by Kris Bock
In the humorous Accidental Detective series, a witty journalist solves mysteries in Arizona and tackles the challenges of turning fifty.
Is this a cozy mystery?
Like the typical cozy, this series has an amateur detective rather than a police officer or private investigator. Granted, Kate is a journalist, which is an investigator of a sort, but so far no one is paying her to investigate the crimes she finds in Arizona. People ask her for help when they’re worried, and being both helpful and insatiably curious, Kate dives in. (Also, sometimes her family members and friends drag her into trouble.)
Like other cozy mysteries, my series avoids swearing, sex on the page, and gory violence. In contrast to many cozies, mine does not include recipes or craft instructions. That could mean these are really traditional mysteries. But it’s not like you have to get the book past a panel of judges to get it named one thing or the other. I think readers of cozies will enjoy the series for its humor and its relatable characters. Readers who find cozies too cute or unbelievable might enjoy the greater realism here. Kate’s journalism background gives people a reason to ask her for help, so she doesn’t have to accidentally stumble over a dead body every month.
What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
In childhood, I enjoyed reading mysteries such as the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden series. I read all the Sherlock Holmes stories in high school. As an adult, I’ve read hundreds of mysteries, from historical titles and humorous mysteries to romantic suspense. I prefer not too much gore or violence, and I demand a happy ending! With cozy mysteries, you get intrigue, fun and interesting characters, plus a guaranteed satisfying ending. Series featuring police officers, FBI agents etc. can be darker and more depressing.
In The Accidental Detective book 1, Something Shady at Sunshine Haven, we meet Kate Tessler, an injured war correspondent when she returns to her childhood home in Arizona to recuperate. Have you ever had to return home as an adult?
Fortunately, no, not for more than holiday visits, or summers way back when I was in college. Even those early visits, when I thought I was an adult and my mother didn’t necessarily agree, created challenges. I think many people fall back into the parent-child relationship during visits, which isn’t always healthy. It might be easier to establish a new relationship if you’d been apart for thirty years, like Kate and her father. I had Kate move in with her father rather than her mother because I felt like the mother-daughter relationship has been shown frequently, and it would be more interesting to see Kate and her father trying to figure out how to establish an equal relationship as adult roommates and friends instead.
You have teenage characters, Kate and her sister in midlife, and her parents and their elderly friends. How have readers responded to this range?
A lot of readers really like having a main character of Kate’s age as well as older and younger characters. Author Rebecca M. Douglass said, “A fifty-year-old who is wondering what she wants to do when she grows up? That’s more like it!”
Marsha’s Keeper Bookshelf said in a review, “I loved the crew that Kate has around her helping in her investigations. Eclectic is probably a good word for this group. With laughter, tears, and an abundance of clues this crew sets out to get answers – and gives us a delightful mystery puzzle to solve along with them.”
MeezCarrie at Reading Is My SuperPower praised the “Emotionally-layered family dynamics, a delightful middle-aged protagonist turned accidental detective (love that series title!), an eclectic crew of supporting sleuths, and even a bit of romantic possibilities for future books. I really liked Kate – she was relatable no matter where you are in life, but especially for those who have aging parents, complicated sibling relationships, and/or sudden life changes.”
Most readers say they are happy to read about characters of any age, but the lesson for authors is that you don’t have to be afraid to have characters that reflect your own age and experiences.
After an injury disrupts her journalism career, Kate Tessler has to start over at fifty, figuring out how to get work, make friends, and live in the heart of her loving but interfering family. Now she and her quirky gang of sidekicks have new problems to solve.
Kate’s father and his coffee group are worried. Their friend Larry married a younger woman who now claims he has dementia and won’t let anyone see him. They think his wife and her lazy adult children are keeping him isolated so they can steal his money. They’re determined to save Larry, and they need Kate’s help to prove what’s happening.
Before they can dig out the truth, a murder raises the stakes, and Kate’s father is among the suspects. To save him and Larry, she must reveal the real murderer – but her investigation could put all their lives at risk.
This title follows Book 1, Something Shady at Sunshine Haven.
Get a free short story and bonus material when you sign up for the Kris Bock mystery and romance newsletter. This collection starts with a humorous ten-page mystery short story set in the world of The Accidental Detective series. It includes information about the books in the series, the first chapter of book 1, and three short stories originally written for children.
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