Beyond the Mystery in a Mystery

Marilyn LevinsonMarilyn Levinson, a former Spanish teacher, writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and books for children and young adults.

Her latest novel, Dangerous Relations, is a romantic suspense with an intriguing mystery. Her entertaining ghost mystery, Giving Up the Ghost, takes place on Long Island, as do is her Twin Lakes Mysteries: A Murderer Among Us–awarded a Best Indie of 2011 by Suspense Magazine–and Murder in the Air.

Three of her out-of-print children’s books, And Don’t Bring Jeremy, No Boys Allowed, and Rufus and Magic Run Amok are available as ebooks.

Marilyn is co-founder and president of the Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. She her husband live on Long Island with their cat, Sammy.

I was a mystery reader long before I started writing mysteries myself. While the Who Done It? aspect of the story always captured my attention, I quickly discovered I was gathering information along the way. Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody’s series have provided me with a vivid picture of the excavations uncovering Egyptian tombs and treasures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Police procedurals give me an accurate picture of how various police departments go about solving crimes. Legal thrillers, many written by lawyers, solve murders within the complexities of the legal system.

Some mystery writers take on social issues. Others familiarize us with people and their settings. Tony HIllerman’s books give us a wonderful Giving Up the Ghostglimpse into the lives of the Navajo people. James Lee Burke sets his books in his beloved Louisiana, and Laura Lippman’s mysteries take place in Baltimore.

My mysteries are set on Long Island, where I’ve lived most of my life. My sleuths are capable, strong-minded women facing major changes in their private lives as they investigate murders. In A Murderer Among Us, newly-widowed Lydia Krause sells the company she’s successfully run for thirty years and moves to Twin Lakes, an upscale senior community in Suffolk County. Her daughter expects her to be on hand to babysit, but life keeps Lydia on the go. When a woman is murdered the morning after she and Lydia had a public squabble, Lydia feels obligated to find the woman’s murderer.  Along the way, she forms new friendships and a budding romance with Sol Molina, the sexy detective on the case.

In Murder in the Air, Lydia butts heads with Sol as she explores a seventy-year-old death in order to find her neighbor’s murderer. She goes on a date with a Twin Lakes’ resident and learns a bit about senior dating.

In Giving Up the Ghost, thirty-four-year-old Gabbie Meyerson comes to Chrissom Harbor in midwinter to teach English at the local high school and to recover from a bitter divorce. While working for her husband, she discovered he was committing white collar crimes and helped send him prison. She rents a cottage on a bluff above Long Island Sound and soon learns she has a ghost for a housemate. He insists that she find his Dangerous Relationsmurderer. Gabbie is nervous about her new position because she hasn’t taught in many years. When bullies torment one of her students, he goes after them with a gun. Gabbie must find him before matters escalate.

In my romantic suspense, Dangerous Relations, Ardin Wesley has returned to her New Jersey hometown to settle her mother in an assisted living facility. Ardin is eager to return to her law firm in Manhattan ASAP because Thornedale holds many painful memories, especially those of her abusive marriage. Then her promiscuous cousin is murdered, and Ardin realizes she wants to adopt her cousin’s little girl. The trouble is, Brett Waterstone, her cousin’s widower, wants to adopt the child also. Neither can until they discover the identity of the little girl’s natural father. Though determined never to get involved with another man, Ardin finds herself falling for Brett as the murderer comes after her. In pursuit of the child’s natural father, Ardin must face her ex-husband and her many fears before she can embrace happiness.

A good mystery is a novel, first and foremost, and introduces us to memorable characters, settings, and subject matter that resonate in our minds long after the mystery has been solved.