Cozy mysteries are all the rage now. And I can see why. What a fun way to spend a few hours reading. Welcome my guest, Kate Fellowes with a great post about her latest.
Many thanks to Brenda for allowing me to drop by her blog today. While I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember, it isn’t often I have a chance to talk about a new novel.
A Menacing Brew, (Fire Star Press, 2020), is my sixth book, and my first cozy mystery. My earlier titles were romantic mysteries, where one of the questions in the plot was always “Is he going to kiss her or is he going to kill her?”
That’s not an issue with A Menacing Brew, where Barbara York and her adult daughter Amy become the most amateur of sleuths when Barbara is named a suspect in the death of her old friend from college. These two women are very different people and have never seen eye-to-eye on much. But Amy is a Designated Daughter—the one who can be relied upon to help out when needed and do what needs to be done. In this case, she is also the only daughter, so she always feels the pressure to be useful to her mother.
And so, they end up far from home, in a strange house, with a dead man in the basement.
Frankly, I’m surprised it took me this long to write a cozy mystery, because cozies are my current favorite reading material. I love the sense of community I feel as a reader, when book follows book in a series. I enjoy getting to know the citizens of the town and see how the author showcases individual characters from one story to the next, so everyone gets some time in the limelight of crime, if you will. If there are libraries or bookstores and cats or dogs included, so much the better.
I’ve heard it said readers like mysteries because the plots create order out of chaos, something I’ll bet we all wish we could do in real life, especially this year. I like that philosophy, but it ignores the mental challenge of trying to solve the puzzle myself. There’s no better feeling than my gasp of surprise when the perpetrator is revealed at the end of a book and it’s a character I hadn’t even considered. Looking back, their guilt is obvious, but authors hide the clues so well I am frequently stumped. Thank goodness. If I could guess the ending, I know I’d feel disappointed.
The first time I sat down to write a novel, I crafted an outline to guide me through the plot. Holding the outline in my hand later, I was disappointed because I knew how the story would end. Where was the fun in that? Of course, over the time it took to actually craft the book, I veered from that outline a hundred times at least, and was frequently surprised by changes the characters themselves seemed to insist upon. Whodunnit stayed the same, but the how and why and all those other questions changed—and made for a better book, I think.
Now, working on the second Kirkwood Clues mystery, I’m eager to see where Barbara and Amy go on their next adventure, and which citizens of Kirkwood will take them there. It’s all a mystery, and that’s the best part!
Blurb from A Menacing Brew
With the summer off, Amy is at loose ends. Since her husband is busy with work and her son is at college, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her mom, Barbara, on a trip to visit an old college chum, Carl, who became a journalist. Amy knows their long drive will be filled with too many of her mom’s stories about her personal Summer of Love, but she never expects they’ll find Carl dead in his basement practically the minute they arrive. Things go from bad to worse when Barbara becomes the prime suspect in the crime, since she’ll inherit the dead man’s estate.
To clear Barbara’s name, she and Amy delve into Carl’s most recent assignment and discover a link to Kirkwood’s biggest employer, family-owned Stutger Brewery. More than one skeleton lurks in the Stutger closet. But are these old secrets still worth killing over? Or was Carl’s death motivated by an incident with more recent roots?
One thing’s for sure—Barbara and Amy are making few friends among locals with all their questions. As the brewery’s centennial celebration fast approaches, it’s time for Barbara and Amy to bring things to a head and unmask killers, past and present.
EXCERPT from A Menacing Brew
As I headed toward the basement steps, I said, "I hope I don’t fall."
"You’ve got your flashlight." Mom clumped up behind me. "I’ll wait up here."
I put my hand on the splintery old door at the top of the staircase and headed down. The first few steps were fine, if a little creepy in my special-effects lighting. Then, the stairs took a sharp turn and, on the narrowest part of the step, I wobbled, grasping for the handrail. The flashlight went out when it slipped from my hand, clattering away, leaving me in the dark again.
"That’s just great!"
"Dropped the flashlight." I descended one step at a time, feeling around with my pointed toe before trusting my weight. How many more steps could there be?
It was cooler here, beneath the house. Cool and damp and musty smelling. Eventually, my toe touched concrete, hard and smooth, and I relaxed my hold on the railing.
Squatting, I felt around, cursing modern technology. If I’d carried a big, old-fashioned flashlight, it might have stayed on, revealing itself.
On all fours, I reached a little further around me. More grit, more dead bugs. Aha! In triumph, I closed my hand around the thin plastic case and gave a mighty squeeze.
The beam of light poured forth, shining right into the eyes of the dead man on the floor.
Bio: Kate Fellowes has published six mysteries, most recently A Menacing Brew. Her short stories have appeared in many publications, from Woman's World to Crimestalker Casebook. Working in a public library, every day is a busman's holiday for her. She blogs at https://katefellowes.wordpress.com/
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