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Why Crystal River?
As my readers know, my settings are as important to my best-selling novels as the whodunit puzzles and the engaging characters. In selecting a venue for my Haunted Shores Mysteries, I search for remarkable resort locations, but those probably less well known. No place like Myrtle Beach or Malibu or Fort Lauderdale will do. I hope part of the fun of reading my novels is discovering another gem of a location to put on readers’ “to visit” list.
In completing the research for the third entry in the series, I had already decided to take my protagonist, Darrell, and his new wife, Erin, to someplace in Florida for their honeymoon. So I did a considerable amount of advance research on various locations in the Sunshine State and then began the onsite Investigations. To make a long story short, after checking out different possibilities, I fell in love with Crystal River. The small town has a charm all its own and turned out to be the perfect setting for my story. Here are just a few of the reasons it is a “must visit” place.
Crystal River is a quaint town that has an “old Florida charm,” unlike most Florida tourist stops. Located on the Gulf coast about an hour north of Tampa, the town is populated with retro hotels like the Plantation at Crystal River—featured in my novel, by the way—even including one called Port Paradise where Elvis Presley filmed Follow That Dream in the ‘60s.
The coastal section of the town—and indeed the whole of Citrus County— boasts a bit of everything. A few miles outside of town, visitors can enjoy a charming, if small, white sand beach with enough surf to enjoy the fun waters of the Gulf.
Other sections of the coastline are still wild and unspoiled with forests running right to the water. Still other parts of the coast merge with swamp lands extending inland, creating vibrant eco-systems for fish and wildlife.
The town has cultivated a small park called the Three Sisters’ Springs, whose warm waters welcome hundreds of manatees every year, from December through February. In fact, this fresh water spring is the only place in the US where visitors can swim with the massive, gentle creatures.
This alone makes the trip to Crystal River well worth it. It’s an experience visitors say they never forget.
If you’re a biker or runner, Crystal River offers six incredible bike/running trails which run through all the eco-systems, along the shore, through vine-tangled forests and over salt marshes. Although none of the trails are too strenuous, all labeled easy to moderate, they provide various lengths of breathtaking beauty and glimpses of wildlife, both birds and mammals.
The town of Crystal River sits at the mouth of Kings Bay—which dumps into the Gulf of Mexico—and faces due west. This creates the perfect setting for an evening seafood meal at one the fine restaurants like Charlie’s Fish House—also featured in the novel—all while watching the sunset ignite the blue-green waters of the Bay. As Darrel and Erin learn, it’s the perfect romantic way to end a day, especially after a day on the trails or swimming with the manatees.
If you’re an avid water sportsman, you’d be hard pressed to find a more attractive location. Because the area offers both salt and fresh water habitats, visitors can choose from boating, kayaking, scuba diving, water skiing and some of the best fishing anywhere. In fact, Crystal River is one of the few places you can dive for scallops in the summer.
I have to admit, like many others, I’d never heard of Crystal River before I completed my research. When I had the chance to visit—right before the pandemic closed everything down, thank heaven—I was taken by the small town charm and beauty of the area. After meeting the locals, I decided it was the perfect setting for my Christmas ghost story/mystery, SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER.
I think when you read my new novel, you may fall in love with the beautiful town as well.
“Overbeck’s writing transports you into real-life landscapes and imagined locations with a seamlessness that makes it hard to tell one from the other. The beauties of the Florida Gulf coast, the swampy growth that borders the greenery of well-fertilized fields, the posh interior of an ag magnate’s two story, all create a land that is seen, heard, smelled and felt.”—KRL News and Reviews
Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for four decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake, Crimson at Cape May and Scarlet at Crystal River have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year–ReadersFavorite.com, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”—ReadersView.com and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation, “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
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- Release by Wild Rose Press—September 13, 2021
- Paranormal mystery
- 364 pp.
All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.
When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.
Darrell and Erin thought they were heading to Florida for a carefree honeymoon, but the ghosts of two immigrants children haunt them, pleading for help.
“Scarlet at Crystal River is an eerie paranormal mystery I couldn’t stop reading. Randy Overbeck is a masterful writer of the paranormal, drawing the reader in before instilling shivers down the spine. 5+ stars.” –N. N. Light’s Book Heaven
“A rollercoaster of a mystery, hurtling up and down hills and sharp corners until the very end, when the reader is left slightly breathless, waiting for their hearts to beat back to a normal rhythm. ★★★★★—ReadersView
“Scarlet at Crystal River is a suspenseful paranormal novel with compelling characters and an enigmatic mystery that drives the story to a riveting conclusion. Overbeck is a master at building tension–-this is easily a one-sitting read.” ★★★★★—Literary Titan
“This is another masterpiece from Randy Overbeck. His excellent writing style has left me speechless for one more time. He writes in a way that makes you feel what the characters feel and you have no choice but to partake in the journey with them.” ★★★★★—Ioanna’s Reviews, Greece
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