When I go to author talks and book signings some of the questions I am often asked are why I write mysteries (because I love to read them) or where I get my ideas (the grocer). People want to know about my work habits (erratic) or the process of getting published (grueling). I’ve even been asked about the sorts of snacks I eat while working away on a tight deadline (baby carrots).
Something I have never been asked is why I set my books in tiny towns in New Hampshire. Granted, since most of my events are held in New England, the people attending the talk have no reason to ask such a question. They know why New Hampshire is a great setting for a mystery series.
People who live here know New Hampshire might be worth choosing just on account of the natural beauty of the mountains, lakes and coastline. There are also the man-made features like charming villages filled with historic buildings, the stone walls zig- through the woods and the delightful surprise of covered bridges.
The weather in here also supports mysterious doings as anyone who has ever survived a winter in New England can tell you. After months on end of being cooped up with the family it is easy to imagine old arguments becoming dangerous. Treacherously icy roads provide ample opportunity to fake fatal accidents. Even mud season and black flies can push upstanding citizens over the edge. After all, with so many acres of undeveloped land there are plenty of places to hide a body, at least once the ground thaws out.
New Hampshire is full of people who inspire great characters too. It’s easy to imagine all that independent spirit and stoicism along with a heaping helping of forthrightness and cantankerousness giving rise to all sorts of criminal possibilities.
There's also the fact that the past is always present in New Hampshire. A walk in the woods is likely to reveal a tumbled down sugarhouse or cellar hole. A leisurely drive on a sunny afternoon might easily take you past an overgrown cemetery hidden beneath a stand of maples. But along with all the nostalgia and charm there is also the darker side of the past. Behind the front door of any antique cape long memories, old grudges, family secrets and unforgiven debts might just be lurking. The contrast between the white picket fences and skeletons in the closets makes for fertile soil for mystery writers as well as readers.
If you have the opportunity to visit New Hampshire in person or as an armchair , I think you’ll agree it is the perfect spot for sightseeing, antiquing and even the occasional mystery.
Blurb: In Sugar Grove, New Hampshire, people are serious about their maple syrup—especially Dani Greene, whose family owns the Greener Pastures sugarhouse. But when murder disrupts the small-town sweetness, Dani pores over clues to draw out a killer...
Despite being a fourth-generation syrup maker, Dani isn’t stuck in the past. She’s starting a new agricultural cooperative that reduces costs for every syrup producer who joins. Everyone considers it a sweet deal except the die-hard curmudgeon Frank Lemieux—and when a saboteur starts targeting supporters, everyone suspects Frank.
But it turns out they’re barking up the wrong tree when Dani finds Frank murdered in his own sugarhouse. As the sabotage continues, she realizes that Frank was framed. With the help of her family, and a handsome official from the Fish and Game Department, Dani must catch the killer before another syrup maker kicks the bucket.
Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, July 14th for the chance to win a copy of Maple Mayhem. (US entries only, please.)