The Overlook Murder: A Wintergreen Mystery
by Patrick Kelly
It is my pleasure to welcome Patrick Kelly
to Escape With Dollycas today!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Virginia and wrote my first short story in the second grade. After a long career in finance, I began writing popular fiction in my fifties. My wife and I live in Austin, Texas, but spend our summers in Wintergreen, Virginia. Wintergreen is the setting for The Overlook Murder. We have a terrier-mix rescue dog named Sebastian who often appears in my Instagram posts.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Before sitting down to write a new book, I’ll ruminate on the basic plot idea for six months or longer. During that time, I will take notes now and again and also do some casual background research. When constructing the outline for the story, I’ll keep a list of open items that need further research. The actual research process—which happens largely online—will take two or three days. For my current work-in-progress—Murder in White—I’ve learned a lot about drones and the hiking trails around Wintergreen, Virginia.
Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?
Not yet. On days when I don’t feel like writing, I force myself to sit at the computer and construct sentences until I’ve reached my daily word target. This works well for me. Occasionally, I’ll hit a stretch where I crank out page after page of entertaining prose, but I can never forecast when that will happen. If I skip the days where I start off feeling blah, I’ll lose unexpected spurts of productivity.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Spend some time thinking about your goal for writing and publishing a book. Is this a bucket list item? Are you one and done? If so, read some books and blog posts about writing a novel and have at it. Be prepared to invest a thousand hours, and perhaps many more, to finish a novel you are proud to share with your friends and family.
However, if you want to write a book that makes money, spend a lot of time studying the business of publishing before you write your novel. This could take six months or longer. As a part of that process, carefully select your sub-genre (preferably a hot one with tons of voracious readers), read the most popular books in that sub-genre, and plan how you will write a novel that is similar to the others but better.
When you are not writing what do you like to do?
Travel. My wife and I have driven across the continental US twice in the last ten years. We take the dog with us. The US is a beautiful country and best enjoyed on foot or from a car. If I’m at home in Wintergreen, I enjoy nature hikes and visiting local antique stores and wineries. Nelson County, Virginia, is absolutely gorgeous.
Did the COVID pandemic affect you and your writing?
We stopped traveling during the first year of COVID, which led to an increase in my productivity; However, once things began to open up again, we wanted to go out all the time, which reduced my daily word count. All in all, the pandemic has not had a significant impact on the number of books I’ve published. We’ve been lucky so far in not contracting the virus. Some folks say we’ll all get it sooner or later. I’ll take later, thank you.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Paris. I went through a Hemingway phase in college and visited the City of Lights soon thereafter. Now, many years older, I would love to return. My dream is to live in Paris for four months and write a mystery featuring an American sleuth. Perhaps Bill O’Shea should win the lottery and move to Paris to take a French immersion course.
What is next on the horizon for you?
I’ve begun writing the third novel in the Wintergreen Mystery Series. In Murder in White, Bill O’Shea and his friends must try to solve a mystery in the middle of a raging snowstorm. The release date is scheduled for November 15, 2022.
Oh! That sounds like it is going to be a great read!
Thank you Patrick for stopping by today!
Now keep reading for my thoughts about The Overlook Murder.
About The Overlook Murder
The Overlook Murder: A Wintergreen Mystery
Cozy Mystery/Police Procedural
2nd in Series
Setting – Virginia
Chaparral Press LLC (May 14, 2022)
Paperback : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 1734239247
ISBN-13 : 978-1734239249
Digital ASIN : B09ZSTSWCD
It’s a short walk to the overlook but a long way down.
The rich entrepreneur Damian Susskind has recently survived a heart attack and quintuple bypass surgery. Suddenly aware of his own mortality, Damian summons his family and friends to Wintergreen to share the latest plans for his will. Unfortunately for Damian, one of those in attendance bears him malicious intent, and by the end of the day, Damian is dead.
Retired police detective Bill O’Shea is asked to help the short-staffed Wintergreen police department an accidental death. Forensic evidence soon convinces Bill that this was no accident. There is plenty of motive to go around and more than a few suspects–the difficulty is tying a single killer to the crime. Will Bill and his friends solve the case, or will a Wintergreen murderer go free?
