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That town sounds familiar

April 20, 2003|by BONNIE HELLUM BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The five books in the Tori Miracle mystery series are set in the fictional town of Lickin Creek, Pa., but a local reader might get the eerie feeling that he or she has visited the town.

Series author Valerie Malmont said she borrowed from several Franklin County localities to create Lickin Creek.

"I took the caves under Waynesboro and put them under Lickin Creek in the first book,"" she said. "The bulky trash pickup week is from Chambersburg, and I took some of the old houses from Mercersburg."

Malmont, a resident of Chambersburg since 1977, autographed copies of her latest mystery, "Death, Bones and Stately Homes" Saturday at Waldenbooks in the Chambersburg Mall.

The premise of the series is that Tori Miracle, a once-hip New Yorker, moves to Lickin Creek with her two cats to visit an old friend, and winds up filling in for the editor of the local paper and solving mysteries.

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Published by Daniel and Daniel/Perseverance Press, "Death, Bones and Stately Homes" came out this month.

Malmont's first two books, "Death Pays the Rose Rent" and "Death, Snow and Mistletoe," were published in hardcover by Simon and Schuster, then reprinted by Bantam Dell as paperbacks. Bantam Dell then published "Death, Lies and Apple Pies" and "Death, Guns and Sticky Buns" as paperback originals.

Malmont recently signed books in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Williamsport, Pa., and in Princeton, N.J. She is scheduled for a signing in Baltimore in July.

The dignified, gracious author said she enjoys the interaction with her readers.

"I like writing, but I get lonely," she said. "It's fun to get out and talk to people who like my books. To know I'm writing them and someone is actually reading them is even nicer."

Meeting Malmont for the first time, Carol Laite of Chambersburg asked the author to autograph a book for one of her students at Montessori School.

"I've got all of her books," Laite said.

Malmont has another book in the Tori Miracle series outlined, and has also outlined a new series. She said she has started a historical novel set in Shepherdstown, W.Va., after the Civil War, but did not reveal any details.

"If I talk about a book, I don't write it," she said.

Mystery fan Jennifer Malme of New Jersey worked at the Chambersburg Mall Waldenbooks when Malmont did her first signing there eight or nine years ago.

"Her books take place in a fictional area, but you can recognize the places in the books," Malme said.

Malme said that while working in a bookstore in Washington she met "bigger authors who weren't as nice. It was nice to have someone who's kind. I'm glad to see she's still writing good stuff."

Malmont's Web site, www.valeriemalmont.com, includes recipes that reflect themes in her books.

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