The Mark Twain Mysteries

The Mark Twain Mysteries by Peter J. Heck

From Berkley Prime Crime

In TOM'S LAWYER,, Mark Twain begins a worldwide lecture tour. On his way west, he stops in Missoula, Montana, where he meets a long-lost friend: Tom Blankenship, the real-life model for Huckleberry Finn. But they've barely started to swap yarns when a local bully is murdered, and it looks as if Tom's the guilty party. The only one he trusts to get him off is none other than his old friend Sam -- who has to take the role of "Tom's Lawyer!"

ISBN O-425-18205-3; $6.50 U.S. ($9.99 Canada)

THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGLER, which takes Clemens and Wentworth to Florence, Italy. There, a beautiful American woman and a priceless Raphael painting disappear at the same time. Of course, the first person the police come to question is Wentworth!

ISBN: 0-425-17704-1; $6.50 U.S. ($9.99 Canada)

In THE GUILTY ABROAD, Sam Clemens and his secretary Wentworth Cabot travel to gaslight-era London, where they encounter Slippery Ed McPhee, an old con artist Clemens knew in his riverboat days. Slippery Ed has a new racket, and when Clemens goes to learn what's going on, he finds himself smack dab in the middle of another murder case... with Inspector G. Lestrade of Scotland Yard leading the police investigation! A paperback original.

ISBN: 0-425-17122-1; $6.50 U.S. ($8.99 Canada)

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Now in paperback!

THE PRINCE AND THE PROSECUTOR takes Twain and Cabot on an ocean voyage to England. Twain is pleased to discover that their fellow passengers include Rudyard Kipling and his wife. Also on board are a party of rich Philadelphians, going to see the artistic treasures of Europe under the guidance of an egotistical painter. Perhaps the most interesting passenger is a German who introduces himself as Prince Karl -- a title that may not be entirely legitimate. But when the prince is accused of a murder, Twain decides to find out the truth.

"Heck's Twain proves to be an entertaining replica of the original and a clever detectiuve to boot." -- Publishers Weekly

ISBN 0-425--16567-1; $5.99 U.S. ($7.99 Canada)

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And don't miss the first two Mark Twain Mysteries:

In DEATH ON THE MISSISSIPPI, Mark Twain is about to begin a lecture tour, travelling down the Mississippi on a steamboat. But before he leaves New York (where he hires Cabot), the police find a murdered man with Twain's name and address in his pocket. Unknown to the police, Twain has a secret mission -- recovering a fortune in hidden gold in a town along the river. Now he has to worry about whether a killer is trailing him... The climax comes on a steamboat full of colorful characters, as Twain and Cabot team up to solve the case.

"Lovers of historical mysteries should rush out for a copy of Death on the Mississippi... There's a good plot, a bevy of suspects, lots of Twain lore, and even a travelogue of life on the Mississippi in the 1890's. Death on the Mississippi is thorougly entertaining." -- Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

ISBN: 0-425-15512-9; $5.99 U.S. ($7.99 Canada)

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A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN CRIMINAL COURT (chosen by Mostly Murder as one of the 10 best historical mysteries of 1996) finds Twain and Cabot in New Orleans, where they learn of the murder of a prominent citizen. When the murdered man's negro cook is accused of the crime, a friend convinces Twain to look into the case. The trail leads them from the stately mansions of the Garden District to the honky-tonks of the French Quarter, and at last to a moonlit bayou, where a voodoo queen helps them find the real murderer.

"Heck takes a colorful city (New Orleans) and a colorful character (Mark Twain), adds a murder, a duel, some voodoo and period details and conjures up an entrertaining sequel to his debut... Twain can take a bow for his performance here..." -- Publishers Weekly

ISBN 0-425-16034-3; $5.99 U.S. ($7.99 Canada)

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Look for the Mark Twain mysteries at your local bookstore, or order them from Amazon com, the world's biggest online bookseller!

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Sam and Wentworth

I'm often asked how I came to write the Mark Twain mysteries.

I think the idea for the series grew pretty naturally out of having the 1910 edition of Twain's complete works in my parents' library as I was growing up. He quickly became my favorite author; I think I'd read everything he wrote by the time I was 16 or 17, some of it several times. (I still reread Huckleberry Finn every few years.) Turning Mark Twain into a character in my books gave me a great excuse to read my favorite author again -- which I've done with undiluted pleasure.

It seems to me that Mr. Clemens (as my narrator calls him) had exactly the combination of mental qualities that make a good detective. His training as a riverboat pilot (as he describes it in Life on the Mississippi) taught him to see minute details and understand their significance. He was a fine observer of the human species -- helped by his years of newspaper work as well as his experience on the River. And he had as good a built-in lie detector as any author who ever lived. Equally important to me as a writer, though: he was a wonderful character in his own right. Twain's self-portrayals make his best non-fiction as much fun as his fiction. Also, he was a world traveller, and he mingled with all classes and types of people -- so I could believably introduce him into almost any situation. I try to portray him very much the way he portrayed himself -- irrascible, sentimental, fiercely opposed to injustice of all kinds, impatient with humbugs and hypocrites, a master of the one-liner, ready to do or say almost anything at the drop of a hat.

But while I knew he was a perfect character for a detective series, I knew better than to try to imitate him directly. And so I invented my "Watson," Wentworth Cabot, who comes straight out of Yale College to sign on as Mark Twain's travelling secretary. Cabot is a lawyer's son, but he has dreams of becoming a writer -- and of travelling around the world. And he was on the football team at Yale -- at the time, a national powerhouse -- and so is in excellent physical condition. Like his employer, he has an ability to get along with all sorts of people, whatever their social origin. Even in those days, it was hard to get through Yale without something between the ears -- but in many ways he is a true innocent, and I think he will remain that way. -- PH

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