Sharon Daynard, former SinCNE President, answers our questions about MURDER POINTS NORTH, her mystery which was released in November.
Writers usually hate writing book summaries. Will you share with us your real book blurb or one you wish you could have used?
With one week until Christmas, picturesque Points North, New Hampshire, hasn’t seen as much as a token flurry and the temperatures are almost as high as local tempers. The lack of snow, however, is the least of Liesl Alan’s worries.
Liesl teaches geology, collects rocks, minerals and ex-husbands—three at last count. On the brink of turning forty, she finds herself living amongst a group of eccentric “innmates” at the Muddled Moose, an inn her family has owned for generations. Hardly in the Christmas spirit, the last thing Liesl’s looking forward to is a night of wearing a too tight, too ruffled, too plaid gown for the village’s annual Home for the Holidays open house celebration.
When the event ends in a fiasco and someone from the Muddled Moose is found murdered, Liesl becomes the prime suspect of everyone from the lead homicide detective to her own mother. Fellow residents at the inn are even offering fashion tips for her inevitable perp walk and mug shot.
Determined to prove her innocence and find the real killer, Liesl teams up with a private eye wannabe. With a list of suspects that might as well include all of Points North, she has her work cut out for her, especially when each new clue points her in a different direction.
Who is your favorite character and why?
I dedicated MURDER POINTS NORTH to my late father who was quite a character himself. He would have loved Martha Washington. Martha is a ninety-three-year old chronic liar who claims to be everyone from Anastasia Romanov to Amelia Earhart. Her tall tales, questionable claims, and salty language kept me laughing throughout the book.
Is there a setting in your book that you would like to visit?
MURDER POINTS NORTH takes place in the fictional village of Points North in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. I’d love to grab a cup of cherry cordial coffee and a fist-sized turtle brownie at Points North’s famed Sweet Nothings café. Rumors have it a single turtle brownie from the café once sold for $35 on eBay.
Which of your skill sets were useful constructing the plot?
Like my protagonist, Liesl Alan, my degrees are in geology. My favorite subject as an undergrad was Mineralogy. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of identifying rock and mineral samples. When writing Murder Points North, I thought the activity of IDing a rock or mineral lent itself to solving a murder but in reverse. With a rock or mineral you start with one sample and a long list of possibilities. You narrow that list down based on hardness, luster, color, streak, specific gravity and cleavage to determine what your sample is. With a murder your amateur sleuth has a long list of suspects and based on motive, means, and opportunity, you systematically narrows that list down to one person—the killer.
My knowledge of rocks and minerals also provided me with the perfect murder weapon. A professor at the University of Wisconsin tested my theory with great success. He even provided me with a few ideas for future mysteries.
What meal and drink do you think would pair well with your book?
There are worse things in life than dying—dinning at the Muddled Moose Inn is one of them. Liesl’s mother, Eva, a former Rockette and Broadway actress, lacks the skills and enthusiasm to run the day-to-day activities at inn, let alone cook meals. Guests are well-advised to pass on the chili con carnage, pork tartare and Krem-lin brûlée.
Rather than subject readers to any of the Muddled Moose’s menu items, I’d strongly suggest ordering take-out and pouring a stiff drink
Sharon Daynard’s writing runs the gamut from light and quirky to downright dark and troubling. Her debut novel, Murder Points North, takes a humorous spin on murder in a small town. Her short stories include “The Boss of Butlers Square” which received honorable mention for the Al Blanchard Award and “Widows Peak” which was nominated for a Derringer Award.