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Kittanning author Boarts debuts second novel

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Jeff Boarts

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Diane Acerni
Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 2:16 a.m.
 

If a cozy Christmas sounds appealing to you, Kittanning author Jeff Boarts may have just the thing to make it happen.

Boarts brings his second novel, “Merry Merry Murder,” to Kittanning News from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday for purchase and signing.

Described by Boarts as a “traditional cozy who-done-it,” the story, set in 1954 Kittanning, follows the form of literature known as “cozy.” Boarts further explains:

“These are the type of books written by Agatha Christie — very little blood, violence or bad language.”

But readers will be given a lot to ponder as they attempt to discover the truth behind a mysterious murder.

Because “Merry Merry Murder “is set locally, readers will probably recognize the similarities between the places in real time Kittanning and the town of Boarts' creation, but that is where the likenesses end.

“I was asked if the characters in my first book (‘A Flash of Murder') were based on anyone that I or they may know,” Boarts says, “and they're not. This book is no different.”

Although Boarts' characters are fictitious, this author has chosen to continue to make sense of the mysteries through protagonist George Cooper, a local newswriter, who is complemented by his wife, Ruth.

Despite continuity of characters, the books are not sequential. In fact, “Merry Merry Murder” was written first, though published second.

“It took me four to five years to write ‘Merry Merry Murder,' ” he says. “I was politely refused by several publishers.”

It was advice from fellow members of Pennwriters, a statewide association of wordsmiths, that helped Boarts to retool the manuscript.

“I learned that my original work was twice as long as it should be. It took me another year to cut characters and scenes to make it a manageable size.”

But, the year of editing did not begin until Boarts had seen “A Flash of Murder” to completion.

Once able to revisit George, Ruth and 1950s Kittanning, Boarts can say “it's a much better book now.”

So, share in some hometown excitement, cozy up with a copy of “Merry Merry Murder” and have a Merry Christmas.

Copies of both of Boarts' books are available at Kittanning News on Market Street.

Diane Acerni is a Leader Times correspondent.

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