I’m considering a parallel story line for the protagonist, another investigation.
Investigating her mother’s background in the town and why she left. The protagonist was raised by a distant father and his sister. Her aunt was a great mother figure, but bound by the father’s moratorium on speaking about the mother.
Structurally, I’m considering alternating chapters between the present investigation of the magazine woman’s death and the mother’s story. Perhaps there could be a hint about the mother’s life dropped during the current day chapter and then that could be explored in the flashback chapter.
It could be too busy, but I think it’s worth exploring.
Another option I thought of was to have the ghost of the mother tell the protagonist her story. Scenes where the mother appears as the protagonist explores the town, the hotel, investigates the death. I’m not sure if I would go so far as to have the ghost mother solve the investigation/lead the protagonist to solve the investigation or if there interactions would be solely about the protagonist finding her mother.
As for her mother’s mysterious leaving, I’m not sure which direction to go in. One option is to have a grittier family problem departure to balance out the accidental/non-threatening death of the magazine woman.
Will that cloud the inheritance too much? I want the town to be slightly welcoming to the new comer, and if she’s inheriting from a bad guy that could cloud their judgement.
The protagonist is late 30s/early 40s, born mid to late 70s. Having her mother leave because of the pregnancy is on obvious option, it would mean she was pretty young, maybe between 17- 22 years which in the 1970’s would still be pretty scandalous in a country town.
I feel like I don’t want her to leave because of a pregnancy, at least not the pregnancy of the protagonist.
Did she leave or was she sent away because of her first pregnancy and refused to come back to her family in the small town