Allie Cobb returns home from a book conference armed with hugs for her cat and her boyfriend and dreams of a long, hot bath. She’s also getting ready to take the plunge by hiring an intern for her expanding literary agency. But it’s one for the books when Allie finds the town’s librarian—and her longtime role model—seconds away from death on the library floor.
Who would want to poison Vicky Napier—one of Rushing Creek’s most beloved citizens—on the eve of her retirement? But it seems there were toxic people in her life, like the handyman with an obsessive crush, and a woodcarver with a hair-trigger temper. The list of suspects includes Allie’s boyfriend, Brent, who’s in the running to take over as town librarian. Avenging her friend’s murder could be a trap as she goes up against a killer determined to write Allie’s epitaph…
Author J. C. Kenney took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with The Big Thrill about the third installment in The Allie Cobb Mystery series, A MYSTERIOUS MIX UP:
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
I’m a fan of the 1979 film Breaking Away, which was filmed in and around Bloomington, Indiana. the home of Indiana University. In The Allie Cobb Mysteries, Bloomington is about forty-five minutes from the fictional town of Rushing Creek. Since the two communities are close, I used a scene from the film involving a limestone quarry as inspiration for a pivotal scene in A MYSTERIOUS MIX UP. That’s all I’ll say for now.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
For me, it all begins with Agatha Christie. I read And Then There Were None at age fifteen and became an instant fan of the mystery genre. I’m also a fan of Sue Grafton in the way she presented Kinsey Milhone as such a well-rounded character. You rooted for her while understanding that she was no angel by any means. Kinsey was someone I could identify with and empathize with.
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
A MYSTERIOUS MIX UP is the third book in The Allie Cobb Mysteries, so the main character, Allie Cobb, and setting, Rushing Creek, Indiana, were already in place. That meant the plot took shape first.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
I’m a fan of the cozy mystery genre. I grew up around them and have always enjoyed reading stories where solving the mystery is at the forefront. I also like the idea that justice will prevail in the end.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
A MYSTERIOUS MIX UP is the darkest in tone of the Allie Cobb Mysteries. The story forces the protagonist, Allie Cobb, to take a hard look at herself and confront some inner demons. I think the story carries an aspect of self-reflection and the questioning of motivations that isn’t often found in cozy mysteries.
J. C. Kenney grew up in a household filled with books by legends Agatha Christie and Lilian Jackson Braun, among many others, so it was no surprise when he found himself writing mystery stories. When he’s not writing, you can find him following IndyCar racing or listening to music. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two sons, and a cat who is the inspiration for Ursula in the Allie Cobb Mysteries.
To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.