“Human nature is much the same in a village as anywhere else, only one has opportunities and leisure for seeing it at closer quarters.” — Jane Marple
I wanted my tenth mystery novel, “The Sand Bluff Murders” to take place in a small town. I usually set my stories in cities where they have an adequate police force, forensic experts, labs, etc. but the tale was a long time coming. I began to sketch it out in my mind and made a few notes on the computer, but before I got very far I came to a dead end.
Nice setup, I thought, but now what?
That ‘now what’ sank into murky depths of my subconscious and wallowed there for nearly a year. Several times I almost deleted what little I had saved in the computer. Can’t waste those kilobytes or whatever they are. I thought I’d do better to start all over.
But after all those months, a funny thing happened. Some of the characters began to talk to me. They were coming alive and despite my lack of enthusiasm, their voices grew more and more persistent. They were saying, “Hey, what’s the holdup, soldier? Sand Bluff’s just a little town. We can’t run around here killing people forever.” I realized then that I wasn’t going to get any peace until I let them get back to their grisly work.
There’s the transvestite ‘little person’, Jessica, who with his/her giant boyfriend, Terrence, runs a small trailer court and trains dogs. Terrence would do anything for Jessica. Anything? Anything!
There’s Larry Peters, insurance broker, über jealous (and with good reason). Every male in town would love to get his paws on Larry’s hot little wife, Twyla. The rumors are rampant. Boy, would we like to read her diary!
Pop Jenkins prints the weekly Sand Bluff Banner. The paper may not be special, but Pop’s daughter, Roxie, sure is. In fact she may just be Miss Right. But she does have that kid. Maybe he’d be all right if he could just stop talking Yodaspeak.
When Chief Raymond Castillo hires new cop, Jonas McCleary, Jonas feels very lucky indeed. He has just landed an easy job in a quiet little town where nothing ever happens. Maybe he can settle down in Sand Bluff and with any luck, he may just find Miss Right. After all he’s almost thirty.
But on McCleary’s third day in Sand Bluff, Officer Harold Ackers stumbles over a corpse in the alley behind the Blu Lite Lounge. To give you an idea of the caliber of Sand Bluff’s police department, Officer Ackers didn’t realize the man was dead. He thought the man was dead drunk. He manhandled him into his patrol car and took him to headquarters where somebody noticed blood stains on Acker’s uniform and bullet holes in the back of the man’s head. When Jonas is sent to investigate he learns the town doesn’t even have yellow tape to secure the crime scene. What crime scene? It’s already hopelessly compromised.
Less than a week later, while Jonas is still clueless and still without any yellow tape, the infamous Twyla Peters is found lying in a pool of blood. No panties. Rape? Maybe, but if rape was involved — according to town gossip — Twyla would have been the rapist. Anybody in town may have wanted to see her dead. And it turns out she was pregnant. Luckily Larry Peters didn’t know that, or did he? What he does know is that he’s sterile. Larry makes a pretty good suspect. But what does that have, if anything, to do with the body in the alley?
And then a body turns up in the Sacramento River.
That’s when gossip, rumors, coincidences, lies, confusion and false leads give Jonas a murky idea of which path to follow, but does he really want to go down that path? It’s a path that leads into some dark corners, out to horse ranch Oak Park, back to the Blu Lite Lounge and finally, to that final destination at the end of the trail, Weaver’s Funeral Home.
Sand Bluff may be a sleepy village, but even sleepy villages can have their crime waves.
“The Sand Bluff Murders” coming soon from www.writewordsinc.com (Cambridge Books) Make an author’s day. Order an advance copy now! I will love you and my publisher will love you too.
“Reading this tale will be like having Jonas sitting in an easy chair across from you and telling you what happened.” — Anne K. Edwards