EMBRACING THE COZY
Until our home burned down during the Thomas Fire in 2017, I had focused on writing both traditional and coming-of-age mysteries. Sometime during the aftermath of the fire, my agent suggested I try writing a cozy. Having never written one, I wasn’t sure if I could, but decided I might as well try. I read dozens of books to study the genre (and made a list of “acceptable” oaths along the way!).
The next important piece of the puzzle came when I watched a friend compete at an agility trial. I met handlers and their dogs and had a wonderful day—all the while scribbling away in my notebook. Once the idea for a mystery began to take shape, I contacted my agent. I told her I’d been reading to better familiarize myself with the genre and had an idea for a story but was worried there were already a lot of cozies featuring dogs. Her answer: You can never have too many dogs! So I began to write.
It was a lot of fun. Diving into the cozy genre was just what I needed—something light, but still involved, featuring interesting characters, and someone hiding a motive for murder. And, as an added bonus: The research was fascinating. Those middle-of-the-night periods where I pondered “what happens next?” still occurred, but the various directions the story beckoned were exciting to grapple with.
A DEADLY BONE TO PICK straddles the line between cozy and traditional mystery and features two wonderful dogs, Harlow and Noodle—as well as my heroine, Molly Madison. Molly’s dog, Harlow, was easy to “cast” and is based on the dog my husband had when we first met. A sunny, smart, lovable golden retriever, she greeted (almost) everyone with enthusiasm. Casting Noodle took a bit more research. I wanted the story to feature a dog who wasn’t necessarily easy but was smart and had a terrific tracking nose. After much research, I landed on a Saint Berdoodle. They combine the amazing noses of poodles and Saint Bernards and—in Noodle’s case—added in a prodigious drool factor. Weighing in at 180 pounds, training him becomes a necessity for Molly soon after they meet.
When writing Molly, I wanted her to have law enforcement experience so she would be a credible protagonist who understands how an investigation works. I gave her a slightly murky past because life isn’t always simple and straightforward. And I gave her a sense of humor because that’s what helps people handle the twists and turns life can hand out.
Here’s a brief blurb about the story from Penguin Random House:
ABOUT A DEADLY BONE TO PICK
When Molly Madison, dog-wrangler extraordinaire, stumbles upon a murder in her new hometown, she must track down a killer to save the day.
Ex-police officer and former P.I. Molly Madison is starting over. After the death of her husband, she and her golden retriever, Harlow, move cross-country to California. But as charming and peaceful as the beachside town seems, she soon learns its tranquil tides hold dark secrets.
On her first day in the new house, a large, slobbering Saint Berdoodle wanders in. Molly winds up taking on the responsibility of training Noodle since his owner is too busy to do the job. On one of their daily beachside walks, Noodle digs up a severed hand. Once Molly alerts the police and they run a background check on her, an incident from her past makes her an immediate suspect—after all, Noddle’s testimony to clear her name won’t hold much water in court.
To prove her innocence, Molly must rely on instincts keener than a canine’s to sniff out the real killer. But when Molly’s life is put in danger, will her two very loyal pups be able to rescue her?
Peggy Rothschild and her husband now live in the beach community of Los Osos—where there are enough trails to keep her out of trouble for years. Peggy’s coming-of-age mystery/adventure, PUNISHMENT SUMMER, was published by Evernight Teen in 2015 and her short stories have been included in The Best Laid Plans, Heartbreaks and Half-Truths, and Avenging Angelenos anthologies. She also illustrated the children’s book Angie’s Great Big Beautiful Life: Tales of a Rescue Cat.
Peggy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the SLONight Writers, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Her newly released mystery, A DEADLY BONE TO PICK, is the first book in the Molly Madison Dog Wrangler series. Book two, PLAYING DEAD, will be out in February 2023.
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