Killer Tied, by Lesley A. Diehl: A Family Matter of Life or Death

killer_tiedNow Eve has more family than she bargained for. And not all of them wish her well.

Killer Tied ($16.95, 264 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-319-8) is the sixth cozy mystery by Lesley A. Diehl in a series set in rural Florida and featuring consignment shop owner Eve Appel. Apprentice detective Eve takes on a case too close to home: clearing her father-in-law of a murder charge.

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The series began with A Secondhand Murder and continued with Dead in the Water, A Sporting Murder, Mud Bog Murder, and Old Bones Never Die. Three short stories, available as Kindle Singles only, also feature Eve Appel. Lesley has written numerous other short stories and has seven other published mysteries: A Deadly Draught, Poisoned Pairings, Dumpster Dying, Angel Sleuth, Grilled, Chilled, and Killed, Murder is Academic, and Failure is Fatal.

“…Series fans will enjoy catching up with Eve and friends….” —Publishers Weekly

“Lesley Diehl’s sixth Eve Appel Mystery, like the others, uses her background as a former professor of psychology to deepen readers’ understanding of her characters’ dilemmas, fears and frustrations…. I admire the tone and spirit of this novel and the limitless spunk of the Eve Appel character. She’s a person who takes her responsibilities seriously but doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s fully aware of her shortcomings, which include traits that only make her more endearing. Charming as well is the author’s representation of the slice of Florida in which she sets this series.” Read more….
—Phil Jason for Florida Naples Weekly

Critics have raved about the Eve Appel Mystery series:

Old Bones Never Die: “Eve and Sammy are a joy to read about.” —Long and Short Reviews

Mud Bog Murder: “Absolutely terrific. [….] A great mystery that is all about a fun cast combined with an excellent plot, readers will be thrilled with this one.” —Suspense Magazine

A Sporting Murder: “Character-driven and action-packed.” —Lesa’s Book Critiques

Dead in the Water: “Each twist is followed by a further twist, the action is continuous, and Eve is suitably confused [….] Recommended.” —I Love a Mystery

A Secondhand Murder: “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.” —Fresh Fiction Reviews

Eve Appel Egret is adjusting to married life with Sammy and their three adopted sons in Sabal Bay, Florida. While still running her consignment stores, she is going pro with her sleuthing by becoming an apprentice to a private detective.

Until her marriage, Eve’s only “family” was her grandmother Grandy, who raised her after her parents died in a boating accident. Now, in addition to her husband and sons, she has a father-in-law who clearly dislikes her. Sammy’s father, a full-blooded Miccosukee Indian long presumed dead, has emerged from the swamps where he’s been living like a hermit, and he isn’t happy about Eve’s marriage to his half-Miccosukee, half-white son.

As for Eve’s family, are her parents really dead? A woman named Eleanor claims to be Eve’s half-sister, born after her mother faked a boating accident to escape her abusive husband, Eve’s father. Then Eleanor’s father turns up dead in the swamps, stabbed by a Bowie knife belonging to Sammy’s father, Lionel. Strange as Lionel Egret is, Eve knows he had no motive to kill this stranger. In order to clear him, Eve must investigate Eleanor’s claims, and she might not like what digging around in her family’s past uncovers.

Says Diehl, “I couldn’t resist taking Eve out of rural Florida on a trip to the Northeast where she grew up. This is more than a change of location for Eve. It is a journey into the dark side of family, where she will discover her own emotional vulnerabilities and learn how secrets from the past can break an already fragile personality. Eve has always persevered when confronted with physical challenges and danger, but those stiletto heels won’t be much help to her now. She must dig deep inside herself to unearth virtues not usually part of how she comes at a case: restraint and patience. She’ll need them to help mend a fractured family as well as identify a killer.”

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:

Once Mrs. Falco got to talking about the Montrose family, she provided more details about Eleanor’s odd mother. As Chief Raleigh said, the mother couldn’t seem to appear in public without causing some kind of a scene. Usually it took the form of yelling at someone, a store clerk or a passerby, and accusing them of trying to “take her back.”

“What did that mean?” I asked.

“No one got it at first. I think we all thought she was talking about ghosts or something trying to carry her off to the world of the dead, but Mr. Montrose told a friend of mine that his wife had been in a mental hospital and didn’t want to go back there. It explained a lot.”

“What hospital?”

“Mr. Montrose didn’t say. I think a number of people thought she should be committed, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He seemed to be able to calm her down, and he was the only one who could. She seemed to despise Eleanor. ‘That hateful child,’ she always called Eleanor. I know County Social Services was notified on occasion, but when a social worker came to the house, Mrs. Montrose was always calm and Mr. Montrose didn’t want their help. I guess they figured he was able to handle his wife and protect Eleanor. Aside from Mrs. Montrose’s public displays, no one saw much of the family. They kept to themselves.”

They were hiding something, something I needed to know.

“They lived here for how long?”

“Since Eleanor was in high school. I don’t have any idea where they moved here from. Maybe the school records would say.”

“I’d sure like to see those records, but I’d be the last person the principal would show them to.” I looked imploringly at Mrs. Falco, who understood what I wasn’t saying.

“You think it’s that important?” she asked.

“I’m sure it is.”

She crumpled up her sandwich wrappings and rose to her feet. “Well, then, I guess I’ll have to have a talk with the principal’s secretary, Mrs. Dorren, about making certain his office door isn’t left unlocked the way it is in the late afternoon when he walks the halls checking the classrooms.”

“A wise precaution,” I said.

“Mrs. Dorren agrees with me. She thinks the principal is a bit of a pill also. We can trust her.”

We walked to the park entrance and stopped there. I spotted Nappi’s car parked around the corner. Mrs. Falco assured me she’d get in touch tomorrow evening. She turned to walk down the sidewalk, while I started to step off the curb to cross the street. I waved to Nappi, a spring in my step. With those school records, I might be able to track down Eleanor’s past, a past she had been reluctant to talk about. I heard the squeal of tires on the pavement and spotted a blur of black as a car careened around the corner from my left. I heard Mrs. Falco cry out and then felt someone grab my arm and pull me back onto the curb. I stumbled and fell as the car roared past me.

“That driver tried to run you down,” said Mrs. Falco, helping me to my feet. “Are you hurt?”

I looked down and saw a ripped knee in my jeans and one of my classy red stiletto-heel shoes lying crushed in the gutter. Some blood trickled down my elbow from where I’d scraped it on the pavement.

Nappi rushed up to me, saw the look on my face, and followed my mournful glance as I assessed my mangled shoe.

“That could have been you,” he said.

 

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