Writing About Older Women by Jean Henry Mead
When I wrote my first mystery novel, after five nonfiction books and a Wyoming historical novel, I agonized over my protagonist. How old should she be and what should she be like? Then a phone call from an old friend, who likes to reminisce about our single days, helped me decide. The two of us had a lot of fun together and she could always make me laugh. I reasoned that now that we were no longer young, why not write a book about two senior women who reluctantly decide to solve the murders of their friends and club members.
Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty were born on my computer screen and came to life in the Valley Retirement Village in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where I lived for more than a dozen years and met my friend Marge. I call my two amateur sleuths seniors but they’re actually baby boomers in their early sixties. Feisty and adventurous, they claim to be able to compete with younger sleuths, with the exception of roller blading and scaling tall buildings.
In their first adventure, A Village Shattered, their Sew and So (needlework and gossip) club members begin dropping dead alphabetically, and the newbie sheriff, a former dog trainer, can’t seem to solve the murders. Realizing that their own names are on the killer’s list, Dana and Sarah decide to solve the killings themselves, but not without consequences.
In book two, Diary of Murder, both women have sold their homes and purchased a motorhome to travel the West. They then learn that Dana’s mystery writer sister Georgie has died and her husband claims it was suicide. When they arrive in Wyoming, they discover Georgie’s diary, which details her husband’s infidelities and her miserable marriage. They further discover Georgie’s husband’s involvement in a vicious drug gang along with his brother, the sheriff.
Murder on the Interstate finds the two women traveling northern Arizona in their motorhome, where they discover the body of a beautiful young woman in her Mercedes convertible. Determined to discover why she was killed, they find themselves kidnapped by a homegrown terrorist group who plan to take down the government. Sheriff Grayson, who botched the serial killer murder case in A Village Shattered, has fallen in love in Dana and insists on helping to solve the murder, but winds up complicating it.
The two women move into Dana’s sister’s Wyoming mansion and are on a picture taking trip on Gray Wolf Mountain when someone shoots out a tire and causes a rollover. A quirky old man in a rusty pickup comes to their rescue and they learn that he rescues wounded wolves and nurses them back to health, because someone is shooting them. The shooter is soon targeting people as well. Dana’s journalist daughter Kerrie shows up to help in the investigation, as she has done in the three previous books, and falls in love with a Vietnam veteran who volunteers to help catch the killer.
Murder in RV Paradise takes place in northern Texas at an exclusive resort where Dana and Sarah discover the body of a woman in one of the small lakes the day they arrive. The woman, they learn, has a bad reputation and there are over a thousand suspects who might have killed her. The two amateur sleuths are suspects themselves when someone plants evidence against them. Sheriff Grayson arrives to help, despite Dana’s protests, and persuades her to marry him. And Sarah lassos herself a Texas cattlemen. But danger continues to stalk them all.
Book six was recently released. Murder at the Mansion finds Dana a widow and Sarah unhappily married in Texas. When Dana’s gardener is murdered in her yard, Sarah flies back to Wyoming to console her friend and investigate the mysterious killing. When the mansion is destroyed, the two women flee to Texas and the Alaskan outback, where they find themselves in even greater danger.
Bio: Jean Henry Mead is a former news reporter and author of 21 books, half of them novels. She writes the Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series as well as the Hamilton Kids’ mysteries, Wyoming historical novels and nonfiction books. Her magazine articles have been published domestically and abroad, and she has served as a news, magazine and small press editor.