A landscape of murder


With the arrival of all the mystery and crime writers and their fans to this year’s Bouchercon, we thought we’d pull out the welcome mat via a Map of Fictional Murders.

While big cities often get to be the settings of various crimes, murders and mayhem, the Capital Region holds its own, thank you very much.

William Kennedy’s “Legs” — from 1975 and the first novel in his acclaimed Albany cycle — fictionalizes the very real murder of the gangster “Legs” Diamond at 67 Dove St. in downtown Albany (in spitting distance of the Dove & Hudson used book store).

Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 classic “An American Tragedy,” set in the fictional Adirondack locale of Big Bittern Lake, was also inspired by a very real murder in 1906 at Big Moose Lake in Adirondacks.

Those two books, however, don’t necessarily fit the genre mold of crime, mysteries and thrillers. So here are but a dozen of the countless fictional murders in and around the Capital Region.

Click for a map of the fictional murders.

VICTIM: Mary Pat Sheehan, a convenience store clerk in her late 20s who, the autopsy reveals, was secretly pregnant

Location: In a car crash off Harkness Road in the fictional Adirondack town of Trout Run

Novel: “Swallow the Hook” by S.W. Hubbard (2004)

Of note: The second in a series of books set in a fictional Adirondack town featuring the detective Frank Bennett; the author lives in Morristown, N.J.

VICTIM: Edward Maranville, an art expert who specializes in Georgia O’Keeffe

Location: A summer cottage a few miles north of Lake George Village

Novel: “An Affinity for Murder” by Anne White (2001)

Of note: The first of a five book series, all based in Lake George and featuring writer-turned-sleuth Ellen Davies; White is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose

VICTIM: The young mother of an abandoned baby

Location: Payson’s Park, Cossayahaire, Washington County (fictional location)

Novel: “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Julia Spencer-Fleming (2002)

Of note: The first of eight novels featuring Clare Fergusson (a priest of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church) and police Chief Russ Van Alsyne set in the fictional Millers Kill in the real Washington County; the author was born in Plattsburgh and lives in Maine

VICTIM: Lew Ackerman, a wealthy stable owner, is gunned down during a routine swim

Location: Saratoga Springs YMCA swimming pool

Novel: “Saratoga Swimmer” by Stephen Dobyns (1981)

Of note: The second book in the 10-novel mystery series featuring ex-cop Charlie Bradshaw, all with Saratoga in the title with some or all the action in the Spa City. Dobyns is also an acclaimed poet.

VICTIM: Donald Penn, a frustrated writer

Location: Madeline’s, 350 Broadway, Saratoga Springs

Novel: “Breakfast at Madeline’s” by Matt Witten (1999)

Of note: The first novel in the Jacob Burns mystery series includes real settings in the Spa City, including the now-defunct Madeline’s. Witten lived in Saratoga Springs when writing first book, but now lives in California and writes for TV. He has a film, “Drones,” now in production.

VICTIM: Francis Xerxes Ryan, a Troy businessman who owns stationery stores

Location: Ryan’s office in Troy

Novel: “The Heat of Lies” by Jonathan Stone (2001)

Of note: In this second novel featuring Julian Palmer, the police lieutenant now works in Troy; in the first novel, “The Cold Truth,” she worked in the fictional upstate town of Canaanville

VICTIM: Mrs. Kravett, a retired high school teacher

Location: Carlton, a fictional suburb of Albany

Novel: “Death and Faxes” by Leslie O’Kane (1996)

Of note: Leslie O’Kane is a Colorado-based author of four mystery series, including seven books featuring Molly Masters, a cartoonist and greeting card entrepreneur, in the suburbs of Albany.

VICTIM: Sam Tindell, poet and lover of Suzanne LaFleshe

Where: Humanities Building, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany

Novel: “Flesh” by Hollis Seamon (2005)

Of note: College of Saint Rose professor Hollis Seamon’s “Flesh” features the sexy deluxe-sized graduate student in literature turned sleuth; Seamon is also the author of the young adult novel “Somebody Up There Hates You”

VICTIM: Scarlet Montana, wife of Albany PD Detective Jake Montana and lover of P.I. Dick Moonlight

Location: Apartment in Albany

Novel: “Moonlight Falls” by Vincent Zandri (2009)

Of note: Zandri lives in Albany, the setting of his Dick Moonlight series of hard-boiled detective novels. His first novel, the thriller “As Catch Can,” was also set upstate. Zandri is also the drummer of the punk band the Blisterz.

VICTIM: Jonah Lee, the leader of a nonprofit housing organization

Location: Neighborhood Housing Association office, Second Street, Albany

Novel: “The Long Stair: An Albany Mystery” by Kirby White (2005)

Of note: Adirondack-resident Kirby White’s novel is both a murder mystery and about inner-city development. The title refers to a real staircase in Sheridan Hollow that is “at the bottom of a ravine where the city and state have been content to leave it to deteriorate … a dramatic symbol of what is wrong with a society that” ignores the poor, he writes.

VICTIM: Steven Kleckner, 24, who worked at Truckey’s Disco on Western Avenue

Location: Apartment on Hudson Avenue, Albany

Novel: “Death Trick” by Richard Stevenson (1981)

Of note: “Death Trick” introduced the gay private investigator Donald Strachey, who lives and works in Albany, and solves crimes with the help of his lover, Timothy Calahan, a legislative aide for a New York state senator. “Death Trick” is the first of 13 acclaimed Strachey mysteries. The author lives in Pittsfield, Mass.

VICTIM: An unnamed woman

Where: In the woods near the home of Charly Poisson, co-owner of La Fermette, outside the fictional Klover, Van Buren County (30 miles from Albany)

Novel: “Appetite for Murder” by Cecile Lamalle (1999)

Of note: The first in a series of three books set in Van Buren County featuring chef-owner-amateur-slueth Charly Poisson and recipes.

Sources: C.J. Lais; Casey Seiler; Times Union archive; Dan Wedge, Dove & Hudson Books, Albany; Alissa Maynard, adult services librarian, Bethlehem Public Library; Stopyourekillingme.com

Vía Michael Janairo stories http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/A-landscape-of-murder-4824360.php


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