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By Robert Walton

CHANGING OF THE GUARD DOG is the latest installment in Lane Stone’s successful Pet Palace mystery series. This latest takes place in, you got it, Lewes—correctly pronounced “Louis,” as in the Keymaster from the film Ghostbusters.

After finding the body of a tuxedo-clad Danish conductor washed up on their peaceful beach, Buckingham Pet Palace’s co-owner, Sue Patrick, and her partner Lady Anthea Fitzwalter, help Lewes’s Chief of Police, John Turner, solve a very unpredictable and page-turning mystery. Oh and by the way, dogs are involved.

Spend one minute talking with Stone, and you’ll find that she loves the craft of writing, unlike Dorothy Parker who once quipped, “I hate to write, but love to have written.” For Stone writing is a passion, and she devotes most of her free time—when she’s not walking her dog—to putting pen to paper, or more correctly, fingers to the keyboard.

But there’s more to the author than cozy mysteries.

In this The Big Thrill interview, she shares insight into her life, her work, and her vision.

Why do you like writing cozy mysteries?

The amateur sleuth is at the heart of this subgenre and symbolizes how one well-meaning person can make a difference. That’s a powerful concept.

All writers put bits and pieces of ourselves in our characters. How much of the author is in Sue Patrick, your main protagonist?

We share a number of interests: Elvis, Lewes, Delaware, and dogs. In the Pet Palace series, like in the Tiara Investigations series, I have co-protagonists. In real life, my friends have my back and I have theirs. I hope this comes through in the books.

I think it does. Do you have plans for more Pet Palace mysteries, or will you tackle another series?

I’m currently working on a nonfiction project that’s near and dear to my heart, but we’ll see about another series after that. I have a few ideas.

Supposing I haven’t read the first two books in this series, what am I getting into when I read CHANGING OF THE GUARD DOG?

I think each book can stand on its own, but here’s the series concept. Surfer and Elvis fan Sue Patrick runs the Buckingham Pet Palace day-to-day. Co-owner Lady Anthea Fitzwalter’s contribution to the enterprise is the use of her likeness and her name, and photos of her estate in England. The two could not be more different, but they make the partnership work.

What makes small towns like Lewes ideal settings for cozy mysteries?

It’s typical for cozies to be set in a small, socially-intimate community. And Lewes is just that. Today we should think not just of a literal small town, but other types of communities too. What’s important is that the loss of one life be felt by everyone. The intimate setting, and the recurring characters in a series, make the books hang together, and hopefully give the reader a feeling of returning to a much-loved place.

 I read your bio, and I have to ask, what is a post-graduate certificate in Antiquities Theft and Art Crime?

It’s a graduate program that’s not as intense as getting a masters, but much more work than an undergrad degree. I love art, but I’ve always known there was a dark side to that world. And that’s something we mystery writers can’t leave alone for long.

I think most writers would agree that the most important thing to becoming a writer is to read, and never stop reading. You mentioned Agatha Christie and Tana French as two of your favorite mystery influences. How do you think either of them would critique your stories?

That’s a great question! I’ll try not to let it make me anxious. I’m having flashbacks of when I treated my dog to a session with a pet psychic. I was so worried she’d say something like, “I was hoping for better,” when describing Larry and me. Now you have me agonizing about what my idol Dame Agatha would write in a Goodreads or Amazon review of my books. I’ve tried to learn from the way she plotted her books and the way she parceled out clues and red herrings. Brilliant. I hope she would read between the lines that I care about the genre and about giving my readers a good time.

You have a great sense of humor. Does using animals in your stories allow you to explore it?

Dogs are the epitome of lightheartedness. They make us slow down. And they always live in the moment.

You mentioned possibly, in the near future, doing a nonfiction about American nuns fighting in the Polish underground during WWII. That sounds fantastic. How about a short promo?

I stumbled on this story through a family connection and felt compelled to pursue it, though I’m a mystery author. It’s an amazing story of trust, strength, and courage, and yes, how one person really can make a difference. Frankly, it’s a story that won’t let me go until I write it.


Lane Stone lives in Alexandria, Virginia, during the week and in Lewes, Delaware, on the weekend. Lewes is the setting of her new cozy mystery series, the Buckingham Pet Palace mysteries. She recently received a post-graduate certificate in Antiquities Theft and Art Crime.

To learn more about Lane, please visit her website.



Robert Walton
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