Maggy Thorsen is divorced and ready to move on with her life. In Grounds for Murder by Sandra Balzo, Maggie is in her 40’s and is ready to enjoy being single and starting a business up with two of her friends. Maggy is really needing this venture to make some money, especially since she put all of her money into this coffee business with her best friends. On the day they are set to open, her and one of her partner’s and best friend, Caron Egan, walk into their shop at 6 a.m. to find their friend, and third partner, dead. Patricia Harper has been electrocuted and Maggy is determined to find out why she was murdered. The only person standing in her way is Jake Pavlik, the County Sherriff.
As Maggy tries to find out who murdered her friend, she comes to find out she didn’t know her or anyone else, as well as she thought she did. Maggy is amazed to find out that both of her friends had been having affairs with the same man. Maggy also finds herself falling for the one man that irritates her the most, Jake Pavlik. Maggy uncovers a whole lot of mystery going on around her that she is unable to feels unfortunate to have found.
I thought this was a cute story and enjoyed reading it. I felt it was a pretty easy read and found myself reading through it pretty quickly. I also had the opportunity to read the two other books involving Maggy and more mysteries in her life. I would recommend this book to anyone. There is a little swearing and some kissing, but that is it. I would really love to find out if Sandra Balzo has written anymore books in this series!
Novel Reaction is excited to welcome Vickie Delany as the first guest author during our month of Murder and Mayhem here to talk about getting police experience for writing novels.
“It’s a crime not to read Delany,” so says the London Free Press.
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific crime writers. She writes everything from standalone novels of psychological suspense such as Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory, to the Constable Molly Smith books, a traditional village/police procedural series set in the British Columbia Interior, including In the Shadow of the Glacier and Among the Departed, to a light-hearted historical series, Gold Digger and Gold Fever, set in the raucous heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki is settling down to the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario where she rarely wears a watch.
That’s how many people it took to wake one man up to go to work.
After I’d published two novels of standalone suspense with Poisoned Pen Press my editor, Barbara Peters, and I decided it was time to try a series. I knew right away that I wanted to write the type of series I like most to read: the traditional British-type police procedurals.
But first, I had one problem: I have no experience in law enforcement whatsoever. I used to be a systems analyst at a bank. Not a lot of gun battles or drunk-and-disorderlies in that job. We didn’t even have a jail in the office basement.
I knew that if I was to create a reasonably realistic police series I would need some help.
I’ve been very lucky and there are now five novels in the Constable Molly Smith series set in the fictional town of Trafalgar, British Columbia, Canada.
Everywhere I’ve been I’ve found police officers to be more than helpful in talking to me about the ins and outs of their job. I have a detective constable who enjoys answering all my questions and will look things up, or ask the department lawyer, if he doesn’t know the answer to any one of them. I’ve toured police stations, met many officers, been out on ride-alongs and walk-alongs, talked to the dog handler and met his dog, been to watch in-service training, been to the firearms training course (where they didn’t let me touch a weapon, you’ll be pleased to hear).
I’ve had some really boring nights too. As I try to explain when the nice officer assigned to take me out apologizes because nothing at all happened, if I want to see a gun battle or a bank robbery in progress, I’ll watch TV. It’s the everyday details of the ordinary cop’s job that I’m interested in seeing first hand, that I want to give veracity to the books. The protagonist of the Constable Molly Smith series is young, green, a bit naïve. When the series begins, in In the Shadow of the Glacier, she is still on probation. She walks the beat on a Saturday afternoon, attends fender-benders, throws drunks into the drunk tank, tells people to empty out their cans of beer, helps confused old ladies cross the street, answers domestic disturbances, and stands outside crime scenes not letting anyone in.
This is the detail of day-to-day policing I’m trying to get right for my books. That as well as the way the officers relate to each other, the jokes they tell, how they balance families and young children, how they train (or not). My books are about murder and kidnapping and tragedy, yes, but they are also about people and relationships.
