World War II era posters and a wartime postcard from Washington, D.C.
The Brief Luminous Flight of the Firefly
Twelfth in the Crime of Fashion series: the Prequel
This book is the
World War II-era prequel to my Crime of Fashion Mysteries. Set in 1943, this mystery features Mimi Smith, Lacey Smithsonian's
famous "Aunt Mimi," the great-aunt who had such an influence on her life and career as an amateur sleuth. I wanted to write about
Mimi as a smart, vibrant and inquisitive young woman. And I wanted to get to know her when she was first finding her way in the
world, not a fond memory of times past.
In my earlier books, particularly Designer Knockoff, I provided some clues to Mimi's personality and life in Washington, D.C. I also gave myself some unexpected problems. I gave Mimi her first job at a wartime US agency called the Office of Price Administration (OPA). The OPA controlled the prices of nearly all consumer goods and services, ran the rationing programs, and printed those ubiquitous ration coupon books.
What mystery writer would do that?! Why dump Mimi in the unpopular and long-forgotten OPA, when the obvious glamour agency of that era was the OSS, the precursor of the CIA? Well, apparently I did.
I was stuck with OPA, so I sought out records and archives to get a better picture of the agency. It took me a long time to find out where OPA was even housed. Mimi and I had both hoped it would be a grand, fabulous, ornate building, like so many in our Nationís Capital. But no, OPA was parked in what's now called the Gerald Ford Office Building: big, blocky, boring and bland.
But I also discovered unsuspected strengths. OPA investigated war profiteering, broke up crime rings in stolen goods and bootlegging, and battled black markets, from sugar and coffee to rubber and moonshine. And they had many female investigators, lawyers and administrators. It turns out Lacey's Aunt Mimi had real opportunities at OPA.
I also incorporated many Alexandria landmarks from the 1940s into the book. And because so many people have loved Lacey's trunk, inherited from her Aunt Mimi, that seemingly bottomless trunk full of fabrics, memories, mysteries and dreams, I thought it deserved its own origin story.
This book gave me an opportunity to explore Mimi Smithís wartime journey that brought her to Washington and the parallels between Mimi and Lacey, including their love of fashion and the clues people wear without knowing it. And both Mimi and Lacey discover they have a passion for finding out how the story ends.
I hope you enjoy Mimi's story.