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sent to Cynthia Riggs

Cynthia shares some of her favorite fan mail on this page. We'd love to hear from you too. Send a note to

From Beth Belgard-Crader, Richmond, VA, January 2011

I recently was introduced to your work by someone and have found your books delightful. For many years I lived on Cape Cod (Hyannis and Barnstable) and made many trips to the Vineyard. All your descriptions of the people and places bring my memories right back up. Today I finished reading The Cemetery Yew and it was great. It went a bit faster than I thought it would but every scene was perfect. Thanks so much for your writings and I wish you many more years of doing so. I do have one question — A real U.S. Coast Guard Masters License for 100 tons?? Isn't that a bit unusual?? Happy New Year to you and I wish only the best for you in the new year.

Cynthia's reply

Thanks so much for your e-mail. Richmond is far from Cape Cod. Do you get back occasionally? My book number 9, Touch-Me-Not, was published this past August, and number 10, The Bee Balm Murders, is scheduled for publication this April. After number 20, I plan to retire to yet another career.

There are quite a few female boat captains around now, still not as many as there should be. A noteworthy one is Capt. Linda Greenlaw, a swordfishing captain who's written at least four books, a couple of them best sellers. I hope you keep reading my books, and thanks again.



From Bruce Steinbicker, Asheville, NC, November 2010

You've come up with another winner in Touch-Me-Not although I missed the gang on the porch at Alley's. It's not the same without Sarah. Please check the bottom of page 237 where you have Fran picking up the fry again. I really think Amelia picked up the fry. Something to keep in mind for a second printing.

Cynthia's reply

Oh my gosh, you're absolutely right! And about halfway down the page I did it again (that is, earlier). That slipped through a whole raft of copy editors, including my sister, who is a fiend about stuff like that. Thank you! I'll revive the Alley's porch sitters in honor of you. The Bee Balm Murders is already in production, but I'm working on Poison Ivy now.

From Celia Brown, September 2010

I have been immensely enjoying your books. That is until now. I have just finished reading Touch Me Not and am astounded that you couldn't have found any quilters on the Vineyard — Massachusetts is a hotbed of them. To the point; there is no way a quilt is knitted. A wall hanging may be knitted, a bedspread may be knitted, an afghan may be knitted, an artistic installation may be knitted but not a quilt. The definition of a quilt is "three layers; cloth backing, batting, and cloth top". Period. And not necessarily having to do with beds. I noticed that you had a number of acknowledgments in the foreword to the book. Well they certainly did you a disservice by not recommending further definition if none of them knew themselves of the craft. I'll look forward to the next book and hope for better.

Cynthia's reply

My apologies to you and to all quilters for having my mathematical knitters fabricating a quilt. You're quite right. In writing Touch-Me-Not I'd been thinking in terms of one of the lesser definitions of "quilt," namely, "A thick protective cover similar to or suggestive of a quilt," which I realize is a lame excuse, but it's the only one I can conjure up. My knitters are knitting mathematical forms, such as Mobius strip kelp and Klein bottle corals and attaching them to a fabric base to suggest a coral reef to draw attention to global warming. I realize now, a bit late, that I should have called their work something else, but I'm not quite sure what — diorama isn't right, fabric sculpture doen't fit, blanket sounds wrong, fabrication is close, it's not exactly an installation. Any thoughts on this?

Again, I apologize. Martha's Vineyard is teeming with quilters. One of our banks has quilts hung as art, our galleries have had amazing quilt exhibits. In fact, at one time I was director of a small wannabe college here on the Island, and we sponsored a Quilters' Weekend, so I should have known better.

Thanks for writing, and I hope my egregious use of "quilt" hasn't discouraged you from reading more of the Victoria Trumbull books.



From Michelle Nielson, September 2010

I picked up your book, Indian Pipes, as part of my book club's quarterly book challenge. I have to admit that I started Indian Pipes not knowing if I would like it. I was a little thrown off by Victoria, a 92-year-old crime solver. I was afraid it would come off as a little unbelievable. However, I absolutely loved this book! The story was completely believable and I had a difficult time putting this book down. I love the main character, feisty Victoria. She reminds me of my grandmother back in her spunkier days. I am thoroughly enjoying this series and cannot wait to read more. In fact, I have The Paperwhite Narcissus sitting on my bed stand right now. Thank you for the great series!

