Memoirs of the 1960’s
I’ve been asked why my mysteries focus on the 1960’s, instead of the 30’s and 40’s. There are actually two reasons. First, there are a lot of books written about these eras and I wanted my novels to be different and exciting. I grew up in the 60’s and remembered the drive-in theaters, the soda fountains, and what constituted a normal day at that time. I didn’t rely totally on my memories, however, and spent a considerable amount of time doing research before starting to write my novels. I looked up the names of major food chains, cost of grocery items, makes and models of vehicles, and speed zones for the states visited by my characters. An interesting tidbit is that most states only had one telephone area code at that time. Although the names of the cities I created are fictitious I was careful to use the crime solving tools available to law enforcement. For example, computers were used only sparingly by major cities, there was no DNA testing, and the Miranda Warnings did not exist in 1961 or 1962.
Now, the second reason for using the 1960’s. I wanted to make my hero, George Peabody, a hard working family man who is doing the best he can and not a flamboyant hard- boiled detective like Mike Hammer. During this era there were not a lot of social programs available and if a family was down on their luck they were in real trouble. This is the situation facing the Peabody household at the start of my first novel, The Old Miller Place. George has been blackballed by his previous employer for a vicious lie told my one of his employees. His parents are deceased and he has no one to count on. His wife, Elizabeth, has been estranged by her family for marrying him. An employer takes a chance on him and the family buys an old house that is haunted. While trying to find out what is going on he meets a retired detective, Gary Wise, who helps him solve the murders that occur throughout the book. This detective is very bright, but also highly impulsive, which gets both of them in trouble on a regular basis. In the sequel, The Millpond Murder Case, Gary’s nephew, Harvey Hanson, is introduced. He is the sheriff of a small sawmill town just north of Springdale. Bodies keep showing up at the mill and the murderer calls Hanson with fractured nursery rhymes. Peabody and Wise help him solve these murders as well as locate the missing relatives of an old man, Kevin Wainwright, who dies in a mysterious automobile accident. This ghost haunts George throughout the novel and appears at the most inopportune times causing him a lot of embarrassment and laughter for the readers.In 1961 George Peabody struggles for months to find employment. When he is about ready to give up he lands a job with a small newspaper. He likes the area and talks his wife, Elizabeth; into buying an old rundown house. Objects start moving by themselves and an icy presence permeates the entire house. Is he and his family safe? He researches the old house’s history and learns of grizzly murders that had taken place there. An attorney is bludgeoned to death and a woman turns up dead in the back of his truck. He is accused of both murders and is on trial for his life. Has he been framed for their murders by a crooked cop, Detective Strausser, or is it someone else? Are the murders of the past somehow connected to what is currently going on? Suddenly he is abducted by the real killer. It becomes a race against time as a retired police detective, Gary Wise, and his ex-partner, Detective Thayer, search for clues to find him.
The Old Miller Place
The Old Miller Place
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