Showing posts with label women sleuths. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women sleuths. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"Three Strikes, You’re Dead" by Elena Hartwell

Three Strikes, You’re Dead
(Eddie Shoes Mystery Book 3)
by Elena Hartwell

Three Strikes, You’re Dead (Eddie Shoes Mystery Book 3) by Elena Hartwell

Three Strikes, You’re Dead is the third book in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series by Elena Hartwell. Also available: One Dead, Two to Go and Two Heads are Deader Than One (read my blog post).

One Dead, Two to Go by Elena HartwellTwo Heads are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell

Three Strikes, You’re Dead 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.

Private investigator Eddie Shoes heads to a resort outside Leavenworth, Washington, for a mother-daughter getaway weekend. Eddie’s mother Chava wants to celebrate her new job at a casino by footing the bill for the two of them, and who is Eddie to say no?
On the first morning, Eddie goes on an easy solo hike, and a few hours later, stumbles upon a makeshift campsite and a gravely injured man. A forest fire breaks out and she struggles to save him before the flames overcome them both. Before succumbing to his injuries, the man hands her a valuable rosary. He tells her his daughter is missing and begs for her help. Is Eddie now working for a dead man?
Barely escaping the fire, Eddie wakes in the hospital to find both her parents have arrived on the scene. Will Eddie’s card-counting mother and mob-connected father help or hinder the investigation? The police search in vain for a body. How will Eddie find the missing girl with only Eddie’s memory of the man’s face and a photo of his daughter to go on?
Book 3 in the Eddie Shoes Mystery series.