From Cynthia, August 2010

Touch-Me-Not, the latest book in the Martha's Vineyard mystery series, was released yesterday, August 17th, and has Hugo's name in it as a character. You won the bid at the SailMV auction to get his name in the book. You also get a personalized and signed copy.

Jeannie's reply

Is it in Bunch of Grapes right now? He is here and his 2nd birthday is today!!!!

Cynthia's reply

Wow! Perfect timing! Yes, it is in Bunch of Grapes, but you get your very own copy as part of the winning bid. I'll deliver the book to you. Tell him happy birthday! He's a teenager in the book.



From Margie Vasicek in El Reno, Oklahoma, August 2010

You are my favorite author!!!! I have read all your books & my son is going to Barnes & Noble today to pick up your newest book. I just had to tell you how much I enjoy all the characters in your books. I feel as though I know Victoria, she reminds me of my Aunt Janey in Texas. My son Aaron ordered your book a couple of weeks ago. He got a message it came today. CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!! KEEP THEM COMING!!!!!!!!

From Mary Beth Mapes, August 2010

I just discovered your books about Victoria! I am in love! I can hardly wait to continue with the series. Thank you.



From Shirley Thom in Queensland, Australia, June 2010

This is just to say thank you for the pleasure I am getting from your Martha's Vineyard series. I live in sub tropical Queensland in Australia, so I love to read of the New England autumn and winter, and to learn about the plant and animal life. Victoria is a wonderful character, and has given me hope that even in old age life can be full of surprises and fun - if one just keeps looking!

Cynthia's reply

It's good to hear from a fan Down Under. Thanks for writing!

My great grandmother was from Sydney. She was coming to San Francisco for a visit, and her ship stopped in Hawaii, then called the Sandwich Islands. My great grandfather was captain of a ship coming from China that stopped in Hawaii. He saw my great grandmother (who was only 16 at the time) and married her a week later. When she arrived on Martha's Vineyard, she had mother-in-law problems, and went on a five-year whaling voyage with her husband. My two great aunts were born during the voyage. So I have a strong bond with you.

How did you happen to get hold of my books so far from here?

Shirley's reply

I was delighted to hear from you. I have never written to an author before, and I imagined that the best reply I could hope for would be a computer-generated formal acknowledgment.

What a romantic story about your greatgrandmother. How inspiring to have such an indomitable forebear. Will you write her story one day? I am so happy about the connection - it makes the Pacific Ocean seem a little smaller.

I have just started to read The Paperwhite Narcissus, and have just finished Shooting Star. I found my first Victoria Trumbull story in the electronic resources of our local library, so I have "Jack in the Pulpit" on my MP3. However, I love the large-print books, especially the gorgeous covers.

Like you, I am lucky enough to live somewhere beautiful. The Gold Coast of southern Queensland is somewhat similar to the southern part of Florida. We live on a lake, but are only a couple of kilometres from the beautiful beaches of Surfer's Paradise. Whilst I love the frangipani, hibiscus and other tropical plants here, I am fascinated by the beautiful, delicate flowers featured in your books, and have been doing some follow-up reading on them. Thank you again for opening this up to me.

From Brannyh, May 2010

Haha I'm like your youngest reader! I'm a thirteen year old guy and I don't like the normal teen books so I randomly picked out Deadly Nightshade and i LOVED IT!!! I just finished the Cemetery Yew and I can see how your writing skill has grown as the series goes on.



From Dawn Graham Rivera in Orlando, Florida, February 2010

Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your books (or listening to audio versions)! Although I'm a mere youngster of 55, I find Victoria and absolute treat. She reminds me a quite a bit of my grandmother Florence, with her pragmatic outlook and sharp mind (and her idiosyncrasies). What a delight! I look forward to each book in the series!

From Les Campbell in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, February 2010

Just a note to let you know how much I am enjoying your books. I have read Double Murder on M/V and The Cranefly Orchid. Now I am starting Death & Honesty. I was a MA State Trooper on M/V for five years in the early 60's. Gay Head did not have a Police Department, but a Constable Jessie Smalley. I do not believe W.Tisbury had a full time PD. I know we relied a lot on the Fischer brothers. One was Arnie and Beanie Alley. Bill King was the Chief in Tisbury, Joe Bernard, O.B., Huddy Worder, Esq. and John Palmeira was the Sheriff. You were probably a teenager along with Carly Simon & James Taylor.

