SOME YEARS AGO, THE EXPERTS IN NEW YORK PUBLISHING: decided that “cozy mysteries” (mysteries like those of Agatha Christie, solved by amateurs, revolving around private relationships, and often involving eccentric characters) were passe. Not that people didn’t want to read them, mind, but because people SHOULDN’T want to read them, because they were objectively bad. Some books on how to write mysteries left cozies out altogether, save to tell you they shouldn’t be written because they’re not “real” mysteries. Real mysteries are solved by professionals, and cozies weren’t nitty gritty and didn’t show class struggle. Or something. Anyway, they stopped accepting cozies.
This was before indie, but the market always finds a way. There were readers for these mysteries (yours truly among others. Yes, I also read police procedurals, but the mood for these kind of mysteries is different, and I’m not always in the same mood. Just because I adore steak, doesn’t mean I don’t eat popcorn.) And so they found a new outlet in “craft mysteries” which were allowed to exist because the mystery was solved due to some specialized knowledge of a “craft.”
In the early 2000s due to a strange confluence of my publishing house at the time looking for someone to write craft mysteries and my kids needing shoes, I found myself more or less compelled to write three of these. (Mind you, the only thing even vaguely akin to a craft I’d had time for was furniture refinishing because… well, we needed furniture too.) By the end of this, I had a good thing going with my science fiction at Baen and named an utterly unreasonable price to do a 4th book. By that time, I had a strong idea that indie was viable, and I wanted this series cut off, and the books to revert, so I could continue the series indie.
It “only” took it close on ten years to revert, because these things — lighter than air, sillier than a sitcom — sell. My heavens do they sell.
This is the first book in the series, the others will be coming out soon, and then I’ll finish the fourth. To those keeping score at home, yes, it is set in the same town as my Shifter series at Baen, and some of the characters of each series have walk ons in the other. Only the mystery characters aren’t aware of ANY supernatural stuff, which you know is what would happen.
Anyway, this is Dipped, Stripped and Dead. You might love it. You might hate it. Or — more likely — it might while away an idle hour and amuse you.
(Of note, this is under a pen name, because it was demanded I do these under a “White Bread” name. Apparently in New York Publishing, “Sarah Hoyt” is ethnic. What can one do but say “Shine on, you crazy diamond.”?)