|Downtown Red Bank, NJ|
New Jersey author Richard Brawer writes mystery, suspense and historical fiction. When not writing, he spends his time sailing and searching out local history. Learn more about him and his books at his website.
My mystery series, Murder at the Jersey Shore, is set in and around Red Bank, New Jersey in eastern Monmouth County. Founded in the 1700s at the headwaters of the Navesink River, Red Bank―the city is named for the red dirt that forms the river bank― is an architectural aficionado’s dream. As the town grew from colonial times to the present, every architectural period is represented―Greek Revival, Second Empire, Colonial, Georgian, Victorian, Contemporary, Classic Italianate, and Commercial.
In 1984 the city had acquired the nickname “Dead Bank”. Half the storefronts had “for rent” signs in their grimy windows, the merchants having moved to the malls on the highway. The retailers and restaurateurs that managed to survive were a hardy lot and decided it was time to take action. In 1991 they created a company called River Center to revive the town. These forward-looking businessmen convinced the politicians to add a surcharge to the commercial property taxes to fund their organization. River Center then used that money to spruce up the town, refurbishing the sidewalks with paver bricks, adding century-old style lampposts and bringing festivals and special events to town.
Today, Red Bank is listed in travel magazines as one of the hundred best weekend getaways in the country and has been dubbed “Hip Town.” The city is a delight to stroll through and gaze at the displays in the windows of the fashion boutiques and art galleries; visit the renowned antique center; take in a show at the renovated 1000 seat Count Basie Theater (the count was born in Red Bank); and eat at one of the restaurants offering a wide variety of fare from neighborhood friendly burgers, Soho chic, elegant Italian and Asian cuisine and scrumptious baked goods at Carlo’s Bakery, the star of Cake Boss. If you should visit Red Bank in the wintertime when it’s cold enough for the river to freeze, make sure you catch the ice boaters. If you’ve never seen iceboating, it’s a sight to behold.
|The Battle of Monmouth|
While you’re visiting Red Bank, you may want to take a day to travel through other areas of Monmouth County to the sight of The Battle of Monmouth, the longest and last major battle of the Revolutionary War as well as the largest field artillery battle, and where the legend of Molly Pitcher was born; visit the twin lights, in the Highlands where Marconi ran the first test of his wireless telegraphy in the Western Hemisphere and stroll through their maritime museum; take in a day at Monmouth Park Race Track; catch a fishing boat out of the nearby Highlands and Atlantic Highlands marinas; visit Mount Mitchel and pay your respects to the 9/11 victims at the beautiful memorial; or just loll on the beaches of Sandy Hook.
By the way, if you stroll around Sandy Hook, keep your eyes on the ground. The tides continually shift the sand, and Super Storm Sandy created a major disruption. Someone occasionally finds a gold coin from a sunken ship after storms move the sand around.
For colonial history, visit the “Four Corners” in Shrewsbury, the town bordering Red Bank to the south. The “Four Corners” is one of the most historic areas in the country. On the north east corner is a Quaker meetinghouse. The still active congregation dates back to 1672. The present meetinghouse was erected in 1816 as the original one had burned.
On the southeast corner is Christ Church, built before the Revolution. It’s an Episcopal congregation and had been a Tory stronghold. One interesting story about the dents in the weather vane on top of the copula is that the dings were supposedly made by loyalists shooting at the vane. East of Christ Church is the Presbyterian Church also built before the Revolution.
If you visit the churches on Sunday, you can worship at the congregation of your choice and at the same time take in the stained glass windows and other artifacts from the colonial era.
On the northwest corner is the Allen House. Formerly an inn and tavern, the building was also built before the Revolution. The Allen House museum is run by the Monmouth County Historical Society and is open to the public.
On a landscaped traffic island in the middle of Sycamore Avenue between the Quaker meeting house and the churches is a plaque which reads, “The Delaware Trail used by the Leni Lenape Indians and later by Washington’s troops as they chased the British from The Battle of Monmouth.”
Murder at the Jersey Shore is a three book mystery series in one volume―Secrets can be Deadly, Diamonds are for Stealing and Murder on the Links, all featuring
detective David Nance and his on-again, off-again relationship with girlfriend Bobbie.
Secrets Can Be Deadly
As a single parent, David Nance’s mother is devoted to her son. When David finds her murdered on the eve of her sixtieth birthday, he sets out to avenge her death. His investigation uncovers a brain-impaired baby born twenty-six years ago that had either been switched at birth or murdered. The mounting evidence forces David to come face to face with the idea that his mother may not only have been involved, but as a delivery room nurse in the hospital for thirty years, may also have been a blackmailer. As David digs into the backgrounds of the murder suspects, he is tormented when one-by-one he realizes each could be his father. One is, but is his father also the murderer?
Diamonds are for Stealing
David Nance is still angry, still mourning his mother when he takes on an insurance case from an old rival. Investigating the circumstances surrounding a missing diamond necklace, the new case throws him into the path of his old nemesis, the man he blames for his mother's death. Already on notice from his girlfriend Bobbie about his insatiable thirst for vengeance, David must walk a fine line between cool, rational deduction and his inner rage. When the body count starts mounting, the trail of diamonds leads him to a dangerous killer and a confrontation with his own demons.
Murder On The Links
Rooting out the murderers of a penny stock scam artist, a mob boss’s daughter, and a prostitute, David Nance uncovers mob-infested stock brokers, fraudulent hedge fund operators, loan sharks, blackmailers and deviant sex addicts from among the high powered CEOs, lawyers, investment bankers, philanthropists and heirs to fortunes at exclusive Riveredge Golf and Country Club.