Tag Archive for: #DetectiveParrottMysteryseries

Reading the Same Book Twice

Reading the Same Book Twice

by Saralyn Richard



I’m always surprised when a reader tells me he’s read one of my books multiple times. As a voracious lifelong reader, I find myself muttering, “So many books, so little time.” I’m on a personal mission to read as many new books as I can, and I don’t take the time to re-read any of them.

I feel the same way about movies. I’m stunned by the number of times my husband can watch a classic movie favorite. I recently asked him how many times he thought he’d seen “Casablanca,” and he estimated more than 100. “Do you continue to see new things in it each time?” I asked. “Absolutely,” he said, and, as a viewer, he is moved by the story in different ways each time, too.


That thought gave me pause. I wonder if I re-read Gone with the Wind today, would I have a whole different take on it than I did when I read it at the age of sixteen? Or how about Catcher in the Rye, or To Kill a Mockingbird?

One of my loyal readers, a dear friend, makes it a point to read my books three times. I’m honored that she spends so much time with my characters, and I’m intrigued, too. I asked her over lunch if she would elaborate as to why she does this, and what she gets out of it. Her answer was enlightening.

She said, “The first reading is a light, quick skip through the story, mainly following the plot. The second reading is more intense. That’s where I pay close attention to the clues and the path on which they are leading me. The second reading is more process oriented. The third reading is more holistic. By this time, I’m able to enjoy the whole package of the story. I can see how the setting, characters, plot, and theme work together to form a perfect whole.”

“Wow,” I said, flattered that she has taken the time to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate each of my books. Her higher-level thinking makes my heart sing.

And it makes me re-think what it means to be a reader, rather than a consumer of books. For many years I taught a literature course entitled, “Literary Tapas.” The class read short pieces of literature and analyzed them using Socratic questioning. Through the questioning, we were able to get at some incredible insights and meanings, no matter what genre or time period the literature came from. And we always read it twice.

Now that I think about it, I might enjoy reading a few favorite books again, savoring the journey as I go. How about you? Are there any books you’ve read or would like to read twice?


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 https://saralynrichard.com.


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.

Parrott and Tonya Sitting in a Tree by Saralyn Richard



Literary detectives rarely work alone. Sherlock had Watson. Nero Wolfe had Archie Goodwin. Poirot had Captain Hastings. Then there are Nick and Nora Charles, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs, and Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.

Authors make good use of the sidekicks throughout the series. The sidekick provides a sounding board for the detective, someone to help with collecting evidence and processing clues. Sometimes the sidekick offers an insight that might turn out to be a red herring—or not. The dialogue and interaction between the detective and his sidekick add interest and humanity to the story.

The Detective Parrott mystery series features Detective Oliver Parrott, a young, smart, organized person who’s well-grounded and dedicated to finding the truth. An outsider in the wealthy community he serves, he has a sixth sense about sniffing through subterfuge and barriers, and he’s undaunted by rich and powerful people. He just wants to do the right thing and make way for justice to be served.

That’s a big job for one guy to do, and the work can become frustrating and lonely. That’s why Parrott has a sidekick—his lovely fiancée (and then wife) Tonya.  College sweethearts, Parrott and Tonya have similar backgrounds. Both come from single parent homes in underprivileged neighborhoods. They had scholarships to Syracuse, where Parrott was a football star. Tonya majored in political science, while Parrott majored in criminal justice.

When the series opens in MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, Tonya is on a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Navy. Parrott visits with her on Skype, and, while she can’t tell him much about her work, and he can’t tell her much about his, they both provide significant encouragement and support for each other.

By the time of the second book, A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, the Parrotts are married and living in Parrott’s small house with their pet cockatiel, Horace. They have a loving marriage, but from the start, their lives are complicated by Tonya’s PTSD. Without spoiling the plot of this and subsequent books, I’ll say that Tonya’s story becomes inextricably entwined with Parrott’s investigation, and from then on, the Parrotts’ personal lives and the detective’s professional life cross paths.

The pattern continues in CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER and MURDER OUTSIDE THE BOX. At times the elements of humor and romance tip the plots into scenes unusual for a police procedural. Readers and reviewers apparently enjoy the dynamics between the two characters, and I’ve been present at many book clubs where people remark about it. One reader stopped me at the theater to plead with me never to let Parrott and Tonya divorce.

I doubt that will ever happen, although the Parrotts have to go through rough times, just like the rest of us. Right now, Parrott and his lovely wife are getting ready for the holiday celebration in their home, and they’ve asked me to wish each and every one of you the best of the season, and a happy new year. Let me echo those chirpy good wishes. May you have good health, friendship, love, peace, and happy reading!


MURDER OUTSIDE THE BOX will be available January 5. For other books, check out Saralyn Richard’s website here or Amazon page here.

