Sandra de Helen Gives Insights into Her Mystery Series

My mystery series featuring Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson is set in modern day Portland, Oregon. Shirley and Mary met at an EST-like Forum in Seattle and became fast friends when Shirley declared her dream of becoming the world's best detective, and Mary introduced herself. Several years have passed, and they are now working together in a downtown office with a receptionist named Lix. When they go to the Portland Police Bureau to consult -- or to gain information -- they frequently bring along a pink box of Voodoo Donuts.

Readers are treated to the Pacific Northwest scenery, culture, and politics as they follow Shirley and Mary on yet another case. The first case to result in a novel  (The Hounding) involved the timber industry and the loss of old-growth forests. A rich heiress had declared she would use her money to save old growth, and she died a mysterious death. In the second book of the series (The Illustrious Client) the women are handed a case of a wealthy international pop star whose parents fear an older nouveau rich lesbian is taking advantage of her. Mary hopes for exciting international travel, but their trip to France is a brief one, followed by a complicated case of murder on the home front.

I'm currently writing A Valley of Fear, in which Shirley Combs meets Dr. Moriarty. But first, she falls down a well in a ghost town, where Mary has to rescue her.

Throughout their journey, Shirley Combs remains asexual, acerbic, and analytical. Their friendship evolves, as does Mary. Mary discovers to her surprise that she is a lesbian when she falls in love with her realtor in The Illustrious Client. They are engaged at the opening of A Valley of Fear. 

The books are peppered with characters all along the LGBTQQIA scale, as well as the usual number of cis gendered heterosexual folks. Sex is not the focus of the books, murder and mystery are. Some of my biggest fans are Sherlockians, who read everything Sherlock. I have been a Sherlock fan myself since I was about nine or ten years old. We had the Complete Sherlock Holmes in the house, and I read the stories and novels many times growing up. I love every Sherlock movie, television show, and hat I see. I have my own deerstalker and magnifying glass. I wish I had the coat, although as I now live in Southern California, I wouldn't get to wear it often.

I hope my readers enjoy the mystery as much as they do the references to the original Sherlock canon. Each book I write is descended from the original stories but is a story of its own.

Please leave your email address in the comments if you'd like a free copy of The Illustrious Client, and I'll send you a link to Book Funnel where you can pick it up.

More about The Illustrious Client:

Book Two of the Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson series, The Illustrious
Client, shows us the private investigator and her sidekick sharing an office, and
introduces their receptionist, Lix. They are hired to influence a young international pop star, Oceane Charles, to pry her away from her older, richer, player of a girlfriend. The cast is made up of people with various ethnicities and backgrounds, and of course the job soon includes solving a murder mystery. Along the way, Mary discovers her latent lesbianism. Set in Portland, Oregon on a super yacht, in a hospital VIP room, at Rose Festival, and other fun places.

Sandra de Helen, author of the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series and the lesbian thriller Till Darknes Comes is a produced playwright, as well as a poet. Her full-length play A Missouri Cycle garnered her a residency for fall of 2017 at Firefly Farms; her play A Grave Situation was produced in 2017 by Athena Cats as part of their theatre festival in Santa Monica. Something's Got to Give was produced in Oregon in 2015 as part of the 365 Women A Year Playwriting Project. Singer Clashes with Cougar was produced in New York in July, 2014 by{Your Name Here} A Queer Theatre Company. Her poetry chapbook All This Remains to be Discovered is available at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon or online. Samples of her work are available at her website,


Sandra de Helen said…
Marilyn, thank you so much for inviting me to be here. I hope people read far enough into the post to notice I'm giving away free books! FREE BOOKS HERE, ha.

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