It's 687 miles from Hollywood, California, to Moss Creek, Arizona. On a day with light traffic, no construction, and a driver who doesn't have to pull over every few miles to cry, the drive takes about eight and a half hours. Crying and driving, Lisa Chance took twelve hours on the road home to Moss Creek.
Richards, Estelle. Last Chance for Murder (Lisa Chance Cozy Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Locations 18-21). Kindle Edition.
Moss Creek is a fictional place.
Lisa's route from Hollywood, per the next two paragraphs of Chapter 1, goes through Needles, CA, and Kingman, AZ. Following that route, Holbrook, AZ is 561 miles from Hollywood. Driving another 120 miles in just about any direction from Holbrook puts Lisa Chance in the middle of the Navajo Nation or national forest. Where, then, is this Moss Creek town?
The author has lost my trust in three paragraphs.
When an author chooses to set a story in a "fictional" town in a real state, the details matter every bit as much as when the story is set in a real town, maybe even more so. The author has to make the reader believe this place could exist, even though it doesn't.
Most readers aren't going to care that Moss Creek, Arizona would probably be a lot less than 687 miles from Hollywood. Most readers aren't going to care that there are very few towns in the middle of the Navajo Nation, or the middle of the Coconino National Forest. Is Moss Creek in the White Mountains near Springerville? What's this town of Moss Creek like?
Later, the reader learns that Moss Creek is only an hour's drive from the Grand Canyon. No mention of the National Park boundaries. Lisa Chance and her friend just drive up to "the Grand Canyon overlook favored by locals."
Now the author has taken us in yet another direction. If not all the way to Holbrook, did Lisa Chance's route from Hollywood only go to Flagstaff before veering off into the hinterlands? Is the author aware that there are still reservations outside the national park boundaries?
I know, I know, I know. It's so damn nitpicky. But when I read a book, I want to be totally lost in it. I want to believe in it. If I can't believe in the setting, how can I believe in anything else?
I would be the same way if there were something about the character that pushed my willing suspension of disbelief beyond its limits. But if the author loses my trust, how can I trust anything else she writes?
Other readers will probably love this story. They may even believe in it.
Most readers won't care, and won't notice. But I care and I noticed.