A Sporting Murder, by Lesley A. Diehl: Sharks in the Water and on Land

sporting_murderA hunter is killed, and Eve and her gang are in hot pursuit. But who’s gunning for whom?

A Sporting Murder ($13.95, 250 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-939-8) is the third Eve Appel Mystery by Lesley A. Diehl. Eve and Madeleine struggle to keep their consignment business in rural Florida afloat as their friend is framed for murder and they are targeted by a homicidal arsonist.

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The cozy mystery series began with A Secondhand Murder and continued with Dead in the Water. Three short stories, available as Kindle Singles only, also feature amateur sleuth, Eve Appel. They are The Little Redheaded Girl is my Friend, Thieves and Gators Run at the Mention of her Name, and Gator Aid. These are normally $.99 but will be free for the first five days following the release of A Sporting Murder. Lesley has five other published mysteries: A Deadly Draught, Poisoned Pairings, Dumpster Dying, Angel Sleuth, and Grilled, Chilled, and Killed.

Follow the Tribute Books blog tour by clicking here. The tour begins July 6, 2015.

5star-shiny-webA Sporting Murder by author Leslie A. Diehl is a fantastic foray into the genre of cozy mysteries, and I simply loved it! In this engaging and extremely entertaining novel, we are introduced to Eve Appel, a delightful and spunky protagonist …. Author Leslie A. Diehl deftly shows her skill in writing books that any reader would love in this fine example of a cozy mystery. I was hooked from the very first page, and could not stop reading until I reached the end. A Sporting Murder is fun, funny, fast-paced and exciting, with several twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. This was the first book I have read in the Eve Appel Mystery series, and I had no trouble at all following the storyline, but I am looking forward to going back and reading the other installments as I absolutely loved this book. Any reader who enjoys mysteries, suspense, action, or just a great read would love this book, and I highly recommend it.”  Read more….

—Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite

“Settle in for a nerve-wracking mystery set in the rural Florida. Lesley A. Diehl’s A Sporting Murder may include women from West Palm Beach, but the characters and murderous activities are right out of old Florida…. character-driven and action-packed.”  Read more….

—Lesa’s Book Critiques

“An entertaining mix of characters, an engaging setting, and two unsolved murders that baffle the reader until their resolution at the end of the novel. Her intrepid amateur sleuth Eve Appel is reminiscent of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, with her lively sense of humor, her unresolved love life, and her uncanny ability to get into—and out of—trouble.”  Read more….

—Michael J. McCann, The Overnight Bestseller

“What a fun summer read!…. It’s a type of mystery that’s not too complex but it keeps you wanting to turn the page and read on. Eve and Madeleine are the main characters and their boyfriends move in and out of the picture without much romantic involvement. The secondary characters—the mobster backer, the card shark grandma, the bumbling ex-husband—are the ones who provide the boost to propel the story along with wit and flare.”  Read more….

—Tribute Books Mama

“Diehl gives us characters with strength and humor. Eve is a great mix of intelligence, charm and minx, and exhibits the tendency to butt in where it may not be comfortable. She also has a few friends in low places that are there for her regardless of what she needs…. If you enjoy mystery, romance and a little bit of crazy you will enjoy A Sporting Murder.”  Read more….

—Leslie Wright, Blog Critics

It’s smooth sailing for Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, owners of Second to None Consignment Shop in rural Florida’s Sabal Bay, land of swamps, cowboys, and lots and lots of ’gators. Eve and her detective boyfriend Alex have joined Madeleine and her new beau David Wilson for a pleasure cruise on his boat. But cloudy, dangerous waters lie ahead. A near fatal encounter with Blake Reed, David’s supremely nasty neighbor, is soon followed by a shooting death on the dividing line between David and Blake’s land. Both men run sport-hunting reserves, but Blake imports “exotics” from Africa and promotes gator killing, while David stays within the law, pointing clients toward the abundant quail and turkey as well as the wild pigs that ravage the landscape. Nevertheless, when a mutual client is killed, it is David who is arrested and charged with murder.

Blake’s nastiness is only exceeded by that of his wife, Elvira, who forces Eve and Madeleine out of their shop, intending to replace it with a consignment shop of her own. It seems that bad luck looms over them all, even Eve’s brawny and hard-to-resist Miccosukee Indian friend Sammy, whose nephew has disappeared. As the case against David grows stronger and his friends’ misfortunes multiply, Eve and her strange and diverse group of friends, including her ex, a mobster, her grandma, and Sammy’s extended family, band together to take on the bad guys. But the waters are getting muddier and more troubled, and Eve and Madeleine may end up inundated in every sense of the word.

