In Steamed Open, Barbara Ross’s latest Maine Clambake mystery, a new neighbor moves in and blocks access to the beach. This creates a pretty solid motive for a lot of folks in Busman’s Harbor. For those of us in New England, issues around beach access are fairly common, and litigious.
Today’s Wicked Wednesday topic is neighbors. How important are good neighbors in our books? Conversely, how helpful are bad neighbors to our plotting?
Liz: I could talk about this topic forever. Neighbors have been an ongoing theme for me ever since I moved to Connecticut. There was the crazy lady in the condo complex I lived in for a very short time who used to mind everyone’s business. She was literally Mrs. Kravitz. And since she was home all the time she had nothing else to do anyway. I came home at an odd time one day and found her in my driveway, pretending to sweep but looking in the garage windows. Then she ran to the next condo and hid behind the little alcove, like I couldn’t see her do it. I eventually had to put that plastic stuff on the windows that was like a mirror if you looked in from outside…it was seriously disturbing. I killed her in an as-yet-unpublished short story.
Edith: In my new Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, my protagonist Mac Almeida lives and works on the main drag of Westham on Cape Cod. Her own grandma, the diminutive Reba, lives on the second floor a block away and uses her spyglass to monitor what goes on in town. All the other shopkeepers within a block radius are neighbors, too. As in any small town, this is both good and bad!
Jessie: Neighbors make the mystery world go round! After all, often neighbors are more a part of daily life than farther-off family members. Good neighbors or bad there is a great deal of fodder for a mystery brewing in those relationships. And who really knows what goes behind closed doors? The neighborhood nosy parker may think he or she knows but do they really? The possibilities are endless!
Sherry: Congratulations on Steamed Open, Barb! I love all of the neighbor problems you created in it. In my series, Sarah has one wonderful neighbor — her opera singing landlady and friend Stella Wild. She also has a neighbors who are rarely in town but create problems for Sarah when they show up unexpectedly in A Good Day To Buy. I just realized I’ve never explored who lives in the houses around Sarah. Stay tuned!
Julie: Neighbors are the gift that keeps on giving in cozy series. In my new series, Lilly Jayne has a new, mysterious and handsome neighbor. In the Clock Shop series, all of the neighbors and business owners added a lot to stories. In real neighbors are great character studies, for good and for ill.
Barb: Thanks so much everybody. I’m excited about Steamed Open. Fee and Vee Snugg who live across the street from the house Julia Snowden grew up in have been in the books from the beginning. They are dear friends and honorary great-aunts who were inspired by my parents’ neighbors of many years who were lovely to my brother and me, our spouses and kids. In Yule Log Murder I introduce a new neighbor, Odile St. Onge who lives next door. And there’s local cop Jamie whose parents’ house backs onto Julia’s mother’s house and who grew up with Julia and her sister Livvie. Neighbors, particularly year-rounders, are so important the the Maine Clambake Mysteries.
How about you, dear readers? Any good neighbor stories to share with us?