Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Different Place

Setting is an essential feature of many mystery novels. Think Sherlock Holmes and you’re immediately transported to Victorian London. James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series and you’re off to Louisiana. Tony Hillerman—the Four Corners country. You get the point.

My Sticks Hetrick series is set in a fictional community near Harrisburg PA and my faithful band of readers has become as familiar with the streets of Swatara Creek as they have with the regular cast of characters.

The Limping Dog, my standalone mystery coming next month from Whiskey Creek Press, ventures into a fresh territory. Though I don’t identify the specific place, it’s clearly the New England coast. The rugged setting was inspired by a visit to Cape Ann in northeastern Massachusetts some years ago.

The place appealed to my imagination and when I began writing this story I recalled images that fit my needs. I warn you now, though, don’t look for any of the towns mentioned in the novel—they exist only in my imagination.

In my tale, Gavin Cutter is an artist living in an isolated village. He’s among a handful of witnesses who see a yacht crash onto a reef. The first aboard the wreck, Cutter rescues a dog, the only living creature on the vessel. Ron Myers, wealthy owner of a growing computer firm, and the crew of the ship have disappeared without a trace.

T. J. Flood, a former detective now working as an insurance investigator, questions Cutter and the other witnesses and learns Myers is alleged to have developed a radical and valuable new microprocessor system. Some assert the system was lost with its creator. Others believe it exists and have devious plans to profit from the invention.

Flood is attracted to Dee, Cutter’s daughter, a newspaper reporter. They join forces in investigating the ship incident and strange coincidences that seem to surround it, including a break-in at Cutter’s house and mysterious concerns about the dog. The result is threats, danger and, ultimately, several murders before the case is resolved.