Liz here, happy to introduce a new cozy writer in our midst! Ryan Hoffman is here to talk about his cozy debut, Murder & Old Books, about a barista/bookstore owner who gets involved in murder. Take it away, Ryan!
Hello all from the bitter cold of South Dakota. I’m happy to be here and introducing you all to the new world that I’ve created. It took me a long time to figure out that I finally wanted to write a cozy mystery. As most of you have dealt with, I started with, what would my series would be about? I bounced from multiple ideas, asking the simple questions of who would my sleuth be, where would it be set, and who would be my victim.
The first of all is who is my sleuth? In my cozy debut, Murder & Old Books, my sleuth is Riley Morgan, a young barista turned bookstore and cafe owner. Except he didn’t start off as a bookseller and barista. I went through many ideas: produce clerk in a grocery store, sales person / manager in a Walmart style department store, a librarian, a coffee shop owner. Then I realized that I like two things in life, besides the people around me, coffee and books. That’s where the character of Riley Morgan started to take shape. I figured he’d have to be smart and observant so that’s why he worked as a coffee shop barista before managing his bookstore Cafe, Pages & Scone. He also needed some baggage, so I decided the reason why he ended up in the city and as a barista is because he had a falling out with his dad. And that led me to my amateur sleuth.
Next, I turned to the setting, I found that was the easy decision. I went in the whole “write what you know” direction and decided to set it right here in South Dakota. The landscape and people are so interesting here in the plains. I created my own fictional town of Cedar Grove borrowing “some” from real towns in the area. I also set it in a fictional version of the county where I grew up Lincoln County which is Jefferson County in the book. That was the really easy part.
The last part was figuring out who would be my lucky victim. I decided with this series I would not follow some of the usual tropes for intended victims. I wanted Riley to have a reason to get invested and involved in the case. I just didn’t want to make him the prime suspect and follow that old cliche. So that’s why I created Jed the victim. He’s someone Riley would be close to, which would lead him to look into the case. Then came the fun part – figuring out the suspects and clues.
I’m currently working on book two in the series, Home Roasted Killer, which will be out next spring.
About the book
Running a bookstore… is murder!
Riley Morgan never expected to be back in his quiet hometown of Cedar Grove, South Dakota, population 3,211. The former barista turned bookstore owner has his work cut out for him. His opening day during Memorial Day weekend turns out to be better than expected. That is until one of his customers, local curmudgeon and drunk, Jed Nelson, turns up dead. Jed decides to leave Riley his dog and house in his will, making him the prime suspect. Of course there are lots of people that wanted Jed dead, from one of his ex-wives to a property developer looking to cash in on his land. Riley with the help of his childhood friend, and newfound canine companion, and his high school crush turned cop, decided to catch the killer before they added another deadly chapter to this mystery?..
Ryan Hoffman has always had a deep passion for writing. He has a degree in Criminal Justice. He is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. He has held a lot of jobs which bring him a lot of experience to add to his cozy mystery novels. Those range from currently working in a cafeteria to working as a stocking clerk in a grocery store. He has always had a soft spot for mysteries since reading his first Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew book as a child. He graduated to devouring Agatha Christie and other mystery writers in his adult years. He currently lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but grew up in a small town similar to the ones he writes about.
Readers, let us know what you think of this new addition to the cozy scene below!