Monday, January 14, 2019

"Moon Games" by Shelly Frome

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.

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.

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.

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