Elizabeth Martin

Susan Frost, Detective: The Case of Gertie Hendricks by Elizabeth Martin

Somewhere in the world is a grown up Nancy Drew with a different name and a checkered past. She’s not perfect and she does charge money for her investigations; when she can get it.

Susan Frost is a 38 year old private investigator who relies too heavily on her father’s law firm for work referrals. Drake Frost prefers to have his daughter under his thumb. When Susan visits Meadow Hills for the funeral of their beloved housekeeper, Gertie Hendricks, she must confront her dependency and the shadows that surround Gertie’s accident.

A grizzled stranger with a bad accent crashes the funeral and says he is taking his wife’s coffin back to their homeland, causing Susan to wonder if Gertie’s death was a senseless household accident, or a cold-blooded murder. As Susan follows the clues, she begins to suspect that dear old Dad is not exactly the squeaky clean lawyer that he has always projected, and that Gertie, that gray-haired, apron-wearing cookie baker, has had another life beyond the dust cloth.

Susan, dressed in her leather cat suit, speeding off in her beloved Ferrari 458 Spider, is on the case again.

I am a former librarian with a love of the classic mystery story. I once went to a gun range to learn how to shoot the handguns that Susan uses, so I take my commitment to this humorous pastiche quite seriously. Susan Frost, Detective: The Case of Gertie Hendricks is the first novel of a series, complete at 63,000 words.


The Book Doctors: I think there’s always room in the world for another great detective, especially if she has lots of problems. And I like how the theme of her overdependence on her father comes out in the plot when it’s revealed that maybe he isn’t who he seems to be. And it’s always fun to have a beloved character whose secret past is discovered after she dies. This seems like a really fun cozy mystery and I can definitely see it being a series. One of the difficulties of your book is that you’re competing against so many thousands and thousands of detective mystery stories. I’m afraid I don’t quite feel enough of a hook about who Susan Frost is. I don’t understand what’s driving her throughout the story. I don’t understand what’s unique and cool and captivating about her. I didn’t fall in love with her. And from everything that you described it didn’t make sense that she was dressed in a leather cat suit. I think this is the chief difficulty that has to be addressed with this pitch. Who is Susan Frost and why am I going to spend 20 hours of my life with her? In terms of the mystery itself, I thought they were too many familiar elements that I’ve seen before. A grizzled stranger, for instance. I don’t think you should start with Nancy Drew. That whole first paragraph seems so general, and it seems misleading. You talk about a checkered past, but I don’t really see anything in the pitch that would suggest her past is checkered. In fact, I’d like to see more checkeredness in her past. I want to see how this dependency on her father manifests itself more. And there’s nothing in this about her love life. Is that part of the story? It feels a bit empty without some sort of significant other or potential for romance. I also want more twists and turns of plot, which you show us through action, how the stakes are getting higher and higher, how things are getting more and more dangerous. And what are the consequences if she fails?