by Sandra Murphy
& Paige Shelton
This week we have a review of a brand new thriller by Paige Shelton, along with an interesting guest post by Paige about going from writing cozies to writing a suspense novel. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Thin Ice. We also have a link to purchase it from Amazon and an indie bookstore.
Thin Ice: Alaska Wild Mystery by Paige Shelton
Review by Sandra Murphy
Elizabeth Fairchild is the pen name for writer Beth Rivers, a fact well-hidden. That came in handy after Beth was kidnapped and held in a van for three days. To escape, she threw herself out while it was moving. She suffered a head injury and memory loss, keeping her in the hospital. Although her condition was kept quiet to the press, word managed to get out that she would survive. But would she survive after leaving the hospital? Her captor is still at large.
Beth manages to leave both the hospital and town, keeping her destination secret. Once she arrives, only the detective in charge of her case knows her exact location. Her agent and publishers, her mom, and doctor, all contact her via burner phones or email. She’s covered all her bases. Or has she?
She’s picked the most remote spot she can find—Benedict, Alaska, population 500. Benedict House sounded like a B&B, with breakfast and dinner supplied. Instead she finds it’s a halfway house for released female prisoners from large Alaskan cities. There are three women in residence, all on parole for multiple minor crimes including theft. It’s best to keep your hand on your wallet while talking to them. Then count your fingers when they walk away.
Just before her plane lands, the population is reduced by one. Linda Rafferty has been shot in the head, looking like a suicide. Linda had been happy and making plans. She left no note.
The local sheriff knows Beth’s story and offers her the job of taking over the local newspaper. She accepts, glad to have something to focus on beyond her safety. Maybe an article Linda’s death would take her mind off her own situation.
In trying to discover what happened to Linda, Beth begins to recover her memory, bit by bit, just not his face. Locked doors, chair under the knob, money belt around her waist, burner phones, and email, all help but are no guarantee she’ll be safe. Will asking about Linda’s death put her into another kind of jeopardy?
Beth is a likable character who doesn’t take risks. She’s totally unprepared for life in Alaska but willing to learn. Luckily, the people are friendly and willing to help. The side characters have surprising depth and will surely show up in the following books. I look forward to what comes next, both in Beth’s life and that of the townspeople. Readers will love Beth’s mom, only heard from via emails and phone calls—but maybe not for long.
Not all cozy mystery writers can successfully make the transition to thrillers. Shelton has accomplished it with a deft hand and is a definite favorite for me.
Shelton also writes the Scottish Bookshop mysteries (5), the Country Cooking School series (5), the Farmer’s Market books (4), Red Hot Deadly Peppers mini-mysteries (2), and the Dangerous Type series. Most have been reviewed here.
by Paige Shelton
I’ve been asked a few times now – how did I go from writing all cozy mysteries to adding a darker suspense to the mix? It wasn’t as simple as just writing Thin Ice, but it can almost be explained simply with “writers just write.”
I was first published in 2010, but it was in 2008 that I was on the phone with my now agent, Jessica Faust, as she was offering representation. It was a big moment, one all writers work for, dream about, look forward to, and wonder if will ever happen. To backtrack a little, I’d decided in 1997 that I wanted to finally “take my writing seriously” and work to get published. When my first book, Farm Fresh Murder, published in 2010, it had been thirteen years since I’d made that decision. In my mind, in 1997, I made it a foregone conclusion that I would be published. If I hadn’t had that mindset, I would surely have stopped somewhere during those thirteen years. It was a lot of work and rejection, some pretty brutal. But I was going to be published – I wasn’t going to let anything stop me, including the passing of a whole decade.
When the first book of mine that Jessica attempted to sell, didn’t sell, it was time to come up with something else. We started brainstorming. Jessica said I had a good voice for “cozy mysteries.” At that point, we were still new enough in our relationship that I was scared I’d lose her at any moment, so I pretended to understand. I told her I loved cozy mysteries. At that exact moment, I was also scribbling on a piece of paper on my desk. I wrote: “cozy or cosy?” I didn’t know what she was talking about.
After the call, I hurried down to my local Barnes and Noble and asked a bookseller to explain what cozy mysteries were as well as how to spell that particular genre. She was wonderful and proceeded to show me the cozy mystery section. Remember this was pre-2010 and there were a lot fewer cozy mysteries on the shelves than there are now.
?What I realized at that moment was that even with subgenres, like “cozy,” a mystery is a mystery is a mystery. And mysteries were what I mostly read – and were exactly what I wanted to write. I set out to write my first cozy, Farm Fresh Murder, and it got published! Since then, I’ve been lucky to publish almost twenty cozies, and I’m proud of each and every one of them. I hope I get to keep writing them for a long time. I hope I get to keep writing all sorts of books.
Though I’m a writer, I’ve been a reader for a lot longer. Over the years, I’ve read and adored so many different books. When I wanted to try something different, maybe something darker than a cozy, Jessica supported me the whole way. To clarify, that doesn’t mean she liked every idea I sent her. It took a few different ideas, along with her direction and input, before THIN ICE came together. It, like everything else in the world of writing books, was lots of work and lots and lots of revisions. I was thrilled when it came together, and even more thrilled when my editor at Minotaur, Hannah Braatan, liked it enough to publish the first two of a hopefully long series. We’ll see.
?There isn’t enough time in one lifetime to read all the books I want to read, or write all the books I want to write. I have lots more stories in my head and in the notes on my computer; some are mysteries (cozy, suspense, even dark thrillers), some are different genres altogether. I am one hundred percent certain that most writers are the same, because writers write, and when they sit down to do the work, it’s first about the story they need to put on the paper, not the genre to which it will belong.
Thank you to all my readers – I’m so grateful that you’re coming with me on this ride.
To enter to win a copy of Thin Ice, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “ice,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 1, 2020 U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address-we will delete the emails when the contest is over. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. We delete all emails after the contest is over.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week!
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