This is launch week for A Gold Satin Murder, next in Debra Purdy Kong’s Casey Holland Mystery series. I am honored to be part of the launch group to spread the word. Today, Debra will share behind-the-scenes info about the settings for this wonderful book:
Vancouver’s West End: Diverse, Quirky, and Gorgeous
As Jacqui demonstrates so beautifully in her books, settings are crucial in a novel. It’s certainly true for crime fiction. Because I love Vancouver and lived there for several years, I set my Casey Holland mysteries in Vancouver and the surrounding municipalities. I now live in one of those municipalities, Port Moody, which is about a half-hour drive from the city.
Vancouver is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and mountains to the north. Inlets surround much of the downtown core and there’s plenty of green space in between. Like many cities, the diverse demographics stretch from the homeless mainly in Vancouver’s downtown east side to the mansions of South and West Vancouver. There are different ethnic areas, each with a unique ambiance, which makes it difficult to describe the entire city in one book. This is why I tend to focus on certain areas.
A Gold Satin Thong features Vancouver’s West End, where the book’s central character, accused murderer Eduardo, lives. I thought I’d dig deeper into this gorgeous community populated by working professional people, seniors, single folks, families, and artists like Eduardo. As you’ll see in the book, Eduardo has chosen rather unique, if not controversial jobs to support himself in this expensive city. Below is the busy Davie Street, where Eduardo catches his bus most days. You’ll see one in the background.
Local residents live in all types of accommodation from new concrete towers to hereditary homes. As you’ll see in the photos below, they are often situated close together, creating different architectural styles on one street. The heritage home below is a classic example. Note the tower in the background.
Here are some of the unique shops on Davie Street.
One of the West End’s borders is the beautiful English Bay, where every year, New Year’s revelers put on swimsuits or costumes to dive into the water on January 1 for the Polar Bear swim, something Eduardo would definitely enjoy doing. In the summer, the Festival of Lights fireworks competition attracts thousands.
While walking through the West End recently, this building caught my attention. This is the type of home an artist like Eduardo would live in. So would I!
Speaking of unique architecture, below is a newly opened grocery store right on the corner of two residential streets within walking distance of Eduardo’s home.
One of Eduardo’s favorite streets to paint.
Much of the residential part of the West End is shaded by trees, which are far less prevalent in the city’s downtown business core.
These photos are just a sampling of Vancouver’s West End. There are many more iconic structures and pieces of art that are worth visiting. Is it any wonder that Eduardo would live here?
Transit cop Casey Holland has never met a bus passenger like the charming artist and exotic dancer, Eduardo. The bus driver Lily has certainly befriended him. But when Eduardo’s charged with murder, Lily’s caught in the middle of his legal trouble. Afraid of losing her job and custody of her son, she begs Casey for help in proving Eduardo’s innocence.
Casey’s search for answers takes her and her best friend Kendal to a troupe of strippers known as Man Cave. While the men are busy peeling off their clothes, Casey’s peeling back layers of secrets and betrayal. Nuttier than her usual adventures, the risk is just as deadly in this seventh installment of the Casey Holland transit mysteries.
After a decade of security work for Mainland Public Transport, Casey Holland had learned that troublesome passengers were usually rude, loud, and poorly dressed. But the gorgeous, broad-shouldered man in the charcoal suit, white shirt, and bright red tie strutting down the aisle was a new, intriguing challenge.
The moment the man spotted Casey, he gave her a broad, toothy smile. Cool. Her silky, low-cut tank top and dangling crystal earrings were doing their job. Undercover assignments rarely involved dressing up, but passenger complaints about a hot guy who’d been badgering women to model for his paintings required a different fashion choice. Besides, the bus was way too warm this late-July evening. The less she had to wear the better.
Casey winked at the man, then tilted her head toward the empty seat next to her. He slowed his pace and nodded to the gaping middle-aged woman he passed by. Judging from a quick survey, the man had caught the attention of most passengers. The men didn’t look as impressed as the women, though.
“Hola, señorita.” Gold-flecked brown eyes glanced at her hands as he sat down. “I am Eduardo from Ecuador.”
“Casey. From Vancouver,” she replied. “How are ya?” To reveal she was a señora who’d been happily married for just over a year might put him off, so the wedding rings stayed home.
“Excelente.” He beamed. “I am here only three months, but I am in love with Vancouver. It has many interesting people.”
