Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fictional Homicide Investigator Laurencia "Larry" Rivera Dishes on Miz Scarlet

CT State Trooper Laurencia "Larry" Rivera
asked us to obscure her face to protect her reputation
with law enforcement colleagues
Fictional Homicide Investigator Laurencia "Larry" Rivera recently stopped by my author blog to chat about best friend Scarlet Wilson, the crime-solving innkeeper known for running the pet-friendly, people-friendly Four Acorns Inn in the fictional town of Cheswick, Connecticut.

Scarlet Wilson was recently honored by the Amateur Sleuths Association of America with a Marple Award for her outstanding powers of intuitive deduction in several baffling cases. She was also named Best Bed and Breakfast Host by the Cozy Inns of America Group.

How do you, as an experienced homicide investigator for the Connecticut State Police, explain Scarlet Wilson's knack for solving crimes?

I don't. The fact is Miz Scarlet is an amateur. When I listen to her explain her theories on crime or her rationale for choosing a suspect, I absolutely want to roll on the floor laughing. Sure, she's come up with some answers, solved a few clues, but the fact remains that in the real world, no judge would tolerate the wild speculation or sloppy methodology she employs in puzzling out the mysteries.

I'm sorry. I thought you and Miz Scarlet were best friends. Apparently you're not a fan of her crime-solving abilities.

On the contrary, I'm a big fan. But I hardly think her ability to put the clues together and come up with a deduction is amazing. Half the time, she stumbles head on into the bad guys. Why, I've lost count of the number of times I had to save her sorry behind! I think the real reason she's managed to figure out what was going on so accurately is because she's got a front row seat to the action. Most cops don't get that close to the action, nor should we.

Are you saying that Miz Scarlet takes too many risks and puts herself in harm's way as some sort of attention-seeking behavior?

Oh heavens, no! With Scarlet, what you see is what you get. Take, for example, the time she rescued the teenage damsel in distress, Jenny, from a crazed killer in Bay Head, New Jersey. What kind of idiot actually thinks she can stop a murder by driving into the perpetrator, to chase him off? Doesn't she realize all the killer had to do was turn and go after her? That's reckless, and yet she lived to tell the tale. In cop circles, that's known as dumb luck.

As a Connecticut State Trooper who investigates homicides, you've had some training. Why haven't you ever recommended that the Public Safety Commissioner hire Scarlet Wilson as a consultant on crime?

Seriously? No, no. No. Uh-uh. No way, no how! That's just not going to happen. For one thing, in just about every homicide investigation I have ever worked, and I've worked hundreds of cases, I have never seen any investigator who takes a break to make quiche or to change a bed. We work the cases day and night. We're constantly conferring with our colleagues and sharing information. And we always are aware of the importance of forensic science. You can suspect a person has been involved in a crime, but unless you have something to back that up in the form of hard, concrete evidence, it's a no-go situation. You can't just have a gut feeling somebody might be a bad guy or that the dead guy in the woods was murdered by someone he knew. As trained homicide investigators, we're not just looking for clues, we're documenting them. Miz Scarlet might think she has a handle on a crime, but until you get the results back from the crime lab or a suspect confesses, you've got diddly squat.

As a fellow crime-solver, what would you say to young women out there who want to be the next Scarlet Wilson and follow in the footsteps of this successful amateur sleuth?

Don't do it. Be a real investigator, like me. Go to the police academy and work your way up. Earn your reputation through hard work and attention to detail. Unless you want to make beds, sweep floors, and serve canapés, in which case, be my guest.

I've heard Scarlet Wilson discuss in interviews how difficult the life of a state homicide investigator is and how you nearly were killed because of personal distractions. Is it more difficult to balance home and family as a homicide investigator than as an amateur sleuth?

Hey, I've got divorced parents who bicker and a teenager who thinks she's my equal. It's easy for Miz Scarlet to make judgments about my personal life when she's unmarried, kidless, and running around with Kenny Tolliver. She doesn't have to worry about some maniac targeting her kid to get her to back off a case or face a family to tell them they just lost a loved one to murder. I admit I do have pressures that make it challenging to leave my job at the office. I'm on the front lines in an ugly war. My victims can no longer speak for themselves, so it's my job to find out what happened to them. Does it take it's toll on me? Of course it does. I'm only human.

It sounds to me like one of the reasons why you and Scarlet Wilson are such good friends is because you balance each other out. Do you think you rescue each other?

I will admit that it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to save Scarlet on those occasions when she gets in over her head and provokes a killer. Maybe it's because in my job, as a state homicide investigator, I usually come along too late to rescue anyone, and that can be frustrating. I get a real sense of pride when I'm able to step in and prevent murders at the Four Acorns Inn.

As for Scarlet rescuing me, there might be a teeny-tiny grain of truth in that. I enjoy being at the Four Acorns Inn. She's always shoving food at me or telling me to sit down and relax. On my last case, I admit I lost six pounds because I skipped lunch so often while I followed the killer's trail. So, yes. Maybe Scarlet does rescue me by reminding me that life doesn't always have to be scary or horrible. When I hang out with her, with her brother Bur and the Googins girls, I feel like a human being again. That makes it easier to wake up every morning and go to work.

You can read two of the Miz Scarlet mysteries for free at Amazon:

Miz Scarlet and the Vanishing Visitor
Miz Scarlet and the Holiday Houseguests

(They are also free at Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Sony)

Miz Scarlet and the Imposing Imposter is available for purchase at Amazon and other digital retailers.

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