Hi everyone, thanks for joining me for this book spotlight! I am excited to share with you an awesome thriller, and the intro to a great series by Lauren Carr, the Thorny Rose Mystery – Series. Today, I will be discussing the first book of the series called “A Fine Year For Murder”, but make sure you stop by this blog again soon, to read more about this book, and the second installment of the series as well.
After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.
When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.
Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? I thought so!
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Lauren was sweet enough to take some time to answer some questions for her readers, which I am happy to share with you today:
- Lauren, you really have kicked things up a notch with the Thorny Rose Mysteries, which is full of action, romance, and mystery. Your other best-selling mystery series (Mac Faraday Mysteries and Lovers in Crime Mysteries) take place in more “sedate” settings of rural or small towns. What made you shift gears to merge Murphy Thornton, son of Joshua Thornton, and Jessica Faraday, Mac Faraday’s daughter to create the Thorny Rose mystery series?
LC: Because that is where Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday live.
When creating the Thorny Rose Mystery series, I flipped my creative process somewhat. For both the Lovers in Crime and Mac Faraday Mysteries, I chose the setting after coming up with the murder plot. I tailored the characters to fit with the mystery. Lovers in Crime is a small town setting. I grew up in Chester, West Virginia. Mac Faraday lives on Deep Creek Lake, a resort area where my family vacations.
However, in the case of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the characters came first. Murphy Thornton appeared in my very first book—A Small Case of Murder. Then, he was only seventeen years old and aspired to attend the naval academy in Annapolis. Jessica Faraday, Mac Faraday’s daughter, has been mentioned in the Mac Faraday mysteries. Originally from Washington, DC, she was attending school in Williamsburg and was planning to go to medical school.
Since Murphy is a navy lieutenant, it is natural for him to be assigned to the Pentagon. Therefore, I had little choice in the setting.
- Did setting A Fine Year for Murder in a vineyard in a southern Virginia town present any challenges that you didn’t encounter with your other series?
LC: Every book presents its own challenges. As a writer, I embrace them. That’s why I love writing.
The setting sets the tone of the book. In A Fine Year for Murder, Jessica and Murphy visit a vineyard owned and run by Jessica’s distant relatives to investigate the brutal murder of a family. Fifteen years later, the case is cold and they suspect that Jessica may have been a witness.
While in many ways the setting was similar to the rural or resort settings in my other two series, there were differences. The fictional town of Pine Bridge is in southern Virginia. Like many of the suburban areas surrounding Washington, DC, or even rural towns an hour or so outside the beltway, it is in actuality a hybrid—a rural small town contaminated by big city folks with metro attitudes.
I’ve experienced this myself in my rural small town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. We’re an hour and a half from Washington, DC and have train service to Union Station in Washington. Over the last twenty-five years, the populace of Washington has flooded our area with residents seeking the small town charm, while demanding more metropolitan sophistication.
As a writer, my challenge was finding the right mixture of the two. I have a small-town sheriff, who basically knows many of the folks’ secrets and a prosecutor with no moral compass.
- You always have such interesting characters in your series—especially furry four-legged ones. But the Thorny Rose Mysteries have a no-legged sidekick. What inspired Nigel, the virtual butler?
LC: Today’s times. I am a big fan of technology. My husband gave me an Alexa for Christmas and I have been gradually turning our home into a smart house with Alexa controlling the lights and letting her monitor our security.
Well, since the Thorny Rose detectives are the younger generation, it would be natural for them to embrace the conveniences of the smart home technology and name their smart home computer Nigel. Nigel is described as a prototype—that means he is a customized test system which has been created by the computer experts of the Phantoms, an ultra-secret team who Murphy works with. Jessica’s brother Tristan was part of that team and maintains and monitors Nigel, who acquires a personality of his own.
I introduce Nigel in Candidate for Murder. In that book, Nigel goes on the offense when a death squad invades the Faraday-Thornton home. Many readers, including my mother, believe that Nigel was a complete figment of my imagination, and yes, many parts of him are—however, be warned—everything Nigel does, including the steps he took in Candidate for Murder to protect their home, is doable with today’s technology. I just put everything together into one computer system—and gave him a name and personality.
- What about Gnarly? Don’t tell us that you have abandoned Mac Faraday and Gnarly.
LC: Oh, no! I will never abandon Mac Faraday. Gnarly is now mayor of Spencer. Due to the election in Candidate for Murder, Gnarly is now famous. In my next mystery, Twofer Murder, readers are going to find that Gnarly’s reputation has grown and precedes him when the guys go fishing in southern West Virginia. Mac becomes annoyed when he finds himself living in Gnarly’s shadow.
- What’s next in store for Jessica and Murphy? Tell us that you are planning more Thorny Rose Mysteries.
LC: Sorry, but the next Thorny Rose Mystery is at least a year away. But you will get to visit with them again in Twofer Murder.
The working title for the next Thorny Rose Mystery is From Rags to Riches to Dead. In this mystery, Jessica’s best friend Amy receives news that her leech of a husband was killed in a freak accident at an expensive resort, where he had spent the last several days living it up. Amy and Jessica are still trying to sort out this news when Dean walks in—alive and well. Upon investigation, they discover that a killer has been stealing the identity of deadbeat husbands who have been living off their rich wives, and then luring them to expensive resorts to murder them.
I hope you enjoyed spending time with Laura as much as I have. I hope to see you soon, for more on Laura Carr’s books!