|There's no place like home.|
Kellye Garrett spent eight years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for Cold Case. A former magazine editor, she now works for a leading media company and brainstorms ways to commit murder for her novels. Today she stops by to tell us about her favorite books. (We also think she should expand her love for mysteries with New Jersey settings to include the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and the Empty Nest Mysteries 😀. Learn more about Kellye and her books at her website.
Favorites, Failures & Frustrations: There’s No Place Like Home
People love books and movies because it lets them explore different places. Oz. Hogsmeade. A Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Although I love The Wizard of Oz, the Harry Potter series and the Star Wars movies just as much as the next person, some of my favorite books don’t show me a place I’ll never go. In actuality, nothing gets me more excited than when I recognize a place I’ve been in a book.
You see as a long time mystery lover, book characters are my version of rock stars. And since I can’t have a celeb sighting of Kinsey Millhone from the Sue Grafton series or Spenser from the Robert P. Parker novels, I settle for the next best thing: location sightings. There’s nothing like seeing a place in a book and going “I’ve been there, too!” It makes the characters feel even more real to me.
That’s probably why hometowns are often characters in a good mystery novel, whether it’s Spenser’s Boston or Kinsey’s Santa Teresa. It’s why I made a point to pack in as many real Los Angeles noticeable landmarks as I could in my debut mystery, Hollywood Homicide. You’ll find Melrose Avenue (it’s more than just a place), the ArcLight movie theater (it’s the one that looks like a golf ball smushed into the ground) and the Warner Bros. Studio (their water tower is iconic).
As much as I love Hollywood, I love New Jersey even more. I’m a loud and proud Jersey Girl, which for many people is known as that place people live because Manhattan is way too expensive. As you can imagine, I didn’t read a lot of mystery novels set in my neck of the woods. I can only think of two—and, no surprise, they’re two of my favorites.
The first is the Anthony Award winning Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. Myron is a former-athlete-turned-agent who always ends up solving crimes for his clients. He also still lives in his parents’ basement in a town called Livingston, which is conveniently right next to where I grew up. He spends a lot of time on Route 10, which is suburbia at its best. Target. TGIFridays. Marshalls. You name it, it’s probably on Route 10 or being built on Route 10. (I even saw a Shake Shack is coming the last time I visited my mom.)
The second is the critically acclaimed Tamara Hayle Mystery series by Valerie Wilson-Wesley. Tamara is a black, female lone-wolf private investigator in Newark, which is where my Dad grew up and where I spent so much time as a child. Even today, I live about five minutes away and spend every weekend visiting family in the city. So we spend a lot of time in the same areas (East Orange! The Ironbound!) and traveling the same highways (Hello, Garden State Parkway!)
When I read these books, I’m not just getting amazing characters and great plots. I’m getting a sense of home. And like Dorothy said, there’s no place like it.
Actress Dayna Anderson’s Deadly New Role: Homicide Detective
Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semifamous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more than just money—she wants justice for the victim. She chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes, and movie premieres, loving every second of it—until someone tries to kill her. And there are no second takes in real life.