In my first mystery I introduce Lark Dailey, a bookseller, and her lover, Jay Dodge, a cop. This amateur/pro arrangement is now a cliche , for the good reason that it permits sufficient technical detail to give the investigation plausibility, while maintaining a more "normal" viewpoint than is possible in a strict police procedural.

I enjoy all the mystery categories except spy thrillers, and I'm conscious of the Murder She Wrote syndrome where the amateur sleuth stumbles across corpses every half hour. Murder is uncommon, fortunately, and the investigation is best left to professionals. Nevertheless, at least in the US, murder touches all of us.

Over the past twenty years, one of my community college colleagues was murdered in a case that is now cold, another colleague lost her fiance in a gang-related killing, the daughter of one of my students was murdered, the charming hostess at my favorite Chinese restaurant was shot to death by her friend's abusive husband, and a predator killed two boys in a nearby public park. All of that happened in an ordinary American town, not an urban ghetto.

I moved over from regencies to mysteries for a lot of reasons. A major one was to see whether I could write a publishable novel in modern American English. Hence Larkspur, which is set in northern California, near Mt. Shasta.

The plot focuses on death among the local literati, and the murder "weapon" is a wee drop of stewed delphinium. Lark is an anguished witness, but her sense of humor gets the better of her from time to time (as mine does). Her mother, a noted poet, is the victim's literary executor, and I was interested in working out the mother-daughter relationship. I tried to make Lark as unlike me as possible, so she's twenty years younger, half a foot taller, and very athletic.

"Lively and appealing first mystery . . ." PW

" . . . a light-hearted mystery." Tulsa World

"Nothing is over-dramatic, nor predicable. There is a nuance of humor that is exemplary and makes the combination of likable and despicable characters a perfectly good cozy." Mystery News