Hannah Ives is a reluctant sleuth who lives on Prince George Street in Annapolis and solves mysteries wherever life leads her. In Daughter of Ashes, by Annapolis-based mystery writer Marcia Talley, Ives and husband, Paul, refurbish a cottage on the Eastern Shore, only to discover a mummified toddler in the chimney. That incident—coupled with a murder and near-murder—and Ives’ fortuitous work as a researcher of old, moldy, local land records, makes the mystery a page-turner, taking readers on a journey through Chesapeake Country, MD, with Big Chicken, the 1950s color line, and various cover-ups.

Talley's workspace in action. Photo by Caitlyn Mae

Talley has led Hannah Ives fans through 16 adventures, and counting. Her foray into mystery writing was a “shameless Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys rip-off” in eighth grade. Despite her English teacher’s admonition to “write what you know,” she didn’t let that stop her. She dove into Alfred Hitchcock films and kept writing crime fiction until full-time work and motherhood meant shelving the stories. Then a breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment alerted her to things she needed to finish, including mysteries to be written.

An Oberlin College alumna, Talley majored in education. At the time, women were encouraged to have something to fall back on. She taught elementary and middle school until her first pregnancy; women had to stop teaching when the baby bump became apparent, and the tent dresses worked only for so long. Talley had to go on maternity leave three months before labor. During that time, she typed catalog cards for the Bryn Mawr School library in Baltimore, the same work she’d done in college to help pay tuition. That launched her into a career as the cataloger at St. John’s College after her husband, Barry, accepted a teaching job at the US Naval Academy and the family moved to the Annapolis area in 1971.

Continue reading The Mysterious Marcia Talley.

Courtesy of UpStArt Annapolis