A Secondhand Murder, by Lesley A. Diehl: Deadly Deeds and Deals in Rural Florida

secondhand_murderA Secondhand Murder ($14.95, 260 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-935-0), is a cozy mystery by Lesley A. Diehl about a consignment shop owner in rural Florida who finds her own life in danger after a customer is knifed to death in one of her store’s fitting rooms.

A Secondhand Murder is the first book in a new mystery series featuring amateur sleuth, Eve Appel. Lesley has five other published mysteries: A Deadly Draught, Poisoned Pairings, Dumpster Dying, Angel Sleuth, and Grilled, Chilled, and Killed.

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“Lesley A Diehl is a very clever writer. Most of the time I can figure out the murderer in a book but this one kept me guessing right until the end.”  Read more ….

—Sharon Salituro, Fresh Fiction Reviews

“Fun from Page one! …. Not only is A Secondhand Murder filled to the brim with entertaining characters, but the mystery contained in its page is also well crafted. Everyone, even Eve, seemed to have some sort of secret. I enjoyed peeling back all the layers of this story as I tried to figure out what was related to the murder and what wasn’t. I absolutely enjoyed reading A Secondhand Murder. The web of murder and deceit is well spun, but the characters Ms. Diehl has created are truly the shining stars of this book. Anyone looking for a laugh out loud, fast paced mystery would do well to pick up A Secondhand Murder today.”  Read more ….

–Long and Short Reviews

“A full cast of zany and dangerous characters makes this cozy mystery a fun read. With laugh out loud scenes and some scary moments, this book is so hard to put down and when the end did come, I found myself wondering what madcap adventure awaits the reader in the next book. I loved it!!”  Read more ….

—Kathleen Kelly, Celtic Lady’s Reviews

“I’ll have to personally recommend this book to all of friends who love cozies. It’s a great mystery, with a little suspense, a little romance, some slapstick, and most of all, characters who feel like family. I read it in one sitting. Is it one sitting if you stop to put another log on the fire, pour a tall glass of apple pie vodka and let the dogs out? At any rate, I didn’t want to stop reading, and stayed up late to finish. It was worth it.”  Read more ….

—Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice

“Thrift with a murderous twist … vivid Florida setting with lots of suspense and humor.”

—Kathleen Delaney, author of the Ellen McKenzie Mystery Series

“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.”  Read more ….

—Mason Canyon, Thoughts in Progress Blog

“An extremely fun and wickedly entertaining cozy mystery. The quirky characters and the complex entanglements each of them have with the deceased and the protagonist is the best part of the book. The author creates a well-plotted, light-hearted mystery that has some really good laugh out loud scenes. Cozy mystery lovers will thoroughly enjoy A Secondhand Murder; it is an outstanding read from beginning to end.”  Read more ….

—Robin T. for Manic Readers

“Humor, adventure, mystery and romance are all blended together to make this a fun few hours of reading. The book kept me guessing until the end—I kept changing my mind about who the killer was and I guessed wrong. LOL—This was a good thing. I enjoyed this one. This is the first book in the series and it’s already off to a great start.”  Read more ….

—Yvonne, Socrates Book Review

“[A Secondhand Murder] will delight you. It has a little bit of everything that you want in a murder/mystery, complete with romance!”  Read more ….

–Mary Bearden, Mary’s Cup of Tea

“I am absolutely in love with this story. Lesley Diehl has created such a fun character in Eve Appel! She was funny, sassy and smart. She’s a great protagonist. The story has a great mystery and there’s so many different things going on that I was definitely surprised by the ending. I love a good mystery dashed with humor.”

Brooke Blogs

“I really enjoyed the page turning action that even involved getting help from a Mob boss. The story was complex but very easy to follow. The quirky characters including Eve lead the reader through lots of excitement…. I wholeheartedly recommend this cozy for all cozy mystery readers.”  Read more….

–Carol McKinney

“There were so many characters that I really enjoyed everyone from Eve’s crazy ex-husband Jerry to Alex the Private Investigator to her grandmother and grandfather.  They all had their quirks that I loved.  Definitely a great new refreshing series that I can’t wait to read more when the author writes more!”  Read more ….
–Community Bookstop

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 matters 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.

Says Diehl, “Where I live in Florida there is no high end shopping, so I thought Eve Appel’s consignment shop might bring it to rural Florida by selling designer clothes previously owned by West Palm society matrons. Eve was a natural for me. I learned my love of secondhand merchandise from my grandmother and reworked my aunt’s clothes for my own use even though she was six foot and I was only five three. Frugal is in our family DNA. I still get more excited about finding a bargain at a consignment shop or yard sale than I do buying new. Department stores hate me.”

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. You can find Lesley online here.

Read on for an 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.

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