Mud Bog Murder, by Lesley A. Diehl: A Protest and a Murder Turn Eve into a Pariah

Mud_Bog_MurderWhen Eve intercepts an airborne, muddy, disembodied head, how can she help but get her hands dirty?

Mud Bog Murder ($15.95, 268 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-315-0) is the fourth cozy mystery by Lesley A. Diehl in a series set in rural Florida and featuring consignment shop owner and amateur sleuth Eve Appel. After a peaceful protest turns ugly and a friend is arrested for the murder of a customer, Eve Appel and her friends face the censure of their neighbors as they work to unmask the real killer.

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The series began with A Secondhand Murder and continued with Dead in the Water and A Sporting Murder. Three short stories, available as Kindle Singles only, also feature Eve Appel. They are The Little Redheaded Girl is my Friend, Thieves and Gators Run at the Mention of her Name, and Gator Aid. Lesley has five other published mysteries: A Deadly Draught, Poisoned Pairings, Dumpster Dying, Angel Sleuth, and Grilled, Chilled, and Killed.

“The new Eve Appel Mystery is here and it is absolutely terrific[….] A great mystery that is all about a fun cast combined with an excellent plot, readers will be thrilled with this one.”

—Mary Lignor for Suspense Magazine

“Cozy mysteries have established themselves as a thriving mystery subgenre. While there’s plenty of suspense and plenty of investigatory action, the cozies have a warm feeling. Often humorous and usually uplifting, they are on the other side of noir. While the queen of this category is Nancy J. Cohen (who even wrote a how-to book about this subgenre), Lesley A. Diehl is a contender…. These plot interests combine with other features to provide a multi-faceted reading experience. Richly drawn characters like Eve and her grandmother can be at once endearing and irritating. Darrel is a perfectly despicable bad boy. Grandfather Egret has wisdom, patience and courage. Ms. Diehl examines several relationships in rewarding depth. She also provides an entertaining overview of the cultural climate in rural Florida’s small, inland communities—this one within shopping distance of West Palm Beach, where Eve and Madeleine get those upper-class cast-offs to market back in Sable Bay. Read it and smile.”

—Phil Jason for the Florida Weekly, Week Of August 31-September 6, 2016

Read the full article here.

“The drama between Eve and her would-be boyfriends, her friends, and the mystery keep the reader guessing, the plot has plenty to recommend it. The conflict is tastefully well written and the characters all have enough depth to not only move the story but make the reader want to know what will happen next.” Read more….

—Sarah E. Bradley for InD’Tale Magazine

5 Stars: “Mud Bog Murder is rich with heart, strength of character, and independence. A must-read for any lover of mystery!”  Read more….

—Liz Konkel for Readers’ Favorite Reviews

“The charming, fun mystery kept me sifting through the clues and snorting at some outrageous scenes …. This is the fourth book in the series, but you can read this one without having read the other three. I did. The author drops in some tidbits about previous events and some character insight without barely a hiccup in the story’s flow. I hope you give this book a go. I pinkie swear you’ll have fun.”  Read more….

—FU Only Knew, Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews

“This is a great cozy mystery. There is lots of action and twists and turns. Eva does a great job fleshing out who the killer was and I admit that I didn’t guess who did it until the end. This is the first book of Lesley Diehl’s I have read. I had no problem figuring out what was happening and didn’t feel lost in the series. But I will be going back and reading the other books in the Eve Appel series.”  Read more….

—J. Bronder Reviews

When Jenny McCleary leases her property to be ravaged by the annual mud bog races, the small rural town of Sabal Bay, Florida, is divided into warring camps: environmental activists versus monster truck fans. Jenny, who frequents the consignment store owned by Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, doesn’t seem to mind when Eve and Madeleine join the protesters the day of the races.

During the race, Eve catches Jenny’s airborne head after it is tossed into the air by the wheels of a truck. Now every protester is a suspect in Jenny’s murder. What’s left of her alligator-gnawed body is found near the airboat business of Eve’s Miccosukee Indian friends, Sammy Egret and his grandfather. When more evidence turns up nearby, Grandfather is arrested.

Even without the disembodied head, Eve has her hands full. The town resents her role in the protests and is boycotting the consignment shop on wheels. She is torn between two men—GQ-handsome, devoted PI Alex and tall, dark, and exotic Sammy. Jenny’s sweet and needy teenage daughter is dating a petty criminal. Will Eve and Madeleine ever be able to move into their new digs? Not unless the town forgives them. And not if whoever decapitated Jenny gets to Eve before she and her sleuthing buddies solve the mystery.

Says Diehl, “Mud bog racing may seem be fun for participants and spectators alike, and it might seem that one event doesn’t matter, but it destroys wildlife habitat and alters the balance of the ecosystem beyond the fields and swamps of rural Florida: witness agricultural runoff into Lake Okeechobee and the resultant pollution of estuaries east of the lake. Humans think they are acting for the local good, but the results have widespread effects. Kudos to Eve for getting the community to come together to address the issue and think of it more broadly.”

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:

Chants of “Save the Bog,” “Leave our swamps alone,” and “There’s life in that mud” continued for an hour. The swampers driving the trucks countered with yells of “Back off bitches” and “There’s money in that mud.” The trucking folks did not have any signs to hold up, but their voices seemed louder and angrier. I waved my sign in the air. It read “Don’t harm Mother Earth.” One of the truck drivers stuck his head out the window and yelled at me, “Screw Mother Earth.”

“That’s exactly what you’re doing,” I screamed. He gave me the finger.

The verbal exchanges continued until the trucks began to line up for their runs. At that point the sound of revving engines drowned out our voices. Mud flew in every direction. Madeleine and I pushed forward toward the fence to get a better view. Several trucks roared into the water, moved aggressively across the bog, and then abruptly stopped, mired in the middle. Neither increasing the RPMs or uttering foul language could coax the trucks from their mucky location. The drivers gave up, their growling trucks finally silenced, machinery defeated by mere water and dirt. A chain was attached to the trucks and a vehicle on land hauled them out. The drivers seemed only momentarily saddened by their failure; then their friends tossed them each a can of beer, and the partying began.

“I think we should step back a bit or we’ll be covered in mud,” I said to Madeleine. She looked excited to be where she could see what was happening, and her color had improved.

“You feeling better, honey?” I asked just as another truck roared into the water and attempted to cross the bog. As with the other two, it slowed and finally began to spin its wheels midway through the swamp. The driver continued to rev the engine. Muddy water thrown from the wheels catapulted vegetation as well as mud in our direction. The vehicle churned and rocked and continued to throw globs of whatever was buried in the muddy water out of the bog. I dropped my sign and attempted to fend off the gunk by shielding my face with my hands, but to no avail. The mud coated my head, face, and upper torso. I dropped my hands to my sides in disgust and frustration until the truck tried one more time, its spinning wheels sending more mud and a large projectile my way. I had no choice. I caught it like a running back grabbing a football.

What the hell? It was no football, not even a chawed up turtle shell or mangled cattle egret. It was a head, and one I recognized. Two eyes glazed over by slime and death—one brown, one hazel—stared up at me. Madeleine looked over at what was in my hands and threw up all over my ostrich boots.

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