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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Veronica's #WritersDiary: Amateur Sleuthing in a Modern, #CozyMystery World

This week I was supposed to be enjoying the comradery and literary banter with mystery #authors and #readers alike at the Bouchercon Mystery Conference in fabulous New Orleans. Alas, Covid-19 Delta had other plans, the conference was canceled out of an abundance of caution...the good times, unfortunately, were not destined to roll...#Sigh

I was honored to have been picked to be on a panel at the conference to opine on the topic of Amateur Sleuths: Armchair Quarterbacks. I was so looking forward to this panel as I've mentioned before--it was to be my first 'official' speaking engagement at a real #writer's conference. Since I did do a bit of prep for the event, I thought I'd share a few of my observations on how the cozy mystery, amateur sleuths of today may have changed their armchair observation methods...

Armchair sleuthing has certainly evolved from Dame Agatha times when the insightful Miss Marple sipped her tea in her well appointed parlor, giving an astounded detective her astute village-life assessments and whodunnit summations. An observant mind and the close relationship with the investigating official on the case are still huge assets, of course, but cozy sleuths today have a major advantage over their predecessors IMHO.

A plethora of technology gadgets (i.e. cell phones, cameras, internet, digital archives, drones, surveillance electronics...) are available to modern stickybeaks (my latest, fav term--watch this space...) that would gobsmack even the exceptional Q and Mr. Bond (one day, Gemma may just fly around in that Thunderball jet pack though, #JustSayin)! Just think about it--your everyday smart phone has more computing capacity than NASA had for the first lunar landing...and instant access to just about anything your enquiring mind would want to know...

Lest we not forget, it's not just the amateur sleuths that have technology at their fingertips--thieves, killers and the many ne'er do wells have become just as adept at utilizing this technical wealth of information as they plan and carry out their dastardly deeds. Planning the perfect crime has never been easier.

Thank goodness flawed, criminal behavior and IQ fallibility still allow for the very human execution mistakes that can and do happen, enabling the clever sleuths to amazingly, always catch the bad guys at the end...dun-dun-dun.

My MC sleuth, Gemma, has a very luxurious armchair from which to quarterback at Cherrywood Hall--well several actually, LOL. She also has an educated mind (PhD) that she puts to good use as the bodies start to fall, it's not all crowns and stilettoes for her!

Aided by her main love interest, Kyle and the psychic Nanny Figgy, we have seen the use of technology unfold in many ways to foil the plans of the ne'er do wells. My engineering background seeped into my cozy, writing world, imagining the what if scenarios...

I've always been intrigued with studying emerging systems and applications and their deployment; a privilege I've been able to witness in person the past four decades+ (#Gasp).

At Cherrywood Hall, we've had the automation of the mega closet with a materials handling system; surveillance electronics placed in key areas; film footage thanks to the cameras rolling for the Castlewood Manor production; and drones that have been used for both surveilling the surroundings and executing deadly deeds. Computers and cell phones are handy items for researching topics and persons of interest that creep into the cozy tales, making amateur sleuthing a bit easier to ferret through clues and connect the mystery dots.

The availability of CSI data today is a goldmine for amateur sleuths as well. Thanks primarily to the world of television, we now take DNA sampling, triangulation methods for targeting locations, and forensic analyses almost for granted--a great boon to the sleuths if they happen to somehow be pals with someone on the team (Chief Inspector Marquot and the Royal Protection Services have been extremely accommodating with the characters in my tales). I don't feature the actual accounting of the CSI practices/methods in my stories, but I do assume that Gemma and friends know what's being analyzed, giving them an edge up on what to focus their attention on.

Nevertheless, even though the amateur sleuths and their armchair quarterbacking methods are indeed better equipped to access a phenomenal amount of data today that sleuths of yesteryear did not have---we mustn't discount the value of good ole common sense and discussion with others.

Thank goodness for afternoon teas, evening cocktails and human nature observations, you never know what little tidbit might just might come to light...including the occasional, falling log clue dispatched by our dearly departed Auntie Pippa of course!

Thank you so much for allowing (or bearing with) me to to air my little piece of what would have been a fascinating panel discussion, I'm sure! I sincerely hope that in 2022, Bouchercon will be able to take place. Until then, here's to the amateur sleuths and the clues they will find! It's Wednesday, time for #DearDiary:

T-Minus 12 Days for the #NewRelease of Tangled Webs!

It's crunch time for Bibiana Krall and me for the release of our spooky tale collection! Beware the upcoming social media deluge of tweets and posts, LOL. Hard to believe it's coming up on #Halloween. We're planning for all kinds of fun giveaways--please, if you've pre-ordered a copy, let Bibiana or me know--we're having a drawing that will make a few of of you sparkle with webby glam! My blog post next week will be dedicated to our new book and give you a sneak peek of what's to come--stay tuned! #Boo

A ghostly tale from the writers of Twitter this week...

Author Helen Grant, Too Near the Dead, 5

For copyeditor Fen Munro, it's a dream come true when she becomes engaged to James, a writer whose works she greatly admires. An unexpected windfall has allowed them to leave London and settle into a new house set on acres of beautiful land in Scotland. Named Barr Dubh House, the spacious, modern dwelling offers the couple a perfect, country setting to start their lives together.

Frightful dreams and sightings of a shadowy figure dressed in lavender on the grounds cause extreme, mental angst for Fen and bring up memories that she longs to forget. Her friend, Belle, and fiancé, James grow worried as she begins to unravel. Is Fen just imagining things, or are there mysterious forces at play in the halls of their new abode?

Author Grant has written a chilling tale of malice that knows no bounds. As dark details emerge, life for the inhabitants of Barr Dubh becomes eerily unsettled. This is a haunting thriller with an inspired beginning and ending that will leave you breathless to the very last page, highly recommended!

Next up in the #reading queue:

A Fond Farewell to #BOOKEM

"If you're brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello..." Paul Coelho

Thanks to everyone who has supported Amy Reade, Bibiana Krall and me on our #BOOKEM journey! We've had so much fun talking all things books in these crazy times but alas, we will not be continuing with the show. We truly appreciate everyone who took part with us on our literary experiment. Wishing you a wonderful #reading season--enjoy those books! xoxo

Welcome to my world. Enjoy the rest of your #week and #weekend friends!

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. Next week it's all about 🕸TANGLED WEBS🕸 Who's ready for some scary tales?? Rikkhe and Gemma approve💀📚💋

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