Visiting Detectives

Visiting Detective Kylee Kane “HOA Murder”

Sunset in Beaufort, South Carolina

The Jazz Corner is one of our favorite venues for dinner and live jazz when we’re visiting Hilton Head Island in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Tonight was the last night for a popular NYC jazz combo. As usual, the tables are scrunched together in the intimate setting, making it next to impossible not to eavesdrop on folks seated at adjacent tables.

 

Sheila’s just placed her standard order for She-Crab soup and crab cakes, when I hear the woman at the next table say, “Mom’s right. Whoever killed Finley put that trophy deer head in his lap to sidetrack authorities. And it’s working. Deputy Ibsen’s convinced one of the Bambi-loving crowd is responsible.”

 

Bambi lovers? A corpse holding a trophy deer head? I can’t pretend I didn’t hear. My curiosity won’t let me. The couple’s conversation sounds matter of fact. Neither the man nor the woman—I’m guessing they’re either late forties or early fifties—seems shaken or hysterical. I decide it’s okay to intrude.

 

“Hi, I’m Charlie Kerrian, and this is my wife, Sheila,” I begin. “We just arrived on the island a couple of hours ago for a mini-vacation. I apologize for listening in, but our tables are so close. Was someone murdered here recently?”

“Not here,” the woman replies. “The murder took place on Hullis Island Friday night. I apologize. We shouldn’t have been jabbering about it in a restaurant. You needn’t be concerned. There’s no Lowcountry crime wave. Please don’t let my big mouth ruin your vacation.”

 

Sheila chuckles. “My husband failed to mention he’s a detective. You haven’t worried him, just piqued his curiosity.”

 

“That’s a relief.” The woman smiles. While her short, curly hair is snow-white, her smooth skin says the white hair is premature. “I’m Kylee Kane,” she adds, “a retired Coast Guard investigator.”

 

“And I’m Ted Welch,” the man says. “I’m hoping Kylee will soon change her standard introduction and say she’s a security specialist for Welch HOA Management. That’s my company. We manage more than a dozen homeowner associations in Beaufort County, including Hullis Island where the man was murdered.”

 

Kylee shakes her head and grins. “Ted, I’m not going to start introducing myself as your security specialist. My consulting gig won’t last that long—just until this killer’s caught, we find out who’s sending hate mail to Mom, and your HOA clients quit worrying about crazed killers sneaking into their neighborhoods.”

 

“Can you back up?” I ask. “What did you mean about the killer trying to pin the rap on Bambi lovers, and why is your mother getting hate mail? Are the two related?”

“Afraid so,” Kylee says. “Hullis Island has a deer overpopulation problem. The board of directors of the HOA decided to solve the problem by opening the island’s nature sanctuary to hunters as soon as the peak tourist season ends. Finley, the man who was murdered, was a loud proponent of slaughtering all the island deer. His landscape company’s sales had nosedived after people decided buying edible plants amounted to a free lunch program for deer.”

 

“And how was your mother involved?” Sheila asks.

 

“Mom doesn’t think the board has the right to open our nature sanctuary to hunters without allowing the HOA membership to vote on the matter,” Kylee adds. “She sent an email to all her neighbors expressing her opinion. Mom knows the overpopulation has to be addressed, but she thinks there are less drastic solutions. A postcard that said it was time for hunters to target old-lady busybodies as well as deer was hand-delivered to Mom’s mailbox a few hours later.”

 

Ted adds, “I just wish the authorities weren’t so fixated. They seem convinced the neighborhood feud about the island deer explains why Finley was killed. But the deceased wasn’t a likeable guy. He’d accumulated lots of disgruntled customers. Kylee and I plan to talk to some of those folks. My new security specialist excels at interviewing people.”

 

“Yes.” Kylee laughs. “In your sales pitch for me to join your firm as a security consultant, I believe you described me as having the ‘tenacity of a demented squirrel looking for a buried nut stash.’”

 

“True,” Ted agrees. “An apt description. Hasn’t changed since you worked so hard to ignore your little brother and me in grade school.”

 

The lights flicker and a man takes the small stage to introduce the jazz combo. “Please respect our talented musicians,” he says. “No talking during the performance.”

 

While Sheila and I came to hear the music, I’m sorry I’ll have to wait to hear more of the story.

