The Plot is Murder is my debut mystery novel and its set in the fictitious city of North Harbor, Michigan. If you check the map for the state of Michigan, you’ll learn there is no such place as North Harbor. In fact, I worked very hard to make sure there wasn’t. North Harbor may not be a real city, but it is based on one. North Harbor is based on the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan. Benton Harbor is a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan in Southwestern Michigan.
Similar to North Harbor, Benton Harbor was once a thriving city. The now derelict Victorian buildings bear witness to the fact that the city’s elite once called it home. Benton Harbor was once home for a host of manufacturers, including Whirlpool Corporation. Despite Benton Harbor’s decline, Whirlpool Corporation has remained in the area and still maintains its corporate headquarters in Benton Harbor. The majority of the other manufacturing businesses located here supported Detroit’s automotive industry. However, when manufacturing jobs moved south, the city never recovered.
In the Read Herring Hunt, book #2 in the Mystery Bookshop Mysteries, readers learn more about Benton Harbor’s history and relationship with the House of David.
The House of David commune, formally the The Israelite House of David, is a religious society co-founded by Benjamin and Mary Purnell in Benton Harbor, Michigan, in March 1903. During the early twentieth century, the House of David thrived with hundreds of members and over 1,000 acres of land. The commune had orchards and their own cannery, market, brass bands, orchestras, hotels, amusement park and zoo. They even had their own baseball team. The House of David’s downward demise came when 13 girls claimed to have had sexual relations with Purnell, the founder. The charges were never proved in court, due to Purnell’s death in 1927. If you travel to BentonHarbor, you will see the remains of several of the homes, businesses and the Eden Springs Amusement Park. At last report, there were still three members of the commune.
Benton Harbor follows the Lake Michigan shoreline and is working to rebuild itself. The downtown area is dotted with art galleries, glass artist shops, bakeries and small cafes.
In addition to great beaches, the city is now home to, Harbor Shores Golf course. This Jack Nicklaus designed course is an 18 hole Senior PGA course.
Much is being done to revitalize the Benton Harbor area and to take advantage of the city’s geographic resources. As you’re reading the Mystery Bookshop Mysteries, you’ll find references to many of the places which inspired me when I lived in Southwest Michigan.