Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bloody Kin

Bloody Kin ismy first "Colleton County" novel and a sort of prequel to the Deborah Knott series. This book is out of print at the moment, but cheap copies can be found if you look hard enough.

I had written two novels in the Lt. Sigrid Harald, NYPD series when I had a huge longing to set a book in North Carolina. My then-agent, a elderly and delightfully urban man, came down to see for himself what was diverting me from beginning another book set against the New York art world. It was winter. He stood at my living room windows and looked out across the fallow fields, the scubby pine woods, the nearly flat landscape and shook his head in bewilderment. "Why in God's name would you want to set a book here? You don't have the ocean. You don't have the mountains. You don't have virgin forests or even a decent raging river. Why here?"

I looked out over those same fields that the men of our family had plowed, at the trees and bushes that the women in my family had planted for spring blossoms, at the sandy loam where we hunted arrowheads after every heavy rain, and all I could say was "It's home. My home. Where I grew up."

He sighed and told me I might as well get it out of my system. So I wrote Bloody Kin, set it right here on the land that's been in our family for over a hundred years, and thought that I had indeed gotten it out of my system.

Except that I hadn't. Five books and seven years later, I gave in to my love for North Carolina and wrote Bootlegger's Daughter, the book that introduced Judge Deborah Knott.
Bloody Kin does not have a single member of the sprawling Knott family in it, but it does have a deputy sheriff named Dwight Bryant. It has his mother and brother and Kate Honeycutt, a character first introduced in Death in Blue Folders, one of the Sigrid Harald books.

Ex-model and fabric designer Kate Honeycutt sublets her Upper West Side apartment to come live on her late husband's Colleton County farm while she awaits the birth of their baby. Jake Honeycutt died in a hunting accident--or so everyone thinks--but after another body turns up from Jake's army days, Kate begins to suspect that his death was murder, not carelessness. Before she can make peace with the past though, she must come to terms with Jake's resentful uncle and her own ambivalent feelings.

(Discussion questions to come)

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