My brother is an artist who creates his own bronze statues and patinas bronze work for other artists. When he told me about a specific piece he’d put the patina on and how it had a unique configuration, he had my attention. His words, “This would make a great murder weapon.”
That sentence stayed with me for several years.
And finally, when I decided to write a murder mystery series, I jumped at the idea of using a 300 lb bronze statue as the weapon. Only I had to come up with a plausible amateur sleuth and give her a profession. That is how Shandra Higheagle, a potter who is half Nez Perce Indian, came to be. I wanted her to have the Native American background to keep with my tag line, “Murder mystery and steamy western romance starring cowboys and Indians.” And I wanted her to use her heritage to help solve the murders. That is where her Nez Perce grandmother came onto the scene.
Shandra’s Nez Perce father was a rodeo bronc rider who died in a rodeo accident when she was four. Her Caucasian mother and step-father kept her from her father’s family until Shandra rebelled as a teenager and spent a summer with her grandmother. While Shandra still wasn’t allowed to let people know of her Indian heritage, she kept in touch with her grandmother. The first book opens with Shandra returning from her grandmother’s funeral and seven drum ceremony.
Where is this all going you ask? When Shandra is suspected of killing a gallery owner and then the county sheriff’s detective turns his interest to her best friend, Shandra’s grandmother comes to Shandra in her dreams, guiding her to the evidence that will help them find the murderer.
Shandra has a hard time believing in these dreams, yet the detective believes. Her dreams cause her conflict with herself and allows her to let someone in after years of keeping herself closed off.
One of the most difficult and rewarding parts of writing these books is to come up with dreams for Shandra to have that reflect what is going on with the mystery without giving anything away.
The first three books of the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series are now in an ebook box set.
Here are the shortened blurbs for the first three books in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series.
Potter Shandra Higheagle’s Nez Perce grandmother visits her dreams, revealing clues that help Shandra uncover not only one murder but two.
Digging up Crazy Lil’s past takes Shandra Higheagle down a road of greed, miscommunication, and deceit.
The dead body of an illicit neighbor and an old necklace sends potter Shandra Higheagle on a chase to find a murderer.
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western historical romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Romance. Her first mystery was a finalist in the Chanticleer Mayhem and Mystery Award and is a finalist in the RONE Award Mystery category. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”