My friend Marie McHugh had you autograph a book for me at her Book Store in Osterville, which I appreciated very much. As I think back on my M/V days in the 60's I can't help but remember my old friend Craig Kingsbury. You could probably write five books just on Craig and the disputes I would have to try and settle between Walter Manning and the Vanderhoops. Usually I was successful. They were good people and those fresh lobster sandwiches Walter & Helen would serve ($1.25) were the best.

So. Yarmouth is my home town and I know you're scheduled to come over to The Cultural Center on Fri. So providing we do not get snowed in I look forward to meeting you there.

Cynthia's reply

How great to hear Island names from the 60s. West Tisbury's George Manter was chief for 30 (I think) years, and died a couple of years ago. Arnie Fischer was fire chief for quite a long time and I guess he and Beanie Alley did what needed to be done as far as policing in the 60s was concerned. Young Arnie continues to farm Big Arnie's Flat Point Farm, mostly sheep. WT now has a full-time chief, Beth Toomey, who's about to retire after ten years, and four or five full-time police officers. Times change!

Lobster rolls at Grace Church once a week are now $12.00, and we all think that's a bargain. Craig Kingsbury's daughter (not Trina, the axe thrower, but the other one) wrote a book called, "Craig Kingsbury Talkin'," full of his earthy and pithy quotes. Beanie Alley's two younger brothers, Jim and John, are active in WT affairs, especially John, who was selectman for 27 years. When I was a teenager — in the mid-1940s — we used to tear down the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road in one of the older kids' car with the lights out, watching out for State Trooper Lennie Martin.



From Marion Maxwell in Acton, Massachusetts, January 2010

I love fiesty Victoria (toe poking through a hole in her shoe) and your descriptions of Vineyard flora, fauna, small town politics, the sea and the old Yankee characters as much as the mysteries. Having spent a many a summer week at the hostel and a honeymoon at the Daggett House, everything rings true. I can smell the sweet fern. Thank you. I look forward to as many more books as you can write!

From Lisa Belcastro, January 2010

My grandmother, Vera LaBelle, received her first two Victoria Trumbull books (in the picture) on her 92nd birthday. She turned 92 on October 4. Now she's hooked and is reading three more books. Of course, now I have to find the others in large print!!

From Virginia Carroll in Columbus, Ohio, January 2010

I finished making new curtains for my room and they turned out lovely. I also started reading Death and Honesty, and honestly I found it to be a no-put down book. I read 10 chapters and found myself laughing out loud. In Ch. 7 Delilah says to Victoria that if she can get a rooster she can grow her own baby chicks. Victoria refrained from making any remarks as to according to the law of averages, half of the chicks were likely to become roosters. This struck me as so funny. Also, in Ch. 9, Henry tells Delilah that his fling was nothing more than him feeling his oats. Delilah's answer was so right on that again I found myself laughing. My husband was sitting at the computer and he turned to me and said "I thought you were reading a mystery", and that made me laugh even more. I just had to let you know how much I'm enjoying your book and I'm already wanting to know "who dun it".



From Sandy Cooper, January 2010

Hi! Many years ago I stumbled upon a proof reader's copy of one of Phil Craig's Vineyard mysteries. As a result, I have located, bought and read all of his books, and have "corrupted" 2 other reading friends. Since Phil is no longer with us to continue his wonderful series, I was feeling a need to "get back" to the Vineyard.

My cousin called a couple of weeks ago and told me she had "discovered" another Vineyard series she thought I'd like. I'm recovering from major surgery a week ago, and must admit I am hooked! Victoria is wonderful and reminds me of my New England roots, especially the summers I spent with my grandparents. I have finished Deadly Nightshade, am half-way through The Cemetery Yew, and The Cranefly Orchid Murders just arrived in today's mail. I'll be hunting on-line for the rest of the series tomorrow.

I have one question; something that I'm confused about. In his books, Phil Craig referred to Cape Pogue often, yet you call it Cape Poge in Deadly Nightshade. Which is the correct name, or does it go by both spellings?

