above: Author Tessa Wegert
Darien-based author Tessa Wegert, whose latest release The Kind to Kill is the fourth book in her crime fiction series, follows Death in the Family, The Dead Season, and Dead Wind—each, nodding grippingly to the classic mysteries of Agatha Christie.
These locked-room mysteries follow Wegert’s own Hercule Poirot, senior investigator Shana Merchant, as she solves cases in New York’s Thousand Islands region. Wegert was inspired to write the story when she first met her husband’s family, who lives on one of the private islands. She realized that she was unable to operate a boat. She remembers, “I guess, just because this is how my brain and imagination work, but I was there and I immediately started thinking, first off, what happens if we don’t get along? And secondly, I started to wonder what would happen if there was ever some sort of emergency?”
The Kind to Kill centers around a missing tourist. One of the themes is Shana’s reconciling between her blood connection to a killer (which she discovers in the series) and her profession. Wegert explains, “Often, what you hear about is how these crimes affect the victim’s family. But not a lot of people talk about how the killer’s family feels—and the killer’s family most often has very little to do with the crimes.”
Born in Quebec, Canada, Wegert resides with her husband and children in a 1912 farmhouse that she has been renovating in Darien’s Noroton Heights. She works from her office on the finished third floor—or, at the beach, at Caffè Nero on Boston Post Road, and at the Darien Library, where she gathers with local writers. She brainstorms while walking her dog, Otto, a goldendoodle, on Ring’s End Road toward Gorham’s Pond, sharing, “That’s totally the time to plot. A lot of fiction writers would say that when it comes to plotting, it really helps to kind of disconnect and be out there in the world.”
She continues, “I used to think when I sit down to write, like I’ll wait for the muse to arrive, and then I’ll light a candle and then brew some coffee, and I’ll have this long stretch of time where I just focus entirely on the work at hand, and I’ll get so much done. In reality, that is just not it.”
In November, Wegert participated in NaNoWriMo’s National Novel Writing Month, which encourages writers to complete 50,000 words. She’s currently working on two books, including the fifth in the Shana Merchant series. Wegert loves that Darien fosters a lively community of literary professionals—with thanks, largely, to Barrett Bookstore and the Darien Library.
Although her books appeal to a wide variety of readers, Wegert says most are “fans of police procedurals, fans of Agatha Christie, and fans of true thrillers, like serial killer thrillers.”
Photographs: Hildi Todrin/Crane Song Photography