Hi everyone! Happy Hallowe’en! Today I’ve got Judy Alter on the blog today talking about her Kelly O’Connell mystery series.
Is Halloween a big deal at your house? It sure is for Maggie and Em, the daughters in my Kelly Oâ€™Connell Mystery Series. But every year, murder and lurking danger seem to curtail the girlsâ€™ activities on that special, scary night.
In Skeleton in a Dead Space, when the girls are four and seven, Kellyâ€™s house is being vandalized and Officer Mike Shandy, who takes more than an official interest in Kelly, insists he will babysit the house while she takes the girls trick-or-treating. But he makes her promise to stay on their block. Kellyâ€™s ex-husband arrives while sheâ€™s gone and tries to dismiss Mike, who refuses to leave. An awkward but humorous scene ensues. And the girls come home with bags of candy, having apparently enjoyed their limited outing.
But in No Neighborhood for Old Women, Kellyâ€™s Fairmount neighborhood is living in fear of a serial killer who preys on older women. Mike tries to cancel Halloween because heâ€™ll be on duty, but Kelly outsmarts him. Keisha, her oversize and highly capable office assistant, takes the girls, now seven and ten, around the neighborhood while Kelly and her mom stay home. At Mikeâ€™s insistence, she has a baseball bat handy, but thereâ€™s no need for it. Because of the neighborhood fear, few trick-or-treaters come by and Halloween is a distinct disappointment.
By Trouble in a Big Box, things are much more serious. Someone is stalking Kelly and threatening the girls. Mike, injured in an automobile accident, cannot protect them or take them trick-or-treating. He really does cancel Halloween until their young friends, Theresa and Joe, come to the rescue, and Theresa takes the girls to the YMCA where Joe works for the Halloween party. Maggie and Em come home reporting a good time. They bobbed for apples, ate caramel apples, played pin the tail on the donkey, ran in a sack race. Kelly, left at home to pass out treats while Mike sat nearby with his service revolver, feels downright sorry for herself because she missed all the fun.
Who knows what will happen on Halloween in the fourth Kelly Oâ€™Connell Mystery? Somehow though I think this darkening atmosphere around an evening that used to signal fun and treats for children is a symptom of our changing society. I donâ€™t mean to be a crepe hanger, but we often no longer feel free to let our children roam outside their own yard alone, even during the day. And because I live on a busy city street, my six-year-old grandson cannot even be on my porch without an adult out there. Maybe thatâ€™s part of the theme of the Kelly Oâ€™Connell Mysteriesâ€”danger lurks even in seemingly peaceful neighborhoods. Bleak thought, isnâ€™t it? I hope itâ€™s balanced by the joy Kelly gets from her girls, her extended family and her wonderful older neighborhood. And I hope if you read the books, youâ€™ll share that joy.
An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of three books in the Kelly Oâ€™Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, and Trouble in a Big Box. With Murder at the Blue Plate CafÃ©, due out next February, she will move from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her familyâ€™s favorites. But look for more Kelly Oâ€™Connell novels to come
Thanks for being here today, Judy. These book sound great! I’ll have to go check them out.
Until next time…