This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.
By Lesley A. Diehl
Summer is my favorite time of year and always has been. As a kid, it was when school was out, although there was always Vacation Bible School which was less about studying the Bible and more about getting ice cream after the morning study let out. That was two weeks of trying out every flavor of ice cream provided by our local dairy store, and Mom let me have a cone every day. After those two weeks, the summer stretched ahead with seemingly endless possibilities of playing with my friends, wandering the pastures and fields of the farm or, when I was older, going to a local lake to swim. Fourth of July brought firework displays and a carnival to town. It seemed everyone in the area went to the carnival. As teenagers, my girlfriends and I would sneak peeks at the young men who worked the rides. And they ogled us in return.
When I was in college the summers meant working in the local printing plant to earn money to pay tuition. One summer I worked as a “stripper,” not the enticing job you might think. I stripped the covers off paperback books for a company who bought he books from vendors such as drugstores and department stores then sent the stripped covers back to the publishing for a percentage of the face value of the book. The books were taken to the dump and discarded, which seemed criminal to me, so although we were not supposed to take the books once the covers were removed, we all did. Aside from the pay check for the work, those books were the best thing about the job. The books weren’t always good literature, but they were great summer reading. I must have gone through over a hundred of them in those three months.
Those college summers began a transition from being connected to my hometown to becoming an adult with another place I called home. My friends from high school felt this too as friendships seemed to slip away to be replaced by new ones.. Graduate school meant classes continued through the summer months, and with my first position as a college professor, the summers from my hometown life became mere memories.
Yet I was lucky, able to recapture some of the nostalgia of the summers of my childhood and adolescence. My contract at the college was for teaching two semesters with the summers off. I taught summer sessions for several years, but soon the number of students attending decreased as tuition costs meant they were forced to seek summer employment. I didn’t mind having the summer months stretch before me. I lived on a small lake and spent the sunny days down on my dock, you guessed it, indulging my love of reading.
I switched positions late in my career and became a dean and vice president at the university level. The pay was substantial compared to that of a professor, but there were no summers off for administrators. I still can’t figure out why they needed to “administrate” for the three months when there were no students attending classes. I found I missed being in the classroom with students, couldn’t tolerate the politics of administration and, boy, did I miss those summers.
When I returned to the classroom, I began to spend my summers writing, so that when I finally retired, I had begun a career as a mystery writer. Again my summers stretch before me filled with reading as before, but now I get to create my own stories. It’s fun watching the fireworks and thinking about how I’m going to murder someone in my next book. This is indeed the perfect summer.
It’s smooth sailing for Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, owners of Second to None Consignment Shop in rural Florida’s Sabal Bay, land of swamps, cowboys, and lots and lots of ’gators. Eve and her detective boyfriend Alex have joined Madeleine and her new beau David Wilson for a pleasure cruise on his boat. But cloudy, dangerous waters lie ahead. A near fatal encounter with Blake Reed, David’s supremely nasty neighbor, is soon followed by a shooting death on the dividing line between David and Blake’s land. Both men run sport-hunting reserves, but Blake imports “exotics” from Africa and promotes gator killing, while David stays within the law, pointing clients toward the abundant quail and turkey as well as the wild pigs that ravage the landscape. Nevertheless, when a mutual client is killed, it is David who is arrested and charged with murder. Blake’s nastiness is only exceeded by that of his wife, Elvira, who forces Eve and Madeleine out of their shop, intending to replace it with a consignment shop of her own. It seems that bad luck looms over them all, even Eve’s brawny and hard-to-resist Miccosukee Indian friend Sammy, whose nephew has disappeared. As the case against David grows stronger and his friends’ misfortunes multiply, Eve and her strange and diverse group of friends, including her ex, a mobster, her grandma, and Sammy’s extended family, band together to take on the bad guys. But the waters are getting muddier and more troubled, and Eve and Madeleine may end up inundated in every sense of the word. Book 3 in the Eve Appel Mystery series, which began with A Secondhand Murder and continued with Dead in the Water.
About the Author: 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 is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.