By Dawn Ius
When the woman who ruined your life gets murdered, you’re going to need an alibi.
Dotsy Lamb should know. In her fourth adventure, DEATH OF A SECOND WIFE, author Maria Hudgin’s series character must move beyond her personal pain and do what’s best for her family – her children, her grandchildren, and even her ex-husband.
“Dotsy has grown more in this book than in all of the first three put together,” says Hudgins. “At age sixty, she had to start a new career as a college professor, and her ego was shattered. How could she trust anyone again?”
She’s forced to learn quickly, though, because DEATH OF A SECOND WIFE is set in the Swiss Alps, a great place for a murder mystery.
“A mountain top chalet gives you the isolation you need to limit your suspects,” says Hudgins. “When I visited Switzerland, I was amazed by how they deal with their topography. They put elevators inside mountains and tunnels through them. They use chair lifts, funiculars, and cable cars. After WWII, they were left with hundreds of bunkers, built for protection from attack but now used for whatever purpose they can think of. The one in this story is used for storage of wine and ski gear.”
Travel research plays an integral part in each of Hudgin’s books. As she tours a new location, she takes pictures, absorbs the feel of the place, jots down pages of notes. And later – sometimes much later – Hudgins will play around with a new mystery and choose a previous travel destination for the book’s setting.
Dotsy’s next adventure will take place in Hudgins’ favorite town, Oxford England.
“She and other history scholars will be staying at one of the University’s forty colleges. A creepy one, built a long time ago,” says Hudgins.
Dotsy and Hudgins share not only a love of travel, but also an affection for a great mystery. Hudgins admits she’s always read the genre, so when it came time to settle into her own writing style, mystery seemed a natural fit.
“I guess it’s the puzzle thing. In my former career as a science teacher, I loved talking about what we don’t yet know,” she says. “I don’t want to write other genres, although I do find my stories are veering more toward the thriller end of the mystery spectrum. I don’t like the term cozy. I don’t think my stories are cozy at all. They’re not noir, either.”
If anything, they tend to lean a little on the humor side, though with a strong caveat.
“I think you should use humor carefully because you may be twanging on your reader’s raw nerves,” says Hudgins. “There’s nothing funny about murder. It means a life has to end too soon, and that’s not funny.”
But death can be, she adds.
“I remember the Chuckles the Clown episode on the Mary Tyler Moore show. Chuckles was a dearly loved member of the TV station staff but he was killed in a parade when he was dressed as a giant peanut and an elephant stepped on him. It’s a perfect example of how to handle death with humor. It’s on YouTube now.”
DEATH OF A SECOND WIFE hits the shelves June, 2012.
Maria Hudgins lives in Hampton, VA with her two Bichons Holly and Hamilton. She loves to travel and always visits the site of a story before she writes about it. Her plans for this year will take her to Africa and to Mexico.
To learn more about Maria, please visit her website.