The evening of October 1, author Jeffrey Eaton will discuss mystery writing and his “Murder Becomes” series before the Friends of the Richardson, Texas, Libraries group. Get more details on this fun, intriguing event at: https://www.richardsonfol.org/annual-meeting/
The appearance has prompted Eaton’s detective/protagonist, Dalton Lee, to impart an important message: “Libraries, and librarians, still matter.”
Librarians can guide us to the best research sources faster than most Google searches filled with ads ever will. Meanwhile, libraries have become outstanding locales for lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings and more.
Earlier this week, our VIP readers got a first glimpse at the cover for my newest mystery thriller, “Murder Becomes Mayfair.” Now, it’s your turn to see the artwork for the third installment in the “Murder Becomes” series, featuring architect/detective, Dalton Lee. (Preorder here).
I wonder if readers realize how much thought goes into a book cover. This book presented a challenge we’d not faced before.
Should the artwork reflect a well-known architectural icon of London, like Westminster Abbey or Big Ben? Or should it be true to the title and show the beautiful Georgian architecture of Mayfair?
We decided to focus on the neighborhood, believing the shot of these Georgian town homes still evokes London. Putting Big Ben on the cover of a book about Mayfair just seemed wrong to us.
Then came the question of the background color. “Murder Becomes Manhattan” has a rich black cover, while “Murder Becomes Miami” has a cover that is a deep ocean blue. For variety, we went with the color of brick for “Murder Becomes Mayfair,” lightened some so the Georgian buildings beneath would still pop through.
We hope you like the fact the cover is true to the series in its fonts and design, but unique in the color that it projects from the bookshelf. Let us know your thoughts.
Hardbacks of “Murder Becomes Mayfair” go on sale October 1. What nefarious plot has The Organization planned for London? Can Dalton Lee and his team stop it before it’s too late?
As I begin preliminary work this week on the third book in the “Murder Becomes” series, I am reminded of one of the biggest challenges I face – where in the book to introduce the murderer.
Should it be very near the beginning, when the reader least expects it and has lots of time throughout the book to forget them? Or should it be deeper within the book, right as the intrigue is kicking into high gear?
I also have to consider how central to the main story the murderer should be. If the murderer is always lurking along the perimeter of the tale but not too far out of sight, then the revelation of their identity can be a stunning surprise for the reader. But by planting that person as one of the central suspects, I can also give the reader the fun of playing detective along with Dalton Lee.
How do YOU like your murderer served up? On the side, as an unexpected garnish ? Or as one of several delicious morsels on the main dinner plate?
This fall, I have at least three book clubs reading “Murder Becomes Manhattan.” When I appear at a book club, one question I am always asked is, “How do you go about writing one of your novels? Do you pretty much have the plot laid out when you start? Or do you change it along the way?”
The answer is ‘yes.’ And, ‘no.’
I am a linear thinker, so my tendency is to produce a book in a linear way. But it is almost impossible to write a good mystery thriller that way. That’s because you want the stray comment offered by someone in Chapter 17 to become the vital clue unearthed in Chapter 46. You want the subplot between two characters carefully developed in the first half of the book to take a sudden veer into unexpected territory in the second half.
But that requires some serious planning, some meaningful forethought, and sometimes what we in the industry call “backwriting”. I have backwritten a lot in “Murder Becomes Miami,” which comes out in November. That means I thought of a very cool way to shake things up late in the book, but for the shake-up to make sense, I had to go back and insert a few elements earlier in the book. The result I think is a book that’s more rich, I think, and something different to some degree from what I thought it would be when I launched into it.
That said, if I constantly stopped and shifted and backwrote, I might never finish a book. So here is what I do: I tend to charge forward with a general idea of the plot. I allow for the possibility of twists and turns I didn’t expect along the way but continue barreling forward with the goal of getting the entire story told.
THEN, I go back and refine, and shape, and sculpt, inserting some elements and discarding others, until the final story is ready for you to read.
How do you write? Similarly, or somehow different?
