Series: Tourist Trap Mysteries #2
Published by Kensington, Lyrical Underground on July 31, 2014
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Source: the publisher
Also in this series: Guidebook to Murder, If the Shoe Kills, Dressed To Kill, Killer Run, Murder on Wheels, Tea Cups and Carnage, Hospitality and Homicide, Killer Party
Also by this author: Guidebook to Murder, If the Shoe Kills, Dressed To Kill, Killer Run, Murder on Wheels, Tea Cups and Carnage, A Story to Kill, Hospitality and Homicide, Killer Party, Of Murder and Men
In the California coastal town of South Cove, history is one of its many tourist attractions, until it becomes deadly.
Jill Gardner, proprietor of Coffee, Books, and More, has discovered that the old stone wall on her property might be a centuries-old mission worthy of being declared a landmark. But Craig Thomas, the obnoxious owner of South Cove's most popular tourist spot, The Castle, makes it his business to contest her claim. When Thomas is found murdered at The Castle shortly after a heated argument with Jill, even her detective boyfriend has to ask her for an alibi. Jill decides she must find the real murderer to clear her name. But when the killer comes for her, she'll need to jump from historic preservation to self-preservation.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.
I’m very pleased to have Lynn Cahoon with me today. Lynn is the author of the Tourist Trap mystery series as well as both contemporary and paranormal romances. She’s touring this week with her newest release, Mission to Murder, the second Tourist Trap mystery.
Lark of the Bookwyrm’s Hoard: Hi, Lynn, and welcome to The Bookwyrm’s Hoard! Thank you so much for coming by to talk with us today. Please tell us a little about your writing career. When did you first begin writing?
Lynn Cahoon: I started taking classes in fiction writing in the late nineties, but talked myself out of a MFA in Creative Writing mostly because of the cost. I kept thinking I’d have plenty of time to reach my dream as a writer, and like many of us, life kept getting in the way. In 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer so I realized then that someday may never come. I started studying the craft and wrote and sold two essays that year. In 2012, I sold my first contemporary romance and have continued the on-the-job training for being a writer ever since.
Lark: You are a little unusual in that you write and publish in several genres. Besides your cozy mysteries (the Tourist Trap series), you write contemporary romance and fantasy/paranormal romance. Has there been any pressure to focus on a single genre? And how do you balance writing in three separate genres?
Lynn: I sold the contemporary romance and the paranormal the same month in 2012. I’m in a writer’s group who called me a different name than unusual when I said yes to both. People thought I was crazy. And I probably was, but I needed to find my voice as a writer. And I loved both of those stories too much to walk away from them. I don’t think I would change my beginnings because I have learned so much about my strengths and weaknesses.
Currently with the initial success of The Tourist Trap mysteries, I’m finding my groove as a storyteller. Romance will always be a part of my world, but my writing dance card is a little full right now.
Lark: Who are your favorite authors? And which authors have really inspired or influenced you?
Lynn: I bow to the Master, Stephen King. He has a way with secondary characters that has definitely influenced my mystery writing. I love the quirky neighbor or diner owner. I’m obsessed with The All Souls trilogy right now (Deborah Harkness) and I adore Heather Graham. I love a little paranormal in my otherwise normal world.
Cozy writers I love include Laura Bradford, Maggie Sefton, and Kate Carlisle.
Lark: Oh, I love Deborah Harkness, and I’ve been reading Maggie Sefton almost since the start.
I’m always curious about the writing process, and it seems to be different for everyone. Are you a plotter or a pansters? Do you follow certain routines or wait for inspiration to strike? Do you have a dedicated writing space, or do you like to move around?
Lynn: Definitely a panster. I typically know the beginning, the end and some of the middle when I start writing. The rest is a mystery to me until I start writing the scene. I bullet point out chapters so I know what path I’m taking and the bread crumbs to leave. I work best when I write every day. It allows me to be more in touch with my characters. That being said, when I get stuck, I can’t write until I figure out where I went wrong. Most of my writing happens at my desk on my desktop. But I can move around, I just don’t want to waste the time driving somewhere if I can write at my desk.
Lark: What’s the hardest kind of scene for you to write, and why? And which genre do you find easiest to write? Which one is the most fun?
Lynn: The sex scene. I never know how far its going to go and if it will be on screen or off until I finish. I like writing finding the body scenes better than writing sex scenes. I don’t have an answer to easiest genre. They all have their rules and flow, but they are stories, first and foremost, and telling stories is what I do. So they’re all fun too.
Lark: Is there a common thread or theme in your books?