One thing I’m learning from the ride-alongs I’ve been on over the past three years, is that there can be a lot of humour in a cop’s job. It’s a tough, often unpleasant, job and they put their lives on the line every day. But boy, do they get a good laugh some times.
Recently, the car I was in was called to a home where a man wasn’t answering the door to his friend who had come to take him to work. It was the usual time and the usual routine, and the friend was worried because the man had a medical condition. He had hammered on the door, tried to peer in windows, even climbed a tree to get a peek inside. But no answer and no movement.
When we got there, the officer banged on the door, and bellowed, and peered in windows, and banged and bellowed again. He called for an ambulance. Reinforcements arrived, including the sergeant. Someone crouched down and yelled into the cat door. (And took a sniff – ug). Eventually there were four cops, two paramedics, and one mystery writer gathered at the top of a rickety set of stairs leading to the upstairs apartment. Permission to knock down the door was given, the door was kicked in, and everyone rushed in. Everyone, that is, save said mystery writer, who hung behind not wanting to see anything yucky. Then I heard a shout, “XX, what are you doing still in bed? Aren’t you going to work?”
So I also wandered into the apartment to have a look.
Yup, the guy was tucked up in bed. Didn’t feel like going to work, didn’t bother phoning in, and didn’t particularly want to get up and open the door. Out we all trooped, one mystery writer, two paramedics, four cops, leaving XX in bed and a broken door swinging on its hinges.
I’ve also learned things I’ve decided not to incorporate into my books. For example, it is the norm in most U.S. police K9 units for the dog to live in the house with the officer; in Canada they follow the RCMP model in which the dog lives in a kennel outside the house. I decided in this situation I’d go for atmosphere and colour rather than veracity and so I let Norman, my RCMP dog, stretch out on the rug beside the fireplace. Sometimes the story has to come first.
It is, in fact, precisely while Norman is snoozing on the carpet at the beginning of Among the Departed, the fifth book in the series, that he gets a call to search for a little boy lost in the mountain wilderness.
Here is a picture of one of the handsome officers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting as I do my research.
Thanks Vicki for sharing about your ride alongs, I have to admit I am glad I am not that guy having to explain to my boss I just didn’t feel like coming into work today.
So are all mysteries the same? Any bedroom sleuth will tell your there are worlds of difference between a cozy mystery and a historical serial killer mystery. From cozy mysteries to thrillers, serial killers to romantic suspense everyone loves a little Murder and Mayhem in their novels. This month Novel Reaction is excited to discuss and explore all things Murder and Mayhem. What makes a good suspenseful novel? What is it that keeps you on the edge of your seat, staying up reading way past the time you should be asleep just see if you are right about your suspicions as to who the murderer is? Is it the setting? The characters? The murder itself? We are going to explore all of these options this month. We have a slew of author guest posts lined up, giveaways and a visit from a brick and mortar bookstore The Poisoned Pen specializing in mystery novels located in Scottsdale, Arizona with a great online presence. In addition, we have some great giveaways donated by some of our great author visitors and publishers.
No murder is complete without a murder weapon, so to begin with our month of Murder and Mayhem I am giving away a murder weapon (okay, so it is really a Nerf gun) and a surprise mystery novel. To be entered to win this amazing prize pack just tell me your favorite murder weapon. One of our regular reviewers, Jillian, swears the perfect murder weapon is an icicle, stab someone and then the weapon melts, destroying the evidence. The main problem I have with this weapon is I live in Phoenix, we have a shortage of icicles and even if I was able to get my hands on one them it would melt before I could get it anywhere in the 112 degree weather we have right now.
To be entered simply leave a comment stating your favorite murder weapon. This contest is limited to US and Canadian residents only (sorry international readers, I just can’t afford to ship it to you). The contest ends September 29th at midnight. Make sure you check back regularly this month as we will have other great giveaways and events going on.