Sunday, April 15, 2018

Murder at the Bus Depot by Judy Alter

Alter Ego Press 
Print Length: 220 pages
April 6, 2018
Genre: Mystery
Series: Blue Plate Café Mystery 4

Is the depot a symbol of the worst episode in a town’s history or does it stand for revitalization, bringing the citizens of Wheeler together with pride in their community?

Kate Chamber’s trouble antenna goes up when Dallas developer Silas Fletcher decides to help “grow” Wheeler. She and her brother-in-law, Mayor Tom Bryson, have less spectacular and drastic ideas for revitalizing the town. When Old Man Jackson dies in an automobile accident, the specter of the past comes back to haunt the town. Thirty years ago, Jackson’s daughter, Sallie, was murdered at thebus depot. The murder is still unsolved.

Kate and Silas clash over almost everything, from the future use of the abandoneddepot to a fall festival celebrating Wheeler. Another murder at the depot blows the town apart, and Kate know she must do something to solve the murders and save her town, let alone the festival she’s planning

Other books in the series:
Murder at the Blue Plate Café
Murder at the Tremont House
Murder at Peacock Mansion

From Murder to Fiction
By Judy Alter

I wouldn’t exactly call it ripped from the headlines, but a real murder did inspire the events of Murder at the Bus Depot. A couple of years ago a friend was telling me about an unsolved murder in her home town of Granbury, Texas. Almost thirty years ago, a young woman was viciously beaten and killed in the Greyhound bus depot, where she had a T-shirt concession. Despite repeated calls for justice from the family, the case has never been solved.  Some in Granbury were now claiming the bus depot was an outdated eyesore and should be demolished. But Granbury is a town with a strong sense of its past and an active group of historical preservationists. The bus depot presently sits on my friend’s property, its fate still undecided.
Thinking it interesting, I filed the incident away in my mind. When I was ready to write the fourth Blue Plate Café Mystery, it surfaced and gave me the idea for the plot. I knew that pro-development conflict with historical preservation devotees was not limited to Granbury. It goes on daily in small towns and large cities. My fictional town of Wheeler had not, in previous books, had any sense of its history, so why not start now? There was my theme for the novel, and conflict beyond the unsolved murder.

 Suddenly Dallas developer Silas Fletcher strode into my imagination brash, self-confident, and fully developed. I could picture him, and I could hear him talk. I knew he would quickly antagonize my main character, café owner Kate Chamber. And he did—by complaining about the quality of his breakfast at the café. There was my opening scene.
I already had the frame into which to plug these new elements. Kate Chambers had inherited the café in Wheeler, Texas when her grandmother was murdered by her dishonest accountant. Actually, Kate had to use part of her inheritance to buy out her difficult twin sister, Donna, who inherited equally both the café and Gram’s house. Tom Bryson, Donna’s husband, is a good guy and the mayor of Wheeler. Other principle players from previous books in the series include David Clinkscales, Kate’s significant other, Chief of Police Chester Grimes, and Mrs. Reverend Baxter. I added new characters, most difficult among them being Delia Jackson, younger sister of the murdered girl. Among the most unlikely: Tom Russo, a minister from the Bronx, and his wife Ambra, an ardent preservationist. From the Bronx to Wheeler, Texas?

I am a pantser. No outline. Just some rough notes on where I think the story is going. Once I get the first scene in mind, I sit at the computer and see what will happen. Western novelist Elmer Kelton always stressed the importance of listening to your characters, because they tell you what’s going to happen. So I listened to Kate and Silas and Delia and all the others, and the story of the murder and the town spun out on my computer.
Want to join me for breakfast at the cafe? It’s really better than Silas says.

Read reviews of Murder at the Bus Depot here.

Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, two books in the Blue Plate Café Mysteries; and two in the Oak Grove Mysteries. Pigface and the Perfect Dog follows The Perfect Coed in this series of mysteries set on a university campus. Judy is no stranger to college campuses. She attended the University of Chicago, Truman State University in Missouri, and Texas Christian University, where she earned a Ph.D. and taught English. For twenty years, she was director of TCU Press, the book publishing program of the university. The author of many books for both children and adults primarily on women of the American West, she retired in 2010 and turned her attention to writing contemporary cozy mysteries.
            She holds awards from the Western Writers of America, the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Texas Institute of Letters. She was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and recognized as an Outstanding Woman of Fort Worth and a woman who has left her mark on Texas. Western Writers of America gave her the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement and will induct her into its Hall of Fame in June 2015.
The single parent of four and the grandmother of seven, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her perfect dog, Sophie.

Buy link for Murder at the Bus Depot:

Buy link for Pigface and the Perfect Dog:

Buy link for The Color of Fear:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for having meh ere, Laura. It was fun to think about how this story came about.


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