Guest S.C. Perkins – When the Mystery Goes Home

By Liz, happy to welcome S.C. Perkins to the blog today! We also “met” virtually on a St. Martin’s Cozy Con event through Poisoned Pen Press a few weeks ago and I loved listening to her talk about about her series featuring genealogist Lucy Lancaster. I know you’ll all enjoy too!

Thanks so much for having me on The Wickeds today, Liz! 

When my third Ancestry Detective mystery, Fatal Family Ties, began to take shape, I knew a few things. First, my genealogist main character, Lucy Lancaster, would be hired by one of her former co-workers. Next, I knew that Lucy worked at a university library in Houston before she moved to her current city of Austin, Texas. What I didn’t know was that I would be taking Lucy on a trip home to Houston as part of the mystery she needed to solve.

You guessed it, I’m one of those “pantser” writers who writes as the story takes her. So, when I realized how fun it would be for Lucy—and her new FBI boyfriend, Ben—to head to her hometown, I had to decide on the fly where to take her. 

But it was a little easier for me because Houston is my hometown as well. Thus, I decided on five of my favorites: two areas of town, two eateries, and one fabulous mystery bookstore.The West University neighborhood – This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Houston. It’s located west of Rice University and is filled with gorgeous trees and beautiful houses, from sweet, small cottages to huge mini-mansions and everything in between. I decided it’s in West University that Lucy’s former co-worker and current client lives.

The museum district — Located east of West University, it’s home to most of Houston’s world-class museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which makes for a brief setting in the book. The area is also home to my fictional art-conservation building, Morris Art Conservation, where Lucy and Ben take a painting to be evaluated. 
Fun fact: I named Morris Art Conservation in honor of my late godfather, Don Morris, who was a talented artist and interior designer.

The Buffalo Grille — This is my favorite breakfast spot in Houston. They also serve an equally good lunch and dinner. I decided Lucy would insist on going with her parents and Ben to her favorite place for breakfast, including some of Buffalo Grille’s fabulous pancakes!

A little spot that only sells warm chocolate-chip cookies – Mine is unnamed and fictional, but it’s actually based upon a real place in Houston called Tiny’s Milk and Cookies. They’re famous for their warm chocolate-chip cookies—though, like my fictional eatery, they mostly sell them with fresh-brewed coffee. After Lucy and Ben get into a little spot of trouble that I won’t spoil for you, Lucy takes Ben there for a little chocolate-chip mood booster. 

Murder By The Book – What good Houstonian would I be if I didn’t take Lucy to Houston’s famous Murder By The Book, a wonderful independent bookstore specializing in mysteries and all subgenres of crime fiction. It’s also one of my happy places in H-town, as both a reader and an author. Though I didn’t deliberately plan it this way in choosing my other locations, Murder By The Book happens to be located between the West University neighborhood and the museum district, so it was easy for me to have Lucy and Ben make a stop at the bookstore for some good books. I highly recommend a visit there if you’re ever in Houston, or online!

Though I didn’t initially know I would take Lucy to Houston, it turned out I had a blast having her show Ben her hometown through some of my favorite places. 

What about y’all? Do you enjoy reading about a character’s—and author’s—hometown?

Bio: S.C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex. Her first book, Murder Once Removed, was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition, and an Agatha Award Nominee. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing, she’s likely outside in the sun or on the beach.


S.C. Perkins’s Fatal Family Ties is the captivating third mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, in which Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster deals with murders in both the past and present.

Lucy is just about to tuck into a plate of tacos at her favorite Austin joint, Big Flaco’s, when she gets an unexpected visit from her former–and least-favorite–co-worker. Camilla Braithwaite hasn’t gotten much friendlier since the last time Lucy saw her, but that doesn’t stop her from asking a favor. In her hand is a newspaper feature on an ancestor, a civil war corporal–and a liar, according to the article. Charles Braithwaite is depicted as a phony and a deserter, and Camilla wants Lucy’s help clearing his name. 

Lucy would prefer to spend her free time with her new beau, special agent Ben Turner, but takes the case, making no promises that Camilla will like the outcome of her investigation. Camilla leads Lucy to the Texas History Museum, where their first clue is a triptych painting, passed down in the Braithwaite family for generations, one panel of which has disappeared. But before Lucy can get much further, a member of the Braithwaite family is murdered in his own bed, and another panel of the painting found missing.

There are no shortage of suspects among the Braithwaite clan–including Camilla herself. This case will take Lucy to Houston and back again as she works to find the truth, and catch an elusive killer.

