Lucy Sussex was born in New Zealand in 1957. She has degrees in English and Librarianship from Monash University, and is a freelance researcher, editor and writer. She has published widely, writing anything from literary criticism to horror and detective stories. In addition she is a literary archaeologist, rediscovering and republishing the nineteenth-century Australian crime writers Mary Fortune and Ellen Davitt. Her short story, `My Lady Tongue' won a Ditmar (Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award) in 1988. In 1994 she was a judge for the international Tiptree award, which honours speculative fiction exploring notions of gender. Her first adult novel, The Scarlet Rider, is about biography, Victorian detective fiction, voodoo and a ghost.
Mel is an unemployed recent university graduate when she runs into her almost-stepmother, Nola, whom she had last seen at her father's funeral. Nola offers her a job as a literary detective--find out who wrote The Scarlet Rider, so the press Nola works for, which publishes only female writers, can publish the book. Mel is sworn to secrecy, and particularly warned about a fellow-researcher who has his own plans for the book. If he's the villain of the piece, it's a very everyday villainy, a reminder of the saying that academic politics are vicious because the stakes are so small. In the course of researching Victorian literature, police, and gold-mining, Mel finds out quite a bit about her own past.
Nothing shocking--this is a novel in the old-fashioned sense, not a work of horror.