Beach Murder Mysteries Launches March 10
VIRGINIA BEACH — A series of three murder-mysteries with scenes and characters based in Virginia Beach will be launched at 7 p.m., March 10, at Doc Taylor’s Seaside Lounge at the Oceanfront. The series, a first for Hampton Roads, is being published by Beach-based Köehler Books Publishing. Many of the crime scenes in the three novels take place at or near the city’s beaches and Oceanfront strips.
Rue Elliott and her book, Guilt Before Innocence, and Michelle Johnson and her book, The Footloose Killer, will be joined at the launching party by John Koehler and Timothy Choquette, co-authors of the first book in the series, The Case of the Russians Maids.
The idea for the series came from John Koehler, founder and publisher of the book company.
“Russian Maids was a complete change of direction for me,” said Koehler. “I had always wanted to try my hand at a murder mystery, and figured it would make sense to keep it local. I found Tim and we knocked the book into shape and published it in the fall of 2011.”
Koehler created the website for the series, www.beachmurdermysteries.com, figuring it would allow him to expand into other beach communities down the coast and might eventually attract other writers. That happened much faster than expected. Within two months of launching Russian Maids, Koehler had three others who wanted in. Bascom Wilson wrote Misguided Justice, a murder mystery that takes place on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, while Johnson and Eilliott’s books, The Footloose Killer and Guilt Before Innocence respectively, are based in Virginia Beach, each with places and scenes that will be very familiar to area residents and tourists.
“Michelle Johnson is a well-known writer on the literary scene,” said Koehler. “She was editing some of our books and I was familiar with her work. So when she called me and said she and her friend Rue Elliott had books they wanted to submit for the VBMM series, I said, ‘yes ma’am!’”
Köehler Books has published nearly 30 books, including novels, history books, tabletop books and memoirs. One of Koehler’s best known titles is Tree, a memoir about Bill “Tree” Rountree, civic leader and the beloved founder of Monarch Bank. The company is a an independent book publisher that pays proven and experienced writers and helps new authors by providing editing, book design and other publishing services for a fee.
Several professional writers have signed with Köehler Books, including Paul Clancy, a book author and columnist with The Virginian-Pilot, and historian John Quarstein, who has published 14 history books. Quarstein has signed with Koehler Books to write a three-novel series to be called Pyrates of the Chesapeake, the first of which is expected to be released in the fall.
“There’s a lot of excitement and energy in the community about the work we’re doing,’’ said Joe Coccaro, executive editor for Koehler Books. “We’re hearing from lots of talented writers with promising manuscripts trying to get published. We have some big names in the pipeline that will surprise some folks. We’re picky about what we accept because we’re a small shop, but once we sign writers they receive top-notch editing, layout and cover designs. It’s totally a professional experience.’’