Thursday, September 22, 2022

A mystery writer walks into a US Park Service visitor center and asks, "Where would you dump a murder victim?"


Although that sounds like the opening line of a joke, that's exactly what I did in Tuzigoot National Monument. After his immediate shock, and a bit of background, the ranger recovered. Owen spent the next fifteen minutes marking up maps and explaining the topography of the park. In the end, he'd pointed out a dead-end trail, that would indeed be the perfect place to dispose of a murder victim.

I told this story to my cop consultant, who chastised me. She said questions like that could make people question my sanity or get me arrested while my background was investigated. I laughed that off. After posing the same question to a different US Park Service Ranger at Montezuma's Castle National Monument, I was a little concerned by the sheriff's department cruiser that followed me most of the way from Montezuma's Castle back to my motel.

That said, local knowledge adds reality to a book. I've walked the trails of Tuzigoot National Monument, and nearby Dead Horse Ranch State Park. We visited the wine tasting rooms in old Cottonwood, Arizona. Our lunch at the 45-70 Cafe provided visual detail unavailable on any website or brochure. Yes, I created a fictional dude ranch and riding school, but they fit in the area and the smell of leather in the tack shop is real.

Does an author need to walk the sites in his books? Not really. But when I experience the country, and visit with the people, I can provide my readers with an almost tactile experience as they follow Jill and Doug Fletcher through the book.

As for Owen, the ranger I floored with the question about dumping a murder victim: After my walk through the park, he hailed me outside the visitor center. He'd looked me up on while we'd been on the trail and said he'd ordered a copy of "Stolen Past" (Set in Walnut Canyon National Monument). He asked for the title and publication date of "Dead End Trail" and promised to pass my information along to his superintendent and the other rangers. I hope you, and Owen, enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed doing the research and writing the story.

Hovey, Dean - BWL Publishing Inc. (


  1. Rnjoyed the question and reminded me of a time when a daughter's police friend returned my call and I asked a question. Unfortunately he called from the police station and some of his buddies overheard the call. "No, she's a writer," was what I heard from him.

  2. Beautiful country upstate Arizona. Definitely a good place to hide a body. The reason the ranger reacted is that bodies do show up sometimes on these wild trails. Interesting to see how your characters will view that beautiful part of our state.


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