"The Mirror Pond Murders," the second installation in Ted Haynes' Central Oregon-based Northwest murder mystery trilogy, is any sleuth's dream. Lies and cover-ups lead to four seemingly unrelated murders, all connected to a skull discovered at Mirror Pond—that body of water that in real life sparks so much controversy here in Bend.
The story follows a Portland attorney, Sarah Chatham, and her quest for truth with the help of a local detective, a Native American leader and a young couple. The characters dive into the 1980s and the controversial past of Rashneeshpuram. Have the killers left town or are they scattered around the area?
The Source sat down with Haynes to talk about the book.
Source Weekly: Explain your process for coming up with characters/situations and vantage points.
Ted Haynes: It usually starts with a key seed or a key incident, which is a murder, or perhaps something that happens in the investigation, and I build out from there. Some people write a 10-page biography of their character before they start. I don't do that.
SW: The young couple, Dan and Amy, appeared in the first book of the series, "Suspects." Are any other characters continuing in the next book?
TH: Certainly Sarah. The people who [often] read mysteries are women between 50 and 75. After the first book where Dan was kind of the hero, I thought, 'well my heroine better be somewhere between 50 and 75 and better be a woman.' So, I invented Sarah for that. She is very much going to continue and in the next book, "The Mt. Bachelor Murders."
SW: You've written a lot of books set in Central Oregon. What do you enjoy about writing with the Central Oregon setting?
TH: I love Central Oregon. We bought land here in 1995, we've been there ever since. It's not just for recreation—I've enjoyed meeting new people, being part of some of the institutions and of course I love the land. It's fun to write about it. Another nice thing about it from a writer's point of view is it's somewhat isolated, which is great. It's almost like an island, therefore [I] can write about it without having to tie in too much else.
SW: Do you think people outside Central Oregon can appreciate the books?
TH: I have followers on Good Reads, and the funny thing is, a lot of these followers are women in the Southeast of the United States. I'm popular, at least in Alabama and Georgia. So, they must like the mystery. I guess they like the setting.
The Mirror Pond Murders
A murder mystery by Ted Haynes
Available at local book stores and online