I just finished the first draft of my 6th Jazzi Zanders mystery. I pushed pretty hard to give myself plenty of time to send it to my critique partners so I can work on their feedback before my May 4 deadline. I’m excited about this one. The fifth book comes out September 22, so this one won’t come out until spring 2021. That’s close enough to Easter that I’m ending it with Jazzi’s Easter meal for her family at her house.
Writing about an amateur sleuth means that I need to have a good reason for Jazzi to be involved in each murder case. For this book, I planted a dead body in her sister’s shampoo chair in the salon Olivia and her mom co-own. Worse yet, the killer used Olivia’s favorite, expensive scissors to stab the new hairdresser she’d hired. And since the shop hadn’t opened yet, and it was Olivia’s scissors jammed in Misty’s chest, she’s the prime suspect.
My daughter was a hairdresser before she went back to school to become a nurse. And she swears that being a beautician made her a better RN. She learned to handle any kind of client that sat in her salon chair, just as she now needs to handle every patient who ends up in one of the beds she has to cover.
For this book, though, besides Jazzi’s sister, I wanted to pull in another character, someone from her past–her ex-fiancée. Chad has married since they broke up, and he and Ginger have been happy until she tells him that she can’t have kids. He was honest when they met and told her his big dream was to be a father. When she confesses that will never happen, he feels tricked, cheated, and he’s not nice about it, but when Ginger disappears, he regrets how he treated her and wants her back. Unfortunately, after the police start searching for her, they find her body close to the town where she grew up. And…of course, Chad is the prime suspect because spouses always are.
No one in Jazzi’s family has anything good to say about Chad, and Ansel’s only heard how horrible he treated her. So when Chad asks for Jazzi’s help, he’s not keen on it. I liked the interplay between them while Jazzi tries to convince him that Chad needs her. He’s not jealous of Chad. He just doesn’t like him, but he finally reluctantly agrees.
And for the first time in the series, I have Gaff and Jazzi respectfully disagree on where the clues lead. That was interesting to write, too.
There was enough going on in this book, I had to be more careful than usual trying to pull all the threads together before the last chapter. I’d planted clues, introduced characters, and they all needed to be there for a reason. My fear was that I might have forgotten one of them. I don’t think I did, but my critique partners will notice if I messed up. There were more twists than usual near the end of the book, and I worked harder to make them land at the right places. All in all, when I wrote the last scene, it felt good that everything added up and came out the way I hoped it would. At least, it feels like it did. Like I said, if it didn’t, my CPs will use more red ink than usual:)