Writer sets basketball tale in Northwest Washington

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 15, 2013 

Former Seattle Times writer Tom Kelly wanted to write a book encapsulating his passion for both sports and real estate as well as his knowledge of the Skagit and Whatcom County area. He's done just that with "Cold Crossover"- a fiction mystery tale about an ex-high school basketball great who suddenly goes missing on a late-night ferry.

The disappearance of Kelly's main character, Linnbert "Cheese" Oliver, doesn't sit well with Cheese's father figure and former coach Ernie Creekmore, who attempts to track his player down using contacts in real estate, as well as the Pacific Northwest's fishing, logging and railroad history.

It's Kelly's first venture into fiction. He's previously written six other books, including his ground-breaking book "How a Second Home Can Be Your Best Investment."

"People say you should write about what you know," Kelly said during a phone interview. "I love sports, and I became a real estate editor at the Times."

Kelly's novel is based in North Fork, or Mount Vernon, and he alludes to several Skagit and Whatcom County features throughout. He has a long history with both Lake Whatcom and Lake Cavanaugh.

The main appeal for basing a prep basketball mystery in the region comes down to the infatuation locals have for high school sports in this region.

"I love the history of the teams in Skagit and Whatcom County," Kelly said, "and the high school gyms are a very special place. I love old gyms. It's a big deal when a team goes to state. People turn out the lights. A lot of people in big cities don't get that. They don't get caravanning to the state tournament. One of the critics on an Amazon page posted: is high school basketball really that big of a deal? They just don't get the small-town aspect."

"Cold Crossover" is on sale on Amazon.com for $13.99 for the paperback version or $4.99 for the Kindle version. Kelly plans to release another book in his Ernie Creekmore series in 2013.

Reach ANDREW LANG at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call ext. 862.

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