Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Do travel & murder mix?

But of course! Not only do they mix, they're hard to separate when you're a mystery writer on holidays. Especially if those you're travelling with know of your penchant for viewing new sites with a mind to murder. They keep asking, "Well, did you find the perfect spot to hide the body?" Often the answer is, yes.

That in a snapshot, is my two week singfest through France. As part of the International Choir, which is our name when the four sister choirs (mine is the
Ottawa Classical Choir), 3 from Quebec, are on tour. This year's amazing trip began with an invitation to sing at the anniversary celebrations for the 800 year old Cathedral in Reims. Our repertoire was two masses by Theodore Dubois, a 19th century French composer and a former organist at that church. These two masses have not been heard before. It's a wonderful plot for a mystery -- the scores being discovered by the grandson and his connection to our director.

The Cathedral in all it's ancient splendor was packed. Our performance earned a standing ovation, rare we're told. That was our final concert of the tour but we'd received much the same reception in each of the other cities: Montpellier, Metz and Paris. Even at the famed Notre Dame Cathedral!

But I digress. Each of our stops, including two days in Lyon, allowed for many
hours of sightseeing. In steamy hot weather we walked for hours, exploring parts of the old cities (each of these thoroughly modern cities has an old section), drinking in the ambience, enjoying an espresso at a sidewalk cafe, searching for memorable items to bring home. And of course, body dumps.

Waterways are always a great spot to hide a body. And with any luck, decomposition can make it more difficult to ascertain a time of death. With two rivers running through the city, the Rhone & the Saone,there are numerous hidden opportunities. My favourite was at a less active portion of the Saone, with a massive rebuilding project taking over several city blocks on one side and a forested hillside on the other. Few houses across the way but several openings from the traboules, or secret underground passageways where silk, once the largest export of the city, was transported to waiting vessels. These routes were also used by the resistance during World War II. Although many are now populated by tourists, some of those less traversed would be a writer's delight.

And then there are the numerous wonderfully decorated river barges that are now homes on the water. With many gaps between the boats, a little luck, and a body might become entangled and submerged for a useful amount of time.

I'm afraid I'll be submitting you to a travelogue this week. Hope you'll enjoy these marvellous locations and maybe next time you're travelling, a few ideas will pop into mind. After all, a mystery writer's mind is never on vacation. But oh, what a glorious way to do research!

Have you already spotted some ideal locations to hide bodies at your holiday spots?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime


  1. Welcome back! What a wonderful trip and great ideas for murder too, of course.

  2. Linda, you are seriously twisted! And I love it...expecting a new title "Vacations are Murder" from you.