Hobby Solves Waynesboro Woman's Mysteries

Mar 15, 2013

Producing a book in the 21st century is no easy job, unless you decide to publish yourself, but a Waynesboro woman’s hobby has propelled her into the perfect publishing niche. When Mollie Bryan was home, taking care of young children, she discovered scrap booking:

“It’s one of the most popular hobbies in the world,” Bryan says, “but the thing that appealed to me was the puzzle-like quality to scrapbooking and the way that people get together to do it.”

At the time, she was writing all kinds of things – radio essays, restaurant reviews and cookbooks, but the scrapbooks made her think about a genre of mysteries.

“Cozy mysteries are a little different from traditional mysteries in that there’s always an amateur sleuth, there’s no focus on graphic sex or violence, but my books have kind of darker themes than a lot of the cozies do,” Bryan explains.                                                          

And they’re centered around a group of Shenandoah Valley women.

“They get together weekly to scrapbook and eat and gossip -- and solve murders,” she says with a smile.

Kensington, a publisher which has done especially well with mass market paperbacks, loved the idea and commissioned three books. Here’s a snippet from the second one, called Scrapped:

“Spending Sunday afternoon watching police pull a body from the river was not what Annie had planned for the day.  She was kicking a soccer ball around in the back yard with her boys when she was called away.  She took a deep breath as she walked through the crowd and over the yellow tape which roped off the section to the river where police and paramedics had gathered.  A group of Mennonites stood from the bench they were sitting on and lowered their heads.  What were the Mennonites doing at the park on a Sunday?  Odd.   A hush came over the crowd as the nude body of a small, red-haired woman emerged from the water in a torn sack, her hair dangling over the side, along with a foot.  The body, mostly shrouded by the shredded sack, was placed on the ground.  Every time Annie viewed a dead person, she silently thanked one of her old journalism professors who had insisted all of his students witness autopsies.  If you’re going to get sick, it’s better here than in front of a cop.  He’ll lose all respect for you.”

Kensington liked Bryan’s work so much that it commissioned two more books and a couple of e-novellas.  Readers are also weighing in through a group called Malice Domestic.  They’ve nominated Bryan for an Agatha Award in the best new novel category – a prize to be awarded at their annual convention in Bethesda in May.