Lynn: Small town America. I love working with people and developing a sense of community between longtime residents and new arrivals. Even when a story is set in a bigger city, I focus on the neighborhood rather than the outside world.
Lark: How do you come up with the names in your books? Not just for characters, but for places, stores, and so on.
Lynn: Some names just come to me. The Glass Slipper, a glass work shop (stained and cut). Antiques by Thomas seemed to fit the owner’s personality. South Cove went through many name changes before I found the one I loved. Character’s names are the same way. I’ll be halfway through the book and realize I have to change the name because either it doesn’t fit the character as I’m writing them, or it’s too close to something else. I did a lot of first draft Derek’s until I realized I already used the name in the paranormal book and should find something else. I’m drawn to names. Diamond Lille’s was a wink to a bar in a small Idaho mining town I liked to visit.
Lark: I love the way you set the stage for Mission to Murder by having Jill discover the ruins of an old mission on the property she inherited in the first book, Guidebook to Murder. Clearly, you had already planned the second book when you were writing the first one. Do you have other books in the series written or planned? What’s next for Jill Gardner?
Lynn: If the Shoe Kills is the November release for the Tourist Trap mysteries. The shop across the street, The Glass Slipper, has a few secrets that the owner will do anything to keep buried. Sometimes stories grow organically from the prior books. I’m interested in growing the town of South Cove along with the next three books that will be releasing in 2015. So Jill has a lot of trouble coming her way.
Lark: Three more Tourist Trapp mysteries? Yay! Finally, a few quick questions. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Lynn: Currently, it’s ATV riding. My husband and I bought our new toys for our anniversary. Our version of a date night. Also I’m always looking for the next book to read along with being obsessed with competition reality shows. (Yay – Project Runway is back on…)
Lark: What’s your favorite beverage when writing?
Lynn: Coffee. I had one reader say Jill drinks too much coffee. I drink more.
Lark: LOL! If you were a superhero, what super-power would you choose?
Lynn: Reading people’s minds. Of course, not sure that would be the healthiest superhero power to have. Maybe calorie burning magic? You could eat all you want and never gain an ounce.
Lark: Oh, I like that one! When you read, do you prefer print, ebook, or audiobook?
Lynn: I love print. That being said, I listen to audiobooks every work day on my commute. Makes the time seem like I’m productive.
Lark: What’s your favorite TV show?
Lynn: Project Runway for reality shows. I was addicted to Drop Dead Diva, but it’s over. Love Supernatural and Criminal Minds.
Lark: I think I’m out of questions! Thank you again for stopping by, Lynn! It’s been great to get to chat with you. Best of luck with Mission to Murder and your other books!
Lynn: Thank you so much for having me over. I enjoyed our talk!
Another good mystery – I’m definitely liking this series! This time, unpleasant Craig Morgan, the owner/manager of The Castle, turns up dead. Who killed him and why? It doesn’t help matters that Jill had a loud public argument with him; Craig was trying to undermine her plans to get the ancient wall at the bottom of her garden certified as a historic landmark – the last remnants of a Spanish mission. But pretty soon, other possible suspects and motives turn up. The plot moves along at a good pace, and it’s not clear for some time which are red herrings and which are actual clues.
Jill’s relationship with South Cove’s police detective, Greg, is ticking along nicely (and is one reason why Jill isn’t higher on the suspect list.) I enjoy their banter and the slowness with which their relationship is developing. They’re up to the couple-but-we-haven’t-said-the-L-word stage, and they’re cute together. I’m also quite fond of some of the secondary characters, particularly eccentric but smart and sassy Aunt Jackie, and Toby, who works part-time at Jill’s coffee-and-books shop when he’s not on duty as Greg’s deputy.
Jill does like to snoop, and it should get her more reprimands from the law than it does. That said, both of the more suspenseful and potentially dangerous situations comes about through no fault of her own. She also shows herself to be a bit more of a hothead in this book, confronting Craig with more belligerence than was probably wise. Nonetheless, she’s a very engaging heroine, and her first-person narrative works well.
Three subplots provide some depth and a change of mood from the primary mystery, and Lynn Cahoon weaves them in skillfully. The ongoing storyline involving the mission wall may or may not be tied in to Craig Morgan’s murder. Then there’s Aunt Jackie’s planned “mystery Mystery Author” event — a visit from a well-known but unnamed author that has Jill’s customers, and even Jill, abuzz with curiosity. The romantic life of Jill’s friend Amy rounds out the subplots and even manages to tie into the mission wall arc at one point.
The third book in the series comes out in November, and Lynn tells us there are three more coming next year. I know I’ll be looking forward to reading them!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Summer Vacation 2014
- Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2014