DOUBLE CROSS was just released in paperback. This is the third novel in my Twins Mystery Series and the second one where both Gen and Sara play equal parts in the solution. It's one of those novels I drafted ages ago, but only finally figured out how it should work a few years back.
I was traveling a lot back then, and most of my vacation destinations were in the U.S. desert Southwest. I fell in love with the Southwest when I first visited there 30 years ago, before I even considered a career as a writer. Even before I read my first Tony Hillerman novel. The sky is almost always a deep, deep blue and the scenery is breathtaking. The nights are usually crowded with stars. The play of light and shadows on the canyons changes hourly. Rainbows seem to be a weekly occurrence. You can experience nearly absolute silence. Wildflowers pop up in the most uninhabitable places. Likewise wildlife. And ancient petroglyphs.
I traveled mostly in spring and fall, so the days were warm, though on more than one trip, we encountered unexpected snow, too. I remember a snowball fight I had with my dad in Cedar Breaks, Utah. The temperature was 70F, but there was 4 feet of snow on either side of the road. The nights are cold at that time of year. You start out in the morning with in jeans, 4 layers up top, and your hands in your pockets. By mid-afternoon, you're in shorts and a t-shirt, and drinking at least a quart of water for every 3 miles hiked.
Still, a big attraction for me was that the Southwest felt more dangerous than home. I never saw a rattlesnake on the trails, but I heard them plenty of times, behind rocks or inside hollow logs. I got the worst sunburns of my life in Arches National Park, even though I was wearing a 30 sunblock. I learned to hike in long sleeves even on hot days. I discovered that higher altitude is something to reckon with if you've ever had lung problems (mine was a case of pneumonia way back in 9th grade). I discovered just how bad my vertigo could get on some of those cliff trails. When I see photos of Delicate Arch, the main thing I remember is getting dizzy in a very precarious place.
If you see a car broken down along the side of the road, here in the East
most people would just speed by. Out there everyone stops to make sure
the people involved have water to drink while they wait for help. You
could die from not carrying enough water.
Yet another big pull was the local culture, especially the folklore and
legends of the indigenous tribes. I'm always a sucker for a great story.
after I finished TWO-FACED, and at the end of that novel
had the need to move Gen Ziegler from Arizona to Pennsylvania, I knew
the twins' next adventure together would take place out in the desert.
Since her move needed to happen during the winter semester break, a
novel set at the Yuletide was a foregone conclusion.
mystery set in the desert? This is where the time lag helped. At first,
as I was able to travel less and less, I thought I wouldn't be able to
do the research. But in the last decade, Mexican immigrants have settled
in my hometown. I learned about Our Lady of Guadalupe and Las Posadas
and other traditions. I've been able to taste the foods. I even learned
to sing in Spanish with Mexican pronunciation.
So I hope you'll
read and enjoy DOUBLE CROSS. If you do and want an extra puzzle, I've
hidden the names of some of my favorite classic mystery novel characters
throughout the novel. See if you can find them.
Link for Paperback.
Link for Kindle version.