You know those people who always win stuff? Radio call-in shows, door prizes, pull tabs, scratch offs—they can’t help but get lucky? Well, I’m the yin to their yang, the shadow to their light. Their luck brings them money, concert tickets, and fruit baskets, and mine brings me corpses, one a month since May. I figured my karma must be off. Maybe my chi got dinged a little somewhere along the line. My planets were misaligned. Whatever it was, I had recently vowed that there was no way I was going to get involved in another murder investigation as long as I lived. I was only a librarian and part-time reporter in small-town Battle Lake, Minnesota, after all. Death wasn’t in my job description.

Ah, Battle Lake, the town where the men are hunters, the women bake hotdish, and the body count is above average. Once the corpses started piling up, my initial impulse was to flee. I had only been here a few months, after all. I wasn’t too attached. That same bail instinct had kept me out of serious relationships and in the bottle for the last decade or so, by the way, following in the footsteps of my father, one Mark James, prolific drinker and real-life crash test dummy, who ended up killing himself and another person in a head-on collision before my junior year of high school. After that, I was a pariah in my hometown of Paynesville and only too happy to leave the second I graduated.

I’d moved to the Twin Cities to spend the next ten plus years haphazardly pursuing an English degree, escaping the accumulated demons of my small-town past, and generally drinking too much. A wake-up call and possibly the cat-clawed hand of Fate had steered me to Battle Lake last spring. The relocation came with a doublewide trailer and a dog, both of which I was responsible for caring for while my friend Sunny fished the waters of Alaska with Dean, her monobrowed lover. The house and dog-sitting were only supposed to have lasted through the summer, something I had rejoiced in once the dead bodies started blowing into town like ghoulish tumbleweed. Murdered dead bodies, in point of fact, and they had all been connected to me.

The thing is, I didn’t want to leave Battle Lake. Something about the town had gotten under my skin, a cross between a rash and feeling like I belonged somewhere for the first time in my life. I had friends here, a shaky, burgeoning romance with a sexy singer in a local rock band, and, for the first time in my life, hope.

And so I ask you, what’s a woman to do? I’ll tell you what: get her PI license. Welcome to November in Battle Lake.
You can read more about Mira in OCTOBER FEST, the sixth book in the “Murder-by-Month” mystery series. The first book in the series is MAY DAY. NOVEMBER HUNT hits bookshelves March 2012 and is the seventh book in Jess Lourey’s critically acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries.

Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minnesota, and featuring amateur sleuth, Mira James. Jess has been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. When not raising her wonderful kids, teaching, or writing, you can find her gardening, traveling, and navigating the niceties and meanities of small-town life. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, The Loft, and Lake Superior Writers, and serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America. Find out more by visiting her website at

** Jess has generously offered to give away one copy of OCTOBER FEST. To enter, you must leave a valid e-mail address in the comment box with your comment. Please break it up using (at) and (dot), like domain(at)host(dot)com. One entry per person and this is open to anyone with a U.S. mailing address. Contest ends on October 17th at 6pm EST. The winner will be chosen using a random number generator and will be notified by e-mail and has 2 days to respond. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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