Sunday, August 17, 2014

A visit with Jean Henry Mead about the Logan and Cafferty Mystery Series

Writing about two 60-year old women amateur sleuths has been fun, but I always attempt to involve them in social issues. Dana Logan, a mystery novel buff, and Sarah Cafferty, a private investigator’s widow,  inhabited my brain for a couple of years before they were given birth on my computer. Living in my home state of California at the time, I placed them in the San Joaquin Valley in the central area of the state, where dense Tule fog, agricultural sprays and bay area pollution have become health hazards. It’s also a place where a serial killer can hide and kill at his leisure.
I lived in the valley for more than a dozen years and envisioned a killer disappearing into the fog after taking someone’s life. In fact, it actually happened half a mile from where I lived in a rural area, when a young woman was strangled in her ranch house. It could have been me.

In A Village Shattered, the first book in the series, I placed my aging sleuths in a retirement village  where their Sew and So club members are mysteriously dropping dead alphabetically. When Dana and Sarah realize what is happening, they suspect that their own names are on the killer’s list. The newly-elected sheriff—whose only previous experience was training police dogs—is bungling the case, so Logan & Cafferty decide to put their crime solving knowledge to work in order to not only save their remaining friends’ lives, but their own. Meanwhile, Dana’s journalist daughter shows up on her doorstep, complicating matters.

I placed the widows in a motorhome in Diary of Murder, second book in the series, after they sold their homes in the retirement village. While vacationing in Colorado, they encounter a Rocky Mountain blizzard after learning that Dana’s sister, a mystery writer, has died. Her husband claims it was suicide but Dana knows better. When they arrive in Wyoming, they go through the sister’s possessions and find her diary, which details her husband’s infidelities as well as her unhappiness at having married him. Dana then learns that her former brother-in-law is involved in a vicious drug gang, and she and Sarah are nearly killed themselves when they investigate.

The murdered sister willed her mansion to Dana and the two women take up residence in Wyoming. During a picture-taking trip to Gray Wolf Mountain, their Escalade is shot at, resulting in a rollover. An old man comes to their rescue in his decrepit pickup truck and they learn that he travels the mountain to find wounded wolves to nurse back to health. Someone has been deliberately shooting them and has recently begun shooting people. Logan & Cafferty decide to help the old man, once again placing their own lives in danger.

In Murder on the Interstate, the two women are traveling in northern Arizona, where they discover the body of a young woman in her Mercedes convertible. Her killer shoots out their motorhome tires and a trucker who calls herself “Big Ruby” McCurdy comes to their rescue. The three women follow the killer during torrential rain in Ruby’s 18-wheeler, and discover that the killer is involved in a homegrown terrorist group who plan to overthrow the government. While attempting to discover how the murder victim is connected to the group leads them into a flash flood and capture by the group.

In the fifth novel, Murder in RV Paradise, Dana and Sarah decide to vacation in an exclusive resort in northern Texas, where they find the body of a beautiful woman who has entraps wealthy men to blackmail them. There are more than a thousand residents of the resort so anyone could have killed her. Interviewing the right ones seems an insurmountable task and the amateur sleuths became suspects, themselves, in the murder. Sarah finds love with a retired rancher and Dana’s quest to maintain her friendship status with long-time pursuer, Sheriff Walter Campbell, is in serious jeopardy. When the sheriff is seriously wounded, Dana rushes to his side and is persuaded to marry him. But will she?

Bio: Novelist and award-winning photojournalist Jean Henry Mead has published 20 books, among them the Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series as well as the Hamilton Kids’ mysteries, Wyoming historicals and nonfiction books. She first served as a news reporter and news, magazine and small press editor while contributing the Denver Post’s Empire Magazine. Her magazine articles have been published domestically as well as abroad.