“Amanda Lester was so tired of hearing about the great Sherlock Holmes she could scream. Mr. La-di-da boring detective, whoop-de-doo. Night and day, day and night, he was all her parents talked about. ‘It’s time to get serious, Amanda. When I was your age, I had already memorized Sherlock Holmes’s complete memoirs.’ ‘Darling, that will never work. You must do it like Sherlock Holmes.’ ‘Did I tell you what Mergatroyd Thumbwhistle said about Sherlock Holmes?’ She loved her parents but they were so clueless.”
Amanda’s ongoing battle with her parents lies at the heart of Book 1 of the Amanda Lester, Detective series. They want her to become a detective like her father’s ancestor, Inspector Lestrade. She wants to be a filmmaker—passionately. So when they force the issue by sending her to a secret school for detectives, you can imagine that she’s just a teensy bit upset. How is she going to be able to achieve her dreams from some dusty old manor house in the English Lake District?
As you probably know by now, she does come around to embrace her destiny, although not without resistance. What changes Amanda is love—love for her new friends and for the father who is suddenly placed in jeopardy. It is these people and the situations they face together that transform her from a self-involved one-man band to something deeper and more mature: a rounded, caring human being. By the end of the book she is reborn—still a filmmaker at heart because that’s who she is, but now a detective as well—one who uses her filmmaking skills to solve crimes. Thus is the Amanda Lester, Detective series launched.
Amanda is a deeply flawed character. I made her that way because I like seeing what imperfect characters will do in sticky situations. How do they recover from their mistakes? What do they do when people attack them? What happens when they’re betrayed . . . or they betray someone, as much as they may not want to? Amanda goes off in the wrong direction more times than I can count. That’s because I find a detective’s mistakes so much more human than the straight line the usual literary sleuth draws from crime to solution. Amanda messes up in her personal relationships too for the same reason. And boy, does she embarrass herself. But don’t worry: it’s okay to laugh at her. You’re supposed to.
If you like surprises I think you will enjoy Amanda’s story. As you read you will discover that very little is as it appears, sometimes because the truth is purposely hidden, sometimes because things and people change from the way they’re first presented. It’s all because a detective’s world is full of secrets and twists. But you will find joy here as well, and thank goodness, because it takes more than principle to keep fighting crime.
In tomorrow’s post I will talk about the upside-down fantasy technology of Amanda’s world.