For me, setting is important. Ok. Stupid sentence, but true.
However, in the best books, especially, to me, mystery novels, the setting becomes a character.
The Blue Edge of Midnight
Some years back, I picked up a book at the great Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas. I picked up a novel called The Blue Edge of Midnight by a former journalist (always a plus for me) by Jonathan King.
The book, featuring what would become the series character Max Freeman, was stunning. It was what I’d been looking for for quite sometime – a fun, well-written series with a compelling character.
I devoured The Blue Edge of Midnight very quickly. At the time, I believe four Max Freeman books were out and I read them all. Similarly, I’ve read others as they’ve rolled out.
Max Freeman is a great and troubled character. He’s a former Philadelphia cop who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy during a hold up. It was a clean shooting, but that didn’t matter to Freeman, who was also shot in the incident. He is consumed by guilt and leaves everything to try to rebuild his life.
He’s a fundamental good guy. Tough. And caring.
This book is a great example of a setting serving as a character. It would be easy to say the backdrop of the Everglades enhances Max Freeman’s character, but it does so much more.
The Everglades are a participant in the story. This story just can’t be told without the swamp and those that live in it.
I was struck by this very early in the first book. Max Freeman is powering his canoe to the ranger station to report a body he found. The description of Freeman’s strokes, and the burning in his arms and lungs, puts you right in the action.
But so too is the description of the channel through the swamp. Jumping the dam. Rounding curves and corners.
You learn a lot about Max Freeman from the swamp just as he teaches you about the treacherous area. But more important, the Everglades helps to advance the story. They are more than simply where much of the story occurs.
Setting is a place. It adds atmosphere. However, the best settings are far more – they are characters taking an active role in the story.
Don’t forget, my mini-short story collection, The Shack and Other Stories, is available for Kindle and in paperback on Amazon, or available from your favorite e-retailer everywhere. Hope you’ll buy about 20 copies!