Thursday, October 9, 2014

Elizabeth S. Craig - A Body at Book Club is featured in the HBS Author's Spotlight Showcase

The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.

The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES Elizabeth S. Craig's Book: A Body at Book Club

Author Elizabeth S. Craig is the author of the Myrtle Clover mysteries, the Memphis Barbeque mysteries (as Riley Adams), and the Southern Quilting mysteries.

A Body at Book Club

Myrtle Clover Mysteries 6

Author: Elizabeth S. Craig

Barnes and Noble

When octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover discovers Naomi Pelter’s dead body during a book club meeting, the other members seem shocked. But Myrtle can read between the lines. Naomi had riled everyone up by flirting with other people’s husbands, arguing with neighbors, and generally making a nuisance of herself. Murdering troublemakers is the oldest trick in the book.

The book club members seem too sweet to be killers, but Myrtle knows better than to judge books by their covers. Myrtle’s investigation into the murder will take a more novel approach than her police chief son’s by-the-book methods. Can Myrtle and her widower sidekick uncover the killer…before he writes them off for good?

Chapter One

It was another steaming hot summer afternoon and Myrtle Clover was keeping cool inside by staying glued to Tomorrow’s Promise, her favorite soap opera. Her avid viewing of Kayla’s daring rescue from a bizarre cult was suddenly and rudely interrupted by a cat’s screaming wail and the sound of dogs snapping and growling outside.

“Pasha!” she gasped, struggling to her feet from the padded softness of her recliner and knocking a half-finished crossword puzzle from her lap. Grabbing her cane in one hand and seizing a nearby pitcher of lemonade in the other, she bolted out the front door.

Two large dogs were on her front walk, snapping at and nosing a black, hissing, frightened cat that was trapped between them and fighting to get out. Myrtle bellowed, “Stop!” and flung the lemonade at the animals. The dogs stopped, swinging their heads around to gape at Myrtle. The cat bolted away as fast as she could go.

“Bad dogs!” snapped Myrtle sternly, brandishing her cane at them, towering over them with her full, nearly-six-feet height. The animals instantly put their tails between their legs and lowered their ears, whining at her.

Myrtle’s police chief son lived directly across the street from her and his door flew open at all the commotion. “You okay, Mama?” he called.

“They weren’t snapping at me—it was Pasha they were after. Now she’s run off and I don’t even know if she’s hurt or not.” Myrtle was exasperated at the note of panic in her voice. It was surprising how important that feral cat had become to her.

Red dodged back inside, finally hurrying out again with his shoes on. He strode purposefully across the street. “There is a leash law in this town. I sure wish folks would remember that.” His once-red hair, now mostly gray, stuck straight up on the side of his head and his voice was rough and raspy as if he’d just awakened from a nap.

“You know how the old-timers are here in Bradley,” said Myrtle. “They ignore whichever laws inconvenience them. These dogs don’t have tags on them and I don’t recognize them.” She started calling for Pasha. “Kitty, kitty, kitty?” Her heart was still pounding and she breathed deeply to settle herself down.

“Pasha’s too smart to come out before she thinks she’s safe, Mama. Maybe after I’ve put these dogs in the police cruiser, she’ll come.” Red whistled to the dogs and then held out his hand and the animals obediently followed him as if he were the pied piper.

“Treats? For bad dogs?” Myrtle was outraged.

“They’re just acting like dogs, Mama. Dogs chase cats. And I’ve got to get them into my car—I figured hot dogs would be certain to lure them in there.”

Sure enough, the dogs were all over those bits of hot dogs. Once they were in the car, Red slammed the back doors and walked around to the driver’s side.

“Well, I know you’re not arresting them, so where are you taking them?” asked Myrtle.

“Just down to hang out at the station until someone claims them. That way I can also remind their owners about the leash law when they pick their dogs up,” said Red.

Myrtle watched him herd the dogs into the back of the police car. He backed out of his driveway and then rolled down his window. “Mama, I’ll help you look for the cat when I come back, okay?”

Myrtle raised her eyebrows in surprise. “I thought you weren’t exactly Pasha’s number-one fan.”

“I’m not. Shoot, Mama, it’s a feral cat. How am I supposed to feel about my octogenarian mother hanging out with a wild animal? But it’s better for me to be stooping under bushes to look for her, instead of you. You’re unsteady on your feet as it is.”

Myrtle glared at him. He was interfering, as usual. “I’m just fine on my feet, Red. This cane just helps me move faster, that’s all. It’s really more of a fashion accessory than anything else. Go along to the station. I’ll get Miles to help me.”

He drove off and Myrtle reconsidered enlisting Miles’s help. She decided to leave her friend alone for the time being. His guilty pleasure was watching her soap opera—she’d gotten him hooked on it, and it would just be wrapping up now. He’s actually know if Kayla escaped from the cult without consequence. Myrtle peered around her. “Kitty, kitty, kitty?” she called, bending down to look under bushes and neighbors’ cars.

Which direction had Pasha bolted off in? Myrtle had to admit she wasn’t sure, she’d just seen her run. Maybe she’d run far away, making sure she was well out of the way of those dogs.

