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Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree abandoned Wall Street to its bankruptcies and bailouts for a far more rewarding life fixing up an 1823 Federal-style house in Eastport, Maine. But in Sarah Graves’s chilling new mystery thriller, Jake discovers that no matter what your address, the most terrifying crimes always hit closest to home.
The infamous Dodd murders are hardly among Eastport’s proudest legacies. So when bestselling true-crime author Carolyn Rathbone arrives to research the case for a new book, the locals in the seaside town let her know that she’s about as welcome as a spoiled clam. But surely no one would harm a crime writer out of a sense of civic pride–or would they?
Jake has her own problems, from the mysteries of old-house insulation to an anonymous caller plaguing her with death threats. But with Carolyn’s arrival, the slayings of the wealthy Dodd women suddenly go from cold case to hot topic–much to someone’s dismay. For Carolyn Rathbone’s untimely investigation hasn’t only reopened old wounds and stirred up new suspicions; it’s unearthed a string of deadly secrets–ones that a cunning killer is grimly determined to rebury right along with Carolyn herself.
Suddenly Jake finds herself inescapably targeted by one of the most deranged criminal minds she’s ever encountered. For as much as she fights to insulate herself from his grisly compulsions, someone with a taste for terror has already crept closer than she dares to imagine. She’d rather die than lose the home and family she’s built–and that suits her nemesis fine, because her death is just exactly what he has planned.
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Amazon Exclusive: Sarah Graves on Crawlspace
People sometimes ask me whether my characters ever "take over the plot." By that, they mean characters refusing to do what I'd planned for them, so that I end up having to write some other book--or even none at all.
I usually answer humorously (I hope) that this is the handy thing about writing mysteries, that characters who don't do what I wish simply end up meeting their deadly fates much sooner than they expected. But the truth is, it's not as easy as that, so let me try explaining with an analogy, like... riding a horse.
(Yes, I would use a hammering-a-nail analogy, if it worked. But it doesn't. How I wish it were as simple as nail-hammering!)
Anyway: Writing a novel is a little like holding the horse's reins. One rein is plot, the other character. And while I try to have a good grasp on the plot before I begin writing, and on the characters before I write them, inevitably characters have their own ideas, too.
I wasn't surprised, for instance, when two characters in Crawlspace decided that despite their deep differences, muddling along together was far better than being apart. And when one of the series regulars realized that the way to find her courage was to do something really scary... no big surprise there, either. She may be a chicken at heart, but she's not stupid.
The trick is telling the difference between deep conviction--an awareness of love, the determination to conquer fear, the urge to kill--and a random whim. Because one drives plot but the other sends the book galloping off in the wrong direction...
That's why writing a novel takes a light, confident hand on both reins: the one for plot, and the one for the people who are living it. They are my creations, but they mustn't ever know it. In their world, they are independent entities, never made to feel a clumsy tug on the story-bridle or flick of the plot-whip.
They do as I desire, but as with the horse and his lightly-held "steering equipment," if they notice me at all, it's only as a companion along for the ride. Far from being directed, they're as free as wild horses, completely at liberty to do whatever they like and go anywhere they please...
Or so they think. And--psst!--I won't tell them anything different if you won't. --Sarah Graves
(Photo © Pam Edwards)About the Author:
Sarah Graves lives with her husband in an 1823 Federal-style house in Eastport, Maine, where her mystery novels are set. When she is not scraping, painting, glazing, sanding, hammering, or otherwise repairing (or failing to repair!) the old house, she is working on her fourteenth Home Repair Is Homicide novel.
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