Warm up with bone-chilling tales at Schuler Books

Bill Castaner

Winter is the time to kick back and warm up in front of the fireplace, which mystery readers will be able to do at Schuler Books at 7 p.m. Thursday (January 19), when three Michigan mystery authors visit the shop. To talk about their new novels.

It’s been a while since author visits were the norm. Just as we were starting to get antsy, Schuller decided to shut down Zoom for an in-person event featuring Darcie Wilde from Ypsilanti, Darci Hannah from Howell, and Frank Anthony Polito from Pleasant Ridge.

For the uninitiated, the “relaxed” mystery is a more lighthearted, fun, and less violent take on the murder mystery genre – and one of its fastest growing segments.

Darcy Wilde has been writing mysteries and historical romances for seven years. In Rosalind Thorne’s new book, The Secret of the Lost Pearls, Thorne, a “fixer” (or, as she is called in the books, a “useful woman”) once again finds herself embroiled in solving a problem for the social elite. A set of precious pearls appears to be missing, and she has been summoned to discreetly find them. Of course, a murder gets involved. The story, based on the novels of Jane Austen, takes readers to the glittering ballrooms and elegant parties of Regency London.

Under the pseudonym Sarah Zettel, Wilde has also written award-winning Locus and Philip K. Dick novels, including Fools War, a New York Times Book of the Year selection.

Wilde describes The Mystery of the Lost Pearls as “if Jane Austen and Arthur Conan Doyle sat down to write a mystery”. She describes her protagonist as “a kindly brought up lady who helps the aristocracy manage their lives.”

What makes writing about the Regency period so exciting, she said, is that everyone wrote letters and had memoirs, and that was the golden age of journals and novels.

Darcy Hannah has collected some of her most treasured memories in her new book, Murder at the Blueberry Festival, which is set in the fictional town of Beacon Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan. The protagonist, Lindsey Bakewell, lives in the historic Beacon Lighthouse and has opened the Beacon Lighthouse Backshop inside. During the main tourist event in town, someone dies, and Bakewell steps in to solve the murder.

Lighthouse is an important character in the book. “They’re part of the magic of the Great Lakes,” Hannah said.

Hannah, who grew up in Chicago, loves the Great Lakes, and her new book relates to her penchant for bagels and big dogs. She lives in the small town of Howl, which is famous for its festivals.

“I love small towns. Everything is very connected and everyone knows everyone.”

Frank Anthony Polito is new to the world of relaxing puzzles. His first book in the genre, Renovated to Death, is a wild play on the reality television series, Home Partners, featuring home renovations and house flipping in suburban Detroit. The book follows a gay couple whose new career takes off. That is, until a dead body appears at the bottom of the stairs in one of the episodes. To get back on track, they must solve murders.

Polito, who attended Michigan State University and graduated from Wayne State University with a BA in Theater, is an actor, playwright, and author of “Teen Books for Adults,” including “Drama Queers!” and “Band Fags!” and “The Spirit of Detroit.”

He and his partner lived in New York City for 18 years before moving into a nearly 100-year-old home on Pleasant Ridge. They purchased the 1924 craftsmen’s colony on HGTV’s House Hunters and renovated it for nine years. Much of the experience in the book is drawn from the home improvement process.

“I hadn’t written a book in 10 years when a publisher convinced me to write a mystery,” Polito said.

The book is set in the fictional town of Pleasant Woods, which is based in Pleasant Ridge.

“I got to make a small town,” he said, “and that’s part of the fun.” “There is a zoo nearby, and I kept Woodward Street the same.”

Readers, especially those who work on older homes, will enjoy the book’s quirkiness and get some inside winks at home renovations, which Polito says “always takes longer and costs more money, and there’s never enough time.”

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