Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am thrilled to welcome Ada Madison (Camille Minichino) to Escape With Dollycas today!!
I love Dollycas’s idea of ESCAPE! So many meanings, so many twists to discuss.
Last time I visited here, I talked about 2 things that keep me from escaping into a book: when authors give Wikipedia-type descriptions of places, signaling that they’ve never been to the location; and when they name characters after their relatives or friends, taking the reader out of the story to note, “How cute, she’s giving a nod to her cousin Chucky.”
For me as an author, the best way to escape is to break the rules. I’m such a wimp, an utter rule-keeper in real life, that writing a character who breaks the rules is true escape. Here are a couple of real-life instances that have inspired me to have my characters break a rule or two, including Sophie Knowles in A Function of Murder.
Case #1. Trespass!
One time I showed up to teach a writing class that was to be held on the property of a county park. The class was scheduled for ten o’clock. I showed up about 15 minutes early and found a couple of students waiting outside an impressive fence with a chain, a serious padlock, and a large, forbidding No Trespassing sign.
No problem; we were early. We chatted on; more students came. Minutes passed. No one showed up to let us in. A couple of delivery people came by in trucks and left when they realized there was no entry. We made a few calls with our cells—first to my contact at the school, who suggested I call the park police, who suggested I call the city police, who suggested I call my contact at the school, and so on.
The boring part of the story is that eventually someone came to let us in.
The interesting part happened while we were waiting.
A young woman pulled up in a low red sports car. She got out and addressed us. “I have to get in there,” she said. “I was at a wedding in the park last night and I left my purse.”
We shrugged and explained that there was nothing we could do until someone came with a key for the padlock.
She grunted, and thought a minute. The next thing we knew, she was scaling the fence, her long hair flying in the breeze. She plopped down on the other side and walked into the park. About 5 minutes later, she approached the fence again, from the inside, and climbed out.
In her hands were a purse, a pair of glittery sling backs, and a bra.
She gave us a wink, got in her car and drove off.
My writing students and I got a lot of mileage of the incident, creating many colorful back stories. We all agreed, however, that the most impressive thing was the young woman’s willingness to disregard the No Trespassing sign and its warning of a heavy fine.
For me, the physical difficulty of scaling a fence pales in comparison to the mental and psychological difficulty of disobeying a sign.
Maybe that’s why I write fiction—to break laws vicariously!
Would you have climbed that fence?
Case #2. Disregard This Announcement!
Waiting for a train in an underground San Francisco transit station, I sat next to two 20-something women slurping cold coffee drinks from a Starbucks cup. Between them was a bag of Mrs. Field’s cookie bites. They were happy snackers, chatting away, in English (you’ll see why that’s important in a minute).
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say there were first-timers on BART and didn’t know the rules: NO food or drink allowed in BART stations or on trains.
Then it’s a good thing there are signs with the information repeated in a scrolling message overhead.
Let’s give them another chance and say they didn’t lift their heads to read the message.
Then it’s a good thing a loud warning announcement came over the PA system, every 2 minutes or so, interrupting their conversation: Eating or drinking in a BART station can result in a fine of up to $250.
Wow! $250. I started to get nervous for the girls. I looked over and one caught my eye and gave me a friendly, relaxed smile. In other words, fully aware of the rules they were breaking, what the girls weren’t breaking was a sweat.
I scooted away from them, lest the BART police think I was with these lawbreakers.
I’ll jump ahead to the end of the story: Nothing bad happened to the young women, who carried their food and drink onto a train. As far as I know they reached their destination, escaping any punishment.
I’m not sure how hungry or thirsty I’d have to be to take food or drink down to the BART station. Starving? Dehydrated? Even at an age when I could easily claim exigent senior citizen circumstances, I couldn’t do it.
I’m envious. It’s not about the BART rule, or the No Trespassing rule in Case #1; it’s about any rule. I just can’t break them. (Note that I’m holding a slide RULE in the photo.)
Criticism is levied against cozy mysteries because their amateur sleuths often do foolish things, unlawful even, while investigating murders.
But isn’t that what fiction is for? Someone has to live an exciting rule-breaking life for us.
Do you follow even the smallest rule, or would you make a good amateur sleuth?
Excellent post! I am just like you! Thank you so much for visiting today!!
About This Author
Camille Minichino, a retired physicist turned writer, has published 17 mysteries in three series: The Periodic Table Mysteries, The Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace) and The Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries (as Ada Madison). Soon, every aspect of her life will be a mystery series. She’s also written short stories and articles for popular magazines and teaches writing and science in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A Function of Murder
(Professor Sophie Knowles Mystery)
3rd in Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (December 31, 2012)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book File Size: 613 KB
Cover Illustration by Lisa French
Cover Design by Lesley Worrell
Math Professor Sophie Knowles is looking forward to some time off as this year’s class graduates, but things do not go as planned. The graduates are complaining about the mayor who gave the commencement address, one student is upset about her grade and vents on social media, and just when she is about to escape all of the drama to take a stroll with her helicopter pilot boyfriend things go horribly wrong. They are interrupted by the mayor himself as he falls into the fountain with a knife in his back. Sophie is shocked to find out the mayor was seeking her out for help before he was killed. Solving this murder in’t going to be easy but Sophie is ready to show her work as she tries delve into all the scandal and corruption that seems to connect to the mayor and find out how she fits into this criminal equation.
Sophie is such a fun protagonist. She really doesn’t want to get all wrapped up in a murder investigation but she just can’t help herself. Her boyfriend does his best to keep her safe but they can’t be together 24/7. Thankfully she has a great relationship with Detective Virgil Mitchell. The killer really surprised me. I figured it out at the same time Sophie did. It was a puzzler with quite a suspenseful ending.
The subplot of the student that is unhappy with her grades was wonderful. I am sure teachers near and far deal with this problem. With social media the student can take their issue to the masses making resolution difficult especially when “friends” take the problem to a whole new level.
Ada Madison has written three marvelous main characters, surrounded them with a group of very interesting individuals in a setting ripe for mystery. Add it all together and A Function of Murder equals an absolutely impressive whodunit.
Camille has made the giveaway today SPECTACULAR!!
In addition to the 2 books I am giving away
thanks to the wonderful people at Berkley Prime Crime –
She is giving away 3 additional copies with bookmarks and rulers!!!
THAT’S A TOTAL OF 5 COPIES!!!
U.S. AND CANADA ONLY
To enter you must leave a comment below
answering Camille’s question:
Do you follow even the smallest rule, or would you make a good amateur sleuth?
Winners will be chosen by Random.org
Winners will be notified by email and
will be posted in the sidebar of this blog.
Entries without a comment will be disqualified!
Contest Will End January 23 at 11:59 p.m. CST
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.”