It’s springtime in Cedar River, Texas. The annual Bluebonnet Festival is brewing and the whole town is in harmony. Juni Jessup and her sisters Tansy and Maggie thought opening Sip & Spin Records was going to be their biggest hurdle, but the Frappuccino hits the fan when the mayor drops dead—poisoned by their delicious coffee.
Since Tansy was the one to brew the coffee, and Juni was the unfortunate citizen who stumbled upon the mayor’s body, the sisters find themselves in hot water. Family is everything to the Jessups, so with Tansy under suspicion, the sisters spring into action.
Between the town festivities, a good old-fashioned treasure hunt, and an accidental cow in the mix, Juni will have to pull out all the stops to find the mayor’s killer.
The Record Shop Mysteries Series Reviews:
A LibraryReads December 2022 Bonus Pick!
An Aunt Agatha’s “Best Cozy of 2022”!
“Cozy enthusiasts will find a lot to love in this title . . . Readers will also enjoy getting to know the Jessup sisters, especially Juni, and the developed cast of supporting characters in cedar River. The many music-related puns and the family high jinks add humor to the story.” – Library Journal
“A well plotted mystery. Juni is a great, funky character, who rides around town on a lime green trike and changes out her glasses to go with her outfits. This is a terrific, lively series opener.” – Mystery Scene Magazine
“Juni’s a great storyteller, the small-town Texas-ness of it all is lots of fun, and there’s not one but two possible romances. What else could you ask for?” – First Clue
Olivia Blacke recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, A FATAL GROVE.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
A FATAL GROOVE started with an accidental cow. A friend of mine was telling me about how someone she knew accidentally bought a cow at auction, and that sparked an idea of the mayor of a small town getting killed at the local county fair. Of course, since A FATAL GROOVE is set in Texas, the fair became a Bluebonnet Festival and from there, the story—and the accidental cow that inspired it—all fell into place.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
The thing I love about writing (and reading) cozy mysteries is that it’s an escape. Sure, cozies center around a death, but they’re also about close family and delicious food and zany friends and, in the case of A FATAL GROOVE, fun music and a dash of romance. Even after reading the same book approximately a gazillion times before it goes to print, I still find myself getting lost in the pages because it’s fun, with a side of murder, of course.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
One of the great things about writing the Record Shop Mysteries is the integration of music into almost every scene from the records playing on the turntables to the punny music-themed coffee drinks of the day like You Shook Me All Night Oolong. I think there are around 40 separate musical references in A FATAL GROOVE. As a result, I have a constantly changing soundtrack playing as I write, ranging from REM to Aretha Franklin to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
Above all, the main character in A FATAL GROOVE, Juni Jessup, is kind. From her ex to literal killers, Juni always looks for the very best in people, which is a challenge when she’s trying to evaluate suspects and their motives. As a reader, seeing the world through Juni’s eyes can give them new perspectives while allowing them to pick up on clues she might miss—or vice versa.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
Vinyl records are at the heart of A FATAL GROOVE and all of the Record Shop Mysteries not just out of nostalgia but because there’s something tangible about holding an album, about sitting down to really listen to music instead of music being something that’s streaming in the background. Along with the musically-themed coffee drinks, I wanted to create a place where people could relax and enjoy being part of a close-knit community and even closer-knit family. For me, that’s part of the appeal of cozy mysteries—they’re a comforting way to relax and recharge.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I have two books coming out next year:
In RHYTHM AND CLUES, the third book in the Record Shop Mysteries, a predatory investor who is targeting Sip & Spin Records is killed outside their shop. Up until now, the Jessup sisters have been playing it by ear, but with the whole town watching, can they catch a killer before he strikes again? The rhythm is gonna get you March 26, 2024 from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
The first book in a new non-cozy mystery series, AFTERLIFE is a darkly humorous supernatural mystery about a recently deceased ghost who teams up with the new (living) roommate of her apartment to solve a series of apparently unconnected murders. Look for AFTERLIFE from Minotaur Fall of 2024.
OLIVIA BLACKE (she/her), author of the Record Shop Mysteries, beginning with Vinyl Resting Place, and the Brooklyn Murder Mysteries, finally found a way to put her Criminology degree to good use by writing quirky, unconventional, character-driven cozy mysteries. Olivia is a little nerdy, a lot awkward, and just the right amount of weird. She is a recovering ex-Texan who resides with her husband Potassium and Baileycakes, their roly-poly rescue puggle. When not writing, reading, or spending way too much time on social media, Olivia enjoys Amigurumi crochet, SCUBA diving, collecting tattoos, watching hockey, and baking dog cookies. She wants to be a unicorn when she grows up.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.