If you love beautiful mountain settings, a charming cast, and intriguing plot twists, you’re going to love the Wintergreen Mystery Series!
We are back in Wintergreen, Virginia where retired police detective Bill O’Shea is called in to assist in another investigation. Did the owner of the Fair Game sporting goods Damian Susskind fall to his death at the overlook on the Old Appalachian Trail? Or was he pushed? Is there more to the story? The rich entrepreneur had ticked several people off when he gathered his family and friends for a day-long retreat to convey his plan for the company and a big change to his will.
Following the evidence, Bill believes the man’s death was no accident. Working with the team he will have to work hard to catch the killer, especially because everyone including the caterers could have means, motive, and opportunity. Oh, and Cindy, Bill’s girlfriend’s company is the caterer for the retreat and Bill was assisting her that day.
As in the first book of this series, The Mountain View Murder, Bill O’Shea is a strong protagonist. He has the skills needed to solve a murder case, but he is also such a nice man. He never has an agenda and genuinely wants to help by following the evidence to get to the truth. Alex Sharp, the interim chief of police really has to lean on Bill because he is a real estate guy with no police experience. The small force includes Wintergreen Police Officer Mitch Gentry who is new to the force and Krista Jackson, the communications officer is new as well. Bill is a great mentor for these young people. Bill also helps his girlfriend Cindy with her catering crew. Cindy’s son Justin also is helping out until he leaves to join the Coast Guard and Cindy has recently hired an assistant Maddie Katz. Maddie and Justin may be starting a relationship. Again, Bill gets along with everyone. All these characters feel true to life.
We are also introduced the Damian Susskind and his staff. Prior to suffering a heart attack and recovering from quintuple bypass surgery the man was very involved in his business and his staff’s business including their personal lives. He only had one living relative, his stepdaughter, Lacey. She attended the retreat but she works for the Charlotte Department of Social Services. So he felt she and his staff were his family. He butted into their lives whenever he wished and he lauded his money over them. Threatening to change his will at any time. These characters had a real edge. They are smart and out for themselves.
There was one character though that really turned me off this time. I know Cindy was dealing with some things in this story with her son leaving and her staff being questioned about their client’s death but she came off as a first-class witch and mean. She was extremely short with Bill several times and was degrading to him and the Coast Guard in one instance so much that I was absolutely shocked. She was then surprised that Bill walked out. I wanted him to run and never look back. She is not the right woman for him and never will be. I hope she is absent from any future books in this series.
The mystery put forth was handled very methodically but in an interesting way. Waiting for word from the medical examiner and several test results, Bill talked to everyone involved in the case, some tangentially. Some several times. He even sent up a reenactment to work through what the suspects had said. He let Mitch and Krista do their part with gentle guidance. Because of this, the story had a very even pace. The author plotted out this story so well. I was totally entertained by the pursuit of the truth and everything it took to get there. His descriptive writing style is excellent for this type of book. I enjoyed the way his words take us right out on the trails and inside the investigation.
As a side note, there is a cute little subplot involving Bill and Mr. Chips, the neighborhood groundhog that I absolutely loved. It also involved an encounter with another animal that was scary but so funny too!
The Overlook Murder was a fine addition to this series. I hope to travel to Wintergreen again in November and catch up with Bill O’Shea in Murder in White.
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About Patrick Kelly
Pat Kelly was raised in Yorktown, Virginia, graduated from UVA, and left the state to pursue a corporate career. After settling in Texas, Pat married Susie, and together they raised two daughters in the awesome city of Austin. With the girls now grown and gone, Pat has pursued a lifelong love of writing stories.
Pat has written eight novels–books one and two in the Wintergreen Mystery Series, the Joe Robbins Series of five suspense thrillers, and one standalone novel of historical fiction (The Sheila Stories)
Pat is the winner of a Beverly Hills Book Award and a silver medalist for the Wishing Shelf Book Awards for adult fiction. He serves as Membership Chair of the Heart of Texas Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
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