 

Linda Lovely

Warm thanks to Linda Lovely for stopping by to chat with the Kerrians and give us a straight-up-fun peek into Kylee Kane’s (and Ted Welch) encounters with murder at the HOA. To find out how the story ends, you’ll have to read:

Multi-layered plots are always central to Linda Lovely’s novels. With her fully fleshed out central characters perfectly set up to navigate the twists and turns of the story lines, this entertaining mystery writer always delivers a thoroughly engrossing read. “With Neighbors Like These,” is a stellar, page-turning beginning to her brand new HOA Mystery Series. Launch date was set for July 13, 2021. Click on the link to order.

 

Please visit https://www.lindalovely.com to learn more about Lovely and her upcoming events.

As sometimes happens, Kerrian’s Notebook has overlapped with Nightstand Book Reviews, so please check out Linda Lovely’s complete Book List here.

 

*Photos supplied by Linda Lovely.  🙂

 

 

Visiting Detective Chloe Jackson “Murder at the Sea Glass Saloon”

 

Sheila and I were visiting friends down in the Florida Panhandle last week and saw firsthand the famous beaches and emerald green water they had raved about on the phone. Honestly, they had undersold both. The view of the water is remarkable, and the white sugar sand is so fine that it’s a pleasure to walk on, bum legs and all.

 

Three days into the trip, we passed a place on the beach called the Sea Glass Saloon. Sheila and I both saw crime scene tape flapping around the dumpster out back and skidded to a stop. Well, no real skidding can happen on sand, but we did stop pretty quickly. Sheila looked at me, eyebrows raised and asked, “Feel like getting a drink before lunch?” She knows me well.


We entered the empty bar and sat ourselves off to the side. Our waitress’ paper name tag said, “Chloe,” and since it was written in magic marker, she was probably new to the job. We tried to be polite and avoid the Crime Scene Tape Topic, just in case Chloe was jittery about whatever had happened, but Sheila couldn’t stand the suspense anymore than I could. We introduced ourselves and Chloe laughed.


“Nice to meet you. I could tell as soon as you came in that at least one of you was a cop.”

 

I was surprised and said so.

 

Chloe grinned and waved to the still empty room. “You’re the first people in here today and you chose a table with your backs to the wall, not the table with the best view like most tourists do. I’m Chloe Jackson, former children’s librarian in my hometown of Chicago, now a waitress in a bar in Emerald Cove, Florida. Life has a funny way of laughing at my plans.”

 

The bartender called her over and she told us she’d be right back, but after they bent their heads together at the bar, she wasn’t smiling anymore. Something was bothering that young woman.

 

Meet Chloe Jackson:

“Why do I know anything about cops? I read a lot of mysteries and they all seem to mention cops and their backs to the wall so there must be some truth to it. Also, both of them took a good look around like they wanted to know where the exits were and assessed Joaquín the bartender and me. Apparently, they decided we weren’t a threat because they didn’t get up and leave. I almost walked over to them with my hands up. They were pleasant when I asked what they’d like. He ordered a Guinness. She wanted a mimosa.

 

I had to call the police more than once about the patrons at the library – not the kids I work with but sometimes their parents or nannies. As I walked back to give Joaquín their orders, I thought about yesterday morning. I had to call 911 yesterday when I found the body of one of our patrons back by the dumpster behind the Sea Glass Saloon. Elwell Pugh, the man I found murdered with a channel knife sticking out of his neck, was a bit of an odd duck, but a good tipper and never caused me any problems.

 

On the other hand, he wore an armadillo shell as a hat which seemed really odd to me, but I’d only been in the panhandle of Florida for a little over a week. What did I know? Maybe lots of people wore armadillo shell hats down here. What worried me more is I’d overheard the owner of the Sea Glass, Vivi Slidell, arguing with a man last night after the bar closed.

 

I was mopping floors when I heard the raised voices back in the kitchen. I couldn’t make out their words or see them and I’m not certain it was Elwell that Vivi was arguing with. After a door slammed Vivi came into the bar and grabbed a bottle of bourbon and a glass before she noticed me mopping. I’d never seen Vivi drink anything stronger than sweet tea up to this point.

