Wednesday, March 21, 2018



Swiss-American police officer Agnes Lüthi is on leave in Lausanne, Switzerland, recovering from injuries she sustained in her last case, when an old colleague invites her to the world’s premier watch and jewelry trade show at the grand Messe Basel Exhibition Hall. Little does Agnes know, another friend of hers, Julien Vallotton, is at the same trade show—and he’s looking for Agnes. Julien Vallotton was friends with Guy Chavanon, a master of one of Switzerland’s oldest arts: watchmaking. Chavanon died a week ago, and his daughter doesn’t believe his death was accidental. Shortly before he died, Chavanon boasted that he’d discovered a new technique that would revolutionize the watchmaking industry, and she believes he may have been killed for it. Reluctantly, Agnes agrees to investigate his death. But the world of Swiss watchmaking is guarded and secretive, and before she realizes it, Agnes may be walking straight into the path of a killer.

Tracee de Hahn's next mystery, A Well-Timed Murder, is another magnetic mystery that will engross readers from the opening page to the stunning conclusion.

Book Details:

Title: A Well-Timed Murder

Author: Tracee de Hahn

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press /Minotaur Books (February 6, 2018)

Series: Agnes Luthi Mysteries #2

Page count: 340 pages

Touring with: Partners in Crime Book Tours


Tracee, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
It’s a play on words and ideas. Well-timed in how the murder occurred, and how it is investigated, and because it is a book about a dead watchmaker. Ultimately my protagonist, Agnes Lüthi, learns that timing is everything in the pursuit of criminals and love.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
A Well-Timed Murder is the second in the Agnes Lüthi series, but it can absolutely be read as a standalone. In it, we pick Agnes up in the weeks following Swiss Vendetta. She is coming off sick leave and is not quite ready to go back to work when a friend asks that she investigate the death of a watchmaker. He died as the result of anaphylactic shock from peanut allergy and the authorities have ruled it death by natural causes. However, his adult daughter isn’t convinced. Once Agnes is involved she quickly learns that the world of Swiss watchmaking is secretive, but is it deadly?

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and lived most of my life in Kentucky. I was fortunate at various times to spend several years in Europe– in Switzerland where my husband is from, and in Venice and Paris. 

Awesome! I live in Kentucky. Who would you pick to write your biography?
Someone who would ultimately not write it. I haven’t influenced the world in a way that makes me a public figure and I wouldn’t want to expose others in my life – family, friends – to the scrutiny that goes into a biography.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
I don’t believe in a redo. I suppose that if I’d caused an accident that resulted in harm to someone, or something along those lines I would absolutely think if I could do it all over again I wouldn’t have left the house that day, or I’d have hit the brakes sooner, etc. However, if you are talking about other kinds of decisions, then I think that we don’t know the consequences. There is no way to predict ‘what if’s’ so I don’t try to with redos.

If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
My dogs, first and absolutely foremost. After that, my computer since I never fully trust the cyber backup. After that the choice would be too hard, but possibly an icon from the Muscovite school that’s been in my husband’s family for centuries.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
If I could truly live anywhere I’d probably be peripatetic. Late Fall in India (preferably at the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel in Jodhpur), a winter month in an alpine ski village, then return to the States for a few months, followed by time in Switzerland – maybe a house on the square within the castle walls of Gruyères, near where my husband attended boarding school? Afterwards, late summer and fall in France, maybe a few weeks in Paris then six weeks in the countryside? Then back to the States before starting all over again.

How did you create the plot for this book?
There are so many interesting aspects of life in Switzerland, which is where my list starts. One of my husband’s childhood friends inherited his family’s watchmaking business, and I found that fascinating. From there it was a matter of saying when and where. (After all, this is a mystery so someone dies!) Baselworld is the annual trade show in Basel. Really the most prestigious watch, jewelry and gem show in the world, and that seemed a perfect setting to launch a watch-themed murder. After visiting the show and other watch-related places I developed the details of the plot, continued with research and it grew from there.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
The marquise Antoinette Vallotton de Tornay (Julien and Daniel Vallotton’s aunt) is a continuing character inspired by my mother-in-law. Both women were young during the Second World War and both were engaged in the war effort. My mother-in-law was the daughter of Swedish and Canadian diplomatic families and married a Baltic baron. These life experiences, I believe, contributed to her strong sense of duty and history. Ironically most people ask me about Agnes’s mother-in-law, usually in a whisper, afraid that SHE is based on my own mother-in-law. Thankfully, no.

