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Interview: November 3, 2022

At the close of 2021’s MURDER AT GREYSBRIDGE, Glendara’s top cop Tom Malloy had popped the question to solicitor (attorney) Benedicta “Ben” O’Keeffe, to the surprise of them both. Befuddled, Ben doesn’t answer yea or nay, needing time to ponder the proposal. Being a brilliant attorney, she serves a six-month stint at a Sarasota law firm, from October to April, Florida’s balmy dry season. In the newly released THE BODY FALLS, she returns to Ireland and hurricane-like rains the day before a charity fundraiser bike race is to begin. A body falls on friend Maeve’s jeep, which is not quite the return-home welcome that Ben had hoped to receive. In this interview, Andrea Carter chats with’s Dean Murphy (Ó Murchadha) about her career, future books, the Inishowen Peninsula, and the television adaptation of her novels. You wrote the opening scene for THE BODY FALLS while in the U.S. for the 2018 launch of your first novel released by Oceanview Publishing in Sarasota, Florida. What inspired this scene and the plot?

Andrea Carter: I was in Sarasota for the launch of my first book, DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH, in the U.S. and Bouchercon, which was taking place in St. Petersburg, Florida that year. My books are released in the UK before they are in the States, so I was also starting work on my fifth book for my UK publishers. Early in the morning, on the day I was due to meet with my US publishers for the first time, I was sitting on the balcony of my hotel in Sarasota watching the sunrise and the traffic. I started to write, and it became the first chapter of the book! The plot came later (inspired by the real flooding that happened in Inishowen in August 2017), although the rains that delayed my flight back to Dublin from Orlando a week later may have planted the seed!

BRC: Is it coincidence that while Ben is in Florida for six months that no homicides occur in Glendara, Ireland?

AC: Ha. Maybe! Although that question makes me think sadly of the recent death of Angela Lansbury of “Murder, She Wrote.”

BRC: After Glendara experiences a flood of visitors for a charity bike race, a biblical flood alters everyone’s plans, including Ben spending the night with Sergeant Tom Molloy. A body falls on the local veterinarian’s jeep. You leap into the thick of it early on. Why this unusual arrangement?

AC: The weather provided the context for drama, but I also wanted the action to begin quickly. As I was driving through Mamore Gap, the area where I’d decided the body would be found, I realized it was more likely that the heavy floods would wash the body down the hill and onto the road. The location where “the body falls” is dramatic enough, but in torrential rain it would be (as you say) biblical!

BRC: This Ben O’Keeffe addict needs to know what’s in store for the next US release. THE BODY FALLS hints that it may involve someone trying to take advantage of Ben’s aging parents in Dublin. If so, what’s the title and synopsis?

AC: It’s still being written, so I’m going to keep my cards close to my chest on this one. Suffice to say that it picks up the threads of the end of book five straight away.

BRC: Many people gather for a charity fundraiser and are trapped in Glendara due to bridges washing out. Each has cause to off the title “body,” classic Agatha Christie style. Did you extrapolate from any specific Christie novel for this premise?

AC: I liked the idea of having the town entirely cut off, with bridges down and roads impassable and with a crowd of strangers in town. Agatha Christie is the queen of the closed circle of suspects, and I wanted to do something similar. I think I was inspired particularly by books such as DEATH ON THE NILE, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, where no one can leave and no one new can arrive.

BRC: Had it not been for the heavy rains, the body would not have been detected for some time. Did you intend this to be a “what-if” teaser for readers?

AC: Yes, I certainly did. When you read the book, you can allow yourself to imagine what might have happened if the body hadn’t been discovered. I like to think of people doing this.

BRC: The snakebite incident is whimsical but believable. What inspired this?

AC: Ireland is one of the few places in the world where there are absolutely no snakes! Legend has it that St. Patrick drove them all into the sea. So the presence of a snakebite would clearly hint at foul play, even if the man died of something else.

BRC: Your beguiling series is being adapted for television. Please share information regarding this.

AC: The TV series is tentatively called “Donegal: The Inishowen Mysteries.” The pandemic halted its development. But the option has just been renewed for another year, so I think there’s room for optimism.

BRC: You mention the charity race, and you’ve been involved with a charity for the homeless. Any other charities you care to mention?

AC: My short story “The Lamb,” which was published in an anthology of law and literature in aid of the Peter McVerry Trust (a wonderful charity for the homeless), was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. But I’m also a vegetarian and animal lover, so I tend to support animal charities too.

BRC: Thank you for a thrilling read and for this interview. Any final thoughts?

AC: I hope everyone enjoys THE BODY FALLS, despite the pervading sogginess!

Reviewer’s note: Ms. Carter answered these questions shortly after Hurricane Ian flooded Florida and affected Sarasota, the location of her US publisher, Oceanview. Thus the “pervading sogginess” comment that may also relate to the flood in Glendara.