Plum DeadlyI’m so worried about my niece, Maggie. She’s just come back from New York City and the news isn’t good. She’s been fired from her wonderful job at the bank. They said she took money from them. I know that’s not true!

I’m glad to have her back in Durham, North Carolina – our home. My husband Fred and I – God rest his soul – raised Maggie after her father and my sister were killed. She was such a sweet little girl. We did our best with her, but she was so serious and sad. When she became a teenager, all she could think of was leaving home.

Greener pastures, Fred always said. A chance to prove herself, I thought.

She graduated from Duke University with honors, and immediately found a job that took her all over the world. Fred and I didn’t get to see much of her, but that was okay. She was living the life she’d always wanted. We were happy for her – and proud too!

Then a few years back, Fred passed. It was just me at our pie shop, Pie in the Sky. I ran the shop and tried to keep up with everything, but it was getting harder and harder. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Maggie’s face at the door that night – even though her career was over.

Now, she’s back, working at Pie in the Sky. It’s wonderful for me. I hope it will be wonderful for her too. It would help a lot if her old boss wouldn’t have followed her here and promised her the moon before he was murdered right behind the pie shop.

The police actually thought he might have died from eating my Dangerously Damson pie. Imagine!

One good thing has come of his death – Maggie has met that nice reporter for The Durham Weekly – Ryan Summerour. I think they make a wonderful couple. The circumstances are unfortunate since the police think she’s responsible for her old boss’s death. They’ll have to figure that out.

Fred always said I was an optimist. I guess that’s my nature. I’m teaching Maggie to make pie – she could hardly boil water, you know. Poor dear thought I didn’t know. She couldn’t tell a cream pie from a fruit pie.

That’s okay. It’s in her genes, you see. My mother made prize-winning pies. My sister, Delia and I – Maggie’s mother – were always the same. Maggie will be making prize-winning pies in no time.

Oh? Dangerously Damson?

I name all of my pies. The Duke University students love it, you know. I have contests for new pies and new names all the time. We have Bountiful Blueberry, Marvelous Mince, Lotsa Lemon Meringue, Chocoholic Cream, Popular Peach. You get the idea. Stop in some time and I’ll treat you to a slice.

plumdeadly tour

You can read more about Clara in Plum Deadly, the first book in the new “Pie in the Sky” mystery series, published by Gallery Books.

Joyce is giving away one (1) copy of PLUM DEADLY. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends September 6; US entries only.

Meet the author
Ellie Grant writes award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction under many names including J.J. Cook and Joyce and Jim Lavene. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family. Visit them at or on Facebook.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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