Michigan and Murder
From one of our new authors--Kenn Grimes:
Say the word “Michigan” to anyone who is not from that state and the first thing that usually comes to mind is: Detroit.
While it is true that Detroit is the largest city in the state (though not the capital) and, until recent years, the engine that kept Michigan moving, it definitely is not all there is to the Wolverine State. Speaking of which—a wolverine was actually spotted in the state in 2004, the first sighting in over 200 years (though there is some question as to whether wolverines ever lived in Michigan before this one showed up).
In any event, as residents know, there is much more to Michigan than just the “Motor City.”
First of all is its size. Though only 56,804 square miles, ranking it number twenty-two of our fifty states, it extends over two time zones and two peninsulas. In chapter four of Strangled in the Stacks, Daisy mentions to Myrtle that Booker Falls is closer to Minnesota than it is to Detroit; which it is—by about two hundred miles! Michigan’s most northern city, Copper Harbor, at the northern tip of the Upper Peninsula’sKeewenaw Peninsula (the setting for the Booker Falls Mystery Series) is only about 150 miles farther south than the most northern point of the lower forty-eight states. To drive from Copper Harbor to the aforementioned Detroit is a trip of some 572 miles, which today would take almost ten hours (driving at the speed limit). To put that in perspective: the trip from Detroit to New York City is only forty-three miles longer.
Or, let’s say for some reason you wanted to drive from Menominee, Michigan, on the southwestern tip of the Upper Peninsula, to New Buffalo, Michigan, on the southwestern tip of the Lower Peninsula. That would be a trip of 331 miles—assuming you first drove south through Wisconsin, then on through Illinois and Indiana, and then back into Michigan. If you didn’t want to leave the state, though, you could do that, too, but that would entail a trip through all of the U.P., then south through the Lower Peninsula, a distance of 537 miles (201 miles farther).
Of course, speaking of driving from Copper Harbor to Detroit, you couldn’t have done that in 1919 without leaving the state (or taking a ferry). The Mackinac Bridge wasn’t built until 1957.
Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We’ll give them that. But in Michigan, no matter where you are, you are no farther than five miles from water (a lake or river). And, bordering on four of the five Great Lakes (Ontario is the exception), the state has the longest freshwater coastline of any state, and the second longest overall coastline (next to Alaska).
And in what other state can you drive either north (Sault Ste. Marie to Sault Ste. Marie) or south (Detroit to Windsor) to get to Canada? Some might say Alaska, but only if you count from Tetlin Junction to Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory, which is really more east than south.
Then finally, there’s the snow. No, Michigan doesn’t normally get snow like, for instance, Buffalo, New York. But it gets a lot! The average annual snowfall in the Keewenaw Peninsula city of Houghton (where my grandson attends Michigan Technological University) is 207.7 inches—a little more than seventeen feet. The record for the state, set farther north of Houghton in the town of Mohawk, in the winter of 1978-79, is 390.4 inches—32 ½ feet.
Now, this is probably more than you ever wanted to know about Michigan. Next month I’ll write about the real—non-fiction—people who are mentioned in Strangled in the Stacks, such as George Gipp and Ambrose Burnside.
In the meantime, I invite you to visit my web site—www.kenngrimesauthor.com—to see what events I’ll be attending over the coming months. Also, if you’re interested in ordering one of my books, it can be done from there.
If you have already received and read either The Other Side of Yesterday or Strangled in the Stacks and enjoyed it, I encourage you to write a review on Amazon.com, particularly in the e-book section.
Have a Happy New Year!