The Body In The Bed: Plot and Settings Insights


The Body In The Bed: Plot and Settings Insights

Roger and Suzanne Mysteries


The Uruguayan economy, as was the Argentine, was mainly based on beef, leather, and dairy products for almost two centuries. Before commercial scale freezing and shipping of beef and beef by-products after World War II created competition from Australia and New Zealand, corned beef, canned beef, dried beef, and leather goods from Uruguay were shipped to Europe. Exported beef products were the source of enough wealth that the Uruguayans had one of the highest per capita incomes in the entire world. They used this money to build a functional economy that featured free universal health care, free education through college and post-graduate (law, medicine, etc.) professional training for all who wanted it, and a more than adequate system of Social Security for the elderly.

boston_public_library

Post-World War II Europe needed meat

Post-World War II Europe needed meat it couldn't produce in war-ravaged countries, and imported it in large amounts from the USA and South America. But with competition from many other countries that had cheap land for ranching and with European farm recovery, the bottom fell out of the beef export market for Uruguay and they became a poor country within a single generation. They suddenly had a very high cost of living due to large Social Security (for the elderly and disabled) and free universal healthcare systems for an aging population. Only now are they beginning to recover economically from their former total dependence on the beef industry, and they still are dependent on high quality free range-grown beef as an export item.


Beef Products

When I lived in Montevideo for my first time in 1982, among other things I learned was that almost all of the beef that wasn’t made into leather, steaks, chops, sausages, or organs for eating in the parrillada compleada, or exported to Brazil and Chile as premium beef, was ground into a “beef flour”, which was freeze-dried and shipped off in 55-gallon drums as a high protein supplement for use as an additive in processed foods. The largest trading partner for the dried beef byproducts was Iran, who paid for huge quantities of beef flour with crude oil, shipped by tanker to Montevideo where it was refined into gasoline and diesel fuel to fill most of Uruguay’s needs.

Plot for The Body in the Bed

When I was working out the plot for “The Body in the Bed”, I envisioned the key scene where Roger and Suzanne find the body in the bed from the very beginning of the thought process. Early on I had to decide which of the characters from my previous novels that I had assembled in Montevideo for the story was going to be most involved with Roger and Suzanne in solving the murder. In large measure, that required figuring out who was going to be the central character of the plot in the novel and why that particular individual was involved. One of my options was to find a motive that involved a conspiracy with political implications. I remembered beef flour and the Iranian connection and wondered if that was something that could be used as a plot element.

True to Life

I decided to do some research on what had happened to the Uruguay-Iran trade partnership during the intervening 30 years since my first visit there, especially in light of the U.S.-backed sanctions against trade with Iran. What I found in my research, only slightly augmented by my imagination, serves as the basis for the plot in “The Body in the Bed”. A surprising amount of what Roger, Suzanne, and their friends uncover while they try to solve the murder that gives rise to the book’s title is taken from contemporary news media rather than from my imagination. I hope the mixture of fact and fiction in "The Body in the Bed" gives value-added to the readers of this suspenseful 4.5-star whodunit.

To see more of Jerold Last's work, click the link to his website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view his member details Visit Roger and Suzanne Mysteries.

Images used for the story are
Visit Eduardo Aigner pictures Tranqueras, Uruguay on Flickr
Visit Boston Public Library image of Beef Advert on Flickr



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The Uruguayan economy, as was the Argentine, was mainly based on beef, leather, and dairy products for almost two centuries. Before commercial scale freezing and shipping of beef and beef by-products after World War II...

The Body in the Bed by Jerold Last

Roger and Suzanne return to Montevideo, Uruguay to attend a festive dinner honoring their friend's promotion to police captain. There's a surprise guest waiting for them when they arrive in their hotel room. Who killed the body they find in the bed? Roger and Suzanne are the lead suspects in a murder, their allies on the police forces of Uruguay and Paraguay may be the targets of a conspiracy, and nobody can be trusted. This fast paced, action filled, novella should satisfy readers of...



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