September 18, 2016

Author, Neil Plakcy Brings the Love of Bucks County, PA

From the time I was a kid, I knew that Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where I grew up, was a special place when it came to literature. Literary lights Pearl S. Buck and James Michener lived near Doylestown, the county seat. Barley Sheaf Farm, aka Cherchez la Farme, was the home of Mr. and Mrs. George S. Kaufman, and Moss Hart and his wife Kitty Carlisle (of What’s My Line) also lived in New Hope, where my parents and I went to the flea market on weekends and to browse through antique shops.

It was a great place to grow up. I could ride my bike a few blocks from our suburban home to find deep woods and fallow fields. The late bus I took home after school wound its way along country roads lined with farms. And yet we were only forty-five minutes from Philadelphia, reachable by the Reading Railroad, which had a station within walking distance of our house.

When I began writing the golden retriever mysteries, I wanted to capture that small-town sense, even though the area around Yardley, my home town, has changed. Office parks and housing developments have replaced many of the farms, and on a recent trip home I couldn’t even recognize some of those old roads.

It’s a double-edged sword for my human hero, Steve Levitan, who grew up in the town of Stewart’s Crossing (based on Yardley) and has now returned. Much of the area is familiar, but sometimes that familiarity only serves to remind him of what he’s lost along the way.

One thing he has gained, however, is his crime-sniffing golden retriever Rochester. He and Steve have gone nose to ground in seven mysteries so far, sniffing out clues and digging up evidence to bring dastardly perpetrators to heel.

I’ve been able to take advantage of a number of local landmarks, like the Delaware Canal, which runs through town. Steve and Rochester go walking there, and in the spring the canal banks are bright with daisies, black-eyed-Susans and the tiny wild pansies we call Johnny-jump-ups. The county’s Quaker heritage shows up—there’s a meeting house in town like the one in Yardley where I used to go for harvest festivals, where many of my teachers worshipped. Like Yardley, Main Street in Stewart’s Crossing has just one traffic light, and the Colonial Tavern, at the corner of Main and Afton, has been reconfigured a bit as The Drunken Hessian, where Steve hangs out with his best friend, police detective Rick Stemper.
If you are in Philadelphia for any reason, a trip up through Bucks County is lovely any time of year. And if you can’t get there in person, I hope you’ll check out the landscape in my golden retriever mysteries.

I love dogs -- and dog mysteries. So it seemed natural to me to write a dog mystery myself, which is how I first began writing about Rochester and Steve. 
I'm offering two lucky winners each a copy of In Dog We Trust.  Comment here and leave your contact information to win.  If you've already started this series, I'll offer a later novel in the set! 

Character-driven mystery, romance and mainstream novels
(Info provided by Author)


  1. This is familiar territory. My family lived in Princeton for decades, and we used to go to New Hope browsing just a you did. Thank you for the memories.

  2. Enjoyed the read, Neil. I share your love of Pennsylvania and dogs. I don't have one now, but I do have three grand-dogs.

  3. Funny thing about Bucks County. Over the years my wife and I loved going their for weekends. Sometimes we would invite another couple to how with us, and many did. They all subsequently divorced. We, on the other hand, are still very much in love. Maybe there's something special about that part of the world that separates true lovers from the rest of the crowd.

  4. New to me, but 'character driven' is right up my street.

  5. My roots in the area run deep-- my mother and I were both born in Trenton, where much of my family lived, and when I was a teen my mother worked in Princeton, so I'd often take the bus over there with a friend and wander the college campus. Weekends found us at flea markets in New Hope and Lambertville, and of course during the 1970s New Hope was the kind of hippie place teens gravitated toward!

  6. Sounds like an interesting place. Cool pics & your series has got to be fun with golden retrievers.

  7. I live in northern Delaware now, where I grew up. In the early 70's I lived in lower Bucks, in Neshaminy. We went to New Hope many times. So beautiful there. I know Yardly well too. I loved living there. Your books sound great. PS. There are a lot of well-known PA authors. Adele Downs is one of my favorites. Also Mariah Stewart.

  8. New Hope has character, great shops and is a wonderful setting.

  9. Your books sound captivating and unique. New Hope has charm, and personality. Your post was special. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  10. Thanks for the reminder of home. Lived on the Jersey side just across the Delaware River from Bucks County. County roads here I come. Don't have any dogs but two granddogs have adopted me as part of their pack. Looking forward to reading the series.

  11. I love that area of PA, especially New Hope and the amazing flea markets. Bought a lot of antiques there. I lived in Upper Mercer County near Princeton for over two decades, and I have a friend in Yardley. Lovely town. My historical romantic mystery, Death in D Minor is set in the area from Philly to Doylestown during the pre and post civil war era. Thank you for bringing back fond memories of weekend antiquing trips to Lambertville, New Hope and northwest.
    Love Goldens. Good luck.

  12. I was in Penn. this weekend. Me and the trucks. Just kidding. Bucks County is beautiful. Your hero has the exact same name as one of my in-laws so I can't help wondering how you came up with it. lol


Follow 50 Authors from 50 States blog for the latest