Chapter One
As a private investigator, I often deal with the misery of others. And while that’s way better than dealing with my own misery, I was still looking forward to a few relaxing days surrounded by the beauty of the Cascade Mountains. My plan was to worry about nothing more serious than whether to have a latte or a cocktail in the late afternoon.
Besides my clients and the attention they required, the circle of people in my life were demanding more and more of my time. I wasn’t sure how I felt about not being as footloose and fancy-free as I had been for so many years. Relationships require attention, and I wasn’t totally convinced I was up to the challenge.
Being a grownup wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Back in March, my mother Chava had started working security for a casino not far from my Bellingham home. She excelled in her new job, able as she was to sniff out shuffle trackers and con men with the instincts of a bloodhound. Recently rewarded for her vigilance with a hike in pay—after her three-month probationary period ended at the beginning of June—she had generously offered up a mother-daughter getaway weekend to celebrate at the newly renovated Wenatchee Valley Hot Springs Resort and Spa.
Her success was further proof that she had no intention of returning to her beloved Las Vegas anytime soon or that my guest room would return to being my home office in the near future. Apparently I now had a full-time roommate.
Currently that roommate was crouched over the wheel of her bright red Mazda 6, zooming up the road toward our destination.
“You’ve been down in the mouth ever since that thing with Dakota Fontaine,” she’d said last week when she brought up the idea. “I thought you could use a long weekend away.”
Just before Chava started her new job, an old friend from my Spokane childhood had shown up in Bellingham, bringing Sturm und Drang with her. The whole adventure had made me a little cranky.
Besides, I’d thought at the time, why turn down a mini-vacation with the added bonus I could make my mother happy? And, as the resort was dog friendly, we got to take Franklin, my one-hundred-seventy-five pound, Tibetan mastiff-Irish wolfhound cross. So I said yes.
An hour into our drive, we passed through Monroe, a town of slightly under twenty thousand souls. It had sprung up around the railroad a hundred years ago. Once we got through town, we stopped for lattes at the Coffee Corral, a small, roadside stand in the parking lot of the Reptile Zoo. One of these days I’d stop and visit Reptile Man and his animals, but today we were winging our way up Highway 2, heading into the mountains.
Road trips always felt like an opportunity for a do-over. A “restart button” to erase life’s inevitable, messy complications. Especially if my destination was a place I’d never been, a place where no one knew me. I could begin afresh. A new romance, a new job, I could be an orphan—
Chava began singing loudly to the radio and I slammed back into the here and now, her presence tethering me to my current existence, regardless of our distance from home.
Life could be worse though. I could be paying for this little getaway.
I was more excited than I wanted to admit. Chava and I had rarely been on destination vacations together. We’d visited each other in our respective cities over the years, but seldom gone to another location entirely. I’d found excuses to tell everyone I knew that we were going: my best friend Iz, because I had to cancel our Saturday morning workout session at the dojo; Debbie Buse, in case she’d been thinking about meeting at the dog park on Sunday; and Chance Parker, my ex-boyfriend from Seattle who’d taken a job as a police detective in Bellingham last December.
After several tries over the course of the week, I’d “run” into him at Rustic Coffee in Fairhaven and asked him what his weekend plans were. I figured social etiquette would make him ask me about mine.
“I’m taking a few days off and going up to Orcas Island,” he said. “Do a little carpentry. A friend’s cabin needs a new roof.” Chance was pretty good with home repair projects, so I wasn’t surprised, though I wondered about the friend.
“Should be lovely up there,” I said. “What’s the cabin like?” And more importantly, who’s the owner?
“Primitive,” Chance said, with a laugh. “We won’t have electricity or cell service. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but James is used to surviving in the wilderness, and a few days of roughing it won’t hurt me.”
I remembered James. He lived in Alaska and took people out to look at bears and walruses and live on sticks and berries.
“Very manly,” I said.
“What about you?” Chance asked, proving my expectation about social niceties. I explained about the trip Chava had planned for us.
“Sounds like fun,” he said. “You’ll have to tell me all about it when you get back.”
That was a good sign, right? Almost like asking me out on a date.
“Why don’t we get together?” I said, emboldened by his easy manner. “When we’re both back. Compare notes on our respective long weekends.”
“Sure,” he said. “We’ll figure something out.”
That was a yes, right?
“You’re smiling,” Chava said as we reached the outskirts of Sultan, the first small town after Monroe, and had to slow down.
“I’m content,” I said, a little surprised to discover it was true.
The distinctly Western Washington small towns whizzed by outside the windows. Startup, Gold Bar, Baring—places with grocery stores and ski rentals mixed in with taverns and restaurants, all of which had seen better days. Not to mention the string of funky espresso drive-thrus, including: a windmill, a barn, and a tiny brick building, all with clever names. After Google and Amazon, coffee was the most popular business in our area.
Or maybe all that coffee was why we had the tech business to begin with.
Stands of evergreens mixed with deciduous trees covered in moss stretched out along the banks of the Skykomish. The rushing, westbound river competed for space with a railroad track and the road we were on in the corridor up to Stevens Pass. We crossed bridges with the river underneath us and sped under bridges with the railroad overhead, sometimes occupied by a moving train.
I could feel my tension ease as we left civilization behind. Tee trees were green. The river was clear as glass, first reflecting the sky, then turning into rapids, then forming deep quiet pools in the eddies of a bank. Franklin snoozed contentedly in the backseat, chin tucked against one armrest, feet pressed against the door on the other side.
A green sign flashed by—STEVENS PASS, ELEVATION 4061—as we raced alongside the ski resort. Summer had turned the snow-covered paths into bare wounds with the zigzag of ski li s stitching them together. Chava hurtled over the crest and swooped down the other side, like a downhill skier setting a record. Though I’d never admit it, it was always fun being her passenger.
Off in the distance, a thin column of smoke appeared. The plume rose straight up from the dense forest before fading into a gauzy haze and disappearing altogether. A resident probably had a burn pile going—that was how many of the locals disposed of trash or yard waste. It could also be part of a planned burn, designed to clear dangerous underbrush before a spark from a careless camper or a zap of summer lightning lit the mass of tinder. The rest of the sky was clear as far as I could see.
I began to hum along with the melody of an old Eagles tune. It was going to be a perfect getaway. What could possibly go wrong?
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
Three Strikes, You’re Dead gives us another vivid adventure with the quirky, genuine private eye Eddie Shoes. As usual, author Elena Hartwell’s characters are so real you feel like you could run into them at your local dive bar. Three Strikes takes us even deeper into Eddie’s complex family relationships with her charming-but-deadly father Eduardo and hilarious mom Chava, giving us further insight into Eddie’s psyche. The laugh-out-loud moments are many in this vital third installment, and you’ll find yourself wishing you could stay longer in the world of Eddie Shoes.” ~ USA Today bestselling author LS Hawker
Three Strikes, You’re Dead is an exciting ride with a likeable protagonist and a wonderful cast of supporting characters. If you enjoy your mysteries with suspense and a touch of humor, this book is for you.” ~ Catherine Bruns, USA Today Best Selling Author of the Cookies & Chance Mysteries
“With outstanding characters and a thrilling plot to entertain them, those who are fans of sleuth mysteries will fall in love with Eddie Shoes and her outlandish family. Although it is the third book in a series, it makes a fabulous stand-alone read and is a nice asset to have in your library.” ~ Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorites
“This one was hard for me to put down.” ~ Long and Short Reviews

