The trouble with writing Florida mysteries is that real life in this state usually trumps any fiction. With the election now over, remember the "hanging chads"? Political sabotage at its finest. The Elian Gonzalez incident with Cuba? Casey Anthony, who walked on a charge of murdering her child? How about the Trayvon Martin shooting by an overzealous neighborhood watch guy or the lost gold from a train wreck in Islamorada? I'm sorry, that last one actually is one of my mysteries from the novel Too Much Stuff.
The point is, you can't write anything in a Florida novel that is too wacky. Read Tim Dorsey, who writes a series involving a serial killer who is actually the good guy. Carl Hiassan writes about a former governor of the Sunshine State who lives in the Everglades, eats road kill and solves crimes. If you remember some of our politicians, it's not that far fetched.
Sure a city like New Orleans, or Chicago or Detroit has its share of characters and episodes, but Florida takes the cake when it comes to the entire state. Smugglers, pirates, crooked politicians, murderers, mobsters, drugs, thieves and so much more.
I wrote South Beach Shakedown loosely based on sixties singing sensation Jackie Wilson who was owned by a mob who forced him to sign a lopsided contract by hanging him over a thirteenth story balcony in Miami by his ankles until he agreed.
Jeff Lindsay writes the series Dexter about a blood spatter pattern analyst who works for the Miami Police Department helping solve crimes, but is good at spattering the blood of bad guys as well. I would guess Lindsay didn't just dream up the protagonist.
Remember Murph the Surf, who pulled off the jewel heist of the century and hid the Star Of India in a train locker in Miami? He was a murderer as well and dominated the news back in the mid-sixties.
I could build a case for the crazy people and the outrageous crimes that are committed in this playground of the rich and famous, resulting in the fact that no place in this country can top the crimes committed and no writer of fiction can every do justice to what happens every day in this palm tree paradise.
But we try.
Don Bruns is a novelist, advertising executive, musician, songwriter, cook and painter who has no idea what he wants to do when he grows up. He's the author of nine books and was editor of the mystery/music anthology A Merry Band Of Murderers.
Don's published novels cover two series. One, a Caribbean thriller collection and two, the Stuff series, a humorous look at two twenty-four year old guys in South Florida who start their own detective agency and end up neck - deep in trouble. Skip and James from the Stuff series have often been compared to grown up versions of the Hardy Boys.
Jamaica Blue, Barbados Heat, South Beach Shakedown, St. Barts Breakdown and Bahama Burnout make up the Caribbean books. The Stuff series consists of Stuff To Die For, Stuff Dreams Are Made Of, Stuff To Spy For, and Don't Sweat The Small Stuff- which came out in December 2010.
His two series have won numerous awards, and the latest "Stuff" series has won a starred review in Booklist.