Guest Blogger: Elaine Viets – The Art of Living

ArtofMurder_revised(2) (1)The Art of Living by Elaine Viets

I’m not a fan of most house museum tours – I don’t want to pay twenty bucks to look at rich people’s art and old furniture. There’s one exception:

Fort Lauderdale’s Bonnet House Museum & Gardens.

I can’t wait for you to read The Art of Murder, my new Dead-End Job mystery. The Art of Murder opens at Bonnet House, where I worked as a volunteer greeter.

Bonnet House, built in 1920, was the colorful home of artists Evelyn andbonnet-house_0 Frederic Clay Bartlett. Evelyn took up collecting miniature orchids at age 101, and lived to be 109. Their house was filled with light, life and color.

Bonnet House was Frederic’s idea of a Caribbean plantation house. It’s built around a courtyard sheltered by feathery palms and bright with flowers. The house has whimsical touches: gilded baroque columns swirl around the drawing room doors, balconies are frosted with New Orleans wrought iron, and Evelyn’s collection of brightly painted wooden animals, including giraffes and ostriches, are everywhere.

Brazilian squirrel monkeyEvelyn loved animals, and Bonnet House still has swans and a troupe of adorable Brazilian squirrel monkeys living on the grounds. The monkeys, the last of Evelyn’s pets, escaped from a bar. Hey, it’s Florida.

Frederic built Evelyn the charming Bamboo Bar and Shell Museum as a birthday present. Most men won’t even fetch their wives a drink, but Evelyn had a custom-built bar. Evelyn drank exotic Rangpur lime cocktails, madeBonnet House Bamboo Bar from maple syrup, rum, and Rangpur limes she grew in the gardens. Considering how long she lived, her Rangpur lime cocktails were health drinks.

Bonnet2Vibrant Bonnet House seemed the perfect place to start Helen’s fifteenth adventure. Helen and Margery are touring the mansion-turned-museum when they see Annabel Lee Griffin, a young, talented artist, at a museum painting class. Later, they also see Annabel’s deadly end. Helen is hired to investigate her death. Was Annabel killed by her jealous husband? Her best friend? A lover from her bohemian past? Helen has her own brush with death as she searches for this artful killer.bonnet_house3

Next time you’re in Fort Lauderdale, visit the Bonnet House museum at It’s even prettier than these Website photos. See how Frederic and Evelyn mastered the art of living.


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Elaine Viets is the author of 29 mysteries in three series, both hard-boiled and cozy: the Dead-Endelaine headshot Job mysteries, the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries, and the Francesca Vierling mysteries. She has won the Anthony, Agatha and Lefty Awards.

Follow her at, ElaineVietsMysteryWriter on Facebook and @evmysterywriter. 



9 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Elaine Viets – The Art of Living”

  1. Elaine, this is so interesting to me. I’m the Senior Editor of New England Antiques Journal ( and we do a review of various museums/historic properties every month, One of our writers, Jan Fiore, spends 6 months a year in Florida. I’m going to forward this link to her. Maybe she’ll cover it next year. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    I’m also impressed that you can go between cozy to hard boiled — that’s really amazing! I’d love to know how you approach each genre,

    1. Judy,
      Thanks for stopping by. What an interesting possible connection between your journal and the Bonnet House — not to mention the connection Elaine and you have in some of your mystery writing. Debra

    2. Hi, Judy. Jan will love Bonnet House. I’ll be happy to put her in touch with the staff. Contact me online if you need more information. I highly recommend this beautiful museum.

    1. Wow–growing in the trees! (typo–should have been AT “orchids”) I’m also an orchid lover and have a few paltry specimens of my own. Maybe someday I’ll get there.

  2. Kaye,
    When you are in Birmingham to be part of the Alabama Writers Conclave, if we have time, I can take you to a store that specializes in orchids. Gorgeous ones! Perhaps we can find a speaking gig for you at the Bonnet House (always looking out for you). Thanks for stopping by today. Debra

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