Myrtle walked back inside, opened a can of albacore tuna, and kept looking. After scanning her yard and her neighbors’ yards, she moved down to the next block of houses, calling as she walked and hoping that the smell of the tuna might tempt the poor cat out of hiding.

The sun blazed down on her and the early-summer humidity felt oppressive. Myrtle thought she saw some movement in the bushes of a shady yard and walked right into the yard, calling and holding out the can. A squirrel scampered away and Myrtle gave a disappointed sigh.

She jumped a little as an authoritative voice barked, “Miss Myrtle. What are you doing?”

Myrtle looked up to see Rose Mayfield standing in her front door, hands on her hips, and an impatient look on her face. “I’m looking for my lost cat, that’s all,” said Myrtle. Interfering biddy.

“For heaven’s sake. How will it help the cat if you have a heat stroke in my front yard?” Rose looked imperiously down her aristocratic nose at Myrtle. With her thin frame, brunette hair laced with gray, and angular features, middle-aged Rose had always reminded her of a particularly cranky Katharine Hepburn. “Come on inside,” she said briskly, holding the door open. “Have some water, cool down, then you can find your pet.”

“She’s not a pet,” said Myrtle as she walked in, sitting down on an antique sofa and carefully setting down her can of tuna. “She’s a feral cat that I’ve befriended. Pasha’s very sweet, despite being very wild.”

“I’m sure she is,” said Rose, cutting her off as she quickly walked into the kitchen, wet down a dishcloth with cool water, and handed it over to Myrtle. The look on her face indicated that she wouldn’t allow her elderly mother to have a feral cat. “I’ll get you some ice water. Please have a seat.”

Myrtle didn’t like being lectured, but this time she bit her tongue and didn’t argue with the authoritative Rose. That’s because she discovered that she was, actually, thirsty. She gulped down the water Rose brought her and then gave a begrudging apology for imposing, since Rose, arms crossed in front of her, looked so incredibly put-out.

“Oh, it’s fine,” said Rose impatiently. “Your visit will distract me from the murder going on next door.”

“Murder?” asked Myrtle with quickening interest.

As if on cue, a chorus of chainsaws roared to life.

Rose shuddered at the sound and her fingers tightened around her own glass of water. “That,” she said loudly, over the racket. “That horticultural homicide. That woman next door is destroying all the trees and vegetation between our yards. Many decades of growth being felled and dragged away.” Her face looked positively ill at the thought.

Myrtle paused as she tried to remember the neighbors on this street. “Let’s see. Does Naomi Pelter live next door to you?”

Rose’s mouth twisted with distaste. “That’s the one.”

“Why on earth would she want all the trees and shrubs taken away?” asked Myrtle, raising her voice over the buzzing chainsaws. The idea of losing the privacy that a densely-wooded lot provided was incomprehensible to Myrtle.

Rose shrugged. “Because she’s insane?” she suggested in an acerbic voice. “When I asked her about it, Naomi had the silliest answer. Said that she hated raking and maintaining shrubs. Although I’m sure that she wouldn’t be the one raking and trimming. Naomi always finds some man to do it for her, and it’s usually a friend’s husband—someone she’s batted her eyelashes at. Wretched woman,” she spat out. “I’ve considered prostrating myself in front of the backhoe to stop the crew.”

Myrtle took a thoughtful sip of her water. Before she could respond to this rather dire statement, however, Rose had changed course again. “Are you attending book club tomorrow?” she asked abruptly. “I’m hosting.”

Myrtle, set down her glass, sloshing water on her lap. She made a face at the spill and dabbed ineffectively at it with her napkin. She’d gotten to the point where she tried to miss as many book club meetings as humanly possible. The book picks were usually beach books with shallow plots and characters that all seemed very much alike. She silently fumed that Rose had put her on the spot. “I believe I need to work on my helpful hints column for the Bradley Bugle tomorrow, Rose.”

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Elizabeth Spann Craig
Author's Blog: Elizabeth Spann Craig
Blog: Facebook: Riley Adams Author
Twitter: @elizabethscraig
E-Mail: elizabethspanncraig (at) gmail (dot) com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description: Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque mystery series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She blogs at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer's Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010--2013.

A lifelong resident of the South, she enjoys finding inspiration for her mysteries in the beautiful states of North and South Carolina.

Author's Book List
Shear Trouble - A Southern Quilting Mystery
As the leaves begin to fall in idyllic Dappled Hills, someone puts too fine a point on a local ladies’ man. Fortunately, the detective skills of quilter Beatrice Coleman are a cut above the rest....

The Village Quilters of Dappled Hills, North Carolina, are desperate to finish their quilts before an upcoming show. To help, fellow member Posy has opened the back room of her shop, the Patchwork Cottage, for everyone to use. But the ladies are less than thrilled when Phyllis Stitt and Martha Helmsley—members of their rival quilting guild, the Cut-Ups—ask to join them.

