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Monday, October 28, 2013

A Secondhand Murder by Lesley A. Diehl (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for A Secondhand Murder by author Lesley A. Diehl!

Author Guest Post

Call the Police!
By: Lesley A. Diehl
Author of A Secondhand Murder

Several years ago at a conference a mystery writer who writes a series featuring a detective said she didn’t understand why anyone would use an amateur sleuth as a protagonist. Hmmm, I thought. Agatha Christie did it with Miss Marple, and the books still make for a great read. However, I know what the speaker meant. How can someone who has no access to the crime scene, evidence such as DNA and fingerprints and no authority to interview witnesses or suspects solve a murder? I think it depends upon the writer using several devices including those used by Agatha Christie.

Many homicide detectives will agree that crimes are often solved by a combination of brain work and foot work. I guess Sherlock Holmes deductive reasoning and Hercule Poirot’s little grey cells still figure in crime detection. In Miss Marple’s case, age worked for her, giving her the experience necessary to understand the human psyche. We know these approaches work. What else can the writer do with an amateur sleuth?

None of my amateur sleuths are as old as Miss Marple. Wisdom that comes of age is something they may grow into, yet they do have other resources. Eve Appel, my protagonist in A Secondhand Murder, uses her contacts among police authorities to help her in solving a murder. One of her best friends is a newly appointed homicide detective, and the man in Eve’s life is a private detective. Susan Wittig Albert employs the same approach in her Texas Hill Country herbalist mysteries where she pairs her protagonist with the town’s leading police officer, a woman nicknamed “Smart Cookie”, as well as marries the herbalist to a former Texas Ranger. Mary Daheims’s newspaper editor is engaged to and finally marries the town’s sheriff. Eve gets additional legal help from another, less likely source, a mobster by the name of Nappi Napolitani. Who better knows the criminal mind than a mob kingpin?

Because identifying the killer is less often based upon forensic evidence in a cozy mystery, but more upon reasoning and evidence gleaned through talking to suspects and witnesses, cozies rely upon the character of the protagonist to solve the crime. A tenacious personality is always a plus for an amateur snoop. All of mine have this in spades and can be said to be snoopy women who don’t know when to keep their noses out of a good crime. For example, knowing that she cannot get the police to execute a search warrant, Eve calls on Nappi’s knowledge of breaking and entering to help her get into a house to take a look around. For Eve, crossing over the line into something a bit illegal is no concern. Albert’s and Daheims’s heroines share this don’t-back-down quality also.

The juxtaposition of a sassy woman inserting herself into the investigation and her police detective lover telling her to butt out creates great tension in the course of the crime investigation and can make for some humorous moments. It also lays the foundation for a relationship that the reader knows will continue to provide an exciting read.

All of these approaches create an amateur sleuth who can follow the clues, her own instincts and solve the crime…with a little help from her friends who are cops.

About The Author

Lesley A. Diehl 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. Back north, she devotes her afternoons to writing and, when the sun sets, relaxing on the bank of her trout stream, sipping tea or a local microbrew.

A Secondhand Murder by Lesley A. Diehl ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Book Review

A Secondhand Murder by Lesley A. Diehl
Book 1: An Eve Appel Mystery Series
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
Format: Paperback - 260 pages / Kindle - 1586 KB / Nook - 302 KB
ISBN: 1603819355
Genre: Cozy Mystery

BUY THE BOOK: A Secondhand Murder

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours. 

Book Description:

Spunky and outspoken Eve Appel moves from Connecticut to rural Florida intent on starting a new life, free of drama, and more importantly, her soon-to-be ex-husband. The rural Florida town of Sabal Bay, situated only an hour from West Palm, proves to be the perfect spot for her consignment store. Thanks to the recent economic downturn, Florida’s society matrons need a place to discreetly sell their stuff and pick up expensive-looking bargains. But Eve’s life, and her business with it, is turned upside down when a wealthy customer is found stabbed to death in a fitting room. As accusations fly and business slows, Eve decides to take things into her own hands. With the help of an unlikely bunch of friends—including her estranged ex, her best friend, a handsome private eye, and a charming mafia don—she struggles to find answers and save lives. Through a maze of distorted half-truths, dramatic cover-ups, and unrequited passions, Eve learns just how far the wealthy will go to regain what they have lost.

A Secondhand Murder is Book 1 of the Eve Appel Mysteries Series.

Book Excerpt:

It was still early so I strode back into the restaurant, indicated to the hostess I wanted a booth and ordered the breakfast buffet. Anger paired with disbelief gave me a hearty appetite. Returning to my booth after loading my plate with eggs, bacon, pancakes, pastries and a slice of toast, I noticed someone had joined me for breakfast. He was seated with his back to me as I approached the booth but I recognized the sun-streaked hair curling over his collar. My favorite PI. I almost dropped my plate.

“Hi.” I tried for nonchalant but sounded more like a hormone-addled teenager.