Guest Post by the Author
The Imperfection of Fiction Writers
Writing fiction requires a strong imagination. Authors must have the ability to create entire worlds, people who don’t exist, and situations that have never actually happened.
But we also need to get the facts right.
That may sound like a contradiction, but all fiction is grounded in a reality, and that reality has to be true.
Let me explain.
Take the mystery genre. Most books fall into a specific subgenre. Three common ones are Private Eye, Police Procedural, and Amateur Sleuth. There are others, but for our purposes, we’ll stick with these three.
When a novelist writes a fictional private investigator, they have to make choices about how much their PI acts within the law. A genuine, licensed private investigator follows specific rules and guidelines and doesn’t break the laws of their community. That’s great in the real world, but in fiction it’s a lot less interesting than a private eye who will do anything to solve their case. This does not mean, however, the writer or the character can be unaware that they are breaking the law. In fact, part of the dramatic tension can come from the reader knowing the PI could get arrested and finding out if they get away with an action or not.
This requires the writer to know the rules of private investigation and the legal system in the state or community their stories are set.
The same is true if the author writes a police procedural. While there are some writers who have had careers in law enforcement, most of us have to research how police detectives actually work. There’s also a tricky balance for writers who are experts in law enforcement. They may know how an investigation would unfold in the real world, but they may have to speed the process up for fictional purposes, to keep things exciting for the reader.
The amateur sleuth has leeway with how their characters behave. Readers are prepared to suspend their disbelief about the little old lady who slips, unnoticed, into the house to investigate the crime scene. But they may still have to be accurate with how police detectives behave as secondary characters. If a crime happens in a novel with an amateur sleuth (usually termed a “cozy” if there is no graphic sex or violence) the police who investigate may miss a clue or disregard something the amateur knows, but the cops still have to act within the framework of real life investigations.
But the legal system and the inner workings of police departments are only part of the accuracy mystery writers need to employ.
Everything we write can come under scrutiny, and while gun enthusiasts are notorious for catching mistakes in a crime novel, they are only one set of experts.
As fiction writers, the scenarios we create include a lot of real world things. Whether it’s how a tow truck operator loads a vehicle on a flatbed or how many dog breeds the AKC recognizes, there’s a reader out there who will catch an author’s mistake.
My search history on the internet probably looks like a lot of crime novelists’. I’ve researched poisons that don’t show up in autopsies, how likely it is for someone to successfully commit suicide injecting an air embolism, and various forms of blood spatter. But that’s only part of the picture. I’ve also researched native trees found in a region, the elevation and populations of cities, and the interior colors on a specific car make and model.
Those are often the kinds of mistakes a reader will catch.
One of the best sources for information is access to an expert. That’s my favorite kind of research. For book three in my series, I got to hang out with firefighters. I even got to go on a run or two, lights and sirens and all. But access to an expert isn’t foolproof. A writer can still make a mistake if they don’t ask the right question.
One of the experts I have relied on for every book to date is a police detective. We have a rule of thumb when we’re discussing my scenarios. Always, never, maybe. When I give him my fictional scenario and describe my fictional cop’s actions, we compare my description with the actions of a real-world police officer. The actions usually fall into one of three categories: always, never or maybe. If it’s “a police officer would always do that,” I know I’ve written an authentic character. If he says never, I have to rewrite and find a way around that particular action. If he says “maybe,” I can choose to keep an action because I know it’s within the realm of possibility.
Two moments in my life stand out for me for how tricky truth in fiction can be. Years ago I was workshopping a new play. We had staged a public reading and asked for feedback from the audience. After the event was over, an elderly gentleman came up to me. He said, “I’m a World War Two veteran, and I wanted you to know that I loved your play. I thought your veteran was very well written, but you have one mistake. At the end of the play, at the funeral, you say ‘there was a twenty-one gun salute.’ The problem is, there’s no such thing, it’s actually called a rifle volley.”
So now I had a problem. The character who had the line probably wouldn’t get it right either, but I didn’t want my audiences to think I, the playwright, didn’t know the difference. So I added a line to another character, who corrected the first. What stood out to me was it never occurred to me I had the wrong term, so I had never even checked. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted.
The second moment was working with a writer years ago on a short play. He had something that didn’t ring true to audiences. The playwright had been a doctor in Viet Nam, and the issue had to do with his age at the time. His character was very young, because it was based, in part, on his own experiences. The problem was, even though it was true in the real world, most people thought it was a mistake, because he felt too young to have gotten through medical school and gone on to fight in the war. Here was a place where the writer had to change what was true into something that felt true. He made the character older and the problem disappeared. It didn’t impact the plot, just the believability of the character.
Both those instances have stayed with me. Part of our roles as writers it to create fictional worlds, while remaining true to the one we live in. Simultaneously, we have to make sure things feel true, regardless of the facts they are based on.
Fiction lives somewhere between the suspension of disbelief and our reality. And the writer’s job is to figure out where.

