Crafting a Kootenay murder mystery

Iona Whishaw’s mystery novel A Killer in King’s Cove features fictionalized Nelson.

Author Iona Whishaw has written a murder mystery

Author Iona Whishaw has written a murder mystery

Iona Whishaw grew up in Queen’s Bay, just north of Nelson, years before the construction of the Big Orange Bridge. Back then residents still had to ferry back and forth across Kootenay Lake, and outhouses were unfortunately common.

Surrounded by untouched natural beauty, and living amidst railway workers and fruit-pickers, Whishaw remembers the Kootenays as an idyllic, slower-paced world than the one she lives in today. And that’s the world she hopes to conjure for the reader in her recently released mystery novel A Killer in King’s Cove.

“It doesn’t take a genius to make the connection between King’s Cove and Queen’s Bay,” Whishaw told the Star.

“You can recognize Nelson because I talk about Baker Street and various other recognizable landmarks, like Elephant Mountain, but it’s a very fictional version of Nelson. I’ve created an almost mythical vision of the Kootenay Lake area.”

And she’s used her own memories to populate the story.

“I’m using all this stuff I know, people and characters from where I lived. I’m taking elements of them and their lives and I’m incorporating my own memories of this really bygone era.”

And it’s into this milieu she’s inserted Lane Winslow, a female detective modelled after Whishaw’s own mother Lorna. (The pair even share initials.) Winslow’s an ex-intelligence officer looking for refuge in the mountains shortly after the Second World War when she gets embroiled in a murder investigation.

“My mother was an interesting, courageous woman who did a lot on her own. I wanted to capture some of that spirit with Lane. In my story she’s been recruited out of Oxford to do intelligence, and she speaks multiple languages like my mother did.”

But everything changes when a corpse is discovered carrying nothing but a slip of paper. The name on it: Lane Winslow.

King’s Cove is the first book in a planned series featuring Winslow. The second one is scheduled to come out next spring.