Love-Hate Relationship with English Grammar by Saralyn Richard

Love-Hate Relationship with English Grammar

by Saralyn Richard

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash



I taught high school English for many years in the days when students had to write ten mandatory papers per quarter, or forty papers per year. According to my estimates, I’ve graded over seven thousand papers, not counting major assignments, where I graded several drafts of the same paper. I graded papers day and night in every location you can imagine. With all that practice, I became a walking encyclopedia of grammar, able to recite every rule, chapter and verse.

Here are a few of the most common mistakes my students made:

  • Run-on sentences or comma splice
  • Pronoun disagreement
  • Mistakes in apostrophe usage, especially possessives
  • Lack of subject-verb agreement
  • Misplaced modifiers
  • Sentence fragments
  • Verb tense inconsistency
  • No clear antecedent for a pronoun


When my son was in ninth grade, his English teacher offered five points extra credit whenever a student could find a mistake in the “real world,” take a photo of it, get the person in charge to change it, and photograph the correction. You wouldn’t believe how many errors came to light. My son even had the local park district take down and redo a huge sign at the entrance to a nearby subdivision, costing taxpayers approximately nine hundred dollars.

Today we have online (AI-based) grammar tutors, and we are still plagued with grammar infractions everywhere we go, including in edited and published media. As a reader, I find mistakes distracting, but I no longer carry the weight of responsibility for marking each one in red ink and making sure the writer knows better for next time.

As a writer and editor, I’m not let off the hook so easily. While I recognize there is no such thing as a perfect piece of writing, I can’t let go of wanting anything with my name on it to be as clean as possible. For me, an error-free, clearly stated, well-ordered paragraph practically sings from the page.

How about you? Do you have a love-hate relationship with English grammar, too?


Saralyn Richard is an educator and the writer of six mystery novels and a children’s book. Connect with her at http://saralynrichard.com and subscribe to her monthly newsletter for interesting and fun content and opportunities.



Writing a Series—It’s All in the Protagonist by Saralyn Richard

Writing a Series—It’s All in the Protagonist

by Saralyn Richard


A man wearing a hat photo – Free On Image on Unsplash


I never planned to write a series. My first mystery novel, MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, set in the lush landscape of Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania, centered around a birthday party where old college buddies were reunited for a weekend retreat. Old flames, old rivalries, old resentments resurfaced, and one of the party-goers ended up dead.

Enter Detective Oliver Parrott, young, ambitious, and Black, an outsider in this ritzy community—the better to see through the closed ranks and subterfuge. Undazzled by materialism, Parrott keeps a dogged focus on the people who have had it in for the victim, and readers have responded to Parrott’s character in ways that surprised me.

“We want more Parrott,” I kept hearing, and I found myself wanting to stay with the well-grounded detective, as well. Since that time, I have written a three more Detective Parrott books. I’ve seen Parrott mature and marry. He’s made a name for himself in Brandywine and beyond. He’s tackled challenging cases, faced dangers, stood up for the innocent, and hounded the guilty.

Parrott and Tonya, his fiancée and then wife, make a remarkable duo. Their relationship isn’t perfect (whose ever is?), but whenever one of them needs support and a listening ear, the other is there to give them.

One of my readers leaned over the space between her seat and mine at the theater and said, “Please, please don’t ever let Parrott and Tonya divorce.” Remarks like that let me know that others are invested in my series characters as much as I am. I love spending time with Parrott and his family, as well as the recurring characters in Brandywine Valley and in the West Brandywine police department. It’s like visiting old friends and catching up on their lives.

I’m pretty sure I’ll never run out of things for them to say or do, experiences they need to have, lessons they need to learn. As in real life, there are always surprises, secrets, challenges, and joys. There are always new issues to be confronted, new insights to be gained.

In the next few months, the fourth Detective Parrott book, MURDER OUTSIDE THE BOX, will launch. Parrott is sharper than ever as he deals with an abandoned baby and the murder of a postpartum woman. Parrott’s relationship with Tonya spills over into his case, and vice versa, until the two bits of life are woven into a single fabric.

After more than seven years and twelve hundred pages spent with Parrott and his wife, I’m not sure what path their lives will take next, but one thing I am sure of—they’ll never be bored. And with so much trouble going on in the world, it’s good to have good people like Detective Parrott around to find the truth and right the wrongs.

Who is your favorite fictional protagonist?

Award-winning author and educator, Saralyn Richard writes about people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. She loves beaches, reading, sheepdogs, the arts, libraries, parties, nature, cooking, and connecting with readers. Look for her latest Detective Parrott mystery, MURDER OUTSIDE THE BOX, coming soon.

