Author Cathy Perkins
Stalking? In a cozy mystery? You bet. It’s one of the serious themes that mystery writer Cathy Perkins used in her book, So About the Money.
An award-winning author, Cathy works in the financial industry, where she’s observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters’ lives. A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, and handles the blog and social media for the ITW Debut Authors.
When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for CYPHER, HONOR CODE and THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.
You’ll find the story of why she used stalking in her work interesting. It’s a tale of write what you know.
Walked Right Through That Restraining Order…
Have you listened to the lyrics of “Redneck Crazy” by Tyler Farr? It details the horrid stalking behavior the singer plans—and of course, he blames the woman for his behavior, because she broke up with him.
I hate that song.
I lived it—right up to and including the truck on the lawn and the beer cans thrown at the window.
The Nation Center for Victims of Crime (https://www.victimsofcrime.org/) has a section on stalking. It defines stalking as a pattern of behavior that makes you feel afraid, nervous, harassed, or in danger. A stalker repeatedly contacts you, follows you, sends you things, talks to you when you don’t want them to, or threatens you.
Stalking behaviors can include:
- Knowing your schedule.
- Showing up at places you go.
- Sending mail, e-mail, and pictures.
- Calling or texting repeatedly.
- Contacting you or posting about you on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc).
- Writing letters.
- Damaging your property.
- Creating a Web site about you.
- Sending gifts.
- Any other actions to contact, harass, track, or frighten you.
It all sounds so benign, even the hundreds of daily calls and texts, until you get to that last point—actions to harass, track and frighten you.
Stalking is obsession. It’s about power and control. It’s a crime.
The problem is states are just now getting on board and adding laws criminalizing stalking. Like far too many crimes against women, it’s difficult for law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office to develop a case they think they can take to court—and win. They prefer something less nebulous—did the stalker break into your house? Hit you? Hurt you? Those are tangible—yes or no. Forensic evidence supports it. Showing up everywhere you go? Coincidence, the stalker claims.
The statistics on women who are killed by an intimate partner are even more sobering. The victims reported stalking and abuse—to friends and the police—who were often as helpless as the victim to do anything about it.
So what to do with these depressing statistics?
I decided to put a human face on them. As the layers of So About the Money are revealed, the reader finds stalking in the backgrounds of both Marcy, the murder victim, and Holly Price, the amateur sleuth heroine. Surviving the ordeal deepens the bond between the women and drives Holly to find out not just who killed Marcy, but why was she murdered?
That, too me, is the beauty of an amateur sleuth or cozy. The author can build depth into the characters and plot without climbing onto a soap box.
Now of course I would never recommend you poison your obsessive, violent partner’s black-eyed peas, but I rather liked “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks (written by Dennis Lynde) as an alternative theme song.
So About the Money
When Holly Price trips over a friend’s dead body, her life takes a nosedive into a world of intrigue and danger. With an infinitely sexy cop—Holly’s pissed-off, jilted ex-fiancé—threatening to arrest her for the murder, the intrepid accountant must protect her future, her business…and her heart…by using her investigative skills to follow the money, before the killer decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass…and the next dead body is Holly’s.