About the Author
Elena Hartwell
After twenty years in the theater, Elena Hartwell turned her dramatic skills to fiction. Her first novel, One Dead, Two to Go introduced Eddie Shoes, private eye. Called “the most fun detective since Richard Castle stumbled into the 12th precinct”, by author Peter Clines, In’DTale Magazine stated, “this quirky combination of a mother-daughter reunion turned crime-fighting duo will captivate readers.”
In addition to her work as a novelist, Elena teaches playwriting at Bellevue College and tours the country to lead writing workshops.
When she’s not writing or teaching, her favorite place to be is at the farm with her horses, Jasper and Radar, or at her home, on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, their dog, Polar, and their trio of cats, Jackson, Coal Train, and Luna, aka, “the other cat upstairs”. Elena holds a B.A. from the University of San Diego, a M.Ed. from the University of Washington, Tacoma, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Three Strikes, You’re Dead by Elena Hartwell (US only).


Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Killer Tied" by Lesley A. Diehl

Killer Tied
(Eve Appel Mystery Book 6)
by Lesley A. Diehl

Killer Tied (Eve Appel Mystery Book 6) by Lesley A. Diehl

Killer Tied is the sixth book in the Eve Appel Mystery series. Also available: A Secondhand Murder, Dead in the Water, A Sporting Murder, Mud Bog Murder, and Old Bones Never Die (read my blog post).

Killer Tied 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.

Eve Appel Egret is adjusting to married life with Sammy and their three adopted sons in Sabal Bay, Florida. While still running her consignment stores, she is going pro with her sleuthing by becoming an apprentice to a private detective.
Until her marriage, Eve’s only “family” was her grandmother Grandy, who raised her after her parents died in a boating accident. Now, in addition to her husband and sons, she has a father-in-law who clearly dislikes her. Sammy’s father, a full-blooded Miccosukee Indian long presumed dead, has emerged from the swamps where he’s been living like a hermit, and he isn’t happy about Eve’s marriage to his half-Miccosukee, half-white son.
As for Eve’s family, are her parents really dead? A woman named Eleanor claims to be Eve’s half-sister, born after her mother faked a boating accident to escape her abusive husband, Eve’s father. Then Eleanor’s father turns up dead in the swamps, stabbed by a Bowie knife belonging to Sammy’s father, Lionel. Strange as Lionel Egret is, Eve knows he had no motive to kill this stranger. In order to clear him, Eve must investigate Eleanor’s claims, and she might not like what digging around in her family’s past uncovers.

