Wednesday, May 2, 2018



The fourth book in what the Globe and Mail has proclaimed as “a terrific series” by “a writer to watch.”

Summer descends over the picturesque King’s Cove as Darling and Lane’s mutual affection blossoms, but their respite from solving crime is cut short when a British government official arrives in Nelson to compel Darling to return to England for questioning about the death of a rear gunner under his command in 1943.

In Darling’s absence, Ames oversees the investigation into the suspicious death of a local elderly woman and uncovers a painful betrayal inflicted forty years earlier. Meanwhile, Lane follows Darling to London, where he is charged with murder and faces hanging. While desperately seeking answers, Lane is presented with a desperate proposal that could save the man she loves, but only if she returns to the very life she sought to leave behind.


Title: It Begins in Betrayal

Author’s name: Iona Whishaw

Genre: Mystery

Series: A Lane Winslow Mystery, book #4

Publisher: TouchWood Editions (May 1, 2018)

Page count: 352 pages


Iona, what’s the story behind the title of your book? 
It is a book about betrayal, both personal betrayal that leads to the tragic disintegration of a family, and the betrayal of officials who are willing to sacrifice individuals for some ‘greater’ goal.  I liked the idea of ‘beginning’ and how lives can be changed and unfold in terrible ways when there has been a betrayal.

It Begins in Betrayal is the fourth in a series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order? 

Each book can indeed be read on its own, but like many of my favourite series, the reader is rewarded with a long and interesting development of the relationships of the characters through the books if they start at the beginning.  I certainly know of readers who’ve come on board at the second or third book and have hurried back to read the preceding ones!

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
The main character was certainly inspired by my own mother, who was a great beauty as a young woman, and did some work in intelligence during the war.  She was incredibly resourceful and brave, and at least twice during my lifetime, managed to stave off murderous attacks by talking down the attackers. Her father in the stories is absolutely based on my grandfather, who was a spy through both wars and a very difficult and cold man. A number of the residents of King’s Cove are composites of the quite elderly residents whom I knew and loved as a small child in a community very like the one I describe. I think I bring them in because it is a way of remembering a world that has long since gone.

Is your book based on real events?
The specific events are made up, of course, but the historical context of all my books is real enough.  The changing role of women, the relationships between groups like the Anglo settlers and the Russian-speaking Dukhobors, the shifting international politics that meant that Canada, which had been allied with Russia during the war, suddenly found itself full of Russian spies as the west settled in to fight off the Communist menace. In England just after the war many detectives from Scotland Yard were deployed to the war office to sort out wartime crimes. Inspector Darling’s troubles in the book are based on the fact that crimes do take place under the cover of war, and the circumstances of the death of his rear gunner have suddenly looked suspicious to someone.

Are you like any of your characters?
I do not imagine that I am like any of my characters, though I am sure that my main character, Lane Winslow, has many of my own attitudes, though I am certain I lack her bravery. Because I am bilingual in Spanish, I understand the vastly expanded power of being able to communicate with people in their own languages, though she is a much better linguist than I ever hope to be!

How did you create the plot for this book?
As you know, there are people who are plotters and people who are not, and I place no value judgement on either type, as I have favourite authors in both camps. I write, I think, primarily about character, about people and what happens to them. As I explore this, I begin to learn why it’s happened, and I, and my detecting characters, can see the story unfolding as a series of choices and inevitabilities. In It Begins in Betrayal, I wanted to see what circumstance I could create where Lane Winslow would save Inspector Darling and be able to use all her experience, intelligence, and resources to do it. That meant putting her back in her wartime element of dealing with British intelligence.

What are you working on now?
I’m doing the next drafts of the book that follows this one, which will be called A Sorrowful Sanctuary and am beginning to think about my sixth book in the series.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing?
It was quite a devastating experience actually! I had been admitted to the distinguished MFA writing program at UBC, already in my forties and was among a very smart group of people much younger than me. The first time I produced a short story for group discussion, one of the participants threw it aside and said, “I don’t even know how you got into this program.” But I was surprised by my response. I expected I would simply give up and retreat from the field, but instead I thought hard about why she said that, and I dug deeper into what was real in my world, and I wrote a story about an early childhood experience in Mexico that had been quite traumatic. I was rewarded by the same woman saying to me, “I wish I had written that.” 

Do you have a routine for writing?

I do. I write every morning during the week, and often on one weekend day. I usually wake up early, meditate briefly, have a cup of tea and then procrastinate with my on-line subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post.  Once I’ve concluded that the real world is intolerable, I begin to write. I don’t believe in ‘inspiration’ and don’t struggle with not being able to write. I have a theory that you don’t know what you think until you write, so that keeps me quite entertained until breakfast at 10:30 or 11:00. I rarely do creative writing in the afternoon.  

Where did you grow up?
As a very young child in the Kootenays in a tiny community like the one I write about, then until I was a teenager we lived in various parts of Mexico. I lived in Tucson through high school.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
I worked with disadvantaged teens for the first twenty years of my working life and was a teacher and principal for the last twenty five years before I retired, and I have learned that kindness is absolutely the bedrock of all that matters.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
I read this recently somewhere, and I think it is a great thing that I wish someone had told me: that I am smarter than I think, and braver than I feel, and more lovable than I imagine. But also that your brain has plasticity and that one continues to grow and learn and be better at things long into older age.

That's very encouraging! You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
I’d like to end with this one, because in some ways it is this character that makes me want to write.  I would be Lizzie Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She is plucky and smart, kind and independent, and she exists in a fictional green and pleasant period just before the real impact of the industrial revolution threw society into noisy turmoil. I would love to spend one day in that, to us unimaginable, world. She is willing to sacrifice the only security a woman of small means had in that time–marriage, rather that marry any man she cannot respect or love. I always think that if she hadn’t married Darcy, she’d have made a go of it, just like her wonderful creator.


- A Killer in King’s Cove (#1) 

- Death in a Darkening Mist (#2)

- An Old, Cold Grave (#3)


Iona Whishaw was born in British Columbia. After living her early years in the Kootenays, she spent her formative years living and learning in Mexico, Nicaragua, and the US. She traveled extensively for pleasure and education before settling in the Vancouver area. Throughout her roles as youth worker, social worker, teacher, and award-winning high school principal, her love of writing remained consistent and compelled her to obtain her master’s in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. Iona has published short fiction, poetry, poetry translation, and one children’s book, Henry and the Cow Problem. A Killer in King’s Cove was her first adult novel. Her heroine, Lane Winslow, was inspired by Iona’s mother who, like her father before her, was a wartime spy.

Connect with Iona:
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Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Indiebound