It’s not unusual for writers to talk about how they started writing at an early age, but mystery writer Terry Odell (terryodell.com) is different. For this interview, she said, “I didn’t dream of being a writer from childhood, nor did I write my first story in crayon. I was an established, card-carrying member of AARP before I even toyed with writing, so it’s never too late to take up something new. Once I began writing, I found it was as much a part of me as breathing—a writer will write no matter what.”
Odell has just released “Deadly Bones,” her second book in the Mapleton Mystery series, but was faced with a bit of a dilemma. “I’d already written the first book in the series, “Deadly Secrets,” which revolved around the first homicide in the collective memory of the town of Mapleton. Not wanting to get into the Jessica Fletcher Syndrome, I decided to write about a cold case—although when the book begins, nobody’s even aware it’s a case. I decided a dog would find a bone, and let the story evolve from there.”
Mapleton Police Chief Gordon Hepler and the mayor can’t agree about what being a cop means. To Gordon, it’s keeping his citizens safe. To the mayor, it’s generating revenue by issuing speeding and parking tickets.
When two runaway dogs waylay Gordon on the way to what he hopes will be an uneventful afternoon at a backyard barbecue, more than his afternoon is interrupted. As dogs will do, these have uncovered a bone. Trouble is, it turns out to be human.
Over the mayor’s objections, Gordon pursues the investigation of the bones along with an unusual outbreak of petty crimes, accidents, and a dispatcher who seems to be losing it. Before long, he’s got more puzzle pieces than he knows what to do with—and no puzzle to fit them into. When people he loves are endangered, no mayoral directive will stop Gordon from saving them.
“Deadly Bones” begins with such a simple premise, but evolves into a test of values and wills, about which Odell said, “Standing your ground isn’t easy when it’s crumbling beneath your feet.”
In addition to her current series, Odell has also written the Pine Hills Police series, the Blackthorne, Inc. series, and now, her Mapleton Mystery series. While writing the current book, she attended the Writers Police Academy, which she called a “fantastic experience” that is a “must do” for any crime-fiction writer.
“One of the speakers was Dr. Elizabeth Murray, who spoke of a project I’d never heard of, NamUS, which fit perfectly into the plot of my book. NamUS (www.namus.gov) is a database for missing persons. The fascinating thing about it is that it’s used not only by forensics experts and law enforcement personnel, but also by ‘ordinary’ civilians. Anyone can register and input data about missing friends, relatives, etc. The goal of the project is to match countless unidentified remains with ‘real’ people.”
Learn more about Terry Odell on her website at terryodell.com.
Terry Ambrose (terryambrose.com) is a mystery author with an interest in scams and cons. Find his suspense.writer page on Facebook or follow him on Twitter. His debut mystery (available on Amazon.com) features a hot Honolulu con and trouble in paradise almost too hot to handle.