Blurb: Nothing ever happens in a small clamming town like Fatmire. At least, that’s what Mitch Chase thinks until he teams up with eccentric mystery writer Cassie Wynn to solve a murder. Vicki Cash is found facedown in her seafood dinner after someone at the Clam Festival slipped her a deadly ingredient. Now Mitch and Cassie have to eliminate suspects, but that’s easier said than done. Vicki wasn’t exactly well liked. She took her ex-husband for everything he was worth, evicted the town’s most successful clam farmer, feuded with her sister, and bad-mouthed the mayor’s wife. As they investigate, Mitch discovers this small town isn’t what it seems, and he’s attracted to more than Cassie’s powers of observation. With his quirky and intriguing partner by his side, he’s sure to lose his heart while he catches a killer.
And now for Laurel's interview with Mitch and Cassie.
LAUREL: “Hello, Cassie. Hi, Mitch. Why don’t you start by introducing yourselves?”
MITCH: “I’m Mitchell Chase, and I recently moved to Fatmire, FL. I’m staying with my grandfather in the retirement village for the moment. I used to work the city crime beat, but now that I’m in this small town, I’m working freelance for the local paper.”
CASSIE: “And he’s considering taking over as Fatmire’s new PI. I think Mitch is perfect for the job. As for me, I’m a writer like you, Laurel and Annette. Only I write murder mysteries under the pen name Dusty Zain. You might be familiar with some of my works. They include The Big Top Secret, about a circus ringmaster who was found squashed, and X-Caliber, about a murderer who uses a custom-made gun. For some reason, though, the bookstores keep putting my books in the humor section.”
LAUREL: “I see. Let’s talk about why you’re here today, Cassie, I understand your neighbor Vicki Cash was found dead.”
CASSIE: “Yes. I was the one who found her with her face buried in a plate of take-out seafood.”
MITCH: “Official cause of death was anaphylaxis. Someone hid chunks of peanut in Cash’s seafood dinner, and the victim was highly allergic to nuts. Cassie and I are investigating.”
LAUREL: “What’s it like working together?”
CASSIE: “Mitch is amazing. With that full head of brown hair and those sharp blue eyes, he could be one of the heroes from my books.”
MITCH: (Closes those eyes for a moment.) “I am not a martial arts master, a Navy SEAL, or Special Ops, and you’re not going to convince me to carry grenades or nunchakus.”
CASSIE: “But he does have pepper spray. And really, Mitch’s most lethal weapon is his mind.”
MITCH: (chuckles) “Cassie certainly makes this small town more interesting. As a local, she knows all the history and gossip. Although she drives me crazy, I really like spending time with her.”
LAUREL: “Thanks for taking time to talk to us, and good luck with your investigation. I’m sure we’ll see more of you both.”
To learn more about The Clam Festival Murders, read the excerpt below or follow the links.
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“Detective, based on your appearance here, may I assume Vicki Cash’s death wasn’t an accident? Do you suspect foul play?”
Cassie overheard the question and watched the man who had asked it from her vantage behind the side garden of her house. The profusion of plants prevented people on the street from seeing her small paved patio with its table and chairs, but she could observe them and much of the rest of the neighborhood at her leisure. That’s why she liked to sit here in the afternoons.
Today, what she saw held her full attention. The man speaking was a stranger to her, which was unusual in the small town of Fatmire, Florida. He was currently questioning Shane Waters, their local detective.
Her next door neighbor, Vicki Cash, was dead, and the newcomer—a reporter, apparently—seemed to realize there was more to the case than met the eye. Keen intuition and tenacity were two qualities Cassie gave to all her novels’ heroes. She was pleased and intrigued to learn they were part of this fellow’s character, as well.
Of course, Cassie also liked to make her heroes attractive. This man certainly had the right look with his strong physique, sharp blue eyes, and thick light-brown hair. She didn’t know his name, but she was hoping it was something wonderfully exotic or macho like Falcon or Axel. Maybe he was a martial arts expert or a former covert agent or sniper. The possibilities fired her imagination.
Barely breathing, she continued to eavesdrop on his conversation with Shane. They were standing outside Vicki’s house, which had been tidily cordoned off with police tape. Cassie saw Shane pause for a moment and rock back on his heels.
“We’re still investigating the matter,” the detective replied. “All I can say right now is that there were no signs of forced entry, burglary, or violence. The evidence thus far indicates that Ms. Cash died alone while in the middle of eating supper.”
“Who discovered the body?”
Cassie held perfectly still when Shane pointed at her house. “That would be Miss Wynn next door.”
Her new hero glanced her way and jotted something down in his notebook. Had he seen her? With his sharp eyesight and advanced military training, he probably could have spotted her in a sea of replicas. He was so focused on his interrogation, though, that it appeared he’d missed her behind her blind.
Cassie took a second to write the word replicas in her writing journal before she lost the thought. It had potential as a plot device.
“How old was the deceased?” her hero asked next, snagging her attention again. “Do you know if she had any pre-existing conditions?”
Shane’s lazy expression never altered. “Ms. Cash was in her late forties and wasn’t suffering from any chronic health problems that we know of.”
Not a bad question, considering Vicki had died during dinner.
“In a manner of speaking,” Shane answered as he returned to his car. “Apparent cause of death was anaphylaxis. Good day.” These last two words were uttered over his shoulder as he opened the driver’s side door and hopped in.
“One more question.” Her hero didn’t give up. He leaned down to look at the detective. “What was Vicki Cash eating when she died?”
This time, Shane smiled. “Got herself some shrimp from the Clam Festival. You should head over there yourself. It lasts all week.” He punctuated this remark with a muffled slam of his car door and started the engine.
Cassie watched her hero eye his own vehicle before turning and walking toward her house. When he reached her door, he studied her front garden with a small frown of concentration. Perhaps he was a botanist or herbalist who liked to experiment with various elixirs. Or maybe he was looking for signs of a trap.
Just as he was about to knock on her door, she cleared her throat. “She’s not home. You’ll have better luck if you come over here and talk to me.”
She could see she’d surprised him. The way he shifted—had he been ready to fall into a crouch? Was he poised for action every moment, in constant peril while dealing with the terrible scars of his past?
Cassie sighed. “You poor man. Why don’t you sit down and have some tea? You can keep your back to the wall if you sit over there.”
About the author
Laurel Richards is a fiction author with a passion for shifters, space travelers, and other memorable characters. She has gathered inspiration from lots of different sources throughout her life and is here today to share her imagination through storytelling. Laurel writes sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal, and funny mysteries, all with various degrees of romance mixed in.
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