Stepping into the spotlight today--Maris Soule! Take it away, Maris!
Thanks for giving me a chance to talk about Eat Crow and Die, my third book in the P.J. Benson Mysteries series. Back in 1999, when I started writing about an almost-30-year-old woman named P.J. Benson who had just inherited her grandfather’s farm and decided to open her home-based accounting business in the rural area of Zenith, Michigan, I had no idea I was writing a series.
It took me several years and several rewrites to pull that book, The Crows, together. (My writing time was interrupted by my son and then daughter deciding to get married, my husband buying a boat, our decision to sell our house near Climax and buy and move into a house in Kalamazoo, and flights back and forth to California to care for my aging father.) I’ll always remember the day I sold The Crows. My father died the same day I received the email saying Five Star Mysteries wanted to publish the book. That was the best news I received that day.
Readers liked The Crows and asked when the next P.J. Benson Mystery would be out. That was when I started working on As the Crow Flies. As soon as I finished that book, I knew I needed at least one more in the series. Consciously or subconsciously, I’d left too many unanswered questions: Was P.J. pregnant, would she and Sheriff’s Detective Wade Kingsley become more than lovers, and would Wade see his son again?
Eat Crow and Die starts the same day As the Crow Flies ends. Wade is on his boat for a final fishing trip with his six-year-old son before Wade’s ex and her new husband move to California. P.J. is at home trying to convince herself she doesn’t have morning sickness. That’s when she learns that Wade’s boat blew up on Lake Michigan, and that Wade and his son were pulled from the water, but not the ex and new husband. What’s more, Wade has a concussion and doesn’t remember anything from the time everyone boarded his boat until he was rescued.
With the ex and new husband dead, Wade becomes the prime suspect, and P.J. knows she must figure out who actually planted the bomb on the boat and why. I believe readers will find ample suspects and motives, and I hope they also enjoy the antics of P.J.’s 8-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback. (I miss my Rhodesian Ridgeback. We were owned by him for twelve and a half years.)
Under the circumstances, P.J. is certain this isn’t the right time to tell Wade she’s pregnant, but bouts of morning sickness give her away. Wade is upset by the news. P.J. wonders if it’s because he’s afraid he’ll be put in prison for a double homicide he didn’t commit, or if he’s afraid the new baby will cause P.J. to become schizophrenic, as was the case with her mother. Even P.J. is worried about that. Although Wade doesn’t want her playing detective, P.J. soon discovers that Michael Brewster wasn’t as great a guy as everyone thought. But did anyone hate the man enough to kill him?
“I’m fine,” he bellowed. “I do not need to be in bed.”
“Until the doctor releases you,” a feminine voice said, “you need to stay put.”
“Damn the doctor. I told them downstairs I need to get back to South Haven.”
“Are you giving the nurse a bad time?” I asked as I entered the room.
Wade made a grunting sound as he looked my way. “They’re treating me as if I’m sick. I hit my head, that’s all.”
The poor nurse looked at me and shook her head. “He’s supposed to rest.”
“Be a good boy, Wade. Do as she says. Put your legs back up on the bed and rest.”
He glared at me—at both the nurse and me—but he put his legs back up on the mattress and allowed her to pull a sheet up to his waist. He didn’t lay back, so I asked, “Can he have the bed cranked up, so he can be in a seated position?”
“If it will keep him in bed, I guess so.”
She didn’t make a move, and neither did Wade, so I stepped closer and pushed the button that raised the back so Wade could be in a fully seated position. “That better?” I asked.
He grumbled, but gave a slight nod, then winced.
He had a four-inch square bandage on his forehead, and I could see some discoloration along the side of his face, but it wasn’t until he went to lean back against the pillow behind him and grimaced that I knew it wasn’t just his forehead that had been injured.
“If you need anything, press that button,” the nurse said, indicating the red one on the corded remote.
Wade grunted, and she quickly left. I’m sure she was glad to leave him to me. He clearly wasn’t in a good mood.
“You seen Jason?”
“I just left him. He’s with Ginny.”
“He seems fine. They’re waiting for the results on a couple of tests, then, Ginny said, she’ll bring him by your room.”
“That or I’ll pick him up as I leave.”
“I don’t think they want you leaving today.”
Again the glare. “I’m fine. I hit my head, that’s all.”
“Uh-huh. And how many stitches?” I asked, pointing at the bandage on his forehead.
“I don’t know.” He gave me a crooked smile. “Maybe fifteen.”
“And the back of your head?”
“I have a little goose-egg, that’s all.”
I reached behind his head, but I’d barely touched his scalp before he let out a yelp. From what I could feel, his “little goose-egg” was more like an ostrich egg. “How did you hit both the back and the front of your head?”
“I don’t know.” He let out a deep sigh. “I don’t remember anything from the time Linda and that arrogant bastard she married finally arrived at the boat with Jason until I found myself on a stretcher, being lifted into a helicopter.” He narrowed his eyes. “I don’t even remember that very well. It wasn’t until they poked my head with a needle that I really started focusing on what was happening.”
“You don’t remember taking the boat out on Lake Michigan?”
He started to shake his head, but immediately stopped. “Not a thing.”
The pupils of his eyes were dilated, and since Wade doesn’t do drugs, and it was fairly light in the room, I figured the doctors were right, he did have a concussion. I’d heard how people who had concussions often couldn’t remember what happened before or even after the accident. Some lost entire days. Sometimes the memories came back; sometimes they never did.
“I do remember Linda said they didn’t want to fish,” Wade grumbled. “Here she insists she wants to go on this fishing trip with Jason and me, that both she and Brewster want to go along, and then as soon as she arrives—an hour late, at that—she starts making a fuss about going fishing. I’d even brought fishing poles for the two of them.”
“But they did go out on the boat with you? With you and Jason?”
“They must have.” Wade looked out beyond the end of the bed, and I could tell he was trying to remember.
“Do you have any idea where you and Jason were when the boat blew up?”
“No.” Wade looked back at me. “You haven’t heard anything about Linda?”
“So they’re not here, not in the hospital?”
“I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so.”
From his expression, I knew what Wade was thinking. If Linda and her husband were on the boat and had been thrown to safety, Linda would be with Jason now. The woman had become paranoid since telling Wade that she and her new husband were moving to California and taking Jason with them. She was sure Wade was going to do something to stop her.
“If she was on the boat . . .” I started to say, but didn’t finish. The thought of what might have happened to Linda—to both Wade’s ex and her new husband—caused my stomach to lurch.
Author Bio ~
Writer, teacher, artist, wife, mother, dog trainer, horse rider, boater. Maris Soule can list an array of occupations and avocations. Even as a writer her 29 published books span a variety of genres and subgenres, ranging from short stories to romances, romantic suspense, and mystery. A two-time RITA finalist, Soule has placed in and won several writing contests. Born and raised in California, Soule and her husband now spend their summers in Michigan and their winters in Florida.
You can find Maris at:
You can by EAT CROW AND DIE at:
a Rafflecopter giveaway