The Paige Turner Mystery Series
A BLAST FROM THE PAST!
It is the middle of the gray flannel fifties. Ike and Mamie are in the White House, Mayor Wagner is in Gracie Mansion, and Senator Joe McCarthy is in commie-hating heaven. The Korean War has come to an ignominious end, and the battle to end school segregation has gotten off to a bleak beginning. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell are busting bras to dominate the wide Technicolor screen, while Ed Sullivan, Arthur Godfrey, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are fighting for control of the small black and white screens at home. And struggling to stay afloat through it all—in a tiny, rundown apartment in the depths of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village—is a scrappy twenty-eight year old war widow with high hopes in her heart, and low-down murder on her mind.
As a full-time editorial assistant for Daring Detective magazine (with secret but very
serious aspirations to become a staff writer and a mystery novelist), Paige Turner
comes face to face with homicide every day. And as the bearer of a very laughable
name (plus the fact that she’s the magazine’s only female employee), Paige also faces
more than her fair share of scorn and ridicule. Nevertheless, she’s determined to prove
herself, and her top-notch crime writing talents, to her cocky male coworkers, and to
the male-managed publishing world in general. Even if she has to risk her life to do it...
When I decided to set my Paige Turner mystery series in the 1950s, I began shopping on eBay, the online auction site, for mainstream magazines published during that decade. I wanted to get a true sense of the colors, sights, sounds, styles, attitudes, advertisements, beliefs, and idols of the day, and—having been in the magazine business myself—I knew popular periodicals would be the best source of such information. I bought old copies of The New Yorker, TV Guide, True Romances, Ladies’ Home Journal, Coronet, and Good Housekeeping, plus dozens of fan magazines and—natch!—detective magazines. I also bought a couple of old mail-order catalogs—Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward—which I knew would supply invaluable pictures and descriptions of clothes, furniture, appliances, tools, toys, and household goods of the period, as well as the exact (and unimaginably low!) price of each item.
Although I studied numerous 1950s newspapers (particularly The New York Times, which was available on microfilm in my library), and read a myriad of books about the fifties (most notably, David Halberstam’s The Fifties, and Dan Wakefield’s New York in the 50s), I’d have to say the popular magazines and catalogs of the era informed and inspired me the most. Likewise, my husband’s large and varied collection of books, comics, magazines, movie posters, and original comic art—much of which was published in the 50s. These pop culture products gave me a real feel for the fifties and, as you will see below, provided excellent visual models for Paige Turner and some of my other main characters.