The Last Gasp of Summer: Michigan mystery authors offer three beach reads at Nicola’s
Is it almost over? It’s almost over.
But you still have time to enjoy some good summer books.
Still searching for the perfect beach read? Look no further than Michigan mystery writers Darci Hannah (Cherry Pies & Deadly Lies), Pamela Gossiaux (Trusting the Cat Burglar), Greg Jolley (Malice in a Very Small Town) who are appearing at Nicola’s Books on August 16 at 7 pm for "a late-summer mystery event, filled with great beach reads for your last summer gasp."
Hannah began her writing career with historical fiction, penning 2010’s The Exile of Sara Stevenson. But when her agent recommended writing in another genre, Hannah started Cherry Pies & Deadly Lies and knew just where she’d start.
“I knew that if I ever wrote a cozy mystery, I would give it a cherry theme and set it in Door County," she says. “I grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago and vacationed in Door County. It's a stunningly beautiful place, with lots of shoreline, charming little towns, and cherry orchards. My family would pick cherries, eat lots of cherry pie, and I just assumed that all cherries came from Door County. Then I grew up and moved to Michigan, so now I know better.”
Hannah also knew she would include a food-based mystery in her book.
“Who doesn’t like to eat?” she laughs.
While writing the book Hannah tested out numerous cherry recipes, particularly pies.
“I’ve used a lot of Michigan cherries in my baking," she says. "They are delicious and even though I have a recipe in the back of my book that claims to be an authentic ‘Door County Cherry Pie,’ this author used a lot of Michigan cherries in the making of it.”
The change in genres has not only led to much more baking -- it led to a new agent, which led to a multiple book deal, which means Hannah gets to bake more pies and readers get more cherry based mysteries.
Gossiaux will read from Trusting the Cat Burglar, the second book in her series. “The first book came to me one evening when I was thinking about libraries and a librarian character whom I named Mrs. Chartwell. Suddenly this hot cat burglar dropped in from her skylight to steal an old map that led to a mysterious painting, and he was quoting Shakespeare at her.”
And thus the idea for Mrs. Chartwell and the Cat Burglar was born.
Gossiaux says she always leaves the potential for sequels when she writes but usually doesn’t plan on it. But in this case, she says, “I had so much fun with the characters that I immediately started in on book two, and then book three! ... The books are full of what I love best: libraries, cats, romance and a mystery. There’s a bit of a faith story in there too. And my readers might notice that Abigail’s university town is very similar to Ann Arbor.”
Savvy readers might notice that the book has the word “cat” in the title, the main character owns a cat, and the book is published by Tri-Cat. “Technically I’m a horse-crazy girl, but at this point in my life I am horseless so I started collecting cats," Gossiaux laughs. "There’s nothing better when reading a book than to curl up with a cat on your lap.” She now has three kitties and yes, they all hang out with Gossiaux when she writes.
Jolley lives in Whitmore Lake, so his Malice in a Very Small Town is informed by deep knowledge of life in a "very small town." When kids start to disappear, Wiki Danser fears for her daughter's life -- especially since the police dismiss her worries and her next-door neighbor is an oddball whose home emits a strange smell.
Yes, summer’s almost over, but there's still time to climb on your beach blanket and fall into these Michigan mysteries.
Patti F. Smith is a special education teacher and writer who lives in Ann Arbor with her husband.
Michigan mystery writers Darci Hannah, Pamela Gossiaux, and Greg Jolley appear at Nicola’s Books on August 16 at 7 pm.