I love Florida. I know, I know— who doesn’t? But bear with me. I’m not talking only about Disney World and the beaches. As a mystery writer, I try to peer into the darker side of Florida, which is part of the intrigue!
I’m not from Florida. In fact, I’m a proud, self-professed snowbird. Although my main home is in Central Florida, my summer home is in Michigan. (I bet you can guess which part of the year is spent in Florida!)
It’s not only my love for the weather here that compels me to set a lot of my books here — especially my Hunt for Justice series. It’s the rich history. And, there’s something about the contrast between the beautiful weather and mystery that makes stories more compelling, I think. Murder in Paradise is a tantalizing theme. Don’t you agree?
As Snoopy writes, in an attempt to create a mysterious setting…
“It was a dark and stormy night.”
We all saw that one coming, right?
But try starting a mystery book this way:
Now you see one of the reasons I love to set books in Florida, right??
In Twisted Justice: Judge Willa Carson Thriller, Tampa’s most charismatic Federal Judge, Wilhelmina Carson has a personal case to solve. War hero General Randall Andrews has been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court and George Carson leads the fight to defeat him. When General Andrews is found shot to death in his Tampa home, George Carson is arrested for murder and Willa pulls out all the stops to free her husband in this second installment of the well-loved Judge Wilhelmina Carson Cases.
In this tale of suspense, perhaps one of the biggest surprises is that Thonottosassa, Florida is a murder site. Really? It’s a town of 18 square miles, 10 miles from the nearest suburb of Tampa. What gives?
Thonotosassa is a sleepy lake town where folks go to retire. Gunshots would be unexpected.
But Thonotosassa also has some mystery of its own going on. I don’t mention it in Twisted Justice, but my knowledge of the town’s character lends flavor to the book.
Urban legend has it that there are some haunted homes in the area. Brrr… just reading these stories gives me the shivers!
Possibly the most interesting home in Thonotosassa is Mision Lago, one of many mansions within the Tampa area. The 25,000 square foot home has a basement that replicates the Tampa Theatre; a Hall of Fame with mementos from Elvis, Liberace, Babe Ruth, and Shaq; a 900-square foot replica of the Oval Office, and Dalí and Picasso originals.
If an exciting mansion that pays tribute to deceased celebrities within a sleepy and possibly haunted town doesn’t give you some ideas for a thriller novel, I don’t know what would!
Do you have any interesting neighborhoods or homes that fly “under the radar” where you live?