When private detective Cooper “Coop” Harrington meets record label mogul Grayson Taylor at a swank gathering of country music artists and politicians he never imagines he’ll be investigating his brutal murder less than twenty-four hours later.
The suspects are plentiful. More than a handful of people could have wanted him dead. Retained by Taylor’s widow, Coop works alongside his best friend and Chief of Detectives, Ben Mason. The investigation leads Coop and Ben to visit the luxurious mansions of recording industry magnates, navigate the murky undercurrents of the political world, and probe complicated family matters. Scandalous indiscretions, secrets, and hints of corruption swirl in the midst of their pursuit of the killer.
Coop’s faithful friend and assistant, Annabelle and his loyal golden retriever, Gus, both lend a hand during the investigation. Even his Aunt Camille mines the local gossip mill to unearth potential killers with motive. Yet the case seems hopeless until a crucial piece of evidence emerges that sends Coop and Ben on a race to catch the killer before someone else dies.
Characters and Setting
Tammy L. Grace
I love to write for the same reasons I read—enjoyment and escape. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and find myself most attracted to characters in novels. Not to say I don’t pay attention to plot, but if push comes to shove, I’ll stick with a character I like over a well-developed plot with mediocre personas. I’m embarrassed to admit, but many times I remember the main character’s name in a book, rather than the author’s name.
I need to relate to the character and more importantly, I need to care about what happens to her. I read a bestselling novel not long ago and despite the rave reviews, hated it because I didn’t care about any of the characters. I thought they were all horrible and frankly didn’t care what happened to any of them…live or die.
When I’m creating my main characters I work hard to make them believable and relatable. The female protagonists in my Hometown Harbor series are all women with whom I’d enjoy spending my free time. I strive to create individuals readers love or sometimes love to hate. I believe central characters should be memorable.
Speaking of villains, they’re rather fun to construct. I take a lot of time with my characters and keep a notebook full of traits and characteristics for each of them. I pay attention when I’m out and about and take note of peculiarities or mannerisms I observe. When it comes to the bad apples, I tend to extract the most detestable traits I’ve seen and concoct an amalgamation to form the perfect evil character. It’s a fun exercise and as an author I enjoy embellishing a minor irritating quality I’ve noticed and turning it into a revolting character. This is especially fun in my mystery series where I get to create lots of suspects.
In my Cooper Harrington series I chose to use a male protagonist with a strong female supporting character in Annabelle. I made this choice because I wanted to differentiate my novels from the typical female amateur sleuth type of story. My mysteries are full of twists, but leave out the gore, sex, and violence associated with many of the typical male detective characters in the genre. Coop is capable, but quirky. Endearing and hardworking. He’s a forty-something bachelor and a chronic insomniac with commitment issues. He’s addicted to caffeine and lives with his wealthy aunt. His relationship with his mother is, uh…complicated and Coop spends more time with his dog than anyone else. He’s loveable and the reader cares about him, but he doesn’t overshadow the whole point of the book—solving the murder.
With Coop I focus mostly on the plot, revealing bits about the main characters, but the overriding theme of the book is the whodunit, not the character relationships. Readers tell me how much they like Coop and Annabelle and I must confess they are two of my favorite characters. But the plot drives the mystery, which is the exact opposite of the Hometown Harbor series where the whole story revolves around the lives of the characters and their emotional journeys.
I chose Nashville for the setting of my mystery series after a trip there a few years ago. I loved the area and while driving around the idea for a mystery series began to form. I found the perfect spot for a murder and the plot started to percolate. From there I built the characters and have since collected more ideas for upcoming cases for Coop. I do extensive research online and incorporate my own observations from my visits to give the reader an authentic experience. I want the reader to feel like they’ve visited Nashville or Friday Harbor after reading my books.
The Hometown Harbor series is my women’s fiction series and each book focuses on a different female protagonist. All of the women are connected through friendship and their lives are intertwined in the small island community of Friday Harbor. Each woman faces struggles that take her on an emotional journey of self-discovery. Complex family relationships and enduring friendships are key elements for the group of women. The choices they often have to make are difficult and risky.
While my mystery series is more of a fast-paced whodunit (on the cozy side), readers find my Hometown Harbor series to be relaxing and often describe them as books that transport them to another place. In this case, the gorgeous San Juan Islands. For me the quaint island community that is the setting almost becomes another character. They are an ideal read for vacations, relaxing breaks, or just an escape from everyday life. I tend to indulge in books as a reward to myself and they are the perfect calorie-free treat.
The female leads are more mature women in their 40’s and 50’s. I made this choice for a few reasons—I don’t relate to the twenty-something crowd and I think women of a certain age are underrepresented in mainstream novels, but have the most to offer readers.
The Cooper Harrington Detective Novels are designed to be stand-alone books, but I think they’re better when read in order, so start with Killer Music—it’s an award-winning mystery. Deadly Connection was released last year and I have plans for the third one to be released in 2018.
The Hometown Harbor Series has to be read in order, so start with Finding Home. I’m finishing up the fifth one now and it will be released in the summer of 2017.
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About The Author
Tammy L. Grace is the award-winning author of The Hometown Harbor Series of women’s fiction set in the picturesque San Jan Islands in Washington and a mystery series set in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring Cooper Harrington, Private Detective.
Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.
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