The Significance of Setting

Apr 21, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Amy Rivers

Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a signed copy of Amy’s latest book Complicit, and a link to order the book from Amazon.

When a body is found in the nearby creek bed, high school psychologist Kate Medina is thrust into the middle of a homicide investigation. Set in the Tularosa Basin in southern New Mexico, Kate’s story takes place in my hometown and that creek bed factors significantly into her life—and in mine.

Growing up in the Southwest, you get used to the heat and wind. That’s not to say it doesn’t rain—we get monsoons every summer that flood the streets and invade downtown businesses. But the majority of the year is dry. Air conditioning is everything. Shade is absolutely essential. And water…well, let’s just say we desert kids try to build swimming pools out of anything we can find.

Amy Rivers

The basin is surrounded by beautiful rugged mountains and treacherous canyons—places that visitors might avoid due to snakes, flash floods, and other dangers, but where we locals choose to recreate. Before the creek was dammed for irrigation further uphill, it flowed freely down the canyon, creating cool mesquite-shaded pools that became popular spots for school field trips, family outings, and quality time for couples looking for some privacy. As you might imagine, bad things happened at the creek, too.

With the water rerouted, the creek bed began to dry. Gang activity and hormone-fueled brawling increased. The canyon walls surrounding the creek provided cover for ditching, drug activity, and other nefarious dealings. One of my favorite childhood hangouts became a place I couldn’t go.

Often, when I begin writing a book, I have a sense of place in mind. In All The Broken People, I’d become enamored with the north Georgia mountains—an area I was wholly unfamiliar with. When I started writing, Complicit, I knew I wanted it to be set where I grew up. I had a strong vision of the dust and the desert vegetation. And, I’ll admit, the idea of dumping bodies in the creek came to mind almost immediately. It wasn’t until I started getting into the details of the book that I realized how strange and unnerving this place had become for me, and when you’re writing suspense, the setting can become almost like another character.

The desert of my childhood is one of the most beautiful places I know, with vivid sunsets and the smell of creosote leaves in the rain. As Kate Medina struggles to find her footing and reconnects with her hometown, I hope readers will have a clear image in their minds of both the wondrous and the sinister aspects of the southern New Mexico landscape, as it will play a large part in the whole A Legacy of Silence series.

To enter to win a signed copy of Complicit, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “complicit,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 1, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up last week.

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Amy Rivers writes novels, short stories, and personal essays. She is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers. Her novel All The Broken People was recently selected as the Colorado Author Project winner in the adult fiction category. She’s been published in We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor, Flash! A Celebration of Short Fiction, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, and Splice Today, as well as Novelty Bride Magazine and She was raised in New Mexico and now lives in Colorado with her husband and children. She holds degrees in psychology and political science, two topics she loves to write about. You can learn more on her website.
Link to book:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I haven’t traveled to the
    Southwest. Would love
    to go there through this
    book thanks

  2. I’m always looking for new authors to read, sounds good! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  3. SOunds exciting!

  4. We have a winner!


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