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COLD WINTER NIGHTS, BY ANNE WHITE

Cold Winter
Nights
A Lake George Mystery

by Anne White

ISBN #1-59133-298-2
ISBN #978-1-59133-298-5

Kindle edition available
ASIN: B005BSQR0S

SECRETS DARK AND DEEP

Secrets Dark
and
Deep
A Lake George Mystery

by Anne White

ISBN # 1-59133-197-8HC
ISBN # 1-59133-198-6TP

Kindle Edition Available
ASIN: B005A7RNXA


BEST LAID PLANS

Best Laid Plans
A Lake George Mystery

by Anne White

ISBN #1-59133-169-2 Hardcover
ISBN #1-59133-170-6 Paperback

Kindle Edition Available
ASIN: B005A76MLO

BENEATH THE SURFACE

Beneath the
Surface
A Lake George Mystery

by Anne White

ISBN #
1- 59133- 123- 4HC
ISBN #
1- 59133- 124- 2TP

Kindle edition available
ASIN: B005A76PRA

 

DIVING BENEATH THE SURFACE—A New Books Essay
By Anne White

Reprinted from Mystery Scene, Summer 2005,
No. 90

“Me?” I say. “You talkin’ to me?” The words are vintage De Niro, straight out of Taxi Driver, which for a woman, especially for a woman of a certain age, isn’t that easy to pull off.

The kid behind the counter at the dive shop repeats his question. “Want me to sign you up? Class starts in five days.”

I manage an answer. “Negative. Need to check my schedule.”

Whether I check my schedule or not, I’m as negative about what he’s suggesting as I am about death and taxes. This muscular Adonis, barely out of his teens, is proposing I join a scuba diving class to be held at—make that in—Lake George. And as if that isn’t bad enough, the class is starting this week, before spring gains more than a toehold on our upstate New York landscape.

“Is the ice out of the lake yet?” I ask with a small smile

He makes a dismissive gesture. “You’ll be wearing a wet suit. You’ll be so caught up in what you’re doing, you won’t even notice the cold.”

Wanna bet?

While I’m trying to hide my cowardice, I consider how I got myself into this mess and how I can get out of it.

Go back several years. I decide to write a mystery novel, maybe even—I think confidently—a mystery series. If I set the books at Lake George a few miles from my home, I’ll have plenty of material to draw on.

I begin with An Affinity For Murder, subtitle it A Lake George Mystery, and love every minute of the prep work. Since Georgia O’Keeffe spent fifteen summers at the lake and painted some of her best loved masterpieces there, I’ve picked a fun topic. The research means trips to libraries, museums and art galleries (heady stuff for a librarian), and I’m delighted when Affinity is nominated as a Malice Domestic Best First Mystery Novel in 2002.

Encouraged, I forge ahead with the series. Lake George, the 32-mile-long lake, located not far from the New York/Vermont border, boasts a rich and colorful history. Since 2005 kicks off the lake’s bicenquinquagenary, a five-year-long celebration of the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War, I’ve got—not Georgia, but—history on my mind. I’ll call my second book Beneath the Surface and explore what’s under the lake. Fabulous material there, although diving through icy waters to find it is not what I had in mind.

I’m psyched—just not that psyched.

I make a mental list of what someone might find on the bottom of the lake.

First—remnants of boats, with emphasis on the bateaux or longboats, relics from the French and Indian War, many of them sunk deliberately by the British to keep them under the ice and out of the hands of the French during the winters. (Two hundred fifty sunk in the fall of 1758 alone). The best known survivors—the Wiawaka Seven, at the southern end of the lake—are much too fragile to raise, my new friend tells me, but can be explored by divers. He’s sure I’ll want to check them out.

Right.

As he bombards me with information on the bateaux, I realize I’m getting a treasure trove of usable material. I can describe the difficulties experienced by the provincials as they build the bateaux, fill them with sinking stones, then pound holes in the bottoms to scuttle them. Not an easy task, but nowhere near as tough as diving into the icy water in the spring and lugging those sinking stones to the surface so the bateaux can be raised and readied for new battles.

And I’m complaining about diving into the lake in a wet suit.

Of course, my buddy goes on, the bateaux are only one example of what’s under the lake. Remains of boats, large and small, cannon balls, dishes and glassware from the old hotels, sunken fishing shanties and docks, even trucks and automobiles whose drivers thought the ice was thick enough to support their weight.

The dive shop gets called in for these lost vehicles, he says. Their divers use a VRS-2000, a self-contained vehicle recovery system, to raise a truck or automobile from the bottom and float it along the surface until it can be pulled out.

Fantastic stuff to include in a mystery, I agree.

And if the divers can’t locate the object, sometimes a dowser can help. Now I’m onto another super topic. A character who’s an accomplished dowser leaps full-blown into my head. He’ll explain how dowsing is the search for hidden things—certainly an appropriate subplot in a mystery—and although most of us think first of dowsing as a search for underground water, it can also be done beneath the surface of a lake and involve searching for a lost boat or vehicle.

Now I am psyched. I sign up for the scuba diving course. Of course, I do ask the last date I can withdraw and get my down payment back.

As I leave the dive shop, my mind is reeling with ideas. The more I think about the title I’ve chosen, the clearer I see how Beneath The Surface can apply not just to the lake itself, but to the happenings in my fictional world as well. My character, Mayor Loren Graham, will discover dark deeds taking place beneath the surface in the sleepy little town of Emerald Point and that discovery will put her own life at risk.

I may be a coward about scuba diving, but I’m not afraid to mangle a metaphor until it begs for mercy.

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