Hey ya’ll, and thank you Miss Dru for having me on your literary blog. Which is a little strange, considering I’m an artist and all, but hey, book people like art, too, right?

If any of you readers are in the market, I’m a portraitist. I live in Halo, Georgia, but don’t let the small, Southern town fool you. I’m classically trained. Even went to school at SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design. Could have probably moved on to the big city lights of Atlanta and had a studio or something, but I choose to move back home. My family — minus the ones that are dead or run away — still lives there and somebody’s got to keep an eye on them. But selling art in a small town is as formidable as selling freezers to eskimos. Halo likes to buy their art from the guy hawking velvet paintings in front of the Piggly Wiggly. I do get some commissions. I did a nice portrait of Snug the Coonhound for Terrell. You might have seen that. I’ll paint most anything if it keeps me from working the night shift at the Waffle House. So if any of y’all are interested let me know.

Actually, I just heard through the prolific Halo grapevine that the Bransons (Not just a Branson. The Bransons. Like in JB, Central Georgia’s King of Ford Dealerships and catfish restaurants) wants a portrait of their son, Dustin. Actually it’s Miss Wanda, JB’s wife, who wants the portrait of her stepson. Which would make sense except Dustin’s dead. Murdered actually. No surprise to us locals who have known that thug-wannabe was destined for the county jail or an early grave since preschool. But a coffin portrait does make an odd choice for a memorial. Gives me the heebie-jeebies, but a commission is a commission, and it’s not like I’ll have to ask Dustin to sit still. Considering he’s dead and all.

However, word is that JB offered the commission to his niece, Shawna Branson. Yeah, that —, well, you know the type. An Amazonian, flame-haired, femme fatale who steals boyfriends, cupcakes, and reputations. That girl can’t paint her own nails, let alone a portrait. She just wants to prove she’s better than me. So I’m going to paint the best dang portrait of a dead guy I’ve ever done just to show the Bransons what qualifies as quality art. Of course, it’s the only portrait of a dead guy I’ve ever painted, but who’s counting?

And another little problem that popped up is dead Dustin’s stepbrother, Luke Harper, who just waltzed back into Halo after taking off for the military. You probably haven’t seen that tall, dark drink of water for seven or eight years. At least I haven’t, not since we broke up. Yeah, he’s hot enough to steam shrimp and acts the southern gentleman, but don’t let that business fool you. The man’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Particularly about his reasons for asking around about his murdered stepbrother. The man’s better at skulduggery than the Pentagon.

But what I’m dying to find out is what that foreigner, Mr. Max Avtaikin, is doing in Halo. Rumor has it — and in Halo, rumor is as close to fact as you’re gonna get — that he’s got something to do with the proliferation of gambling going on in town. And by gambling I mostly mean poker. Some may say I hold a grudge against the poker population because it ruined my near-miss marriage with my other ex, Todd McIntosh, but they’d be wrong. Todd’s poker addiction saved us from making the mistake of our lives, i.e. getting hitched in Vegas. I just wish I could convince Todd of that fact.

So what to do first today? Convince the Bransons to give me the commission to paint their murdered son? Dodge two ex-boyfriends in one small town? Head to my Grandpa’s farm where I’d have to run from a goat in order to get to my sister’s homemade fried chicken? Hunt down an illegal poker ring? Play hide and seek with Dustin’s killer? Or stay home and embellish some clothing with my Bedazzler?

Small towns have got more going on than you’d think.

You can read more about Cherry in Portrait Of A Dead Guy, the first book in the new “Cherry Tucker” mystery series.

** Thanks to the Larissa, I have one (1) copy of PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends August 30. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Meet the author
Larissa began her writing career in second grade when she sold her first publication to a neighbor for a nickel. After moving around the Midwest, Japan, and the South, she now lives in Georgia with her husband, daughters, and Biscuit, a Cairn Terrier. She loves small town characters with big attitudes, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. Portrait Of A Dead Guy is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. When she’s not writing about southern fried chicken, she writes about Asian fried chicken at her blog about life as an ex-expat at theexpatreturneth.blogspot.com.

She and her writing friends also chat weekly about books on their Little Read Hens Facebook page and www.littlereadhens.com. You can find Larissa on Facebook; Twitter; and Goodreads. She loves pinning on her Cherry Tucker and other boards at Pinterest. You can also find more information on her website at larissareinhart.com.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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