Cozy Review & Author Guest Post: Something Shady at Sunshine Haven
Something Shady at Sunshine Haven (The Accidental Detective) by Kris Bock
About Something Shady at Sunshine Haven
Cozy Mystery, 1st in Series Setting
Publisher's Blurb :
She’s pursued the most dangerous news stories around the world. But can she survive going home?
Injured in a bombing, war correspondent Kate Tessler returns to her hometown in Arizona to recover. For the first time in her life, she's starting to feel her age of nearly fifty despite living like a teenager again: staying in her childhood bedroom with only a cat for company, trying to understand why her sister resents her so much, and running into people who still refer to her as Kitty. The hardest part? Seeing her once-sharp and witty mother stuck in an Alzheimer's unit.
When an old friend asks her to investigate suspicious deaths at the nursing home, Kate limps into action. Is a self-appointed "Angel of Mercy" killing patients to end their suffering? Are family members hastening their inheritance? Is an employee extorting money and removing the witnesses? Kate uses her journalism skills to track clues, but the puzzle pieces simply won’t fit.
If Kate can't uncover the truth quickly, her mother could be next on the killer's list.
I read this book during a particularly disruptive bit of my life, as I was moving, searching for a new home, and trying to sell my old home. That made it hard to find the bandwidth to read an actual book (as opposed, say, to a Zillow listing). Despite those long odds against it, Something Shady at Sunshine Haven caught me up fairly early on and by the mid-point, I had to read on to see exactly who was rotten, and how our rather battered sleuth was going to ferret out the truth.
I really appreciated the author choosing to make her main character a woman of "a certain age". I think I have mentioned before that I am rather fed up with sweet young things who can't decide who they are in love with. A fifty-year-old who is wondering what she wants to do when she grows up? That's more like it!
Kris Bock creates some characters you can really appreciate, as well as dealing with a number of life's challenges and difficult issues, and she does it well. The writing is generally tight, characterization is clear, and the plot is twisty enough to satisfy. It's a series I'll follow.
A great read for those who want more character development and mystery, and less romance. Bock's story offers proof positive that no one outgrows the need for more maturity and self-discovery.
About Kris Bock
Kris Bock writes novels of mystery, suspense, and romance, many with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Get a free Accidental Detective short story and bonus material when you sign up for her newsletter. You’ll also get a free 30-page sweet romance set in the world of the Furrever Friends cat café and a printable copy of the recipes mentioned in the cat café novels
Kris is also writing a series with her brother, scriptwriter Douglas J Eboch, who wrote the original screenplay for the movie Sweet Home Alabama. Follow the crazy antics of Melanie, Jake, and their friends a decade before the events of the movie. Sign up for our romantic comedy newsletter and get Felony Melanie Destroys the Moonshiner’s Cabin. Or find the books on Amazon US or All E-book retailers
And now for a visit from Author Kris Bock!
When I wrote Something Shady at Sunshine Haven, I didn’t necessarily intend to write a humorous mystery. It’s simply that Kate sees the world the way I see the world and makes wry or witty observations. Then early readers, including both my agent and my editor, said they laughed a lot.
Once I realized I was writing humorous mysteries, I wondered if I could be more intentional about it. I studied some comedy writing techniques. Humor should come naturally through the characters and the story, so it doesn’t feel forced or false. Still, a writer can look for ways to add humor. That makes the writing and reading more fun.
For example, any mystery novel is going to have a fairly large cast of characters: suspects, family, friends etc. Each of those characters should be interesting. In general, if someone is asked to think of a character type – grandmother, cheerleader, private investigator, or whatever – a certain image will easily come to mind. That image tends to be based on societal stereotypes.
For example, someone who needs a “grandmother” character might picture a plump woman with white hair who bakes cookies. But grandmothers come in all shapes and sizes. They may be quite young. They can have a wide variety of jobs and hobbies.
Creating a more distinct character means going beyond any initial stereotypical thoughts. How about a grandmother who dyes blue streaks into her silver hair? Maybe she manages the town sanitation department and plays competitive bocce ball on the weekends. A more specific character is actually more believable than a generic character – and a lot more fun.
For a humorous book, a writer can push those secondary characters to greater extremes. They can have interesting quirks, unusual hobbies, or strange passions. For example, in Something Shady at Sunshine Haven, Kate is quietly investigating some nursing home deaths that might not be natural. Her father insists on helping and recruits his friends Joe and Marty Washington. Joe took up baking in retirement and makes wonderful cookies and cupcakes. Marty runs the Margarita blender at parties.
Creating lively, realistic characters can also lead to fun dialogue. In the following excerpt, the team is sharing their discoveries:
“I found Felicity Carver,” Marty said.
“The nurse without a past?” Shoot, I’d forgotten to ask the nursing home director about her.
She nodded. “I only managed to speak to her for a minute. As one of two RNs on the whole staff, she’ll have a full workload in a place this size. But I have a theory about her.”
“I’m saving it until I’m sure.” Marty gave a mischievous smile.
“Is that really necessary?” I asked.
Her husband frowned and shook his head. “Baby, you know what happens when someone says, ‘I know whodunit and I’ll tell you later.’ That person always gets it next.” He drew his finger across his throat.
Readers may not care how a writer develops humor in their novels. They merely want to smile or chuckle or laugh. But behind the scenes, a writer may be working to make sure the book provides maximum entertainment.Tule Publishing Amazon Kindle - Amazon Kindle UK B&N Nook Apple Books Kobo Google Play
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FTC Disclosure: I was given an electronic review copy of Something Shady at Sunshine Haven as part of a Great Escapes book tour, in exchange for my honest review, not for a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."