INTERVIEW WITH TRACEE DE HAHN'S INSPECTOR AGNES LÜTHI
ABOUT THE BOOK
Swiss-American police officer Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.
Tracee de Hahn’s next mystery, A Well-Timed Murder, is another magnetic mystery that will engross readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion.
Title: A Well-Timed Murder
Author’s name: Tracee de Hahn
Genre: International Mystery, 2nd in Series
Minotaur Books (February 6, 2018)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Touring with: Great Escapes Book Tours
ABOUT THE CHARACTERPolice inspector Agnes Lüthi is in her mid-thirties, recently widowed, with three young sons. She was born in Switzerland to American parents and has lived there her entire life. After her husband’s unexpected death several months ago, she moved divisions from financial crimes to violent crimes, hoping the change would help her recovery.
CHARACTER INTERVIEW WITH TRACEE DE HAHN'S INSPECTOR AGNES LÜTHI
Inspector, how did you first meet Tracee?
When she was living in Switzerland. I attended a reception for students and alumni at her husband’s boarding school, and we struck up a conversation about our American backgrounds. We met again by chance on a ski lift in St. Moritz. That’s when we started talking about my story.
Want to dish about her?
She shouldn’t give up her day job for skiing. She fell off the lift in St. Moritz (one of the small ground-level wheel-between-the-legs ones), and for a minute I didn’t think she would get up. It took some maneuvering to convince her to swing her body around so her feet weren’t up the slope above her head. Good thing she enjoys the easy slopes, she will never make black diamond level. Of course, if we hadn’t spent that time together I wouldn’t have ended up in a book. Truthfully, she’s a good skier, just terrible on the lifts.
Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My author won’t let me give away too much, she hates the ‘spoiler alert’ notice, but there is a scene in A Well-Timed Murder where, for a brief moment, I have the upper hand with Julien Vallotton. Although I’ve become friendly with his family, I am still unnerved by their self-assurance. Being in control that entire scene was amazing. (It involves a barn . . .)
Did you have a hard time convincing Tracee to write any particular scenes for you?
When my story was first written in Swiss Vendetta, I was reluctant about everything. I thought I wasn’t interesting enough. Then I admitted that I was worried about everyone knowing the interesting parts. Once I got over that hurdle, I knew that what happened with my husband had to be told as part of the book. It was a gut-wrenching experience for me and even harder for my author to tell. Harder for her because I lived it once, but putting it down on paper meant a few revisions to get the essence perfect. We both knew that the scene would reveal something extremely personal – something I’ve not told anyone else – to the readers. It had to be done.
What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere? Lots of people – including my mother-in-law – ask why I work. What they really mean is: Why don’t I spend all my time with my boys? When I’m not being read that is where I spend much of my time. What people forget is that the boys are old enough to not want their mother around. This means that I let them do homework and play and talk to their friends while I observe from a distance, hoping they’ll forget I’m in the room. I know that when people read me they are getting a peek inside my life. That’s what I like to do with my sons. Get that unfiltered peek into their world. That may be one of the reasons I agreed to have my life recorded on paper.
Tell the truth. What do you think of your fellow characters? I will tell the truth, but you can’t print it. I’m not even sure I can say it without sounding like a schoolgirl. Sometimes I want to grab my boys and run away with Julien Vallotton and live a glamorous jet set life. Other times – most of the time – I don’t know why he even wants to have dinner with me. I suspect it’s because I’m not part of the global jet setting lifestyle he says bores him. I wonder if I’m a passing fancy, someone far from his orbit and interesting like an exotic animal? I don’t think so. Mainly because I’m not at all exotic. However, I feel there is an attraction. I really don’t know what to think. Of course, we haven’t known each other long. Time will tell.
Do have any secret aspirations that Tracee doesn’t know about?
Yes, I want to shoot in the Olympics in the 50 meter rifle three position competition. I haven’t practiced in months, not since George died, but I have won medals, and think I could reach the next level. I don’t think a woman from Switzerland has placed in this event in the World Championships since before 1966 and it’s a lot to take on, but it might be the focus I need while I try to make sense of what happened with . . . well, you know.