“Saw you come in. I guess you had an early morning chitchat with the local gendarmes.”

“To be continued this afternoon at the station.”

“Fingerprints?” He stirred a packet of sugar into his coffee.

 “Nope.” The tingle in my tummy was more than simple hunger for food. I tried to satisfy it by stuffing a large forkful of pancake into my mouth. I nodded and swallowed. “Like anyone would be dumb enough to leave their prints.” “Certainly, we know you’re smart.”

“I had no reason to kill Mrs. Sanders. That would be like killing the golden goose.”

“You didn’t like her very much, did you?”

I dropped my fork on the plate. “What do you mean? I hardly knew the woman.”

“So you say, but my sources indicate that’s not the whole story.” He stared at me. Last night I thought those azure eyes looked inviting. Now they looked more like ice. He smiled.

“You said you were investigating Mrs. Sanders. Sounds like you’re trying to nose into my affairs. Why?”

“Don’t get mad. I’m not accusing you of murder, you know.” He took a sip of coffee.

“I’m not mad.” I was a little miffed, peeved even, but not really mad. Okay, I was mad.

“Oh yes you are, and when you get angry, you stick your chin out and turn your head ever so slightly to the right. Your cheek twitches, probably from clenching your teeth. Did you know that?”

I had lost my appetite. I grabbed my purse and slid out of the booth. “I don’t recall inviting you to join me for breakfast. I just remembered I have an important appointment.”

“That would be ...?” He also stood.

“That would be none of your business.”

I stalked out of the restaurant, then remembered as I approached my car that I had forgotten to pay my bill. Damn. Now I’d have to go back in there and face him again. I gritted my teeth, stuck out my chin and slammed through the door. He turned from the counter, credit card in hand.

“Don’t worry about it. I got it. Your treat next time.”

“There won’t be a next time.” I spun around and pushed open the door. By the time he reached his car, I was already starting my engine, wondering what the man knew about Mrs. Sanders and me.

My Book Review:

In A Secondhand Murder, the first book of the Eve Appel Mystery Series, author Lesley A. Diehl weaves an entertaining cozy mystery that will keep the reader laughing-out-loud. Set in the rural town of Sabal Bay, Florida, and written in the first person narrative, the reader follows the madcap adventures of Eve Appel and best friend Madeleine Boucheau, as they try to solve the murder of a West Palm socialite that occurred in the dressing room during the grand opening of their consignment shop, Second to None. When Eve is targeted as the suspect in the murder, she is determined to find out who the real murderer is with the help of a gang of amateur sleuths: best friend Madeleine, a sexy PI named Alex Montgomery, her estranged husband Jerry, a shady mobster, and some hot cowboys. Can Eve and her quirky gang of misfits solve the murder mystery?

This was such a fun book to read! I really enjoyed following sassy Eve, clutzy Madeleine, and the rest of the quirky cast of characters on their zany adventure to solve the murder mystery. The author easily draws the reader into the story with a mixture of drama, mischief, and suspense that keeps them guessing what would happen next. The author does a great job of providing clues about the murder mystery, while adding a sexy romance between Eve and Alex into the mix. I really enjoyed the lighthearted humor that is so prevalent throughout the story.

A Secondhand Murder is a fast-paced cozy mystery that has enough drama & mischief, suspenseful twists and turns, and a slow-building romance that is sure to keep the reader entertained. It is an enjoyable story that will tickle your funny bone.


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  1. What a delightful guest post by the author! It's always interesting to get a behind-the-scenes peek at how an author creates and develops a series character.

    1. Hi Lance! Thank you for visiting my blog. I agree, Lesley's author guest post was very interesting. :)

  2. I loved "A Secondhand Murder" and I highly recommend it. I'm looking forward to the next book in Lesley's series.

    1. Hi Patricia! Thank you for visiting my blog. I really enjoyed reading A Secondhand Murder, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series too. :)

  3. Lesley,
    I enjoy reading your books.
    I love reading and writing mysteries with amateur sleuths.

    1. Hi Marilyn! Thank you for stopping by my blog and visiting with Lesley. :)

  4. I've fallen behind and I need to buy your latest book. I love your characters and the way they solve crimes. No, they don't need to be professionals. If they were, it would probably take away some of the fun. Excellent post, Lesley!
    Marja McGraw

    1. Hi Marja! Thank you for stopping by my blog and visiting with Lesley. :)

  5. Good post, Lesley. I think amateur sleuths are MORE interesting because they don't have everything at their fingertips. What fun is that, lol!

    1. Hi Susan! Thank your for stopping by my blog and visiting with Lesley. I agree with you, I enjoy reading cozy mysteries featuring amateur sleuths. :)

  6. I crack up whenever I see your book jacket, Leslie. I'd buy the book just for that cover, to keep a smile on my face. I look forward to reading it one of these days. Thanks for this, Kathleen and Lesley.

    1. Hi Eileen! Thank you for stopping by and visiting with Lesley! :)