Location, Location, Spooky Location!

For those of you who’ve read my Shay O’Hanlon Caper Series, you know I love to feature locations that are old, abandoned, sometimes dangerous, and always delightfully spooky. It all started in my second book, Hide and Snake Murder. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, it won’t spoil anything to tell you the old Columbia Arena in Fridley starred as a major player at some point in the novel. You can see a little of the storied history of the arena here.

I love to put my poor characters though the mill in unusual locations. Abandoned, dangerous, full of mystery, and exciting as hell. I figure making things spooky in the best of ways only makes the mystery that much more riveting. In my third book, Pickle in the Middle Murder, my characters Shay and her bestie Coop, had a hair raising adventure at a 50s motel in Columbia Heights called the Starlite Motel.

Yes, it’s still in business, and yes, it’s retained the history and character of an unforgettable era.

Then the 4th book arrived, and I found the coolest locale yet to challenge my poor characters. What better place than an abandoned twentieth century institution for the mentally impaired? The Cambridge State Hospital (set in my book in Princeton, MN) was the capstone to Chip Off the Ice Block Murder. Its terrifyingly sad history combined with the complex’s decay and remote setting were perfect. Poor Shay and Coop, and of course, Shay’s poor, poor dad. If you don’t know what happened, feel free to grab this or any of my books from Bella Books!

Blood Money Murder, my fifth book in the Shay O’Hanlon Caper Series embraced a couple of scary locales. One was made up entirely in my head, and the other was thanks to a day trip I’d made to the Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in southern Minnesota. Initially I thought I’d use the Mystery Cave in my mystery, but things took a left turn and I wound up placing Shay and her sis Lisa at the site of now defunct Forestville. Unfortunately they didn’t know the small collection of buildings were on a National Historic Register, but when you’re handcuffed together and desperate, it’s a little hard to pay attention to the finer details.

Now, you ask, what does all this have to do with anything? I asked myself the same question when I saw this:

Bruce Beech’s vision for a bunker to save humanity after nuclear war.

What is this crazy business? It’s one of the most fascinating and freaky concepts I’ve ever seen. Follow the story of Bruce and his incredible creation here. No doubt I’m going to have to incorporate this into one of Shay’s adventure!

What abandoned, interesting, and scary locales are near and dear to your heart? Drop a note below and you never know…maybe one day your destination will find it’s way into a Shay Caper.


  1. There’s an abandoned house across the road from Latourell Falls in the Columbia Gorge (one of the most beautiful spots on Earth) also an abandoned motel on the railroad tracks in the same gorge. You could write off a trip to Portland to do research in the Gorge, or in one of the many ghost towns in Oregon. My third Shirley Combs book (not yet published) is set in one of these ghost towns.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hey Kathy! So glad you got a kick out of Blood Money! It was a great book to write, especially the twists and turns. I love that this has been inspirational for you 🙂


  2. Neat idea, there is nothing like real life for inspiration. I am definitely going to look up your books. Count me in as a new reader. I will re-blog your article too. Kind Regards, Joelle

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joelle! it’s so true…nothing matches the craziness of real life! i hope you take a chance on one of the books (opr all LOL) and that you enjoy the adventure. Thank you so much for reblogging!!


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