Have you ever followed GPS driving instructions to get to a new destination, only to discover that you’re not at all where you’re supposed to be? Scary situation, isn’t it? Even more so if it’s late at night and you’re miles from civilization!
Every day we put our confidence in people, places, and things that are supposed to be safe. We trust our family and friends, the stores where we shop, our home and work environment, and the computers and phones we use.
Though we expect our daily routine to unfold without a major hitch, we know that bad things do sometimes happen to people in places they consider secure. We don’t usually base this notion on personal experience but rather on news reports about school shootings, workplace revenge, and home invasions. Witnesses often claim, “We live in a quiet neighborhood. This kind of thing never happened here before.” We shake our heads, astounded yet relieved that such shocking events occurred to someone else, somewhere else, and we move on with our lives.
When I sit down to plot a mystery novel, I imagine that just like every rose has its thorn, every good thing has an unpleasant side. I modify this concept for my stories and focus on the fact that evil often lurks in familiar places. Everyday locations that we frequent aren’t dangerous in themselves, but when murder or another illegal activity transforms them into crime scenes, it destroys our perception of them as safe places. It’s no wonder people react with disbelief when they hear about a murder that occurred in a restaurant they regularly visit or on a street where they live.
In my mystery novel Fatal Whispers, the bodies of a millionaire’s young life, a parish priest, and a homeless woman are discovered in three respective settings within days: a mansion, a church, and a side street closed to traffic. These are areas where people would normally feel protected from physical harm. In the story, law enforcement and medical authorities are baffled by the incidents, not to mention the apparent lack of connection between the victims and the unknown cause of their deaths.
As my sleuths, Megan Scott and Michael Elliott, are pulled into the investigation, they visit and observe the alleged crime scenes for vital clues that can help them solve this mysterious case. They expand their search to other areas, stepping into places that are considered safe, though intensely aware that danger might still be waiting right around the corner.
If you haven’t yet read Fatal Whispers, and you think you’re up for the challenge of solving a triple murder mystery, click here to find the links to major book retailers.
Just remember: There are no safe places in my mysteries.