Brecksville writer sniffs out local mystery in latest release

by Charles Cassady

The career of prolific Brecksville novelist Connie Laux has gone to the dogs. And it’s a good thing.

Laux, who writes romance, mystery, crime and other genres under a variety of pseudonyms (Connie Lane, Connie Deka, Zoe Daniels, Casey Daniels, Miranda Bliss, etc.), has launched a new series with “The Scent of Murder,” by her nom de plume Kylie Logan, due to release May 7.

The book, set in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, follows a young woman named Jazz Ramsey, who works at an exclusive girls school and does volunteer work she’s passionate about: training and handling cadaver dogs.

“She’s working with a dog in an abandoned building when she discovers the body of a young woman, once a student at the school where Jazz works,” Laux said. “The lead detective on the case is Jazz’s former lover. And, like it or not, Jazz is pulled into the mystery.”

The book is published by Minotaur Books, a thriller-and-mayhem subdivision of St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan. Laux said she had to take time to make a list to determine exactly how many titles she has published during her career. “The Scent of Murder,” she said, makes No. 58.

An English major at Cleveland State University, Laux published her first novel in 1992, the historical romance “Twilight Secrets.” She has since produced books regularly, some for the young adult market, others for romance and mystery lovers and connoisseurs of “cozies,” a subgenre of mysteries light on sex and violence that typically takes place in a small community.

Laux is an active member of Sisters in Crime, an international association of female crime writers and their fans and supporters.

Under the Kylie Logan pen name, alone, Laux has spawned four book series. The League of Literary Ladies is about a Lake Erie Islands book club that turns to solving mysteries. The Ethnic Eats series involves an Ohio chef-restaurateur who often winds up with homicide on the menu. The Chicago-based Button Box books center on murder cases sewn up by an antique shop that specializes in old buttons. The Chili Cook-Off mysteries follow an amateur sleuth who often finds killer competition on the nomadic chili cook-off circuit.

“The Scent of Murder” is branded as the first in a Jazz Ramsey collection.

“The original idea of a heroine who works with cadaver dogs was inspired by a dog club we belong to,” said Laux. “We once had a cadaver dog handler come in to give a program, and it was so fascinating I knew I wanted to write a book about it. As part of the research I did for the book, I went along on cadaver-dog training, and it was incredible.”

Why Tremont? “I knew I wanted to set the book in Cleveland; I just needed to find the right neighborhood,‘’ she said.

Laux and her husband have lived in Brecksville for 19 years, and both belong to the local historical society. She chose Tremont after attending an Urban Exploration tour of the neighborhood offered by the Cleveland Metroparks.

“About 10 minutes into the tour, I knew I found the place to set the new book,” she said. “There’s so much history in Tremont. … Tremont is where thousands of immigrants came to live so they could work in the mills and foundries. … As I was researching the area, one of the women I talked to told me about how when she was a child, she remembers seeing a river of men going down to the Flats for the beginning of a shift, just as another river of men was coming up the other side of the street at the end of their shift.

“These days, of course, there’s the whole Tremont food scene, the art galleries, the shopping, always a lot going on and the perfect place to set a fast-paced mystery.”

As part of that pace, Laux already has delivered a second Jazz Ramsey manuscript to Minotaur for publication in 2020. It is so fresh the title has not been finalized, but she said it is tentatively called “The Secrets of Bones.”

“I’m also working on another lighter, funnier series for a different publisher; no titles or dates for those yet,” she said.

While Sisters in Crime is having a big convention May 4 in Bethesda, Md., readers need not venture far from this area to meet Laux. She is giving a book talk at the Kirtland Library, 9267 Chillicothe Rd., on Wednesday, May 8, at 7 p.m. She will do a book signing – not far from Tremont – at Something Different Gallery, 1899 W. 25th St., Cleveland, on Saturday, May 11, from noon-5 p.m.

And she will visit the Tremont neighborhood bookshop, Visible Voice Books, 2258 Professor Ave., on Friday, May 24, at 7:30 p.m.

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Featured image photo caption: Connie Laux, also known by her penname Kylie Logan, holds a copy of her latest release, “The Scent of Murder.” Photo by J. Kananian