The Inspiration Behind "Red Hot Murder"

Michele Pariza Wacek

I love a good “impossible” mystery setup.

Whether it’s a locked-door mystery (i.e., the mystery takes place in a locked room or house), “five people go into the woods but only four return” or framing of an innocent person setup—or really, any setup that looks impossible to overcome—they’re some of my favorite types of mysteries.

In the case of Red Hot Murder, it’s the “waking up with a dead body in your kitchen and having no memory of how it got there” type.

If I was writing one of my psychological thrillers, I might have the main character wake up with the body and have no idea what happened. But for a cozy, I decided to have one of Charlie’s tea clients wake up with the body.

I also thought it might be fun to play with the “sleuth is framed” setup, but with a twist. In this case, Charlie was blamed for turning her client into a murderer, as opposed to being the one who did the killing.

Now, Charlie has to find the real murderer, so she can save both her own reputation and keep her client from going to jail.

I also thought it was time to write a book with a Valentine’s Day theme (yes, I know it’s releasing in April, but that’s just way it goes sometimes). 

Throw in a healthy dose of secrets that Charlie needs to wade through to get to the truth, and that’s the essence of Red Hot Murder.

BookBrushImage 2023 4 17 16 5345 The Inspiration Behind "Red Hot Murder"

This book was really easy for me to write. It came together fast and just flowed. (Especially when I compared it to the last book I wrote, which was a psychological thriller. There were moments I was sure it would be the end of me.) 

Cozy mysteries have a different vibe than psychological thrillers, and I’m finding I really enjoy taking a break from the intensity of the psychological thrillers to go have a cup of tea and couple of cookies with Pat and Charlie as they talk about their latest case.

Oh, and that reminds me … I’ve introduced a new, quirky character in Red Hot Murder—Tilde Tillerson. She’s the owner and founder of the Redemption Detective Agency. She’s also a bored, retired nurse who, inspired by Charlie’s amateur sleuthing, decides it would be fun to spend her retired years helping the Redemption Police Department solve crimes.

(Ahem, not everyone will find that fun, but I digress.)

Anyway, Tilde may end up joining forces with a few other silver sleuths as she focuses mostly on Redemption cold cases. (As you can imagine, there are A LOT of them.) She also may end up in her own spin-off series. (I’m not saying she will, but if she does, look for it in 2024.)

But back to the Charlie Kingsley Mysteries … 

Like all the books in the series, you can read Red Hot Murder as a standalone even though it’s Book 6. The Charlie Kingsley Mysteries series is a spin-off from the Secrets of Redemption series, which is psychological suspense (but still clean like a cozy—all but one of my books are what I call ‘clean and twisty’ … even the psychological thrillers).

In addition to all the books being clean, they’re also all intertwined—taking place in either Redemption or Riverview, Wisconsin. Redemption, Wisconsin, is the main setting, and it’s a haunted little town with an unexplained past—all the adults disappeared in 1888, leaving only the children. No one knows what happened to the adults, but whatever it was, it still haunts the town to this day. Despite being a small tourist town, Redemption is plagued with more than its share of disappearances and murder.

Riverview is about 45 minutes from Redemption, and it’s a much bigger college town. It also has a dark, seedy underbelly, and I have plans to feature Riverview more in future books and series.

If you’d like to give Red Hot Murder or any of the Charlie Kingsley Mysteries a try, you can find them on Amazon in Kindle Unlimited along with paperback and audio (which should be out in May).

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