Guest Kaitlyn Dunnett

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.

42 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations on lucky #13. I love this series.

    The nicest thing I can say about mud season is it gives birth to the snowdrops and crocuses, and it’s way better than black fly season.

    I have witnessed the wife-carrying competition at Sunday River, but the oddest competition I have ever seen is the Shrove Tuesday pancake race that our church sponsored one year. We used the must flip the entire way rule. Flipped pancakes have a mind of their own. As for kilts, my Uncle by grace was a piper. I grew up around men in kilts and still love the sound of the bagpipe.

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  2. Congratulations on your new release! The craziest competition I can remember I actually participated in, but it was on school field day. Members of each team would sit on the ground in single file. The first member would stuff several saltine crackers in their mouth, chew quickly, face the next member and try to whistle. Once the person whistled, the next person in line would repeat until the end of the line. First team to have each member whistle would win. It was funny, but kind of gross as you ended up spewing cracker all over the person next to you!

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  3. Being from the south, there are no limit to the unusual competitions at fairs, festivals or events. Although maybe not the strangest but for the funniest to watch, there are two that are the most popular. There is the greased pig race in which little pigs are greased up and turned loose. The participants (depending on the age of the participant relates to the size of the pig) have to catch the pig and get them into the winners circle. The other is donkey basketball in which all the players are on donkey backs. Now mind you these are not trained donkeys so just about anything happens because a donkey very much has a mind of it’s own.

    As for kilts, I see nothing wrong with them. We live in a very musical area (Folk Music Capital in fact) and there are several bagpipe players – both men and women. Beautiful music and the kilt makes it feel more authentic to me. I feel if woman can where both skirt and pants, why not men if they so desire. 🙂

    Congratulations on the release of “A View to a Kilt”! Love the cover from the “Scottie” to snow outside the window. Can’t wait for the opportunity to read this book on my TBR list.

    Shared and hoping. ❤
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  4. I have always thought men in kilts are amusing.
    The cutest contest I have seen are Basset Hound races, my preferred breed. Not known as speedsters some take off more than expected. Ours prefer inside the house runs.
    Thanks for offering the giveaway!

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  5. I haven’t seen any strange contests at fairs here in Portland, OR – although I am told that ax throwing is becoming a big thing! I think kilts are great, especially the varied tartans. Congratulations on your new release!

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  6. Welcome back, Kaitlyn! I can’t wait to get caught up on Liss’s adventures. My town of Boothbay Harbor used to have bed races, which are exactly what they sound like. Folks pushing beds on wheels through town.

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  7. At the fair in my hometown a couple rides in a golf cart. The husband is blindfolded behind the wheel and the wife sits next to him directing him as he drives the course.
    I am of Scottish descent through my mother’s family, Stewart. I love to attend Scottish Days celebration when I can.

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  8. Sounds like a fun competition! I haven’t gone to the fair to watch any, but this one sounds worth going to the fair to see!

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  9. I hadn’t heard of the wife-carrying races,but they look like a a lot of fun to watch. I’m pretty adventurous, but I don’t think I ever would have been up to be carried with my face that close to mud. Then again, when I was young, I was up to just about anything. Still am, but I’m a little(?) old for the upside down part! I enjoyed bed racing in Jamestown, RI one summer. Razor-back pig racing is a hoot, too.

    I absolutely love kilts on men. Yes, it’s getting very hot in here!

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    1. I’m not fond of the mud part myself, plus at my present weight, I don’t think my husband could lift me!

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  10. Ooh, kilts! Yes, yes, yes.

    I can’t imagine wanting to be the carried woman, frankly. Dropped on one’s head? In mud? No, thank you.

    I’ve seen two hilarious competitions at fairs. One is an annual event in Antrim County, Michigan, Fireman’s Fieldhouse Day, where they have three-legged races and other competitions. But the craziest one involves lines of people lobbing eggs at one another, closer and closer together, until the last un-yolked person is standing.

    The other was the sheep herding done at the Pendleton County (Kentucky) Wool Festival, which happens every year in October. They also have sheep shearing contests, seeing who can shear a sheep fastest without cutting the sheep, but keeping the fleece in one piece.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. I have seen a llama drill team perform at Maine’s Common Ground Fair. I wonder if sheep . . . ?

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  11. I’m from Iowa. Our state fair has rubber chicken toss, cow pie toss, rooster calling competitions, outhouse races, to name a few.

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  12. I actually saw the wife carry event on a tv show a while ago. It takes really knowing your partner to even suggest something like that.

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  13. I don’t go to many fairs but was just at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Trying to get food or even get through the Food Court was hard but not an event! I read a number of Scottish romance series so men in kilts are great with me. Your new book sounds wonderful!

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  14. I’ve seen jousting and mud wrestling at the Renaissance Faire, both really fun to watch. Especially the mud wrestling. I’ve haven’t ever seen anyone wearing a kilt. I guess if the man is comfortable in a kilt, no reason why they shouldn’t wear one.

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    1. I hadn’t associated mud wrestling with Ren Faires before, but plain old wrestling was certainly popular back in the middle ages. I’m thinking jousting could get pretty muddy too, depending on the weather. Thanks for commenting.

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  15. Here where I live , which is west Texas, on the 4th of July there is a dress your pet for the 4th of July, so far there have only been dogs and they get them dressed up pretty cute! I have never seen a man in a kiloton person, but I wouldn’t mind. Your book sounds like a great read. Thanks for the chance.

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  16. I guess I have to go to more fairs. These competitions sound great. Especially the Basset Races. I LOVE bassets! I just watched The Good Doctor and he showed up at his girlfriend’s house wearing a kilt. So I guess it depends on the guy wearing it. Some have better legs than others. Thanks for the chance to win this book.

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  17. Thank you everyone for your comments and stories. A winner has been chosen to receive a copy of A View to a Kilt, but as the saying goes, “you’re all winners in my book.”

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