Interview with Lady Frances Ffolkes and new Edwardian mystery: Death at the Emerald by R.J. Koreto
One-named actress Helen mysteriously vanished 30 years ago. An elderly family friend is unable to bear not knowing any longer and commissions Lady Frances Ffolkes to track her down.
Taking on the role of Lady Sherlock, with her loyal maid Mallow drafted as her Watson, Frances finds herself immersed in the glamorous world of Edwardian theater and London’s latest craze—motion pictures.
As Frances and Mallow make their way through the theaters, they meet colorful figures such as George Bernard Shaw and King Edward II. Tracking the theaters seems like a dead end. That is until one of Helen’s old suitors is suddenly murdered. With the stakes raised, Frances and Mallow work quickly to uncover a box of subtle clues to Helen’s whereabouts. But someone unexpected wants that box just as badly and is willing to kill to keep it shut.
The stage is set for murder and Frances and Mallow are determined to unravel the decades-old conspiracy in Death at the Emerald, R. J. Koreto’s third installment in the captivating Lady Frances Ffolkes mysteries.
Lady Frances, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I, Lady Frances Ffolkes, am the daughter of a marquess, in an aristocratic family that’s been influential for centuries. I am the first woman in my family to receive a university education, which I got at Vassar College, in America. I am fortunate in having enough money so I don’t have to work, or marry for anything but love, so I can devote myself to making the world a better place, including getting the vote for women.
Readers may not know that while at university, I’d join like-minded friends on train trips to New York City for art exhibitions and poetry readings that my father would’ve called “appalling, disgusting, and barbaric.”
Which character in Death at the Emerald do you find you get along with the best?
My maid June Mallow and I are simpatico. We always seem to know what the other is thinking, and that’s a wonderful basis for a relationship. Which doesn’t mean we always agree, of course. Every night I know she’s itching to give my hair a good brushing and she knows that I don’t want to do it. But I don’t want to live my life without her at my side.
Is there anyone whose company you don’t get along with quite so well?
I love my brother, and I know he loves me, but Charles and I see the world differently. He’s more like our father. He grudgingly supports me but would rather I married a peer of the realm and devoted my life to ladies’ luncheons. He would also rather I stopped visiting Scotland Yard, and don’t even get him started on women’s suffrage. But there are glimmers of hope—he likes my suitor Hal, even though Hal is not of the aristocracy. Our mother used to say I’d so embarrassed myself with my behavior I’d be lucky to land a 50-year-old widower with six children.
Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?’
For a man, he’s surprisingly sensitive to social nuance and I must admit he does an excellent job in his insights into women and their emotions. However, Mallow finds his habit of wearing nothing but faded jeans and “amusing” tee-shirts rather…disappointing, and gets most upset when he fails to properly trim his beard. We both hope he makes enough money from his books to engage a valet.
What’s next for you?
I’m considering returning to America, to visit with American suffragists, old friends, and my professors at Vassar. I do love New York! Mallow is under the impression there’s a wolf or bear behind every tree, but I will emphasize we’re staying in the East, not the Dakotas. And if I just happen to come across a murder, I look forward to making the acquaintance of New York’s police officers.
About The Author
R.J. Koreto is the author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes mystery series, set in Edwardian England, and the Alice Roosevelt mystery series, set in turn-of-the-century New York. His short stories have been published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.
In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Like his heroine, Lady Frances Ffolkes, he’s a graduate of Vassar College.
With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.