MurderAtPZcover533x800When I first began to write Murder at the P&Z, I started with a vision: the body of a dead woman under a giant black spruce. Anything can happen to explain that vision. My characters and the plot are organic and I am as surprised as the reader of its twists and turns. I lead the emotional life of my characters, which makes story telling very exciting. I put them in situations and they handle them according to their character traits.

Murder at the P&Z is a character driven story. Carol Rossi, a local reporter, 47, and in her second career, is involved romantically with a police officer much younger than her. At first, when a woman’s body is found on School Road, Rossi is thrilled to be covering the murder scene thinking that this is the big story, her big break. When she realizes, however, that the murder victim is the secretary to the town planner, a woman on her beat, she’s horrified and swears to find the killer.

Rossi believes the murder may be connected to a multi-million dollar condominium real estate deal that was approved by the town planner, and the planning and zoning commissioners. The police, however, suspect that it’s a random crime, a homicide that occurred during a mugging. It is the Christmas season and the mugger was looking for fast cash, they conclude.

Rossi is forced to become an amateur sleuth to keep her promise to find the killer. As her investigation progresses, she’s soon being stalked and she has no idea by whom or why. Then the recently retired, former town planner is found dead in his swimming pool in Bimini.

Rossi’s life is threatened, and she realizes that she’s in over her head professionally and romantically.

Like most mysteries, clues are peeled away slowly throughout the book but suspense holds the reader to the end. And in this case, readers also fear for the clever, but flawed, Rossi.

I was a reporter for a Wilton newspaper and covered planning and zoning. It was almost too easy to develop a crime given the power of that body, which approves all building projects in town, although to my surprise it became much more complicated. The story is believable although no such crime occurred in Wilton. But the story draws from the colonial town’s historic past, my own experiences, and the reactions of my characters, which remain true to form.

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Dorothy Hayes, a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, taught Language Arts in Connecticut and New York schools.

She was a staff writer for the Wilton Bulletin, and The Hour and received an honorary award for her in-depth series on Vietnam Veterans from the Society of Professional Journalists.

She also worked as a staff writer for a national animal protection corporation, and wrote Animal Instinct published by iUniverse in 2006. She writes for, and, and is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, Tri-State Chapter.

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