After trying her hand at various jobs including telemarketer for a funeral home, Jacqueline Vick combined satirical humor and the quirks of her ginger mutt to create the Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mysteries. She is also the author of the Harlow Brother mysteries, as well as some standalone novels. She currently resides in Southern California with her husband. Join her Mystery Buffs Newsletter to keep up on the latest news, or check her out on Instagram.
Thank you, Jackie Houchin, for allowing me to take your spot this week on Writers in Residence and all of the WinRs for having me on your blog. I’m here to give a brief etiquette lesson.
In my Harlow Brothers mystery series, manners rule. Usually. Edward Harlow secretly writes the Aunt Civility etiquette books, and as her official representative and public face, he has to be up on proper behavior. His younger brother, Nicholas, who is also his secretary…not so much.
My description of good manners agrees with Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart on pornography: “I know it when I see it.” If you get more specific, you’ll find not everyone agrees on what constitutes proper etiquette.
- In Brazil, eating with your hands is bad manners. Even a sandwich.
- If your business meeting is in Germany, you should allow the eldest person to enter the room first.
- In Japan or India, avoid using the word “no”.
- In Australia, punctuality is important.
Still not clear? Here are a few examples of proper – and improper – behavior.
In the following example, Cary Grant shows good self control when he remembers, after pulling a fist, that a man should not punch a lady.
Never try to talk with your mouth full. (Even when you are facing a killer who looks like Boris Karloff.)
Under no circumstances is is okay to play with your food.
Now that we’re clear on the rules, is it ever okay to break them?
In Deadly Decorum, the third Harlow Brothers mystery, Edward is the celebrity guest at a weekend charity fundraiser. When a board member is killed, he comes perilously close to losing everything, including his manners, when a killer decides he doesn’t want the Harlow Brothers investigating the crime and threatens everything dear to him.
Deadly Decorum comes out on May 19, 2021.