I look forward to reading all of your books. It may take me awhile to locate all of them, but I'm persistent and will own the whole series!

An old reader, but a new fan.

Cynthia's reply

Thanks for writing. Phil Craig was a good friend of mine, a generous, kind, gentleman (although he wouldn't have admitted to that). I miss him greatly. Phil's wife, Shirley, and I remain good friends. Zee, of course, is patterned after Shirley Craig.

I'm so glad you've discovered Victoria Trumbull. Please keep reading.

About Cape Poge (or Cape Pogue) -- with your New England roots, you will understand the ways of the Island. The cape is spelled both ways, depending on what reference one uses. A street in Vineyard Haven is identified at one end as "Center Street" and at the other end as "Centre Street." Here in West Tisbury, "Scotchman's Bridge Lane" morphs into "Scotsman's Lane" which crosses State Road and becomes "The Panhandle" which then becomes "Music Street." All within a quarter mile or so, and all the same road. I don't think we've done this deliberately to confuse tourists. It's always been that way.

From Caroline Daniels, January 2010

I picked up one of your books at the Mystery Writers get together in Dedham, MA., a few months ago. Just wanted to say that I am enjoying reading all of your books, just one more to go -- just started Death and Honesty and trying to read it slowly to make it last! I am enjoying getting to know your characters and watching how they develop. Thanks so much for the great read!

KEEP WRITING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



From Barbara Miller, January 2010

Just finished The Cemetery Yew, unfortunately the last of the books in print that I had not read. Absolutely awesome. Please accept my congratulations for your talent and willingness to share great stories with those of us less creative.

Do you have a model for Victoria? Does New England produce many seniors with her stamina and spunk?

Now I am very eager for #'s 9 and 10. Please keep on writing!

Cynthia's reply

Victoria Trumbull is patterned after my mother, Dionis Coffin Riggs, a poet, who died when she was almost 99. Of course, I had to make Victoria much younger at 92. I think my mother would have been pleased with her role as sleuth. It seems to me, seniors have always had spunk. Certainly they have experience, an ability to focus on things of importance, and most are no longer afraid of speaking out, saying what they think. Our elders are a national treasure, and I love celebrating the life one of them.

Pat and Joe Vitale, December 2009

I should introduce myself and say we met twice at your book signing events in Falmouth. My wife Pat, and I (retired dentist) enjoyed meeting you and have not stopped reading your books. They are such a pleasure to read and looking forward to reading more of them.

We were going to visit your B&B this past summer but plans changed and we had to postpone our visit.

I went to your web site and the photo of your B&B is very interesting. Since I retired 15 years ago I have been painting in watercolor and this past Fall I submitted a painting in the Falmouth Art Guild Art Show. I was pleasantly surprised to win the first prize in the watercolor category.

I do most of my painting in Florida and what I would like to do is a watercolor painting of your B & B and send it to you. I'll let you know when it's finished. This will be a form of thanks for all your good works.

Keep your typewriter working and say hello to Victoria, Elizabeth, Casey and McCavity.



Diane Brandon in Maine, December 2009

I'm a 64 year old reader in Maine (on the NH border near Portsmouth), and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the 6 of your 8 novels that our library owns. (I'm requesting The Cranefly Orchid Murders and Shooting Star via Ill.) I just finished Indian Pipes, which was suspenseful! You have just the right blend of issues and characters to keep me reading, and I've printed a googlemap of Martha's Vineyard, to help me visualize where events are taking place, as I read.

I've been to Nantucket, but never to MV, but I just recommended your books to a close friend, and we've agreed that we'll visit MV this spring or fall, and enjoy seeing some of the places you've written about. (Hopefully we'll visit with our husbands, but otherwise just the two of us.)

Neither of us are writers, so we won't qualify for staying at your B&B, but if you'd like to recommend another spot, we'll welcome the advice. (Carol and I have worked for non-profits all our lives, so we aren't "monied" - something simple is great. We have loved camping over the years, but her husband is recovering from cancer surgery in November and mine from heart surgery last January, so we aren't as hardy as we used to be!)

Carol and I both got M.Ed. degrees from Lyndon State College in VT (1982), and went to Bennington for my undergraduate degree (social sciences, 1963), so we have some Vermont education in common with you.

