By Heather Killen
Thanks to a Middleton author, the Fireflies luncheon gets a special shout-out in a murder mystery.
The Hat Trick Murders, John MacEachern’s first novel, revolves around Cornell University in the 1960s. This murder mystery is cast against a backdrop of politically charged intrigue, the New York underworld, and small town Nova Scotia.
“There’s hardly any hockey in it at all,” he said. “I like to think of it as a feel good murder mystery.”
MacEachern, who moved to Middleton when he retired five years ago, was originally from Ontario where he had a restaurant in Klienburg. From there he and his family moved to Chester where he owned and operated the Captain’s House restaurant.
These days, writing and painting are his passions and he’s already working on his second novel that will revisit a few of the characters introduced in The Hat Trick Murders.
MacEachern says the novel makes strong statements about the Canadian government’s refusal to help its citizens abroad and the rallying force of goodwill and small town spirit.
When Colin MacDonald, a rising NHL star from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, is charged with the grisly murders of three Cornell students, his friend Jack Souster races against time to prove his innocence.
MacEachern freely draws on details he remembers from his own days at Cornell, and his small town roots in Ontario. Small town Nova Scotia gets a special nod, as various communities rally to raise money for the hometown hero’s legal counsel.
A black tie dinner is held in Halifax, while Digby hosts a scallop dinner and even the Middleton fireflies pitch in. While the story includes elements of political intrigue and underworld agendas, the saving grace rests on the value of friendship and the strength of community, he added.
“I had the story in the back of my mind and when I sat down, it just started to flow,” he said. “It amazed me how the characters can run away with the story.”
He added that at the end of a writing session, he wouldn’t have a clue how to proceed but by the next morning the characters had worked it out for him. The manuscript took him nearly a year to write with the first draft at 1,500 pages.
That first draft has been reworked into a 373-page story that MacEachern has opted to self-publish. He added that he almost spent as much time investigating publishing avenues and formatting the novel as it took to write it.
Fortunately he says he’s had a lot of support and encouragement along the way from his fellow writers who meet regularly at the Macdonald Museum. He added that it’s terrific group.
The Hat Trick Murders is available at Blue Griffin Books in Middleton, Flight of Fancy in Bear River, the Inside Story in Greenwood, and Pharmasave locations in Middleton and Kingston.