Says Diehl, “Eve and her pals are at it again, this time involved in a favorite pastime of rural Floridians—hunting. So how could I not plunge Eve into the midst of a game reserve where the quarry is not quite legal and sometimes horribly ‘exotic’? I hope fans of Eve and Madeleine will cheer the snoopy duo on to success as they again tackle the bad guys … and gals.”

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. Click here to find Lesley online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

When I arrived at Sammy’s airboat business, I saw the boat was gone. The parking area was filled with cars and women stood in line in front of the tiki hut. Grandfather Egret was behind the counter, holding court with stories from the past that the women seemed to find entertaining.

I waved at him as I got out of the car. He returned the wave but continued on with his story. I walked close enough to hear. Ah, he was telling about the time he captured a couple of kidnappers. I smiled. I’d been in on that caper. The version he was telling his audience was a bit exaggerated.

“There she is,” he said, pointing to me, “the woman who helped me take down those bad guys.”

In the distance I heard the airboat. As Sammy turned the boat toward the landing I could see it was full. Something was going on. Business was booming.

The women waiting to take the tour turned their attention to the boat’s arrival. I overheard one of them say to another, “Wow, he’s even more handsome than we heard. Look at those muscles.”

Grandfather Egret came out from behind the counter.

“What’s going on here? I couldn’t get through to Sammy’s cell, and it looks as if you’re chock-a-block full with customers,” I said.

“It’s your doing. You sent us that group of women from the coast yesterday, and word has spread through West Palm, it seems. We’re all the rage with your wealthy lady friends.” Grandfather’s impish smile said he liked being surrounded by all these women as much as he liked taking their money for tickets.

Grandfather addressed the waiting customers. “If you’ll just step to one side and let them off the boat, you can find your seats, and we’ll be off again.” He directed them down the path toward the landing, where Sammy was refueling the boat. Sammy looked up and saw me and waved. He set the gas cans down and started up the path. When he got to where I stood, he put his arms around me and hugged me close. The women watching swooned in envy, and I almost lost my footing as he lifted me off the ground and spun me around. Wow.

“I haven’t seen you much lately.” He set me back on my feet and held me at arm’s length. “You look good.”

“Is he your boyfriend?” asked one of the women.

Before I could answer, Sammy nodded.

“Sammy,” I said so only he could hear. “What are you saying?”

“You could be my girlfriend, you know.” He gave me a roguish grin.

“Alex might protest.”

“Yeah, but he’s not my worry. You are.”

Sammy was in a mood I’d never seen before—flirtatious, something I didn’t know he did.

“What’s got into you?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know.” He looked around him, at the sky and then the river beyond the landing. “It’s a beautiful day, and I’ve got more customers than I can handle.”

“Oh, I get it. All this money is making you horny.”

The words had leaped out of my mouth. It was the kind of sassy, sexual teasing I might say to some of my cowboy friends from the Burnt Biscuit, but I’d always been careful around Sammy. We’d spent a night alone in the swamps, and had never talked about the feelings that had developed out there. It seemed to make us both self-conscious. Besides, Alex and I were a couple.

“Sorry, Sammy. I didn’t mean that.”

He gave me one of his soul-searching looks. “Didn’t you? Too bad for me.”

Both of us stared at the ground; then the uncomfortable moment passed. Sammy broke the spell.

“Well, you did us right, woman. Sending all these folks our way. I may be able to buy a new shirt for the first time in five years.”

“Keep that one. It looks great.” I liked Sammy’s understated handsome looks and rugged style—the faded pink and turquoise Miccosukee-pattern long-sleeved shirt, which pulled tightly across his broad chest, and the jeans bleached almost white from too many washings. The clothes did not make the man. Not in this case, anyway. This man—tall, dark-skinned, with long black hair—made the clothes. On anyone else they would just look worn. On him, they looked like a very attractive second skin.

“So if there’s anything I can do to repay you, let me know,” he said.

Boy, was this easy. “As a matter of fact, there is. Can you help Madeleine and me move out of our shop?” I explained to him about the loss of our lease, David’s arrest, and Alex’s job in Miami.

“So I’m what, third best in your choice of movers?” His black eyes twinkled with good humor.

“Yeah, something like that.” Good. Sammy and I were once more on familiar, friends-only footing. I was relieved and he seemed to be at ease as well, the earlier discomfort gone.

“And before you get a big head, I wondered if you could bring along some of your good-looking cousins to help out. We can’t afford to pay them, but we could provide pizza and beer afterward.”

“You know you’re not supposed to give firewater to Indians,” he said. Yep, Sammy was in a good mood.

“When are you free?” If all this activity continued, Sammy might not be able to help us for a while.

“It will have to be tomorrow evening. I can’t do it during the day, as you can see, and I’ve got tribal meetings the rest of the week. You say you have to be out by Saturday?”

I nodded.

“Where are you moving to?” he asked.

I had no idea.

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