Midnight in the Garden of Cape Cod

CapeCodI recently was invited to visit a friend whose parents own a house on Cape Cod. What a wonderful place. There is a cemetery behind the house that provides good inspiration for anyone who likes to read or write anything spooky or suspenseful.

The angel pictured here reminded me of John Berendt’s classic MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL.

There is a good, creepy story here. When my friend was younger, he was approached in his backyard by a kindly old man asking if he’d seen “Samuel.” My friend turned to stop his dog from barking–and the man disappeared. At another time, my friend’s brother-in-law saw something late at night that freaked him out: an apparition in the backyard calling for “Samuel.”

I was reminded, too, that Mary Higgins Clark’s first best-seller, WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?, is set on Cape Cod. That was the first book of hers that I ever read, and I still think of it as a model for how to write suspense. In those days there was no Internet, so when I came across references to a “widow’s walk” on the Cap Cod houses, I had to ask my parents what a widow’s walk is. Finally, decades later, I have seen REAL Cape Cod houses with REAL widow’s walks.  Cool.

Speaking of Mary Higgins Clark … the Great Lady and I live not too far apart. I sometimes see her having dinner with friends or family at a local pizza joint, Nellie’s.  My part of NJ is home to a lot of great mystery writers–Harlan Coben is here, too, though I haven’t ever bumped into him in public.


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