by J.C. Eaton
J.C. Eaton is the husband and wife writing team of Ann I. Goldfarb and James E. Clapp. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Dressed Up 4 Murder, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
One of the things we enjoy most about writing our Sophie Kimball Mysteries, is creating quirky characters whose antics shine. We introduced reluctant sleuth Sophie (Phee) Kimball and her demanding mother Harriet, along with Harriet’s dog, Streetman, and a cadre of book club ladies and pinochle players. Then we added Phee’s seventy-four-year-old Aunt Ina to the mix, a free-spirit who never left the sixties.
As the series progressed, we heard from a number of readers and fans that they wanted to see more of Streetman, a neurotic Chiweenie whom Harriet adopted and spoiled rotten. So, when we sat down to pen Dressed Up 4 Murder, we thought now was the time to have the murder mystery center around the dog. The storyline revolves around a series of holiday costume contests for dogs of all breeds and ages at Harriet’s senior living community. Beginning with Halloween and terminating with St. Patrick’s Day, poor Streetman is forced to endure costume fittings and strolls past the judges at each event. Not an easy task for a dog who was once banned from the Sun City West Dog Park for his unwelcome advances toward unsuspecting female dogs.
But the costume contests become the least of Streetman’s and Harriet’s problems when the dog discovers a dead body under the grill in Harriet’s neighboring yard. Poor Phee is put to the test as she tries to figure out whodunit.
Well, we were put to the test when we tried to figure out what murder weapon to use. Jim was adamant we use a poison since he had just purchased a nifty little guide to common poisons for authors to consider (Yep. Great bedtime reading). Having scoured the book from top to bottom, he decided to take it one step further and research poisonous plants in Arizona, where the murder mystery takes place.
Sure enough, we hit pay-dirt with the Sago Palm, a gorgeous decorative palm that can be found in most landscaped areas. Decorative and poisonous as all get-up-and-go! Apparently, every bit of that plant is toxic to pets and humans. Needless to say, once we discovered that tidbit of info, we became fanatics about keeping our own dog away from those palms during his neighborhood walks. That led us to creating Streetman’s walking map.
Harriet had designed a walking map for Streetman in the event that she needed Phee to walk him. The map included places he liked to sniff and places that Phee needed to avoid, such as the house with the crazy screaming lady who came outside if the dog so much as stepped a paw on her gravel yard. Now, knowing about the Sago Palm, Harriet rewrote the map to document every single Sago Palm in her neighborhood.
And, as if poisonous plants wasn’t enough, we needed to research fish-based health and dog foods since it figured heavily in our sub-plot. Now we can safely say we know more about consuming the Asian Carp than we do about eating meat, eggs, or poultry.
Allowing Streetman to take center stage in this novel was so much fun for us. With a litany of neuroses, the dog’s penchant for getting into trouble became more obvious with each chapter. Hope you can check out the fun in Dressed Up 4 Murder and be sure to visit our website at: www.jceatonmysteries.com. Just stay away from Sago Palms and be sure to read the labels on your pet food!
To enter to win a copy of Dressed Up 4 Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “dressed up,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 9, 2020. US only, and must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email be sure to include your mailing address in case you win-emails will be deleted when the contest is over. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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