Molly Smith and the Evolution of a Character and a Setting.
As far as I know the protagonist in my Constable Molly Smith is unique in the world of crime fiction. She’s a cop, and the series in which she appears is a fairly traditional police-procedural novel, but Smith is not a detective. When the series begins in
In the Shadow of the Glacier, Molly’s just a probationary constable. By the third in the series, Winter of Secrets, she’s a constable third class. She’s twenty-six years old.
Molly Smith is more Sasha Jackson than DCI Banks.
I created her young, naïve, green and very eager, because I am hoping to get the chance to watch her grow and change and learn about becoming a woman as well as a police officer.
Of course probationary constables and constables third class do not assist with major crime investigations. Other than to stand outside and take notes of everyone who enters the crime scene. In any big city Molly would spend her time writing traffic tickets.
Veracity is important to me in my books, particularly when it comes to policing. It was therefore necessary to put her in a small town. The sort of small police force where everyone multi-tasks. Thus I created Trafalgar, British Columbia, a town nested in the mountains of the Southern Interior. Not at all loosely based on the real city of Nelson.
In order that it’s somewhat realistic for Smith to become involved in major crimes, I made her a local. Born and raised in Trafalgar, her parents own a store on the main street and are involved in everything that goes on (at least her mother, Lucky, is). The detective sergeant is John Winters, recently arrived from Vancouver. Because Winters is unfamiliar with the town and the residents, he knows (initially against his will) Smith can help him negotiate the waters.
In Valley of the Lost, Winters reluctantly realizes he needs Smith:
Smith should be out on the beat. Patrolling the streets of Trafalgar. She was a probationary constable, not a detective. But he was lost in this small town. Only ten thousand people, everyone of them connected to everyone else by a myriad of invisible threads.
Not that the small town setting is a disadvantage. Small communities are great places to set mystery novels.
“Do you know what Sherlock Holmes said about the countryside?”
“’The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside,’ The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.”
“The great detective never came to Trafalgar, sir. I think he’d find it peaceful here. Most of the time.”
“I’m not interested in what happens here most of the time.”
Sergeant Dick Madison and Constable Molly Smith, Negative Image.
Molly Smith does find being local somewhat of a disadvantage sometimes:
Smith’s mother, Lucy, whom everyone called Lucky, was no less idealistic now than she’d been back in the day. Which also didn’t make it easy to be an Officer of the Law in this opinionated, left-leaning, artistic, independently-inclined town nestled in the mountains and forests deep inside British Columbia.
In Negative Image, Smith has come to realize that if she wants to get ahead in her career she will need big-city, big-police force experience. She is highly reluctant, however, to leave the town she loves, her parents, her new boyfriend.
We will have to see, in later books, what her decision is.
Vicki Delany writes the Constable Molly Smith series of which the latest is Negative Image. The fifth book in the series, Among the Departed, will be released on May 3rd.
She is also the author of the Klondike Gold Rush series (Gold Digger, Gold Fever), and novels of psychological suspense.
Visit Vicki at www.vickidelany,
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