Deadly Shuffle, by Norma Lehr: Sudden Death at a Card Game

deadly_shuffleA Palm Springs poisoning stirs up the past.

Deadly Shuffle ($13.95, 218 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-979-4) is the second mystery by Norma Lehr featuring retired show dancer and Sacramento dance business owner, Abby Rollins. This adventure takes Abby to Palm Springs, where instead of enjoying a much-deserved weekend off, she must delve into her reckless mother’s past to find out why she has disappeared.

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I RECOMMEND this fun, energetic, chick-lit mystery that keeps you enthralled and guessing. It features a seventy-ish show-biz mother and several of her past beaux, any one of whom might be fifty-ish daughter Abby’s father, and Abby’s new boyfriend, private eye Blade Garret, whose mother was a figure skater — hence the unusual first name. There is romance, murder, several family secrets, mob connections and a possible half-brother of Abby’s. You know, the usual family drama.”  Read more …

—Barbara B. Oliver, I Love a Mystery

Trish Malone is a member of the Malone Sisters’ singing trio, which rose to fame in the ’60s. She is also the mother of Abby Rollins, a retired dancer and owner of Starduds, a flourishing dance supply business. When Trish’s sister Ginny drops out of the Palm Springs Follies because of hip surgery, Trish wants to take her place, but first she must learn some basic dance moves. Abby gives her a few lessons, and her mother is hired.

Abby’s new beau, private eye Blade Garret, wants to whisk her away for a romantic weekend. What better destination than Palm Springs, where Abby can also visit her aunt Ginny and see her mother perform? Upon their arrival, things get complicated. First an old flame of her mother’s keels over dead during a poker game attended by several other men from Trish’s past. Then Trish vanishes, leaving an unlocked car and a briefcase full of papers from her real estate business. Dr. Thomas Levine, a plastic surgeon, was poisoned. Did Trish kill him? Is she hiding from the killer? Or is she dead, too—silenced to prevent her from revealing a terrible truth in her memoirs? Abby is determined to find out.

Trish Malone spent much of Abby’s childhood on the road, leaving many questions unanswered. Now Abby must fill in the blanks in time to save her mother’s life without losing her own.

A former nurse and health food store owner from the Bay Area, Norma Lehr has four children and five grandchildren. She lives in Auburn, California, in the beautiful Sierra foothills with her husband. Norma is a multi-genre author of short stories, a middle-grade ghost series, and an adult supernatural suspense novel, Dark Maiden (Juno Books, 2007). For more information, go to www.normalehr.com.

Says Lehr, “I’m an old movie buff. Whenever I visit Palm Springs, which isn’t often enough, my imagination reels back to the desert playground of the glamorous stars of the past. I find myself floating in a pool where Elvis once swam, then having a drink at a bar where Marilyn once sat. And then there’s The Fabulous Follies at the Historic Plaza Theatre. I’ve loved every sellout performance I’ve attended and I’m more than saddened that their final performance will be May 2014.”

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“Dawson’s still out by your mom’s car taking notes. We should probably join him.”

Abby grabbed his hand. “No, you don’t. You said this might be info about Trish. Stay here until you finish telling what happened.”

Blade nodded. “Okay, okay. But I’ll hurry. One drink led to two more before he admitted driving to the Palms to meet the client’s wife and escort her to the ball.

“The guy shrugged and said, ‘That’s as far as it goes, man. She’s staying with friends until she drives back home. Her old man wouldn’t take her to the ball.’ He snorted. ‘So what did he expect? You tell him if he’s got a beef, I’ll be waiting for him.’ ”

Abby waited. “So now what? How does this tie in? Is your job here finished?”

“Not quite. It all sounded innocent enough. If the guy was on the level, he’d let his client’s wife sort it out. So I decided to call the husband, send photos, and return my party suit. But not before I got paid. The Philly guy hung around. Figured he must like me or else he was drunk.”

Blade leaned across the table. “Now listen up. This is the important part. Before another round was ordered, he started grumbling about a poker game he’d attended the night before where one of the players keeled over. Dead!”

Trish’s game?

I put down my beer, ordered black coffee, sobered up and listened to the guy’s story. Crazy coincidence? You bet. And you’ll find this hard to swallow. He’s your mother’s literary agent.” Blade squinted. “You do know she’s writing her memoir?”

Abby nodded slowly. “She mentioned it. I didn’t take much notice at the time.”

“Well, she is. Seems back in the day she was involved with some big shot in the mob. Her agent says that if she includes that part of her life in the book, some mobsters aren’t going to be too happy.”

Abby closed her eyes. Mobsters. Good grief. No. Bad grief! Her mother was more trouble than her teenage twins ever were. What was it brought her to Palm Springs in the first place? Not specifically to see her mother on stage. Or to visit with family. She came here to get away from the stress and responsibility of her store for a couple of days. Maybe, just maybe enjoy a little romance with Blade at the Caliente. Now all of this was blowing up in her face.

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