Not only did the main character in the Main Street Mysteries go to the University of Wisconsin – Madison but the author’s other mystery series featuring Maggie Thorsen is set right outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the author herself is a Wisconsin native and a Green Bay Packer fan!!! She may not call Wisconsin home right now but at least she is rooting for the right football team.
I am thrilled that she is here today. Her new book Dead Ends (Main Street Murders Mystery) was released on September 1 and I was so excited when an advanced copy arrived at my door. Now she is here to tell you all about it and some of the stress that comes with the second book in a series.
Thanks, Lori, for inviting me to escape with everyone on this Cozy Wednesday!
As Lori has mentioned, Dead Ends, book two in my new Main Street Murders series, was just released. I think authors generally hold their breaths when the second in a series comes out, fearing some sort of “sophomore slump.” I’ve always assumed it’s because most of us slave over that first book, writing and rewriting ad infinitum, as we’re trying to find a publisher. The second–often part of that same publishing contract–usually has a tighter deadline.
Friend and fellow author Terrence Faherty has another explanation, though. Terry is not only a writer, but an English Lit major and looks the part. Tweed jackets, patches on the elbows–I was too intimidated to talk to him early in my career. Turns out, he’s not only a great guy, but a very wise man.
Terry says the initial installment of a series is the starting point. Book One provides the venue–in my case, Sutherton, North Carolina, a tiny resort town in the High Country that swells to nearly bursting during its tourist seasons–and the characters who live there. My protagonist in the Main Street series is Wisconsin reporter AnnaLise Griggs. In the first book, Running on Empty, Annalise is called home to the High Country when her volunteer phlebotomist mother, Daisy, nearly bleeds-out a donor during the local blood drive.
Straight forward enough, right? Okay, maybe not. But straight forward or not, we’d still have questions at the close of that book–about AnnaLise, about Daisy and, most importantly, about the bodies that continue to wash up on the lakeshore across from Mama Philomena’s Ristorante.
If you think of Book One as your high school geometry teacher’s “point in space,” a line drawn through it can dart in any direction. A full 360 degrees of possibility. It’s only when the writer plots, quite literally, another point–the second book–that we all know which trajectory the series is going to take.
So where is Dead Ends heading, you might ask? Definitely further than the title implies. As the open, AnnaLise is still in Sutherton awaiting results of Daisy’s tests, when the door of Mama Philomena’s swings open and in walks trouble: AnnaLise’s former lover, with his wife and daughter in tow.
Then someone dies, and you just KNOW that can’t be good. If you want to find out where we go from there, though, you’ll just have to come along for the ride.
All my best,
Thank you so much Sandy for dropping by today. The door is always open. I hope you can escape with us again soon!!!
About Sandra Balzo
Sandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including nine books in two different mystery series–Main Street Murders, set in the High Country of North Carolina, and the Wisconsin-based Maggy Thorsen Coffeehouse Mysteries. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist and Library Journal, while being compared to those of Janet Evanovich, G.A. McKevett, Joan Hess and Margaret Maron. A Wisconsin native, Sandy now splits her time between South Florida and North Carolina, but remains a loyal Packer Backer.
Find Sandy online at www.SandraBalzo.com
Facebook (Sandra Balzo Mysteries)
(Main Street Murders Mystery)
2nd Book In Series
Published by Severn House (September 1, 2012)
Hardcover: 208 pages
What should have been a simple trip home for journalist AnnaLise Griggs has turned into a nightmare. It is time for college to start and who shows up in Sutherton, North Carolina to start class, Suzanne Rosewood with her parents in tow. Her mother, Tanja and her father, Benjamin, the district attorney of Urban County, Wisconsin. AnnaLise and Ben have a bit of a past. A past she would love to forget. Now it has followed her home.
AnnaLise has errands to run and the Rosewoods all have plans so the visit is none to sweet but very short. That is until AnnaLise learns that Tanja has had an accident on the treacherous mountain road outside of Sutherton. The tragic accident turns out to be deadly. Then there is another death and AnnaLise just can’t shake the feeling that these deaths are related. Her journalist instincts take over causing her to learn just how far people with go to get and keep what they believe is theirs.
When you think of Sandra Balzo you think of Small Towns – Big Crimes and that is the story she delivers.
The story is full of southern charm. The Woolly Worm Festival is right around the corner. Mama Philomena’s restaurant serves up recipes like Corn Flakes Crunchy Baked Chicken, Grape Nuts Pudding and complimentary Chex Mix, the comfort food Mama (Phyllis) grew up on. And like any small town everyone knows everybody’s business. Or do they?
The mystery is a delight, full of red herrings that keep the reader guessing as the clues all come together in unimaginable ways. Funny by the end everything makes perfect sense.
The twists and turns are not all in the story. The roads around Sutherton are crazy. I was gripping the book and holding on for dear life in several places. I would be a driver just like AnnaLise, timid, slow, mindful of the drop offs, but her mother and others that drive those roads daily tear up and now the mountain with ease.
Sandra Balzo is a gifted storyteller, her stories just flow with a perfect balance of what makes up a great cozy mystery. Quirky characters we love, a well-plotted story with just the right amount of humor, taking place in a picturesque setting with “cool mountains” and beautiful lakes and trout filled streams. Her stories are the perfect kind to escape into and I look forward to every trip.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”