Shandra Higheagle Beginnings by Paty Jager

While the first two novels I wrote decades ago were mysteries, I had so much trouble finding writers in the mystery genre willing to help me hone my craft that I jumped ship when the Romance Writers of America embraced me. Their meetings, workshops and conferences were filled with helpful people who taught classes on point of view, character arcs, plotting, and all the skills I needed to make a publishable book. They also taught me the business side of writing.

And that’s how my career as a western romance author began. My tag line is: “Tales of intrigue and romance starring cowboys and Indians” Not only do I write historical and contemporary western romance, I also have a historical romance trilogy set among the Nez Perce Indians that deals with Native American spirits. A few years back I started an Action Adventure series with a female Indiana Jones/MacGyver character who is an anthropologist who specializes in Native American cultures.

This fun jaunt into something other than westerns made me long to write a mystery again.

The yearning wouldn’t die and even though I’d already written in more genres than one author should, I couldn’t let the idea of writing mystery go. Many writing friends said it wasn’t a good idea to add one more genre, I’d lose readers. But my heart, from the first novel I wrote all those years ago, was in mystery. 

To stay true to my “branding” the female amateur sleuth in Double Duplicity the first Shandra Higheagle Mystery is half Nez Perce. After years of her mother and stepfather having her hide her Native American side, she is finally starting to seek her roots only to have the one person who can guide her the most pass away. Her grandmother, whom she’d only visited once as a teenager, had a special request. That Shandra attend her Seven Drum Ceremony after the funeral. Shandra does and when she’s caught up in murder, her grandmother comes to her in dreams showing her clues to the murders.

I’ve had a wonderful time bringing my fictional ski resort town of Huckleberry, Idaho to life. Adding three-dimensional secondary characters with a few quirks to keep this an entertaining cozy read has been the most fun. In each book I’ve add a new full-timer and enjoy the way they interact with the rest of the populace. My two favorite secondary characters are Sheba, a dog as big as a bear but a bit like the Cowardly Lion, who is Shandra’s companion, and Lewis, the orange cat that is usually draped around Crazy Lil’s shoulders. Lil is Shandra’s Jill-of-all-trades who, like the stray cat, came with the property Shandra purchased on Huckleberry Mountain. She bought the land because of its good clay pockets. Shandra is a potter who sells her vases as art. 

My brother has worked in the art world since getting out of school. He sculpts, pours, welds, and patinas bronze art work. A story he told me about a particular statue he was putting a patina on for another artist stuck in my mind, and I knew one day I’d use it in a story. That information my brother told me was the premise that started Double Duplicity.

Double Duplicity Blurb:

On the eve of the biggest art event at Huckleberry Mountain Resort, potter Shandra Higheagle finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She’s ruled out as a suspect, but now it’s up to her to prove the friend she’d witnessed fleeing the scene was just as innocent. With help from her recently deceased Nez Perce grandmother, Shandra becomes more confused than ever, but just as determined to discover the truth.

Detective Ryan Greer prides himself on solving crimes and refuses to ignore a single clue, including Shandra Higheagle’s visions. While Shandra is hesitant to trust her dreams, Ryan believes in them and believes in her. Together they discover the gallery owner wasn’t the respectable woman she’d portrayed. Can the pair uncover enough clues for Ryan to make an arrest before one of them becomes the next victim?



Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story. She recently returned to the genre of her heart- Mystery.

You can learn more about Paty at

Newsletter: Paty’s Prattle:

twitter  @patyjag. 

(And I loved her book, you can read my review on  After all, she has a Native American heroine and the book is set in a wonderful location. Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.)


Paty Jager said…
Thank you for having me on your blog today, Meredith.

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