Phyllis is hoping to leave the Cut-Ups and join up with the Village Quilters now that Martha’s dating her ex-fiancĂ©, Jason Gore. She’s not pleased when he visits the shop and even more upset when her new shears disappear. After offering to search for them, Beatrice discovers Jason with the shears buried in his unfaithful heart. Now she must sharpen her sleuthing skills to find a killer before someone else’s life is cut short.…

Order the Book From: Amazon
Quilt Trip - A Southern Quilting Mystery
As a quilter, retired folk art curator Beatrice Coleman likes to have all the seams stitched together—but her plans keep getting tangled up in unexpected ways…

Beatrice has never crashed a party but now her fellow quilt guild member, Meadow Downey, is driving them to a Victorian mansion in the mountains beyond Dappled Hills, North Carolina. Muriel Starnes, an elderly eccentric, has organized a meeting of quilters to pick someone to administer a quilting scholarship. The fact that the Village Quilters weren’t invited isn’t enough to keep Meadow from speaking her piece.

But once the quilters arrive at the mansion, it seems they may never leave. An ice storm sends an old tree crashing across the driveway, leaving them stranded for the night. And by the next morning, they are one fewer—for Muriel has been sent to meet her maker. With everyone in the house a suspect, it’s up to Beatrice and the Village Quilters to figure out who has a guilty conscience before someone else gets tied up in knots.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Death at a Drop-In - A Myrtle Clover Mystery Book 5
Cosette Whitlow is a society matron…if tiny Bradley, North Carolina, has one. She kindly volunteers for all the town's charities, but isn’t nearly as kind to her own family, neighbors, and friends. In fact, Cosette is emphatically disliked by much of the town—including octogenarian Myrtle Clover. And Myrtle knows that dislike in Bradley can quickly turn deadly.

No one seems surprised when Cosette’s body is discovered during a party she’s hosting—she was struck on the head with a croquet mallet. Wanting to restore order to the small town, Myrtle resolves to track down the killer—before the killer strikes again.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Knot What It Seams - A Southern Quilting Mystery
When former folk art curator Beatrice Coleman retired to Dappled Hills, North Carolina, for peace and quiet and quilting, she never expected that murder would disturb the peace...

Dwindling membership has the Village Quilters hanging by a thread, and group leader Meadow Downey is desperate to recruit some new folks. With Beatrice’s blessing, she attempts to weave frequent quilt show judge Jo Paxton into their fold. As the town’s irascible mail carrier, Jo delivers trouble wherever she goes. And with all that mail at her fingertips, she knows everyone’s business. Soon Beatrice wonders if they’ve made the right choice.

After a car accident sends Jo to meet her Maker, it’s discovered someone tampered with her brakes. Meadow believes someone’s out to eradicate the Village Quilters, but Beatrice isn’t so sure. Now she and her fellow quilters will have to piece together the clues, or a deadly killer might strike again.…

Order the Book From: Amazon
Quilt or Innocence - A Southern Quilting Mystery
Retired folk art curator Beatrice Coleman knows everything there is to know about quilts, except how to make them. But with her recent move to Dapple Hills, North Carolina, she’s learning all sorts of new things—including how to solve a murder…

As the newest member of the Village Quilters Guild, Beatrice has a lot of gossip to catch up on—especially with the Patchwork Cottage quilt shop about to close. It seems that Judith, the landlord everyone loves to hate, wants to raise the rent, despite being a quilter herself…

But when Judith is found dead, the harmless gossip becomes an intricate patchwork of mischievous motives. And it’s up to Beatrice’s expert eye to decipher the pattern and catch the killer, before her life gets sewn up for good.

Order the Book From: Amazon
A Dyeing Shame - A Myrtle Clover Mystery Book 3
When Beauty Box beautician Tammy Smith is discovered with a pair of hair shears in her back, there are suspects and secrets aplenty in her small Southern town.

Octogenarian Myrtle Clover, bored by bingo and bridge, is intrigued by the crime...and her neighbors' secrets. But discovering, and blabbing, secrets got Tammy killed and Myrtle soon learns her sleuthing isn't just's deadly.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Progressive Dinner Deadly - A Myrtle Clover Mystery Book 2
Retired octogenarian schoolteacher Myrtle Clover is fit to be tied when her book club votes to change to a supper club. Who wants chips and dip when they can have Dickens and Twain?

The first supper club is a progressive dinner...where Myrtle loses interest during the hors d'oeuvres. But when a body is discovered during the main course, the evening quickly gets interesting. Myrtle pits her sleuthing skills against her police chief son's to find the killer....if the killer doesn't find her first.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Pretty is as Pretty Dies - A Myrtle Clover Mystery
No one in Bradley, North Carolina, is exactly crying into their sweet tea over the murder of Parke Stockard. Certainly not retired schoolteacher Myrtle Clover. Upon discovering the corpse, Myrtle is struck-not with grief, but a brilliant idea! Solving the crime would prove to everyone (especially her son Red, the police chief) that this eighty-something-year-old is not ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

The victim, a pretty but pushy town developer, had deep pockets and few friends. Myrtle can't throw one of her gaudy garden gnomes without hitting a potential suspect. Even when another murder takes place, proud Myrtle forges on, armed only with a heavy cane, a venomous tongue, and a widower sidekick.

Order the Book From: Amazon
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