by Kathleen Costa
All giveaways this week are ebooks in honor of Earth Day. This week we have a review of Nearly Departed, the latest Eve Appel Mystery by Lesley A. Diehl, and an interesting interview with Lesley. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of Nearly Departed and a link to purchase it from Amazon. You will also find the player for a Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast episode that features a story by Lesley.
Nearly Departed: An Eve Appel Mystery By Lesley A. Diehl
Eve Appel Egret has quite the busy life in and around the swamp area outside of Sabal Bay, Florida, running a consignment shop and RV with her close friend Madeleine Boudreau Wilson, apprenticing with a local PI Crusty McNabb, and dealing with an extended family serious about their ancestral roots. There is her husband Sammy Egret who runs an airboat business along with working part-time as the manager at the local animal reserve with Madeleine’s husband David. There’s her father-in-law Lionel who is partner in the airboat business and isn’t thrilled and often complains about having in the family a non-Native American [white person] like Eve, and Grandfather Egret, patriarch of the Miccosukee clan, who likes and protects Eve with handmade amulets. There’s Sammy’s nephews who they adopted after their parents both died, their own “energetic” two-year-old daughter Netty, and Eve’s ex-husband Jerry adding to the drama. Life is full and not without some dangers, but tootling around in her Mustang convertible? Cool!
Nearly Departed earns 5/5 Case Files & Family…Exciting and Engaging!
Ms. Della Abbot, CEO of Abbot Aeronautics, has an issue. Several accusations of sexual harassment have come to her attention and hiring Eve to go undercover and root out the truth has been suggested. However, Eve’s tall, blonde, and confident manner doesn’t seem to be the perfect target, but when Madeleine accidentally “falls” into the meeting, Della sees the perfect image. “So, hire her!” But, an interesting case pops up closer to home when Madeleine’s Uncle Angus, his son Mickey, and family from Scotland have come to visit. A car accident, with a questionable cause, injures Angus’s daughter-in-law and has the police putting the family in their sights. Eve is asked to take a professional look into the situation, so Madeleine’s undercover assignment is given to another “consultant,” their friend Shelley. It gets worse when other life-threatening incidents, interferences, and “A shot!” occur putting several in danger. Do I dare turn to the end to ease the tension?
“Nearly” Brilliant! Lesley A. Diehl has penned a marvelous seventh book in her Eve Appel Mystery series, and this newbie never felt at a disadvantage; enough background and character connections were provided to keep me totally engaged. The drama included many facets with friends and family having busy lives, troubles, and conflicts, and there’s always several cases going on at the P.I. firm. Weeding out rotten employees. Investigating a “not” accident. Questionable business associates. Family angst. Tribal insights. Alligators. All make for a marvelous read! Lesley’s writing style is very engaging with an enjoyable first-person narrative from Eve’s perspective along with descriptive language, entertaining dialogue, and snarky retorts just for giggles. Family and relationships are a central theme with realistic issues, angsts, and deep emotions add to the realism. Characters are varied and eclectic, and the drama is a compelling page-turner. I am eager to go back into the series and read how everyone got here from there.
Be a Big Lesley A. Diehl Fan!
“I used to be a professor of psychology and university administrator, but when I retired, something more enticing called to me—murder, well, really murder mysteries.”
The six-book Eve Appel mysteries, three-book Eve Appel Mystery shorts, and the two-book Big Lake Mystery series are set around the swamps of the rural south while the two-book Hera Knightsbridge Microbrewing series, the two-book Laura Murphy mysteries, and the standalone mystery Angel Sleuth are set in the mountains and river valleys of the north. However, whether in the north of the south, the female protagonists are “all sassy country girls who take on murder.”
Even Appel Mysteries
A Secondhand Murder (2013)
Dead in the Water (2014)
A Sporting Murder (2015)
Mud Bog Murder (2016)
Old Bones Never Die (2017)
Killer Tied (2018)
Nearly Departed (2020)
Eve Appel Mystery Shorts (2015)
The Little Redheaded Girl is My Friend
Thieves and Gators Run at the Mention of Her Name
Interview with Lesley A. Diehl:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Lesley: Forever! When I was a kid, I wrote poems, essays and short stories. I even thought I could write operas. I sat in the tub and sang songs I composed in a made-up language. I thought they sounded like the operas my dad played when he was milking the cows (he said the music made the cows give more milk with high butterfat). One of my teachers in high school and another in college encouraged me in writing short stories. After graduate school I published professional papers and only returned to fiction writing when I retired.
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called and would you tell us a little about it?
