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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cupboards All Bared, Book 2 in the Spokane Clock Tower Mysteries, will be enjoying a special event care of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

A house in Browne’s Addition ignited an idea that spawned a series of historical mysteries.

When Patricia Meredith visited the home, a docent pointed out a small door outside the house that led to a wood chute.

“That would be a way to break into a house,” she thought. And the Red Rogue, a thief in her first novel, “Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Taker,” sprang to life.

The novel is the first in an envisioned 12-book series, “The Spokane Clock Tower Mysteries.” Book two, “Cupboards All Bared” (IngramSpark, 2022) recently debuted and will be celebrated at an event at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture on Saturday .

Before writing her own novels, Meredith, a graduate of Whitworth University, edited over 20 novels and miscellaneous publications, working with magazines, businesses, and publishers on a variety of projects from art books to fantasy novels – but mysteries have always attracted her.

“I’m a huge fan of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers and I read a lot of them during the pandemic,” she said.

She also loves history and research, and after that tour of the Campbell House, decided to write a series set in Spokane in 1901.

“Spokane has so much history, but 1901 history has many holes in it,” she said.

Meredith knew the Clocktower in Riverfront Park was built for the Great Northern Railroad depot and finished in 1902, so she created the character of Archie Prescot, a clock designer who travels to Spokane in 1901 to research the project.

In “Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Taker,” Archie’s patroness is found dead in the workshop of his new colleagues. Her grand home on the South Hill provides ample suspects, as Archie works with his lodgers, twin brothers (and police detectives) Thomas and Bernard Carew, to find the killer. While on the hunt for the murderer, romance crops up with a young lady with a mysterious past of her own.

“The Carew brothers are the only fictional characters in the Spokane Police Department,” said Meredith. “The others are real.”

The story of Prescot, the Carew twins, and love interest Marian Kenyon, continues in book two, “Cupboards All Bared,” with a new mystery.

Set in the month following book one, this novel was inspired by the true story of President William McKinley’s canceled plans to visit Amasa and Helen Campbell.

Meredith said the idea for the second book “came out of nowhere” when she read in newspaper archives that President McKinley had planned to visit Spokane in 1901.

“It was right in my time period,” she said. “There were so many articles about the visit and then the president’s wife got sick and they didn’t come. But what if he just missed an assignation attempt?”

“Cupboards All Bared” launches with the discovery of a body in Hangman Creek. It looks like the result of an accidental fall, but what begins as a simple mystery for Thomas Carew and his twin brother, Bernard, quickly becomes complicated, including implications that tie in with the bombings at the Idaho mines, and perhaps President McKinley’s planned visit.

The book takes place in May 1901. McKinley was assassinated in September.

Meredith plans to write 12 “Spokane Clock Tower Mysteries” each one set a month apart. The third volume is due out in October. The books are available in print, e-book and audio formats, and can be purchased locally at Auntie’s Bookstore, Wishing Tree Books, Page 42, Second Look Books and the Well Read Moose in Coeur d’Alene.

“Every book starts with Spokane history,” she said.

Most of her research is done at the Ferris Archives, next to the MAC.

“It’s a lot of work, but I get so excited when I find these loopholes in history. Filling them in is the best part of writing these books,” Meredith said. “Connecting the past to the present through historical fiction reminds us how connected we are to the past and how it keeps influencing and inspiring our present.”