The Devil in the Details

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What are the differences in symptoms between cyanide poisoning by inhalation or by ingestion? What is the best way to store evidence? What work happens on a lavender farm in early October? How are French wine labels governed by the state?

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I like research that requires learning about wine and visiting lavender farms

The topics a mystery writer may find herself researching are never boring! We rely on resources including — but by no means limited to—manuals, interviews with experts, visits to unusual places, even Google searches. 

When a murder is committed in our books, even if it takes place off the page, we need to know exactly how it was done and what clues might be left behind. When a victim is found in a particular location, we need to know why he or she was there to begin with. When a suspect produces an alibi that doesn’t hold water, we need to know the detailed explanation of why not — even when we don’t share all those details with the reader.

The question of how many details to share is a big one. For a book to pass muster as a realistic story, a certain level of explanation and accuracy is necessary. But include too many details, and suddenly your reader finds herself reading a how-to manual instead of an engrossing story. 

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My kind of how-to manual!

Of course, different readers look for different types of details. How we as writers present our stories is a big part of what makes up a writer’s “voice.” Some writers are known for their intricate explanations, whether of crimes or locations or corpses. Readers who loves those writers thrive on those details — to them, it brings the story to life. Other readers look for a book that skims over the detail. They’re less worried about how accurate the description of police activity is and more interested in the emotional arc of the characters involved. And some readers want it all!

Some of these differences are determined by the subgenres within the mystery genre — some books are thrillers, others suspense or cozies. Each type has its own expectations. No one who picks up a cozy is looking for a graphic description of the corpse, but leave out the details of the chocolate cake recipe and you’re asking for trouble!

The writer must know her readers’ expectations and not disappoint. My books are traditional mysteries, which means they follow the line of providing succinct and accurate descriptions of crimes and how they are committed, but keep the focus on the plot and characters. When I’m looking for a fun read at bedtime, however, I usually grab a cozy mystery, something I can cuddle up with along with a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy. Hey, who said we could only read one subgenre?

So how much detail should a writer include? Not too much, but just enough. 

How much detail do you look for in the books you read?

And if you’re wondering, the first two questions above I had to answer for my book A Pale Reflection, coming out later this year. The second two are for the book in the series after that (yes, while one book is with the editor, I get to work on the next one).

Learn more about Jane Gorman and the Adam Kaminski Mystery Series at janegorman.com or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

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Guest- L. Lee Kane

California Drinkin’

I decided I wanted to write a book about the Central Valley, where I’m now from which is a vast, hot, 300- mile-long expanse extending from Sacramento to the north and the San Joaquin Valley in the South, and has the most fertile areas in the United States for growing grapes. We produce a full 60 per cent of all the agricultural products in California and we crush 75 per cent of all wine grapes. Wineries are huge. And so are the crops.

One of the core differences between the wine industry in California and that in Europe is the people who run it. The California wine revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s was largely initiated by men and women who were not from winemaking families. After the Prohibition, which lasted 13 years there were few people to train the newcomers, including Ernest and Julio Gallo, which makes close to 70 million cases, including popular inexpensive wine and Robert Mondavi Woodbridge wines which make slightly more than 6 million cases a year. The interesting thing is that these three self-made men were self-taught. Everything they learned they read out of a book.

  • More than 90 per cent of the wine made in the United States is made in California.
  • The state’s incredibly diverse climate and geography allow California wines to be made in a profusion of styles from dozens of different grape varieties.
  • California’s winemakers are among the most innovative and open to experimentation in the world.

Of course, my book, ‘Death on the Vine’ is not so factual, I have romance, murder, intrigue, lots of money, a socio path, and revenge. Some of this has some true parts in it but for the most part, it’s fictional. I will have a sequel to the book, I haven’t quite decided on a title but again it’s set in the small town of Oakhurst, California not too far away from Yosemite. Daisy, Frisco, and a whole host of characters will play a part…and another socio path.

I think you can see from my bio that I have familiarity with socio paths and quirky characters.

I have a contest running on amazon for a free book for Death on the Vine and if you read it, review it, I’ll want to put your name in my next book and maybe we can have a contest for a new title.

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Murder on the Vine

Just before high school graduation, Daisy Murphy returns home from a football game and finds her mother standing over her abusive boyfriend’s body—holding a bloody hammer. In the aftermath, Daisy flees her home and eventually establishes a new life as an expert winemaker in the Central Valley of California. But as hard as she tries to get away from her past, the effects of that horrible night travel with her.

Detective Jake Frisco has unearthed a murder at the vineyard where Daisy is employed as the winery’s expert winemaker. It doesn’t take long to discover that Daisy is haunted by her past and carries a heavy burden. It seems that possible involvement in an unsolved murder is part of her life’s baggage. Does this put Daisy at the top of the suspect’s list? Can he put aside his growing feelings for her and follow the leads in the case, even if they take him straight to her as the murderer?

Can Daisy finally face her past and trust that the truth she offers the Detective will be enough to save her? Will she find the courage to ask for a future beyond the sorrow of her youth—a future filled with love and self-worth?

linda and Shari- croppedLinda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of Death on the Vine, Chilled to the Bones and an upcoming release of the The Black Madonna. She lives with her husband, three dogs, one bird, and eight horses in California.

www.lindaleekane.com