Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Sleuthing in a canoe and on a motorcycle




Please welcome my Wednesday guest, Lesley Diehl. Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work. She is author of several short stories and a number of mystery series including the microbrewing series (A Deadly Draught; Poisoned Pairings), a rural Florida mystery series (Dumpster Dying; Grilled, Chilled and Killed), A Secondhand Murder, the first in The Eve Appel mystery series and her most recent, Murder Is Academic. Please welcome Lesley as she tells us about her newest book.
 
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In keeping with the snooping amateur sleuths who populate my cozy mysteries, I’ve got a new woman who joins their ranks. In Murder Is Academic the setting is a small town in upstate New York, and the protagonist is Laura Murphy, psychology professor at the local college, a woman addicted to chocolate-covered donuts and something unexpected: solving murders. Don’t be fooled by her credentials. Despite all those degrees, she’s arrived at that point in her life when everything seems to be falling into place including her middle-aged body, sagging in ways she never anticipated when she was younger. What to do? The weather is fine, so Laura and Annie, her best friend decide that entering a fifty-mile canoe race might just be the thing for losing weight. The results are different from what they expected. Not only has Laura done little exercise other than lift her coffee cup to her lips, she’s not prepared for what she encounters on the water: the dead body of the college president. When she says yes to dinner with a Canadian biker, she finds herself and her date suspects in the murder.
Laura’s friend, the detective assigned the case, asks her to help him find out who on the small upstate New York college campus may be a killer. The murder appears to be wrapped up in some unsavory happenings on the lake where Laura lives. A fish kill and raw sewage seeping into the water along with the apparent drowning suicide of a faculty member complicate the hunt for the killer. So you see, college life for our professor is much more than grading exams, writing research papers of serious intellectual import, and swearing at her computer when something goes wrong on the internet. Yup, there’s this hunky biker dude and the possibility that she can outwit her detective friend in finding the killer. There is a downside to the joys of finding love later in life and chasing down clues to the murder, both slimming activities with fewer muscle aches than canoeing. Things can get personal, and they do. The killer makes a threatening phone call to Laura. With a tornado bearing down on the area and the killer intent upon silencing her, Laura’s sleuthing work may come too late to save her and her biker from a watery grave.
As you can guess, everything turns out well for Laura. Sleuthing replaces eating donuts, and riding on the back of a motorcycle results in much more than messed up hair. Another sassy gal takes on murder, gets thinner and falls in love. Laura Murphy defeats hot flashes and killers. There will be a sequel: Failure Is Fatal, in which Laura tackles bad frat boys.
 
 


 




 

 

11 comments:

jrlindermuth said...

Congratulations, Lesley. Sounds like another heroine I've got to meet.

Patricia Gligor said...

Lesley,
"Murder is Academic" sounds intriguing! I've read several of the books in your three mystery series and enjoyed every one. Believe me, I'll be reading this one very soon.

Lesley Diehl said...

This one comes closer to being part of me than any otehr I've created yet.

Gloria Alden said...

Lesley, this sounds like a great book not only because of the location - I love upper New York State, and have camped there many times. I also like academic mysteries. It's going on my TBO list.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

I wouldn't mind hanging out with Laura Murphy at all.

Lesley Diehl said...

I'm hoping readers will find Laura approachable, someone they might want to have over for coffee and donuts. She's kind of in your face, but she has a really open heart especially for students, dogs and cats and, of course, bikers!

Judy Alter said...

Lesley, I think that's always one of our goals with cozy fiction--to create characters that readers like as people and are comfortable with. I was devastated once when a critic wrote that she liked a certain book but didn't like the protagonist--she listed several faults like selfish, etc. I was devastated and wanted to scream, "My oldest daughter ssay it's a highly autobiographical novel!"

Lesley Diehl said...

Well, now that I've revealed that this protagonist is similar in some aspects to me, I'll know that if readers don't like her they won't like me. Yikes! Double rejection.3

Judy Alter said...

Yep, I found it fairly devastating criticism:-)

Grace Topping said...

Hi, Lesley --
Congratulations on the publication of yet another book--you certainly are churning them out. It was a pleasure meeting you at Sleuthfest.
Wishing you continued success with your writing.
Grace Topping

Linda Reilly said...

Lesley, this one sounds like a fun read. You are a fine writer, and I look forward to adding Murder is Academic to my pile!