As one of the original Pinkerton Matchmaker authors, I vividly recall a conversation we had regarding telephones and how we laughingly lamented the fact that in our stories, they hadn’t been invented yet. How much more convenient it would have been for our characters to have access to one! But since these stories mostly were taking place in the 1871, and on into 1872, oh well. We—and our characters—would get by.
That conversation took place two years ago when this series was new and gaining popularity. Now, as it begins winding down, we’ve have many cases solved and many couples matched, all at the behest of head agent, Archibald Gordon and his assistant and now wife, Marianne. But the fun isn’t finished yet. There are still a few more Pinkerton Matchmaker stories scheduled to release this summer, and all of them are sure to be exciting—much like the way it was when all of these wonderful gadgets like the telephone were being invented. Imagine if you had lived during that time. Would you have felt the excitement, too, or do you think you might have been wondering if those newfangled things would actually work? For me, probably a little bit of both.
But like Laura Ingalls Wilder, who saw both the horse and buggy days as well as the advent of motor vehicles, I think I would have been awestruck by the ingenuity of the times. This is a facet of life that I enjoy incorporating into my stories, and my upcoming Pinkerton Matchmaker story, An Agent for Sarah, is no exception. This story takes place six years later than the original stories. In 1879, I discovered, Denver, Colorado received telephone lines for the first time. Two recent Harvard graduates, Frederick O. Vaille and Henry R. Walcott, partnered with saloonkeeper Sam Morgan and applied for a franchise of the American Bell Telephone Company (think Alexander Graham Bell) from Boston. They received it, and on February 24, 1879, the Denver Telephone Dispatch Company was born. These Bell-inspired telephones were all the rage, and it seemed that progress was being made to keep family and friends who were long distances apart in touch.
But then a second telephone company sprang up, this one called the Colorado Edison Telephone Company, inspired by—you guessed it—Thomas Edison. His improvements on the transmitters made it possible for the Western Union-owned company to install phones in surrounding areas. Vaille and Walcott didn’t like this, of course, so they sued for infringement on the patent and won. Soon the two companies merged and, over a series of turnovers and share sales, became the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company. A few of the buildings that were used in the intermountain region still exist today and are on the national historic register.
Though not a huge part of the plot in An Agent for Sarah, this rivalry does play a significant role. My couple, Mark Wilson and Sarah Packard, are not your typical Pinkerton couple, either. For one, Sarah isn’t even a Pinkerton agent yet and doesn’t become one until the end of the story. Mark, her friend from childhood, is dismayed when she becomes engaged to another man. Since Mark and Sarah are both from Virginia (they were minor characters in An Agent for Jessica), I had to figure out a way to get them both to Denver. I accomplished this by making Sarah engaged to a man from Denver who had gone back East to buy horses from their renowned horse-breeding business. Mark, on the other hand, is so distraught over this development that at his mentor’s urging, who used to be a Pinkerton agent under Archie, Mark moves to Denver to seek employment there. Little does he know, nor is he prepared, when he and another agent are assigned to catch the person who’s trying to sabotage Sarah’s wedding.
How does the telephone rivalry play into this? Well, the groom’s father is a magnate, and he has his hand in a lot of pies. One of them is the newfangled telephone. When an unknown enemy starts using guerilla-style tactics to stop the wedding, he thinks it’s his rival. But that is only one of the strange things that is happening to his family. Will Mark and Sarah be able to uncover the real culprit in time?
An Agent for Sarah releases on June 5, 2020. It’s available as a preorder if you’d like to grab your copy now. That way it will download immediately on release day. Talk about modern conveniences! I hope you will enjoy Mark and Sarah’s story. They really have waited a long time to be together. When he rescued her in An Agent for Jessica, readers clamored for their love story. I’m happy that it’s finally here!