The Bay at Midnight - By Diane Chamberlain


Do you miss some special place from your childhood and wish you could return there for a while? When I was a child, my family had a summer bungalow on the Intracoastal Waterway, also known as the Point Pleasant Canal, in New Jersey. I miss those childhood summers in Bay Head Shores, so I decided to revisit the area by setting a story there—although the setting is the only autobiographical aspect of The Bay at Midnight. My family’s easy life at the Jersey Shore was never marred by the sort of drama and mystery that befalls the Bauer family in this story.

Many people helped me add a dose of reality to this fictional world. I drew upon the memories of my siblings, Tom Lopresti, Joann Scanlon and Robert Lopresti, as well as those of my childhood fishing-and-hayride buddy, former Bay Head Shores resident Rick Neese. Lieutenant Robert J Dikun of the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department was an invaluable source of information as I explored the aftermath of Isabel’s murder. Rodney Cash gave me insight into the 1962 world of the Lewises, the African-American family who fished on the opposite side of the canal—and a world away—from the Bauer family. My ex-college roommate and Westfield native, Jody Pfeiffer, helped me with the details of her home town. Ahrre Moros gave me information about the Coffee with Conscience concerts. I am also grateful to fellow writers Emilie Richards and Patricia McLinn, my online friends at ASA, and John Pagliuca for their various contributions and emotional support. Special thanks go to the staff at Happy Tails who provided hours of quality care for my energetic pup, Keeper, as I raced toward deadline!

Thanks to everyone at MIRA Books, where I am always encouraged to write whatever is in my heart. I am grateful to Amy Moore-Benson, the editor with whom I started The Bay at Midnight, and to Miranda Stecyk, who picked up where Amy left off with the same intelligence, grace and passion as her predecessor.

A special thank-you to my former agent, Virginia Barber, along with my best wishes for a glorious and fulfilling retirement!



All children make mistakes. Most of those errors in judgment are easily forgotten, but some of them are too enormous, too devastating to ever fully disappear from memory. The mistake I made when I was twelve still haunted me at fifty-three. Most of the time, I didn’t think about it, but there were days when something happened that brought it all back to me in a rush, that filled me with the guilt of a twelve-year-old who had known better and that made me wish I could return to the summer of 1962 and live it over again. The Monday Abby Chapman Worley showed up at my front door was one of those days.

I was having a productive day as I worked on The Broad Street Murders, the thirty-third novel in my Granny Fran series. If I had known how successful that series would become, I would have made Fran Gallagher younger at the start. She was already seventy in the first book. Now, thirteen years later, she was eightythree and going strong, but I wondered how long I could keep her tracking down killers.

The house was blissfully quiet. My daughter Shannon, who’d graduated from Westfield High School the Saturday before, was giving cello lessons in a music store downtown. The June air outside my sunroom window was clear and still, and because my house was set on a curve in the road, I had an expansive view of my New Jersey neighborhood with its vibrant green lawns and manicured gardens. I would type a sentence or two, then stare out the window, enjoying the scenery as I thought about what might happen next in my story.

I’d finished Chapter Three and was just beginning Chapter Four when my doorbell rang. I leaned back in my chair, trying to decide whether to answer it or not. It was probably a friend of Shannon’s, but what if it was a courier, delivering a contract or something else that might require my signature?

I peered out the front window. No trucks in sight. A white Volkswagen Beetle—a convertible with its top down—was parked in front of my house, however, and since my concentration was already broken, I decided I might as well see who it was.

I walked through the living room and opened the door and my heart sank a little. The slender young woman standing on the other side of my