To Slip The Bonds of Earth

Katharine Wright Mystery Book 1

Amanda Flower

Kensington Pub

March 26th, 2024

To Slip the Bonds of Earth by Amanda Flower is another winner. This book was a blend of historical fiction and cozy mystery, spotlighting the sister of the Wright brothers. The story weaves historical facts into a clever murder mystery. Like her famous brothers, Katharine is a woman ahead of her time.

Katharine is innovative, like her brothers, but not with gadgets, but in solving crimes. Living in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, she runs a bicycle shop and teaches Latin, while being a mother figure to her brothers, even though she is the younger sister. An intelligent woman, she is a hard-worker, strong-willed, and capable.  She is both a traditional and progressive woman with courage and drive.

The story has Orville and Wilbur Wright coming home to Dayton for Christmas. After having been invited to a Christmas Party Katharine decides to attend to discuss a lazy student, Benny Shaw, with his parents , who are hosting the party, and to attend with her best friend, Agnes, who wants her support.  Because she wants to be escorted, she talks her brother Orville to go with her. Unfortunately, he took the only copy of the unpatented flyer plans and placed them in his coat pocket. 

At the party, Orville is baited by an old schoolmate, Herman Wheeler to participate in some games where he ends up getting mocked.  After having taken off his jacket, Orville discovers the airplane’s designs are missing.  To make matters worse, Herman is found covered in blood and dead with one of Orville’s screwdrivers covered in blood. Also, covered in blood is Benny Shaw who becomes the suspect after being discovered hiding in the room. Katharine feels it is her responsibility to clear her student and find the flying machine’s plans.

This mystery seems very realistic and plausible. There were twists at the end that readers will not anticipate. Katharine makes for a unique and engaging amateur sleuth. A bonus are the funny scenes that relieves some of the plot’s tension.

Elise Cooper: Have you started your own genre where you take women from history and make them amateur sleuths?

Amanda Flower: Yes. It started with the Emily Dickinson series and now the publisher has asked if I would start another one. This book features Katharine Wright, the sister of the Wright Brothers. Her brothers are household names, while she is not well known even though she is very involved with their success. I will probably be writing other series with other women. My parameters are American history, a woman, and a time period from 1812 to 1920. The woman might not be prominent, someone people do not know that much about, which allows me to have some liberty.  

EC:  How did you get the idea for the story?

AF:  I knew I wanted to pick a woman from Ohio which is where I live.  Katharine is really from a middle-class family that did not come from money and worked for everything they had. She was part of a different socio-economic class than Emily Dickinson. To me, in some ways she was more interesting than her brothers.

EC:  How would you describe Katharine?

AF: Very outgoing and independent.  She traveled by herself, had many friends, and later in life was a big supporter of a woman’s right to vote. Her brothers were soft spoken and quiet, so she became their spokesperson. She is also intellectual, opinionated, an observer, confident, conversationalist, and self-assured.

EC:  How did she interact with her brothers’ lives?

AF:  She is kind of like an older sister even though she is the youngest.  She was also a loyal and caring sister. In her letters she refers to her brothers as “the boys.” Their mother died when she was fifteen and she became the lady of the house including taking on the motherly role. After she became a teacher, she embodied the motherly aspect of teachers. Her brothers were very shy and did not like social settings, so she took over.  She was extroverted while they were introverts. The brothers were encouraged by her to invent and tinker with objects.

EC: What was fictional in the story?

AF: The murder, the Shaw family, and the victim Herman Wheeler are all fictional. 

EC:  How would you describe Herman?

AF:  He was not nice and had bad business practices. He is smug, unkind, manipulative, and likes the quick fix.

EC: What was the role of the missing papers with calculations?

AF:  This was a very real fear of the brothers. They applied for the patent early 1903 and it was not approved until 1906.  Those three years they were afraid someone would figure out how to power flights.  I used it to make Orville Wright a suspect.  It also showed the dynamics of the family.

EC: What about your other book, Crime and Cherry Pits?

AF:  I wanted it to be different than the Amish Candy books.  The family is very dysfunctional with a lot of tension. It focuses on how to keep a family business afloat in a rural setting. Across the series the focus is how to save the farm.  The cherry festival is very real. It happens every year and people sell cherry items.  It is a beautiful part of Michigan.

EC:  Next books?

AF: Gingerbread Danger comes out in October, the next Candy Shop Amish book. This will have Bailey’s Candy Factory up and running.  There will be a Christmas in Harvest with a giant Candy Land game. One of Bailey’s workers falls off the factory roof, while trying to put up a Candy Land character. February 2025 the third Emily Dickinson book comes out, titled I Died for Beauty. In the summer/fall 2025 will be another Katharine Wright novel titled, Natural Barn Killer.  There will be another Amish Matchmaker coming out late 2025. 




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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.