Edith here on the last day of a long month, happy to welcome back good friend of the Wickeds Kaitlyn Dunnet, aka Kathy Lynn Emerson. A View to a Kilt is her thirteenth Liss MacCrimmon mystery, and it came out out this week! She’s giving away a hardcover edition (US only) to one commenter.
A Cure for Cabin Fever
First of all, a big thank you to Edith and the rest of the Wickeds for inviting me back to their blog. They’re all familiar with early spring in New England, but for those of you living in warmer climes, it is also known as “mud season.” The ski slopes are shutting down, despite the fact that there may yet be another snowstorm to two, but the roads are still too messy for bicycling. The ground is too soft for hiking. Even taking long walks is problematic. It’s just not a pleasant time of year. Coupled with the “cabin fever” that can result from enduring cold weather for months on end, when it’s better to stay safe and warm at home than brave the elements, it can be downright depressing.
In my fictional Moosetookalook, Maine the locals have come up with a cure. Every year at the end of March they hold the March Madness Mud Season Sale. Its purpose is twofold—to cheer up residents by sponsoring assorted activities and entertainment, and to lure in tourists to boost the economy. I’ve mentioned this event a couple of times in previous books in my Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries, so for the thirteenth entry, A View to a Kilt, just out this week from Kensington Books, I decided it was time to make it the centerpiece of the story.
Liss, who owns Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium, a gift shop specializing in items with a Scottish theme, has once again been roped into an organizational role. She’s both helped and hindered by her domineering mother, Vi, who has recently moved back to Moosetookalook with Liss’s father and is anxious to reinsert herself into the life of the community.
Finding a murder victim in her own back yard complicates matters for Liss, especially after his identity is revealed, but she’s determined not to let her neighbors down. So, while trying to solve the crime, and prove those near and dear to her aren’t responsible, she’s also setting up a whole series of events involving mud. Some—making mud pies and a mud slide, to name just two—are designed for children, but the “woman-carrying race” is intended to entertain the grown ups.
Believe it or not, I didn’t invent this. There is a real sport is called wife-carrying. There have been official races in North American since 1999 and the annual championship is held in Maine. If you’d like to see pictures, here’s a link to a story about last year’s race at Sunday River: https://www.sundayriver.com/events/north-american-wife-carrying-championship
There’s no requirement that competing couples be married, but as Liss explains it, Moosetookalook calls their competition woman-carrying because it’s an unsanctioned event. They use a shorter, slipperier course and only run one heat. The fastest time wins. Dropping your teammate adds five seconds to your time. Standing around yelling at each other afterward gets you disqualified. Women are required to wear a helmet, since the organizers don’t want anyone to get hurt. Mud is not all that soft and the rather undignified positions that work best for a fast time leave heads hanging close to the ground. The fireman’s carry and the piggyback are bad enough, but the most successful teams are usually the ones where the woman is upside down with her arms around her partner’s waist and her legs looped around his neck. Her face ends up nestled against his backside. That there is a huge mud puddle in the middle of the course makes things even more . . . interesting.
Of course, since this is a cozy mystery novel, there is also a clue to the killer’s identity planted in the festivities surrounding Moosetookalook Maine’s March Madness Mud Season Sale. The event not only provides the locals with a cure for cabin fever, it also brings Liss another step closer to solving the murder. Win-Win all the way.
Readers: What’s the best – or oddest – competition you’ve ever witnessed at a fair? What about kilts – what’s your opinion or experience of them? One US commenter wins the hardcover edition of the new book!
With the January 2020 publication of A View to a Kilt, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett will have had sixty-one books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes but there is a new, standalone historical mystery in the pipeline. She maintains three websites, at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com and another, comprised of over 2000 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century English women, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.