Carmel Conundrum by Stacy Wilder – Setting as a Character Guest Post + Giveaway

Carmel Conundrum: A Liz Adams Mystery
by Stacy Wilder

About Carmel Conundrum

Carmel Conundrum: A Liz Adams Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – California
Wild Hawk Press (December 10, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 226 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8985426625
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BPQXHL7Y

Stolen identities, a cult, a kidnapping, an attempted murder, and a budding romance . . .

Join Private Investigator Liz Adams, and her lie-detecting Labrador, Duke, in the scenic town of Carmel By-the-Sea, as the pair investigate the mystery of stolen identities. Complications arise when Liz becomes romantically entangled with her hot new client, Brad.

Enter Apollo, a charismatic cult leader, whose mission to save the homeless has a dark twist. Why does he continue to trespass on Liz’s property? She’s compelled to uncover the answer.

Tensions mount, as the stakes become a matter of life and death. Will Liz and Duke solve both mysteries before the damage is irreparable?

Travel with Liz from Charleston, SC to Carmel, CA, and back to discover the astounding truth.

Setting as a Character

The Liz Adams mystery books are set in tourist destinations. The location plays a critical part in the story. In Charleston Conundrum, the charm of Charleston compels the main character, Liz, to quit her corporate job, move to Charleston, and pursue her dream of becoming a private investigator. Here is an excerpt from the book:

“She could feel Charleston seeping into her skin. It was as if nothing mattered and everything mattered all in the same breath. The slight scent of hay and horse sweat coming from a nearby carriage beckoned her to rest her feet and take a ride. Facing a pending divorce and a career that kept her busy, yet not satisfied, she was not looking forward to returning to Atlanta. This place enchanted her. Homes, hundreds of years old, were painted the colors of Crayola crayons. The never-ending Southern porches were dotted with wooden swings and wicker rockers. The azalea and camellia bushes were in full bloom, and the scent of jasmine collided with the salt air. The clip-clop rhythm of horses’ hooves against the weathered street left her longing for a more natural rhythm in her own life. Every one of her senses was engaged; the backs of her thighs sticky with sweat against the hard brown leather carriage seat; the smell of salt, hay, and perspiration; the Caribbean green, periwinkle blue, carnation pink of the houses; the taste of salt as she licked her dry lips; the musical sound of birds singing. She sighed. It had been a long time since she had felt this alive. Perhaps it was time for a permanent change of scenery.”

Writing a story in an actual location has its challenges and rigorous research is required. I’ve been to Charleston twice. I too fell in love with the charm of the city. Incorporating the Southern sights, smells, sounds, and tastes into the story was a lot of fun. Warning – readers have shared with me that the book made them hungry!

I’d nearly completed the first draft of Carmel Conundrum when I visited Carmel-by-the-Sea. I had to change a few things based on my visit, and I added much more local color. In one scene, I had a character picking up a fast food meal in downtown Carmel. The only fast-food restaurants are on the outskirts of the city! One of my favorite places I visited was Tor House, home of poet Robinson Jeffers. Here is an excerpt from the book:

“We arrived at Tor House, and I scanned the pristine grounds while we waited for the other tour participants to join us. I inhaled the scent of nearby pink and yellow roses. Zooming in with my camera lens, I began to snap pictures. Honeybees sipping nectar from sweet asylum. Snap. A California scrub jay perched on the granite stone border. Snap. Sunlight pouring through a window of Hawk Tower. Snap. I released the camera and let it dangle from the strap around my neck. I grinned as I watched hummingbirds dart from flower to flower. Standing on tiptoe, I leaned into Brad and placed a kiss on his cheek. “This is perfect.” As the docent explained the history of Tor House, I studied the structure. The grit and determination of the poet as he’d built the home rock-by-rock resonated in a place deep inside of me. I’d employed a similar determination investigating Peg’s death.“

Carmel will always have a special place in my heart. In addition to research for the book, my husband and I were celebrating my birthday and our wedding anniversary. He surprised me by arranging for a renewal of our vows in a local Catholic church.

The next book, Cayman Conundrum, is set in Grand Cayman. The journey continues!

About Stacy Wilder

Stacy Wilder has traveled to six out of seven continents Books have shaped her life and her travels. Her love of mysteries began with Nancy Drew.

Carmel Conundrum is the second book in the riveting Liz Adams Mystery series. In addition to mysteries, Stacy writes children’s stories, short stories, and poetry. She and her husband live in Houston, Texas, with a totally spoiled Labrador retriever, Eve.

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Purchase Links

Amazon Paperback Link

Amazon Ebook Link

Barnes and Noble Paperback


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