“That it does.” His cedarwood and vanilla cologne sent a jolt of nostalgia through Casey. When Dad was alive, she occasionally gave him a bottle of something similarly scented for Father’s Day. She sat up straighter and zeroed in on Eduardo. Not the time for reflection.
“I apologize if my English is not so good,” Eduardo said.
“It sounds fine to me.” She smiled. “Do you live in this part of the city?”
“Si. Only one block away. I love to walk and ride the buses and talk to people.”
He’d have many opportunities to do exactly that in Vancouver’s densely populated West End. Thanks to nearby Stanley Park, the popular English Bay beach, and many eateries, the area attracted tons of tourists as well as visitors from other areas of the Lower Mainland.
“Your eyes!” Eduardo slapped his hand over his heart. “La violeta. Extraordinario! I have not seen such a shade before. I am professional artista. May I paint you? It would be great honor! You are so be-eau-tiful.”
“Thank you.” Great honor and beautiful were the exact words two of the complainants had used in their written statements. “So, how many women have you approached about painting their portraits, especially while riding this bus?”
“Qué?” Eduardo’s smile faded. “Why do you ask me this?”
“I’m with Mainland Public Transport security.” She showed him her ID card. “We’ve had harassment complaints about you. One woman threatened to involve the police if it happened again.”
His eyes widened. “This cannot be.”
“The complaints said you wouldn’t take no for an answer until they either changed seats or left the bus.”
Eduardo sat back in his seat. “I am stupefied!”
Casey didn’t buy the naïve act. “Harassment of any type on MPT buses is against company policy.”
He fidgeted, not quite meeting her gaze. “I am just a single man who loves ladies and to create art.”
Eduardo produced a business card depicting an elegantly designed maple tree with crimson and tangerine leaves. But anyone could create a card and pass himself off as an artist.
“Is difficult to find models in new city. Art schools are filled up.” He frowned. “And many ladies choose to sit next to me and ask what I do to earn money.”
She believed him. Given the lusty stares a couple of women were tossing his way, Eduardo had probably found more than a few willing models and dates.
“Is it wrong to talk about art, or to ask a be-eau-tiful lady on a date? I might break bus rules, but I am not breaking real laws, no?”
Casey sighed. “Are you and I going to have a problem?”
He raised his hands, palms facing her. “I do not want trouble, but I must pursue my art.”
“Eduardo, the rules are there for a reason. They also give me the authority to kick you off any MPT bus if you’re breaking them.” Casey paused. “If you’re going to discuss portrait painting, then be clear about what you want. If you’re turned down, then I strongly advise you to leave the passenger alone. I assume you expect to be paid for your portraits?”
Eduardo nodded. “I do this not only for money but to find true soulmate.” He lowered his head. “I am not so lucky in love. Is heartbreaking road filled with big potholes.”
“Uh-huh.” She studied him. “Do you think you’ll find love on a bus?”
“I search everywhere.”’
Eduardo’s expression and demeanor seemed sincere, but she had her doubts about this guy.
“You must have tried dating apps,” she said.
“Si.” He grimaced. “They were not good. Is better to meet ladies in person.” He gave her a whimsical look. “Everywhere.”
Meaning he intended to keep chatting up women on MPT buses. Eduardo might be better looking and more polite than other rule breakers, but his resistant attitude was all too familiar. She’d be seeing him again, no doubt, and their second encounter wouldn’t be as cordial.
“Just be careful about what you say,” she cautioned. “Misunderstandings happen easily.”
The corners of Eduardo’s full, sensuous mouth turned down. “What shall I talk about? The boring weather? Is what others do.”
“Eduardo, buddy, unless someone speaks to you first, it might be best if you didn’t talk at all.”
I’ve enjoyed every book in the Casey Holland Mysteries series. A Gold Satin Murder, #7 just came out and now sits on my Kindle. I’ll get back to you with a review soon!
About the Author
Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs inspired her to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provided the background for her Casey Holland transit security novels.
Debra has published short stories in a variety of genres as well as personal essays, and articles for publications such as Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, B.C. Parent Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun. She is a facilitator for the Creative Writing Program through Port Moody Recreation and a long-time member of Crime Writers of Canada. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.
How to chat with Debra
Kobo Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-gold-satin-murder
Apple books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id6443255297
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Fall 2022.