Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts

Friday, January 18, 2019

"Melding Spirits" by Michael E. Burge


EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
Melding Spirits
by Michael E. Burge


Melding Spirits by Michael E. Burge is currently on tour with iRead Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Bryant’s Gap.

Description
Twelve-year-old Evan Mason’s life has been turned upside down by the sudden death of his father. His mother isn’t home much, the insurance office during the day, waiting tables at night. Evan is spending a great deal of time alone.
Now he finds himself on a Greyhound bus headed for a small town on the Wabash River where he’ll spend the summer of 1958 with his loving grandmother.
Evan soon meets his new neighbor, Katie Dobbins. She’s a feisty blue-eyed girl with a ponytail, the type of girl Buddy Holly might sing about on American Bandstand. Evan is instantly enamored with her.
It seems the perfect summer is underway - but strange things are happening in the woods surrounding the Ghost Hill Indian Mound.
There’s a dark cloud lingering over the Wabash Valley - It won’t be long before it erupts into a raging storm.


Excerpt
1
Summer1958
Evan Mason sat in the back seat as Gladys Hatfield dropped the Ford Crestline into first gear, revved the engine, and lurched along the circular drive that serviced the all-in-one train depot and bus station in Chicago Pointe.
Today was Saturday, and Evan would soon be on a southbound bus headed for Laurenville, Illinois to stay with his grandmother for the summer. The thirty-three-year-old woman riding shotgun was Lila Mason, Evan’s mother. On Monday, she would be on a plane headed to Manhattan for a week of training. She had worked as a clerk in the Chicago Pointe office for two years and now had a shot at becoming an agent for one of the biggest insurance companies in the world.
“Okay, Lila,” Gladys said, as she double-parked near the main entrance to the station. “I’m going to drop you right here. I’ll park somewhere around the corner and wait for you. I think that’s his bus.” Gladys jumped from the car, opened the trunk, and with little effort hoisted the overstuffed suitcase and plopped it onto the ground.
Gladys was a large, sturdy woman. She wasn’t what one might call homely, but she had a crooked smile and her features were plain and asymmetrical. Her lips and fingernails were painted a ruby red and her dark auburn hair was piled up on her head in a massive layer of sweeping curls. A stiff northerly breeze was blowing, but her hair remained steadfast as she went about her business.
Not long ago, Gladys had discovered the magic of those aerosol cans that had made their way from the battlefields of WW II, where they were used to dispense insecticides, to the dressing tables of women around the world.
Only instead of DDT, they now were filled with a flowery smelling lacquer, a few layers of which could transform the flattest of hairdos into a high rise bouffant of staggering proportions. Gladys Hatfield had certainly done her part to keep the hairspray companies in business.
“You got a big kiss for your Aunt Gladys, Evan?” She beckoned him around to the rear of the car. He knew what was coming and tried to brace himself for the trauma that would ensue. She pulled him to her bosom, enveloping him in a fog of lavender perfume and talcum powder.
He was light-headed from lack of oxygen and the sheer devastation of the moment, and when he saw the two huge, over-puckered lips coming in for a landing, he was certain things were going to end badly. Fortunately, the sharp, instinctive reflexes of youth took over. He gave a quick twist of his neck and the two ruby red marauders landed three inches off target, splashing down high on his cheek, just below his right eye.
Gladys stepped back to arm’s length. “You have a good time down south, and don’t you worry about your mother. I’ll be watching over her. She’s going to do just fine in that new job. I just know it.” She reached into her purse, pulled out several folded bills, and tucked them into his shirt pocket. “Take Grandma Bea out for a soda. Go see a movie. Buy something for yourself, whatever tickles your fancy. It’s our little secret.”
“Thank you, Aunt Gladys. I—”
“Hold still, honey.” She yanked a flowered hanky from her pocket, wrapped it around her index finger, wet it with her tongue, and executed the dreaded lipstick erasure. Later in his life, Evan would have Freudian nightmares related to that moment.
Incidentally, Gladys wasn’t really Evan’s aunt. He called her that because Lila had always considered her one of the family. It made his mother happy.
Gladys lit a cigarette and slid behind the wheel. “See you in a bit, dearie,” she said to Lila, the cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth as she spoke.
“Shouldn’t be long, Gladys,” Lila said, looking at her watch. “If the bus leaves on time, it’ll be pulling out in the next fifteen minutes.”
“Don’t rush. If I’m not in the car, I’ll be across the street at the drugstore. Alvin is there today.” She gave a little wink as she popped the clutch and humped her way down the street and around the corner. Gladys wasn’t the best of drivers.
“I hope you remembered everything, Evan. Did you pack your books and the card for Grandma Bea?” Lila said.
“Yes, Mother.”
She reached for the suitcase, but Evan rushed over and picked it up.
“I can carry it,” he said. “Do you want to hurt your back again, right before your trip?”
