Friday, February 10, 2012

Perfect Place for a Murder

Earlier this week I reviewed Hilary Davidson's second novel, THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, that is due out on Tuesday. And incidentally I also tag-team interviewed Hilary with Ruth Jordan in Issue #45 of CRIMESPREE Magazine. So if you don't subscribe give Murder by the Book a ring and get a copy! Hilary was kind enough to stop by and talk about the exotic locale of her book. And you just have to love a person who travels to Peru and thinks:

"This would be the perfect place to kill someone." - by Hilary Davidson

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that’s what I said just after I arrived at Machu Picchu. When I first got there, the rain and fog were so heavy that a gray shroud hid most of the Inca city from view. It was only when the rain stopped and the sun burned off the fog that I saw Machu Picchu in all its glory. I’m not sure what it says about me that I can visit a place, fall head-over-heels in love with it, and then decide to plot a murder there. A fictional murder, to be precise, but does that make it any better?

Machu Picchu with a llama!
My new novel, THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, is set in Peru, a country I had the good fortune to visit for three weeks in the fall of 2007. It was love at first sight for me. When I travel, there are certain things that I gravitate to. One is ancient or historic sites. Another is beautiful scenery — especially when it includes adorable animals (you may already know of my llama obsession). Good food is a big attraction for me. I also love museums, especially small collections that focus on the work of local artists. Most of all, I love visiting a place where it’s easy to get into conversations with locals and with other travelers; some of the best discoveries I’ve made when I travel have come out of casual discussions like that.

Peru got a perfect score on every front — and, in particular, the city of Cusco and the nearby “Sacred Valley” that leads to Machu Picchu. The combination of Inca and Spanish colonial history and sites caught my imagination. Even though the Inca Empire fell hundreds of years ago, the way that they reshaped the Peruvian landscape has stood the test of time. The Incas carved terraces onto the sides of mountains so they could grow crops there; when you stand in a place like the Sacred Valley or the Colca Canyon, all you see for miles are hundreds of terraces.
Inca terraces

Cusco, the city that was the capital of the Inca Empire, is filled with colonial architecture, much of which is built on Inca foundations. The Cathedral and several churches and convents now double as art galleries, featuring work by the Cusco School (also called the Cuzco School) of the 17th and 18th centuries, which had European painters come to Cusco to teach local artists to paint in the European style. The results were beautiful, beatific, and occasionally bizarre. The indigenous artists converted to Catholicism, but they retained certain Inca ideas. For example, depicting Jesus in a loincloth was profoundly disrespectful in their eyes, so Jesus wears the knee-length linen skirt of the Inca nobility in scenes of the crucifixion.
Jesus in the linen skirt of Inca nobility

It’s incredibly exciting to me to get to share stories about a place I love, and it is doubly so to do it through fiction. I used to write guidebooks, so I know how people’s eyes glaze over when you recite a bunch of dates and descriptions to them. But having the opportunity to show people Peru through the eyes of Lily Moore and Jesse Robb is thrilling. Lily is, in some ways, going through what I did when I first arrived. I experienced altitude sickness, too (it takes a while to acclimatize to the thin Andean air — Cusco is 11,500 feet above sea level!). She’s seeing Peru for the first time, and even though she’s caught up in her own grief, it starts to intrigue her. Jesse has visited Peru again and again, falling in love with the place as I did. Some people who’ve read the book have said it makes them feel as if they’d visited Peru. The woman’s body on the stone steps at Machu Picchu? That’s fiction. But the magical beauty of Peru itself is entirely real.
Jesuit Church from 1668

Hilary has very graciously supplied the beautiful pictures from this post. Aren't they astounding? She has also donated a copy of her new book for me to give away to a lucky reader. She knows how I am -  I'm not going to part with my own copy!

So, if you'd like to have a chance at winning THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, simply tell me in the comments where you think the perfect place for a murder might be. And be sure I have an email I can contact you at if you win! I'll take entries through next Friday. And the contest is open internationally!

In the meantime, you can find out more about Hilary at her website, check out all the locations she'll be visiting on her book tour. You can follow her on Twitter and you can hook up with her on Facebook. She's just omnipresent these days.

And since THE NEXT ONE TO FALL doesn't come out until Tuesday, you can whet your appetite with the first three chapters that are posted over at Criminal Element!


Ginny February 10, 2012 at 7:10 AM  

I think I need Hillary's Book! The perfect place to kill someone would be Spotsylvania! There are so many Civil War Battlefields here you should be able to shallowly bury one more body!!!

Kaye Barley February 10, 2012 at 9:31 AM  

I think I need Hilary's new book!!

Boone, NC would be a pretty terrific place to kill somebody. There are still lots and lots of very isolated spots in these mountains. And some pretty scary characters living in them. If you happen upon a sign that says "Don't come down this road," it's best to pay attention. For real.

Great post Jen & Hilary - Thanks much!!!

Karen B February 10, 2012 at 10:19 AM  

I live a few minutes away from the MOA - Mall of America - in Bloomington, MN. Perfect place for any number of murders what with an indoor amusement park, Lego store, ACES flight Simulator, Mirror maze, aquarium, hundreds of stores, etc. A lengthy series could be set here and in the surrounding community!

Debi Murray February 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM  

I think the perfect place for a murder would be a mystery convention like Bouchercon, or even a smaller one like Murder and Mayhem in Muskego. With all of the fans and mystery authors present there would be a great confusion of clues and fingers pointed everywhere! The real cops would not stand a snowball's chance in hell of sorting it all out.

I envy Hillary for her trip and she is not alone. I have often turned to my husband on one of our "adventures" (trust me, our vacations all turn into adventures) and said, "Wouldn't this be a great place to hide a body?"

Mark Young February 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM  

Just re-visited Hawaii this year after falling in love with the islands many years ago. I think a nice sandy cove along Ohau's eastern shoreline would be a perfect place for a murder. Don't you think?

Hilary Davidson February 10, 2012 at 3:42 PM  

A huge thank-you to Jen for having me on the site today! Also, my thanks to everyone who's stopped by. You guys are giving me all kinds of new ideas!

Evelyn February 11, 2012 at 10:36 AM  

I really think I need Hillary's new book. I remember being at Chichen Itza, Mexico and thinking how easy it would be for someone to "slip and fall" down the steep steps of the pyramid.

Beth Hoffman February 11, 2012 at 2:41 PM  

What a fun post! And I'm laughing at (and with) all the replies too!

Shirley Long February 11, 2012 at 9:27 PM  

Would love to read this new book as we are planning a trip to Peru at the end of the year. Being sailors, we have always subscribed to a song lyric by Eileen Quinn . " One week out and two to go...who would know." Think the open
sea is the perfect place for murder. Can't wait to explore this area.

Anita Yancey February 15, 2012 at 3:06 PM  

I think the perfect place for a murder would be in the mountains of West Virginia, the body might never be found.


Michelle M. February 19, 2012 at 11:31 AM  

I think I need Hillary's new book too!

The perfect place to kill someone? The Appalachian Mountains. Some very isolated spots to carry out and hide a murder. Also some of the spookiest tales and legends.

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