The Upper Connecticut River Valley seems ready-made for prospective mystery titles such as “Mayhem in the Mountains” (malice domestic); “Dance Hall Swindle” (locked room); “Axed to Death” (hard-boiled), or “The Latchis Case” (police procedural). *
Part of the thrill of reading is to escape the humdrum. Where better to spend time than in lightly fictionalized places where all is not as advertised?
I made it through part of my tedious transition from flatlander to valley dweller by reading “From Away” (a caper) by David Carkeet, himself a transplant to northern New England. Carkeet used the universal conflict between old-timers and newcomers to spool a funny story about identity, mistaken and murdered. I saw bits of people I know (and love) and actions I experienced as both a visitor and now resident. Carkeet had me doing the LOL.
As readers, we typically discover the finished story when it’s been glammed up with a cover, blurbs, and a series of reviews, including word-of-mouth. This Sunday afternoon in Montpelier, though, there’s a first-time opportunity to hear murder-in-progress when the Vermont chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC) and their brother writers step up to the mic and read five minutes of an upcoming work.
“I'm passionate about Vermont -- its people, communities, landscape, history,” wrote young-adult novelist Beth Kanell in an e-mail. A Waterford resident and author of four YA mysteries, including last year’s popular “The Secret Room,” Kanell will read from “All That Glitters,” a Nancy Drew-inspired series she's designing for college-age readers. It is set in the capital city.
“Vermont is my home and I love it with all my heart,” wrote Kanell, who blogs about her literary projects. “When I find parts of its history that aren't as fair or ‘good’ as I want them to be, it's important to me to let some air and sunlight into those areas.
“That's why I've set my stories within the controversial parts of Vermont history.”
Controversies are the never-ending source of supply for those who love to write. Fellow authors with fertile minds and the yen to explore why anyone breaks a moral or legal code include Kanell’s event co-organizer Nancy Means Wright (“The Nightmare”), along with Kate George (“Moonlighting in Vermont”), Kathleen Towne (“The Groom”), Lee Kemsley (“Korintok”), Richard Godwin (“Mr. Glamour”), and Michael Nethercott, another writer who hails from the Upper Connecticut River Valley.
Brattleboro resident Nethercott is getting ready to take the wraps off his first traditional mystery novel set in the mid-1950s, and to be published by St. Martin’s Press. It features a detective team of Irish-born widower Mr. O’Nelligan and reluctant private-eye-by-inheritance Lee Plunkett. Nethercott’s “O’Nelligan’s Glory,” won the Black Orchid Novella Award sponsored by Hitchcock Magazine and the Wolfe Pack, an organization of mystery aficionados.
Here’s the 4-1-1 for Sunday:
The Vermont Read Across New England Event take place in the second-floor meeting room of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. Located at 130 Main Street, the room is handicap accessible. Readings start at 2 p.m. Refereshment will be served.
As time allows, the afternoon also includes an opportunity for other authors with a mystery-in-progress to read; contact Kanell to request a slot.
Sunday’s event is part of a much larger “read across New England” weekend promoted by SinC New England. It complements the National Endowment for the Arts’ annual Read Across America initiative for March.
The other Connecticut River Valley location is in the lower valley. The Nutmeg State’s SinC stages its reading at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Noah Webster Library, 20 Main Street, West Hartford, CT. Across the river in the Granite State, SinC New Hampshire hosts their reading at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the Wadleigh Memorial Library, 49 Nashua Street, Milford.
* Got a clever title you think is themed to the Upper Connecticut River Valley? Leave it in the comments section to be considered for an upcoming giveaway to promote Pike Country.