Five Fact Thursday - Something Shady at Sunshine Haven @Kris_Brock #mystery
1. For the Accidental Detective mystery series, I started with a character who is trying to reinvent her life as she turns 50. She spent 30 years as a war correspondent, so she’s pretty fearless, but that doesn’t always help her with the challenges of aging. She’s dealing with elderly parents who have health problems, a resentful sister, her own lack of retirement planning, and a body that doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to.
2. Kate’s challenges provide humor as she narrates her attempts to solve local mysteries and build a new life. I didn’t necessarily intend to write humor, but the agent and editor both said they laughed a lot. That comes from how Kate sees the world, which is how I see the world. Laughter helps with the pain.
3. I live in a small town in New Mexico, but I wanted to set the mystery series in a big city. I created a fictional city within the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Arizona provides tons of mystery opportunities. For example, the large senior population attracts scams and abuse. You have the potential for arguments over inheritance (or even murders to get that inheritance sooner).
4. The first four books are complete and scheduled for release in April, June, November, and February. I hope to return to the series, but at the moment I’m writing about cowboy billionaires – specifically, a ranch family that finds out winning the lottery causes as many problems as it solves. The first book in that series will be out in the fall.
5. You can get a free Accidental Detective story when you sign up for my newsletter. This collection includes a ten-page mystery short story, information about the series, and three fun, short stories originally written for children. You’ll also get Lions and Love at the Cat Café, a sweet romance novella. The Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the workers and customers at a small-town cat café, and the adorable cats and kittens looking for their forever homes.
About Something Shady at Sunshine Haven (the Accidental Detective book 1)
War correspondent Kate Tessler has followed the most dangerous news stories around the world. But can she survive going home?
Injured in a bombing, Kate returns to her hometown in Arizona to recover. For the first time in her life, she's starting to feel her age (49), even though she's living like a teenager again: staying with her father, trying to understand why her sister resents her so much, and running into people who still think of her as Kitty.
Seeing her mother in an Alzheimer's unit is the hardest part – until an old friend asks her to investigate suspicious deaths at that nursing home. Is a self-appointed "Angel of Mercy" killing patients to end their suffering? Are family members hastening their inheritance? Is an employee extorting money and removing the witnesses? Kate uses her journalism skills to track clues, but the puzzle pieces simply won't fit.
If Kate can't uncover the truth, her mother could be next on the killer's list.
Excerpt from Something Shady at Sunshine Haven
My childhood home had faded in the harsh Arizona sun and now showed its age—rather like me. I’d never dreamed of living here again after thirty years of traveling the world.
This is temporary. You’ll find a way out.
“Do you need help?” My sister’s tone made it clear the correct answer was no. She’d already hinted that picking me up at the airport had been one more burden in her busy life.
“I got it.” I eased out of the car and limped to the trunk to retrieve my travel backpack, still getting used to my new cane. My thigh throbbed where the doctors had dug out the shrapnel and stitched it back together with Frankenstein scars. My usual fast stride was an awkward hobble up the walkway. My luggage might have been “light,” considering it held everything I owned, but it still nudged the airline’s weight limit.
The front door opened, and I forced a smile. Jen disappeared inside, and Dad and I stood face-to-face.
Our smiles faltered. I dropped the backpack and stumbled into his arms. Tension drained out of my body. I blinked back tears and felt his frailty, the tremor in his hands. He smelled like Dad with a hint of a newer scent, something that only seemed to come from old men.
“Welcome home,” he whispered.
“It’s good to be home.” I needed to rest and heal, and where better to do that than in my parents’ house? In a few weeks—I promised myself weeks, not months, and definitely not years—I would be well enough to return to journalism. “How’s Mom?”
“Good. Well, you know. She’s settled in. She can’t wait to see you.”
I didn’t ask if she’d remember me. I hadn’t noticed signs of Alzheimer’s on my last visit, but that had been a year ago, and Jen assured me Mom had faded fast. She also made it clear that since I was home with no job, it was my turn to take care of our parents.
“Sit,” Dad said. “You need to rest that leg.”
Behind him, Jen sighed loudly. “Don’t coddle her. She needs to stay active.” You wouldn’t know from the way she acted that Jen was younger by two years.
Dad winked at me. “Come and sit anyway.”
Jen hustled outside. She glanced back through the open door. “Welcome home.” She sped down the path without waiting for an answer.
I closed the door and looked at Dad. “I guess I caught her on a bad day.”
“No, just a day. Hey, a friend of yours runs the care home. She gave me a message for you. Said it was urgent.” He shuffled through the mail on the little table by the door.
I couldn’t think of any friends in Arizona. I hadn’t had any here since my childhood. My friends were scattered around the world, wherever news was happening. If she ran the nursing home, she might hope I’d write a story on the facility to promote it, or do some free PR work. Drat. Were people going to treat me like I had nothing better to do than give away my time?
Double drat. I did not, in fact, have anything better to do. And I wanted a nap.
Dad handed me an envelope. I leaned on the door and propped my cane against the table so I had two hands to tear open the envelope. The handwritten message inside was brief:
Kitty—Please come see me ASAP. I need your help.
“She sounded. . .” Dad hesitated. “She asked about your journalism and begged me to bring you in as soon as possible.”
Begged? This could be interesting after all. But who was Heather Garcia? Someone I knew in high school, given her use of my old nickname. Maybe I’d recognize her when I saw her. Or maybe not. I hadn’t changed a bit, of course, but other people sure looked different after thirty years.
“We can go see your mother whenever you’re ready,” Dad said.
See Mom in a nursing home, literally losing her mind? I’d never be ready for that.
“No time like the present.” Plus I could find out more about Heather Garcia’s desperate plea for help.
Kris Bock writes novels of mystery, suspense, and romance, many with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Get a free Accidental Detective short story and bonus material when you sign up for her newsletter. You’ll also get a free sweet romance set in the world of the Furrever Friends cat café and a printable copy of the recipes mentioned in the cat café novels
Kris is also writing a series with her brother, scriptwriter Douglas J Eboch, who wrote the original screenplay for the movie Sweet Home Alabama. Follow the crazy antics of Melanie, Jake, and their friends a decade before the events of the movie. Sign up for our romantic comedy newsletter and get the short story Felony Melanie Destroys the Moonshiner’s Cabin. Or find the books on Amazon US or All E-book retailers