Some people say America is a melting pot; others call it a salad bowl. Either way we’re a country made up of many cultural and ethnic groups that have played a huge part in making us who we are as a whole, both enriching and educating us. Heather Haven has tapped into this amalgam in her Alvarez Family Mystery series by creating a character whose genes are one part Mexican immigrant, one part Caucasian blueblood—and all parts fun to read.
Award-winning author Heather began her writing career at No Soap Radio in New York City. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
People have asked what inspired me to write the Alvarez Family Mysteries. The answer is I’m intrigued by the dynamics of familial relationships and America’s history of immigrants rising to heights often unattainable in their native countries.
That lofty statement made – and pahdon me whilst I play the grand piano – the truth is there’s something about a family who does their darnedest to be supportive and positive no matter what, that can be heartwarming and often hilarious. So enter the Alvarez Family, owners of Discretionary Inquiries, a Silicon Valley based detective agency.
The lineup includes Liana (Lee), protagonist and in-house detective; Lila, CEO, aristocratic, never-had-a bad-hair-day mother; Richard, computer nerd kid brother, brilliant but goofy; Tío, uncle and retired executive chef who gives unconditional love while frying up the best tortillas in town; and, of course, Tugger, the foundling kitten helping to reunite the family in a most passive yet feline way.
Regarding Lee Alvarez, I wanted the protagonist of the series to be an intelligent, quirky, and flawed woman, but not so much so she can’t learn and grow. Mainly, Lee’s happy to be in the world. She loves life. She strives to be a B&BP or a bigger and better person, even while she’s spilling coffee all over herself. I adore her and hope it shows.
Also, and this is important to me, she’s of blended heritage, half Mexican immigrant (her father’s side) and half Palo Alto Blueblood (her mother’s side) i.e., Mexican American. There are days when she’s up, down, all over the place.
I can relate to this big time. The Italian half of my family came to the States at the turn of the 20th century, when it was difficult to be an Italian immigrant. Traditionally, the newest ones in are always the most challenged. But also traditionally, immigrants usually work hard to integrate, to become useful and respected members of our society. No pity, just hard work, with love and good times thrown in. Olé!
The Alvarez Family Mystery Series shows a family managing to capture the American dream today while stumbling over dead bodies and solving crimes in one of the hottest places in the nation, Silicon Valley. All with a few laughs.
I am proud to say Murder is a Family Business, Book 1 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, is included in Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries. The lineup of the other nine authors is impressive as will see below. We are a murdering lot, but fun!
Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries is a collection of full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Titles include:
Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston—Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder…
Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths—and handsome detective Michael Stone.
Skeleton in a Dead Space, a Kelly O’Connell Mystery by Judy Alter—Real estate isn’t a dangerous profession until Kelly O’Connell stumbles over a skeleton and runs into serial killers and cold-blooded murderers in a home being renovated in Fort Worth. Kelly barges through life trying to keep from angering her policeman boyfriend Mike and protect her two young daughters.
In for a Penny, a Cleopatra Jones Mystery by Maggie Toussaint—Accountant Cleo faces an unwanted hazard when her golf ball lands on a dead banker. The cops think her BFF shot him, so Cleo sets out to prove them wrong. She ventures into the dating world, wrangles her teens, adopts the victim’s dog, and tries to rein in her mom…until the killer puts a target on Cleo’s back.
The Hydrogen Murder, a Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—A retired physicist returns to her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts and moves into an apartment above her friends' funeral home. When she signs on to help the Police Department with a science-related homicide, she doesn't realize she may have hundreds of cases ahead of her.
Retirement Can Be Murder, A Baby Boomer Mystery by Susan Santangelo—Carol Andrews dreads her husband Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it—until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.
Dead Air, A Talk Radio Mystery by Mary Kennedy—Psychologist Maggie Walsh moves from NY to Florida to become the host of WYME's On the Couch with Maggie Walsh. When her guest, New Age prophet Guru Sanjay Gingii, turns up dead, her new roommate Lark becomes the prime suspect. Maggie must prove Lark innocent while dealing with a killer who needs more than just therapy.
A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Mystery by RP Dahlke—When her vintage Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask aero-ag pilot Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher is found strapped in the driver’s seat. Lalla confronts suspects, informants, cross-dressers, drug-running crop dusters, and a crazy Chihuahua on her quest to find the killer.
Murder is a Family Business, an Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather Haven—Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez, has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve.
Murder, Honey, a Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie Hansen—When the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. Suspects abound at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives.