MARK YOUR CALENDARS:
If you’re in the Memphis area on Saturday, February 28 between 11 am and 1pm, the authors of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES will be presenting and signing copies of our book at Bookstop Plus in Bartlett. Come on out, we’d love to see you.
It has been my honor and pleasure to introduce you to my fellow authors of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES. I’ve been told that I need to come from behind the scenes and introduce myself as well as the two stories I have that are included in the anthology.
I write mysteries, suspense and thrillers. I am well on the way with second round revisions for my first novel, KAOS, which is a thriller, set primarily here in Memphis. I also have a mystery collection of short stories, THE MISADVENTURES OF MAMA LOU, featuring my favorite amateur sleuths, Mama Lou Metcalf and Ethel Mae Watson. My short story, The Gazebo, won 3rd place in Southern Writer’s Magazine Annual Short Story 2013 contest.
When we conceived of the idea of BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES, we decided we would set our stories in various well known sites around the city. I had just finished a tour of SLAVEHAVEN, formerly the Burkle Estates, now a civil rights museum sponsored by Heritage Tours of Memphis. The house is listed on the Historical Register and is rumored to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad in the middle 1800s. The tour includes the cellar of the house, which is where runaway slaves were believed to be kept until they could be safely moved upriver to free states.
I stood in that cellar, or I should say, I stooped in the cellar – the ceiling was too low to accommodate my five feet six inches – and experienced such an emotional response as I imagined what it might have been like to live in that cramped space for days, maybe weeks at a time, where discovery could mean my life and the lives of everyone in that house. Anyway, I knew I had to write about it.
NIGHT FISHING, is set on the Burkle Estate during the 1860’s, this is the second historical in the collection. It tells the story of 13 year old slave Thadius and his 8 year old brother Jedidiah, who discover the body of one of the plantation owners on Burkle land. Suspicions fall on Burkle himself, the boys’ friend and also slave, Big John and a Yankee upstart. Thadius puts the pieces together and discover the real culprit. Expect a surprise at the end.
Here’s a peek into NIGHT FISHING:
Jed adjusted the lantern again to focus the glow over the body. It was a white man, his face partially covered by long corn-colored hair. It was hard to tell exactly how tall he was, but Thaddeus estimated him to be about medium height. A dark riding coat covered a light colored shirt and trousers. Thaddeus averted his eyes from the dark stain that marred the silk shirt.
“Look at all that blood,” said Jed. Then as if the implication hit him, he said, “Let’s get out of here Thad.”
“In a minute.” The coat had spilled open to expose a bundle of parchment in the inside pocket. Thaddeus leaned over to grab for it but was distracted by a sliver of light glinting off metal. Parchment forgotten, he walked around to the other side of the body. A long barreled pistol lay just outside of reach of the dead man’s outstretched hand, the middle finger encircled by a band of gold.
Thad had a real bad feeling. He knew that ring. Fear gave way to nosiness as he dropped to his knees beside the body. He lifted the man’s hand then twisted the ring full around until the miniature coat of arms etched onto the stone face was exposed to the light. He knew that the color of that stone was dark green. That ring had been passed down for generations. Everyone in Shelby County, from plantation owners to the lowliest slave knew of it. He brushed aside the swatch of hair and aimed the light towards the man’s face.
Beauregard Cordova, favored son of one of the oldest families in Shelby County, stared up at him with empty eyes…dead eyes.
Most of the action in MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, takes place on a Greyhound Bus, the midnight express from Memphis to Atlanta. My family took a lot of trips via Greyhound when I was a kid. My best friend and I even took the bus from Memphis to Fresno California one summer while we were in college. It never failed that we would meet some of the most interesting or creepiest people while traveling this way – if you come to the signing, ask me about the prostitutes in Los Angeles.
Anyway, the question came to my mind, what if serial killers traveled by Greyhound? Could you recognize him – or her?
The bus had cleared the terminal and gathered speed on Union, past the Peabody Hotel, past Huey’s. The bus turned south on Second street and Simon smiled at the memory of him conquering the four-pound hamburger at Kooky Canuck’s, when Simon felt the bus slow.
The interior lit up with the blue and white strobe of police cars. He could just make out a snarl of parked police cars and the two uniformed patrolmen directing traffic. The street placard announced the intersection of Beale and Second Street. Simon craned for a better view, but saw nothing beyond pedestrian gawkers and a silent ambulance. The bus finally squeezed through the bottleneck, then gradually picked up speed until it reached the interstate cloverleaf.
The young man hadn’t moved. Not once during slow down or the excited chatter of the passengers. Unlike everyone else on the bus, he sat with his head pressed firmly into the headrest, eyes closed, fingers thrumming a rhythmic beat on his thigh.
Thank you for stopping by today. Remember, BLUFF CITY MYSTERIES is now available for purchase online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dark Oak Press. You can also pick up a paperback or hardback copy at Bookstop Plus, South Main Book Juggler, the Slavehaven Underground Railroad Museum and soon at Memphis and Shelby County Public Libraries.
If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them, just leave your thoughts below. We’ll see you next week!