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Why set a Christmas mystery in sunny Florida, of all places?
This is one the first questions I’ve received from readers of my new ghost story/mystery, SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER. That is, after they share how much they love the two kids, and the romantic honeymoon, and Luis, and the manatees
And it’s a fair question.
When you mention a Christmas mystery, images of snow-covered cabins and frosty mugs of hot cocoa spring to mind. Of feet stomping the frozen ground and breaths expelling a white cloud while questioning suspects. Not swimming in the warm surf or lounging on the porch in only a shirt.
Before beginning the first draft of SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER, I’d read quite a number of Christmas mysteries, from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Parole’s Christmas to Mary Higgins Clark’s The Christmas Thief to Anne Perry’s A Christmas Escape. And all—well, almost all—have a frosted winterscape as their setting. I certainly could have gone that way.
For this third entry in my Haunted Shores Mysteries series, Darrell, my teacher, coach and reluctant ghost sensitive, is taking his wife on their honeymoon over the Christmas holidays. He could easily have chosen some beautiful, snow-covered getaway for their romantic vacation, say Maine or Nova Scotia. But as I pondered my story as I wanted to tell it, I decided I wanted to do something different. I thought it might be fun to explore the holidays in a warmer clime.
Oh, readers will find all the essential Christmas elements—the Christmas shopping and Christmas carols, Santa Claus and beautifully decorated Christmas trees and even a meticulous display of the perfect Lionel Christmas train. But, like the other books in my series, they will also encounter a cold case murder—a particularly heinous crime this time—wrapped inside a ghost story with a nice helping of romance and they will discover another beautiful resort location. My tale whisks readers to a quaint, small “old Florida” town on the sunny Gulf Coast they will fall in love with. With Darrell and Erin, they will discover the perfect Christmas presents, attend midnight Christmas eve service, and put donations into the big red kettle of the Salvation army. But they will also run a grueling, but gorgeous 5K through woods, across swamps and along the shoreline. Readers will get to follow Darrell and Erin as they swim with manatees, huge, magnificent, gentle creatures, and play in the gurgling surf on the white sand beach.
“Overbeck’s writing transports you into real-life landscapes and imagined locations with a seamlessness that makes it hard to tell one from the other. The beauties of the Florida Gulf coast, the swampy growth that borders the greenery of well-fertilized fields, the posh interior of an ag magnate’s two story, all create a land that is seen, heard, smelled and felt.”—KRL News and Reviews
Not to mention, readers will help Darrell unravel the mystery of the unspeakable deaths of two young children.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, which calls for a snowy, blustery Christmas and beyond, we may all pine for a warm, sunny getaway this winter. That would make SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER the perfect Christmas treat.
About Dr. Randy Overbeck
Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for four decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake, Crimson at Cape May and Scarlet at Crystal River have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year–ReadersFavorite.com, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”—ReadersView.com and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation, “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
- Release by Wild Rose Press—September 13, 2021
- Paranormal mystery
- 364 pp.
All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.
When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.
Darrell and Erin thought they were heading to Florida for a carefree honeymoon, but the ghosts of two immigrants children haunt them, pleading for help.
“Scarlet at Crystal River is an eerie paranormal mystery I couldn’t stop reading. Randy Overbeck is a masterful writer of the paranormal, drawing the reader in before instilling shivers down the spine. 5+ stars.” –N. N. Light’s Book Heaven
“A rollercoaster of a mystery, hurtling up and down hills and sharp corners until the very end, when the reader is left slightly breathless, waiting for their hearts to beat back to a normal rhythm. ★★★★★—ReadersView
“Scarlet at Crystal River is a suspenseful paranormal novel with compelling characters and an enigmatic mystery that drives the story to a riveting conclusion. Overbeck is a master at building tension–-this is easily a one-sitting read.” ★★★★★—Literary Titan
“This is another masterpiece from Randy Overbeck. His excellent writing style has left me speechless for one more time. He writes in a way that makes you feel what the characters feel and you have no choice but to partake in the journey with them.” ★★★★★—Ioanna’s Reviews, Greece
Where to Buy
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