K. D. Hays is the pseudonym of writer Kate Dolan whose normal writing realm is historical romance. She
has begun a fine new contemporary mystery series that is well rooted in history. The first book, George
Washington Stepped Here, introduces secretary-cum-private investigator Karen Maxwell, who is offered
her first real case in her brother's PI agency. She must find out who stole the purported George Washington
artifacts at the 1776 House, a museum and living history site. Karen goes undercover as a volunteer docent,
dressing up in period clothing and helping visitors learn about household tasks in Colonial days. It would
have been easy to do on her own, but she's had to convince her two children that this is a wonderful way to
spend a Saturday, something she knows won't compete with the more exotic adventures her ex-husband takes
them on every other weekend. Though Karen has been divorced for several years, she still can't seem to make
a life for herself— that is, until she meets Brian Kieffer, another docent who's the site's hunky
blacksmith. Needless to say, all kinds of sparks fly.
George Washington Stepped Here is a charming cozy with some very memorable characters. One in
particular is Karen's slob of a brother who is supposed to be a crackerjack PI, but no one would know it
the way his personal office looks or the way he doesn't seem to know what's happening in his own office.
Karen is much needed as his secretary and office manager— and if she has success in this first job,
she just might become his partner.
As with all of her other books, the author has certainly done her research. I found the different
activities that Karen participated in as a docent fascinating. I've known a number of re-creators, usually
people who participate in the Society for Creative Anachronism, an organization devoted to recreating life
before the Renaissance, usually in England. I even know one re-creator who becomes a Scottish mountain man
of the colonial era and has immersed himself in the costuming, music, and bawdy stories of that time period.
I could really understand why some of the docents in George Washington Stepped Here were so very
particular about being authentic.
K. D. Hays has a great start on a very unusual mystery series that offers doses of both modern life and
history. Very well done! The second installment,
Worth Its Weight in Old,
came out in December 2008.