Mudlark
 

Mudlark is available from Uncial Press in all e-book formats and from Amazon.com for Kindle.

Doing penance for my London lark, I moved the next book north from California to the Shoalwater Peninsula, a thinly disguised version of Washington's Long Beach Peninsula, where my husband and I own a beach house. I do a lot of writing there and know the communities. One issue that plagues coastal towns is the effect of upscale construction of resorts and vacation homes on the price of housing for local people with low incomes. The mud in Mudlark is real estate. Much of the tension comes from the clash between long time residents and newcomers over the land itself.

In Mudlark, I give Jay a new job. He is setting up a law enforcement training program at the local community college while Lark fixes up the fixer-upper they bought to live in. Lark and her new friend, Bonnie Bell, also a transplanted Californian, go for a run on the beach. Coming home over the dunes, Bonnie finds the body of a woman who was heavily involved in acquiring land for a new resort. Bonnie and Lark tell the man at the nearest house to call the police. He comes with them to help keep wandering kids from stumbling on the body. The dead woman turns out to be his ex-wife, and he turns out to be Tom Lindquist, a local novelist with strong ties to the Nekana tribe who are suing to regain the land the woman's company is developing. He is, of course, a prime suspect.

I like to think untangling this one gave me helpful insights into the dynamics of small towns, and I developed the relationship between Jay and Lark. Jay's much younger half-brother is visiting, too, so I also explore that connection. There was much discussion at that time (on convention panels and elsewhere) about "cozies." Among other criticisms, the implication was that female writers were too squeamish to give a realistic portrayal of violence. I may not go in for graphic death scenes, but Mudlark includes the most graphic birth scene I've read in a mystery. Ha! Take that!

"Good news for Sheila Simonson's readers. To her intelligent style and convincing characters she has now added an intriguing locale, making an already superior series even better." San Diego Union Tribune

"Sharp characterization—particularly of the marvelously wry Lark--and a mystery that is skillfully intertwined with Lark and Jay's life . . . grip the reader's interest up to a resolution that puts an intriguing twist on the standard sleuth-in-danger finale." PW