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Inspired by the famous Girl Detective, the members of the Olentangy Heights Girls’ Detective Society, affectionately known as the Nosy Parkers, spent their formative years studying criminology, codes, and capers. Unfortunately, opportunities to put their unique skills to work were thin on the ground in the post-war boom of their little corner of suburbia and they eventually grew up to pursue more sensible careers. Until…Heather Munro’s youthful devotion to The Girl Detective led to a passion for digging around in history. Now pursuing her Master’s Degree in Celtic Studies, Heather must balance exploring Edinburgh with her determination to excel in her all–male classes at the University. Unfortunately, on her first night working in the Archives room, she discovers the dead body of a visiting professor, the same would-be lothario she’d hoped never to see again.
As clues come to light, it’s clear someone hopes to frame Heather for the murder. Besides her quirky landlady, whom can she trust? How can she clear her name? The police and the American Consul have plenty of suspects, but only two seem to have both motive and opportunity: Heather and the quiet Scottish historian she longs to trust.
Guest Post: When Setting Becomes a Character
When we sit down to read, we have two settings vying for our attention. When I’m not tired or stressed, I can read in a noisy room—as long as the story has sucked me in. What about you? Do you need the quiet corner of your favorite couch or can you sink into that novel while riding on the bus?
What really counts is the setting we step into, inside those pages!
I’ve always preferred historical settings because they take me just that much farther away from real life! That fictional setting needs to be compelling whether it’s a place as distant as a mystical new planet or the corner coffee shop you’ve visited just last week. When authors provide what we call a ‘telling detail’, they’ve provided an anchor into that world—the scent of a man’s cologne or a horse barn, the sound of children playing or a four-in-hand carriage rolling down a cobbled street—details that should overcome what’s around us to draw us in.
In The Case of the Clobbered Cad, we hear bits of Scottish dialect, Benny Goodman and the drone of bagpipes. We smell fresh scones, bus exhaust and musty old books. But setting also tells us about the characters. My heroine Heather couldn’t get enough of the old structures of an old city and her reactions differed immensely to those who lived there. That was easy to do. I had the opportunity to visit Edinburgh and walk those streets in just the same way as my awe-struck heroine. I heard the chatter, rode the bus past centuries-old statues and watched rain and big blue skies change the lighting along the Royal Mile. I smelled wet wool, hot tea and spilled ale. While I can’t guarantee you’ll be immersed in my setting as much as I was, I hope you’ll enjoy a ‘taste’ of Edinburgh found my amateur sleuth tale.
I’m not saying every book must have an awe-inspiring setting, because it’s the characters and their challenges that keep us turning the pages. But don’t you love when that setting pulls you that much deeper into that story?
What book settings have you enjoyed enough that you made a point to visit? What ‘telling detail’ do you recall from something you read that made you stop and sigh? Have you ever picked up a book to read just because of the setting?
Thank you for letting me be your guest today! I’m looking forward to chatting about settings with readers!
Readers, when has a setting in a book made an impression on you?
About the Author
Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. She is published with WhiteFire Publishing, Forget Me Not Romances, and contracted with Journey Fiction, and a judge for the Grace Awards for many years. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends.
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