Reading cozy mysteries is fun, writing them even more fun because I get to create a world to my liking filled with characters I’ve grown to love. My Haunted Library mystery series takes place in Clover Ridge, Connecticut. The library is housed in a centuries-old building facing the town Green. There’s a library ghost— Evelyn Havers, who used to work in the Clover Ridge Library—and a library cat named Smoky Joe, as well as all sorts of mysteries for my sleuth, Carrie Singleton, to solve.
Over the course of the series Carrie changes from Goth Girl to the responsible head of programs and events at the Clover Ridge Library, developing close relationships as she investigates homicides. What I love about writing a series is that Carrie and her friends and relatives appear in every book. And what a busy bunch they are! Their activities and adventures carry me from one book to another so I am never at a loss for storylines. No need to ever have to wonder: “Hmm, what shall I write about next?” My characters lead the way!
Each book in my Haunted Library series has a theme, and the theme of DEATH ON THE SHELF, the fifth book in the series, is love and marriage and aptly takes place in June. Angela Vecchio, Carrie’s best friend, is getting married. Angela is worried that her brother Tommy, who’s currently in Clover Ridge from California where he produces movies, will ruin her wedding. Tommy has a bad temper and tormented Angela when they were younger, something their parents never believed. Now Tommy’s going around asking friends and family members to invest in his new movie. When a relative is murdered, Angela wonders if her brother killed him because he’d turned Tommy down.
What fun it was to create Donna and Roxy, Angela’s beautiful and sophisticated cousins who are best friends when they’re not competing with each other. Growing up, Angela always felt insecure in her older cousins’ company. She wishes Donna and Roxy weren’t involved in her bridal shower. But when they offer to host the shower in Donna’s drop-dead-gorgous house after learning that the restaurant where the shower was supposed to be burned down, there’s nothing Angela can do but graciously accept. Both her cousins have married doctors and are financially secure, but now Roxy is divorced and seems to have grown attached to Donna’s husband. Will Donna put up with her cousin’s behavior?
While Donna and Roxy’s ventures into love and marriage may not have happy endings, conjugal bliss is in store for Carrie’s father who, after a life of crime, has settled into a job he enjoys and has found a woman he loves. As for Carrie and Dylan, their romantic path takes a new turn at the end of DEATH ON THE SHELF.
Cozies have their share of murder and intrigue, but their tone is considerably lighter than that of more traditional mysteries. This allows me plenty of leeway when setting the scene that exposes the murderer. At the end of CHECKED OUT FOR MURDER, Carrie stalks a pair of suspects and is more shocked by their relationship than what they reveal about the murders—but you’ll have to read the book to find out.
A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library series. DEATH OVERDUE, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series and the Twin Lakes series.
Her juvenile novel, Rufus and Magic Run Amok, was an International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice. And Don’t Bring Jeremy was a nominee for six state awards.
Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. She loves traveling, reading, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, and chatting on FaceTime with her grandkids.
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