30 Thoughts

  1. Yes, I love reading about the character’s hometown. It helps us know the characters a bit better and yes to the author’s because it lets us know the path they took to become a writer.

    1. Thank you so much, Edith! I’m so excited to be here after being a fan of The Wickeds for so long! And thank you for the good wishes for Houston. We were lucky enough in Houston to not be too hard hit considering, so I know everyone is grateful!

  2. What a fabulous tour of Houston. I was there once, years ago, for a business convention and all I remember are the restaurants – they were fabulous. I’m looking forward to seeing Houston through Lucy’s eyes.

    1. Thank you so much, Kait! Yes, we have good restaurants galore, which is so nice — especially for me as I love to eat and try new foods! I hope you’ll get a kick out of “being there” again when you read, and I hope you’ll enjoy the whole book!

  3. I enjoy reading stories that involve characters both going back to their hometown or characters that have always been in their hometown because they have a history and knowledge of the local people and places. The familiarity is almost comforting in a way. Your story’s genealogy plot sounds fun – genealogy fascinates me, it’s a family’s building blocks and can turn up some surprises!

    1. Thanks so much, Kathy! I agree about finding the familiarity comforting when a character goes to their hometown. It certainly was fun to write Lucy being back in Houston!

    1. Thanks so much, Sherry! It really was fun to write, and I’m so happy to be here on the Wickeds! I hope you will come to Houston one day for a signing at Murder By The Book — and some good eats afterward!

  4. Congratulations! I love reading about a character’s hometown. Those pancakes look fabulous and who could say no to warm chocolate chip cookies?

  5. Stephanie, so great to see you here today! I loved your new book. It was fun to take a little tour of Houston with Lucy and Ben. I wondered which places in the city were real and which were created for the story, since I recognized Murder By The Book, I figured that other locations might be real, too.

    Cozy lovers, if you haven’t discovered this series yet, let me tell you that it is everything and more than your cozy-loving hearts desire! I have sure learned a lot about genealogy.

    1. Judy, I’m so thrilled you liked FATAL FAMILY TIES! And I’m over the moon knowing that you’ve learned a nugget or two about genealogy! I love reading books where I learn something, and I set out to o the same when I wrote, so you’ve made me very happy! Thank you so very much!

  6. I love reading about a sleuth’s hometown, especially if I am familiar with it and can spot locations as well. I do sometimes find that frustrating since it can slow down a story, but when it is done right, I enjoy it.

  7. Thanks for the tour. Love the books! They have inspired me to try and find out more about my husbands family.

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! I’m truly honored that you like my books and that they inspired you to look at the Medrano family tree. I wish Flaco Medrano were real to maybe be a relative! 😉

  8. So glad to read your blog with my cousin S.C. Perkins. Her books are so good. Genealogy has been a priority in our families since our grandfather, her great grandfather published his genealogy. It is so fun to see her weaving stories in our native Texas and with ours and others ancestors. I love reading about places I know and have visited and loved. Houston is a place in Texas that I have not been to much, so it will be fun to see what is up there. Keep it up!!

  9. I enjoy tours of the character’s home town. What a wonderful way to learn about an area!

    1. Thanks so much, Brenda! I agree — and I love going to a place after I’ve read about it in a novel. It makes the city (and the book) come alive that much more!

  10. When I was a child in public school, my classmates and I were all taken on buses to the Art Museums, the planetarium, the zoo…and to see plays and to the ballet. It was not until I was an adult out of college that I realized not everyone had that opportunity growing up. Houston is no longer the small city it was back then, but I hope the children there now are exposed to the arts as I was. I do enjoy reading about characters and their hometowns.

    1. Judy, I agree! I feel lucky like you that I got to experience all of what Houston has to offer by the way of culture. Houston has grown exponentially, and has even more to offer now. But with all the school tours I always see at the museums and other similar places, I’ve got high hopes that our Houston children are getting a good taste of it, and that makes me happy!

  11. Hi, yes, I like reading about a book characters hometown. Your book sounds very intriguing and I love the book cover. I am very interested in genealogy . I enjoyed this post. Thank you so much for sharing . Have a great rest of the week and stay safe.

  12. Yes, I enjoy reading about a character’s hometown. This sounds like a great location, and I love that you included Murder by the Book! I’ve never been there but learned of MBTB during the pandemic. If I ever make it to Houston I plan to visit MBTB. Congrats on your recent release! I enjoy the series and look forward to reading Fatal Family Ties. 🙂

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