Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. I have a new Liss MacCrimmon mystery coming out at the end of July. In fact, at the end of this post, you’ll see how you can win an advance reading copy even before that. But first, there’s this blog, the result of a pretty good review in Publisher’s Weekly that contained one very strange caveat. Here’s the entire review of Kilt at the Highland Games:
“The Highland Games come to tiny Moosetookalook, Maine, in Dunnett’s enchanting 10th Liss MacCrimmon mystery (after 2015’s The Scottie Barked at Midnight). Despite the influx of trade and tourists, Liss still finds time to do some sleuthing, including finding the dead body of Jason Graye, Moosetookalook’s most despised town selectman and a shady realtor. Suspects abound, and the police are swamped between providing extra coverage for the games, searching for missing persons, investigating Graye’s murder, and looking into a break-in at the post office. Could all these events somehow be connected? Liss enlists the aid of a PI friend to get to the bottom of things, but it’s Liss who ends up facing off with a crazed killer, who’s ready to take out more victims. An implausible lack of cell phone usage undercuts credibility, but otherwise this is an enjoyable cozy from start to finish.”
The funny thing is, there are probably more references to using cell phones in this entry in the series than in most of the previous ones. Liss and Dan use a cell phone to call the chief of police’s cell phone to report the murder. Later, when Liss is rushing toward a dangerous situation, she uses her cell to contact both the police and Jake Murch, her friend the private investigator. You’d better believe she wants backup! There are also references to cell phones in use by a couple of teenagers, one of whom has a “stupid phone” rather than a smart phone because he’s saving every penny he earns for college. And the “missing person” referred to also uses a cell phone of the throwaway type, to avoid being found. I’m really not sure how much more cell phone usage there could have been, especially in rural Maine.
Why is rural Maine less likely to rely on cell phones than other places? Ever hear of a “dead zone” where you just can’t get a signal? We’re in one here at my house. No way are we ever going to be able to give up our land line. Cell service is iffy in many areas of Maine, some of them much closer to cities than we are.
I spent a few days earlier this month on Bailey Island, where I was warned not to rely on being able to get a signal. Hikers at this end of the Appalachian Trail receive a similar warning, and ignore it at their peril. Those who make the mistake of thinking they can call for help on a cell phone if they are injured or lost while out in the wilderness are in for a rude awakening. Hikers, climbers, and even skiers have learned this the hard way. A few end up losing their lives as a result of this miscalculation.
I do have a cell phone. Like one of those in the novel, it’s a “stupid phone” that has no bells and whistles. I keep it charged and carry it in my purse for emergencies. It costs me under $15 a month. It’s so old that it flips open and has an antenna. It would be no use at all if I needed help in a “dead zone” but when I got a flat tire on the Maine Turnpike on my way home from New England Crime Bake one year, I used it to call AAA and my husband.
As usual, I’m old fashioned and behind the times. Lots of Mainers do have cell phones and use them for all the things folks from away do—texting, checking social media, looking things up at IMDb. Sometimes they even use them to make or take phone calls. I see shoppers in the local Hannaford with phones to their ears, no doubt checking to see if there’s anything else they need to pick up for supper. I see a good many damn fools using cell phones while driving. But they are not everywhere, and not everybody owns one, or even wants one.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION—WIN AN ARC!
I’ve been rambling on the subject of cell phones for some 800 words now, and I don’t know if I’ve said anything particularly significant, but I’d love to hear what those of you reading this think of the whole issue of cell phones and, in particular, whether you would find a mystery novel less believable simply because there isn’t a lot of cell phone usage mentioned in it.
Leave your comment on this subject below and you will automatically be entered in a drawing to receive an advance reading copy of Kilt at the Highland Games. I’ll wait till the end of the month to draw a name, so if you’re reading this up to eight days after it’s posted, you still have a chance to win.
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of over fifty books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category for “The Blessing Witch.” Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (Kilt at the Highland Games ~ July 2016) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in the Merchant’s Hall) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” series and is set in Elizabethan England. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com