For our first 2021 book for The Local Moms Network Book Club, we’ve gone with an author who lives in CT, where The Local Moms Network was founded! Author Tessa Wegert is a mom of two (ages 12 and 14) and she recently released murder mystery novel, The Dead Season. The book documents investigator Shana Merchant’s life and work, picking up where her first book, Death in the Family, left off. She’s recently relocated to the Thousand Islands in Upstate New York, after leaving the NYPD following a case that lead to her being abducted. Fans of Agatha Christie type mysteries will love Tessa’s writing, and we spoke to the author about that mighty influence, how she encourages her own kids to read, and more.
What will fans of your first book think of this one?
I did worry a little bit because the first book has more of that Agatha Christie feel to it, which people really responded to. With the second book I also incorporate elements of that style…of the Golden Age of detective fiction. You can see it as Shana carries out her investigation. But I think the second book reads a bit more like a thriller, which was intentional. With a series, you’re able to lay the groundwork and introduce the characters, and then that all needed to be fleshed out in the second book because I knew she had to have this homecoming experience. The response that I’ve gotten so far has been very positive. A lot of people did say the second book read faster which I was happy about, too. Now that the reader has info about Shana I don’t have to explain where she is coming from, so I think that will continue in the future.
So will there be more Shana Merchant books going forward?
Yes! Nothing I can announce yet but I’m working on a third book now and there is so much more to explore, especially Shana’s relationships and her new connection to the Thousand Islands.
How have you encouraged your own kids to read?
I’ve been reading aloud to them since they were infants and just continually pushing books into their hands. We make regular visits to library and book stores – incorporating a destination to it makes it that much more exciting. They have an opportunity to choose something that interests them. And we do family reading time, where we all just sit together and read for half an hour or 45 minutes. It makes reading part of their routine.
Those are great tips! What’s a recent favorite book you’ve read?
I just read a book this weekend that was maybe one of my favorites—Jane Harper’s The Survivors. She’s an Australian writer, and it’s a mystery that takes places in a small town in Tasmania. I love Louise Penny who is Canadian, and Tana French who is from Ireland. I usually have a few mysteries sand thrillers on the go at all times.
Why are books like murder mysteries so perfect for right now?
It’s an escape. For a few hours people can shut their mind off everything going on in the world and get into this mystery that will keep them intrigued and distracted in a positive way.
Why did you choose Darien, your small town in CT?
We moved here from Chicago 6 years ago. My husband took a job in NY, and had friends here from Union College. When he was house hunting, what really sold me was when he sent me pictures of Darien Library. He stopped in to work, and the photos looked like Disney World to me—it had everything. Plus, being close to NYC and other Metropolitan areas like Boston was a huge draw. We just love this community and are active in dance and karate at the Darien Arts Center.
For visitors or locals, what are your favorite places in town to:
Get Coffee – Neat
Have Date Night – Bodega
Have Fun As A Family – Peartree Beach
Have a Girls Night– Mecha Noodle Bar