First novels are hard. Writing them is a challenge, finding a publisher is a major mountain to climb, and promoting them may be the hardest task of all. But when my friend Howard Finberg told me that a friend of his was writing a mystery series set in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, I committed without even reading the first book. After all, Mr. Media has been describing St. Pete as “the NEW new media capitol of the world” since 2007 – whether the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce likes it or not – so how I could I not help out an up-and-coming writer?
Cheryl Hollon’s first mystery is Pane and Suffering. The pane she is referring to is spelled P-A-N-E as in a pane of glass. That established, it is nonetheless a story of the pain – P-A-I-N – endured by our heroine, Savannah Webb, following the sudden death of her father, the owner of Webb’s Glass Shop in the booming-yet-still-quaint Grand Central District of downtown St. Petersburg. Hollon uses the invented location to share some love with an endless array of real-life St. Pete landmarks and restaurants, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Casita Taqueria, Queen’s Head, 3 Daughters Brewing and so much more.
It is, of course, a first novel and so it’s not perfect. But it is a mix of intrigue, detective work and recognizable places that anyone who lives in the Burg or who has visited in the last five years will find entertaining.
• 5:45 Cheryl Hollon cites influences such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Louise Penny;
• 13:30 Webb's Glass Shop is a vehicle for Hollon's storytelling the same way that Cabot Cove is for Jessica Fletcher in "Murder, She Wrote";
• 20:15 After years of writing, what pushed Hollon from unpublished amateur to published author?
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