Fans of Meredith Cole and her critically acclaimed debut mysstery, Posed for Murder, can celebrate tomorrow when the author’s second novel, Dead in the Water, appears in bookstores and ships from online retailers.
For anyone still wondering the answer is “Yes,” this is another crime-solving adventure for Lydia McKenzie. Actually the author’s guest post, Meredith Cole Creates a Sleuth and a Series, revealed that and more:
“Lydia is an interesting character, an artist and photographer struggling to build a career in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She loves vintage clothes, music and spending time with her friends. In order to pay her rent and pay for her studio, she works as an administrative assistant to two private investigators.”
“The first book introduces Lydia, her private eye bosses the D’Angelos, the detective Daniel Romero and her best friend Georgia Rae. In the second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, Lydia has a boyfriend named Jack. A few readers have asked me about Romero and what’s going to happen with the two of them, so they may be disappointed when she dates someone else. But I wanted to see what Lydia was like in a relationship. She’s very independent, and I thought it would be interesting to see that side of her. I also gave her a cat, which presents its own challenges.”
Still a truly interesting amateur sleuth needs a local town or neighborhood where she not only has a home, friends and job, but a vested interest for solving crimes. Meredith found inspiration for her mystery in the vibrant arts community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She also discovered the idea for the storyline of Dead in the Water. In fact it existed right “in her own backyard:”
“When I first moved to Williamsburg, prostitutes regularly walked the waterfront. I was intrigued by the women I saw in the shadowy corners of the night. They seemed both tough and vulnerable, and I wondered what their stories were. Right before I moved there, a serial killer had been killing prostitutes in Williamsburg. He was caught and jailed, but it made the waterfront always feel really dangerous at night. And that true story was certainly an inspiration for the book.
“I also became interested in the phenomenon of women who are ‘”part-timers”‘ or who turn tricks when they need the cash, but keep it pretty secret from family. I heard a story on NPR that got the wheels turning in my head. I’ve also always been intrigued by the various programs that help women, either providing safe houses or going out to make sure they get adequate medical care. I came up with the idea of a bus that helps prostitutes, and then found out there actually is one in DC. I did some reading on it, but made the bus in DEAD IN THE WATER individual and unique.”
Then that backstory evolved into the following synopsis:
She’s in over her head… Photographer Lydia McKenzie is taking portraits of prostitutes on the waterfront of Williamsburg Brooklyn when her art project takes a deadly turn. She discovers the body of Glenda, the star of her series, floating in the East River.
Lydia ’s new boyfriend doesn’t want her to get involved in the investigation, and neither does NYPD detective Daniel Romero. But Glenda’s grieving mother begs her for help. So when the D’Angelo brothers, her bosses at the detective agency where she works as an administrative assistant, send Lydia out to the Williamsburg waterfront to catch their cousin’s cheating husband and bring back photos as evidence, she starts to do some sleuthing on the side.
When more hookers are murdered, Lydia teams up with a volunteer organization whose mission is to help women find a way off the streets. She ends up questioning her choices, her relationships, her art, and her identity—all while she runs for her life from a killer who isn’t finished with a deadly rampage.
Meredith Cole’s second novel is a thrilling adventure, boasting memorable characters and a vivid setting.
Memorable characters and vivid setting indeed! Reading the Advanced Uncorrected Proof from Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing), I easily slipped back into Lydia’s world. Her friends are colorful and artistically talented, even her new boyfriend Jack — a stockbroker and a photographer — could be considered for that category. Yet it’s Lydia who shines brighter than ever as she wears her “heart of gold” on her sleeve and becomes physically as well as emotionally vulnerable.
To give you the slightest hint of a *spoiler* would ruin your reading pleasure. However what can be told is that Meredith Cole’s directing and screenwriting background combine to make this mystery come alive, reeling through the reader’s mind.
A member of The Debutante Ball Class of 2009, Meredith wrote the telling post, Learning to Lean by Deb Meredith, in which she’s the first to admit:
“I’ve always been very independent. I need some time alone everyday to decompress (and write). I like to do things myself, and hate being told what to do.”
Life changed with marriage and motherhood and the author happily adjusted:
“Only occasionally do I fantasize about what it would be like to be a single gal again—able to run out and do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. But it’s mostly when I’m at the computer writing my Lydia McKenzie mystery series. And then I remember how lonely it is to be single, and how much I’d miss my guys. And I shut my laptop and joyfully return to my life.”
In Dead in the Water, a cat enters Lydia’s life and I asked Meredith if he was an anchor or an acknowledgement of loneliness? Her answer is somewhat sad but true:
“To be a detective is to be alone in some ways. Lydia has good friends, but she hasn’t found a real anchor in her life. Her apartment is just temporary, and so is her job. She resists commitment as much as she is attracted to it. I thought it might be interesting to give Lydia a cat because it would force her to commit to something, or make her admit that she wasn’t ready to be in a relationship with anyone, much less a cat.”
Now seriously how can you resist Lydia and her latest murder investigation? Dead in the Water — it’s a thrilling mystery with heart.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Meredith Cole’s Dead in the Water in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return on Thursday to possibly claim your book.