Visit Saralyn at http://saralynrichard.com

Work Life Balance

Work Life Balance

by Saralyn Richard

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash


I was recently asked in a video interview what my work-life balance looked like. I had to laugh. I’m sorry to say I’ve never perfected work-life balance, and I’ve never really tried. While I’m a perfectionist in many things, anything that requires me to pay attention to time is a lost cause.

As a disclaimer, writing, for me, is not actually work. Being a writer is a long-deferred dream come true, so now that I have dedicated myself to telling stories, the work is joyous. When I’m working, I give my all to my work. If I’m writing a scene, I am lost in the zone of that scene so thoroughly that I don’t notice where I am or what time it is in the real world. This quirk has gotten me into many difficulties when I start writing close to times of appointments, meetings, or social engagements. I have to restrain myself from sitting down to work within an hour of any of the above.

The same is true when I’m spending time with friends or family. I give my full attention to them and strive to cherish every moment. Having been deprived of social interactions for so long, due to the pandemic, I appreciate in-person get-togethers more than ever. I don’t check my phone for messages or daydream about possible plot twists. I don’t lurk on the fringes; I jump into the middle with my whole heart.  I listen, I share, I laugh, I cry. I try to emulate my sheepdog Nana, who gives herself over to her people, completely.

If work and life end up being balanced, that’s a happy coincidence. So how about you? I’d love to hear how you address work-life balance.

Saralyn Richard is an educator and author of five award-winning mystery novels and a children’s book. Visit her at http://saralynrichard.com and sign up for her monthly newsletter.


by Saralyn Richard


Do good fences make good neighbors? In the past few months, I’ve gained new neighbors on either side of my house. There’s a brand-spanking-new fence between my yard and that of the neighbor to the north. There’s no fence between my yard and that of the neighbor to the south. I love both sets of neighbors. We’ve shared lots of visits in our front yards, several barbecues and parties, baked goods, pets, children, home improvement advice, and more. They may be pine, and I, apple orchard, but I enjoy spending time with them and being part of their community.

Robert Frost’s MENDING WALL is one of my favorite poems. His last line is the source for my opening question. I find a lot of wisdom in this poem:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

The same analogy applies to my relationships with fellow authors in The Stiletto Gang. I may be police procedural and they cozy writers, but we have much in common, and we can help each other every time we meet to walk the line and re-build the wall (which might just be the website). I’m grateful for my neighbors, my Stiletto Gang colleagues, and everyone who reads this post. May all your walls be mended, and may all your neighbors be good.

Galveston Author Saralyn Richard

Award-winning author and educator, Saralyn Richard writes about people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. She loves beaches, reading, sheepdogs, the arts, libraries, parties, nature, cooking, and connecting with readers.

Visit Saralyn and subscribe to her monthly newsletter here, or on her Amazon page here.


Always the Season for Kindness

By Saralyn Richard

Photo courtesy of Jasper Garratt and Unsplash Free Photos

When I was an English I teacher, I assigned my students a “Day of Kindness” paper, based on the Shirley Jackson short story, “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts.” The resulting papers and speeches led to a powerful discussion of good and evil, and how doing good deeds made the world a better place, even for the giving party.

That same concept of good vs. evil is basic to most mystery novels, including the Detective Parrott mysteries. Parrott, like most real-life law enforcement officers I know, chose the profession because he wanted to seek truths, right wrongs, administer justice, and bring a measure of peace and closure to victims and their families.

Sometimes his is a thankless job. The person most grateful for Parrott’s solving a crime might be the deceased victim. But Parrott finds satisfaction in his role, whether he is turning up evidence to prove someone’s guilt or someone’s innocence. In either case, he is protecting the community.

Parrott can be tough when he needs to, but underneath it all, he’s a kind and caring human being. Over and over again, readers see the kindness and compassion he shows to his wife, his mother, his boss, and even his suspects.

Fortunately, we don’t have to be detectives to follow Parrott’s example. We can show kindness at this season, and in every season. Anyone who’d like some fresh ideas for acts of kindness to perform might check out this list.

If you’re inspired to do a good deed by this blogpost, I’ll ask you, as I asked my students, what did you do, whom did you help, what reaction did you receive, and how did the experience make you feel? I hope you agree—it’s always the season for kindness.

Saralyn Richard writes the Detective Parrott Mystery Series, two standalone mysteries, and a children’s book narrated by her Old English sheepdog, Nana. To learn more about her, click here.


I’m often asked which of my books is my favorite, and I can never answer directly. It’s like picking one of your children over the others. I love every book for its unique qualities, its characters, its relationship to my own life. BAD BLOOD SISTERS is my first book set in my hometown, on an island on the Gulf Coast. The main character, Quinn McFarland, struggles with issues of identity, friendship, and betrayal. The whole story is told through Quinn’s point of view, so we get to know and care about her deeply. Also, I wrote the book during Covid lockdown. Quinn’s story occupied my whole life, day and night, for almost a year, and I still think of her often. Quinn might be my Scarlett O’Hara.

