Magic Carpet Ride by Saralyn Richard

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

At a recent interview, I was asked whether I’ve always been attracted to mysteries, even as a child. That’s not the first time I’ve answered the question, but the more experience I have as a mystery writer, the more I’ve seen the power of mysteries, and I want to share my thinking.

I’m an eclectic reader and teacher of literature. I like to read all genres and nonfiction, plays, poems—you name it. But mysteries draw me in more than any other genre, and I think that’s because in no other type of book are the reader and writer so closely connected.

The intellectual puzzle of a mystery novel is a carefully planned path laid out by the author and followed by the reader. The steps, the clues, the evidence, the red herrings—all are set forth in a grand treasure hunt, and the reader is invited to join in. In accepting the invitation, a reader becomes complicit with the scheme. He enters the story as an ally or a sidekick of the sleuth, and he solves the mystery along with the character.

In order to enjoy the mystery fully, the reader must pay attention, not only to the intellectual puzzle, but also to the emotional puzzle. How do the characters relate to one another? What motivates one or more of them to commit a crime? How will the truth be discovered, and how will justice be administered?

The mystery is less about the actual killing of a person and more about the process of decision-making and problem-solving that will restore order to the world of the book. Yes, bad things happen in life, but clever people can overcome these bad things and find stability again. And if characters in books can achieve successful outcomes, people in real life can, also.

When I’ve read a good mystery, I feel I’ve connected with the author’s heart and soul. I know she’s an upright person who believes in doing the right thing. She’s taken me along with her on the journey, and, even if she’s dazzled and bewildered me, even when she’s twisted my thinking into knots and tossed me around the landscape of the novel, she’s held my hand throughout, and she’s taken pleasure in the fact that I’m still with her at the end.

I know these things because my favorite part of being a mystery author is doing those same things with my readers. The writer-reader connection is central to the mystery, and that’s what makes both reading and writing so much fun. Let’s hop on the magic carpet together and go for a ride.


Saralyn Richard writes award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries that pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. Her works include the Detective Parrott mystery series, two standalone mysteries, a children’s book, and various short stories published in anthologies. She also edited the nonfiction book, Burn Survivors. An active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature. Her favorite thing about being an author is interacting with readers like you. If you would like to subscribe to Saralyn’s monthly newsletter and receive information, giveaways, opportunities, surveys, freebies, and more, sign up at

Detective Parrott Mystery Series by Saralyn Richard

My introduction to Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania, was at a weekend retreat in one of the country mansions there. I was invited to a birthday party for one of the elite one-percenters who owned a gentleman’s farm. The thirteen guests were treated to three days of luxurious meals and accommodations, fit for royalty. That Saturday night we enjoyed a gourmet nine-course meal with wine pairings for each course. It was over the top, but tasteful at the same time. The conversation was intelligent and witty, and everyone had a wonderful time, especially the birthday celebrant, who beamed at his friends and family members the entire time.

After the elaborate dinner on Saturday night, our bellies and spirits equally full, we sat around near the fireplace in the den and talked about many things. The gathering reminded me of an Agatha Christie locked room mystery, where someone died, and the rest of the guests were suspects. I was struck by the idea that this would be the last place you’d expect a murder to occur. I turned to the person next to me and said, “This would be the perfect setting for a murder mystery.”

From that moment on, I wanted to write about these rich and powerful people, this setting, and the elements of social class that distinguish the ultra-wealthy from those who serve them. That was the beginning of MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT.

Since that time, I’ve traveled all over the country, talking about Brandywine Valley. The Detective Parrott mystery series has become popular, and it’s grown from a single mystery to four, the latest of which is being released January 5, 2024, MURDER OUTSIDE THE BOX. In each of the books, Detective Parrott learns and grows, while his cases intertwine with his real life.

The series, along with two standalone novels set in less opulent environments, has won numerous awards, favorable reviews, and loyal fans. I’ve conducted extensive research on various aspects of the Brandywine community, and I’ve acquired many first-hand sources who are happy to fill me in on details about the topography, history, architecture, artistry, equestrian activities, artistic endeavors, gardens, museums, shopping areas, bank barns, funeral customs, wildlife conservancy, and other aspects of the community.

The area has turned out to be a second home for me and a favorite escape for my readers. I love the less posh settings of my other books, too, but that long-ago birthday celebration in Brandywine Valley has turned out to be a seminal event in my writing life, and my fascination with the Brandywine culture continues to grow.

Do you have a favorite setting, either fictional or real, that holds you with its magic? Tell me about it!




The serene Brandywine Valley wakes up to an intoxicating double shock: a baby abandoned on the porch of a caretaker’s cottage, and a young post-partum woman lying dead on the estate of a billionaire scotch whiskey magnate. Detective Parrott’s instincts tell him the two crimes are connected, but the evidence points him in directions that are both baffling and personal. Parrott searches for answers in high and low places, including his own office.  As he races to find the truth about the baby’s origin and best placement, he untangles chilling murder clues that implicate people who harbor secrets that even their positions of power and trust can’t protect. Once again, Parrott may have to risk his reputation—and even his life—to uncover the real story.

A compulsive and compelling police procedural with relatable characters who remain in your heart. If you like detectives from Louisa Scarr, Clare Mackintosh, and Michael Connelly, you’ll love Detective Oliver Parrott. Purchase at your favorite bookstore or here.