On a recent trip to Switzerland for my day job (I know, tough duty…), I was excited to have plane time to write and the chance to scope out locations for a new Penny McKenna mystery! I even bought a new notebook for the occasion, my indulgent ritual for a new book when I have half-filled ones at home.
How could I set a nautical mystery in land-locked Switzerland? The lakes! Over 7000 of them, spectacularly surrounded by Alps. We took a cog railway to the top of Rigi Kulm, the highest peak of Mount Rigi at 5898 feet, which treated us to a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view. From there we could see 13 lakes including Lucerne and Zug, and what the Swiss called a “Sea of Peaks.” Tour boats and ferry boats on Lake Lucerne would provide perfect murderous opportunity.
Later we took a great tour of the ancient trading port of Zug; archaeologists have dated the first pile dwellings here to 6000 years ago. It’s now an affluent, low-tax region, famous for headquarters of multinational enterprises. Plus Switzerland is bordered by France, Italy, Germany and Austria, giving me plenty of leeway for international intrigue. And since Switzerland is home to Victorinox, makers of the Swiss Army knife, perhaps that’s the next weapon. Or maybe someone drowns in a vat of scrumptious Swiss chocolate…not a bad way to go!
We didn’t make it to Geneva but had the opportunity to visit with a friend who is a tour boat captain on Lake Geneva. His boat is an old galley-type schooner, complete with oars and benches for rowing. Lots of possibilities there, so perhaps Geneva is the next trip.
Our flight also had a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland and day was dawning over the glacier as we landed, reflecting orange off the snow and ice. What a spectacular sight! Photos through the plane window don’t do it justice. As we walked across the tarmac (no jetway), the stewardess told us Iceland is the third windiest place on earth, and no one lives in the first two! A bonus, desolate remote setting for a murder mystery, though I may have to spend some more time there exploring waterways and figuring out which boat to use. Stay tuned!