A Tough Nut To KillI’m Lindy Blanchard and to tell the truth I can’t say there’s ever an ordinary day here in Riverville, Texas. Especially not on our pecan ranch, Rancho en el Colorado, where the pecan trees are big and old, the Colorado River sets the back curve of our fifty acres, and the days can be long and hot. More than once I’ve been working out in my greenhouse and thinking of a tall cool mint julep and the old days when ladies sat on front verandas and rocked and fanned and talked about cotillions. You see, our part of Texas is just as southern as all the rest of the Deep South. That means traditions of helping others, having fun, working hard, and once in a while, doing each other in.

The cotillion days are long gone around here but one thing’s sure, even on my very worst days I don’t usually stumble over dead people like my Uncle Amos. Especially I don’t come across dead relatives who caused our family heaps of trouble over the years. It was the causing trouble part that made us Blanchards look guilty of something or other, maybe even murder.

The good thing about days when I’m not falling over bodies is that I’m alone in my green house, working hard to find a new strain of pecan tree. What I’m trying to do is help all of us ranchers here in Riverville. I want none of us facing disaster every time some awful disease grabs ahold of the trees, or a drought comes and puts people straight out of business, ranchers losing their spreads, the family huddling inside their well loved ranch houses while people on the front porch are bidding and then the hammer comes down and everything they worked so hard for is gone. Some day I hope to put a stop to all of that. That’s why I studied botany at Texas A&M and came back to the ranch. Thought I was here to help, not find dead people.

Every day since I found Uncle Amos, dead as a doornail, with one of my green plant stakes sticking out of him and many of my young trees destroyed, nothing’s been the same around here. Not at the ranch or at the family store, The Nut House, that my grandma runs for the family. Poor meemaw, Miss Amelia, had to put up with all the questions and prying of Rivervillians about Uncle Amos getting himself murdered like that. Bad enough for meemaw, but add to that others, like her best (and worst) friend, Ethelred Tomroy, doing a little gloating that the Blanchards were maybe knocked down a peg or two now that we, maybe, harbored a killer in our midst.

That’s when me and my grandma, Miss Amelia, teamed up. My boyfriend, Deputy Hunter Austen, of the Riverville Police Department, along with all the other people working the case, couldn’t get things done fast enough for us. Miss Amelia, who is seventy-seven and smart as a whip, decided that a Blanchard was better able to search out old Blanchard secrets than outsiders, and we did, the two of us, sometimes having to dance a line dance at out local saloon to get information; sometimes having to do some underhanded finagling, trick a few people, take special care of others, deal with Houston doctors and Columbus detectives, hide just a little information until we could act on it, then join with Hunter to bring that murdering creep to justice.

When that was over I thought to myself: now I’m going to get back to normal, spend my days in the greenhouse, date Hunter from time to time, listen to Emma, my mama, going on and on about the price of pecans at supper; my brother, Justin, talk about the wild hogs coming up into the groves from the Colorado; my sister, Bethany, ruminating about white doves and folding centerpieces for all the big weddings she’s going to produce out at our new wedding tent, set up under some of the oldest pecan trees on the ranch; and meemaw, maybe back to tussling with Ethelred over who’s got the best pecan pie recipe in town.

But things don’t always turn out like you expect.

Now we got us a poisoner here in Riverville and me and meemaw are right back in the soup again. We seem to have a knack for investigating things. Gets my mind off pecan disasters. Gets her mind of Ethelred’s needling. And the two of us maybe make Riverville a little better place to live.

You can read more about Lindy in A Tough Nut To Kill, the first book in the “Nut House” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon EST on February 6, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of A Tough Nut To Kill. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Elizabeth Lee is the pseudonym of Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli who has previously published several novels including the Emily Kincaid series. A Tough Nut to Kill is the first in a new series from Berkeley/NAL.

Elizabeth lives back in the woods between Mancelona and Kalkaska, Michigan. She lives on a small lake, much like the protagonist of her Emily Kincaid mystery series. In fact, they inhabit the same house and writing studio.

Elizabeth is a book reviewer with the Northern Express newspaper and teaches creative writing at Northwestern Michigan College, in Traverse City.

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