It seems summer, more than any other season, ushers mystery and intrigue into our lives. Released from the hubbub of our day-to-day responsibilities the rest of the year, we seem to seek out mystery (or invite it to find us,) during the summer months more than any other.
Who is that new person sitting across from us at the pool and why are they behaving so mysteriously? What do the unusual markings we have stumbled on in the woods during our hike represent? What are those lights we see across the lake from our summer cabin late at night? Does the laziness of summer make us notice, or seek out, intrigue all the more?
Or, have we been trained through years of summer escapism at the movies to expect mystery in the summer months? Just look at this list of suspense films that were released just before, or during, the summer: Dial M for Murder, Jaws, The Dark Knight, North by Northwest, Jurassic Park, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Psycho. And, perhaps the greatest mystery film of all time, Citizen Kane.
If you are looking for an intriguing getaway this summer, might I recommend the softcover version of “Murder Becomes Manhattan”, just made available. It’s the perfect paperback to peer over as you study that mysterious individual nearby who is hiding behind their designer sunglasses. Meanwhile, know that this summer I will be hard at work putting the finishing touches on “Murder Becomes Miami,” the second installment in the Murder Becomes series.
How fitting that much of the intrigue in that book will be taking place in . . . summer.
They seemed to appear overnight. Small, colorful doors, with locks, embedded in tall trees in a greenbelt in my neighborhood. Quirky, intriguing and mysterious.
What I love about these doors is how they represent in such a great way what makes a mystery book like Murder Becomes Manhattan so appealing. The small detail, missed by most (in this case, missed by most passing motorists and pedestrians) yet yielding so many questions.
Of course we know no one, or thing, lives behind the doors. But they conjure up mysteries nonetheless. Who had them installed? Why in that location? What do we think could be behind the doors? Are there others we’ve not yet noticed? All questions Dalton Lee would consider as he wages his hunt for The Organization…
As Murder Becomes Manhattan nears its debut (less than 24 hours!), I wonder who within the book readers will most connect with.
Will it be Dalton Lee, the dashing but quirky lead detective whose genius is unquestioned but whose personal life is a wreck? Or will it be Bree, who has a nervous breakdown triggered by a street performer?
Perhaps it will be Roberto, whose devotion to his little sister drives him to desperate measures that threatens the security of all of his colleagues.
But then it might be one of the suspects, like the flamboyant and shrill Carolina Campobello or the totally transparent wannabe, Toni Spencer.
Only time will tell. And I am sure the result will be very different from what I might have imagined. You can pre-order Murder Becomes Manhattan now at Amazon.com, Nook.com, Kobo.com and through iTunes.
Dalton Lee is a connoisseur of QUALITY items. This is not someone who shops at WalMart or drives a Kia.
In Murder Becomes Manhattan, the architect/detective at one point decides to have a drink at The Constellation Room, a penthouse-level lounge in one of the city’s finest hotels. And he asks the server to bring him one of the world’s finest bourbon whiskeys out there, a Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight.
Now this is no paid endorsement, I promise you. I have had a Buffalo Trace and it is truly sublime. So it just made sense to me that Dalton Lee should savor this expertly crafted elixir.
Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is distilled, aged and bottled at the most award-winning distillery in the world. Made from the finest corn, rye and barley malt, this whiskey ages in new oak barrels for years in century old warehouses until the peak of maturity. The taste is rich and complex, with hints of vanilla, toffee and candied fruit.
But don’t just take my word for it.
I received a nice email today from the distillery’s CEO, thanking us for calling them out in the book. So should you look into Buffalo Trace the next time you want to nurse a terrific bourbon, know it will not only help make you as debonair as Dalton Lee — it will also connect you to a gentlemanly organization if ever there were one.
I am very excited that Murder Becomes Manhattan is now available for pre-order at both Amazon and Smashwords.
Available as of October 26 are the eBook versions, which contain links to lots of rich online photos and videos that enhance the murder mystery experience. We expect pre-orders of the hardcover and softcover versions to also be available by November 1.
Downloads of the eBook versions and purchase of the print versions will launch November 11!