Saturday, July 08, 2006

Profile: Tempa Pagel's Debut Mystery Raises Story from the Ashes

Jill Oestreicher Gross, writing for the Newburyport Current, recently reported on the debut mystery by Tempa Pagel that has its origins in a mystery 200 years old. In 1811, fire raged through Inn Street and Market Square and destroyed much of downtown Newburyport. To this day, it is still unknown how the fire started.

Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple by Tempa PagelGross writes that Tempa Pagel decided to devise a plot around the mystery, the result being her first novel, Here’s the Church, Here’s the Steeple. Three sections of the book are set in 1811, and the rest is set in present-day Newburyport.

Plot summary: When a storm damages the steeple of a local church, revealing a skeleton and a silver tankard that has been missing from the church plate since 1811, Andy Gammon, with her background in historical research, decides to mount an investigation. The mystery spills over into the present when a second body - this time a very recent one - is found at the church, and a fire is set on Andy's property, leading Andy to wonder if tragedies of the past are being recreated in the present.

Pagel started the novel in 1996 while a stay-at-home mother to her two children, who are now in college. "It was fun to try and weave a mystery around the history," she says.

Read the rest of the profile of Tempa Pagel on Newburyport here.

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