Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so happy to welcome Kate Carlisle back to Escape With Dollycas today!
The Twisty, Turny Research Journey to Kate Carlisle’s New Book
(Guest Post Provided by Publicist)
Kate Carlisle is the New York Times bestselling author of two ongoing series: the Bibliophile Mysteries featuring San Francisco bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, whose rare book restoration skills uncover old secrets, treachery and murder; and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries (as seen on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), featuring Shannon Hammer, a home contractor who discovers not only skeletons in her neighbors’ closets, but murder victims, too.
Kate’s Latest Fixer-Upper Mystery is Shot Through the Hearth, available now.
As a writer, research can be a massive problem for me. Not because I dread it. Quite the opposite, in fact. I love it so much that I can all too easily be drawn down a circuitous path of wonderment that has no end. I’m curious about everything.
I do my research in two stages: while plotting the story and while writing it. During the plotting stage I have more freedom to explore because the things I learn could take the story in exciting directions I never anticipated. At that stage, I don’t know what I don’t know, so every discovery has the potential to change the plot.
During the writing stage, my research has to be more focused on finding the answer to a specific question. I must discipline myself not to go off on any tangents, no matter how seductive they may be. Find the answer, get back to work.
My goal is to weave much of what I learn into a smart, funny murder mystery that keeps readers guessing and teaches them something at the same time. I want lots of those “Huh. I didn’t know that” moments.
My readers are insatiably curious, too. I think it’s one of the reasons they love my books.
To show you what a wide variety of research goes into my books, here’s a sampling of topics I studied while plotting and writing Shot Through the Hearth, my latest Fixer-Upper Mystery, and a random fact about each. You’ll have to read the book to see how these facts come together in one whodunit.
HOW MANY POUNDS DOES IT TAKE TO CRUSH A HUMAN CHEST?
Turns out, there’s no definitive answer—it depends on the strength of the person’s chest muscles. Which means, sadly, I’d go quickly, I’m afraid.
TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH STONE MASONRY TECHNIQUES (even though Shot Through the Hearth is set in Lighthouse Cove, California)
Scotland’s official website is gov.scot. The United States’ official website is usa.gov. Huh.
Historically, this was also called a raising bee. The only bees I’d heard of before were quilting bees and spelling bees. We need more bees! A cocktail party could be called a boozing bee. A city council meeting could be a sniping bee.
THE RANGE OF A RIFLE BULLET
Not only did I need to know how far the bullet could travel, but also whether it would have enough velocity at the end of its journey to do any damage. Imagine standing on the street and watching a bullet glance harmlessly off your stomach and roll to the ground.
CAN PLANTS BE SENTIENT?
Instead of sharing a fact here, I’ll share a snippet from Shot Through the Hearth. In this scene, contractor Shannon Hammer and her boyfriend Mac Sullivan, a thriller writer, explore the Ecosphere, an indoor vertical garden that’s hiding something that just may be sinister.
We stepped through the doorway and entered the tropical wonderland.
I hadn’t been inside since Julian and his team had installed small spotlights in various parts of the garden. It gave the space a wonderfully ethereal quality that I really loved.
“The air is cool,” Mac marveled. “I thought it would be warm.”
“No, the plants help clean the air and cool it down. And the louvers help.” I pointed to the nearest window and the wide horizontal blinds covering them. “They move with the sun in order to keep the interior from getting too hot at any time during the day.”
He continued to look around, taking in the verdant carpet of ferns that edged the pathway and the thick vines that draped the walls. Aloe vera plants thrived in every corner. Dozens of pothos plants, with the most abnormally large leaves I’d ever seen, cascaded down from the second- floor balcony. Succulent snake plants cast eerie, tongue-like shadows on the walls.
“I could set up a table and write in here.” Mac moved in a circle, studying the greenery all around us. “In fact . . .” He took out his phone and began taking photos. “I can see Jake Slater getting trapped in here.”
I had to smile. “That’s a great idea. And wait until you meet Stephanie.”
He began to walk up the ramp but stopped and turned. “Who’s Stephanie?”
“Let’s keep going up to the next level. I’ll show you.”
As we reached the second floor of the Ecosphere, the tendrils of the Stephanie vine brushed against Mac’s legs.
“What was that?” he demanded, jumping back.
“That’s Stephanie,” I said, laughing. “She’s a fast-growing vine and seems to move toward anything human.”
“That’s freaking weird.”