One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?
If Agnes Lüthi found out I was going to kill her off she might talk her mother-in-law into asking me over for dinner. Then Agnes could slip a poison mushroom into my soup . . . possibly hoping her mother-in-law would be accused.

What book are you currently reading and in what format?
Currently I’m re-reading a few Charles Todd books (mainly from the Ian Rutledge series). I like to re-read portions of a series to look at the overarching arc of the story and see any changes in style, etc. I recently finished She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper, in hardcover and can’t say enough about this great book. On my nightstand in hardcover, The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes and The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. In paperback, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen, By Gaslight by Steven Price, and Harpoon by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M Katz.

Wow! That's a list! Do you have a routine for writing?
Panic, then get to it.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
The State Library at Potsdammer Platz in Berlin is my favorite public library – partly because of the beautiful space created by architect Hans Scharoun, and partly because of the role it played in the film Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders. The library that I would most like to call my own personal library is the 18th century Biblioteca Joanina in the historic center of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal. Today it houses a portion of their collection and is such a perfect ‘vault’ that the antique books are safe there, helped by the dense oak construction and the resident bats, who every night eat any insects that appear.

What would your dream office look like?
Pretty much like my office now. Great windows to one side with a chair in front for reading, bookcases facing my desk with some favorite pieces of art above, and a fireplace behind me. The majority of my books are on utilitarian shelves in the attic (which is a full finished floor, not a garret!). That is also my annex office– a door used as a desk, plenty of wall space to hang notes, all too far from the ground to be disturbed (plus, great windows and natural light!)

Sounds like my dream office! What are you working on now?
Agnes’s next adventure takes her from Switzerland to Paris tracking the killer of a famous chef.


There was a crowd but none of them mattered. Agnes Lüthi had eyes for only one man, the one she’d nicknamed the Roach. The one she’d only dreamt of finding in Switzerland.

She moved quickly despite her injured leg, focused on her destination, closing her umbrella when she reached the high canopy. A chain of busses discharged passengers in front of the Messe Basel Exhibition Halles, and they flowed past her toward the doors as if the world’s premier watch and jewelry show might sell out of goods if they dallied. She had never before been to Baselworld, but from the look of the well-dressed crowd judged it was a fitting place to find this particular man.

She was within grasping distance of a door handle when Marcel Aubry appeared from behind a kiosk. He was cloaked in a long, belted raincoat and had a finger pressed to his ear, listening. Before she could speak, he grasped her wrist with his free hand, and pulled her behind the advertising stand, out of sight of the glass front of the lobby.

“Slight change of plan,” Aubry said, his voice low and hurried. “The Roach is headed this way.” He frowned, listening to the voices in his earpiece.

Agnes moved closer to Aubry; it felt like stepping into a shadow. He was a big man, not exactly fat, but big enough to make her feel slim. She could hear the scratch of a voice broadcast from his earpiece, but not the words. Her pulse quickened. They’d worked together for years in financial crimes. Despite that, she’d never seen him run a field operation. This was an important arrest for him, one he’d not leave to others. She was thrilled to be included.

“Did you ever think you’d see us catch him?” Aubry said to her, still focused on the chatter in his ear.
“No, and I don’t believe it yet today.” She’d had the Roach in her grasp three times, only to have him scurry back into a crack at the last moment. All of Europe and half of Asia was looking for him. In addition to Swiss francs, he’d stolen millions of euros, yen, dollars, and pounds—all electronically. Despite his methods, she’d always believed that he occasionally appeared in person at a place he’d targeted. Now it looked as if her suspicions were proving true.

