Sunday, February 18, 2024

Best of Friends? Amateur Sleuth/Detective Relationships by Sarah E. Burr

It’s been a week, dear readers! My twenty-second book, DM Me for Murder, was published this week by Level Best Books. Yes, even I had to do a double-take at that number. I’ve somehow managed to write and publish twenty-two books since 2017. I *think* I’ve found my calling. I’ve always loved writing, but I was rarely ever able to finish a project until I started writing mysteries. I’m especially attached to writing cozy mysteries that feature amateur sleuths. There are so many fun tropes I play into as a cozy mystery author, but there are also some tricky rules I get to bend. I’ve really leaned into creating a working relationship between my amateur sleuth and law enforcement rather than a cantankerous one. Why did I decide to break away from convention? Well, there are a few reasons.

First and foremost, I hate conflict. That might sound strange coming from someone who thrives on writing murder mysteries, but the murder-y part of my stories is about all I can handle. If I have to write a scene about someone who’s lost their life and
then have my protagonist go at it with law enforcement, it makes for a heavy state of mind. It’s a bit selfish on my part, but I’m also thinking about my character’s happiness. Coco Cline, the crime-solving influencer who leads my Trending Topic Mysteries, has a lot of negativity coming her way from the Internet, so I try to give her a bit of a reprieve in her personal life. That includes the Central Shores Police Department, with whom she has a pretty phenomenal working relationship.

I also enjoy the contrast between the amateur sleuth and the professional detective. Coco has a different approach to solving a mystery, relying on intuition, creativity, and luck. The Central Shores PD, on the other hand, must follow the rules and procedures of law enforcement. Sometimes, Coco and her PD friends clash, but other times, they complement and learn from each other. Coco has definitely taught Lieutenant McInnis a thing or two about the pitfalls of social media.

Finally, I adore adding humor to the mix. Coco and Lieutenant McInnis’s team often have witty banter that lightens up the story. It’s like one big dance, with everyone trying to ignore the fact that Coco has (once again) inserted herself into their investigation. And when she uncovers a big clue or new suspect for them, readers get to witness the amusing complications that arise. I find that Coco’s humor and camaraderie with the Central Shores PD make the mystery more enjoyable and less dark.

And it’s not just Coco who gets along with her local law enforcement. Winnie Lark from the Book Blogger Mysteries has a budding friendship with Detective Rosemary Fox, and Hazel Wickbury is related to the lead investigator on her cases. Of course, Duchess Jacqueline is the law in the Court of Mystery series, so that’s a bit of a given.

To give you a taste of these reasons in action, I’ve included a short excerpt from chapter four of DM Me for Murder, where Coco takes a phone call from Lieutenant Gavin McInnis mere hours after she’s found the dead body of mega-influencer, LaTàge. Enjoy!


The buzzing notifications were suddenly drowned out by the staccato rhythm of my muted ringtone. Gavin’s name filled the screen.

“I’m gonna take this outside.” I showed Jasper and Charlotte the incoming call.

They nodded their understanding, and I hurried away from our table, trying not to draw too much attention to myself from the other diners.

Fresh ocean air washed over me as I scurried out into the parking lot, but it did little to soothe my nerves. “Hey, Gav—”

A slew of expletives greeted me on the other end. Not only from Gavin, but it sounded like Deacon, Adrian, and others were airing their grievances as well. “Oh, hey, Coco. I suppose I owe you an apology,” Gavin said, finally uttering a coherent sentence. “For all those times you kept a murder investigation under wraps. I didn’t realize how impossible a task it was.”

I smiled uneasily at his evident sarcasm. “What happened?”

“We reached out to Ruby Daniels to try and track down more information about LaTàge.” Frustration riddled Gavin’s words. “She ended up coming by the house and saw all the activity. I guess someone from the county lab let slip it was a homicide, and now, the whole world knows about LaTàge before we even know who our vic actually is.”

My eyebrows inched up my forehead. “You mean, Ruby wouldn’t tell you LaTàge’s real name?”

“She says she never knew LaTàge by any other name,” Gavin explained. “Apparently, when they met, LaTàge introduced herself as LaTàge Luxe. It wasn’t long before she was just going by LaTàge. Adrian did some preliminary records digging, and activity under the name ‘LaTàge Luxe’ popped up around eight years ago. Whoever she was before then, we have no idea. We can’t find anything about her legally changing her name. California has a pretty transparent name-change process, and there’s nothing.”

“Wow.” I whistled. I’d always assumed LaTàge was a stage name and that the influencer used her real moniker around her friends. “But Ruby wasn’t just her best friend. She was LaTàge’s assistant. Ruby must have booked travel or used a credit card or something.”

“Ruby said she either used a business Amex or LaTàge made her use her own card for reimbursement. She never handled LaTàge’s personal accounts, either. It was something LaTàge insisted she do herself ‘to stay grounded.’” I could almost hear Gavin making sarcastic air quotes.

Odd. From their videos and online interactions, the two seemed so close. But Ruby didn’t even know her bestie’s given name? Moreover, why had LaTàge gone out of her way to keep Ruby at arm’s length?

I heard muttering in the background, and I debated a moment before blurting out, “Well, is there anything I can do to help?” I already knew the answer. Gavin would snap and tell me to mind my own business, just like he had earlier this morning.


“Huh?” I nearly dropped my phone on the gravel. “R-really?”



How will Coco help the Central Shores police? Find out in DM Me for Murder, available on eBook, paperback, and audio.


  1. Twenty-two books since 2017??? Holy cow, Sarah! And what do you do with all that spare time??? ;-) Seriously, though, congrats on the new release!

    1. Hehe, thanks so much, Annette! I think I had so much bottled up inside me that it was bursting to come out. The writing-a-book rate has definitely slowed down over the past two years.

  2. Congrats on your latest release! Yes, I'd love to know how Coco "helps" the local PD.

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  4. Congratulations on #22 and for bending the cozy "rules."

  5. Make for great reading, the kind that makes the reader stay up for "one more chapter."

  6. This is wonderful. Can’t wait to read it. And I agree, it’s time for cozy sleuths and law enforcement to get along!

  7. You amaze and impress me! Fantastic blog and excerpt. Can't wait to read it! Congratulations!

  8. Love the variety of your books. This sample, with its witty banter, brings out the best in the characters and makes me ready to grab it at the top of my TBR pile.

  9. Great scene! You know more about social media than I'll ever know.

  10. Congratulations on all your success, Sarah!