Buy Murder on the Last Frontier–Charlotte Brody Mystery #1
Buy Borrowing Death–Charlotte Brody Mystery #2
Buy Murder on Location–Charlotte Brody Mystery #3
Buy Caught in Amber!
Buy Deep Deception!
Category Archives: Borrowing Death
Writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” For the Charlotte Brody Mystery series, my answer has been, “Local history.” For each book, I gleaned some bit of Cordova’s past and worked it into the story, with literary and artistic license, of course.
I used a local’s tale about the death of a “sporting woman” in Murder on the Last Frontier. In Borrowing Death, the cover up of a local businessman’s murder with a purposely set fire was an actual news item I read while perusing old editions of the Cordova Times.
The influence for Murder on Location, and its film-within-a-book North to Fortune, was a 1924 silent movie called The Cheechakos. This was the first full-length movie filmed entirely in Alaska. The man responsible for it, Austin “Cap” Lathrop, had hoped his film company, Alaska Moving Pictures, would produce more, but The Cheechakos was its only distributed work.
My Kid and I had the pleasure of attending a local screening of The Cheechakos while I was contemplating a premise for Charlotte’s third story. Kid suggested I have someone die during the filming of a similar movie, and Murder on Location was born. The idea of a Hollywoodland, California, crew experiencing Alaska sounds like a fun way to stage a murder, don’t you think?
In the Alaska Territory, suffragette Charlotte Brody is a newspaper reporter in the frontier town of Cordova. She’s a woman ahead of her time living on the rugged edge of civilization—but right now the most dangerous element she faces may come from sunny California . . .
An expedition has arrived in the frigid wilderness to shoot North to Fortune—an epic motion picture featuring authentic footage of majestic peaks, vast glaciers, homesteaders, and Alaska Natives. But the film’s fortunes begin to go south as a local Native group grows angry at how they’re portrayed in the movie, fights break out, and cast and crew are beset by accidents and assaults. Finally, production is halted when the inebriated director falls into a crevasse—and dies of exposure.
Soon Michael Brody—the town coroner and Charlotte’s brother—starts to suspect that Mother Nature was not responsible for Stanley Welsh’s death. Charlotte, who’s been writing about all the Hollywood glamor, is suddenly covering a cold-blooded crime story—and as springtime storms keep the suspects snowed in, she has to make sure the truth doesn’t get buried . . .
Pick up Murder on Location just about anywhere!
And other fine retailers!
To promote my latest release, Borrowing Death, I had scheduled a couple of signings in the Anchorage/Palmer area (Thanks, Barnes & Noble-Anchorage and Fireside Books in Palmer! You all rock!). In a brilliant fit of inspiration, my husband suggested we take a side trip to the remote (yeah, I know, Alaska…What ISN’T remote? ; P ) historical Kennecott/McCarthy.
The Charlotte Brody series has so far been set in Cordova in 1919/1920, but I have a proposal for the possible next three books in the works and #4 is mostly set in Kennecott/McCarthy. So far, I’d only had photographs and historical accounts I found on the internet, at the local museum, or gleaned from chatting with folks who had visited, to spark a story. I won’t deny the excited flutter I experienced at the idea of getting a real feel for the trek to the mine/town site. So, we made our ferry reservations and found a place to stay.
We live in a town that is only accessible by boat or plane. The decision to take the ferry was logical, as (1) we had planned to do some quarterly grocery shopping while in Anchorage, and (2) flying meant renting a car which (2-a) is pricey in Alaska in summer, and (2-b) many rental places prohibit taking their vehicles on certain roads (more on that in a bit). Originally, we were looking at riding the ferry for 6 hours then possibly driving another 8+ to the site. Husband considered options and felt adding a 6 hour leg to a closer ferry stop and driving less might be shorter, or at least less exhausting. It wasn’t, we found out later.
We left Cordova at 5am and arrived in Valdez at 6:30pm. By the time we stopped for food and gas and headed out of town, it was 7:30. No problem. Still pretty light, despite the clouds and spitty rain. And gorgeous? We were trying to move along so I didn’t get many pictures, but believe me when I say the Richardson Highway out of Valdez is incredible in a scenic sense.
We turned off the Richardson at Chitina and onto the Edgerton Highway at 9pm with 63 miles to go. Now, on a designated highway in most places, that would be an hour-ish. Not so, here. The Edgerton, while amazing as far as scenery, is a bit winding, only partially paved and mostly not. Recent rains had essentially reversed the last grating. To say it was bumpy is an understatement. By now, it was starting to get darkish and my husband was having a grand time (/sarcasm) avoiding the potholes. Suffice it to say, we rattled a lot, and the final 15-20 miles was slow and rough.
