Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Scream Muddy Murder" by Lesley A. Diehl


GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
Scream Muddy Murder
(Big Lake Murder Mysteries Book 3)
by Lesley A. Diehl

Scream Muddy Murder (Big Lake Murder Mysteries Book 3) by Lesley A. Diehl

Scream Muddy Murder is the third book in the Big Lake Murder Mysteries series by Lesley A. Diehl. Also available: Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Chilled and Killed.

Dumpster Dying by Lesley A. DiehlGrilled, Chilled and Killed by Lesley A. Diehl


Scream Muddy Murder is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


More books by this author: Old Bones Never Die (read my blog post) and Killer Tied (read my blog post).

Description
Emily Rhodes does it again! This time she nosedives into a mud puddle at a Seminole War battle reenactment and finds she’s sharing the muck with a dead body. As usual the hunky detective she loves to aggravate, Stanton Lewis, cautions her against getting involved in the case, and as usual she ignores him. Emily’s sleuthing pays off, revealing disturbing information about the victim’s past. Is it the reason behind his murder? With the help of her family and friends, Emily sets out to uncover secrets kept too long and puts herself and the people she loves in the killer’s path. Too late she realizes Detective Lewis was right. Her snoopiness proves to be a deadly idea.

Excerpt
THE RAIN POURED down on the combatants as they took up their stances on opposite ends of the field. One side stationed their men behind the palm trees and live oaks, while the fighters on the other side positioned themselves out in the open, preparing to march straight at the enemy—a foolish strategy, but insisted upon by their commander.
Emily pushed wet locks of hair off her face and prepared to advance with the first wave of troops. She held no weapon for defense; her assignment was to beat her snare drum. She grasped her drumsticks tightly for fear she’d drop one and would be unable to beat out the martial tempo she’d been assigned. Emily’s daughter, Naomi, holding the American flag, stood beside her, the two of them dressed as boys from the early nineteenth century, shirts with long, full sleeves and knee britches. Naomi had been smart to tie her blond hair back with a leather thong. Their only concession to modern dress was that each wore a pair of rubber boots. Naomi’s sported a yellow duck pattern, Emily’s were a nautical blue with a thin red stripe around the top.
“How did we get ourselves into this mess?” asked Emily, attempting to lift one foot out of the mud. Her boot made a sucking sound. “This is as bad as quicksand.”
“It was your idea to take part,” replied Naomi. “You said it would be fun and a service to the community.”
“It would have been fun if it hadn’t been raining for three days. The field was so flooded the organizers cancelled yesterday’s performance. It’s not much better today.”
A shot rang out signaling the start of the reenactment of the Battle of Okeechobee, an event held each year at the site of the original battle fought in 1837, a military engagement in the Second Seminole War. Emily started at the sound of the gun and stumbled forward, almost falling to her knees. Naomi reached out and steadied her mother. The announcer thumped the microphone to determine if it was working. It gave forth a screech and again startled Emily, but this time she held her position. With a clearing of his throat and another squeal from the loud speaker, the announcer began his account of the military tactics used by the soldiers of the United States commanded by General Zachary Taylor and the Seminoles led by their chief, Alligator, often called Billy Bowlegs.
“Maybe all this water will shortcircuit the loudspeaker, and they’ll call off the event. We could get electrocuted, you know,” Emily said, but began marching, careful to avoid yet another hole in the soggy ground. She took up a steady drumbeat. The two women staggered forward, the thick mud making their advancement slow and difficult.
“Having trouble keeping up?” asked the tall man in front of Emily, slowing his pace and turning back to address her. How he managed to look dry and comfortable in all this rain was beyond Emily, but she always found Detective Stanton Lewis the other side of comprehensible in her mind. He was a member of the local police department, and the man who had arrested Emily for murder on one occasion, and on another, kissed her with passion.
“If I’d have known he’d be volunteering for this event, I would have stayed home,” Emily said.
“I heard that,” replied Lewis, “and I know you don’t mean it.”
Maybe she did and maybe she didn’t. Emily could never tell how she felt about Stanton Lewis. It seemed that whenever they got together two things happened: first there was the verbal battling, and then there was the warmth she felt somewhere south of her waist. He was about the handsomest man she’d ever met, and the most annoying. It seemed he knew the effect he had on her, and he loved to aggravate her by standing too close or smiling that annoying smile with his full, very kissable, lips.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“In the mood for a protagonist who just won't quit? Who won't let obstacles and naysayers dissuade her from her self-appointed rounds? Who has a strength of character and will power we might all emulate? I give you Emily Rhodes, the feisty and strongly self-determined heroine of Lesley A. Diehl's Big Lake Murder Mysteries. […] Scream Bloody Murder is compelling and heartwrenching, with never a dull moment throughout.” ~ Mallory A. Haws: The Haunted Reading Room Reviews
“This is a great read, with a suspenseful plot and a bit of romance thrown in. Diehl gives her readers a multi-layered plot. […] Of course to have a great book, you need great characters as well. This book, like the previous books, are packed with memorable characters. One reason I love reading a series is with each book, I get to know more about the main characters and even some secondary ones, and this book does just that. […] If you are looking for a great mystery, with great characters, and just the right of romance thrown in, you can’t go wrong with this book, and the whole series!” ~ Christie72
“Everyone seems to know more than they are saying and nobody is willing to spill the beans. Fun characters from previous books return to make things crazier. The tension and relationship between Emily Rhodes and Detective Lewis get more muddied than ever. Who enjoys aggravating the other more? […] Nonstop action as the danger mounts. Emily swears she is not going out of her way to interfere in an investigation. This is my favorite book of the series so far.” ~ Laura S Reading