“Yeah, it’s weird. But it makes sense when Julian explains it. Something about its DNA causes the plant to react to human pheromones. Apparently it’s attracted to our breath, too. There’s a bunch of other details Julian talked about that I couldn’t begin to explain to you, but he’ll be giving Ecosphere tours starting tomorrow.”
“I’ll sign up for that. I want to hear all about Stephanie. And the rest of this place, too.”
I hope you’ll have as much fun reading Shot Through the Hearth as I had writing—and researching—it. You can read chapter one for free at https://katecarlisle.com/shot-through-the-hearth.php. Please let me know what you think! You can reach me via my website or at www.facebook.com/katecarlislebooks
Thank you Kate for dropping by for a visit.
Keep reading for my thoughts on A Shot Through The Hearth.
Shot Through the Hearth (A Fixer-Upper Mystery)
7th in Series
Setting – California
Publisher: Berkley (October 29, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07NCPRQ52
Shannon’s good friend and retired tech billionaire, Raphael Nash, is loving his new retired life but he can’t stay unoccupied for too long. He’s started the Marigold Foundation that helps fund small companies and individuals who do humanitarian work around the world. It’s an exciting time in Lighthouse Cove as Raphael hosts the first ever global conference inviting big thinkers from every area of industry to give presentations on eco-living.
Raphael’s old business partner arrives in town with a grudge and a plan to steal him away from his important new passion project. Shannon knows her friend has no intention of giving up Marigold and is proud of Raphael for sticking to his guns. But when his former associate winds up dead, all signs point to Raphael.
It’s up to Shannon to hammer out the details of the murder before her friend gets pinned for the crime…
Shannon Hammer, contractor extraordinaire, knew her job for billionaire Raphael Nash was going to be a huge job but big thinking Rafe has expanded his plans for his project and Hammer’s construction crew and for Lighthouse Cove too. Not only does he want the home on his property renovated he adds a barn-raising and a garden tower all to be completed before a global conference about eco-living. He has a vast schedule of events with many guest speakers, including Mac, Lighthouse Cove’s resident author. Rafe has also created the Marigold Foundation, named after his lady love, to award money for research and ecologic humanitarian work around the world. He hopes the conference will become an annual event.
While Rafe Nash is over the moon excited about the foundation and conference, his former partner Dillon Charles is not happy. He wants Rafe to come back to the company they built together and to do new projects together. Rafe tries hard to explain he has a new life in Lighthouse Cove and has no plans to leave it but Charles is not backing down.
Then as the barn-raising gets underway Dillion Charles is found dead and Rafe finds himself at the top of the suspect list. Shannon vows to help her friend. She plans to find the real killer before he gets screwed for a crime he didn’t commit
I am always excited when a book in this series is released. With a little home construction experience, I am always pulled into Shannon’s new project and all the drama that surrounds it. Because of this series, I look at every Victorian home that crosses my path in a new light. This time the project is huge and takes about 8 months to complete so we don’t get as many details of all the work completed but the author gives us plenty of information to visualize not only the house with its wonderful outside living space, but the grounds, the barn, the tower, and the unique pods Rafe Nash brings in for his conference.
Ms. Carlisle has also constructed a fantastic mystery. The victim was shady and unlikable. As the story continues information comes to light the pries the suspect list wide open. Many people have a motive, the key is the opportunity. A second death gives a little more focus to who did the deed and readers are taken right into the middle of the scary big reveal when all the clues fall into place. That wasn’t the only scary moment, there are a few that added to the suspense of the story. I was captivated by the process and each little twist and I was still totally surprised at the end.
I enjoy that Shannon is a woman in a male-dominated field who knows her job but isn’t afraid to admit when she doesn’t know something. Her field is Victorian restoration, not barn building, and she sent one of her crew to witness and help in an Amish barn raising and bring back what he learned to have their job go off without a hitch. Her crew, many of who worked with her dad, trust her and they work together like a well-oiled machine.
Shannon also has a strong man in her life and he is right there to help when she finds herself dealing with yet another dead body. Of course, Eric Jensen, the chief of police, is on the scene and kept in the loop on everything Shannon uncovers. Her father is not quite as involved this time but it is for a good reason. Her uncle also makes an appearance. All the characters have a purpose and the dialogue flows so well.
Engaging characters and another fine mystery. A great addition to this series. Each one has been A PERFECT ESCAPE foe me and I recommend them all.
Read my Reviews for the whole series.
Read more about Kate and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries at www.KateCarlisle.com!
Also by Kate Carlisle
Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away.
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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.”