The murder/mystery entitled “The Reluctant Virgin,” is the story of a serial killer loose on the streets of Toronto during the 1950s. However, in reality the book is historical fiction. The important events of the decade are woven into the fictional plot. My memories of the death of King George VI formed the basis for the section that occurs when the king passes away. The detailed descriptions of the city during this post-war period and the archival photos create a high degree of reality to the tale. Though it is unusual to place photos within a fictional murder/mystery, they serve a vital purpose. They allow the reader to visualize the city of those years.
Along with the historical events of the 1950s, the book deals with the social issues of the decade. Attitudes towards unwed mothers, divorced women, women’s rights, pre-marital sex, and sexual orientation are important to the plot. “The Reluctant Virgin” is no mere murder/mystery. Readers who wish to experience the Toronto of the 1950s within an entertaining venue, will enjoy this book.
The passage below from “The Reluctant Virgin,” tells about the central character of the book, Tom Hudson, returning home from school after learning during the morning of the death of King George VI .
When Tom entered the back door of his home, he saw that his mom had placed his lunch on the kitchen table. From the dining room, he could hear the radio. His mom was listening to the news. As he joined her, sandwich in hand, he stopped in the doorway and listened to the broadcast, a repeat of an earlier transmission. He now learned the details of the death of the monarch.
The early-morning BBC announcement was repeated, “It is with the greatest regret that I make the following announcement…”
Tom recognized the words. They were the same ones that Gus had employed on the P.A. system at the start of the school day. It crossed Tom’s mind that Gus had likely plagiarized them.
Then the announcer continued, “The king, fifty-six years of age, died in his sleep at Sandringham. He was discovered by his valet at 7:30 am, having died in the same house in which he had been born, on 14 December in 1895. The valet immediately summoned the queen to his bedside. Later, the staff reported that she had not wept, but that her face was wracked with grief.
“She gently kissed his forehead, and after several minutes silence said, ‘We must tell…’and she hesitated ‘…must tell the queen.’
“The king had had surgery the previous September, and a part of one lung had been removed. They had reported that he had been recovering nicely. He had gone hunting the day before his death and retired early in the evening. The cause of death was reported to be coronary thrombosis—a blood clot.”
The CBC newscast ended with the statement, “Radio Moscow announced the death of the king in four short words—George the sixth died.”
After school, Tom delivered his newspapers. He observed the quiet and respectful manner in which people scanned the front pages. He remembered the reactions of his customers when they had glanced at the front-page pictures of the Noronic in flames, when the ship had burnt in 1949 in Toronto harbour. On that occasion, their silence had portrayed shock and dismay. The news of the death of the king produced quiet acceptance and sadness at the passing of someone whom they had admired.
George VI was the monarch who had delivered guidance and hope through the horrific years of the Second World War. People remembered his resolution not to abandon London and retreat to the safety of the countryside. When Buckingham Palace had been bombed, he had declared that he now shared the sorrow of loss with others who had suffered during the blitz. As people scanned the articles on the front page and saw the peaceful regal photo of their late king, they knew that the sceptre of a generation had been passed to another’s hand.
For further information on the “The Reluctant Virgin,” a murder/mystery that encompasses historical fiction: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/chilling-murdermystery-showcases-toronto/
Author’s Home Page : https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/
Link to purchase this book : http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx
“The Reluctant Virgin” is available at any Chapters/Indigo store and also can be ordered on-line in electronic versions.