Guest Post by the Author
Writing in the Swamps
Scream Muddy Murder is a cozy mystery, or at least I think it is. The protagonist, Emily Rhodes, is a reluctant amateur sleuth, the kind of snoopy gal one would expect in the cozy genre. She was a preschool teacher until she retired but finding herself strapped for living expenses because her life partner died and left nothing to her, Emily decided she needed to update her skills. Her good friend and next-door neighbor was impressed with Emily’s mixology skills, so Emily enrolled in a mixology course and found herself seeking employment as a bartender in rural Florida, in a town whose bars catered to country dancing, cowboys, cold beers, giant steaks, and barbecue. Could Emily handle enthusiastic cowboys who had had too much to drink? Apparently not because she lost her first job and would have had to find another post retirement career if the manager of the restaurant and bar at the local country club hadn’t hired her to tend bar there. It was a perfect match for Emily who knew many of the golfers. The patrons tended to be older and the bar catered to an early crowd.
Bartender is not the usual profession found in cozy mysteries, but it’s a perfect blend of the traditional with the unusual and provides the reader with a one-of-a-kind protagonist in a cozy mystery. Let’s say Emily’s profession squeaks in under the cozy guidelines.
But what about the setting for the book? The community isn’t a typical cozy mystery village, but a farming and ranching community set on the edge of the largest fresh water lake in Florida. The swampland of south-central Florida as well as southern prairies creates an environment that is beautiful but somewhat deadly. Think large reptiles, I mean really big reptiles and swamps, lots of swamps. It’s not what we usually view as a “cozy” cozy setting.
Because of the large influx of winter visitors who come during the season to fish the lake, the setting has some advantages for a cozy mystery. It avoids the Cabot Cove problem of small village and too many murders wiping out the meager population. Outsiders provide both suspects and victims, and because the area includes wide flung ranches and farms that often employ migrant workers, an element of international intrigue works here also. Not far from the town nearer to the West Palm polo farms breed and raise horses for polo matches drawing hundreds of competitors and attendees. The community may be small and rural, but the surrounding areas attract people from Europe, Central America and South America. Emily quickly realizes that as isolated as the community feels at first, it is connected to the flashier life of the coast and international intrigue.
Regardless of how I have extended Emily’s life beyond the village to a wider community, I have tried to maintain the feeling of intimacy with the people Emily encounters. There are the folks in the retirement village she lives in, the people she meets at the country club and the locals who have lived in the town for years, sometimes generations. This latter group is most important in providing Emily and the reader with the flavor of the rural south Florida. Donald Green, the bartender she hires to work at the country club with her, fishes the lake in his flashy and fast bass boat, allowing Emily to learn about bass fishing. Winning fishing tournaments is more important Donald than bartending and he lets Emily know this at every turn. If the day dawns sunny, but Donald is scheduled to work at the bar, Emily is likely to find herself without a bartender as Donald takes off for the lake.
Fishing the lake is an everyday backdrop for the series, but special events make the setting unique. Everyone in the area loves barbecue and barbecue contests. What better place to locate a dead body but in a beer cooler truck at the local barbecue cook-off. Emily did just that in Grilled, Chilled and Killed. In Scream Muddy Murder, I bring the history of the area into play by opening the book at the annual Battle of Okeechobee, a re-enactment of a famous Seminole War battle which took place in the 1830s. It is the perfect place for Emily to find her third dead body. Lucky gal. Now she has another case to solve. As with all Emily’s snooping, the man who adores her, Detective Stanton Lewis, will find her interference aggravating. That’s perfect, too. What better an element in a cozy mystery than a little romance?
So, of course, I have written a cozy mystery. Ignore the alligators and swamps. They’re just there for atmosphere to get the reader in the mood for a little rural Florida spin on the genre. No alligators, cattle, cowboys or other innocent characters were harmed in the writing of these books, only a couple of bad folks brought to justice.

About the Author
Lesley A. Diehl
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in Upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida - cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work. She’s presently interviewing for a coyote to serve as her muse for her books and stories set in rural Florida.

Giveaway
Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to have your name used in a future book OR to win an ebook copy of Scream Muddy Murder by Lesley A. Diehl (US only).

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