When Al Martin, the editor of a satiric newspaper in Chautauqua, N.Y., reportedly dies of COVID-19, the local consensus is: good riddance. A Plague Among Us by @pinesdebTweet
Why do I write mysteries?
They are what I most enjoy reading and watching. And always have.
I got hooked as a kid watching the black-and-white TV legal drama “Perry Mason” in the 1960s. My harried single mom and I would sit together on our living room couch, rooting for Perry’s latest bid to free a client wrongly accused.
The show, I read, inspired Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to become a lawyer.
Me, it inspired to write old-school whodunit mysteries.
I loved the puzzle aspect of the series, trying to guess the real killer. I loved the character of Perry Mason and the moral outrage he brought to each fight. And I loved learning grown-up things about people, like how they can cheat and steal from episodes with noirish titles like “The Case of The Bigamous Spouse” and “The Case of the Scandalous Sculptor.”
I still love how classic mysteries engage both my brain (to solve a puzzle) and my heart (to understand people).
Long after I forget the solution to my favorite Agatha Christie stories, I remember some of their human lessons. Like why an elderly woman protects an old friend in A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED: because that friend is the only person left who knew her when she was young. And why Miss Marple enlists the help of a powerful, wealthy man in A CARIBBEAN MYSTERY: because she realizes no one will believe her without him.
Many mysteries have also taught me about places and professions.
I learned about horse-racing from Dick Francis’ mysteries, about the Navajos from Tony Hillerman’s, about Los Angeles and policing from Michael Connelly and about Venice from Donna Leon.
In my own series, I try to introduce readers to the place where the mysteries are set: the Chautauqua Institution, a quirky, churchy, historic, Victorian cottage-filled, lakeside summer arts community in far western New York. I usually include Chautauqua’s origin story (founded in 1874 as a tent retreat for Methodist Sunday school teachers). And its legacy (how it’s credited with launching an adult-education movement Teddy Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America.”)
I also try to offer a few insights into my large cast of characters—at least one victim and five plausible suspects per book.
In my latest mystery, A PLAGUE AMONG US, the victim, Al Martin is a widely despised satiric newspaper editor.
My sleuth, Mimi Goldman, a Chautauquan Daily reporter, grandma and relentless snoop, focuses on a key question: Was Al really a victim of COVID—or foul play? If it’s foul play, Mimi wants to catch the killer.
To do that, as usual, she struggles to better understand everyone. She asks a childhood friend of Al’s who is also a psychologist, at one point, to explain him:
‘‘Why the constant smirk?” Mimi asks.
“Okay, here’s my quick analysis,” the friend says. “Then I have to run. The dad was an impossible act to follow. Self-made man. Inventor. Genius and athlete. Sean spoiled his kids then hated them for being spoiled. Called all of them soft, especially Al. So Al grew up to be what? You fill in the blank.
Cruel, Mimi thought.
The conversation, I hope, offers readers what I look for in a mystery: a clue to both the whodunit and to what makes people tick.
A Plague Among Us
A CHAUTAUQUA MURDER MYSTERY
by Deb Pines
When Al Martin, the editor of a satiric newspaper in Chautauqua, N.Y., reportedly dies of COVID-19, the local consensus is: good riddance.
A sister suspects foul play. She wonders why Al was cremated in a hurry.
The police stay out of it.
So it takes reporter and relentless snoop Mimi Goldman to try to find which of Al’s haters— including an estranged wife, three bitter siblings, a secretive caregiver, old enemies and the many targets of Al’s poison-pen sarcasm—might be a ruthless killer.
The novel, No. 8 in a series called “an Agatha Christie for the text-message age,” once again offers page-turning suspense. Wit. And the unforgettable setting of Chautauqua, a quirky, churchy, lakeside, Victorian cottage-filled summer arts community that launched an adult-education movement Teddy Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America.”
Kirkus Reviews calls A Plague Among Us “an intriguing and engaging crime tale” and “enjoyable novel” with “captivating characters.”
Published by: KDP
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 280
Series: Mimi Goldman Chautauqua Mysteries, Book 8 | Each book can be read as a Stand-Alone Mystery
Read an excerpt:
Deb Pines, an award-winning headline writer for the New York Post, is the author of seven Mimi Goldman novels and one novelette all set in the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York where they are top sellers.
A former reporter, Deb is also a lover of puns, show tunes and indoor cycling. She lives in New York City with her husband Dave.
Catch Up With Deb Pines:
BookBub – @debpines
Instagram – @pinesdebbie
Twitter – @pinesdeb
Facebook – @deborah.pines.9
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