Local Author Pens New Mystery


Butte author Marian Jensen's new book, "Grave Madness,'' a Mining City mystery, will be released on Friday.
     In "Grave Madness," author Jensen explores the stigma of mental illness, its impact on family and friendship, and the dangers that emerge when old secrets come to light.
     Mesa and Chance Dawson and their quirky friends and colleagues at the Mining City Messenger are on the story once again in this second installment of Mining City Mysteries set in Butte.
     Nobody in Butte has been killed on St. Patrick's Day in recent memory, though the next morning many feel half-alive after one too many the day before. And who would think that an ad in the Mining City Messenger would lead to someone's death?
     A St. Patrick's Day weekend in Butte is a grand time to be finding old acquaintances. A woman comes to town, hoping to look up an old friend, a former mental patient. Finding him presents a challenge since he was accused of killing another patient and in spectacular fashion. Supposedly, he pushed the other guy off a 40-foot thermal outcropping on the hospital grounds. The challenge is also a personal one for the Dawson's because the woman was a close friend of their mother, who died more than 15 years ago.
     Mesa and Chance reconstruct the facts and find witnesses to solve a 30-year-old death in order to solve the St. Patrick's Day homicide. Among their leads are a host of former hospital staff and patients including a nurse whose prescription drug habit led to a change in careers, and a Cuban psychiatrist, an exile after Castro's revolution. Most want to forget the secrets of the past -- especially the killer.

     "This series is as much about Butte as any character in the book," Jensen says. "Based on the feedback I got on 'Deadly Reckoning,' I think I got that right."
Citing the wealth of storytellers she has met here, she says, "Most people in Butte have a story to tell, or somebody I should meet who does."
     The historical backdrop of the city provides readers with a familiar setting in which fictional events play out.
     "Because I grew up in the east, I see the clash between crowded, urban sprawl and life in the west. Montana has so much space that it's no surprise people come here to reinvent themselves, which is ideal for character development. It's a theme that runs through 'Grave Madness' and the series."
     Jensen has been writing novels since she came to Butte. After retiring as a college administrator, she attended the Antioch Writers Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and became inspired to write mysteries after taking a week long fiction-writing class from Sue Grafton, the best-selling author of the alphabet series. Eventually, Jensen became one of AWW's co-directors while honing her craft. Once she arrived in Butte, she realized it was the ideal location for a mystery novel. She is already working on a third installment in the series.
While Friday is the official release date, the softcover books are arriving at Second Edition Books, 112 S. Montana St., on Dec. 17, Jensen said.

Marian at the Butte Archives



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