Suburbia and rural countryside live side by side in Bucks County. I grew up in a suburban neighborhood about a mile from the small town of Yardley. The population of our township then was about 10,000, with another 5,000 in Yardley itself. Though the population has grown, you can still travel from the Victorian gingerbread of downtown, past the suburbs built in the sixties and seventies, and then out into the countryside, where colonial-era fieldstone farmhouses still remain, dotted between newer developments of big houses and even bigger yards.
This is the area I write about in my golden retriever mysteries. I created a small town of my own, Stewart’s Crossing, and placed it just upriver from Yardley, between there and Washington’s Crossing, site of our first president’s Delaware adventure on Christmas Eve 1776. I like to mix in the old downtown, the suburbs and the farmlands, and to portray a place with a lot of history—both national and personal.
One of my favorite parts of autumn growing up was the Yardley Harvest Days Festival, and the flea market held on the grounds of the Friends Meeting House, on Main Street just beyond the old mill pond, now called Lake Afton. More than just a collection of used stuff, it was a way to reconnect with neighbors and friends, to help out local charities and celebrate the yellow and gold leaves of the towering maples and oaks that ringed the property.
The plain one-story meeting house transformed into a makeshift kitchen, where you could buy hot dogs, hamburgers, and Pennsylvania Dutch-style funnel cakes. Pick a homemade brownie or chocolate chip cookie for dessert from the bake sale and wander around the makeshift maze of tables displaying antiques, hand-crocheted tea cozies and old tools salvaged from someone’s garage.
Of course, there are always secrets lurking behind the shadows at the edge of the lot—every town, no matter how large or small, has them. And in my books, all it takes is a divorced guy with some computer hacking skills and a very curious golden retriever to unearth them.
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About the Author:
A native of Bucks County, PA, where IN DOG WE TRUST, THE KINGDOM OF DOG and DOG HELPS THOSE are set, Neil is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Florida International University, where he received his MFA in creative writing. He has written and edited many other books; details can be found at his website, http://www.mahubooks.com.
Neil, his partner, and Brody live in South Florida, where Neil is working on a fourth mystery, and Brody is busily chewing something.