“Well, if you’re sure you can manage it,” she said. “I don’t want you to rupture something.”
He rolled his eyes and said, “Please, I’m not going to get a rupture!”
They walked toward the waiting bus, Lila checking the list she had taken from her purse.
“Okay, do you have your good jacket, your extra belt, and—”
“Yes, Mother.”
“Your new sneakers?”
He looked down at his brand-new Keds. “I’m wearing them,” he said, shaking his head in mild disgust. “We went through that list an hour ago. It might be a little late now, don’t you think?”
“Now, don’t be a smart aleck, dear. I could certainly mail those things to you, now, couldn’t I?” She snapped the clasp on the large purse she was carrying and pulled out two comic books. She handed them to Evan, then snatched a brand new brown leather wallet from the side pouch. “Your money is behind the little window compartment. Now, make sure you tuck this deep into your pocket so it doesn’t fall out,” she said as she demonstrated the prescribed tucking technique. Evan took it and jammed it into the hip pocket of his jeans. “And I hope you brought your harmonica. The people on the bus might enjoy hearing you play. Music helps pass the time on a long trip, you know.”
At Lila’s suggestion, Gladys had given Evan a top of the line harmonica for his last birthday. Evan had plenty of musical talent. His father had begun teaching him to play the piano when he was just four years old. Evan’s cognitive skills and tonal awareness had been uncanny, especially for a child his age. After his father’s death, Evan’s interest in music had waned. Lila hoped the harmonica might rekindle it.
Got it right here, Mother.” He pulled the instrument from his pocket and waved it to allay any doubt.
They sat on a bench in front of the station and watched as the driver tossed the bags into the cavern under the bus.
Lila lit a cigarette and took a couple of puffs. “Evan, you know, I don’t like the idea of leaving you with Grandma Bea all summer, but I hope you understand, it’s important for both of us that I get this job and get off to a good start. It can mean everything to our future. Aunt Gladys offered to help out, but you wouldn’t have been happy staying with her, would you?” She took another puff on her cigarette.
Evan looked at her and gave another roll of the eyes.
“I didn’t think so. You’ll have a good time at Grandma’s. She loves you a lot. She’ll be grateful for the company,” Lila said.
“Mother, it’s okay. You know I have a lot of friends in Laurenville, probably more than I have here. You don’t have to worry about me.”
“Everyone headed south may begin boarding. Please be sure you have your ticket and all your belongings. Once we leave the barn, we don’t look back!” the driver said as he began to assist people onto the bus.
“Now remember what I said. You give that driver a good up and down inspection as you board, and when you get off at those rest stops, you make sure you keep him in sight all the time you’re there. When he gets up, you follow him. The bus can’t leave without him,” Lila said.
“What about when he goes to the restroom?” Evan said.
“Very funny,” she said and mashed the half-smoked, lipstick-smeared cigarette into the ashtray beside her. Lila didn’t have a robust sense of humor. “Now, get over here and give me a big hug.”
“I’m going to miss you, Mom.” He patted her on the back as they embraced.
“And I’ll miss you,” she said. “You’re the best son a mother could ask for.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“With Melding Spirits, Michael Burge crafts a poignant coming-of-age story laced with suspense and grit. Crossing genres, this story is sure to appeal to a wide audience. […] Burge keeps the reader guessing and achieves an exhilarating climax toward the end of the novel. Aside from some profanity, this is a relatively clean read, with no graphic details or bedroom scenes, and I recommend it as a fantastic summer read.” ~ Litterarum Studiosus
“I enjoyed reading the story. There were many fun and interesting side stories to the plot. The tension of the story grows as you continue to read. It was fun to see all the pieces fit together to the somewhat surprise ending. There were also some great side characters to the story that added to the overall story.” ~ Dale Hansen
“I just loved this book very well written about growing up in the late 50's, your first love, standing up for a friend. Buy this book read it you won't be disappointed!” ~ Christina
“The suspense made me want to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. It is definitely not a book that I could predict. I had it read in one day. It is that good. I am giving Melding Spirits a well deserved five plus stars. I would give one hundred stars if I could. I highly recommend it for other readers to add to their must read lists. I look forward to reading more by Michael E Burge and see where else he takes a reader to next. He has extraordinary talent. Melding Spirits is most definitely a must read!” ~ Amy C
“What a delightful book. Michael E. Burge has a way of getting into his characters hearts. I love meeting Evan, Katie, Riley, and Grandma Bea. Mr. O'Malley reminded me of my Papa. This story takes you back to a simpler time of 1958, where neighbors helped each other and looked after one another. I really enjoyed the build-up of this story and loved the ending. Truly a melding of spirits. I highly recommend this book.” ~ Amazon Customer


