Pop Goes the Weasel--Finding Creative Inspiration from Real Life Event

by Martha Reed

Two pivotal things happened when I was in high school in 1974 that led me to write NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Book 3 in my Nantucket Mystery series: 1) a girl from my neighborhood vanished on her way home from the community swimming pool, and 2) I read Kidnap: The Story of the Lindbergh Case by George Waller.

Both events planted themselves deeply in my teenaged brain. I knew, even before I became a crime fiction writer that I’d have to come back and explore these two things someday.

In NO REST FOR THE WICKED, I synthesized the horror of child abduction and the Lindbergh kidnapping into a modern day ordeal. Because authors must torture their characters, I made it even more difficult for Detective John Jarad to solve the fictional Baby Alice Spenser kidnapping by placing the cold case in 1921 - ninety years in the past - so that John has to contend with natural attrition, family myth, fading human memory, deliberate misdirection, and outright lies.

He does, however, get to meet some intriguing and colorful new characters living at Island Sanctuary, Nantucket’s premier retirement facility.

As John pursues the Baby Alice investigation, myriad scandals emerge from the Spenser family’s Gatsby-esque past. DNA analysis provides the key to deciphering a genetic family puzzle. I also had great fun comparing the investigative techniques at the state level from 1921 - fundamentally fingerprint comparisons - against modern day FBI forensic advances.

To keep the story in balance, John’s wife, Sarah, has a different life focus. Sarah is halfway through a twin pregnancy, and she’s convinced that she is losing her mind. Sarah can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. She’d like to blame her paranoia on raging hormones, but she fears that her control freak ex-fiancĂ©e Mason has finally tracked her down, and that Mason is on Nantucket plotting revenge.

Events flare white-hot when a copycat criminal snatches a second child. John and Sarah must race against the clock to unmask the kidnapper and expose these modern day threats.

NO REST FOR THE WICKED is available in trade paperback and e-book from most retailers. I encourage you to support your local bookstore! Follow this link to read a free sample:  


MARTHA REED (web link: www.reedmenow.com) is the author of the award-winning John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery series. Book one, THE CHOKING GAME, was a 2015 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion nominee for Best Traditional Mystery. THE NATURE OF THE GRAVE, book two, won an Independent Publisher (IPPY) Honorable Mention for Mid-Atlantic Best Regional Fiction. Book three, NO REST FOR THE WICKED was released by Buccaneer/KMA Pittsburgh in February, 2017.

Martha recently completed a four-year term as the National Chapter Liaison for Sisters in Crime, Inc. You can follow her online at reedmenow.com or on Twitter@ReedMartha.


Hi Martha,
I am very intrigued by your premise. I hope you'll be signing books at the Pennwriters Conference next month.
I loved this post and intrigued by both the real events you wrote about and your mystery.
Martha Reed said…
Hi, Stephanie - Yes, I will be at Pennwriters. I'm looking forward to it. It's one of my favorite conferences. When you see me, please say 'hi'.
Martha Reed said…
Thanks, Marilyn. I had some fun writing this one. When I went back to research the details from 1921, I drew heavily from the stories I used to hear from my grandfather and his brothers and sisters. They sure knew how to party back in the Roaring Twenties!
I love the idea of comparing investigative techniques, then and now! When I was a kid, I read in Guinness World Book of Records that kidnapping was the hardest crime to get away with. I wonder if that's still true?
Martha Reed said…
Hi, Tory - With all the advances in forensics and surveillance, I think that all crimes may be harder to get away with going forward; you see that when the authorities use cellphones and passports to locate people in real time; the increase in AMBER alerts, and personal body cams.

It's going to make crime writing even harder. Maybe we'll be left only writing about crimes of passion?

Linda Thorne said…
Love how things in your past serve as motivation for your stories. I get that. I'm in Nashville, so I won't be going to the Pennwriters Conference. First I heard of it and sounds like something I'd enjoy. I'm going to Google it to see if it's feasible next year. Thank you.
Martha Reed said…
Hi, Linda - The Pennwriters Conference switches from Pittsburgh to Lancaster every year, but for my money it's the best writers conference bang for your buck, filled with insightful panels on the craft of writing (versus some conferences that are more about fans meeting authors).

Have you been to Killer Nashville? I attended last year with my friend Annette Dashofy. We had a blast. There's another insightful writers' conference, and local, too.


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