I first met Harriet Gordon in the microfiche room of the Singapore National Library.
Of course, she wasn’t known as Harriet Gordon. Her name was Mrs. Howell, and in March of 1905 she placed an advertisement in the Straits Times, offering her services as a Stenographer and Typist. She guaranteed “RAPID & CAREFUL work together with ABSOLUTE SECRECY” (the capitals are hers). The now long-forgotten Mrs. Howell’s advertisement jumped off the microfiche at me. I loved her commitment to ABSOLUTE SECRECY, and slowly the character of Harriet Gordon—widow, typist, stenographer, and failed suffragette—began to form.
Over the next few years, I started to rebuild her world – a colonial Singapore you can barely glimpse in the modern, go-ahead city of Singapore.
It is not just a case of recreating the physical world. Harriet does not exist in isolation. She has friends and family and, most importantly (for Harriet), her partner in crime: the enigmatic Inspector Robert Curran, head of the Detective Branch of the Straits Settlements Police Force.
Singapore Sapphire is the first of an ongoing historical mystery series with Harriet Gordon and Inspector Curran at its heart. There are so many stories brewing in the tropical heat of the Malay Peninsula where truth and corpses tend to decompose quickly!
I have been waiting a long time to share Harriet with you. I hope you love her as much as I do!
ABOUT SINGAPORE SAPPHIRE
Early twentieth-century Singapore is a place where a person can disappear, and Harriet Gordon hopes to make a new life for herself there, leaving her tragic memories behind her–but murder gets in the way.
Singapore, 1910–Desperate for a fresh start, Harriet Gordon finds herself living with her brother, a reverend and headmaster of a school for boys, in Singapore at the height of colonial rule. Hoping to gain some financial independence, she advertises her services as a personal secretary. It is unfortunate that she should discover her first client, Sir Oswald Newbold–explorer, mine magnate and president of the exclusive Explorers and Geographers Club–dead with a knife in his throat.
When Inspector Robert Curran is put on the case, he realizes that he has an unusual witness in Harriet. Harriet’s keen eye for detail and strong sense of duty interests him, as does her distrust of the police and her traumatic past, which she is at pains to keep secret from the gossips of Singapore society.
When another body is dragged from the canal, Harriet feels compelled to help with the case. She and Curran are soon drawn into a murderous web of treachery and deceit and find themselves face-to-face with a ruthless cabal that has no qualms about killing again to protect its secrets.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Australian author, A.M. Stuart, began her writing career half way up a tree in the school playground where she wrote her first (unpublished) historical romance. She now writes historical romance as Alison Stuart (a Goodreads author).
Born in Kenya, her family came to Australia when she was ten years old. She has also lived in Singapore.
In her life outside writing, she enjoyed a varied career as a lawyer in a wide number of fields including the military and as a senior executive in the fire services.
The first of The Harriet Gordon Mysteries, SINGAPORE SAPPHIRE, will be published by Berkley in August 2019.