C. T. Collier
Although I love the Internet and enjoy spending hours in a library doing research, there’s no substitute for traveling to a location when the goal is to learn about the values, the land, and the sights and sounds of someone’s home country. I couldn’t write a hero into my book without understanding where he came from, how his thinking differed from mine, what he saw outside his window and on his journey, and why he loved his homeland.
The Penningtons Investigate, my new mystery series, features a sleuthing couple: a luxury-loving Brit, Kyle Pennington, who owns an estate on the north coast of Cornwall and his bride, economics professor Lyssa. To better understand Kyle, I made a trip to Cornwall and the south west of England just before writing the series. My time in Cornwall convinced me Kyle would never make his home permanently anywhere but Cornwall, no matter whom he married.
Ironically, Kyle fell in love with a penny-pinching college professor, Lyssa, who lived in a sweet little frame house in a tree-lined neighborhood in Tompkins Falls, NY. The only upside to that predicament is Lyssa’s three-year contract. She’s a Visiting Professor, not on a tenure track. Neither Kyle nor Lyssa foresees that her six semesters are just enough time for them to tussle with 6 tricky mysteries. When the couple decides to reside in Lyssa’s small home during the nine months of the academic year and spend their summers in Cornwall at Kyle’s estate, the trouble begins.
The difficulty is not just about the intrusion of murder in their lives, though. I knew from my travels that Kyle would have a hard time with the seasonal rhythms of the Finger Lakes. On any fine weekend in Cornwall, in any season, walking is popular and public paths are abundant along the rocky coast, beside rivers, through woods filled with wildlife and flora, and from town to town, or pub to pub.
Not so the Finger Lakes, where a foot of snow makes walking a challenge.
Hardest of all for Kyle is the long transition from winter to spring in Tompkins Falls. March and April can be gray for weeks, punctuated with the occasional sighting of a single tiny flower or a brave robin.
In contrast, March and April in Cornwall are bursting with camellias and rhododendrons, and gardens are readying their grounds for an influx of visitors.
Fortunately, one area that poses less difficulty for Kyle is his emotional response to the little house Lyssa loves, where they make their home in the Finger Lakes. The south west of England, after all, has no shortage of charming small homes, each with its own quirks and workarounds.
Their house in Tompkins Falls has a new master suite, after all, and a state-of-the-art kitchen leading to a sunny brick patio and a backyard rose garden. If only Lyssa’s little house weren’t the scene of murder. . .
NOTE FROM DONALD: I’ve read this book and you will keep turning the pages to find out what is going to happen next. The Pennington’s remind me of the old TV series “The Thin Man” where you were never sure who committed the murder. One small change is that Professor Lyssa Pennington is the detective and her husband Kyle is the on who plays the helper.
It’s Monday of spring break when Professor Lyssa Pennington’s backyard garden project unearths a loaded revolver. With no record of violence at their address and no related cold case, the Tompkins Falls police have no interest. But the Penningtons and a friend with the State Police believe there’s a body somewhere. Whose? Where? And who pulled the trigger?
Planted is book one in the mystery series, The Penningtons Investigate.
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C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting, Tompkins Falls, is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY. Entirely fictional, Tompkins College is no college and every college.