One of the things I love about the monthly short-story magazines Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is discovering new authors. If I love a short story, I’ll go out and get the book. But this time Ellery Queen helped me return to an author that I had lost, Marilyn Todd.
About ten years ago, I found Marilyn Todd’s first Roman mystery in the wonderful used book section of a fabulous bookstore in Corte Madera, California. The book was called, “I, Claudia,” and it was about a woman who sounded a bit like the Erica Kane of Ancient Rome.
I picked up the book and loved it. The protagonist, Claudia Severis was as irreverent as she was interesting. She navigated the male dominated society of Rome as she liked. I read through several of the Claudia books but then they stopped and I lost track of Marilyn Todd.
Fast forward to 2013. I picked up my issue Ellery Queen, and there was a short story by Marilyn Todd. I did a double take on the name, and it was the same author. I began to look forward to stories by Marilyn and often read those first in Ellery before other authors. Since then she’s had short stories in Ellery Queen in 2014 and three so far in 2015.
I recently went to her website and she’s reissued all of the Claudia Severus books, including two that I have never read. So I ordered those.
I has also written another series, this one set in Ancient Greece. I started reading the Ancient Greece series, and loved it. They are a little darker, but I love the history and the strong woman protagonist.
If you love ancient Rome, strong females characters and a lot of irreverence, you might love Claudia Severis as much as I do. And if you don't, you may want to pick up an issue of Ellery Queen or Alfred Hitchcock to use short stories as a doorway to find an author you do love...
- Deborah Lacy, Mystery Playground