Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing. The first book in the series, Scene of the Climb, features the rugged landscapes of the Columbia River Gorge. Kate’s work has appeared in a variety of regional and international publications. Learn more about her and her writing at her website.
Have Book Will Travel: Mystery in the Great Outdoors
I’ve been a fan of mysteries for almost as long as I’ve been reading. I started with Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and worked my way through all of Agatha Christie’s books one year in high school. Mysteries are escapism at its best, taking readers on a quest to figure out whodunit, with plenty of page-turning twists and a dash of romance.
My favorite thing about reading the genre is that mysteries also serve as travelogues, offering a glimpse into a quaint village, or a charming small town. I’ve traveled to the English countryside, a dreary castle in Scotland, a coffeehouse in New York City, eclectic neighborhoods in San Francisco, and so many other corners of the globe while reading mysteries.
When I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing a mystery, I knew I had to write about the Pacific Northwest. Like the famous writing adage I had to write what I knew. And I know the Pacific Northwest. I’ve spent my entire life (minus college and travels) in ruggedly beautiful Portland, Oregon. It’s a city that feels like a small town with artisan coffee shops, pubs on every corner, and the outdoors within minutes of downtown.
On the weekends my family and I like to lace up our boots, fill our Camelbacks, and head out to our favorite trails. One weekend we opted to hike Angel’s Rest in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s one of my favorite hikes. It’s a relatively easy climb to the 2,000-foot summit, and the payoff at the top is worth any amount of sweat. The rocky summit boasts staggeringly beautiful views of the Columbia River and Washington hillsides. It’s also dangerous, and the setting for my new mystery Scene of the Climb.
While we were trekking through switchbacks and working our way to the summit, a thought flashed through my head: What if someone fell from the top of Angel’s Rest, and what if they had help?
The perfect setting for a mystery had appeared. Now I just needed a protagonist. That came when we made it back to the trailhead and I spotted a young woman hiking with a group of burly men. She was the only female, and the only one wearing pink hiking boots. Perfection!
From there the story came together. The young woman in the pink hiking boots became Meg Reed, twenty-three, fresh out of journalism school, and couch-surfing in Portland, Oregon. When she has a chance encounter with the editor of Northwest Extreme magazine, she bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for the outdoor publication. The only problem is that Meg’s idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.
The magazine sends her to Angel’s Rest to cover a reality TV adventure race filming in town. She claws her way to the top of a cliff only to witness a body falling off the summit. Meg is suddenly out of her element and mixed up in a murder investigation.
The Pacific Northwest becomes its own character in the book as Meg treks to popular tourist spots like Multnomah Falls, and more challenging climbs deeper in the woods. She and her friends meet at their favorite local pubs and puzzle over the clues with pints of Oregon’s famed microbrews. Hopefully readers will get a glimpse of the Pacific Northwest’s wild untamed spaces, and a taste of its eclectic culture as Meg fumbles her way through her first assignment and a murder.
Scene of the Climb
Portland, Oregon, is the perfect fit for someone like Meg Reed. It's a city with a small town feel, where she can crash on the couch of her best friend Jill, now that she's graduated from journalism school. . .
But a girl needs a job, so Meg bluffs her way into writing for Northwest Extreme magazine, passing herself off to editor-in-chief Greg Dixon as an outdoor adventure enthusiast. Never mind that Meg's idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte. So when she finds herself clawing to the top of Angel's Rest--a two-thousand-foot peak--to cover the latest challenge in a reality TV adventure show, she can't imagine feeling more terrified. Until she witnesses a body plummet off the side of the cliff. Now Meg has a murder to investigate. And if the climbing doesn't kill her, a murderer just might. . .