What inspired the idea for your book?
I love visiting New Orleans and I always thought it would be a great setting for a book. When I decided to write a mystery, the title The Key to Murder popped in my head and I knew it had to take place in my favorite city.
What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?
I was surprised to learn how much I enjoy researching. From history books to tours to reenacting scenes for the book, I loved learning as much as I could for my story.
If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together?
Sammy and I would grab cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde, then walk up and down Royal Street, listening to the musicians.
How do you define success as an author?
To me, success is sharing my books with others and having readers enjoy them.
Do you have any quirky writing rituals?
Before I send my book to my beta-readers, I have my computer read it out loud. It helps to catch any typos like sweat tea instead of sweet tea. And the voice’s name is Samantha which is fitting since that’s the name of my character.
What has been your favorite reader feedback?
I appreciate everyone who takes the time to give me feedback, but one of my favorite reviews said, “As for The Key to Murder it’s like the Adam’s Family mixed with Agatha Christie. Good, fast paced, A taste of New Orleans and tense at one point. Really enjoyed it.”
What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
Just finish it! Don’t worry if it needs editing or you’re not sure about the story. Get that first draft done and from there you can move forward.
What would your dream library look like?
It would be a cozy room with walls of bookshelves filled with mysteries of all kinds. There would be comfortable sofas and chairs. And of course there would be coffee and chocolate.
If you had a secret room that opened by pulling a book on a shelf, what book would you choose?
It would have to be an Agatha Christie book either A Body in the Library or Evil Under the Sun.
With its history, innate character, and distinctive culture, New Orleans is not a typical city. The Key To Murder, the debut book by author Jenn Pitts is not a typical cozy.
Turning 30, Sammy Richards felt restless and in need of a change. Following a lifelong love of all things New Orleans, she moves to an apartment in the French quarter and begins a new life in a new place with new friends. She finds a diary among the books in her furnished apartment containing clues to a romantic scavenger hunt around the city and is curious to use the clues to explore her new home, until she finds a dead body and a possible connection to herself.
New Orleans is a character in itself, with its unique southern charm, and ghosts and skeletons tucked away its hidden nooks and crannies. Any author writing a story set in this city must be sure to include its eccentricities. Jenn Pitts has done a masterful job in this respect. She offers the reader an insider’s view into this historic place, but from the perspective of fresh eyes. Sammy’s enthusiasm for her new hometown spills over, the reader follows along as she learns about her neighborhood, taking in the sights, smells and feels. This extends to the new people in her life, an eclectic bunch that fits their setting well. Each is interesting and dynamic with hints of their own history just waiting to spill over.
The mystery is a slow burn, beginning with the strange book and key as well as mysterious presents left on Sammy’s doorstep that none of her neighbors take credit for. She gets pulled into the mystery of the diary and the events that follow lead her in an intriguing direction that could shape the whole of the series to come and stretches the boundaries of the new friendships she has made.
I am excited for more from this author and this series.
I received an advance review copy for free through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Samantha thought following a mysterious diary around the French Quarter of New Orleans would be a harmless way to learn about her new hometown until it became about murder.
As the newest resident of Thibodeaux Mansion, West Coast transplant Samantha is looking forward to starting her thirties in a new place. Drawn to New Orleans for its music, food and history, she’s excited to start her future in this unique city. But Samantha is also hopeful she’ll find her past since she was adopted from Louisiana after being orphaned in a hurricane as a toddler.
An anonymous diary, unusual key, and a distinctive doll are left in her furnished apartment and her mostly friendly neighbors all deny leaving the gifts. Samantha, now Sammy to her new friends, can’t believe any of them could be a liar. When the diary leads her to a dead body, Sammy needs to find out what these clues mean and what the murderer is trying to tell her.
Although her best friends Sissy and Andrew are happy to help her with this mystery, her other friends aren’t sure the murder and diary are about Sammy. Not wanting to lose her newfound friendships and possible love interest, Sammy decides she must uncover the answers on her own.
Sammy moved to New Orleans looking for a new future, but is it her past that found her first?
The Key to Murder is the first book in the The French Quarter Mysteries featuring West Coast transplant Samantha Richardson settling into her new hometown, New Orleans. Her neighborhood is full of music, food and history as well as interesting people. Join Sammy as she explores the Big Easy by solving the mysteries of the past and present in this new modern, cozy mystery series.
Jen Pitts is a lifelong mystery reader who turned her obsession into writing cozy mysteries of her own. When she isn’t plotting fictional murder and mayhem, she’s chugging coffee, traveling, reading, and enjoying life with her children and husband in the Pacific Northwest.
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