like she wanted the floor to open up and swallow her. I knew the feeling.
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About the Author:
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
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