Sleuthing in Santa Cruz



People often ask where I get ideas for my mysteries and the answer is everywhere. A few weeks ago Ken and I went to Santa Cruz for a bit of brainstorming mixed in with some planning and of course some rest and relaxation. While we were there the watermain going out to the wharf broke closing it for several days. I was sitting on the balcony of my hotel room looking toward the wharf and the boardwalk beyond wondering how I could turn a broken watermain into a mystery. I actually came up with several ideas, but while I was pondering the believability of a body clogging the system creating a buildup of pressure, I happened across an even better idea.


As I studied the boardwalk it occurred to me that it would be pretty awesome if a body was found in the top chair of the Farris Wheel when the boardwalk opened in the morning. Of course the question remained, how would the killer get the body up there without anyone noticing?


Anyone who has been to the boardwalk knows that it opens onto the beach. I am going to go out on a limb and assume that a plot where the killer simply wanders onto the boardwalk, hotwires the Farris Wheel, puts the body inside and then revolves the body to the top in the middle of the night would be pretty unbelievable. I did some checking and I was right. That scenario would be pretty unlikely.


I continued to ponder the situation during our stay, considering and discarding several options that seemed unrealistic even to me. I was pretty much at a dead end until a fortuitous walk changed everything.

Ken and I decided to walk to the lighthouse which it located further down the beach. The path provides a view of the boardwalk from a different angle than I had been viewing to this point. While I stood gazing out over the beautiful landscape, I quite luckily saw a believable and doable solution to the dilemma of how to get the body into the bucket.

If you are curious as to the solution I came up with, you will have to wait until I use this plot in a book because it really is too perfect to share at this point. In the meantime, you can enter to win a gift card below.

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Giveaway: Comment below and I will choose 1 winner to receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

Suggest a title for the story I just described and identify which of my series you think would best serve as the backdrop. If you aren’t familiar with my series you can still enter by suggesting a title.


39 thoughts on “Sleuthing in Santa Cruz

  1. Michele Hayes says:

    I love your books and look forward to reading about this in a future book. It sounds like something from the Seacliff High series, or it’s just crazy enough to be from the Zoe Donovan mysteries. How about Midway Mischief for a title?

  2. Suzanne says:

    Being that I am reading Shamrock Shenanigans, I know i’m a bit behind, but what come to me is Ziplining at Midnight don’t ask my why. About a body plugging the water main I guess you didn’t watch CSI where a body actually plugged a sewer and a water main in Vegas. Can’t remember anything important but can remember things like that

  3. Lynn Hogan says:

    Hi Kathy!! Yep, probably Zoe and Zac. Wheel of Death? Last Ride? How Did They Do That? because it’s a running wonder through the book, like you were.
    The Wicked Wheel? Homicide on High?

  4. Catwalk and Waterworks, Whales and Tails Mystery Book!

    What a way to go, a body in a bucket! That is too perfect to share, but it will definitely be a book worth waiting for, and you really do get your ideas from everywhere. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  5. Sharon Frank says:

    For the title, I like “Murder-Go-Round”. I think either Seacliff High or possibly even Whales and Tales. Maybe Cait, Cody, and gang could go on a short vacation. Any of your series could work for this.

  6. Myra Ball says:

    The fair could come town to in a Zoe Donovan book and be called Farris Wheel Frenzy or Farris wheel of Fury, The Farris wheel Foray, or the Wheel of Wrath. The town he always having festivals so a fair fits right in that theme.

  7. Joyce C Moser says:

    My first thought is a Zak and Zoe adventure, secondly Seacliff High, or how about Whales and Tales? As for a title, Bad Wheel Spinning comes to mind. Whenever and whichever series you write it in and no matter what the title is, can’t wait! I adore ALL your books, Kathi!!!

  8. Karen Borowski says:

    Since Zoe’s book titles are alliteration, FerrisFatality or Ferris Wheel Fatality if you did TJ. I can see either of them escaping the snow for a trip to Santa Cruz!

  9. donnadurnell2013 says:

    Already too many good suggestions for a title, and my ideas don’t hold a candle to them. But perhaps Midway Surprise in the Zoe series.

  10. I can see Zoe & Zac taking the Zimmerman clan (kids) on vacation at the boardwalk or the gang from Seacliff High heading south to do some surfing and maybe catching the Titans of Mavericks surfing competition in a story titled “Doom(ed) With a View”

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