Whenever a reader picks up a work of fiction, he or she expects to be transported into a different place, time, or universe. Some books take you into a fantasy world with dragons, elves, talking trees, and wizards. Other books transport you back to a time where “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Whether the best of times, or the worst of times, readers anxiously await the opportunity to travel.
Book journeys aren’t just reserved for readers. Long before a book makes its way to your bookshelves or To-Be-Read (TBR) stacks, authors have set sail and spent countless hours in research. Research for fiction can take a variety of forms. It could mean interviewing medical and legal experts (thank you Alexia, Chaney, and Abby), extensive reading of textbooks on geography, military battles, and poisons, or Internet searches about everything from railroad schedules to Scotland Yard. My recent excursion in A Tourist’s Guide to Murder, involved all of those and more.
As I sat down to write the 6th book in my Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series, I knew that I wanted my protagonist to travel. Since the first book released in 2017, there have been quite a few murders in the small fictional town of North Harbor, Michigan and it was time to venture out a bit. Also, since my protagonist, Samantha Washington, is an aspiring mystery writer, a trip across the pond to England provided the perfect back drop. Additionally, it’s been a number of years since I’ve traveled abroad and setting a mystery in England provided the perfect opportunity for a trip without any of the hassles of TSA or jet lag.
In March 2021, we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic where travel is limited. Nevertheless, we can all still get out and see the world by picking up a book. If you’re like me and long for a chance to see sites made famous by real and fictionalized characters of British mysteries, then pick up a copy of A Tourist’s Guide to Murder, and travel abroad with Sam, Nana Jo, and the girls. Explore the sites. Sift through the clues and red herrings and see if you can figure out whodunit.
Sam joins Nana Jo and her Shady Acres Retirement Village friends Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae on a weeklong trip to London, England, to experience the Peabody Mystery Lovers Tour. The chance to see the sights and walk the streets that inspired Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle is a dream come true for Sam—and a perfect way to celebrate her new publishing contract as a mystery author.
But between visits to Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel district and 221B Baker Street, Major Horace Peabody is found dead, supposedly of natural causes. Despite his employer’s unfortunate demise, the tour guide insists on keeping calm and carrying on—until another tourist on their trip also dies under mysterious circumstances. Now it’s up to Sam and the Shady Acres ladies to mix and mingle among their fellow mystery lovers, find a motive, and turn up a murderer . . .
V.M. (Valerie) Burns was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International, and Sisters in Crime. V.M. Burns is the author of the Dog Club Mystery series, the RJ Franklin Mystery series, and the Agatha Award nominated author of Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. She currently resides in East Tennessee with her two poodles. Readers can keep up with new releases by following her on social media.