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The "butterhead" murder
What if I set a locked-room mystery at the Great Minnesota Get-Together?
-- Jessica Lourey

by Jessica Lourey

I was invited to speak at a women's book group in Battle Lake, Minn., a few years ago about my latest book, and the conversation turned to the State Fair.

One of the women claimed that Battle Lake had produced more Princess Kays of the Milky Way - State Fair royalty - than any other town. Another person told the story of her cousin, a past princess, and how she disposed of her butterhead - that is, her likeness that had been sculpted in butter, a State Fair tradition for nearly 60 years.

Soon, everyone was sharing a story of a Princess Kay they knew and what she'd done with her butterhead. One winner put hers out for the corn on the cob at her family reunion. Another kept it in her freezer next to the hamburger. And a third donated it to a homeless shelter.

At the time, I was working on a "locked-room" mystery, a deductive classic, where a person is discovered murdered in a room, locked from the inside with no viable exits, yet there is no killer present.

From this confluence of events, an idea was born: What if I set a locked-room mystery at the Great Minnesota Get-Together? Specifically, what if Princess Kay of the Milky Way (renamed Milkfed Mary Queen of the Dairy for obvious reasons) was murdered in front of hundreds while her head was being carved out of butter, but no one saw the killer?

And so, my fifth mystery, "September Fair," was born.

The setting is spectacular and the people quirky, but even more than that, the State Fair is integral to our roots. There's something both comforting and exhilarating about visiting it.

I encourage you to stop by the fair in person, but if you can't get there, do the next best thing: Pick up one of the books listed here, grab a tub of Nut Goodie ice cream and have yourself a grand time.

Jessica Lourey is the author of the Murder-by-Month mysteries, all set in Minnesota. www.jesslourey.com or visit her on Facebook.


BookShelf: Jessica Lourey is not the first woman author to set a book at the Minnesota State Fair. Check out these fiction titles:
Steering Toward Normal by Rebecca Petruck is a novel for middle-grades.
Hot Dish by Connie Brockway is a comical romance. For nonfiction, try these:
Seed Queen: The Story of Crop Art and the Amazing Lillian Colton by Colleen Sheehy, with forward by Karal Ann Marling
State Fair: The Great Minnesota Get-Together, a fun coffee-table book, with photography by Susan Lambert Miller and forward by Lorna Landvik
Blue Ribbon: A Social and Pictorial History of the Minnesota State Fair by Karal Ann Marling

What's on your bookshelf?
Send us 450 words about your booklife, plus your list of five related books by women authors. editor@womenspress.com

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