featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


In Scrapbook of Murder, the sixth and most recent Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery in the series, the mystery stems from a letter found in a suitcase full of old family photos that are discovered in an attic.

I’ve always loved old photographs. Over the years I’ve saved quite a few from the trash when family members failed to see the beauty and history of them and were about to discard them as they sorted through the possessions of deceased relatives. Unfortunately, many of these photographs were never labeled, and although I know the photos are those of relatives (in many instances it’s easy to see the family resemblance), I have no idea as to the names of the people in the photos or when and where the photos were taken.

One exception is the photo pictured above. This is my grandparents’ wedding photo. Rae and Ben Schaffer were married January 1, 1925 during the height of the Roaring Twenties. I absolutely love the flapper-style wedding gown and headwear my grandmother chose to wear. Grandma was always an extremely fashion-forward woman. I’m just not sure what her in-laws may have thought of her dress choice. They died before I was born, but I do know they were very traditional. According to family lore, my grandparents were not allowed to marry until after my grandfather’s two sisters found husbands. For this reason, Grandma and Grandpa had to wait several years to tie the knot.

Grandpa was in law enforcement. Rising to the rank of captain in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, he had an illustrious career that included putting many a gangster behind bars and solving quite a few murders. He was the first officer on the scene when Dutch Schultz was gunned down in a Newark, NJ restaurant and was probably one of the officers who participated in a round-the-clock bedside vigil as the gangster lay dying, hoping he’d spill the beans and name names. Unfortunately—or fortunately—I have no way of knowing. Fearing mobsters retaliating against members of law enforcement and their relatives, newspapers often didn’t divulge officer names back then.

Grandpa died of a massive heart attack on his way home from work one Friday afternoon in 1958. Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of his death. I often wonder what he would think of his first-born grandchild who grew up to write about fictional murder and mayhem. I hope he would have been proud.

Rest in peace, Grandpa Ben.

Scrapbook of Murder
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 6

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

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Angela Adams said...

A lovely post. Thank you for sharing. While you're plotting a novel, perhaps your grandfather is whispering ideas into your ear?

Lois Winston said...

I'd like to think that might be the case, Angela. Thanks for stopping by.

Patt Mihailoff said...

Wow what a great post.. and I loved that picture.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Patt! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Donis Casey said...

Your grandmother is beautiful. Grandpa isn't bad, either.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks so much, Donis. They were both beautiful people on the inside as well.

Anonymous said...

Loved the photo and great post. Fascinating grandparents.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Anonymous!

Ellen Byron said...

Lovely post, Lois. I know he'd be super proud of you.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks so much, Ellen!

Pat Marinelli said...

Great family photo and lovely family story.

We always joke in our family wishing there was a phone line to heaven so we could ask questions we would love to have the answers to.

Lois Winston said...

That would certainly be handy, Pat. Thanks for stopping by.