Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mystery Settings by Linda Hope Lee

What better setting for a mystery than a remote island?
That's what I thought while standing on the deck of the ferry traveling through Washington State's San Juan Islands. The archipelago includes over 400 islands, which provide a lot of possibilities!
The idea for a story did not immediately present itself until character Megan Evans appeared, seeking the truth about her beloved daughter's mysterious death. Aha, I thought, what if the clues lead her to a place where she might be in grave danger? What about . . . a remote island? And so, Gemini Island was born. Soon after that, just as I had done so many times, Meg
[i]stood on the top deck of the ferry, watching Puget Sound's Orcas Island change from a gray blob into a landmass with discernable trees and structures. . . . She would debark there. Someone from Gemini Island, which had no public service, would pick her up and take her to her final destination.
Later, after a ride in a small boat into the interior of the archipelago, Meg reaches her destination:
[i]Just before stepping onto shore, Meg felt her heart skip a beat. Once she set foot on land, there'd be no going back. For better or worse . . . she'd be stuck here on Gemini Island.
The island itself is full of mystery, from the paths that wind through the pine forests where sunlight rarely penetrates, to the desolate beaches to the mountain that has been declared off-limits. Characters add to the setting, too, and on Gemini Meg encounters the enigmatic and handsome Eric Richards, a Northwest Indian artifacts expert, who has his own hidden reasons for coming to Gemini.
The setting is important to any story, but especially so to a mystery, I believe. And yet, with the right emphasis, any setting can be made mysterious. Mystery writers, what settings have you used that have been particularly effective? Mystery readers, what memorable settings have you encountered in the mysteries you've read?

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