I did a spotlight on Sunny’s book A Snitch in Time on May 12 and I am thrilled to have her drop by for a visit today!
THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS
When you hear “the Sierra Nevadas,” what do you conjure up? Yosemite with the incredible El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls? Kings Canyon National Park with towering sequoias? Ansel Adams and his famous photo “Moon and Half Dome?”
The lure to set a story in nature’s wonderland is enticing, but I’ll leave the National Parks to Nevada Barr. That’s her stomping ground and she covers it well.
Instead, I want to take readers to another sort of world located in the foothills. I set my latest Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery in a small town I dubbed Burlap.
Here’s a little background: I worked with the Fresno County undercover narcotics team for eleven years. One of my duties as secretary was answering phones and listening to tips from the public about crimes in their area. A frequent caller was a woman in the foothills (we’ll call her Helen) who imagined everyone in town was committing felonies. It was hard to take many of her allegations seriously, but over time we became friends. I took her up on an invitation to visit.
I was curious about the town and its people. My detectives always brought back colorful stories when they returned from deals. There was the woman who hung her panties on a bush to signal she had info for us. Locals hooked up wires to steal electricity. They broke into the tourist vacation homes. They grew marijuana in the National Forest. They called people who lived on the valley floor “Flatlanders.” We had some choice names for them as well. My detectives dubbed a section of dilapidated cabins “Welfare Flats.”
My trip through the winding roads was daunting and this was before GPS was popular. My new friend was eager to act as tour guide. She pointed out the Buzzard Tree, a dead tree smack in the middle of the school playground where vultures roosted and stared malevolently down at the children eating lunch. She took me to the prison facility where her husband worked and where trusted inmates were were trained to fight fires. There were no fences, barbed or otherwise, no guard towers. Escape was easy; surviving in the wild much more difficult.
Marijuana cultivation goes on deep in the National Forest. Often, people out horseback riding would see food drops just off the road. They would call my office and report it and one of the detectives would go up to confiscate the goods. We were so good at removing the food source that once I got a call from a teacher reporting a very underfed man had come out of the forest and was trying to steal lunches from the children. My detectives picked him up, gave him something to eat and carted him off to jail.
I noticed strange sculptures dotting the roads, geometric shapes made of tinted concrete. I asked what they symbolized and who put them there, but my friend had no answers. Like the stones of Easter Island, they seemed to be a baffling mystery. Everyone had a different theory. Some thought they were satanic. When a writer sets out to pen a mystery, it’s details like these that plant the seeds for a story.
I cajoled my friend Kate to return with me for “research.” What I really wanted was a guinea pig to act as a corpse. I convinced her to climb up and drape her body over a donut-like hole in one of the sculptures. I video taped the scene for future reference. While we were engaged in these antics, a woman from the local Native American tribe rode up on horseback. She silently watched for a few minutes before trotting off. A bag stamped “U.S. Mail” was slung over her saddle. We were crazy Flatlanders and she was the local mail delivery system.
Nobody can make this stuff up. The region was a treasure trove just waiting to be mined and I wanted to be the first to exploit it in pages of a book. “A Snitch In Time” is an homage to the quirks of the locals, the deputies who patrolled the area and the rustic beauty bypassed by tourists.
Although I was invited back to attend the annual Turkey Testicle Festival, I politely declined. Instead, I let my protagonist Christy have the pleasure. Some things are better left to the imagination!
As for the sculptures, with a lot of research I discovered who the artist was and why they wound up in the area. No, I won’t tell you– you have to read the book!
A Snitch in Time: Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries
by Sunny Frazier
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Black Opal Books (January 20, 2015)
When sheriff’s department office assistant Christy Bristol takes a long weekend to visit her friend, Lennie, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, it’s not the vacation she anticipated. A murder has just occurred and Christy is conscripted by the homicide team to handle the reports. To add to her frustration, she gets in a fight with Lennie over her friend’s arrogant boyfriend and has no place to stay. The detectives put her up in a forest ranger’s cabin while he is away fighting fires.
As the body count grows, it becomes apparent the killer is targeting undesirables in the town of Burlap. One victim’s girlfriends calls Christy and accuses a deputy of the murders. Christy doesn’t know whether to believe the snitch or not. Could a killer really be hiding behind his badge? Using astrology, she casts a reverse horoscope to profile him, but puts her own life at risk.
And time is running out.
About Sunny Frazier
Navy Veteran Sunny Frazier trained as a journalist and wrote for a city newspaper, military and law enforcement publications. After working 17 years with the Fresno Sheriff’s Department, 11 spent as Girl Friday with an undercover narcotics team, it dawned on her that mystery writing was her real calling. Her Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries are based on actual cases with a bit of astrology added, a habit Frazier has developed over the past 42 years.
You can find out more about Sunny Frazier and her books on her webpage here.
Sunny is giving away 3 copies of A Snitch in Time!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
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Contest Will End June 20, 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
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and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.