|The Watcher House in Westfield, NJ|
Sometimes stuff happens and other stuff—like guest blogs—fall through the cracks. Such was the case with the author scheduled to blog today. So because I’m such a lady of leisure (this is sarcasm for any of you not familiar with the life author Lois Winston has created for me,) I’m stepping in to tell you about a real-life mystery in the real-life town where the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries take place.
Lois often gets many of her plot ideas from real-life events. My latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, A Stitch to Die For, is no exception. She’s woven several recent news stories into my latest foray as a reluctant amateur sleuth.
Shortly after the book was released our little suburban commuter town made national news. A short walk from my home is a house that is being stalked by someone calling himself The Watcher. Or so the owners claim. Here are the facts:
In June 2014 the house, built in 1905 and located on a street that has been designated historical, was sold for 1.35 million dollars. (a far cry from the value of the 1950’s tract rancher that’s home to me, my two sons, my communist mother-in-law, her devil dog, Ralph the Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and occasionally my DAR mother and her zaftig Persian cat.) The sellers had lived in the house since 1990. The new owners made extensive renovations to the house but never moved in. Last June they filed a lawsuit against the former owner for not disclosing that the house had been stalked for decades.
According to the new owners, the seller received a letter from The Watcher several days prior to settlement but failed to disclose it. Three days after settlement the new owners received the first of three letters from The Watcher. The Watcher claimed the house “has been the subject of my family for decades” and that he was put in charge of “watching and waiting for the second coming” after his father and grandfather before him. He went on to make threats against the new owners’ three children. No letters were ever received after mid-July of last year. Meanwhile the new owners went ahead with their renovations.
The new owners turned the three letters over to the police who investigated but found nothing. No letter addressed to the former owner has surfaced, and she hasn’t admitted ever having received any. Other former owners have stated there was never any problems regarding the house and all had happy memories of living there.
In February of last year the new owners put the house up for sale without ever having lived in it. The lawsuit claims they haven’t been able to sell the house, even after repeated price reductions, because of The Watcher. However, no one knew anything about The Watcher and the letters until this past June when the lawsuit was filed and became public record.
Home disclosure laws vary from state to state. In some states the seller would have had to disclose information about The Watcher prior to closing. Not in New Jersey. Here the seller only has to disclose prior physical problems such as a fire or flood. And who’s to say the seller had even heard of The Watcher, let alone ever received a letter from him? That’s only on the word of the new owners, and how do they know the seller received a letter?
I suspect Lois has her own theories about all this, and she’ll probably wind up plopping me right into the middle of it when she gets around to dumping me into a new mystery in Book 6. At least I know I’ll survive whatever she has in store for me. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a Book 7.
A Stitch to Die For
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 5
The adventures of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack continue in A Stitch to Die For, the 5th book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Lois Winston.
Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.