Fans of local author Saralyn Richard are in for a treat—the prolific writer’s latest mystery novel A Murder of Principal is available this month. “This is the most personal of my mystery novels,” Richard explains, “because I’ve spent many years working as a teacher, administrator, and school improvement consultant in urban schools throughout the country—including Galveston, Houston, Pasadena, Port Arthur, Chicago, and St. Louis.”
“The setting is authentic, a charming old building in the Midwest, in a neighborhood that’s seen better days,” says Richard, a member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. “The school is fraught with all of the problems and conflicts of the 1990s, when the accountability movement began to exert pressure to change.”
Though drawn from her many years as an educator, the characters and plot of the book purely fictional, she says.
“The introduction of the new principal into the status quo of the school creates a new dynamic, and it was fun to watch the various stakeholders react and interact with each other as a result.”
When someone sets the local high school ablaze, killing the new principal in what is determined to be a case of murder, fear and chaos overtake the community. Assistant Principal Sally Pearce is forced to fill the void as new principal. She vows to carry on her predecessor’s mission to eradicate the violence, racial tensions, and other ills that plague the school’s culture—but it is no easy task.
The long-held tensions and distrust that have a hold on the racially diverse students and its stakeholders run deep. When a second murder occurs on school grounds, Sally realizes she is trapped in a cycle of violence that must be stopped at any cost.
Saralyn says anyone who relishes the twists and turns that go along with a mystery will appreciate the tale.
“There’s an old adage in creative writing, ‘Write what you know.’ I’ve read legal mysteries written by lawyers and medical thrillers written by doctors. I know enough about urban high schools to take the reader inside—through the back door,” Richard says.
“The plot of A Murder of Principal and all of its fictional characters represent the many dedicated people I’ve worked with in urban high schools,” she continues.
“And while no specific person or school inspired the story, the book is dedicated to my dear friend Bill O’Neal who took a chance in hiring me for my first administrative position. I’ll always be grateful for his mentorship and confidence in my abilities.”
Though no book signings are scheduled due to the pandemic, the author has no plans to shutter her imagination.
“I started writing another mystery last February, just before the pandemic lockdown,” Richard says. “Since I’ve been social distancing, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to write, so readers can expect to see Blood Sisters in the near future.”
A Murder of Principal is available locally at Galveston Bookshop and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Autographed copies of all Saralyn Richard’s books are available at www.SaralynRichard.com. Cost is $16.99 for the paperback, $4.99 for the eBook, $19.99 for the large-print paperback.
Other Books by Saralyn Richard
Naughty Nana- This popular children’s picture book is based on the adventures of the author’s sheepdog puppy, Nana. Literacy activities to accompany the book are available, as well.
Murder in the One Percent- The first book in the Detective Parrott mystery series revolves around the exploits of a much-hated billionaire who hosts a party that attracts a guest with poison in their pocket and murder in their heart.
A Palette for Love and Murder- The second in the Detective Parrott mystery series can be read as a standalone or a sequel. It takes the reader to the lush landscape of Brandywine Valley, where an art heist, a murder, a treasure hunt, and a palette full of secrets provide an intellectual and emotional puzzle.