Played by the BookI’m known around these parts as The Amazing Althea, not just because of my psychic abilities—my specialty bein’ palms and tarot cards—but because I bake some of the best banana bread y’all will ever taste. In fact, I reckon that’s how I earned my nickname. People took one bite of my bread and they said, “Mmm. That’s Amazing, Althea.” Which over time got shortened to “Amazing, Althea!” and stuck.

Nicknames aside, I always did say, good food is balm for the troubled soul, and in my business, I see a lot of troubled souls. That’s my burden to carry, though, and I gladly do so. Because if the cards are speakin’ to me, I can sometimes offer my clients a little comfort or maybe some healin’ advice. And that’s mighty rewardin’ to me.

’Course, my gift sometimes causes me a heap of worry about my own family. You see, my daughter Lila works as a literary agent at A Novel Idea. Not that there’s a worry there—fact is, she loves working for a book agency right here in Inspiration Valley, North Carolina. Does well, too. Lila reads mysteries all day, decides which writers go on to become published authors, and meets plenty of famous ones as well. Only sometimes, I swear, she fancies herself some sort of detective and has even started poking around in real life crimes. Now I know she thinks she’s just bein’ protective of her fellow literary agents, and she sure is a good mama to my nearly-grown grandson Trey, helping him out of his troubles. But if it weren’t for her fiance Sean being a real life detective, well, let’s just say I worry even at that. I keep tryin’ to warn her of the dangers, but she can be a little ornery at times.

Just the other day I got the strangest feelin’—a shiver that climbed right up my spine and settled in my bones. Made me so cold, not even a visit with my best man, Jim Beam, warmed me up. Funny thing, this premonition of mine happened at just about the same time Lila started nosin’ around in a new mystery. You see, a local garden club woman was killed. Lawd, it was an awful thing! Killed with a spade, right in her own garden. Anyhow, Lila has jumped in to try to dig up some clues but the only thing she actually found so far is a bunch of trouble. If you’d like to see what my girl does next, check out this latest Novel Idea Mystery, PLAYED BY THE BOOK. I promise y’all will enjoy it. But when you see Lila, tell her to watch her back . . . her mama’s got a bad feelin’ about this one.

You can read more about Amazing Althea in Played By The Book, the fourth book in the “Novel Ideas” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Buried In A Book.


The national bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries make their return with Lila Wilkins, literary agent and “murder magnet” planning a book signing garden party. But things aren’t coming up roses when she ends up trying to weed out a dangerous killer. . .

The owner of A Novel Idea Literary Agency is thrilled when former local boy and popular television show host Damian York returns to Inspiration Valley, North Carolina, to launch his new gardening book. But Lila is less than excited about the hubbub when she sees the mounting to-do list on her desk. Between planning York’s gala and sprucing up her yard for another event, she’s spread too thin—especially after she finds a skull buried in her flowerbeds.

As Lila’s macabre discovery leads to other secrets hidden in Inspiration Valley’s past, a member of the local garden club is found slumped over her prize roses—murdered with a garden spade. Now it’s up to Lila to dig through old mysteries and new clues to unearth a murderer before someone else is found pushing up daisies. . .

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on February 12 for the chance to win a copy of PLAYED BY THE BOOK. The giveaway is open to everyone. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes.

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Played by the Book is currently available on the shelves of your local bookstore and library, Amazon,, Powell’s and just about everywhere else.

About the author
The Novel Idea Mysteries is a New York Times bestselling series of cozy mysteries, including Buried in a Book, Every Trick in the Book, and Books, Cooks, and Crooks and, now, Played by the Book all written under the pseudonym of Lucy Arlington. The writing team of Ellery Adams and Sylvia May, two friends who collaborated on the series, first conceived of Lucy Arlington and her literary agent sleuth. Together, the duo penned the first three books in the series. As time passed and their personal writing workload grew, the two passed the baton to another author: Susan Furlong. In addition to now writing as Lucy Arlington, Susan Furlong is the author of another upcoming cozy mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, The Georgia Peach Mysteries. To learn more about Susan, visit her website at

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