Alexandria native Judith Rost released the fourth book in her River Falls Mystery Series titled “Too Close for Comfort.”

Rost had events scheduled at various libraries throughout Minnesota, but all were canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, Rost will be holding a book signing at Broadway Floral on Friday, June 26, from 3-5 p.m., and Saturday, June 27, from 1-3 p.m. According to Rost, it's the only place large enough and available to accommodate social distancing.

The book is set in the fictional town of River Falls in west central Minnesota because Rost said it’s the area she knows the best. She was born in Parkers Prairie and lived in Alexandria for most of her life.

In the series, the main character, Sunflower Rose, becomes a cop. She’s hired to go undercover, and she discovers a human trafficking ring. It wasn’t in her job description to do anything about it, but she looks into it on her own anyway and gets herself in trouble.

“It’s action-packed from the beginning to the end,” Rost said. “There’s humor in it. I also bring God and angels into all my books. I can honestly say I can keep people interested from the beginning to the end because there’s something going on all the time.”

The writing process

Rost sent short stories to magazines in the 1950s, but her work kept getting rejected. Soon, she got married, had kids, started working and lost her spare time to write. Rost worked in property management, overseeing both Bridgewater Estates and Legacy Apartments in Alexandria.

When she got cancer in her 50s, the chemotherapy affected her memory. It took her a few years to recover to the point where she could apply for jobs again.

“It was like learning to read and write all over again,” Rost said. “I started writing just so I could sit and concentrate on something.”

When she retired and moved south, her husband told her she should finish the book she’d been working on, which took about 12 years from start to finish. Rost published her first book at age 68.

“I’m surprised she didn’t start earlier,” her daughter Cindy Rost said. “It’s something she’s always wanted to do.”

Incorporating the familiar

Since Cindy has been in law enforcement for 27 years, Judith Rost would have her daughter look over the books before they went to the editor. Cindy said her mother would use some words and phrases from TV shows that they don’t typically use in the St. Paul police force, so she would suggest other options for terminology.

“When I read them, I couldn’t even put them down,” Cindy said. “I’d be on the treadmill just reading, and I just wouldn’t want to get off the treadmill because it was so suspenseful.”

Judith Rost’s daughter, Jodi Berning, is the owner of Broadway Floral, so another setting woven throughout the series is a flower shop.

“It’s different because I’m reading it with that thought process in mind, ‘OK, this is based off my store,” Berning said.

For her most recent book, Judith Rost also interviewed undercover officers and those who handle human trafficking cases so she could accurately portray characters in the book who serve in those roles.

“I’m just really impressed how good they are, not that I shouldn’t be,” Berning said. “My mother spent her entire life reading. Whenever we couldn’t find her, she was locked in the bathroom reading.”

Rost’s books can be found online on Amazon or locally at Cherry Street Books and Broadway Floral.

The cover of Rost's book "Too Close for Comfort." (Contributed)
The cover of Rost's book "Too Close for Comfort." (Contributed)