I’m delighted to be participating in author Lesley A. Diehl’s Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tour for her recent release, A SECONDHAND MURDER, Book 1 of her new Eve Appel Mysteries Series.
As part of the tour, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this cozy murder mystery and Lesley will be joining us to talk about her writing. In addition, I’ll list the other bloggers participating in Lesley’s tour so that you can see what others are saying about this fun book and have a chance to participating in the giveaways associated with the tour. You can also visit Lesley’s Tour Page to read an excerpt from her book.
First, here’s a brief synopsis of A SECONDHAND MURDER:
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.
Lesley joins us now and has graciously answered some questions for me. Welcome Lesley.
Mason - Such an interesting career for the protagonist. What inspired you to have the protagonist own a consignment shop?
I love consignment shops, secondhand stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, yard sales, rummage sales, church bazaars, anyplace you can search through items and find something really different, unusual, cheap. So, since I know I’m supposed to write what I know, boy, do I know stuff that someone else has owned. My 1874 cottage was furnished almost entirely from items I got at yard sales. My grandmother reused bath water to wash the kitchen floor, for heaven’s sake. The search for a bargain is encoded in my DNA.
Mason - If you had to write this book over, would you do anything differently - content in the book, your writing schedule, the way you researched it, etc.?
Well, it’s not the perfect book, but I think it captures the character of my protagonist well. She’s a woman undaunted by social niceties. She may be the perfect amateur sleuth, next to Miss Marple, because she sticks her nose into everything. What I left out in this one, you can find in the next one in which she takes on the Russian Mob.
Mason - With the book’s release, as you look back what was the biggest surprise that occurred while you were writing the story?
I like all the protagonists I’ve created, but Eve has a special place in my heart because her love of secondhand items so parallels my own. When I go to yard sales (I go every Saturday), I’m as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. You can just never tell what will show up. It’s almost as good as solving a mystery. It’s a lot like finding the killer, but in the case of a yard sale, you get to take the found item home rather than turn it over to the police.
Eve has turned out to be closer to me than any of my gal sleuths and that is a surprise because she has such a sense of style, is so basically urban in outlook and has no social graces. She’s so different from me in character, yet we share the love of a bargain. That’s the stuff that binds us together. I think she likes me in return although she’s encouraged me to get a backbone on more than one occasion and she thinks I have no fashion sense.
Mason - Have you always wanted to write or was there an event that lead you to writing?
I’ve always loved mysteries and began reading them when I was a kid. Soon I graduated from Nancy Drew and the Dana girls to Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot and still retain my passion for the English mysteries. I think I always wanted to write one of my own, but I never knew it until I retired as a college professor and found myself connecting with parts of myself hidden before. For example, I took Tai Chi classes and pottery classes and learned how much I reveled in the feeling of shaping clay. Those experiences seemed to turn on a creative part of myself I’d ignored for years.
Mason - Of all the authors (past and present) you enjoy reading, has any one (or more) been an influence in your writing?
I mentioned Agatha Christie’s protagonists. She is the queen of the cozy in my view. I think her approach to the mystery, e.g., small town, amateur sleuth, not much blood on the page got hardwired into my brain at around age 8. So it’s not a surprise I write cozy mysteries. I admire the English mysteries including those by P. D. James and Martha Grimes and I like what Elizabeth George does with the English setting and her character development. Janet Evanovich taught me it’s possible to write funny mysteries. But I do love tougher stuff too like Robert Parker, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Dennis LeHane.
Mason - How would you encourage someone who has never read a cozy mystery to give it a try?
You mean there are people who haven’t taken Agatha for a spin? Shocking. Here’s what I’d say. If you want a fast read with interesting characters and a plot to keep you enthralled, try a cozy mystery. You can leave all that violence and blood behind and focus on the complicated puzzle of who did it. Now isn’t that better than being grossed out by a dismembered corpse? A cozy mystery is like solving a complicated puzzle, like doing the Sunday crossword.
Mason - As a published author, has your perspective of authors changed?
Now I know they’re people struggling to create a world using words. Before I wondered how books came to be. Now I understand all the hard work and the joy and passion of writing.
Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?
Well, of course there will be more Eve Appel mysteries and more books in my other series also, but I have two books I’ve been considering for some time. I’ve begun writing both of them, but have gotten sidetracked. One book features a protagonist who is a multiple personality. There is humor in it, but it is darker and more edgy than what I usually write. The other book works with the issues of coyotes and their comeback in regions like the Northeast. They are hugely misunderstood, so I use them in the book, a mystery, as part of the controversy surrounding the death of a local farmer.
Lesley, thanks so much for joining us today and answering these questions for me. I like your take on why readers who haven’t tried cozy mysteries should.
Now here’s a bit of background on Lesley. She 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.
For more on Lesley and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Now my thoughts…
A SECONDHAND MURDER by Lesley A. Diehl
It’s up to Eve, with the help of her zany friends, to find the killer before her shop is closed and someone else dies.
Author Lesley A. Diehl blends humor and suspense into a delightful tale of intrigue. Diehl has created likable, realistic characters that will have you laughing as you try to guess who the killer is.
A SECONDHAND MURDER flows at a steady pace with some interesting twists along the way. The setting is inviting and the story will draw you in.
Shopping for clothes will never be the same after a visit to Second to None for an all-out fun cozy murder mystery.
A Secondhand Murder by Lesley A. Diehl, An Eve Appel Mystery, Camel Press, @2013, ISBN: 978-1603819350, Paperback, 260 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Are you a fan of consignment shops? If so, what’s the best treasure you’ve found while shopping? Remember to check out Lesley’s Tour Page to read an excerpt from A SECONDHAND MURDER.