The Kennecott River Lodge at the very end of the road, before foot access across the Kennicott River, was a welcome sight at 11pm. We parked outside our appointed cabin. I walked behind our pickup and noted something odd.
“Honey, what happened to the window of the camper shell?”
Yep, we’d lost the rear window somewhere along the 63 miles of “highway” but there was no sense worrying about it at that point. Luckily, there was only light rain in the forecast, and covering the opening with plastic and duct tape (all good Alaskans travel with some sort of heavy duty tape) would do for the time being.
“We’ll look for it on our way out,” DH said, and we went to bed.
The next morning, we walked across the river foot bridge. The water was rushing beneath us, shaking the pilings. DH recalled having to use a hand-operated tram when he and his friends visited 30 years prior. I was very glad the National Park Service had opted to build the footbridge when they purchased the area in the 90’s. A shuttle van would take us to McCarthy a mile away or to Kennecott, 5 miles in. We opted to start at Kennecott, a self-contained town back in the day at the base of what was a huge copper mine.
As with the Edgerton, the road was pitted and rough, but we had a nice time chatting with fellow passengers. Something that surprised me was the number of private homes/lands within the boundaries of the Park. Apparently, when the NPS opted to buy the site, there were so many private holders that they arranged to let them stay. People who live there mark their property so visitors don’t trespass unwittingly. Part of me was envious of their “backyard” but then I’d recall the effort of getting to it. Not something to do on a regular basis.
The van pulled into the Kennecott town site and I was immediately in awe. Pictures don’t do it justice, and the combination of renovated, partially renovated, and “left as is” buildings is an amazing testament of what was and how time and nature ravage what man makes. The NPS have been restoring Kennecott, recreating a town site that was essentially abandoned in the late 1930s and hardly looked at for the next 60 years. People were more or less free to come and go. Somehow, over all that time and neglect, a good number of the buildings were still standing, or standing enough to be fixed. Some, however, were beyond help and had deteriorated on their own or were razed for safety’s sake.
There are a number of buildings the public has access to on their own, but to get a better sense of the main mining operation (a goal for the research portion of the trip) we took the 2-hour long mill tour offered by St. Elias Alpine Guide Day Adventures. Our tour guide, Annie, gook the 14 of us through the town and into several closed buildings, including the huge mill where copper ore was processed. The mill, the town, everything is incredible in its engineering and self-sustainability (for the most part). The people who made it work, from the engineers to the manager to the miners to the supporting townsfolk, were made of sterner stuff than any of us 21st century dwellers could imagine.
We spent 8 hours or so in Kennecott, putting 10 miles on DH’s pedometer, then took the shuttle over to McCarthy, 4 miles away, so we could catch the museum there during open hours. McCarthy was the answer to Kennecott’s more upright/uptight rules, providing miners with drinking, gambling, and women that the company town forbade or frowned upon.
My head full of history and story bits, we returned to our cabin across the river and fell into deep sleep.
Back Toward Civilization
The next morning, we woke relatively early and headed to the café down the road for some coffee before facing the Edgerton’s 63 miles of window-snatching surface. As we were not in a great rush, we stopped along the way for pictures. The scenery was more incredible in the full light of day, and I easily imagined Charlotte being awed by it as she passed through on the train. And I imagined it was a MUCH smoother ride. The railway was trestled in a number of places to avoid sharp turns and hills.
Along the way, we kept an eye out for our missing window. My fear was it had broken and I didn’t want anyone to get a flat tire on that highway. Lo and behold, 43 miles from Kennecott, I spotted the window leaning against a rock on the side of the road. Someone had seen it, set it on the out-going side, probably figuring, “They’ll be by sooner or later.” Yep! Thank you, anonymous person! And to our surprise, the window wasn’t broken nor the frame bent. DH was sure he could get it back in place with the right materials (he did).
The next couple of hours took us through more gorgeous country as we headed to Anchorage. It’s impossible to travel through Alaska without finding amazing scenery. There are times I don’t see the beauty of the place where I live, as there are often too many distractions of mundane life. But a trip like this, short as it was, is a great reminder.
Woo hoo! Borrowing Death, the second book of the Charlotte Brody Mystery Series hits the shelves, gets shipped from your favorite store, gets downloaded into your ereader of choice TODAY!
So very excited! I’ll be posting about the book, answering questions if y’all have them, that sort of thing over the next few days. But for today, I want to enjoy the fact Charlotte and company are out there again (still?).
