Can you guess which book the excerpt is from? You know the author now it is time to play. One lucky winner will receive This nice and roomy tote bag that is perfect for trips to the Library or where ever you may go. Leave your answers and email in the comments below. Winner will be chosen on Saturday. Good Luck everyone!!
“Oh, pu-leeze, Rowena, Anya Seton never measured up to Daphne du Maurier’s elegance. I’m shocked you would say such a thing.” Jocelyn Kendall, pastor’s wife and book club gadfly, crossed and recrossed her legs in perfect tempo with the ever-increasing meter of her rant. Our discussion of Green Darkness was deteriorating rapidly.
“For example, in Rebecca . . .”
Recalling last year’s “Battle of the Brontë Sisters” completely ruining one meeting of the Books Before Breakfast Club, followed by minor skirmishes flaring up during the next two or three, I interrupted with a feigned look at my watch and as much cheer as I could muster.
“I’d no idea it was so late. We need to select this month’s book.” I tried for a smile bright enough to encourage participation. “Does anyone have a suggestion?”
Jocelyn pushed a hank of hair, the color and texture of straw, off her forehead and glared at the other four women sitting in a semicircle, as if daring anyone to answer me. She certainly didn’t intimidate the oldest member of the book club, Miss Augusta Maddox, who glared back, shoved her own copy of Green Darkness into a faded denim tote and zipped it shut. Then, tilting to her left, Miss Augusta nudged my favorite club member, Miss Delia Batson, who leaned in and handed me a piece of paper, edged by two sharp creases where it had been doubled and doubled again. As always, Delia avoided eye contact, gazing instead at her veined and mottled hands, now primly resting in her generous lap, fingers tightly interlocked.
“Well, thank you, Miss Delia”—I flipped opened her note and was relieved she was moving us in a completely different direction—“for suggesting the lighthearted Sheriff Dan Rhodes series by Bill Crider. Has anyone a particular favorite we might try?”
From the far side of the café, my BFF and business partner, Bridgy Mayfield, shot me a wink and a thumbs-up.
Irritated by our conversation, Judge Harcroft harrumphed and rattled his copy of our local broadsheet, the Fort Myers Beach News. He was sitting at the Dashiell Hammett table, right next to the café’s book nook, not exactly a haven of peace and quiet during book club meetings, but he refused to sit anywhere else. His erect posture, immaculate white collared shirt and impeccably groomed, albeit thinning, gray hair gave the impression that he was merely on a short break from presiding over a momentous, legally significant trial, instead of being retired from traffic court for less than a year. The judge’s ongoing routine drove everyone crazy. “I’ll have just a Dash of milk, thank you.” Or, when he finally folded up his newspaper, getting ready to leave, “Enjoy your day. I must Dash.” His strident chuckle left everyone in hearing distance gritting their teeth.
Ignoring me, Jocelyn hammered her point. “You can hear the lyricism in Rebecca’s opening line.” She rolled her hand in figure eights while reciting, “‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’ How does that compare to”—she opened her copy of Green Darkness—“‘Celia Marsdon, young, rich and unhappy, sat huddled in a lounge chair . . .’?” Jocelyn slammed the book shut. “Not even a hint of cadence.”
Rowena Gustavsen’s head snapped high. Shoulders ramrod straight, she jutted her chin directly at Jocelyn. Before she could toss a rejoinder that would no doubt launch a full-fledged melee, Miss Augusta Maddox boomed, “Delia’s got a fine idea. I like Sheriff Dan. He had me chuckling all through The Wild Hog Murders. Sassy, can you find out if there’s a new book and get us copies right quick?”
Terrie Farley Moran is delighted to introduce mystery fans to the Read ‘Em and Eat café and bookstore, where murder and sweet tea are always on the menu. Agatha Award Best First Novel winner, Well Read, Then Dead, the first book in the Read ‘Em and Eat series has been followed by Caught Read-Handed. Read to Death is available for pre-order.
Terrie’s short mystery fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and various anthologies. She has been short-listed twice for the annual Best American Mystery Stories. And her story, “A Killing at the Beausoleil” has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story.
The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is playing games and reading stories with any or all of her seven grandchildren.