Surrounded by lush evergreen forests and scenic mountain ranges, Thurston County is home to a vibrant community, an eclectic cast of characters and, occasionally, a little bit of mystery. And through the world of literature, local author Jerry Farmer is paying homage to the landmarks, landscapes and faces that are familiar figures in the Pacific Northwest.
“I think that writing about our local area, it’s a really great way to celebrate the place I love, and the people I live with,” says Farmer.
For over three decades, Farmer has been a regular participant in the Thurston County entertainment community, including as a comedian, radio personality, auctioneer, essayist and mystery novelist. In the 1980s and 1990s, Farmer hosted a comedy show for a Thurston County Media television channel, drawing inspiration from local culture and landmarks to create comedic sketches. Farmer has also hosted a long-running radio series titled “America Ya Gotta Love It,” composing essays and providing commentary for various aspects of American culture.
In between other artistic and literary ventures, Farmer has also established himself as a mystery novel author. Throughout the years, Farmer has penned nine mystery novels within the Jobe Carson mystery series and, according to Farmer, the series is loosely split into three trilogies.
Set in a fictionalized version of Thurston County, the series opens with private detective Jobe Carson, a single father to three children. As mystery and murder strike the community, Carson attempts to balance life as a single parent, while also identifying the victim and searching for the culprit. Also on Carson’s mind is the disappearance of his wife, one case he has yet to solve. “The basic concept of Jobe Carson, private detective is that he’s just an ordinary guy,” explains Farmer. “He has to face extraordinary challenges that are also kind of ordinary challenges.”
In the next trilogy, Carson’s children transition into adulthood, and Carson then becomes the caretaker for his father, who has been diagnosed with dementia. While facing the challenges of his father’s condition, Carson continues his private detective work of investigating bicycle-themed mayhem.
Farmer’s most recent installments stem from current events, including the COVID-19 pandemic. As Carson navigates life after many years of parenting and caregiving, he must confront figures from his past, while also exploring the pitfalls of solving mysteries in the midst of a global health crisis.
As a longtime resident of Thurston County, Farmer was drawn to creating a series that featured the local community. Within the Jobe Carson mystery series, readers familiar with Thurston County may be able to point out common landmarks, landscapes and establishments of the South Sound. Farmer says that with permission, he also includes fictionalized versions of local residents and public figures to serve as supporting characters in the novels.
“They say that you should write what you know and I’m a member of that school,” says Farmer. “I think the book should be accurate. I think it should be well researched, I think that if somebody wanted to go to Google Maps and find a location, they ought to be able to find it if I mentioned it in the book. It probably exists, or existed at one time. I tried to be accurate. That way it gives local people more of a handle and more skin in the game, if you will, for my books. They can go, ‘Oh I know him, or I know her, or I know that place.’”
As a companion to the Jobe Carson mystery series, Farmer has also complied a cookbook containing recipes that were weaved through the narrative of the mystery series. As a working single dad, the character of Jobe Carson often had little time to cook elaborate recipes. And included in each series installment are simple family recipes. Written from the perspective of Jobe Carson, the recipe book also includes references to the original mystery series and additional commentary from Carson.
As the community begins to reopen, Farmer has been inspired to write his 10th installment in the Jobe Carson mystery series. Drawing from recent local events, Farmer plans to place a mystery during the unprecedented heat wave that hit the Pacific Northwest earlier this summer.
“I love writing about local characters that are based on real people,” says Farmer. “I love writing about our area. I have written about parks in our area, stores. I love writing about climbing Mount Olympus or hiking in the Olympics. At one time, I took a vacation to Iceland, so in one of my books, half of the book is about here and half of the book is about being in Iceland. It’s nice to be able to take whatever you have lived through and tell that story and tell it in a way that other people can learn.”
To learn more about the Jobe Carson mystery series, visit Jerry Farmer’s Amazon Author Page.