Background on the Series

The fictional small town of Las Flores, nestled in the foothills of a mountain range that divides the inland valley towns of the San Francisco Bay Area from the beach towns along the Pacific, provides the perfect setting for A Beeline to Murder. Many scenes take place on the farmette owned by Abigail Mackenzie, the sleuth in this story of murder and mayhem.

 

SCENE SETTING

If the scene descriptions ring true, it might be because Abby’s rundown half acre is where I currently live and work. In 2009, I bought a property east of the San Francisco Bay. It had been used as a dumping ground for a building contractor’s tear-outs. I figured my life on a farmette was easier to write about than having to invent a new world for Abby’s adventures. Life on the farmette is never boring–not for me or Abby.

 

Raised beds in the farmette backyard

 

 

Like me, Abby works a master plan to restore her dilapidated farm house and land with recycled materials from architectural salvage yards and demolition sites, DIY sale items, and gifts of stone, lumber, and manure from friends. The cuttings she gets from her neighbors’ roses and fruit trees are added to those she buys at rock-bottom prices during bare-root season. Ever an optimist, she envisions the day when all her hard work will pay off.

 

She keeps a small flock of chickens and two hives of bees. In my real life, I have a wonderful world-class beekeeper neighbor who helps me watch over my bees. He also gardens and his wife preserves the harvests from his land.

 

 

 

COTERIE OF CHARACTERS

It is my belief that not only do we connect with an interesting sleuth in a mystery but also with the coterie of characters in the sleuth’s life. When we read a story involving these characters, it’s like spending time with old friends. Abby’s best friend and sounding board is Katerina Petrovsky, a Las Flores police officer that Abby once trained. Another intriguing character is Abby’s attractive rancher neighbor, Lucas Crawford. He is a forty-something widower who owns the local feed store and lives up the hill from Abby. His personal narrative is particularly gut-wrenching, prompting the delivery of many porch-to-oven casseroles from the marriageable women in town.

 

Other characters include the town’s police chief, Bob Allen, a complicated piece of work with an over-sized ego; Maisey Mack, the pie shop owner and local storyteller who hails from the low country of South Carolina, and former police pals Otto Nowicki and Nettie Sherman.

 

CHARM

Charm is a major part of a cozy mystery, and charm emerges from the setting, locale, and people. Lots of cozy mysteries involve tea, perhaps with a nod to the Europeans who love a formal or informal tea service, complete with sandwiches and pastries. You’ll also find recipes in cozy mysteries and, in that regard, my Henny Penny Farmette series conforms. But in addition to recipes, you’ll find tips about the cultivation of heirloom plants, jam making, and the care and keeping of bees.

Tea in the garden is a pleasurable pursuit, one that works as well in a cozy mystery as it does on the Henny Penny Farmette

 

Murder constitutes an earth-shaking event for everyone in Las Flores, but that’s especially true for Abby when her investigation of such a violent act is juxtaposed against the solitary, peaceful life she lives on the farmette. But she, better than others in her small town, excels at puzzling through a crime because of her keen sixth sense, a better than average dose of common sense, and a dogged determination to stick with a case until it is solved. While she never seeks the spotlight, she often finds herself thrust in it.

 

And when all is said and done, she retreats back to her sanctuary–the farmette that nourishes her spirit in ways nothing else can, including her often brief romantic liaisons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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