Nancy Drew, step aside
by Peter Burke
Aug 02, 2013 | 1960 views | 0 0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nancy Wood (left) and Nancy Lynn Jarvis talk about their love of mystery.
Nancy Wood (left) and Nancy Lynn Jarvis talk about their love of mystery.
Nancy Wood, left, and Nancy Lynn Jarvis
Nancy Wood, left, and Nancy Lynn Jarvis

If there’s a murder to be written in Santa Cruz County, there’s a good chance it will be penned by a novelist with the first name Nancy.

Two Nancy’s, Nancy Lynn Jarvis of Bonny Doon and Nancy Wood of Santa Cruz, have each published recent murder mysteries of the ilk that famous fictional sleuth Nancy Drew might attempt to untangle.

“What are the chances that you have two Nancy’s writing mysteries in Santa Cruz,” said Lynn Jarvis. “I just thought it was really cool.”

Lynn Jarvis recently finished her fifth book, “Mags and the AARP Gang,” a comedic mystery about a gang of elderly people who rob a bank to pay off a loan to save their mobile home park from foreclosure. She has also written four novels in the Regan McHenry series murder-mystery series.

“Are we the new Drew’s?” Lynn Jarvis speculates. “I have had fun thinking about it. Are we sisters in crime and blood, or in name?”

Wood, a technical writer by trade, recently finished her first novel “Due Date,” a 456 page first-person thriller set in Bonny Doon and downtown Santa Cruz. She initiated the friendship between the two authors by emailing Lynn Jarvis after hearing she also penned local mysteries.

In “Due Date,” 23-year-old Shelby McDougall lives as a surrogate mother on a fictional property with an ocean view on Ice Cream Grade in Bonny Doon. McDougall must unravel a mystery related to the twins she is giving birth to.

Although they’ve known each other for less than a month, the two Nancy’s have many things in common.

Both have set their novels in Bonny Doon and use locations throughout Santa Cruz and each enjoys building detailed characters.

“I really like good characters,” Wood said. “I really like when the author has done a lot of research into the psychological makeup.”

Lynn Jarvis is similar. She builds full descriptions of each character before she sits down to write the mystery. A retired realtor who completed her first book in 2008, Lynn Jarvis says that research is the key to writing a strong mystery novel.

“It needs to be authentic and correct or it really detracts,” she said.

Lynn Jarvis had in depth conversations with a local banker about bank robberies before writing “Mags.”

Wood has an avid interest in surrogate births and believes there are many interesting angles an author can take related to the relationships of the people involved. She performed in depth research on the technology and how people perceive it, as well as medical conditions that can occur during pregnancy.  

“To me it’s so much fun,” Lynn Jarvis says. “It’s something I intend to do until I can’t put word to paper.”

Both authors have another book in the works. Books can be found locally at Bookshop Santa Cruz or online at online retailers such as

n To comment, e-mail editor Peter Burke at, call 438-2500 or post a comment at

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