Chapter 1
I looked around the old detective’s office. The top of the desk no longer overflowed with paperwork, the floor was as clean as a heavy-duty cleaner could get it, and the paperwork was neatly filed away in the cabinets. I knew Crusty McNabb would hate what I had done to the space, but he had told me to make myself at home while he was gone. He was visiting his daughter, whom he hadn’t seen in over a year, and wouldn’t return for a few days. I was his apprentice now, somewhat eager to learn the private-eye business, and I had the blessing of all my family—my grandmother Grandy, her husband Max, my husband Sammy, and our three adopted sons—Sammy’s orphaned nephews—Jason, Jerome, and Jeremy. Even my best friend and business partner, Madeleine, and the police detective Frida Martinez had blessed my PI career path. The only one with misgivings was me. I still wasn’t real keen on the use of firearms, although I had been going to the gun range to practice with the pistol Crusty loaned me. My instructor there said I’d soon be a crack shot, no problem, but, he added, opening my eyes when I fired the durn thing might help my aim.
Well, I lied about me being the only one with doubts about my new career path. So did my friend Nappi Napolitani, who was a mob boss, or that’s what we all thought—I mean, how do you ask a mob boss for his crime credentials to determine if he’s genuine? Anyway, it seemed clear to me that he had something he wanted to say to me about my PI license but hadn’t gotten around to saying it yet. And then there was my ex-husband, who worried I’d take this opportunity to pistolwhip him or arrest him for transgressions against me while we were married. There were many, but getting revenge for those wasn’t a priority right now.
I heard a knock on the door and turned to see a man peering through the store window. He rattled the knob. “Sorry, the office is closed until the end of this week. Mr. McNabb will be back on Friday.”
“Are you Ms. Appel?” This was silly, having a conversation through the closed door. I walked over and opened it.
“I’m Eve Appel, but I—”
“Then you’re the one I’m looking for. They told me next door I’d find you here.” He smiled and held out his hand. “Henry Montrose.”
He was a slender man with thinning, brownish-gray hair. He wore a beige knit shirt, khaki pants, and sneakers. I noted the beiges did not work together. That was just me, quick to make a fashion judgment. I shook his hand, curious about his reasons for seeking me out.
“If it’s detective work you need, I’m just Mr. McNabb’s apprentice. I don’t do cases on my own, so you might want to come back when he’s here. Like I said. End of this week.”
“I need someone to find my daughter.”
“Have you reported her missing to the police?”
“Well, no. You see, I’m not certain where she’s missing from. Or whether she just moved away. We lived in the Northeast, but we left. But not all together.”
He wasn’t making a lot of sense, and as he talked, he began to show signs of distress. His voice was shaky, and he twisted his hands so tightly together I thought he’d remove the skin.
“Maybe you should sit down for a minute.” I offered the usual but seemingly useless glass of water. He collapsed into the chair in front of Crusty’s desk.
“What police department do I notify? The one up North or the one here? See, I know my daughter was headed here.”
“So you’ve heard from her?”
“No, but this is where she’d come. I told her that her mother might be dead, but my daughter insists she’s still alive.” He shook his head. “That woman, my wife, has nine lives, it seems.”
I was more and more confused by his tale. “Uh, I have a friend on the police force here. Maybe she could help. I can call her, if you’d like.”
Frida might be able to make better sense of his story than I could. And she’d know the legalities of missing persons. Someone walked past the front windows and caught the attention of my visitor.
“No, never mind. I have to go now.” Without another word, he jumped up from the chair and ran out the door, stopping on the sidewalk, looking in both directions and then running toward the street. I lost sight of him when he turned left into the alleyway at the end of the strip mall.
Weird. Just plain weird, but Crusty said that PI work could be unusual, although he warned me that most of it was just plain boring. I shrugged and decided to tackle cleaning the tiny bathroom. It looked as if Crusty hadn’t taken a brush to the toilet bowl since he’d moved in. As I scrubbed—with rubber gloves on, of course—I thought over my decision to move from Connecticut to rural Florida. I’d chosen to open a consignment-shop business with Madeleine Boudreaux Wilson, my best friend forever and forever. The shop was here, right next door to Crusty’s detective agency.
