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Monday, April 6, 2015

Small Town Quirks by Paty Jager

The small town topic this month is easier for me to write about than the theme Hope.

The ski resort/community in my Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series is set in Idaho, but I've incorporated some of the area where I grew up in NE Oregon. The mountains, a community that relies on tourism, and locals who know everyone's business.

Growing up in a small community, I know all about feeling like you live in a fish bowl because so many people know what you are doing. If we tried to cut school someone would see us and tell this person who told our parents and we'd be in trouble before we even walked through the door after school. Same went for getting in trouble at school. Your parents knew before you had time to tell them your side of the story.

We had a party line. Which meant that we were on the same phone line as two other neighbors. One neighbor, we heard their four rings and knew not to pick up the phone. The other one, we could hear a clicking noise when they were dialing the phone. We knew to pick up the phone when it rang twice. My grandmother would listen in on our neighbors' calls. I didn't think that was right, and when my parents would complain that a neighbor was listening to their phone conversation, my grandmother would make a big deal out of how bad that was.  Some of my grandmother's quirks are showing up in other members of the Huckleberry Mountain Resort residents.

The events and people I grew up surrounded by are making wonderful fodder for my characters and stories in Huckleberry Mountain.

Deadly Aim: A Shandra Higheagle Mystery
Book three of the Shandra Higheagle Native American Mystery Series

The dead body of an illicit neighbor and an old necklace send potter Shandra Higheagle on a chase to find a murderer. Visions from her dead grandmother reveal Shandra is on the right path, but the woods are full of obstacles—deadly ones.

Detective Ryan Greer believes Shandra’s dreams will help solve the mystery, but he also knows the curious potter could get herself killed. He’s determined that won’t happen.

Until he’s blind-sided. Are Shandra’s powers strong enough to save them both, or will the murderer strike again? 

Excerpt
Shandra sat at the counter in Ruthie’s Café sipping on her caramel shake, waiting for her cheeseburger and sweet potato fries.
“What can you tell me about Vivian Randal?” Shandra asked Ruthie. It was mid-afternoon, and she was the only customer.
“That woman has her manicured fingers in every charity in this town,” Ruthie said through the window between the counter area and the kitchen.
“What’s your impression of her? You know, bossy, soft-spoken, egotistical?”
Ruthie laughed. “Why do you want to know my opinion of the woman?”
“Well, it doesn’t have to be your opinion. What have you heard others say about her?” Shandra wanted to learn more about the woman who, in her opinion, was cold enough to kill her husband.
“She doesn’t come in here much. I don’t think she’s the burger and shake type.” Ruthie placed Shandra’s meal in front of her, filled a glass with ice and water, and came around the counter to sit on the stool next to Shandra.
She swallowed half the water and set it down. Ruthie ran her fingers up and down the glass chasing the condensation. “June Hasting, who works for the Randals, comes in quite a bit. What I’ve heard from her is J.W. wasn’t nice to his wife, but he treated his help well. She said Mrs. Randal was confrontational and expected one woman to do the work of three.”
“What about the niece? Cicely, I think.” Shandra picked at her fries.
“She’s in here a lot. Usually with a different guy. I haven’t heard her say much about her aunt and uncle.” Ruthie took another swallow, set the glass down, and faced Shandra. “Why so many questions about the Randals?”
“It was J.W.’s body I found yesterday.” Shandra figured if Ruthie didn’t already know she would soon enough.
“I heard it was some hiker tangled with the wildlife.” Ruthie took another sip.
“Someone shot him and left him for the animals.” Shandra shivered. It was one cold-blooded human that murdered another.
“You think it was his wife?” Ruthie’s eyes widened.
“I don’t know. I was over there this morning when Ryan interviewed them. She didn’t seem too shook up about the whole thing.” But if he treated her poorly, perhaps his death was a relief.
Ruthie shook her head. “I can’t see Vivian Randal picking up a gun, let alone shooting someone.”
“You never know what some people are capable of.” Shandra thought of the professor in college she’d fallen in love with only to find out the hard way he hid a side no one knew about.
“Can you think of anyone who would like to shoot J.W.?” Shandra took a bite of her burger. Ruthie made the best cheeseburgers.
“There is probably a whole line. I’d think the first person on the list would be the Takagi fella who got caught in the illegal hunting-tag mess.”
The door jingled as an older couple wandered into the café.
Ruthie smiled. “Afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus.” She picked up menus and sauntered over to the booth where the couple sat.

Shandra continued eating and puzzling things in her head. She’d noticed two pieces of art in the Randal home by an artist that her friends, Ted and Naomi Norton, supported in their gallery, Dimensions. That would be her next stop to learn more about the Randals.


Apple https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/deadly-aim/id980404811?mt=11.

www.patyjager.net
Writing into the Sunset

3 comments:

Sarah Raplee said...

I love your Shandra Higheagle mysteries, Paty! The setting and characters ring true. Can't wait to read this new one!

Judith Ashley said...

I remember the two party line - at one point we were on a four party line! Very challenging to be on the phone and have someone pick up. Sometimes they just hung up and other times they didn't and sometimes you just didn't know if someone was listening in or not.

I wonder if our desire for privacy stems from those "good old days" when everyone in the neighborhood or the small town knew who you were and your business and sometimes listened in on your phone calls.

Looking forward to reading Shandra's latest adventures!

Diana McCollum said...

I hadn't thought of the party line phones in forever! I hated it when the neighbor would get on and tell me (teenage me) to get off. Cell phones have come a long, long way! I've also lived in small towns. And yes everyone knows your business, or a version of it. Love your mystery series. Good luck on sales.