I never planned to become an amateur sleuth. Sure, I’m interested in people – that’s why I did psychology at university – and it’s true I’ve always been kind of inquisitive. If something doesn’t make sense to me I just have this compulsion to try and work it out, no matter what anyone else thinks. I’ve always been the same. But when my dad died – not six months after the cancer took my mum – he left me Shakers Removal Company to take care of, and now I spend my days battling with Marshall over how best to run the business, while trying not to get drawn into all that weird stuff that’s going on over at the Maples Retirement Village. Even though I’d really like to get to the bottom of it …
Okay, first let me tell you about Marshall: He’s cute, that’s a fact, but he’s also annoying as hell! He’s my uncle’s step-son – no actual blood relation, I hasten to add – and Dad put him in charge when Mom got sick. So now the business (the failing business, did I mention that?) belongs to me lock, stock and barrel, and let’s just say that Marshall does not like having to answer to a woman. Particularly one who’s only five feet tall, twenty nine years old, and dresses – his words, not mine – like a punk gypsy!
Well, I’ve got my own look going on, and I’m not about to start taking style advice from a guy who dresses like a college drop-out. So far this morning we’ve moved an aging clergyman out of his rural vicarage and into a one-bed apartment overlooking a main road. A fresh start, I reckon – that draughty old house must have been the devil to clean! Oh, there goes Marshall, giving me that despairing look again. His problem: he doesn’t know how to look on the bright side.
So maybe the distractions over at the Maples aren’t so bad after all. Right now I’m on my way over there to see Joy – we moved her in six months ago after her husband died and it just tore me up to see how brave she was about it all. But Joy’s pet pug, Otto, is a little accident prone (the other day he got himself tangled up in Joy’s blinds – I’m sure it was an accident, no matter what Joy claims), and now Joy is rattling on about some secret society she used to belong to after the war, and how some kid from her past is hell-bent on revenge. Ok-ay, Joy. Time to take your medication, maybe? But seriously, she’s a sweetie, and I’d do anything for the old girl. No she’s not family – as Marshall keeps reminding me – but I don’t have much left in the way of family now, do I? My friends are always telling me I get too attached to people, that I’m too caring for my own good. But what do they know? If I want to hang out with a sweet old lady and listen to her stories what harm can it do? What could possibly go wrong?
You can read more about Flora in Murder at the Maples, the first book in the “Flora Lively” mystery series, published by Mirrorball Books.
Joanne is giving away one (1) digital copy of MURDER AT THE MAPLES for Kindle or Nook only. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends October 23.
Meet the author
Joanne Phillips lives in Shropshire, England with her husband and young daughter and divides her work-life between writing novels and freelance indexing. In her free time she loves quilting and sewing, and is a member of her local ‘knit & natter’ group. She’s the author of commercial women’s fiction Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the new Flora Lively series of cozy mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 100 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Joanne blogs about writing at www.joannephillips.co.uk