Who hasn’t read Clement C. Moore’s Twas the Night Before Christmas or Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol around the holidays and thought back to the first time they read or heard the stories?
Christmas stories are a way to connect with the feelings of Christmas. Not the commercialism that can overtake the real reason for the season. But a good story with family, friends, and good will. That type of heart-warming story is a way to bring the holiday feelings back into your heart.
In the heat of the summer as I was finishing up a book in my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series, I decided to write a Christmas mystery. It was the idea of bringing a large family Christmas to Shandra, an only child, and having her lovable, large, slobbery dog be an integral character in the story. What could be better than a huge dog that is a scaredy-cat be the one to find a dead body?
As these thoughts emerged, the story began to unfold in my mind and I couldn’t wait to write it. I had to have it available this Christmas.
I used my suspect chart and started with a dead body. The one Sheba brings to Shandra in a sleigh full of gifts for foster children. The man is a stranger to everyone. Shandra fears for her dog when they discover Sheba has a cut much like the stab wound that killed the John Doe. Having foreshadowed a bit of Detective Ryan Greer’s past in earlier books, I used that history as the catalyst that brought the stranger to Huckleberry Ski resort.
While my books are murder mystery and keep the reader puzzling over who killed the victims, they also read fast-paced like a suspense. I love keeping the reader guessing as well as myself. There have only been two of the 7 books where I stayed true to the killer all the way through the writing of the book. I tend to weave in clues along the way that in the end, point to one of my other suspects as the killer. This book was similar. I started out with one suspect on my chart instead of four or five. But as the story grew so did the list of suspects.
This book also included many of the locals of Huckleberry Ski Resort, my fictional ski resort in Idaho. I enjoyed showing readers Huckleberry at this time of year and the friendships among of the locals. I’ve grown fond of the residents of the little ski resort town and Shandra’s close acquaintances. Not only will this book keep you guessing, if I did my job right, it should give you warm and fuzzy holiday feelings.
Yuletide Slaying published November 15th.
Book 7 of the Shandra Higheagle mystery series
Family, Revenge, Murder
When Shandra Higheagle’s dog brings her a dead body in a sleigh full of presents, her world is turned upside down. The man is a John Doe and within twenty-four hours another body is found.
Detective Ryan Greer receives a call that has them both looking over their shoulders. A vengeful brother of a gang member who died in a gang war is out for Ryan’s blood. Shandra’s dreams and Ryan’s fellow officers may not be enough to keep them alive to share Christmas.
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of western historical romance, action adventure, and murder mystery. She has garnered a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for Contemporary Western Romance, an EPPIE Award for Best ContemporaryRomance, and a RONE for Mystery. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. She and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.