THE DEVLIN DIARY is set in England however, in two time periods, as the reader finds parallel stories taking place. In London, during the 17th Century, there is Hannah, while Claire lives in 2008. Their stories are indeed unique and yet they entwine making one grand mix of mystery.
Hannah Devlin treats the sick because her father was a physician and she wants to carry on his life’s work. However, women are not allowed to be practicing physicians in those days and so it is mainly the poor that she ministers. But all that changes when she is asked to come to court to treat a mistress of Louis de Keroualle. Because of all the odd and devious things that she finds when she is there, she begins a diary written in code about all she sees. When arcane symbols are found on two murder victims, Hannah becomes part of a major conspiracy that is thought to have taken place between Hannah’s father and the king.
Meanwhile, Claire Donovan is working as a professor of history in Cambridge in 2008 and learns of the diary that may contain valuable information but someone else has found it and is using it for his own gains. Claire discovers that someone wants to keep this secret so much that they will kill for its safety. She is working with Andrew Kent, a historian, when they discover a colleague murdered and are led to believe that the murder is associated with the very last person to have been involved with the diary, Hannah Devlin. They follow the clues they gain from their research and discover that what happened with Hannah Devlin years past may still be a problem today.
The story evolves into a twisted plot from both time periods and I enjoyed the perplexing mystery that only solving the puzzles and code would resolve. Claire and Andrew begin to wonder if the two mysteries are somehow linked from the past to their current time. How can a book written so long ago still hold the answers to solving a present day problem? Is something in common happening? Do both women solve their mysteries?
I found that the romance and mystery blended well and kept my interest although I was surprised that the earlier story was much more to my liking. All the characters are well written and believable. The best part for me was I figured out who did it before the end which is unusual for me. I recommend this book especially for book clubs as it would surely bring about a lively discussion.
Welcome to Christi Phillips, author of THE DEVLIN DIARY.
1. Can you tell us anything about the next or current book you are working on?
My next book takes place in seventeenth-century France. This one will be set entirely in the past.
2. What have you just finished reading?
I just finished “Revenge of the Spellmans” by Lisa Lutz. It was charming, funny, suspenseful and poignant.
3. What books would you say made the biggest impression on you, especially starting out?
The books I read as a child had the most influence on me. I knew I wanted to be a writer by the time I was ten.
4. What gets you started on a new book?
A new character. Even though I set my books in other times and other places, it’s the character who drives the story and makes it compelling for me. In part, I write the book to find out who she is, what motivates her? What’s going to happen to her, what is she going to do?
5. What is something about you that you would want people to know about you that we probably don’t know?
I’m a very happy person who feels lucky to be doing what I love-writing novels.
6. What is your best advice to anyone, including young people, who want to be writers?
Read as much as you can. Read everything. Read outside your comfort zone. Then write as much as you can. Don’t get too caught up in others’ criticism or praise of your work. Develop your own sense of what’s good: what works for you as a writer and what’s pleasing to you as a reader. Even though others can help you, guide you and offer suggestions, ultimately, you’ll have to rely on your own judgment.
Thank you so much to Christi Phillips for taking time from her busy schedule to answer my questions.