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WIU Emeritus Professor Pens Seventh Anne Cartier Mystery Novel

September 9, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - Charles O'Brien, emeritus professor of European history at Western Illinois University, has continued his successful career as a historical novelist with the release of his latest work, "Assassins' Rage" (Severn House, 2008).

The seventh book in his series of Anne Cartier mystery novels, "Assassins' Rage," takes place in Paris, France in July 1789. Character Anne Cartier is joined by Colonel Paul de Saint-Martin and called to investigate a series of assassinations of royal officers and the murder of a baker. Anne and Paul uncover several suspects and evidence of a mastermind behind the murders.

A Booklist (May 2008) review said: "[‘Assassin's Rage' is] another sparkling historical mystery in this popular series set in 18th-century France. As always, O'Brien has meticulously researched the setting and turned a simple murder mystery into a gripping historical read, rife with far-reaching context."

O'Brien's transition to mystery writing began in 1988, six years before he retired from WIU, during his commuting from west-central Illinois to Williamstown, MA, where his wife Elvy, an art historian, had moved to accept a position with the J. Paul Getty Trust, then at the Clark Art Institute.

"I wanted to make use of time on board (trains and planes) and in airports. Many of my fellow passengers were reading crime novels. I thought why not exploit my fund of historical settings and write a historical mystery," O'Brien explained.

"The hardest thing was to back away from academic writing and into true fiction, and write a thriller instead of a research paper," said O'Brien in a Publishers Weekly article. "I retooled my mind to think as a novelist, to have my characters experience events, rather than me describing [events]."

O'Brien's character, Anne Cartier, plays a pivotal role not only in his new book, "Assassins' Rage," but in the six previous books he has released as well. She was first introduced in 2001 in "Mute Witness" and since then, "Black Gold" (2002), "Noble Blood" (2004), "Lethal Beauty" (2005), "Fatal Carnival" (2006) and "Cruel Choices" (2007).

For more information, visit O'Brien's website at

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