Tag Archive for: Jessica Fletcher

A Sense of Place

One of the comments we
see frequently in reference to the beautifully written and award-winning Louise
Penny series is: “I want to live in Three Pines!” Or words to that effect.
And isn’t that exactly
what we authors hope for when we create a fictional world? We hope readers love
our worlds so much they want to take up residence! It’s true with all books
but seems especially true with a series where the community created is revisited with each book.
Also this sense of
place is a big part of who the characters are. Just like where we’re all from tells
so much about us. How they feel about where they’re from is important. And whether they’ve always lived there and continue to do so; or
perhaps they couldn’t get away from their roots fast enough.
Some strong examples
of series with a sense of place are:

  • Stephanie Plum and her
    irreverent Jersey burb surroundings,
  • Jessica Fletcher and
    her cozy Cabot Cove community,
  • Tess Monaghan’s rough
    and tumble Baltimore,
  • And, of course, the aforementioned,
    Three Pines with
    Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du
    Québec and the cast of complicated characters who invite us into their village.
We chose Laguna Beach, California for the
setting of our Pampered Pets mystery series for several reasons.
Our two amateur sleuths aren’t originally from
California, they’re from Texas. Those Lone Star roots are a big part of Caro
and Mel even though they both have pretty distinct reasons for leaving the
great state of Texas. 

Laguna Beach is not only the perfect place for
a pet-themed mystery with its pet-friendly merchants and off-the-chart number
of pet owners (more registered dogs than there are kids), it’s also the perfect
place for Caro and Mel.
The community is a seaside resort in southern
Orange County located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. It has
spectacular cliffs, glistening beaches, and breathtaking views of the Pacific,
but it also has a uniquely artsy and almost European feel. The quaint
boutiques, coffee bars, and sidewalk cafes provide a sense of place that
brings together people who care about their community and each other. A
community interested the greater good and setting things right when they go
wrong.
In our fictional Laguna Beach there are some
great restaurants and stores, just like in the real village. However, though we’ve used a real place we’ve populated the tree-lined village area, the Hills
and the fabulous beachfront homes with characters from our imagination.


In our make-believe world you’ll find: 

  • Judd Malone, no nonsense, stay-out-of-police-business homicide detective, 
  • Diana Knight, former screen star who still brings to mind the magic and glamour of a bygone era in Hollywood, 
  • Darby Beckett, wholesome and sometimes naive owner of Paw Prints pet photography, 
  • Ollie Hembry, former rocker turned pet rescuer, 
  • Kendall Reese, flamboyant dresser and pet groomer extraordinaire, 
  • Fan favorite, Betty Foxx, silk pajama-wearing senior with a strange sense of fashion and an eye for the gentleman, 
  • And, of course, assorted adorable cats and pups.

They all, like us love the unique and close-knit community. We think it’s the perfect place for Caro and Mel. And for a bit of fictional murder… 


What specific things do you love about the settings in your favorite mysteries? Do you enjoy returning to those favorite places? 



Our most recent book, Fifty Shades of Greyhound, has been called “A real tail-wagger!” (That’s from Buttercup aka Trixie the smart puppy who stars in the Paws & Claws series by NYTimes bestselling author Krista Davis). It follows Desperate Housedogs, Get Fluffy, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, and Yip/Tuck. Next up is, The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo


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Suspension of Disbelief


I’m as eager as the next guy to suspend disbelief. In fact, I do so on a daily basis. My daughter is in college and I prefer to believe that she is in her room at 7:30 pm, diligently working on her term papers, then accept the alternative that she is blithely walking the streets of her inner city campus. Seems a reasonable leap of faith.

How about the time that my mother took me to see the opera, Samson and Delilah. I was so caught up in the soaring arias that I ignored the fact that Delilah, the Biblical siren, outweighed the puny baritone playing Samson by a good 125 pounds.

My willingness to put on hold my rational brain may explain why I’m the perfect person to write cozy mysteries. By definition, these traditional whodunnits demand that, at some level, you park your common sense at the door. Cozies celebrate Ms. Average Citizen, the only person in town, regardless of her profession, who can figure out the who, what, when, where, and how of a murder mystery that has confounded the police. One of the reasons we love these stories is we want to believe that in a pinch, each of us would step up to the plate and do what needs to be done, even if it means putting Sherlock Holmes to shame.

Murder Takes the Cake, the second in the Sullivan Investigations series, will be published in May and is now available for pre-order. When creating it, both halves of Evelyn David wanted to craft a mystery full of red herrings and clever clues, with enough humor to make you laugh out loud, while avoiding the Jessica Fletcher syndrome. Remember? Jessica, a mystery writer, lives in a small town in Maine where there is a murder a week. Amazing that housing values didn’t plummet when potential buyers looked at the crime rate.

My job as an author is to write a story with enough believable elements and characters that ring true that the reader is willing to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. When the aria – or the mystery – is thrilling enough, that’s not hard to do.

Evelyn David
http://www.evelyndavid.com