Some might question why I’d located a consignment business specializing in high-end fashions and classy home goods in rural Florida, where you’re more apt to run into a live alligator than a designer alligator bag. We set up our shop to remedy that, not by doing away with the alligators, but by buying apparel and furnishings from the matrons of West Palm Beach, who rarely wore their clothes more than once or twice. Since none of these wealthy ladies would consign their items close to home for fear of someone recognizing the merchandise, we stepped in to take anything they no longer wanted off their hands. They liked having “mad” money to use any way they pleased without conferring with hubby or leaving a credit card trail for him to grump about.
To our surprise, our consignors often slipped off the coast and visited our shop just for the fun of it. They didn’t buy much. They preferred to sell, but they liked to pick up tips about where they could find entertainment not offered in upscale West Palm. Nothing kinky, you understand. Just good old country two-step in our local bars with some mighty handsome cowboys or airboat rides with a member of the Miccosukee Indian tribe piloting the boat (that would be my husband, more handsome than any cowboy). I’d also turned the gals on to a local dude ranch. They sometimes dragged their husbands along for a trail ride.
So why was I in training to become a PI? Was selling used items too tame for me? Well, yes and no, and that’s a long story, but here’s the truth. I am a snoopy gal. I get it from my grandmother, who is the queen of curiosity. Over the years I’ve “intruded” in a number of murders in rural Florida—at least that’s the word you’d hear used to describe my investigations by my family, friends, and Detective Frida, who is also a friend of mine when she’s not moaning about my interfering with her cases. From my perspective, I’ve been more than a little helpful tracking down clues and bringing the bad guys (and gals) to justice. A former lover and private detective Alex Montgomery thought I had a nose for murder and the brain to match wits with any killer. Although he resented my meddling in his business, he respected my sleuthing instincts so much, he suggested I get a PI license by learning the trade from Crusty.
My life was so full of family and business that the very last thing I needed was to learn the professional sleuthing trade, yet the restless side of my nature was intrigued. With Grandy helping Madeleine at the store and Shelley McCleary, our new dressmaker, assuming a growing role in the shop as tailor and junior partner, I figured I had time to try my hand at the detecting business.
I yearned to sink my teeth into a big murder as my first case. Why waste my skills on small potatoes? When I excitedly talked with Crusty about murder investigations, he laughed. “What you get in the private-detecting business is routine: surveillance of cheating spouses, insurance fraud, and some work for the police department when they need to hire out part of their investigation. Most of the work entails a lot of sitting on your butt in a car. I sure hope you don’t have a tiny bladder.”
I reminded him that I’d been key in solving several murders in the county. He did a dismissive flap with his hand. “Well, maybe you’ve taken out all the bad dudes in this county, and the rest of us will be left in peace.”
I squeezed some bleach gel into the sink and began to scrub at the grimy brown stains. I ran water and rinsed out the bowl. When I turned to extract a new bar of soap out of the cabinet behind me, I bumped into the person standing there. I jumped.
Damn. I’d forgotten to lock the front door. A fine detective I’d make. The person standing inside the entrance of the small bathroom was a tall, slender woman with long frizzy brown hair. She looked somehow familiar, although I’d never met her before.
She smiled sweetly. “Hello. I’m your sister.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Getting to the bottom sure takes a boatload of work but this book definitely couldn't be put down I read it one day. Eve has a way of dragging you in and not letting go until the perps are arrested and justice has been correctly served!” ~ Paula Ratcliffe

