The next guest on the Crime Cafe podcast will be Lynn Slaughter.

Along with her guest post, she’s giving away copies of her latest novel, DEADLY SETUP, to three lucky winners!

All you need to do to enter the giveaway is email Lynn at with the subject “Crime Cafe giveaway” by January 4, 2023.

Be sure to check out Lynn’s guest post about her latest work.


What’s Your Novel Really About?

When folks ask me what my recently released novel, DEADLY SETUP, is about, I usually say something like, “A teenager’s life implodes when she gets arrested and goes on trial for the murder of her mother’s fiancé.”

Is that what my book is really about? Yes and no. Yes, that really is what happens to seventeen-year-old Samantha (Sam), the daughter of a widowed New England heiress. As the title indicates, she’s been set up and fights to prove her innocence with the help of her boyfriend’s dad, an ex-homicide cop.

Those are the basics of the external plot. But digging deeper, what the novel is really about is Sam’s experience of being “parentified,” her troubled relationship with her mother, the solace she experiences through music, and her longing for a family that can provide her with loving acceptance and support.

Let me explain. Sam was very close to her father who died of brain cancer when she was twelve. On his death bed, he told Sam to “take care of your mother for me.” His intentions may have been good, but this was a terrible thing to do to a twelve-year-old girl who was in desperate need of parenting herself and was not equipped to take on a parenting role toward her mother.

Furthermore, Sam’s mother resents her daughter’s efforts to weigh in on her impulsive choices. A self-absorbed romance novelist, she has a habit of looking for her own “happily ever after” with wildly inappropriate men. As the novel opens, she announces her intention to marry one of them, a financial advisor who’s eager to take control of her money and whose first heiress wife died under suspicious circumstances. She’s not interested in Sam’s pleas to exercise caution. In fact, listening to Sam about anything doesn’t even register on her priority list.

Sam finds solace and comfort in playing the piano and her father left her with a great appreciation for the American Songbook. She loves playing standards and accompanying her high school’s choirs and musical rehearsals.

She also realizes that the people who really care about her may lie outside her family. This is driven home to her when she’s accused of murder and her family’s longtime housekeeper, her boyfriend, his family, her close friends, and her favorite teacher don’t doubt her innocence for a moment, despite the mountain of circumstantial evidence. They rally behind her and their emotional support buoys her at a time when her own mother refuses to believe her protestations of innocence.

Ultimately, Sam recognizes that it’s not only up to her to figure out who set her up, but she must create her own intentional family to move forward with her life.

So, the next time you ask a writer what her novel is about, my advice is to ask a follow-up question: What’s it really about? Chances are you’ll get a different, and in many ways more significant, answer.


Lynn Slaughter is addicted to the arts, chocolate, and her husband’s cooking. After a long career as a professional dancer and dance educator, she earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She writes coming-of-age romantic mysteries and is the author of the recently released Deadly Setup, a Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards silver medalist. She is also the author of: Leisha’s Song, a 2022 Imadjinn Award winner, a Moonbeam bronze medalist, Agatha nominee, and Silver Falchion Award winner; While I Danced, an EPIC finalist; and It Should Have Been You, a Silver Falchion finalist. Her first mystery for adults, Missed Cue, comes out from Melange Books in the summer of 2023. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she’s at work on her next novel and is an active member of Derby Rotten Scoundrels, the Ohio River Valley chapter of Sisters in Crime.

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