Jessie: Planning what to do with the remaining days of summer vacation!
I am delighted to welcome Sharon Farrow to the blog today. She is one of those writers who amaze me. Not only does she write both contemporary and historical novels but she writes as half of a team with her friend Meg Mims. In addition to all that she is a regular contributor to the Sleuths in Time Facebook group. Without further ado, here’s Sharon!
JAWS IS COZIER THAN YOU THINK
I regard JAWS as the greatest adventure film ever made. But not until I began writing cozies, did I notice similarities between the hunt for a killer shark and the hunt for a cozy murderer. So cue the John Williams music.
Setting: Like most cozy mystery novels, JAWS is set in a quaint, scenic locale. The picturesque island of Amity even has a cozy sound to it. Like my own fictional village, Amity relies on summer tourists for their annual revenue. In JAWS, Amity’s business owners resist publicizing the shark threat because it might discourage visitors. Cozy townsfolk often have the same response when a corpse is found in their midst.
Cozy Characters: A colorful cast of characters always inhabit a cozy. Amity’s residents would fit right in, starting with their sheriff. Chief Brody has recently moved to Amity from the big city. Given his fear of water, this seems strange. But when asked why he moved to an island, he replies, “It’s only an island if you’re looking at it from the water.” Spoken like a true cozy character.
We also have Brody’s secretary Polly, who puts outdated files on his desk while announcing the karate school nine-year olds are karate chopping the picket fences. Mayor Larry Vaughn is such a rabid Amity booster, he’s willing to have tourists become a floating buffet for a Great White. A councilman wants Chief Brody to do something about the cats “barking” outside his house, while a local fisherman steals his wife’s holiday roast to bait the shark.
Then there’s Quint, who runs a fishing charter service, bootlegs apricot brandy, and is a survivor of the infamous shark attack on the USS Indianapolis. You don’t get more colorful than Bartholomew Marion Quint.
A Mystery: JAWS begins with a mystery when the remains of a young woman wash up on shore. Brody believes a shark killed her. But the mayor insists it was a boating accident, overriding Brody’s decision to close the beaches. Although Brody is the sheriff, he is treated like a cozy sleuth. As a newcomer, he is not taken seriously by town authorities, who mistrust his judgment and disregard his opinions. Even after the shark strikes again.
Sleuthing: Brody only makes progress on the case when he meets oceanographer – and fellow sleuth – Matt Hooper. Indeed, Hooper’s forensic examination confirms Brody’s suspicion about the first death.
When a tiger shark is caught, the town assumes everyone is now safe. However, this is a red herring (no fish humor intended), misdirecting us from the real danger. Once Hooper and Brody cut open the shark and learn it has not killed anyone, they continue sleuthing on the open water. Upon discovering the boat of a fisherman, Hooper pries the tooth of a Great White from the ship’s hull. But after he accidentally drops their only piece of evidence, they still aren’t believed.
It’s Personal: Many cozy plots center around a local celebration or special event. Here, a significant scene takes place on the Fourth of July when the shark not only claims another victim, but Brody’s son is nearly killed. Cozy sleuths have a personal reason for getting involved in a crime. His child’s close call makes this personal for Brody.
Amateur Hour: The climax involves a pursuit on the ocean by Brody, Hooper, and Quint. Brody, a former big city cop, is completely unprepared. Even oceanographer Hooper has no experience with an animal this huge and dangerous. The only shark hunting pro on board the Orcais Quint. Except his obsessive quest for revenge makes him a liability.
It is Chief Brody’s last minute ingenuity that saves his life and puts an end to the rogue shark. A landlubber with a fear of water – a true amateur on the high seas – yet he ends the threat when no one else could. Our cozy sleuths would be proud. Now pass the popcorn.
Readers, what do you think is the best adventure or the best mystery movie ever made? Answer below to win a signed copy of MULBERRY MISCHIEF, my upcoming Berry Basket mystery. North American residents only.
BIO:Sharon Farrowis the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes the Berry Basket mystery series, which debuted in 2016 with Dying for Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins historical mysteries. Visit Sharon at sharonfarrowauthor.com,on Facebook @SharonFarrowAuthor,on Instagram @ sharonfarrowauthor, or Twitter @SharonFarrowBB.
Autumn has arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan, but Marlee Jacob, proprietor of The Berry Basket, is feeling a chill for other reasons . . .
With the Harvest Health Fair in full swing, Marlee has stocked up on elderberry products for cold and flu season. But this year there’s also a run on mulberry when Leticia the Lake Lady wants to use the dried berries to ward off evil forces. True, it’s Halloween season, but something else seems to be spooking Oriole Point’s oddest resident. She believes someone plans to kill her – and the ghost. Only mulberries can protect her. Marlee doesn’t take her fears seriously until a man named Felix Bonaventure arrives in the village, asking questions about a mysterious woman.