Fraser’s ‘Debits and Credits’ a bit Christie-like
As a forensic accountant, Grace Edna Edge is used to following numbers to logical conclusions, but when her beloved aunt’s best friend dies unexpectedly, this new problem is not so easily solved.
Despite police findings, the intrepid sleuth Grace and her Aunt Arrow think something more sinister has happened than a run-of-the-mill heart attack in the library stacks. They decide to investigate themselves, at their own peril.
Barging into Grace’s orderly life will come a careening motorcycle, a flirtatious detective, a bounding dog and the shadowy world of black market prescription drugs.
Grace is a self-taught murder investigator — interviewing suspects, conducting stakeouts, and even surreptitiously spending the night at the scene of the crime: the main branch of the Live Oak Library in Austin, Texas.
Often at her side is Aunt Arrow, a colorful and bombastic retired journalist devoted to her niece.
Filling out Grace’s life — and introducing many interesting characters — is volunteer work at the local senior center, weekly golf in a women’s league, and an avocation of writing romance novels. Bright, witty and determined, Grace is a worthy adversary to the rough individuals she encounters.
“Debits and Credits” was written by Grand Junction resident Lyn Fraser, who has taught at Texas A&M University and Colorado Mesa University, and has served as a hospice and hospital chaplain.
This is her first published novel, though Fraser authored a business textbook that has sold a quarter of a million copies, short fiction in literary reviews, and two books on the psalms.
Fraser, a native Texan, has a master of fine arts from Bennington College in Vermont and a doctor of ministry from the University of the South in Tennessee. She also is a certified public accountant.
It’s that Bennington College connection that led to Fraser’s publishing deal with Mainly Murder Press in Connecticut.
“It’s networking,” Fraser explained. “One of my graduate school colleagues had written a mystery for this press. It’s a new England press concentrating primarily on new England authors.”
“Debits and Credits” is a cozy mystery, one that doesn’t include gratuitous violence, foul language or explicit sex scenes. Cozy mysteries often are set around a main character in a small geographic area, an approach readers may recognize from many of Agatha Christie’s mysteries, Fraser said.
Not that all the characters in Fraser’s novel are squeaky clean. There are some steamy romance passages that Grace composes, and the golf course, well ...
“I don’t have a lot of four-letter words, except for the golfing,” Fraser admits. “I can’t control what the golfers say!”
Neither can she completely rein in Aunt Arrow, who in addition to bluntly speaking her mind also likes to bake with more than the usual herbs, shall we say.
“She was kind of ahead of the curve,” Fraser said with a laugh. “Everyone loves that character. It’s what I love about fiction — a character just takes off and does things, some of which you have planned and some you don’t plan.”
“Debits and Credits” grew out of two short stories from graduate school assignments, Fraser said. A friend working in an Austin pharmacy later introduced Fraser to a pharmacist who, also a mystery enthusiast, provided background on prescription drugs and even suggested an important plot point.
In her first novel, Fraser puts her years of studying and teaching writing to effective use. Dialogue is crisp and believable and moves the plot along. Characters are complex — no flat heroes and villains here. And there are many unexpected and enjoyable laughs to be had in Grace’s clever asides.
“I think the work that I did in graduate school, all of that helps,” Fraser said of honing her craft, “but it’s your own way of writing that eventually gets down on the page.”
Fraser will launch “Debits and Credits” at a celebration from 2–4 p.m. Saturday at the Artful Cup, the HopeWest coffee house at 3090 N. 12th St. Profits will benefit HopeWest, where Fraser has worked and volunteered.