About the Author
Michael E. Burge
Michael E. Burge grew up in the Chicago suburbs and a small town on the Wabash River in Southern Illinois.
In the late sixties, he left college to serve on a U.S. Navy destroyer out of Norfolk, Virginia. Upon leaving the service, he transitioned to a career in the burgeoning computer industry, positions in product management and marketing.
He is now pursuing his lifelong interest in writing, publishing his debut novel, Bryant’s Gap, in 2015 and his second, Melding Spirits, in 2017.
Michael also plays piano, paints, and is an avid golfer. He and his family currently live in Illinois.


Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of seven copies of Melding Spirits by Michael E. Burge. Two winners will also win a $20 Amazon gift card (open to USA/Canada only).

Links



Monday, January 14, 2019

"Moon Games" by Shelly Frome


GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
Moon Games
by Shelly Frome

Moon Games by Shelly Frome

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


For more books by this author, please check out my blog post on Murder Run and my blog post on The Secluded Village Murders.

Description
At the outset, Miranda Davis has nothing much going for her. The tourists are long gone by October in the quaint Carolina town of Black Mountain, her realty business is at a standstill, and her weekend stint managing the local tavern offers little to pull her out of the doldrums. When prominent church lady Cloris Raintree offers a stipend to look into the whereabouts of a missing girl hiker on the Q.T, Miranda, along with her partner Harry (an unemployed features writer) agree.
But then it all backfires. A burly figure shambles down a mountain slope with a semi-conscious girl draped over his shoulder. Miranda’s attempts to uncover Cloris Raintree’s true motives become near impossible as she puts up one smokescreen after another, including a slip of the tongue regarding an incident in Havana. The local police keep stonewalling and Harry is of little help.
Tarot cards left on Cloris’ doorstep and arcane prompts on her e-mail only exacerbate the situation. Growing more desperate over the captive girl’s fate, Miranda comes across a link to a cold case of arson and murder. With the advent of the dark of the moon, she is summoned to “Tower Time” as this twisty tale continues to run its course.