Do you ever have "meet the author" gatherings, where we could pay for tea or take you out for lunch or somehow enjoy meeting you? Perhaps the island bookstore has this sort of thing?

Thank you for your intelligent and enjoyable books.

Linda Buroke, December 2009

I've just met Victoria Trumbull and am working my way through all of your books. I love them and read them with a smile on my face. My favorite, so far, is The Cranefly Orchid. Thank you for the delightful entertainment.



Richard Goutal,, November 2009

I'm still puzzling over your panel comment about Donald Westlake.

Last week, our mystery book club in Manchester-by-the-sea discussed Richard Stark's Dirty Money.

Stark's central characters are losers
Your book's central character is a good "guy" (apologies to Victoria)

Stark's central character (Parker) has no appeal and seems flat, devoid of depth and feeling
Victoria is appealing and there is plenty of depth - information about the character that creates the interest and appeal

Stark's story has no ending; it's like the end of a chapter. It's like a puzzle piece.
Your stories have resolution.

While the Dortmunder series has a kind of humor, Stark's series are grim to the core with no real humor (at least to us)
While Victoria encounters many murders, she is a good sport and there are lighter moments in the stories.

So -

At the risk of sounding really really dumb, and knowing that a fellow panel member happened to agree with the Westlake choice quite independently, still -

What exactly was it or is it about Westlake's writing that you admire?

If you are so inclined to favor me with your time to reply, you might optionally reply as a comment on my blog:

Nice to see you at Crimebake which I enjoyed very much!

Cynthia's reply

I'm honored that the mystery book club compares my writing with Donald Westlake's. He's one of my favorite not-exactly-mystery writers. And, of course, I like hearing that you think Victoria Trumbull is appealing, has depth, and is a good sport and a good guy.

Westlake's caper books are quite different from his Stark books, which I like, but they're not among my favorites.

Dortmunder appeals to me because I love the concept of a failed burglar concocting yet another elaborate scheme that, yet again, fails. For some reason, I find that comical. I guess reading about losers makes me feel better about my own failed ventures, and thinking that an occasional venture of mine may succeed, unlike Dortmunder's.

Westlake has remarkable control over his writing. I'm sure he intended his losers to seem flat, which they are. Much like the characters in the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. His writing boils the story down to its essence. I'd say like poetry, but that's not exactly right. Doggerel, maybe, in its kindest definition. Westlake's settings are sketchy, his dialogue is a mere suggestion of the way people talk. The plot's the thing, leaving all else to the imagination, a carefully crafted, intricately engineered structure with cartoon people moving through. His spare dialogue and the absurd situations he sets up make me laugh. I'm not amused by much of today's over-written, in-your-face humor — Seinfeld and Janet Evanovich, for instance, treat me as if my reading comprehension is at the third grade level. Reading Westlake I sometimes feel as though I'm the only reader who's ever seen through and around and beyond what he's put on paper, and believe I've discovered new territory. I suspect that's the way his other fans feel.

I consciously imitate some of Westlake's style, and find myself laughing aloud as I write.

Bob Dolan, October 2009

Thank you for the many hours of pleasure and escape i found in your books. You are a gem.



Ginny Hoppe, October 2009

Just wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed "Victoria's" mysteries. It is great to reading about someone a little more mature than I and has so much get up and go and take care of business. She is delightful and so are all of those in her world. I am so pleased to here that we have two more books coming. Thank you so much for such an enjoyable read.

Ro Hall, September 2009

Thank you, Cynthia Riggs.

I discovered your series of Vineyard murder mysteries featurng the wonderful Victoria only recently - actually, just a few months ago. Today, I was beginning to feel a bit of anticipatory heartbreak due to the fact that I was approaching the end of what I thought was the last of the Victoria books - Indian Pipes. Checking your website, just to learn more about you, I was flabbergasted to learn of two or three that I haven't yet read.

So again, thank you. And please keep writing!



Cathy Akers-Jordan, July 2009

Your post on how authors deal with the passage of time in a series reminded me that I wanted to e-mail you to tell you how much I am enjoying your books! I love Victoria and want to be like her when I get old. I'm glad she's always 92 even though time is passing in the background. That seems like a good way to deal with a series while keeping the character around for a long time.

Best wishes from a fan in Michigan.

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