Summer is upon us. Time for great summer beach reads!
At its core, summer is all about setting. Vacations in tropical or foreign locales, backyard barbecues next to a swimming pool, Fourth of July fireworks viewed from a blanket on a grassy field. Just as a good setting can make our summer break more fun, a good setting takes a reader on a virtual vacation and makes a thriller pack all the more punch.
Perhaps more than any other genre, thriller books rely on spectacular settings to create atmosphere. A dark, frigid alley on a winter night chills in the reader. A chase along a dangerous mountain trail or a highway perched precariously above a roiling ocean makes for a fantastic chase scene. Guts clench when heroes search homes or buildings with shadowy hallways and closed doors hiding only God knows what. Crowd scenes terrify readers, too, given so many lives can be at stake.
The best settings are unique in some way. A political thriller often takes place in another country, where the landscape and culture are unfamiliar, threatening, and volatile. Robert Ludlum’s THE BOURNE IDENTITY immediately comes to mind. A psychological thriller may take place in a setting that a character thinks he or she knows, only to discover the place holds far too many secrets. A perfect example is Dennis Lehane’s SHUTTER ISLAND. An eco-thriller will rely on a setting that is under imminent attack or threatens to explode into a massive bloodbath, such as the Motaba River Valley of Zaire in OUTBREAK or the beaches of Amity in JAWS.
In my June release, DEATH, TAXES, AND HOT PINK LEG WARMERS, my heroine, a special agent with the IRS, finds herself working undercover as a bookkeeper in a strip club. Not only does the seedy setting create an atmosphere of danger and lawlessness, the location provides comic fodder for the novel as well, especially when untrained dancers take the stage on the club’s “Amateur Night.”
Wherever your actual or virtual travels take you this summer, I wish you bon voyage and good reading!
A former CPA and tax attorney, Diane Kelly spent several years at an international accounting firm where she had the pleasure of working with a partner later charged with tax fraud. She also served a stint as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas under an AG who pled guilty to criminal charges related to the tobacco company lawsuits. Given this work history, Diane decided self-employment might be a good idea. She also realized her experiences with white-collar crime made excellent fodder for a novel. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her humorous “Death and Taxes” series.
To learn more about Diane, please visit her website.