Excerpt
Bracing herself, Miranda hurried down the hall of the retirement complex, located Cloris Raintree’s quarters, ran her fingers through her short, floppy do, adjusted her blouse and bib overalls, and knocked.
She heard a faint “The door is open,” assumed time was still of the essence and barged in.
She took in the confines of the prescribed living space, a divan behind an antique coffee table, and an heirloom silver tea service with all the trimmings. At the same time, in marked contrast to herself, she noted the carefully coiffed do, high cheekbones, slender form and those cool blue eyes that kept reminding Miranda of women who always held sway since grade school. Cloris’s spiffy heather-green tailored pants suit and matching accessories only heightened the impression. Once again, Miranda was in the presence of an affluent pillar of the Montreat community with a lineage that went back to recorded memory.
“Well,” said Cloris, in that flinty, impatient voice of hers, still doing her level best to cover up the fact she was a sixty-year-old woman with a nervous condition. Younger than the other residents, but the nightmares she’d confided she’d been having were taking their toll.
Given the tacit understanding Miranda would have to continue being on her best behavior and keep pussyfooting around, she said, “Okay, I’m ready to be told what’s so important I had to drop everything.”
“Indeed,” Cloris countered, hanging on tight to an air of crisp, imperviousness. “Did you bring a map as I asked? As a realtor, I daresay you are apprised of every inch of this area.”
Reaching into the pocket of her overalls, Miranda whipped out a local map and laid it out on the coffee table so that Cloris could peruse it. “You bet. Here you go.”
“What I was given to believe . . . That is, it has been brought to my attention that a distraught, freshman girl student took it upon herself to go off on a hike as part of some independent, outward bound program.”
“Uh-huh. So, tell me, is she lost, is that it? And if so, where was she spotted last?” While politely keeping her distance, Miranda moved over to Cloris’s side.
“Precisely.” Bristling, then pulling back, Cloris modulated her tone. “In my view, with a cold front fast approaching, and given the fact she was recently seen heading back this way . . . past some old railroad trestle as I recall, on the way to Ridgecrest, and with twilight coming on in the next hour or so . . .”
Jumping in, Miranda took over, pointing things out regardless of any thoughts of propriety. “In that case, if she keeps going, she could eventually be intercepted by the old train depot here. Or, if she is so miffed and standoffish, she’d keep right on going on her way to Sunset. All tired out but jaunting higher till she finally reached the hiker’s shack up at Grey Eagle Crest where she could hole up for the night. Seeing that she’s a freshman and a probable out-of-towner, she must have been told about it as a shelter on her return hike.”
Getting nothing from Cloris except more impatient looks, and trying to lighten things up, Miranda said, “‘Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm.’ ”
“I beg your pardon?” said Cloris, folding up the map and handing it back.
“Nothing. Just an old Bob Dylan song.”
“While the clock is ticking away? You think there’s time for this?”
“Sorry,” said Miranda, pocketing the map. She reminded herself that on this dull Monday she had nothing else going for her in the throes of the realty down- market in this sleepy Blue Ridge mountain town, especially with the tourist trade on hiatus this late in October. Plus, an exclusive on the old Raintree mansion was in the bag and this little escapade counts as an extra perk, assuming there would be some more coin to help tide her over.
She moved back to her position by the front door and tried again to lighten things up. “Look, this could be a lot simpler than you’re making it. Maybe, by now, the girl’s gotten this all out of her system and is a lot more amenable.”
Rising up, Cloris said, “I’ll have you know, it’s also been suggested that someone may be in pursuit. She may be in danger from more than an impending storm.”
“Imminent, you mean?”
“Is there any other kind?”
“Yeah, I guess under the circumstances, you never know.”
Miranda started to go and then turned back. “By the way. You never told me why you’re so involved.”
“How can you ask? As a deacon of the church who devoted a life coming to the aid of troubled and unfortunate creatures, don’t you think it is my Christian duty? And on top of that . . .”
“On top of that? You mean there’s more?”
Holding stock still and then suddenly retreating, Cloris hurried into an adjacent room, returned with what looked like a playing card and slapped it on the coffee table. “This was slipped under my door. Probably, to hazard a guess, sometime very early when they make the deliveries.”
Miranda went over, flipped it and saw that it was some kind of tarot card.
“Take it, discard it,” Cloris said, raising her voice. “Get it out of my sight!”
“But shouldn’t you notify the police?”
“Wonderful. Have the police come by and ask all kinds of questions. Set the gossip biddies around here spreading all kinds of rumors. Aspersions on my character, my condition, and the Raintree name. Take it away and let’s hear no more about it.”
“Sure, if you say so.”
“I do indeed. You are sworn to secrecy, Miranda Davis. Given your solemn word that my role in any of our dealings is strictly between the two of us.”
“Whatever. Yes, ma’am.”
Unable to take another withering glance from Cloris, Miranda pocketed the card and said, “Just wondering, that’s all. Just keeping tabs on things. Okay, I’m off, you’ll be hearing from me.”
Despite her misgivings, Miranda slipped out and retraced her steps down the hall. Trying to come to terms with the gambit she’d have to take, she reminded herself she couldn’t be at two places at once. Couldn’t fulfill her part-time obligation managing the Tavern and play hide-and-seek looking for an unsociable, meandering girl. And since she’d wangled a house-sitting stint for Harry, her sometimes partner, and since that cottage was close to the hikers’ shack if the girl managed to get that far . . . Yes, absolutely. It wouldn’t kill him to get here early. The simple solution was to hand the ball over.
Moving along to the car park, she’d almost convinced herself it was all a lot of fuss over nothing. Going to be a piece of cake.
But she couldn’t help wondering what was underneath Cloris’ church lady façade? What was really going on? And why anyone might be tailing this particular college student?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
Moon Games can only be described as a dramatic, thrilling and exciting novel that will keep readers entertained, captivated and engrossed from the very first page. Mystery stories are currently my go-to read so when I read the description of Moon Games I knew that I had to read it as well as review it so that all you lovely readers could learn about it. Never before have I been so captivated by a mystery novel and this is thanks to the exceptional author Shelly Frome and his talented literature and so, if you are a reader who loves mystery and suspense reads then you will adore this adventure as it is stellar!” ~ Aimee Ann
“Frome creates a series of colorful characters who are drawn into this quest, most against their wills, but who, never-the-less, contribute their own special talents to what would ultimately prove to be a race to the finish, with more hairpin turns along the way than the drive along the Amalfi Coast. The famous “Malecon” drive along Havana’s Atlantic shore even plays an important role in the ultimate outcome of this complicated, yet gripping tale of revenge, regret, and greed, with a dash of the Zodiac (thus the Moon) thrown in for good measure.” ~ R. V. Helms
“Since I live in the town where this tale is set, I found it immensely fun to read. I also liked the strong female lead character, Miranda. She never gave up, despite set backs and people who were slow to believe her hunches and evidence. Good read!” ~ Ashley