What’s this second story about, you ask? Well, it’s November, 1919, and Charlotte’s been in Cordova for a few months. (ICYMI, in the first book, Murder on the Last Frontier, she’d just arrived in town that August/September.) Winter is setting in, but life is never dull in the Great Land.
Suffragette and journalist Charlotte Brody is bracing herself for her first winter in the frontier town of Cordova in the Alaska Territory. But the chilling murder of a local store owner is what really makes her blood run cold. . .
After three months in Cordova, Charlotte is getting accustomed to frontier life. She is filing articles for the local paper–including a provocative editorial against Prohibition–and enjoying a reunion with her brother Michael, the town doctor and coroner. Michael’s services are soon called upon when a fire claims the life of hardware store owner Lyle Fiske. A frontier firebug is suspected of arson, but when Michael determines Fiske was stabbed before his store was set ablaze, the town of Cordova has another murder to solve.
Her journalist’s curiosity whetted, Charlotte begins to sort through the smoldering ruins of Lyle Fiske’s life, only to discover any number of people who might have wanted him dead. As the days grow shorter, Charlotte’s investigation turns increasingly complex. She may be distant from the trappings of civilization, but untangling the motives for murder will require plumbing the very depths of Charlotte’s investigative acumen. . .
Here are some things that folks are saying about Borrowing Death.
“These new mysteries are a great mixture of history, mystery and a little bit of romance. The characters and setting are well-written and readers will be waiting impatiently for the next installment to come out.” ~Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion for Suspense Magazine (full review link coming)
An “entertaining follow-up…the reporter’s penchant for encouraging the aspirations of a local girl, hanging out with the town madam, snooping in neighbors’ houses, and employing hairpins as lock picks will satisfy.” ~Publishers Weekly (full review here)
In celebration of Borrowing Death officially being out in the world, I’m giving away a few items from Cordova or that represent Cordova and Alaska.
- Signed copies of Murder on the Last Frontier and Borrowing Death
- Copper River Fleece (local merchant) satchel with salmon and bear print trim
- Copper River Fleece forget-me-not headband
- 3 salmon-shaped chocolates (dark, milk, and white)
- 2 wooden bookmarks
- Alaska pin
- Wooden fish ornament
How do you win this lovely loot (over $100 in value)? I’m an old-fashioned sort of gal, so we’re doing this the old-fashioned way:
(1) Leave a comment below (Please play fair and leave just one comment/entry. Multiples will get tossed out) with a VALID email address. This is important! I need to be able to contact you.
(2) At the end of the giveaway, Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at midnight Alaska time, I’ll randomly choose a winner via a number generator, email that person and give them 48 hours to reply.
(3) If I don’t get a reply from that person in the allotted time, I will choose another winner. Sorry, but we can’t leave folks hanging, right?
(4) This is open to anyone, anywhere, but depending on your location the prize package could take some time to get to you. I’ll give you a heads up when it goes out and an estimated arrival date.
I promise not to spam you or do anything with your contact info except contact you personally as needed.
Anything else? If you have questions, shoot me an email at email@example.com with the subject line “BD giveaway question” or something like it so I know you aren’t spam, or on Twitter @CathyPegau
And if you simply CANNOT wait…
Buy Borrowing Death at these fine locations, in brick and mortar stores, and elsewhere:
Kensington Books http://tinyurl.com/BDKens
Amazon USA http://tinyurl.com/BDusAmazon
Amazon UK http://tinyurl.com/BDAmazonuk
Amazon Aus http://tinyurl.com/BDAmazonaus
Thanks so much!!! Good luck!
At the moment, while I’m (hopefully) between contracts, I can take a small breath, but there’s lots to do and lots to think about. In three months, the second installment of my historical mystery series will be released. As always, I’m excited and terrified. But at the same time, as I’m waiting on early reviews, I’m wondering how my editor likes the third book I recently turned in, how sales are going for the first book, whether I can sell another three books, and what promotional opportunities I have to take (or have missed).
Such is the life of a writer. Constant juggling of different aspects of the business. I’m grateful for the help I get on a daily basis. There are folks at Kensington looking out for me–my editor, publicist, cover artists, sales folks, SO MANY! My agent is there when I need her. I have author friends who offer cheers or a shoulder to cry on or an ear for my rants. I’d be nowhere without them or, of course, my amazing family.
I may write alone (preferably, as I get distracted when there’s activity in the house ; P ) but there’s no way my career would have happened without the rest of my team. I’m grateful for you every day.
But perhaps the biggest shout out needs to go to readers. I can’t tell you how amazing and touching it is to get notes or read bits of reviews that tell me the story I wrote, while not perfect, at least gave someone a chance to be entertained. That keeps me going when I look at a blank page or flashing cursor.
Thank you <3