Durham's Bridget Finnegan has written her debut novel and it is set in a fictional version of historic Portsmouth.

"Odette's: A Quality Men's Club" features the lead character Jessamyn Jakes, a prostitute turned detective who investigates the death of her former lover.

Together with her adopted adult daughter, Sarah, Jessamyn unravels the disappearance while uncovering other mysteries along the way.

The novel takes place in 1854 and includes some familiar landmarks, such as Market Square.

Finnegan said it was a challenge to balance the fictional writing and the historic nature of the city.

"I was kind of trying to capture what I thought Portsmouth would be like in that time period so it wouldn't read like fantasy, and it would resonate, and people would be able to recognize some of the areas, but they also wouldn't be trying to find Pulpit Street, for instance. Water Street did exist. Marcy Street is what was Water Street, so a few of the things are still there," Finnegan said.

To create her characters, Finnegan said she did not do a lot of preplanning. She would let them develop and go back and "rewrite, rewrite and rewrite."

Courtesy of Bridget Finnegan
Courtesy of Bridget Finnegan

Finnegan said the reaction from people who have read the book has been positive.

"It's been overwhelmingly positive. I've been very excited. And I've received feedback from a wide variety of people. One of the first people who reached out to me is a 70-year-old man who loved the book and I was really thrilled with that because I just was unsure when I was writing it if it was going to be something that would just be for women or something like that," Finnegan said.

Finnegan has also heard from a member of the LGBTQ community who told her the gay characters were treated with respect and as fully realized humans.

"That was something I was really striving for so I really appreciated that," Finnegan said.

The book is 429 pages long.

Finnegan, who is also an illustrator, is known for her children's book, "Lake: A Loony Winnipesaukee Duck Tale."

For more information, visit www.bridgetfinnegan.com.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com.

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