I have to be completely honest here. Book research is not something I do terribly effectively well, and it's one of the reasons I spoke with mystery author Jeffrey Eaton. His Dalton Lee mystery series has a phenomenal hook. His protagonist is an architect, and so each book revolves not just around the murder but the art and architecture of the city, as well.
The first book, Murder Becomes Manhattan, takes readers through the major buildings and structures in the city, which provides the book with a veritable TON of texture. As someone completely ignorant of how buildings came to be, I feel smarter after having read the Dalton Lee books. The same thing is true of the second book, Murder Becomes Miami, which examines the major art deco architecture in The Magic City.
Here's the thing: Jeffrey Eaton is NOT an architect. This is not some pet project for him, where he crams his expertise into some hackneyed mystery. He is a journalist first, and so this book series has forced him to do some pretty intensive research to get both the history and the architecture right. The result is a set of books filled with lush details and wonderful facts. Not just that: they are kick-ass mysteries, too.
Luckily for all of us, Mr. Eaton sat down with me to share some of his most helpful tips for getting started with research. If you are overwhelmed and intimidated by the idea of trying to put some time in the stacks, fear not. This podcast episode will take some of the heat out of your efforts.
You can find Mr. Eaton plenty of places online, but JeffreyEaton.com is probably the best place to look for him. However, there is also MurderBecomes.com, which is the Dalton Lee series homepage. His forthcoming novel, Murder Becomes Mayfair, set in jolly olde England, is expected out next year.