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Murder in the One Percent by Saralyn Richard

Saralyn Richard writes about “Murder in the One Percent”

Saralyn Richard is the author of the Detective Parrott mysteries and several stand-alones, including Bad Blood Sisters, and Naughty Nana, a children’s book. You can find out more about her on her website, or by clicking here, read her last post here, and buy her books here.

There’s something deliciously thrilling about reading and writing about the very rich. Perhaps human nature breeds curiosity in us ordinary people. We want glimpses into the privileged, glamorous lives. We might even feel a bit of satisfaction when we see a billionaire who has problems like all the rest of us. We all know that money can’t buy happiness, but reading about the troubles that rich folks have brings home the message.

            Four of my six mysteries, the Detective Parrott mystery series, are set in the wealthy Brandywine Valley, where many of America’s richest and most powerful live. Why have I chosen this setting? I’m asked the question often.

            The answer is complicated. No, I am not one of the top one percent of Americans who have over ten million dollars in assets. I have been fortunate, though, in my life and in my work, to hang around with some very well-to-do people and some very underprivileged ones.

            What I’ve learned is that some rich people are very unhappy, and some poor people are very happy. While money can be a source of security and contentment, it can also bring some very difficult problems.

            I’ve been fascinated by materialism and how it affects people differently. I’ve watched shows like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Dallas, and, more recently, Downton Abbey and The Gilded Age. There are a lot of life lessons mixed in with the drama and intrigue that comes from chronicling the rich.

            When I attended a weekend retreat at a posh Brandywine mansion, I had an aha moment, a throwback to Agatha Christie. I decided this would be a perfect setting for a murder mystery. It was such an idyllic environment, the last place you’d expect a murder.

            The Brandywine characters have come by their money in a variety of ways. Some have been born into it. Some have married into it. Some have earned it. Some have earned it and lost it. None of them are all good, and none are all bad. Detective Parrott, though, is undaunted by the titles and possessions. He’s impervious to the ploys that try to keep him away from discovering the truth. In short, readers root for Parrott to beat the one-percenters at a game they are so good at. Only his relentless energy, determination, and keen understanding of human nature can solve the mystery. In the end, he always does.

            As I developed that idea into a story, I discovered Oliver Parrott, a young Black detective, an outsider in the Brandywine community. I loved playing around with the differences—and similarities—between Parrott and the suspects. The social motif wove itself into the mystery with a subtlety that surprised even me.

A Palette for Love and Murder by Saralyn Richard

            You might think these mysteries follow a simple plot with the down-to-earth, deprived detective triumphing over the haughty upper class, but they are much more complex than that. Over the course of time and getting to know the community he serves, Parrott learns not to paint all the rich people with the same brush. And in a crazy twist of fate, he learns to empathize with the complications that come with wealth.

            Each of the Detective Parrott books have received prestigious awards and great reviews. I’m grateful that Parrott and Brandywine Valley resonate with readers. If you haven’t yet, I invite you to dip your toes into the world of the one percent. Whether or not you gain new insights, I know you will have fun!

Saralyn Richard

Saralyn Richard is the author of Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, and A Palette for Love and Murder. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

This Post Has 25 Comments

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      Thanks, Anne. I can picture you on the divan, decked out in elegant garments and Jimmy Choos, and dining on champagne and ramaki hors d’oeuvres. Let’s try it together!

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    Colleen Winter

    Saralyn these sound fascinating. I love a good murder mystery and the layer of complexity you’ve added around wealth sounds intriguing. It’s wonderful when our own research teaches us things. Looking forward to this!

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      Thanks, Colleen. I know you are a master at spinning research into story!

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    Laurie Price

    You are so right, Saralyn, about our fascination with the rich and famous. To me, the most fascinating characters are the posers (both in real life and fiction), who crave to live in that world — and will go to any lengths to keep that illusion strong.

  3. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    I love to hear about your process, Saralyn! AND CONGRATULATIONS on winning the AllAuthor Best Mystery Cover contest for Bad Blood Sisters! Great book and excellent cover

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      Thanks for the good wishes, Sharon. Fun sharing this journey with you!

  4. GPGottlieb

    I can imagine how much fun it is to delve into the world of the ultra rich. Congratulations on winning the best cover award at AllAuthor!

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      Thanks for reading, GP, and thanks for your good wishes, too. I’m grateful for you!

  5. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Saralyn — I haven’t missed a single book in the Detective Parrott series, and I love them all! I looked up my Saturday Bite-Sized Review of MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT so I could share it here:

    “A perfect-pitch story of the ultra-rich, upper echelon earners in society. They thought they were invulnerable until someone takes one of them down a peg or two, or six feet—under. The story held me captive to the very end.” —Laurie Buchanan

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      Great review, then and now. So happy to have you on Team One Percent, Laurie!

  6. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Some of the rich have problems we ordinary people will never have! Your Detective Parrott books sound fascinating, especially with their layers of complexity. A big congratulations again on Bad Blood Sisters winning 1st Place in the All Author cover contest. Well deserved!

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    You’re so right about the problems that come with being rich. Reminds me of the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”

  8. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    You may not be in the 1% but in that picture, you look like you belong there 🙂
    Like your retreat, I once stayed in the home of a colleague in a neighborhood where Celine Dion had a 10k SF house. My colleague’s home felt like a hotel (she said, “If you like this house, you should come and visit my Long Island home. Oh, and the apartment in Milan”). The kitchen was the size of my home, and had a chef, not a cook. In place of a housekeeper, there was a house manager. And the canal behind the house held the 40 ft yacht with its own captain.
    All this told me that writing about wealthy people required special research. It’s not the same about writing ‘ordinary’ folks. Remember what F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “The rich are different from you and me. They have more money.”

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    Love your vignette. That is exactly the kind of 1% I’m writing about! Thanks for the comment, Sheila.

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    Margaret Mizushima

    Love this post, Saralyn! And I do love the complex setting and plots that you develop in your stories. And LOVE Detective Parrot. Thanks for the peek into your inspiration, planning, and development of your stories.

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    Thanks, Margaret. I’m as attached to Maddie and Robo as you are to Parrott. It’s wonderful sharing stories with you.

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    Avanti Centrae

    I love Parrot and the Brandywine settings. Keep ’em coming!

  13. John DeDakis
    John DeDakis

    I love that you note the character nuances among the rich. These days, it’s all too easy to “Other” them. Your books sound fascinating.

  14. carleneoneilmysteries

    The wonderful tension that comes between those that have wealth and those that don’t. It’s an automatic conflict waiting for an author to come along and take advantage. Looking forward to reading it!

  15. tracey64p

    You’re right, Saralyn, there is an intrigue about the one percent. You are adept at portraying the good the bad and the ugly about them. Aspects that make them no different than anyone else. Thanks for the encouragement! And thanks for your fantastic books. Love them!

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      I’m so happy to have your compliments and support. I can’t imagine this journey without you.

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