Guest Post by the Author
Eve Apple, protagonist in Killer Tied by Lesley A. Diehl
Eve’s not the gal she used to be: Character development in a cozy mystery series
This is the beginning stop for a two-week book blog tour for Killer Tied, the sixth book in the Eve Appel Mysteries released this month by Camel Press. There are three more books scheduled. It’s a paradox how I feel about the series. It’s as if I began it only yesterday, yet Eve and I have come a long way together, weathering the romance storms of a philandering husband, a PI boyfriend and now Sammy, the Miccosukee man who immediately “got” Eve and instantly loved her. And there have been murders, many murders. Eve helped solve them all … with help from her friends and family, of course.
Eve has expanded her circle of friends since she moved from Connecticut to rural Florida. There is her best friend and business partner Madeleine, now herself married and the mother of two young children. It was Madeleine shopping for cups to replace those she broke that lead to one of the most interesting characters in the series - handsome, suave and sophisticated, Nappi Napolitano, the supposed mob boss who has helped Eve out of many scrapes. Eve is looking for a way to repay him. Perhaps she’ll get that opportunity in one of the three books to come. Nappi doesn’t expect a return on his generosity, but I always think it’s a good plan to return the favor and especially if he’s a “Family” man.
Except for Nappi whose character remains constant - he’s so terrific that I wouldn’t want to change him much - most of the characters, not only Eve, have developed and grown, changes that are necessary to keep the series fresh and vibrant for the reader. Of course, murder is just the sort of challenge that shakes up everyone, not only the protagonist. It can bring out the best in the characters as well as reveal their flaws. Readers like to know the protagonist and others stumble and fall … and get up again. Some of Eve’s character flaws remain throughout the series such as her impatience, which often leads her off on her own when she ought to know better. In Killer Tied, the possibility of her parents being alive when she thought they had died years ago leads her to jump to the conclusion that her grandmother (Grandy) has lied to her. She ought to know there is no one she can trust more than Grandy, but Eve is still the impulsive and impatient woman we met in the first book, A Secondhand Murder. In Book 6, it appears to Eve that love has abandoned her not once but twice, first with the loss of her parents at a young age and then with her assuming Grandy has lied to her about the event for all these years. The reader knows Grandy is steadfast and true in her love for Eve, but will Eve eventually understand that this love doesn’t include lies and deception? Or have I deceived the reader about Eve’s parents? That is the central question that both Eve and the story grapple with throughout this book.
Eve and Sammy’s adoption of three Miccosukee boys and the return of Sammy’s father to the family has deepened Eve’s understanding of the importance of family. Not only does family bring love to her, but she grows to see how loving others is the real definition of love. It makes her a more complex and humble person. Eve has always had sass, but now she’s sassy with a lot of compassion and love added to the mix.
Sammy’s father remains a trial for her as he’s stubborn, impatient, and quick to jump to judgments, almost the female equivalent of Eve, but he has an edge not yet softened by the caring of others. I work on making that happen in Killer Tied. I think the reader will understand him better because he understands himself better, and he will reveal himself as someone who sees deeply into others. He is Sammy’s father after all, so the reader should expect more from him than the self-centered and conflicted person he often presents to others.
Grandfather Egret, Sammy’s father, like Grandy, provides the grounding for family life, but he, too, has evolved throughout the series. He will remain a man in touch with the traditions of his culture, but Eve has brought joy to his life.  While he’s not always an active participant in Eve’s adventures, he has joined her in several of her romps. It is clear she has added a dimension of excitement to his life. Eve has come to trust his advice and counsel and seeks out his advice as she does her Grandy’s. For a woman raised without parents, Eve now has a full complement of family surrounding her: Grandy, Grandfather, Madeleine and her husband and children, Sammy and Eve and Sammy’s children. Can Eve fully appreciate this bounty?
Eve is not the same woman she was in the first book. She’s still as sassy, in-your-face and impulsive as ever, but she’s more loving, a little humbler and more aware of how others have made her life more complete. She’s even more tolerant of her ex-husband, Jerry, who followed her from Connecticut to Florida. He’s still as lacking in common sense as ever, still annoys Eve intentionally and unintentionally, but in Book 6 Jerry’s giving side helps Eve tackle the bad guys.
Eve began her adventure in rural Florida running away from a marriage that did not work. She’s found that life among the cowboys, cattle, alligators, ranchers, locals and winter visitors has brought her more excitement and sense of belonging than she ever thought possible. Killer Tied returns Eve to her roots in the Northeast, but she finds the nostalgia of the past is not as satisfying as her new life in Florida. While still seen as an outsider by many Floridians, Eve knows that this place with all its swamps and alligators, fields of grazing cattle and palm trees has become as familiar to her as her own whip thin body. It is her home.

About the Author
Lesley A. Diehl
Lesley is a country gal through and through, from her childhood on a dairy farm in Illinois to college in a cornfield in Iowa, Lesley creates sassy, snoopy protagonists who embrace chasing killers in country settings. Lesley writes several series: the Big Lake Mystery series and the Eve Appel Mystery series both set in rural Florida; the Laura Murphy Mysteries located on a lake in upstate New York; and short stories, some featuring a few of Lesley’s unique relatives from back on the farm (Aunt Nozzie and the Grandmothers). She is inspired by an odd set of literary muses: a ghost named Fred and a coyote as yet unnamed. Killer Tied is the sixth mystery in the Eve Appel Mysteries.

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