Owen McKenna is Lake Tahoe’s favorite detective. As the star of author Todd Borg’s 11 Tahoe mystery novels, the archetype inspector even has his own signature omelette at the Red Hut Deli on Ski Run Boulevard.
McKenna dives once again into suspense when a proposed ski resort sparks a series of suspicious deaths in Borg’s newest novel, “Tahoe Chase.” The book will hit shelves in August with Borg doing a signing this evening at the South Lake Tahoe library.
“The early reviews are really good, so I’m very excited about it,” Borg said.
Borg has been writing a book a year for 11 years. His titles include “Tahoe Deathfall,” “Tahoe Silence,” “Tahoe Ice Grave” and others. Borg has won several literary awards for his titles, including the Ben Franklin prize for best mystery of the year. The Lake Tahoe area never ceases to inspire new mystery ideas, Borg said.
“Once you start thinking like a mystery writer and fine-tune your naturally twisted mind, then you have an endless stream of ideas,” he said.
In past books, McKenna and his Great Dane, Spot, have traversed the area on their hunt for murderers and such. In “Tahoe Chase,” McKenna accompanies a vulnerable, young French woman into Desolation Wilderness to avoid her potential killer. For many residents and visitors, the settings in Borg’s books will be familiar, he said.
“Many of my most important scenes take place in places that you’ll recognize,” the author said. “Although, you will find that I put a new spin or new take on some of the iconic places.”
Characters are another common thread through Borg’s books. McKenna is the classic American detective, a loner, a man with a code of ethics, Borg said. The lead character is solely a product of Borg’s imagination and America’s long history of mystery novels.
“The well he came from was probably my naïve notion that law enforcement was a romantic occupation. I had no law enforcement background,” Borg said. “I’ve since met and became friends with many people in law enforcement. I’ve learned that there’s very little if any romance in the pursuit of bad guys and the pursuit of justice.”
Though completely fictional, McKenna’s frequent breakfasts at Red Hut are no coincidence. Though Borg often enjoys his omelettes at the South Shore spot, he also credits the restaurant chain’s owner, Nancy Gardner, with a high point in his literary career.
“She gave me my first book signing,” Borg said. “She was incredibly supportive of my books and what I was doing.”
Owen’s omelette is now available at the Red Hut at Ski Run Boulevard.
So how many mystery novels can one write about the Lake Tahoe area? It’s not quite clear yet. Borg is working on finding out.
“I imagine I’ll do a book a year in this series for the foreseeable future,” Borg said. “They do well, they’re fun. I’d be a fool not to.”
Borg will be at the South Lake Tahoe library to sign his newest release today at 6:30 p.m. A fair amount of people are expected for the event, librarian Katharine Miller said.
“He is one of our very popular local writers,” Miller said. “His annual book signings are one of our most popular events.”