Unless you've been living in a cave for the last year, you know that there are elections looming on the horizon, like massive storm clouds full of noise and lightning. At various intervals we citizens in this country evaluate our elected representatives and decide whether to keep them around for another term, or dump them in favor of someone new—an unknown. Somehow I don't think our Founding Fathers counted on the election season lasting year round, but that's what we've got.
So of course I had to use an election as a theme in one of my books. Luckily I can speak from experience, since I was a staff member for a U.S. Senatorial campaign and a gubernatorial campaign a number of years ago in Pennsylvania (before the luxury/curse of electronic communication with voters and donors). I can say that both races were among the high points of my adult life, even though my candidate lost both times. I believed in the candidate, who was new to politics; the campaign staff was young (or mainly younger than me) and had a lot more enthusiasm than experience. I have seldom had so much fun, and the emotional highs and lows were extraordinary. It's truly intense!
Which gave me the central question for SOUR APPLES, coming out next week: how far would a candidate go to get elected? In this sixth book in the Orchard Mystery series, set in a very small town in western Massachusetts, home-town football hero Rick Sainsbury comes back to Granford after a successful business career to run for a vacant seat for U.S. Congress. He's everything you'd want from a candidate: local connections, smart, successful, attractive. He comes with an equally attractive wife (who happens to be the daughter of a local politician) and two adorable children, one boy and one girl. He's a good speaker, and he knows how to work a room. Exactly what you'd like to see in a candidate, right?
But someone dies, and then someone else dies. Is this somehow connected to the Golden Boy candidate? It certainly doesn't appear to be—at first. But everyone has secrets, and they conceal things they'd rather weren't made public. What is Rick Sainsbury hiding? Why does the usually amiable Seth Chapin balk at endorsing his former teammate? And how does it fall to my protagonist Meg, an apple farmer, to figure out the connections?
Would somebody actually kill to win?
After exploring careers ranging from art historian to investment banker to professional genealogist, Sheila Connolly began writing mysteries in 2001, and is now a full-time writer and has been nominated twice for an Agatha Award. She writes the Orchard Mystery series, set in western Massachusetts, as well as the Museum Mystery series, based in Philadelphia. In addition, she’s working on the new County Cork series, set in Ireland, that will debut in 2013 with BURIED IN A BOG.