Believing that Feng Shui can be useful in criminal investigations, I decided to make it the foundation of a new mystery series. Combining the two disciplines was natural for me. As a published mystery author, my research into police procedures was ongoing as were Feng Shui studies, both having begun in 1989. Of course, there were challenges; the first being creating a believable Feng Shui detective.
Simply dropping a mild-mannered Feng Shui practitioner into the world of criminal investigations would not work. Whether amateur or professional, a detective must have some sleuthing experience for credibility. So, I gave my protagonist, Salome Waterhouse, twenty years experience working as a researcher for a mystery author, which provided her with the necessary contacts in law enforcement. The mystery author became her husband. the law enforcement contact, her husband’s good friend from college, a homicide detective.
Wanting diversity of landscape and architectural structures plus both small town and big city elements, it seemed natural that Salome would be bicoastal, both locations also reflecting her economic status. She winters in a town much like Carmel-By-The-Sea, California. The remainder of the year finds her in a townhouse just down the street from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Both locations provide ample opportunities for a Feng Shui practitioner to explore interesting dwellings, which brings us to the actual Feng Shui.
Of the various schools, all of which would be viable in a criminal investigation, I focused on Black Hat Sect Feng Shui because it is my area of expertise and it is the most common form of Feng Shui practiced in the West. Also, the octagonal template used by Black Hat practitioners to locate life situations such as relationships, wealth, career, health, etc,, is a perfect map and visual aid, easily reproduced in a book for readers to follow Salome during her consultations.
Since these mysteries would feature a victim or victims of a crime–usually murder or robbery/homicide– I needed to study specific homes in which violence had been committed. These would be examples of “bad” Feng Shui. Here, my belief in Feng Shui was truly cemented by some profound discoveries. One in particular occurred when I happened upon the blueprints for the house in Boulder, Colorado, in which six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey had been murdered. While I had prior knowledge of the destructive potential of spiral staircases, I was startled to note that the Ramsey house featured just such a staircase. Further, this staircase originated across from JonBenet’s bedroom on the cusp of the relationship (mother) and children/creativity guas or sections of the house, and spiraled all the way down to the basement where her body was found.
An ongoing challenge in weaving the small but often profound details inherent in Feng Shui into the mystery, is that of balancing information. A dedicated Feng Shui practitioner such as Salome Waterhouse sees the world through “Feng Shui Eyes” and little escapes her notice. Mystery writing requires a single-minded, tension-building progression toward resolution. Including too much Feng Shui detail risks losing the reader’s attention; too little Feng Shui threatens the practitioner’s credibility.
To give Salome credit for solving a crime would undermine the efforts of law enforcement professionals. By reason of both her unusual profession and amateur sleuth status, she must provide others with her discoveries and remain in the background–which is just fine with her. That she can inform others about how such things as cracked sidewalks, poorly-lit entrances, electrical lines, the location of fire hydrants, remodeling, and even a badly positioned bed can undermine the lives of those who live in what appear to be the most secure neighborhoods, gives her great satisfaction.
Whether modest or extravagant, the configuration of a home, and/or the position of furnishings, can undermine the peace of the occupants within. To a Feng Shui practitioner, something as simple as studying the details of the house of a murder victim can make a difference in bringing a killer to justice–and predict and prevent future crimes.
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