NAUGHTY NANA, a children’s picture book, is narrated by my real-live Old English sheepdog, Nana, whose puppyhood was fraught with mishaps in the extreme. My first foray into the world of writing, NAUGHTY NANA introduced me to an illustrator, an audience, public appearances, and all the joys of connecting with readers. Having Nana by my side throughout this adventure has been a spectacular privilege. Nana could be my Curious George—in the book and in real life.


A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL might be my most personal novel, since it is set in an urban high school in the Midwest. I served as an educator in several such schools—they were my homes away from home. I do a lot of research for all of my books, but I did the least amount of research for this one, because my own experience and expertise carried me through most of the story. Assistant Principal, Sally Pierce, who resembles me in a few ways (but is overall purely fictional), is a fascinating amateur sleuth, and R.J. Stoker, the renegade principal who brings unwanted changes to Lincoln High School, is one of my favorite all-time characters.


And then I must consider the three books in the Detective Parrott Mystery Series. MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, and CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER. Each of these is also my favorite. Set in the elite countryside of Brandywine Valley, where many of America’s wealthiest and most powerful live, each story is different (and can be read as a standalone), but each brings a new slant on human nature, particularly as it’s affected by money and material things. The main character, Detective Oliver Parrott, is an outsider in the community, which gives him the unique ability to see through the roadblocks thrown at him by the one percenters, who protect their secrets and their turf at all costs. Detective Parrott, despite being young and inexperienced, is a fully-realized agent for truth and justice, and his personal life, including relationship with fiancée (and later wife) Tonya, adds depth and humanity to the stories.  Parrott is a wonderful human being, someone who whispers in my ear, commenting on social issues, even at times when I’m not writing him. Parrott is my Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or Harry Bosch.

Is there a book you’ve read (or written) where you felt galvanized by the main character?


Galveston Author Saralyn Richard

Visit my website here for more information, to order autographed books, and to subscribe to my monthly newsletter,

Untitled Post


Write What You Know

by Saralyn Richard

Back in the day, there were certain rules a writer had
to observe. Show, don’t tell. Always use complete sentences. Write what you

The logic behind these rules was impeccable, and, all
innovation to the contrary, most writers still observe them today, at least
most of the time.

When my Detective Parrott Mystery series, including
readers assumed I was a part of the country’s top one percent. Otherwise, how
did I know so many of the details surrounding how the rich and powerful
dressed, ate, drank, and partied?

Truthfully, I did attend an elegant party in Brandywine
Valley, and that inspired the party in MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, but all of
the details about the one percent came from research. (Sorry to disappoint,
but, no, I do not have fifty pairs of Christian Louboutin heels in my closet.)

How did I portray all of the books’ characters and
home interiors so authentically? I observed, I asked questions, and I shopped
online at all of the most exclusive stores (without spending a dime).

I’ve been asked many times how I was able to depict
Detective Oliver Parrott so genuinely, since I am neither young, male, nor
African-American. That must have been a real departure from writing what you
know, right? Wrong.

As an urban high school educator, I’ve known hundreds,
maybe thousands, of young African-American males, many of them as intelligent,
ambitious, hard-working, and down-to-earth as Detective Parrott. I’ve known
their struggles, their families, and their dreams. I’ve celebrated their joys
and grieved their sorrows. I’ve listened to them speak and watched them perform.

Detective Parrott is an amalgamation of many fine
young men who have taken their places in society and who strive to make a
difference with their lives. He is definitely an example of writing what I

Similarly, I drew from my experiences as a teacher,
administrator, and school improvement consultant in urban high schools to write
the upcoming release, A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL. Although the story is fictional,
it pulls back the curtain on the joys and challenges within a large school
community, and the issues of gangs, grievances, sexual harassment, and race are
ever-so relevant today.

Whether I’m writing about billionaire playboys or disadvantaged
football players, whether I researched or remembered, I’m writing what I know. And
I hope my characters will resonate with you, too.

books have you read that transported you out of your own experience?


Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard has
drawn from her experiences as an urban high school educator to write A Murder of Principal. Her previous
books, Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, and A Palette for Love and Murder, have
delighted children and adults, alike. An active member of International
Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative
writing at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and continues to write
mysteries. Reviews, media, and tour schedule may be found at http://saralynrichard.com.

A maverick principal comes to Lincoln High School with a student-centered agenda. Trouble ensues, and killing the principal is just the beginning. A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL is available for pre-order at https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Principal-Saralyn-Richard-ebook/dp/B08KWLZ9JP/ref=