When the casting call for my first cozy mystery novel, Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies, was sounded, I was fortunate that so many wonderful, capable characters answered.
I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce four of them … the stars.
For the protagonist, I was looking for a Baby Boomer-aged, strong, independent woman, who was tenacious, smart, resourceful, charming (when it worked to her advantage), snarky (usually), and loyal to a fault. Naturally, I couldn’t cast myself, so I did the next best thing… Enter Crystal Cropper. Her resume boasts a few accomplishments I have only dreamed about—like acing her Ladies Kick-Ass Self-Defense course or working as a crime beat reporter for a major Southern California newspaper. She obviously has a knack for the written word and never hesitates to use the power of her pen to expose corruption in her tiny town. Oh, one other thing. If you value your life, never call her a “senior citizen” … Not. Ever.
Gertie Tyroo is one of those people you never really know. An octogenarian, she’s barely five foot tall, wears a leopard-print coat year-round, is never seen without her straw handbag clutched to her chest, and flies off the handle at the drop of a crumb—especially if it falls onto one of her freshly mopped floors. But there is another, deeper side to Gertie that even Crystal Cropper doesn’t know about. Yet. Even I am not at liberty to reveal too much about it, lest I want the men in black knocking on my door. And so, I’ll leave it at this: November 22, 1963. Dallas. Grassy Knoll.
SHERIFF VERLIN WALLACE
Crystal’s prickly relationship with her life-long buddy, Verlin Wallace, started the instant they met in Mrs. Stroup’s kindergarten class at Elmwood Elementary more than 60 years ago. From day one, verbal sparring was how they communicated. Verlin is a career law enforcement officer, starting out as a deputy. He was elected to two terms as sheriff in the 1990s, and is currently in the middle of this third term. Verlin is Andy Taylor with a touch of Barney Fife. Despite his inordinate amount of puff and bluster, he is nonetheless well liked by Elm County folk. Verlin is good at his job, and few people know how much he actually detests performing criminal investigations. A confirmed bachelor, Verl doesn’t have the patience to put up with a woman meddling in his day-to-day life; but if truth be told, there is one woman he’s always been partial to. He knows it’s crazy, but he harbors a speck of hope that in their old age, she’ll be partial to him too.
The beautiful and conniving Kathryn Lovejoy Kronkite Baxter was a widowed, disinherited, former private-duty nurse when she waltzed into the life of Elmwood High School football coach Jack Baxter in the spring of 1993, shortly after the death of his wife. Was it coincidence that only six months after Jack and Kathryn married, he suffered a massive, debilitating stroke, exactly as her previous husband had? The stroke left Jack a complete invalid, totally dependent on his over-protective, young wife. The stroke also left Kathryn free to pursue other interests, namely handsome younger men and possibly a key role in an illegal drug ring.
Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies is populated with several supporting cast members, all of whom work hard to help move the story forward at a rapid pace to keep the reader entertained and guessing to the very end. I think they do … but I’m prejudiced. So I’ll leave the final verdict up to you.
I hope you will let me know what you think.
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Thanks so much for stopping by ... please come back often!— Janis
This blog post was originally published Oct. 17, 2014, by Shelley's Book Case.