Sun Valley is the Locale of Authors' New Thriller
Photography: Courtesy Ridley Pearson
(page 2 of 3)
Pearson leans over from the back seat and describes how the mountains change every five minutes as we drive up 75 toward Ketchum. “City people come and say, ‘what boring mountains,’” says Pearson. “You can see on the south side there are no evergreens, and look up just a couple of miles and there they are because the snow depth is enough to water the seeds through the year and they grow.”
Pearson talks about how his brother recruited him to come out and play in his country-rock band with him in 1980. He lived in his parents’ log home and wrote. Eventually, he got his own place and his parents, Bob and Betsy, moved here year-round from Connecticut in the 1990s. Sucked in. Ridley’s quick to say that he settled in long before “the arrival of attitude,” as he describes in Killer Weekend, the population boom after Demi Moore and Bruce Willis were featured in People vacationing in the Valley. “That was right after the L.A. riots, and the fires, and there was this huge hit of white flight between 1988 and 1994,” says Pearson. “That changed the place forever.”
The various levels of social strata and how people within them interact (or don’t) provide Pearson with plenty of sources for dramatic tension or even comedy to occur between the long-time locals, the C3 jet set, and the Hollywood crowd. Of course, there’s always the danger someone will take offense at how the real and imaginary worlds collide on the pages of Pearson’s books, but he doesn’t seem too worried about it.
The first stop on today’s tour: the house of the five barns. In real life it is the home of Dan and Martine Drackett, who had it constructed from five barns disassembled in New Hampshire and Vermont, then shipped out here, where a crew of skilled timber framers from the East Coast reassembled every inch of them to create one amazing house. Pearson used the exterior of the house as a model for the lavish home of Patrick Cutter, where he sets a party scene in Killer Weekend. How do the owners feel about their home being used like this?
“I just told them five minutes ago, so we’ll see,” says Pearson as we make our way up the drive to a rather impressive series of rustic, yet elegant structures. “I tell people when I use their names in books, but I rarely get persmission to use a setting.”
“They’re friends of yours?” I ask.
“Everybody’s a friend; it’s just too small a Valley,” says Pearson. “Well, maybe not everybody anymore, but anybody who was here between ’80 and ’94, we all know each other.” He tells me that the Dracketts are big supporters of the symphony.
Up until then, Pearson had not seen the inside of the Drackett home. The interior of Patrick Cutter’s home in the novel is the author’s creation.
Dan Drackett is thrilled to see Pearson and his tiny entourage and he happily shows us around. In one of the barns a giant hay hook hovering above a staircase between two bedrooms catches Pearson’s eye.
“That would be a great place to find a body,” he says.
All day, Pearson seems to be spotting things to use in future novels. As we drive toward Baldy, I ask if we are on the same road.
“There’s only one road,” Pearson and Litzinger inform their guest in unison. Pearson even sees potential in that detail. “All I have to do is blow a bridge and everybody’s stuck: law enforcement, medical,” he says. >>>