Excerpt from my first murder mystery novel – “The landmarks of Saguaro City came into view on his right, the tall saguaros rising fifty/sixty feet off the desert floor. Their spiny green arms twisted up to the sky like silent sentries waiting for the return of alien craft.”
Little does Big Mike Rodriguez realize that this will be the last time he walks among the thorny giants.
The Wondrous Saguaro
Carnegiea gigantea – scientific name for the giant saguaro cactus, the largest cactus in the Southwest reaching 40 feet to 60 feet tall and weighing several tons.
One saguaro was officially measured at 78 feet.
It can easily take fifty years for a saguaro to reach maturity. They’ve been around so long, no one really knows how old they are, possibly hundreds of years.
Their population is dwindling and they are protected throughout the Southwest.
A Rural Legand
The way the story goes: A couple of good ol’ boys with shotguns decided to blast away, cutting loose on one of the ancient giants standing next to the highway outside of Phoenix. After several rounds, the weakened saguaro gave up the ghost and came crashing down, catching one of the unsuspecting vandals off guard, crushing him to death.
Settings for Mystery Stories
Time, Place, Form and Event are the basic ingredients of mystery stories. And as a mystery writer, I consider Place as important as any character—atmosphere is everything. Smoke lazily curling from the gun’s barrel, the way the candlelight fires her auburn hair, a majestic saguaro towering in the predawn desert—it matters.
A final excerpt – “Rodriguez stepped down from the tall pickup, stretching a stiff back, surveying the scene. This area of the Arizona desert was particularly lush. Fingers of rocky terrain, mottled grey in the thin light. Thickets of thorny brush, twisted profusions of spidery limbs gone wild. And the mighty band of saguaros towered over it all, thick as thieves cutting up the spoils in their desert hideout.”
“Arching his back and breathing fresh air deep into his lungs, Rodriguez wondered what it must have been like to live here during the pioneer days. No power lines, no microwave dishes, no jet contrails, no planes droning overhead. A quiet, empty sky void of every manmade object, only the sun and moon, the hawks and buzzards, and the occasional cloud. Miles of open desert without another soul around. Long dangerous stretches of baking hot desert without water. But to be the first to see it . . . The harsh beauty must have been both cathartic and captivating. ”
More on my murder mystery novels can be found at https://michaelallanscott.com/
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Michael Allan Scott and a clickable link back to this page.
Great blog post – I love the pictures!