It’s an interesting career path to jump from appeals lawyer to mystery novelist, especially at 95 years old. But Sally Weinraub likes to keep things interesting.
The part-time Southampton resident of more than 50 years self-published her first four novels this past March: “In Six Weeks’ Time,” “Murder on the Intrepid,” “Death of a Goddess” and “Murder at the Mikvah.” All four are mystery novels featuring the character Emily Lewis, a British appeals lawyer who frequently gets wrapped up in puzzling deaths, and trials of guilt or innocence. Ms. Weinraub started writing her first mystery—what would become “Death of a Goddess”—back in 2000. So how does the 95-year-old feel about her newly established career?
“It feels very good. For me, it feels like one minute of fame,” she said with a laugh.
Ms. Weinraub is a native of Manchester, England, who came to America during World War II. After getting married and having four children, she graduated top of her class at Manhattanville College and then made the law review and moot court at Brooklyn Law School. She was an appeals lawyer for 30 years before retiring, but she says that mystery novels were always something of a hobby for her.
“I loved to read mystery novels. They were always so relaxing to me,” she said. “Agatha Christie’s work I enjoyed so much and I always thought, ‘I should try that.’”
All four of her novels feature vividly detailed, real-world settings such as the USS Intrepid, Brooklyn, Broadway and Reno. That detail comes naturally to Ms. Weinraub, considering that she’s spent various points of her life in these locations.
“The people and places in my stories are based on the people I’ve met,” Ms. Weinraub said. “Like ‘In Six Weeks’ Time’ takes place in Reno and I had to go to Reno years ago for a divorce because back then, that was one of the only places you could get a divorce. I had to stay in a, sort of, lodge, and what was nice about it was the people. The people in the book are based off of the people I met there, and the relationships people have in the book are inspired by the relationships I saw. So it was very easy to write.”
Her favorite of the four is “Murder On The Intrepid” because the iconic aircraft carrier was a frequent sight in her work commute.
“When I worked in the city, I used to pass the Intrepid. I went on board and talked to the sailors on there who told me stories about what went on when it was out to sea. I loved how it was the embattled aircraft carrier that had been sent out to sea so many times and fought so hard and came back.”
Ms. Weinraub has made Southampton her summer destination for the past 50 years, settling in a cottage fronting Little Peconic Bay. Her entire family comes to visit her bayside home to take in the summer. In fact, the waterview was one of the main reasons she made the trip to Southampton.
“My sister lived in Sag Harbor and I was very close with her, but my husband at the time wanted a place on the water, and there was this little cottage in Little Peconic Bay,” Ms. Weinraub recalled. “When we found the place, you could look out and see the whole bay. I wanted a new kitchen and he wanted a house on the water, so we got both. It was so relaxing back then. The water was crystal clear. I remember walking along where I used to live on Edgemere Drive, and walking on Hillcrest Avenue during the sunny days. I’d play tennis there too. It was like a second home.”
With four novels just released, she’s already planning her next literary move.
“I am working on a book called ‘Midnight at the Parthenon,’” she revealed. “One of the things I’ve always been interested in is the Greek mythology. One day I was at the Parthenon with my husband many years ago—this was when you could just walk along it. But one night I was walking along the pillars with my husband and the moonlight hit the pillars just right and it was so beautiful that it inspired me.”
Ms. Weinraub said it will take her “about a year” to complete the next novel, but those interested in her work will have plenty to choose from in the meantime.
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