by Jackie King
Long before I wrote my latest mystery, THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, I had one scene pop into my head. The vividness of this scene, along with a number of what if questions, started my inn-keeper series and birthed my character, Grace Cassidy.
I was vacationing at a Bed and Breakfast in Northern California, and the mansion had been built by a sea captain in 1870. My hostess was a professional inn-sitter who said that she loved her job, loved traveling from place to place, and loved working when she wanted. This woman, a Mrs. Smith, was booked for two years in advance.
These were a few of the questions:
What if I were stranded in a strange town with no friends, no money, and no job skills? Oh, and let’s throw in a corpse—a naked one—in my bed. Could I survive using my own determination, brains, and moxie? These are the problems that started me writing my first Grace Cassidy story, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, published in 2009. I felt impelled to write this novel to find the answers. Then, just for fun, I added an older teenager and a cat. I always have to have a pet and a kid in any story.
Grace learns that she is made of a tougher fiber than she had thought. With the help of her zany new friends, she successfully earns her living as an inn sitter. Previously she chaired committees in social circles, now she bakes, cleans, and entertains paying guests.
THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR begins with Grace thinking that her life is almost back in order. She’s worried that her 19-year-old son, Brand, is getting too involved with the ditzy housemaid, Sandy Walker. Scary thoughts of becoming a grandma too soon, plague her. But still, life is good.
Grace is rebuilding her life and learning about the woman she really is, not the cardboard caricature of her former self. No wonder she bored her husband Charlie. She always did everything he expected. But that was in the past. Now she’s surprising and delighting herself with this new persona. Being a woman is a lot more interesting than being a perfect-lady, she decides.
Then life interferes with her well-laid plans.
The identical twin brother of her boss-from-hell, Wilbur Wimberly shows up at the family reunion. This black sheep, thought to be long dead, stirs up memories of deeply buried family secrets. Dangerous secrets. The Wimberly clan are snapping at each other’s throats, and then Grace’s cat Trouble finds a dead body in a bathroom. To make things worse her son is first accused of attempted murder and then of rape.
Once again, life unravels. Grace has a murder to solve and her son to defend.
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