To break up a brief but violent tussle over Jean Matthews latest mystery, the staff distracted the pair with an offer to blog. Quickly they added, "Ann starts." One of them hovers by the phone, ready to dial 911 in case this doesn't work out.
Ann: "So, Ron, why Acadamia for your setting? What's up with the profs?"
Ron: "Professor Martindale's life has not been the same since he was briefly jailed for a murder that he didn't commit. Universities do not look favorably on people with rap sheets stapled to their vitas (resumes). I know because I taught Journalism at Oregon State for 24 years. It's a perfect setting for me, but after several mysteries, I've moved on to a remote part of southeast Oregon, on Steen's Mountain. I love this area--it's so different from the coast where I live and it's so remote. Anyone could get lost there, and in fact, someone does in Murder in the Steens. But enough about me. Why a zoo keeper?"
Ann: "Because I know the inside scoop in the zoo world. (That's a joke, folks). I was an animal keeper for 12 years at Oregon Zoo. When I put down the shovel and picked up a computer to write a mystery, no one else was setting them at a zoo. (No longer true, by the way--zoo mysteries are now a mini-sub-genre.) More accurately, I had left the zoo world years ago and kind of missed it. It's been great to get back, at least in my head. But, Ron, how is it that a laconic professor ends up in the wilderness with a mustang herd and a dead man?"
Ron: "An old school friend asks Martindale to find her missing husband, after the local sheriff botched the search. The loyal professor is always there for his friends, no matter the personal risk. So he's off to the wilderness. He falls in with a quirky flock of birdwatchers, drunken cowboys, and the local king of the range, who seems to have the sheriff in his pocket. It all makes perfect sense. But a zoo keeper? How does a zoo keeper end up involved with murder?"
Ann: (huffily) Just as easily as some leather-elbowed professor, I'll tell you that! In Endangered, Iris Oakley and her co-worker, Denny, get called on to "rescue" exotic pets from a remote farmhouse after the owners are busted for drugs. But those pets turn out to be something else. And things apparently went wrong during the bust--Iris finds a body. How could a swarm of cops overlook a body? Then there's the lost gold and the screaming macaws that land in her basement and she has a wild fling... Ron, I have to stop now."
Ron: "Wait! I have LOTS more to say about Thomas and the Steens and those mustangs..."
Fran: "Will you guys cut it out? That is enough out of both of you. Put that keyboard down. Now I want you two to shake hands very, very nicely. Good. Now you can come back for your next books."