Local author Lola Beatlebrox’s new mystery looks into ‘Petty Crimes & Head Cases’
Lola Beatlebrox’s mystery “Petty Crimes & Head Cases” is available at Dolly’s Bookstore, Amazon and BookBaby
When Lola Beatlebrox decided to write her debut mystery novel “Petty Crimes & Head Cases,” she remembered hearing someone say, “write what you know.”
“I have spent a lot of time sitting in a salon getting my hair done, so I can safely say I knew something about that,” the Summit County resident said with a laugh. “I also know a lot about strange news stories.”
The strange news stories come from Beatlebrox and her husband Zafod’s love of the “Odd News” section of the Salt Lake Tribune.
“Every day, Zafod will say, ‘Listen to this…’ and you can’t believe someone would actually do these things,” Beatlebrox said.
Beatlebrox recalled one story about a man who knocked over all of the tombstones in a historic cemetery and dropped his phone, which the police used to track him down.
“I always think, ‘Who are these people? And how could they have possibly done these stupid things,’” she said with a laugh.
With those types of stories in her mind, Beatlebrox, who has published two children’s books, woke up one day and decided to write the book, which is about the fictitious Tracy Lemon, the owner of the Citrus Salon. Lemon is married to Carl, a police officer who is trying to get promoted to detective.
“I had an idea that Tracy and Carl made a bet that she could help him get the promotion by helping him solve crimes quicker than anybody else in their town,” she said.
The character of Tracy Lemon was inspired by a real person: Tracey Lemon, owner of the On the Fringe salon in Heber City.
“I’ve been going to her for years, and have seen her salon grow from a one-woman business to the spa it is today,” Beatlebrox said.
Unlike many mystery novels, the cases the Lemons work on, which increase in complexity throughout the book, do not include murder, Beatlebrox said.
The cases they try to solve address current social issues like bullying, LGBTQ rights and police brutality, according to Beatlebrox.
“Social issues are very important to me, and there are always two sides of an issue,” she said. “So I wanted my characters to show those sides. I’m a Libra, so I like that balance.”
One of the characters in the book who exemplifies Beatlebrox’s view is a survivalist.
“When you think of survivalists, you think about someone with a lot of guns,” she said. “But the other side of that is this person’s logic and thought process that is led by him wanting to protect his family.”
Beatlebrox got the idea to focus on police issues after she took part in the Citizen’s Police Academy, a course that was offered by the Park City Police Department a couple of years ago.
During the early stages writing of her manuscript, Beatlebrox told Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez about “Petty Crimes & Head Cases.”
“He told me he would get three of his deputies to review the book to help me with the accuracy,” she said. “And he did.”
Throughout the book, while Carl does investigative work on the streets, Lemon keeps tabs on her clients’ gossip.
“Hair salons are like community centers,” Beatlebrox said. “Many different people from all walks of life and all demographics pass through.”
As she wrote those scenes, characters began taking shape.
“Some were based on people I might currently know, while others were based on people from my past,” she said. “Then there are some who were totally made up, like the police chief.”
Another character, reporter Paddy J. Hamburger, is based on two local news reporters: KPCW’s Rick Brough and The Park Record’s Jay Hamburger.
“I think Jay Hamburger and Rick Brough are the unsung heroes in this town,” Beatlebrox said. “They report on everything we need to know day after day.”
Beatlebrox, who has served as chair, vice chair and secretary on the Summit County Public Art Advisory Board, relied on her creative mind to bring these characters to life.
“People are vivid to me, and when they come to my brain, I know what they look like and how they talk,” she said.
Getting it out there
Beatlebrox originally pictured the book as a collection of short stories, but her editor, Linda Cashdan, of Wrod Process, told her to make it into a novel.
“I learned a lot about how to create a full story arc for the novel,” she said.
After completing the book in 2015, Beatlebrox hunted for an agent, but after the search turned up dry, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
“Like any artist that comes to the Park City Kimball Arts Festival to put their art out there, I paid a fee to get my own art out there,” she said.
Beatlebrox paid a total of $5,000, to self-publish “Petty Crimes & Head Cases.”
“Petty Crimes & Head Cases” is available at Dolly’s Bookstore and on Amazon and BookBaby for $3.
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