Lesley: My first novel was A Deadly Draught, published in 2010 by Mainly Murder Press. It featured a woman who owned and operated a craft brewery that she struggled to keep afloat. Upon discovering her nearest competitor murdered on his brew barn floor, she becomes the primary suspect in his death thus adding to her troubles. I did a lot of in person research on small breweries – great fun meeting the talented people who craft beers and ales.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries and if not, what else have you written?
Lesley: I write mysteries, both novel length and short stories. I once wrote a short piece about having periodontal surgery but no one wanted to publish it!
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Lesley: In the winters, my husband and I live in rural Florida. Nearly Departed, book 7 in the Eve Apple mysteries is set here because I like the unusual setting, near the swamps, farming and ranching country. I’ve always maintained it’s a great place to hide a body and make it disappear (think alligators). Rural Florida is a part of the state that few people are familiar with, even its residents, and not many writers set their work here, but the place had great primitive beauty and people who live close to the land. I like being able to introduce my readers to the location.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Lesley: Sometimes I think I write to entertain myself! The tone of my work is humorous, and I like making myself laugh. There’s nothing quite so therapeutic than a good chuckle especially in these difficult times. I also weave social, environmental and family issues into my work by having them part of my characters’ lives.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Lesley: I used to be more routinized about my work, but lately I write in short bursts each day with a timer at my computer so that I do not spend more than 30 minutes at the keyboard because of back issues. I prefer getting tasks around the house finished before I write so most of my writing is done in the afternoon. I am not a morning person.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Lesley: I began writing without an outline, but when I got my first book contract for a series, I knew I had to outline to keep to deadlines. I’m winding down my latest contract, and the last book I the series is at my publisher’s, so I am looser now about outlining. With the novel length mystery, I’m now writing, I have already written five short stories and one novella using these characters, so I know them well. I’m letting them take the lead on what happens next since they are the kind of characters hard to control.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Lesley: My ideal schedule would be afternoons.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Lesley: I don’t think I’ve struggled half as hard to get published as many writers have. My first book was picked up by a small press, no agent, after I’d experienced only a few rejections. I found joining professional writers’ organizations like Mystery Writers of America and Guppies Chapter of sisters in Crime provided me with the expertise to find my way into getting published. I recommend Guppies especially because they have so many resources for mystery writers.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Lesley: I was rejected by one agency, but the owner told me I could call him to talk about the work. I did because I wanted as much feedback as I could get. He talked at great length about a book he compared to my work, but there were no points of similarity. The book he cited was dark and grim and a suspense. Mine was a cozy mystery,so I don’t think he had read my work.
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Lesley: I write several series set in rural Florida. I had a library event when the first in my Big Lake Murder mysteries as released. A twelve-year old girl came to the event and showed me her birth certificate. Her name was the same as that of my protagonist. She was so excited to share the name with a character in a mystery. I have a picture of the two of us, and she is grinning from ear to ear.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Lesley: I am working on a novel-length manuscript using characters from five short stories and a novella. These characters are loosely based on my family, so the story is important to me. Like everyone else, I have an odd family, which I have made even odder in my stories. Of course, the tales are infused with humor and fun to write. It should be out sometime late this year.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Lesley: I loved Robert Parker for his ability to write tight. He packed more into one paragraph than other writers do in a chapter. I also have reread and reread the Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series. I am now binge reading Sue Henry’s Alaskan state trooper series.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Lesley: Sometimes I get in and physically do research such as visiting breweries for my microbrewing mysteries or taking an airboat ride for one of the Eve Appel books, but much of my research is accomplished in libraries and on the internet or interviewing people for local information.
KRL: What do you read?
Lesley: Mysteries, mysteries and more mysteries. When I discover something I like, I binge on it.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Lesley: Hubby and I love PBS and are particularly fond of British, Canadian and Australian mysteries such as Murdock Mysteries, Midsomer Murders, Miss Fisher. We rarely go to movies unless we find something such as Knives Out.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Lesley: Join Guppies chapter of Sisters in Crime for manuscript exchanges, internet classes, and access to their webpage which includes information on small publishers and other resources for the mystery writer. There are subgroups also such as ones on marketing, cozy mysteries, short stories and others. Their digest which comes out one or several times each day is a great forum for asking questions from other writers and experts.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Lesley: Write, write, write and read, read, read especially the kind of books you want to write. Sometimes a critique group can be useful, but the best resource is the Guppies group.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Lesley: Uhm, I like cows even though they haven’t always returned the affection (see my bio to find out how I’ve been mistreated by the bovine world).
To enter to win an ebook copy of Nearly Departed, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “nearly,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April, 2020. US only, and must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
You can check out the Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast featuring Lesley’s story here, or by using the player below.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week.
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