I just finished the first draft of my third mystery featuring King Harald and his “boss” Andy Skyberg. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be making several more passes, adding additional brushstrokes and details. Then it’s off to my beta readers for their first impressions.
The new book is called King Harald’s Snow Job and in it, Harald and Andy are dragooned—by Aunt Bev, of course—into duty at a holiday gift fair. But the resort where the event is taking place gets socked in by a big blizzard. No one is going anywhere.
It’s not exactly a locked-room mystery. The Beaver Tail Resort and Conference Center, after all, is a sprawling facility just outside Hobartville. But all the action takes place within its confines in a period of about thirty hours. I drew a rough map of the resort and holiday fair, which made it easier for me to visualize where events would unfold. But I haven’t gone so far as to do what some classic mysteries used to do—include maps and floor plans in the book.
My copy of an old S.S. Van Dine mystery, The Bishop Murder Case, contains a good example. It’s an illustration of a block on Riverside Drive in Manhattan, to help readers sleuth along with Philo Vance. I’m not enough of an artist or map maker to do anything similar. And besides, I expect readers will be perfectly fine visualizing their own version of The Beaver Tail Resort.