Guest Blogger ~ Saralyn Richard

The Origin of Detective Oliver Parrott

By Saralyn Richard

I hate to admit this, but the protagonist in my Detective Parrott Mystery Series began as an afterthought. Shameful, I know, but truthful, nonetheless. The first book in the series, MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, begins with an elegant party—a weekend retreat at a country mansion in Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania, where some of America’s wealthiest and most powerful live.

I was so focused on the party—the guests, the invitation, the menu—I lost sight of the fact that the plot was barreling towards a mysterious death in the bedroom on the fourth floor. Once I had the body, and I’d carefully lined up the various suspects, I realized I needed a detective. Of course, I did. So, I fleshed out the details of the detective’s appearance, his background, his personality. Parrott was an outsider, having little in common with the people in Brandywine. He was young and African American, smart and well-organized, undaunted by the glamor or power, and able to see through the subterfuge and dissembling that was thrown at him.

I’d had students like Parrott. I knew him inside and out. I decided to name him Parrott after Agatha Christie’s detective, Hercule Poirot. (His name is pronounced like “parrot,” the bird.) Once I got further into writing the book, I realized that Parrott was the main character. With that in mind, I rewrote the first chapters of the book to shine the spotlight on him from the start.

The more scenes I wrote with Parrott in them, the more I admired and appreciated his qualities and the way he worked. I loved the way he treated others, too. I still didn’t fathom how much readers would root for him. It wasn’t until MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT was published, and a clamoring for more Parrott books started that I even considered writing a series.

Here we are, four years and three books later. A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER was published in 2019, and CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER was just released in September. The Detective Parrott Mystery Series continues to thrive, and so does Detective Parrott, the protagonist who was actually an afterthought.



In the heart of tranquil, lavish Brandywine Valley, Detective Parrott confronts a meth explosion, a dismembered corpse, and an intricate trail of deceitful secrets that shake up many lives — including his own. When celebrity hostess Claire Whitman’s renovated barn explodes into flames, Parrott delves into the privileged lives of all who are affected. Tension from Parrott’s personal life crosses over into the case, and secrets, deceptions, and crimes create an even bigger explosion. Third in the Detective Parrott Mystery Series, Crystal Blue Murder explores the complexities of life in an entitled world where many of America’s wealthiest and most powerful elite have their own definitions of right and wrong.

Buy links:

Crystal Blue Murder by Saralyn Richard, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (

Saralyn Richard is the author of award-winning mysteries that pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. An active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature. Her favorite thing about being an author is connecting with readers like you. Follow Saralyn and subscribe to her monthly newsletter at

Social media links:

Why I Write Mysteries by Saralyn Richard

Guest blogger banner

I love reading and writing in all genres. I’ve taught creative writing to high schoolers and adults, and I’ve rarely met a story or a writer that I didn’t enjoy getting to know, but when it comes to writing novels of my own, I choose to write mysteries. I could tell you the reasons have to do with suspense and tension, tight plots, clues, character motivations, themes of good vs. evil, or other such elements, but the truth is simpler.

I love mysteries, because in no other genre is the connection between reader and writer so vivid. When an author lays out a mystery, she is ever-mindful of the reader. She unfolds the crime and investigation clue by clue, scene by scene, in a sometimes tortuous path toward solution. She hopes that the reader is traveling along the path, enjoying the adventure every step of the way. If she plants a clue in one chapter, will the thoughtful reader recall it in a subsequent chapter? Will the red herrings be identified as such? The author hopes to strike the perfect balance between foreshadowing and surprise, so the reader is captivated and delighted.

Every single time a reader responds to one of my books, I feel a new thrill, as if seeing the story through new eyes creates a wholly new perspective, one that I may never have considered before. A mystery is an invitation to the reader to come along with the detective, to match wits with the criminal, to bring his own clever ideas to bear upon solving the puzzle. The synergy created by the author-reader partnership is intellectually and emotionally stimulating and rewarding.

In MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, a group of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful elite gather for a birthday party in the lush, peaceful Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania. When one of them is killed, and almost everyone has a motive, young Detective Oliver Parrott realizes this will be the case to challenge his intellect and to test his moral compass. Figuring out who comes to the party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket becomes an active mental exercise for the reader. As the author, I am literally one step ahead of the reader, leading him by the hand, with an enigmatic smile on my face.

Book Blurb:

Final cover w quoteSomeone comes to the party with murder in their heart and poison in their pocket…

A powerful and rich playboy, a rare but naturally occurring poison, a newly divorced woman with an axe to grind, and pressure from the former President of the US—these are just a few of the challenges that African-American Detective Oliver Parrott faces when he answers a routine call for back-up and discovers someone died at a country estate the morning after an elaborate birthday party. When Parrott learns the deceased is the wealthy former US Secretary of the Treasury and just about everyone at the party had a motive to kill him, he realizes this will be the investigation to make—or break—his career.

Buy Links: 

Author Bio:

Galveston Author Saralyn RichardAward-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, is a writer who teaches on the side. Her children’s picture book, Naughty Nana, has reached thousands of children worldwide.

Murder in the One Percent, ©2018 Black Opal Books, pulls back the curtain on the privileged and powerful rich. Set on a gentleman’s farm in Pennsylvania and in the tony areas of New York, the book introduces Detective Oliver Parrott, who matches wits with the country’s elite.

A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn has  completed the sequel to Murder in the One Percent, entitled A Palette for Murder. Her standalone mystery, A Murder of Principal, will be released soon. Her website is 

Social Media Links:

My author’s website is,,,, and

I am available to meet with book clubs and organization members. Contact me at