If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do? I work full time and have three sons. If I had a day off I would probably do nothing, in silence with no one around. Actually, that is only what I dream about when I’m exhausted. What I’d probably do is go on a short trip. A grown-up trip with no kids. A real treat.
I think I know, but have to ask anyway . . . What's the worst thing that's happened in your life? The worst thing was my husband’s suicide. From that I learned that we never really know anyone – including ourselves. I also learned that I could survive anything.
What are you most afraid of?
Letting my past prevent me from a great future. I struggle with self-doubt in my personal life. Self-doubt. That’s what I’m afraid of.
How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
I’m a little nervous about change, particularly after what happened to my family, so let’s avoid that word. Right now, my life is finding a new center. I like my new work in violent crimes, and the boys are doing well. I’m nervous about upsetting the balance. At the same time, and I know this sounds ungrateful, there are parts of my old job in financial crimes that I miss, and sometimes I think I moved over too quickly. There are a few cases in financial crimes that I want to see closed. Most people don’t think they are as exciting as the cases we face in violent crimes but to me they were. There was a cerebral aspect of tracking the money that I miss. Of course, now that I say it out loud, I’m afraid my author will overhear me and I’ll be out of violent crimes. That’s not exactly what I want. Maybe she does understand and that’s why she gave me a dose of both in A Well-Timed Murder?
What aspect of Tracee’s writing style do you like best?
I have enjoyed her descriptions of the places in my life. I felt like she really captured the experience of the ice storm in Swiss Vendetta. It was a powerful experience – at the mercy of the elements, cut off from anyone outside the Vallotton château, and, at the same time, hunting for Felicity Cowell’s murderer. When I read the manuscript for A Well-Timed Murder I felt like I was again at Baselworld – a fascinating glamorous expo that nearly conceals the high stakes business behind the scenes. What happened there is special to me because it was a chance to work in financial crimes and in violent crimes. I shouldn’t say this out loud, but I’d like to keep doing that.
If your story were a movie, who would play you?
My author says Jessica Chastain even though I know she doesn’t look like me. I suppose that’s where hair and make-up are important. Although I pretend to disagree with Ms. Chastain as a choice, I would be flattered. She is a talented actress who can convey strong characters. I suppose that’s a vote of confidence for how my author feels about me.
Describe the town where you live.
My town is a typical Swiss village. It’s livelier than you might imagine, mainly because so many people have small children and this brings spirit to the streets. We have our own bakery and butcher, plus a few other stores. There is a beautiful church with an impressive tower and bell. We are on a road that cuts across the slope of the base of higher mountains so we have nice views down the valley toward Lausanne. Higher up the hills the cows wander the pastures and you can hear their bells ring. My boys go to school in a new concrete and wood building, which is lovely and has large windows with views onto the landscape. The church cemetery anchors the central village and is the main view from the terrace in front of our café. We don’t think about it, but anyone visiting thinks it’s unique and interesting. What I like best is how remote our village feels. And how close we are to so many other places!
What makes you stand out from any other characters in your genre?
Most of the police investigators are still men. The women tend to be single or perhaps divorced, but almost none of them have children. Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, having children in your life changes the equation. Mainly, I believe, it makes people judge you differently. I have to defend my decision to work as well as my performance at work. I have to work harder at home and on the job. I also think that I stand out because I live and work in Switzerland. We aren’t the dark noir of the Scandinavian countries, or the cozy villages of the UK. Switzerland is a different kind of crossroads, with space for our own kind of mishaps.
Will you encourage Tracee to write a sequel?
Absolutely. I have my eye set on traveling to Paris soon. That sounds like a sequel to me!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tracee de Hahn completed degrees in architecture and European history at the University of Kentucky and then lived in Europe, including several years in Switzerland. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband, a Swiss architect, and their Jack Russell Terriers.
Connect with Tracee:
Website | Blog 1 | Blog 2 | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram
Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound | Books-A-Million