Independent-minded Quaker midwife Rose Carroll navigates troubled times. When she’s not delivering babies, she’s sleuthing. Actually, the two activities go hand in hand.
The inimitable Carroll probes a young mother’s death in “Charity’s Burden,” Amesbury author Edith Maxwell’s latest book, the fourth in her Quaker Murder Mysteries series and 17th novel overall.
Her first mystery was “Speaking of Murder,” written in the fall of 2012 under the pen name Tace Baker.
Maxwell will launch “Charity’s Burden” on Friday night at Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport, joined by Somerville author J.A. Hennrikus, who’ll be unveiling her book “With a Kiss I Die” at the joint mystery event.
Maxwell talked writing and her new novel in an interview last week at the dining room table at home, a late 19th-century New Englander built near downtown for mill employees.
Her main character, the 20-something Carroll, rides her bicycle around town and lives in a house exactly like this one. In fact, it is this very house, said Maxwell, who abides by the writing precept: “Write what you know.”
Carroll attends Quaker Meeting at Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse, located to this day on Friend Street and once attended by poet John Greenleaf Whittier.
Maxwell is also a Quaker and attends the meetinghouse.
Maxwell, who has a doctorate in linguistics, lends her stories greater authenticity by using language from the times she portrays.
“I love to look up words,” she said. She seeks their etymology.
What the author doesn’t know about the era she writes of here — the late 1880s — she finds out by delving into local history, maps and directories.
From these and other resources, Maxwell can set her characters in an accurate rendition of daily life. The food they ate, their modes of transportation, the emerging technologies they used, the streets they lived on, the investigative strictures that police adhered to.
What the author doesn’t know about her characters she finds out from the characters themselves.
Her greatest fun is following her characters where they lead, and being surprised by them.
Maxwell has several mystery series underway, each in a particular niche.
All are “cozies,” mysteries that refrain from profanity, sex and violence. They still take place — but off the page.
Maxwell presents topics that were controversial at the time, and now.
“Charity’s Burden” deals with birth control, which was illegal, though people still used condoms and herbals. The book also broaches the topic of abortion.
Jabberwocky’s owner, Sue Little, expects a full house Friday.
Maxwell has launched several of her books at the store and has a strong fan base. Her dry humor and engaging manner is entertaining, Little said.
“We usually have a lot of back-and-forth — about the writing and publishing process,” Little said. “And a lot of people are interested in the creative process.”
Maxwell said that she and Hennrikus will interview each other at the event. They will also host a Q&A with the audience.
If you go
What: Joint book launch with Edith Maxwell and J.A. Hennrikus
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Jabberwocky Bookshop, The Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water St., Newburyport
How much: Free. Books available for sale.
More information: 978-465-9359