Manti backdrop for crime series
Sanpete based police story written by Salt Lake writer
Melanie Smith, a West Jordan writer, has cast the Manti area as the backdrop for a new crime series she is writing.
Smith recently retired from a civilian support position with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, where she spent 26 years working with the SWAT team, Search & Rescue, K9 and the motor unit.
“My job was pretty diverse — never boring,” she said.
Smith, who is married to Lee Smith, a retired Salt Lake County Sheriff’s captain, began writing as a child. She temporarily set it aside when she attended Dixie State College and later the University of Phoenix, where she received a bachelor’s degree in business management.
But she never stopped writing in her head and eventually returned to it, because it gave her so much satisfaction and was very relaxing, something she needed with her high-stress job, she said.
Her first writing experience was a seven-book “paranormal romance” saga called the “Warrior” series.
Smith, who calls herself a criminal suspense and romance writer, has also written two novellas and has begun another series, “The Thin Blue Line.”
She said she wanted to focus more on law enforcement in a new Sanpete County-based series in order to draw on all her experience in that field.
The “Paige Carter” series of short stories, each of which is set up like an episode of a TV show, is based in Manti, and several area locales are mentioned in the various plots. Similar to a TV series, each episode is fully contained and solves a crime.
The main character, Paige Carter, is an Army brat whose father was killed on a Ranger mission in Afghanistan. After his death, Paige and her mother, Chaya, settle in Manti.
Paige’s mother is killed, and, wanting to escape and “get as far away as she could,” according to Smith, Paige moves to Virginia and joins the FBI, where she specializes in forensic science.
The series opens with Carter deciding to quit the FBI after seven years. She decides to return home to her roots and gets a job as a deputy in the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office, hoping that she will be able to find out more about her mother’s murder.
Back in Manti, she utilizes the analytical skills she honed at the FBI to work with the local sheriff, a more trust-your-gut kind of policeman, to solve crimes in the area.
Smith said the police department she portrays in her series is significantly smaller than the real sheriff’s office in Manti.
“I wanted to do something with an even more small-town feel, so I went with a smaller department,” she said.
The writer and blogger does not have any personal ties to the Manti area, although she and her husband have been to the area many times to ride four-wheelers in the Manti-La Sal mountains.
Smith said any similarities between real people and the characters in her series are purely coincidental. She said she doesn’t base her characters on real people—even herself.
“I don’t think she’s me at all,” she said of Carter.
Currently, Smith has eight episodes of the “Paige Carter” saga posted on her website at https://melaniepsmith.com/crime-blog/.
For now, the series, which will eventually be Smith’s 10th book, is only available on her website. Her other books are available on Amazon, the Barnes & Noble website and iTunes.