Ashton a place of murder in Brenda Chapman’s latest novel

Brenda who is wearing a bright pink shirt signs a book as a reader looks on. The photo is taken in a bookstore.
Westboro author Brenda Chapman has recently released the third book in her Hunter and Tate mystery series. Photo by Charlie Senack. 

By Charlie Senack 

When author Brenda Chapman was driving through Ashton last year, she thought it would be a good place to kill someone. 

The Westboro resident who has been writing for over 25 years recently published her latest book Fatal Harvest, the third in her Hunter and Tate Mystery series. It’s set in the small town of about 200 people located about 40 minutes south of Ottawa near Carleton Place. 

“The reason I chose Ashton is because my husband Ted and I were driving home one day and I thought this would be a great place to have a crime,” she told KT. “All the houses were set back with open fields, a lot of farmland, and it got my creative juices bubbling and set the story for this book.”

The book begins when 11-year-old Matt Clark, who is staying in Ashton for the summer, is told to keep his head down and stay off of social media. Little does he know that someone has been posting his photo and location online with trouble not far off. 

The story is riveting and keeps you on your toes. Detective Liam Hunter, a returning character from previous books, gets a call about a missing boy and double murder. While he’s out looking for the killer, true crime podcaster Ella Tate is busy doing her own investigation. 

“The rainiest September in recent history proves a fitting backdrop for this haunting story of lies, betrayal, and deadly repercussions,” the book synopsis reads.

All of Chapman’s books have an Ottawa connection. Her first Hunter and Tate book was primarily set in the Glebe, with the second focusing on Rocky Point near Crystal Beach. 

It’s uncommon for well-known authors to choose Canada for settings; in fact, book publishers are firmly against it. But Chapman believes it’s one of the reasons for her success. 

“We have beautiful settings in Canada. There is so much to choose in the Ottawa region alone. There are three waterways and all the different cultures and neighborhoods being the Nation’s capital,” she said. “There are all the little surrounding towns and Quebec across the river. It’s a welcoming place to set murders and crimes.”

Brenda sits on a bench and holds up a copy of her book.
All of Brenda Chapman’s books have been set in the Ottawa area. Photo by Charlie Senack.

Related: HOK #122: Meet Brenda Chapman.

It’s a business model which seems to be working. Chapman has written 25 books since she left her job in the government. In late 2021, she discovered that two of her novels were among the top 10 audio books borrowed from the United Kingdom library system. Cold Mourning, part of her Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery series, was in second place behind J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Butterfly Kills, part of the same series, ranked eighth.

Chapman officially released her new novel during a signing at Perfect Books on Elgin May 1. Dozens of people were in attendance to hear the crime fiction writer read from the pages of her new piece of work. Among those in attendance was Olympic curler Lisa Weagle, who is Chapman’s daughter. 

Susan Rothery, a friend of Chapman’s since 1979 who introduced the author at her launch, said that figuring out the perpetrators has always been a losing game. 

“Brenda leaves enough red herrings so that everyone appears to have a motive,” she said. “Those years of studying Hitchcock and Murder, She Wrote plots have definitely paid off.” 

Chapman is now working on her fourth book in the series and said she will then turn her focus towards an eighth book in the Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery series. 

The Westboro author has recently seen a one-year purchasing agreement that could see Cold Mourning, the first book in that series, picked up for a television series if the right showrunner can be found.  

At a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult for authors to get noticed, Chapman said she’s no longer worried about staying relevant. 

“I’ve stopped worrying about that as much as I used to,” she said. “I really like writing. And I really like creating stories. It’s not work for me; it’s fun. Every book is so different that it keeps me fresh.”

Leave a comment