Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town with Edith Maxwell

I’m Cameron Flaherty, a gawky former software developer missing the social-skills gene. About a year ago I lost my job in what the company called a reduction in force. My Great-Aunt Marie passed away a few years ago and Great-Uncle Albert had to have his foot amputated last summer. He called one day and offered me Attic Hill Farm in Westbury, Massachusetts. It's a little town nestled in the northeastern corner of the state. Formally rural, it now also houses a number of higher-income families whose wage earners travel an hour south to Boston's financial district every day. But the character of the farming village hasn't changed much. I grew up spending summers with Albert and Marie. I love the antique farmhouse and the fertile land. My Norwegian Forest cat, Preston, and I settled in on the farm last fall.

My farm in the early summer looks something like this one, with the woods behind it and the greenhouse that lets me extend the growing season. Too bad the greenhouse was also the site of the murder in A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die.

When I need to pick up a few groceries along with some local gossip, I head down to the Food Mart. One of my farm subscribers, Stuart Wilson, works at the butcher counter. One day he was waving that bloody knife around a little too close to my face and I got the heck out of there.

Mill Pond is a lovely non-motorized body of water in town. I go there to walk and clear my head, and to cross-country ski in the winter. After I'd had a walk that turned into kind of a date, I was surprised to hear my Ellie, my fourteen-year-old Girl Scout volunteer say that she and her friend, Vince, had also had walking dates there. Who knew?

Westbury borders the wide Merrimac River, which joins the Atlantic Ocean one town further east in Newburyport. That's where tall, hunky chef Jake Ericsson has his restaurant, The Market. After he arranged to buy produce from my farm, a romance started up between the us. But that guy has a temper issue, I can tell you.

St. John's Hall, while attached to the Episcopalian church in town, is also open for public functions. The Westbury Locavore Club, most of whose members are my faithful customers, held a Local Foods festival there one evening. My volunteer Lucinda DaSilva started acting very strangely during the contra dance that followed. And then she disappeared.

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The first book in my Local Foods Mystery series, A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, features organic farmer Cam Flaherty, a colorful Locavore Club, and locally sourced murder (Kensington Publishing, 2013). 

My first completed murder mystery, Speaking of Murder, features Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau, murder on campus, and small-town Massachusetts. It was first runner up in the Linda Howard Award for Excellence contest, and is published under the pen name Tace Baker (Barking Rain Press, 2012). 

My short stories have appeared in Fish Nets (Wildside Press, 2013) Thin Ice and Riptide  (Level Best Books, 2010 and 2004), Burning Bridges, the Larcom Review, and the North Shore Weekly, with one forthcoming in Stone Cold (Leve Best Books). I am active in MWA and SINC Guppies,and am on the board of SINC New England.

I have two grown sons and live in an antique house north of Boston with my beau and our three cats. For my day job I write software documentation. Look for me as Edith M. Maxwell on Facebook and @edithmaxwell on Twitter. I blog weekly at www.edithmaxwell.com. Tace Baker can be found at www.tacebaker.com, @tacebaker, and www.facebook.com/TaceBaker

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