Terrie Farley Moran’s Pandemic Reading

You might not recognize Terrie Farley Moran’s face, but if I tell you she’s “Jessica Fletcher’s” co-author, you’ll recognize that name. Terrie Farley Moran is thrilled to be co-author, along with Jessica Fletcher, of the long running Murder, She Wrote series. Her contributions include: Murder, She Wrote Killing in a Koi Pond, Murder, She Wrote Debonair in Death and Murder, She Wrote Killer on the Court and Murder, She Wrote Death on the Emerald Isle. She has also written the beachside Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series and has co-authored four of Laura Childs’ New Orleans scrapbooking mysteries. Her short stories have been published innumerous magazines and anthologies. Terrie is a recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards. Find her online at www.terriefarleymoran.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/terriefarleymoran/  

Don’t forget to check the Web Store for Terrie’s books, and for the books she recommends from her pandemic reading. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

Bizarre as the pandemic shut down was for all Americans, the first few days were even more wild and crazy for me. Not that I wasn’t expecting it. I certainly was. In mid-February I had begun searching around to buy face masks in bulk to send to all my family members. I finally was able to order them from Brazil. I avoided people, but some things are sacred (libraries and bookstores are high on that list) and on Friday March 14, 2020 I went to the library as I do most Fridays. I was mega excited to see that they had several shelves dedicated to St. Patrick’s Day and I grabbed two fabulous books.

The first book that caught my eye was a cozy mystery, The Irish Cairn Murder by Dicey Deere and the second, a non-fiction book that taught me much about the entwined history of Ireland, the United States and Canada, was When the Irish Invaded Canada by Christopher Klein.

Aware as I was of the spread of Covid, I was mentally unprepared for the complete Covid Quarantine that was announced that weekend. St. Patrick’s Day was on the coming Tuesday but there would be no parades, no family party, so I would have plenty of time to read.

Curious as I was to discover the story of the Irish invasion of Canada, the world around me was in such turmoil that I opted to make a pot of tea and curl up with Dicey Deere and her heroine, an American living in Ireland named Torrey Turnet, who I had met some time ago in another of Dicey’s books, The Irish Cottage Murder. Dicey Deere always manages to get the reader enmeshed in solving the murder while enjoying the quirky characters who occupy the town of Ballynaugh. And I do wonder to this day why Inspector O’Hare continues to be vexed by Torrey’s very existence.

When I first opened When the Irish Invaded Canada, I didn’t know what to expect but I found the story itself to be fascinating and I will quote the cover copy here because it gives the flavor of the book more than I could manage.

“By the time that these invasions–known collectively as the Fenian raids–began in 1866, Ireland had been Britain’s unwilling colony for seven hundred years. Thousands of Civil War veterans who had fled to the United States rather than perish in the wake of the Great Hunger still considered themselves Irishmen first, Americans second. With the tacit support of the U.S. government and inspired by a previous generation of successful American revolutionaries, the group that carried out a series of five attacks on Canada–the Fenian Brotherhood–established a state in exile, planned prison breaks, weathered infighting, stockpiled weapons, and assassinated enemies. Defiantly, this motley group, including a one-armed war hero, an English spy infiltrating rebel forces, and a radical who staged his own funeral, managed to seize a piece of Canada–if only for three days.

When the Irish Invaded Canada is the untold tale of a band of fiercely patriotic Irish Americans and their chapter in Ireland’s centuries-long fight for independence. Inspiring, lively, and often undeniably comic, this is a story of fighting for what’s right in the face of impossible odds.”

I spent the weekend reading and with both an Irish cozy and a new-to-me bit of Irish history behind me, there I was in fine fettle on St. Patrick’s Day with Irish music blaring, and Irish soda bread in the oven. Each time the phone rang I assumed it was another St. Patrick’s Day call from family or a friend. BUT ONE TIME IT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN THAT! The caller was my agent, the delightful Kim Lionetti, with an offer from Berkley for me to write the next four books of the Murder, She Wrote series. My answer: “Yes! I want to do it!”

Still the pandemic droned on and on. So I was grateful for the distraction when John McDougall of Murder By the Book hosted a ZOOM conversation that included me along with two superb writers Jenn McKinlay and Mia P. Manansala. In preparation for the conversation, I read the thirteenth book in Jenn’s Cupcake Bakery Series For Batter or Worse and then I read Mia’s Arsenic and Adobo, the firstbook in her Tita Rosie’s Kitchen series.

In For Batter or Worse the time has finally come for the wedding that we readers have been hoping would happen but, oops, there is a murder. Given the chaos we were all seeing in our own personal lives due to months and months of the pandemic, well, I can honestly say I never rooted more ardently for things to be righted for the happy couple. In my mind the pandemic has rattled the bygone days when we just expected things to turn out as they should, so I found this book very heartening.

Arsenic and Adobo welcomes readers to meet Filipino-American Lila Macapagal and her pushy, interfering, loveable family, who are constantly getting in her way while she tries to keep the family restaurant open and avoid going to jail for the murder of an old boyfriend. And, when so much of life seemed stagnant during the worst of the pandemic, it was a joy to have some new and exciting cuisine and characters to assure us that the future was waiting for us, straight ahead. I have since enjoyed the second book of this series and the third book, Blackmail and Bibingka is inching its way up my TBR pile.

And of course while I was reading, I was also writing. Since that fateful St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I have, indeed, written four Murder, She Wrote Books chronicling the adventures of my awesome co-writer Jessica Fletcher. Based on my receiving the invitation to write the series on St. Patrick’s Day, 2020, you may not be surprised that my fourth book, and the fifty-sixth book in the series takes place in Northern Ireland.

In Murder, She Wrote Death on the Emerald Isle, (release date, January 3, 2023)Jessica Fletcher is quick to accept an invitation to replace a speaker who couldn’t attend a Book Festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland. When her Cabot Cove neighbor Maeve O’Bannon hears about the trip, she asks Jessica to deliver some paintings to her family in the village of Bushmills. Happy to extend her travels and see more of the Irish countryside, Jessica agrees.
The festival goes off without a hitch, and it seems like Jessica is in for a relaxing vacation. But then Maeve’s cousin Michael is discovered dead under suspicious circumstances. Jessica finds herself once again in the midst of a murder investigation, and she’ll have to dig into the O’Bannon family’s secrets to unmask the killer.”

So now you know what kept me sane during the worst of the pandemic—reading and writing. Before I go, I want to extend a special thank you to the wonderful independent books stores in multiple states who helped me be the “best grandma ever” by going the extra mile and providing books and games that would keep my grandchildren engaged and stave off boredom. The children enjoyed books on every topic from LeBron James to high fashion to Baseball quizzes to YA mysteries and romance. And the bookstores cheerfully mailed across state lines. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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