FREE Giveaway! — A Sneak-Preview of the Prequel to The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series

The story of how Dakota Stevens and Svetlana Krüsh met and became an investigative team is one that has haunted me for 15 years—ever since I opened a fresh notebook and began the “pre-production” that became the first novel in the series, A Real Piece of Work.

I knew I wanted Dakota and Svetlana’s introduction to mirror the first meeting of Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel A Study in Scarlet. Like other aficionados of Sherlock Holmes, I have always loved Stamford’s introduction of them to each other in a chemistry lab, and Holmes’ famous first words to Watson: “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.”

I began writing A Study in Crimson before I knew how and when Dakota and Svetlana would meet. At the outset all I knew was, I wanted the title of the story to have “crimson” in it as my homage to A Study in Scarlet. However, early on I decided the word “crimson” would refer to an incidental connection to Harvard University.


Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. The center of the action in A STUDY IN CRIMSON.


While living in Cambridge, Massachusetts after college, I spent many mornings writing at Au Bon Pain café in Harvard Square, and my afternoons playing chess there. “What if,” I said to myself, “Svetlana were the interim coach of the Harvard chess team, and she spent her free time crushing amateurs at the café?”

I have subtitled the novel “A Prequel to the Dakota Stevens Mystery Series,” but it would have been equally accurate to subtitle it “The Dakota and Svetlana Origin Story.”

I’m pleased to announce that A Study in Crimson, a prequel to the Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, will be available for pre-order this spring, and for download this summer.

In the meantime, if you subscribe to my website below, you will receive a FREE PDF sneak-preview (the first 4 chapters) of the novel!

In addition to receiving the sneak-preview of A Study in Crimson, subscribers will have new blog posts emailed to them, as well as exclusive content unavailable to non-subscribers, including bonus stories, writing tips, and insider essays on the world of a writer.

Thank you,


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By Chris Orcutt

Writer — The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, Short fiction, Plays — Editor & Speechwriter for Hire — Avid Golfer, Chess Player & Awesome Wood-Splitter — Twitter: @chrisorcutt

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