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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

Author/Book Info—SCARLET


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.

Social Media Handles




Tik Tok @authorrandyo


  • Release by Wild Rose Press—September 13, 2021
  • Paranormal mystery
  • 364 pp.
  • Mild


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.


Review Blurbs

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

Purchase Links



To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the authors’ tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE. Thanks for supporting this author and his work!

About Shirley Harris-Slaughter

I love old buildings and history. That's why I ended up writing about the history that surrounded me all of my life - "Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community." Plus our church had closed and the school is torn down, so I felt it was imperative that we preserve the history or it would be lost forever.
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28 Responses to Welcome to Day 9 of THE HAUNTED SHORES MYSTERIES BLOG TOUR FEATURING “SCARLET AT CRYSTAL RIVER” @OverbeckRandy @4WillsPub @4WP11 

  1. I was amazed at the back roads in Florida. We were on a road trip in the eighties. There were five of us tourists. One day we decided to go off the beaten track and I have to say it was very similar to the trailer for Scarlet at Crystal River. Maybe we found ourselves right there.
    Certainly has tempted me to buy this book. Thank you to Shirley and Randy.


  2. Shirley Harris-Slaughter says:

    I’ve been to Florida 3 times, but never got the opportunity to really look around to really see the surroundings.

    What shocked me culturally was seeing the government housing that I grew up in when I was in Miami visiting friends. I had no idea there were others living in similar conditions. But then I didn’t get the chance to travel much.

    Sorry if I jumped off the tracks a little. I love the beautiful sunset. Thank you so much for sharing your breathtaking landscape with us and story ideas with my followers and the club.


  3. authorrandyoverbeck says:

    Shirley, thanks for hosting me.


  4. Hi Shirley, this is a great post, thanks for hosting Randy. I really enjoyed learning more about the area where this book is set. I’ve never seen a manatee.


    • Shirley Harris-Slaughter says:

      Robbie. You never seen a manatee? I suppose they wouldn’t be in your part of the world. I only see them on animal channels. Never got the opportunity to see one up close and personal. Fascinating the things we share while on Randy’s tour.

      Randy, you bring out a lot on your tours. Including the things Iam learning about you.


      Liked by 1 person

      • HI Shirley, I have seen them on TV but not up close and personal. Here in South Africa, we see a lot of wildlife in their natural habitat which is fantastic. I have seen whales, dolphins, hippos, crocodiles, and we have lovely penguins, but no manatees.

        Liked by 1 person

    • authorrandyoverbeck says:

      Our zoo (Cincinnati Zoo) has had some wounded manatees for years in our small aquarium. But Crystal River was the first place I saw them in the wild. And swimming with them is an experience like no other.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. patgarcia says:

    Hi Randy, Hi Shirley,
    Randy, I have been to several places in Florida but not to Crystal River. Maybe one day I will visit it. I like your reasons for choosing the locations in your stories.

    Shirley, thank you so much for hosting Randy.
    Wishing you both a great day.
    Shalom aleichem


  6. Hi Randy–This looks like another winner to me. I’m anxious to read this one after having liked the one book of yours that I have already read. I haven’t been too active on RRBC over the last two weeks but I’m catching up. (Thanks for the Elvis reference! Right out of my era!) Thanks, Shirley, for hosting Randy. I was in Michigan for the last couple of days and thought of you and John P.


  7. harriethodgson says:

    What an accomplished person! I admire you and look forward to present and future books.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. pdoggbiker says:

    Randy, I’m 60% through Chrstal Springs and finding it’s difficult to put down. Enjoy your tour. Thank you, Shirley for featuring Randy during his our.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love that you are featuring a place in Florida that isn’t a tourist trap. I’ve been to several of the Florida springs and have loved them. This one is on my list to visit soon. Great post, Randy! Thanks for hosting, Shirley. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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