I am requesting readers and helpers for my first contemporary “how will they catch them” murder mystery, Mapped out Murders, which is also to some extent a police procedural. I have completed a draft of almost 74,000 words and have the basic story, characters, and steps in the process mostly the way I want them.
Here are the basic elements so you can see if you are interested in reading:
Sarah and Don Groben are an ex-military couple married about 20 years, no children. She is a homicide detective. They lived in the Fargo, ND area but 5 years earlier transplanted to L.A. He is a pastor and director of Martyrs for Christ, a group similar to real life Voice of the Martyrs, specializing in the 10-40 window. Because they could not have children they have invested in helping troubled families experience godly home and family through Bible teaching and loving them in Christ.
Sarah refuses to work with a male partner or be alone with men. She does this out of respect for her father and husband. Her female partner gets the flu and she has to go alone to a crime scene where a Middle Eastern man was murdered. She finds her husband and a pastor friend there and learns that the dead man was building a small group of Middle Eastern converts from Islam to Christianity.
Don becomes her temporary partner as they uncover six murders and a conspiracy to wipe out these converts and people they may have influenced. A small version of a CAIR-like organization may be involved. Family bitterness and fear also plays a role.
Don’s expertise in Middle Eastern languages and customs and inside knowledge of the outreach plan for these local former Muslims helps but Sarah must ultimately sort through the complex mountain of evidence to get at the truth. Bitcoin, persecution, and attitudes toward Christianity in Muslim and American cultures factor in to making her job harder.
1. Setting is Los Angeles area, but I need help with determining a region in or near the city proper that has a smaller feel, with a police precinct and a neighborhood where you could buy a small house and get to know your neighbors. I need local color, takeout options, and generally things to make the setting real. I do not want to get into too much detail about life in the city or police procedures but don’t want to be clumsily out of date or too sparse, either.
2. Need help with realistic names, customs, and cultures for various secondary characters who are transplants from Middle and Far East countries. All come from Islamic backgrounds.
3. Positioning of some flashbacks (set off in italic in the text) doesn’t seem quite right, and would appreciate input on how much info to include and where the best place to place them would be.
4. Timeline of the murders vs subsequent events. 5 happen in one day (in fact, in one hour), but I need to properly place resulting funerals at a reasonable distance for investigation progress.
5. Generally, being up-to-date and authentic about people, language, and situations. Help in better understanding Bitcoin would be great!
If you can help in any way, general critique, specific suggestions, or the points listed above, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org