Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I bet you thought I forgot all about you. Well, I did, sort of. I got up early this morning, as I do on Wednesdays and went off to water aerobics. On coming home, I realized I hadn’t written up my entry last night, as I usually do. And I didn’t have time this morning, because I had to leave almost immediately after breakfast (a hasty bowl of cereal with a banana sliced in it) for St. Peter, something over an hour down the road.

I LOVE research! This is for Thai Die, in which Doris Valentine, in fear of her life, runs away from Excelsior with nothing more than her purse. She realizes she cannot use her credit cards, because they can be traced. So she must use what cash is in her purse, which isn’t a lot. So she can’t go far.

Plus, she can’t stay at a hotel or motel, for two reasons. Most won’t take cash anymore, they want a credit card. Second, even if she could use cash, all anyone has to do is call the hotel or motel and ask if there is a Doris Valentine registered there.

I went to St. Peter a couple of weeks ago, looking for a boarding house, and instead found a "secret" bed and breakfast called The March Hare Inn and Gallery. The owner isn’t quite finished with restoration (it’s a mansion built in 1876), but will rent rooms if you can find the place. It doesn’t even have a sign in the yard. But I needed to see it again and talk to the innkeeper, whose name is Heidi, to make sure she understood someone is going to die in The March Hare. She did – in fact, she wants me to hold the publication party for the book (Thai Die, coming out in the latter part of 2008) at the old house. Which I think is a great idea!

I also talked with a law enforcement man named Ray Thrower, who now is in charge of the security force at Gustavus Adolphus College, who gave me some extremely relevant information about how this crime would be investigated, and how Doris Valentine, who will run away again, might be found. And Prof. Elizabeth Baer, who arranged my appointment with Thrower, told me a great, great place Doris might end up in her flight. Did you know Minnesota is full of eccentric people? There’s a very small town way south of here where a woman bought a 1920s gas station and turned it into an excellent restaurant. She also raises angora rabbits and combs out their fur, spins it into yarn which she dyes and knits into mittens and scarves. Angora rabbit fur is the most delightfully soft yarn you can imagine. The town is called Amboy, and I never heard of it until today. Well, Doris loves to knit, so the two get to talking and Doris ends up hiding out in Amboy.

I also spoke with the second-in-command at the Sheriff’s Department – St. Peter is the county seat down there. He told me that BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Minnesota state crime lab people) would be called, and his department would turn out, and the local police department would be first responders plus sending an investigator, and the county coroner would also come over. It’s going to be rather crowded at the foot of those steep stairs! I’m going to use real names of real people in all of this – except for the police. The chief was a nice, tall, soft-spoken but wary man, who asked me not to use his or a detective’s real name. So I won’t.

I just got home and haven’t had my supper yet, so I’m going down and eat a hot dog and some potato


Monica Ferris said...

Make that potato chips. They were delicious!

Did I mention that I love my job?

Camille Minichino said...

I love your research story, Monica. I've approached businesses in Revere, MA where my periodic table series is set, and most cringe when I say something unsavoring might happen. BUT the Revere Public Library director had just the opposite reaction to my books. He asked me to have a murder there, and even pointed out a place at the bottom of some out-of-code stairs where the body should be found. Of course I did, and book number 5, The Boric Acid Murder, was born.


Anonymous said...

I have no idea why my photo appeared in that post! I'm posting this as anonymous to see if it makes a difference.