Guest Post by the Author
Inklings of a Cultural Change
When I first came to Black Mountain from Connecticut a very few years ago, I had no idea what I was in for. At a stopover in Asheville, I was standing on the sidewalk, waiting for my Suburu station wagon to come careening around the bend from the parking garage of the Haywod Park Hotel. Presently, a matronly woman accosted me and said, “Are you lost, boy?” Slipping into my old actor’s ways by habit, picking up on regional accents, I said, “No, ma’am, I’m just waitin’ on my car, fixin’ to go to a potluck supper.” She countered with, “Boy, you can’t go to no potluck lest you brang somethin’.” I told her I was advised that a six-packet of good wine would be appreciated, and I happened to have one in the tote bag I was carrying. She hesitated, pondered for a while, then patted me on the shoulder. “Well, I reckon that’s all right then,” she said. “You go right ahead.”
As another example, when I moved into my new home with my golden/doodle Baxter, one Sunday morning the next thing I knew, an elderly gentleman across the street stopped me before I could get into the driver’s side of my car and said, “Shelly, I don’t know where you’re going this Sunday morning, but you appear to be not getting any younger. And there is only one path to eternity. And that’s the first Baptist Church. Not the other ones. Not the Independent, the Free Will or the Full Gospel but the biggest. The First.” And I said, “Don, Baxter and I were just trying to find our way to the Ingels Super Market. That’s as far as I was intending to go. There’s no food in the house.”
Needless to say, the more people I encountered, the more I began to appreciate the fact that every region had a distinct ambiance. And the garrulous folks in Western Carolina are much different than the cool, almost wary approach to strangers I was used to back in the Litchfield Hills. Those New Englanders had to get to know you first and, even then, were apt to keep anything too personal, let alone emotional, from creeping into any exchange. And so, the folks of Black Mountain and their ways began to creep into a novel that was forming in the back of my mind.


Shelly Frome
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also a features writer for Gannett Media’s Black Mountain News. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, and The Secluded Village Murders. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on The Art and Craft of Screenwriting and writing for the stage. Moon Games is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.


Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three print copies of Moon Games by Shelly Frome (US only).

Links

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.

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