Alec Peche is the author of twelve books split between two mystery series, her Jill Quint, MD Forensic Pathologist series and her Damian Greene series. Today she joins us to discuss the origins of the former. Learn more about Alec and her books at her website.
The Origins of Jill Quint, MD Forensic Pathologist
When I set out to write my first mystery story, I didn't know enough about law enforcement to feel comfortable with writing a cop as my main character. I was unaware of the cozy category of mystery novels. If I had heard of that sub-genre, I might have gone a different direction with my character.
Jill Quint, MD lives in the Central Valley of California growing the Muscat grape and producing Moscato wine. She resigned from working in a Crime Lab, tired of the endless paperwork and court testimony to pursue her second passion of being a vintner. Along the way, cases began to be referred to her for an autopsy for a second opinion on the cause of death. Now she gets referrals several times a year across the United States and Internationally. She has three friends who join her on cases bringing their own skills. Jo is an accountant and always looks for the money motive. Marie is a social media maven and does the background checks on the victim and suspects. Angela is the photographer and interviewer, able to ease secrets out of anyone. Marie, Jo, and Angela are based loosely on friends in real life.
In a previous life, I worked in a health care setting, and when we sat down to discuss the quality of care a patient received, there would occasionally be a pathologist in the room. I also have a friend with a niece who is a forensic pathologist and has worked in New Orleans and NYC. I was fortunate enough to have her tour me through the Coroner's office. Plus, I'll admit I loved CSI: Miami.
So now my character has a way to get involved in cases. Through the nine books, she's grown her reputation and along the way studied and obtained a PI license. Some homicide cases begin with Dr. Quint receiving a phone call by a family member to request that second opinion. In a few cases, Jill and her team have been on the scene when a murder is committed.
On the vineyard side, Dr. Quint has released 2-3 vintages, while perfecting organic insecticide and herbicides in her lab on her property that doubles to do analytical work for her cases. She explored opening a tasting room but is holding off on that at the moment. Her latest case takes her to Sicily, which has a hot and dry climate similar to California's Central Valley. While in Catania, she evaluated planting the Nero d'Avola grape. Jill likes the sweetness of Moscato wine, yet the Nero d'Avola grape makes a dry red wine. Fortunately, during the Sicilian case, she sampled lots of wine made from that grape and feels she can make her own Nero d'Avola wine.
Jill Quint has a partner – Nathan Conroy. He's a wine label maker, a job that I thought I'd invented. Dummy me saw an article in the WSJ regarding a woman who was a wine label maker. So I guess the profession exists for real. Jill has a dog, Trixie, while Nathan has a cat named Arthur. In my mind, Jill is in her mid-forties, and I don't know if she and Nathan will ever marry – it hasn't popped into a book yet!
Jill Quint, MD Forensic Pathologist, Book 9
Jill's been called to do an autopsy in Sicily, Italy. The man is an American CEO of a herbal product company and was found dead in a Mount Etna crater. The Italian authorities labeled his death as 'unnatural' but did not perform an autopsy as they assumed his death was due to a fall. Dr. Quint proves that it's not, and the search begins for the motive for his murder. Was it personal, or was it due to a product his company makes?