Day Nine of the Murder on the Mountain blog tour!
Although Murder on the Mountain is what’s generally referred to as a “cozy”—a murder mystery solved by an amateur sleuth, fairly light on police procedure—I did do a lot of research on how murder cases are handled in my home state of New Hampshire. I’m incredibly grateful to my friend, Austin, who took advantage of an opportunity to visit the summit of Mount Washington in February and talk to the rangers stationed there.
If somebody dies on the summit, I discovered, this falls under the jurisdiction of the State Park Rangers. The park rangers are fully qualified to investigate crimes committed within their jurisdiction, including homicide, unless they choose to bring in the State Police. Since I hadn’t planned on doing a series of State Park murder mysteries (though that’s not a bad idea, really), I had the rangers call Concord in my novel.
I first thought I’d have Kyle be a member of a local police force near the base of the mountain—perhaps out of Berlin—but it turns out we don’t do things that way in NH. All homicide investigations are handled through the Major Crime Unit in Concord (http://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/nhsp/isb/majorcrime/ ). So Kyle and his partner, Wesley, have to drive an hour and a half north from Concord to Bretton Wood, where the Cog Railway takes them to the summit. Autopsies are also handled in Concord, at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (http://doj.nh.gov/medical-examiner/ ), so Stuart Warren’s body is taken down on the Cog and transferred back to Concord.
Since I wanted Jesse to have access to the crime scene and Kyle from the beginning, I fell back on the Ride-Along. This is where a citizen fills out a form and gets approval to ride along in a police cruiser for a day or more. Under normal circumstances, that probably doesn’t include getting close to a crime scene, and the form takes several days to get approved. I fully admit I fudged that in order to keep Jesse from being shut out of the investigation from the beginning.
One thing I stand behind, however, despite several comments from readers about it, is Jesse signing himself into the Mount Washington hotel so he can talk to the murder suspects. I discussed this with some retired police officers in a forum and, even though it seems as though it would be illegal… it isn’t. There is no law that prevents a citizen from talking to a murder suspect. If there were, reporters wouldn’t be able to interview them, and that happens all the time. The police can only restrict access to person after an arrest has been made. Kyle could have thrown a fit, of course. He could have threatened to dump Jesse and never see him again. But he couldn’t force Jesse out of that hotel.
For the next four weeks, Murder on the Mountain will be touring the blogs of several MM Romance authors, providing . If you leave an email address in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, you'll be entered into a drawing for either a free copy of Murder on the Mountain or a $40 gift certificate to Dreamspinner Press!
Check out the other stops on the tour at: http://jamiefessenden.com/2014/08/22/murder-on-the-mountain-blog-tour/
When Jesse Morales, a recent college grad who aspires to be a mystery writer, volunteers to work on the summit of Mt. Washington for a week, he expects to work hard. What he doesn’t expect is to find a corpse in the fog, lying among the rocks, his head crushed. The dead man turns out to be a young tourist named Stuart Warren, who strayed from his friends while visiting the mountain.
Kyle Dubois, a widowed state police detective, is called to the scene in the middle of the night, along with his partner, Wesley Roberts. Kyle and Jesse are instantly drawn to one another, except Jesse’s fascination with murder mysteries makes it difficult for Kyle to take the young man seriously. But Jesse finds a way to make himself invaluable to the detective by checking into the hotel where the victim's friends and family are staying and infiltrating their circle. Soon, he is learning things that could very well solve the case—or get him killed.