I’m a Texas gal, born and raised. When I moved to Austin from my small hometown near Waco to attend the University of Texas, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Austin was so hip; so cool (this was in the seventies). After graduating, I married and started teaching. The idea of living elsewhere seemed unthinkable. As the city grew and the Texas heat intensified, my husband and I began vacationing in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest. After seventeen years in the classroom and moonlighting as a writer, I needed a break. The plan was to take a year or two off and move to the San Juans so I could relax and write, which I certainly did. During those two years, I wrote four mysteries and several short stories, poems, and plays. We eventually returned to our home state, but only long enough for me to retire. Seduced by the cool summertime weather and the serene lifestyle of a small town on the water, we settled in Anacortes,Washington. I still return to Texas regularly for a few weeks every winter to visit family and friends and get a dose of Vitamin D when it is cold and rainy here in the PNW. So when Annette invited me to take part in her “50 Authors from 50 States” blog, I wasn’t sure which state I should claim, until I realized that Texas was taken.
Most of my Sydney Lockhart mysteries are set in Texas, but my new Kate Caraway series takes place in various locales, including the San Juan Island. The first book, Run Dog Run, published by Black Opal Press, is scheduled for release in a few weeks. My latest Sydney Lockhart mystery is set in Austin. To get feel for what life was like in Texas’ state capital during the 1950s, check out Murder at the Driskill (http://kathleenkaska.com/sydney-lockhart-mysteries/murder-at-the-driskill/).
Here’s a look: Another hotel; another murder; another Sydney Lockhart mystery.
Changes are happening fast and furious for reporter Sydney Lockhart and her detective boyfriend, Ralph Dixon. No sooner than they open their new detective agency, a high-profile case walks through the door. Stringer Maynard, an influential Austin businessman, wants business partner/brother-in-law, Leland Tatum, investigated before Tatum’s campaign for governor begins. Seems Tatum has been keeping company with an avant-garde crowd whose activities might jeopardize his chances of winning the election.
Maynard invites Sydney and Dixon to the famous Driskill Hotel for Tatum’s formal campaign announcement. Before they even meet the candidate, a gunshot sends them hurrying into the next suite where they discover Tatum has been shot and killed. Suddenly their professional services turn to a murder investigation. As the suspect list grows, Sydney acquires an unwanted partner Lydia LaBeau, a twelve-year-old daughter of one of the potential murderers. To assist Sydney in clearing her father’s name, Lydia dresses up like Sherlock Holmes and begins to collect her own bag of evidence. Although much to Sydney’s annoyance, Lydia proves to be the smarter detective.
And here’s look at my next: Run Dog Run
When animal rights activist, Kate Caraway, is invited by friends, Max and Olga Rodriquez, to their ranch in Wimberley, Texas for much needed rest and recovery, she quickly realizes that there is an ulterior motive involved. Before she unpacks, Max and Olga’s daughter (Kate’s goddaughter), Rosa Linda Rodriguez, pleads for Kate’s assistance to find out who is responsible for the abuse of greyhounds belonging to neighboring rancher Guy Fordyce.
Within a few hours of beginning her investigation, Kate learns that Rosa Linda’s informant and greyhound trainer, Jesús Flores, is murdered. Two days later, on her way to the River City Greyhound Track, Kate is run off the road and almost killed. Before she gains any credible information, someone leaves a second warning in her car—a dead greyhound—a dog she had watched race the previous day.
Driven by the terrifying awareness that there is more behind the deaths of these greyhounds, Kate ignores the warning from the local sheriff and continues to dig for the truth.
When a second attempt is made on her life, Kate realized that greyhounds aren’t the only targets in this mystery of revenge and murder.
Growing up in West, Texas during the 1950s, my average-American parents and the nuns at St. Mary’s School instilled in me “good girl” values, leaving an indelible stamp on my character. For respite from this label, I began writing my Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series—set in historic hotels during the fifties, of course—to say and do things I would “never try at home.”
I also write the Classic Triviography Mystery Series. My Alfred Hitchcock and Sherlock Holmes trivia books were finalists for the 2013 EPIC award in nonfiction.
When not writing, I spend much of my time with my husband traveling the country’s back roads and byways; bird-watching; and looking for new locales for my mysteries. It was my passion for birds that led to The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida 2012).
When too road weary, I split time between my two favorite places, the Pacific Northwest and the Texas Coast. It’s tough though, having been born with the original sin of wanderlust. Nonetheless, my laptop is nicely stowed in my bag and a bird-reference book and binoculars are always on the front seat.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of Run Dog Run and Murder the Driskill (Pictured above).