Small Town, Big Secrets #killerfest15

Category: Author Post

There are no secrets in a small town. Everyone knows everyone else, if not by name, then by face, by status, by reputation. People can try to keep a secret in a small town. (And they do. All the time.) But the law of averages is against them. Nine times out of ten, it will be exposed.

As a result, small towns make fantastic settings for crime narratives. All those secrets and scandals and petty rivalries just begging to be dragged screaming into the light. Think Peyton Place. Or Sharp Objects. Or Twin Peaks.

I speak from experience. I grew up in a small town. Danville, Pennsylvania. A little hamlet nestled beside a river with an unwieldy Native American name – the Susquehanna. My father worked at the local power plant. My mother was a clerk at the town’s largest bank. They knew everybody. Everybody knew them. I couldn’t walk down the street without someone in their orbit noticing.

But back to secrets. My hometown had plenty. There was the pretty transfer student who wore oversized sweatshirts and then vanished from class for two months. When she returned, she was a mother. There was the girl carrying on an affair with a married man – the father of one of her classmates. Then there was the murder that happened just down the road. I was in school at the time. Had I been home, I would have heard the gunshots echoing through the quiet, still afternoon.

The victim was a man helping his mistress move out of the home she shared with her cuckolded husband. When he arrived with a pickup truck, the husband was there to greet him with a shotgun. He took two shots to the head, dying instantly on the front porch. The gunman was found innocent by reason of insanity and sentenced to several years in a mental institution. The wife was suddenly free of both husband and lover, leading many to whisper that was her plan all along. The gunman’s daughter from a previous marriage sat next to me in class.

Like I said, everyone knows everyone else. Everyone is connected.

That’s why I decided to set my Kat Campbell mystery series in the fictional small town of Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania. It’s a lot like my hometown. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. (And not-so-innocent, as the case may be.)

In Perry Hollow, as in real life, crimes have impact. Everyone knows the victims. Everyone knows the killers. Secrets, of which there are many, have a way of leaking out. It’s the small-town way.

Blog by Todd Ritter

Latest book: Death Falls

Autumn Travel Reads – brought to you by the KR team

Category: News

Hello there,

So, it’s officially got to that time of year again when we wake up for work and it’s dark, and then we get home from work, and guess what…it’s dark.

So, as there will be many of you out there jetting off for some Autumn sun, or maybe you’re going off for a nice traveling session (I’ve recently spoken to many a soon-to-be intrepid explorer – seems the travel bugs come around again), or even if, like me, you’re going to power through the winter months with layers of clothes and mugs of hot chocolate, then fear not I’ve got a plan that means we can all journey round the world together.

Follow this link to our world map of travel Killer Reads. Read the extracts and journey to cities you know and love,  or get lost in towns you’ve never even heard of. If you are off on your travels this autumn to any of these locations (or any other destinations from your favorite thrillers) then please feel free to send us images from locations mentioned in those thriller books and films to killerreads@harpercollins.co.uk or tag Killer Reads in the photo on facebook so the team can journey all over the world this Autumn as well…

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The Taxidermist's Son: the story of how I came to write Death Notice

Category: News

 

By Todd Ritter

 

 

          deathnotice  After reading my first mystery, DEATH NOTICE, my father asked me the question that I knew was coming. “Where on earth,” he said with obvious worry, “did you come up with that?” He was referring to the plot of the book, in which a taxidermy-obsessed killer sends the local newspaper obituaries of his victims — before they’re killed.

            I gave him my standard answer about how the main idea came to me while working at a small newspaper, where one of my duties was to type and proofread obituaries. One night, I came upon an obituary that mistakenly listed the deceased’s date of death as being the next day. That was enough to get my imagination running and the rest of DEATH NOTICE grew from there.

            I didn’t have the heart to tell my father that he was also one of my biggest inspirations.

No, my dad isn’t a serial killer. In the eyes of woodland creatures, he’s worse. My father, you see, is a taxidermist.

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