Homicide for the Holidays

September 25th, 2018

When the Speed City chapter of Sisters in Crime was approached by Blue River Press to put together a Christmas anthology, we responded with enthusiasm. I wanted to submit a story, but I sometimes find themes can inhibit my story-generating. Besides the link to a winter holiday, the story needed to be set in Indiana. I had my own condition, too: I’ve written some dark crime fiction, but I wanted my Christmas story to be lighthearted. There would have to be a crime, but there would also have to be a happy ending. I needed to think hard about my submission.
Christmas is a nostalgic time of year for many, and Christmas and Hoosier nostalgia said one thing to me: L. S. Ayres. There’s the famous cherub (which first appeared in advertising for Ayres in 1945, the figurine on the clock appeared a year later). The amazing windows at street level displaying Christmas action scenes. The L. S. Ayres tearoom serving decadent holiday specialties in addition to their Chicken Velvet Soup. But, most importantly – the Santa Cottage. Judging from the blog content I was easily able to find, there are many people nostalgic for L. S. Ayres, especially during the holidays.
Next, my protagonist, Mava, started to take shape. Mava is a young nurse, a few years out of her training at St. Vincent’s School of Nursing. She’s been close to the front in WWII. Just home from the war, she knows she needs a break from nursing. She is hired by L. S. Ayres for the Housewares Department, and finds a new friend in her coworker, Janet. Because Housewares is on the eighth floor, Mava has proximity to the Santa Cottage. A few days before Christmas, she meets Santa himself.
Actually, a young man named Nick has been hired for the Santa Claus role, and like Mava, he’s recently home from the European front. Also like Mava, Nick wants to promote happiness for the holidays. But he fails to show up for work on December 24, and a bloodstained Santa suit is found on a downtown Indianapolis sidewalk. There are few clues, but Mava won’t rest until she finds out what happened to Nick.
If you want to know more – you’ll need to buy Homicide for the Holidays, and read my story Claus, Santa: MIA. Homicide for the Holidays will be released in early November, 2018.

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