After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.
When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.
Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
I was able to get a chance to chat with Lauren . . .
Thank you, Lauren, for agreeing to chat again today. I feel like I’m talking to an old friend. I thoroughly enjoyed our last visit when we chatted about Killer In The Band!
Today as planned we’re talking about A Fine Year for Murder. Catchy title. Which I want to talk about in a minute but first I want to ask did the plot come before the title or vice versa?
The plot came first. When putting together a new mystery, the murder case is the central focus of the story. Everything else that follows serves to enhance the mystery. The title comes much later. For a few of my books, I didn’t come up with the title until well after the rough draft had been written. This wasn’t the case for A Fine Year for Murder.
Awe so now tell us how did you come up with the title?
A Fine Year for Murder comes from the setting, which is a vineyard in southern Virginia. Get it? Wine. “It’s a fine year for cabernet.” It’s A Fine Year for Murder. I love catchy titles. Not only do I want a title to be catchy, I always want it to be unique. Once I come up with a title, I will google it and go onto Amazon and do a search for it. If multiple books come up with the same title, then I’ll change it because I don’t want my book to get lost among a dozen books with the same title.
I was really excited when I was offered to read A Fine Year for Murder especially when I saw it brought back Jessica and Murphy whom I met in Candidate for Murder which btw was another favorite! Without revealing too much can you tell us a little about the plot and where the story takes place?
Jessica and Murphy are going to be my traveling detectives. Being the younger generation, they aren’t as settled as Mac Faraday and the Lovers in in Crime. So their cases will take them to different settings and bring a bit more action and technology into their storylines than my other two series.
After Kill and Run, the first Thorny Rose mystery, I wanted to write a mystery that would center more on Jessica Faraday. Both Kill and Run and Candidate for Murder revolved around Murphy and his military connections.
Jessica and Murphy are a team—they are partners. I don’t want the Thorny Rose mysteries to end up being a series where Murphy goes after the bad guys while Jessica worries about him. So I knew as soon as I had finished writing Kill and Run that the next Thorny Rose mystery had to be Jessica’s story.
I had already mentioned in passing that Jessica had nightmares, which resulted in her striking out at Murphy in her sleep. In A Fine Year for Murder, we explore the source of those nightmares.
When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize that Jessica, as a child, may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she had been visiting and suppressed the memory.
I haven’t read the book yet but the synopsis indicates that Dallas is investigating
The Pine Bridge Massacre I’m wondering did Dallas become interested because of
Jessica’s past? Or is Jessica’s past brought to the present because of Dallas’ investigating?
Dallas happens onto the case totally by coincidence. The murder case had been a famous cold case. When the remains of the police’s prime suspect are found, the case heats up again and Dallas, unaware of Jessica’s connection, dives in. After comparing notes, they realize that Jessica’s past could hold a key to solving the mystery.
I read about the series on your website. Which brought a question to mind; Since we’re traveling to another setting away from Spencer and Chester in this story can the reader expect that maybe the bedroom doors are gonna be left open a little?
The Thorny Rose Mysteries are just a little bit edgier than the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime mysteries. The bedroom door is open a little bit more and there may be some rougher language (no F-bombs, though!). But still, reviewers and readers have declared them to be clean reads.
I am always interested in the research an author does for a story.
First I was wondering do you do you own research? (is this an o.k. ? to ask)
Yes, I do conduct my own research. Through the years, I have collected an assortment of connections in law enforcement, criminal law, forensics, and computer technology. Google and YouTube have become invaluable! But I always double check my facts. Still, I do believe in the freedom of literary license—meaning that as a writer with a vivid imagination, I have the freedom to take the facts and take a flying leap with them!
For example, in Candidate for Murder, I introduced a new “character” who will be a regular in the Thorny Rose mysteries by the name of Nigel. My editor and I had a disagreement about what to call him. I called him an IA (Artificial Intelligence) she said that was not the correct term. We decided on Virtual Butler.
Nigel is the brain inside of the Faraday-Thornton’s Smart House. As explained in Candidate for Murder, Nigel is a computerized prototype designed and engineered by a team of computer techs, including Jessica’s brother Tristan, who work on contract for the Phantoms. Nigel’s primary purpose is to provide security for the estate. However, since Nigel was a prototype, Tristan and the computer geeks released their inner “Tony Stark” (from Ironman) and went wild.
In the end, Nigel is not only connected to all of their electronics, controlling the lights, temperature, and even the water temperature, but he is also up close and personal with all of the government’s computer systems.
Some readers, especially those intimidated by modern technology, may find this a bit wild. However, according to my research, every piece of Nigel’s technology is available today—including that described in Candidate for Murder’s climax. As a writer, I just pieced the various bits of technology together and gave the computer a name—and a snarky personality to make him more interesting.
Can you tell us if you did any special research while or before writing A Fine Year for Murder?
How long did you spend while researching? Is your research virtual or do you travel to other places?
The bulk of my research is virtual—simply because I’m too lazy to get dressed and go out. Most of the research I did for A Fine Year for Murder was on the Keddie murder case, a real thirty-five year old cold case in which a family was brutally murdered in a small cabin in a rural area. The bare facts of the real case were just a jumping off point.
Then, since I had already decided that Jessica was going to have some connection to it, I had to decide what that connection would be. Since Jessica and Murphy live in Virginia, I decided to make it be a vineyard in southern Virginia, that is owned by distant relatives. The murders were committed in a tiny company-owned village next to the vineyard.
I’ll spend months researching a case and the various elements, including the characters who will be the best fit for the book, before I sit down to start writing the mystery.
While most of my research is online, I have also gone to conferences and workshops for hands on training. I’ve gone to the Writer’s Police Academy more than once. I’ve also taken gun classes to learn about using weapons. While virtual research, whether it be online or television, is very convenient, nothing beats hands on to give a writer a more intimate understanding of what they are writing about.
Well it has been super fun getting a chance to chat again thanks so much for
giving us a little sneak peek and background about A Fine Year For Murder. I can’t wait to read it!
A Fine Year For Murder by Lauren Carr! You won't be disappointed.
Here's a great Giveaway . . .