“This time he’s definitely here,” said Aubry. “Problem is, the place is littered with exits and there’s a record crowd. Feels like half the world’s come to Baselworld. Good for the economy, bad for us, since on-site security doesn’t want a fuss disturbing their clientele.” He nodded. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re here to see it.”

“I was nearby when you called. I left my mother-in-law at the Beyeler Museum like a bride at the altar. She may not forgive me.” Agnes watched the crowd stream into the building, oblivious of the police operation. Aubry had orchestrated a smooth intervention despite having to move quickly.

“Your call was the best news I’ve had in weeks,” she added. “A few days ago one of my kids accused me of missing the criminals.”

Vincent – her oldest – had phrased it more bluntly: that she liked spending time with the bad guys more than with them. Before she could protest, her youngest son had added that at least she wasn’t a criminal herself. They’d all laughed. It was true, she did miss work. Surely that wasn’t a bad message for the boys? Their father had had a strong work ethic.

Aubry pulled his wrist up and spoke into a microphone, asking a question. He looked at her. “When are you officially back on the job?”

“Three days. Monday.” She gave her wool jacket a downward tug and straightened the matching skirt. Her stint in hospital had melted a few kilos away. Nearly being killed wasn’t the easiest diet, but it was no doubt effective. A few more kilos and she would consider thanking the man who had knifed her.

Aubry held up his hand, listening to chatter in his earpiece. “Any minute now,” he whispered, as if they could be overheard. “He’s heading to the lobby. It’s perfect. Fewer civilians and more space gives us an advantage.”

“He’ll run.” Agnes shifted weight off her bad leg. Critically, she eyed the long bank of doors. The building’s sleek overhang soared across the street, sheltering trams, taxis, a restaurant, and a flower stall. She hoped Aubry really did have all exits covered. She had a vague notion that the five or six halls of the Messe Basel facility were connected by upper corridors and enclosed walkways. It was a large complex.

Aubry tapped his thigh impatiently. His gaze strayed to her leg. “How’s life in violent crimes?”

A voice sputtered in his ear and Aubry listened, sparing her the need to answer. “He’s on the move,” Aubry said quietly.

Agnes tensed.

“Now,” Aubry shouted, running to the doors and yanking one open.

Two men in suits moved from another angle and Agnes spotted their earpieces. The men broke into a half run, and a few bystanders gasped while others pulled out mobile phones set to record video. The officers pushed ahead toward the turnstiles leading to the show, and Agnes followed. Aubry put a hand to his earpiece and stopped her. He angled his head down and she could hear voices talking on top of one another. Someone yelled and Aubry flinched.

Suddenly, in the distance, car tires screeched. There was a loud thump and a scream, followed seconds later by other shouts. Agnes turned toward the noise and Aubry followed. They ran to the right side of the building, ignoring the drizzle. The side street was closed to all but exhibitors’ vehicles and Agnes pushed her way through the gathered crowd. What she saw stopped her in her tracks. Aubry, close behind, collided with her.

The street was dedicated to instruments of luxury and speed, and in the middle of the road a gleaming red Ferrari had struck a man. He lay in a shallow pool of rainwater a meter from the front bumper. Both car and man were broken. The hood of the car was dented and smeared with blood. The man’s leg was angled midcalf, and the fabric of his pants was split by a bone. Blood spilled from the back of his head, pooling around his hair, missing with rain and running in rivulets to the curb. Agnes recognized the man immediately. She put a hand to her mouth. A second glance at the unique shape of his ears confirmed it: the Roach.


Excerpt from A Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn. Copyright © 2018 by Tracee de Hahn. Reproduced with permission from Tracee de Hahn. All rights reserved.


Tracee de Hahn is author of the Agnes Lüthi mysteries, which were inspired by her years living in Switzerland. Prior to writing full time she practiced architecture and was head of university alumni relations at a major west coast university. She and her Swiss-architect husband live in southwest Virginia with their Jack Russell Terriers.

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