 

She told me to leave and to go out the front which faced the Gulf of Mexico. I complied but was uneasy about the whole thing. However, when the deputy questioned me yesterday, I left the bit about the argument out. It might not have anything to do with the Elwell’s death. If it did, it might mean I was working for a murderer.”

 

We told Chloe to keep the drinks and sweet tea coming, if she could call next door to the lunch place for sandwiches and tell us more of the story. And what a jaw-dropping story it was. You can read all about it in “From Beer to Eternity.

 



Sherry Harris, an Agatha nominated author, writes the brand new Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon Mysteries. “From Beer to Eternityfeatures Chloe and a cast of wonderful characters – some of them mentioned in the teaser you just read.

 

Her first series, Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, is non-stop terrific. Don’t worry, it’s still continuing, with “Absence of Alice” scheduled to appear in December, 2020.

 

Many thanks to Sherry Harris/Chloe Jackson for stopping by the Visiting Detectives corner.  🙂  We always love a great crime scene tale!

Please visit www.sherryharrisauthor.com for more information about her books and where to buy them. Get every single one.  🙂

 

Check out Sherry Harris’ Author Profile here.

 

*Photos courtesy of Sherry Harris.

 

Visiting Detective Rainy Dale – “Encounter with Rainy Dale and Friends”

 

Sheila and Charlie Kerrian thoroughly enjoy their cross-country road trips, and besides taking loads of photos of the breathtaking landscapes, have met some truly intriguing people in law enforcement. There was the newspaper owner/editor Ava Logan; the psychic puzzler, Lexi Sobado; the 1880s midwife, Rose Carroll; the vegetarian detective, Becky Greene; and the time traveling sheriff, Will Denton – an eclectic bunch of crime fighters to be sure.


This trip was all about seeing the Pacific Northwest. Sheila’s parents had lived in Tacoma, Washington, for a while and spoke fondly of their time in the area. The plan was to fly out to Seattle, stop in as many coffee shops as they could (Charlie ran out of time well before running out of coffee shops to visit) and then travel by rental car through Oregon and on to California. A break in the drive in the middle of Oregon’s majestic scenery took them to the Cascade Kitchen.


Meet Rainy Dale and friends, in ranch and horse country Oregon:

 

“Twenty-seven hundred miles from home, Charlie and Sheila marvel at Oregon’s land between the Cascade Mountains and the high desert. Traveling through the central part of the state showcases the transition of coastal fir, spruce and cedar giving way to pine and sage. Black-ribbed buttes thrust out of the sandy loam. The last road sign announces their entry into (fictional) Butte County.


Hunger calls and they pull off the two-lane highway in the pokey little town of Cowdry where they find an unlikely-looking diner called the Cascade Kitchen. Farmland abuts the back of the truck-choked, gravel parking lot. A gleaming red horse stands at the hitching rail. Yes, there’s a hitching rail behind the diner and this horse’s reins are loosely swirled around the thick wood crossbeam. The animal seems perfectly happy to wait there, head low, eyes half-closed, one hip cocked. Maybe the restaurant offers oatmeal to go, perhaps with extra brown sugar.


Inside, garden variety décor screams mere diner, with a wooden sign suggesting they seat themselves. The vinyl booths are dinner-rush-full, but wow—at the first table, a good old boy in overalls and a baseball cap bearing the John Deere emblem is ripping into a ruby red bell pepper with fork and knife. Wild rice, sugar snap peas, and sausage spill out. Stuffed peppers in a diner!

 

Two seats are open at the lunch counter next to a young woman in jeans and a flannel shirt.

 

Why is she biting into a hamburger when better food is served here? Charlie and Sheila wonder as they climb onto the last available twirly stools.

 

The young woman makes eye contact via the mirrored wall facing the lunch counter, then turns to face them.

 

“You’re new here. Are you moving in? D’you have horses?” She pulls a business card from her shirt pocket and slides it down the counter in front of them.

 

Sheila and Charlie inspect the card together.

 

Rainy Dale, horseshoer.

 

“You’re a horseshoer?” Charlie asks.

 

A chuckle erupts from the uniformed deputy on the other side of the young woman. Charlie and Sheila look at the mix of people sitting on Rainy Dale’s other side. Two uniformed deputies, a middle-aged man with a crew cut and a young woman with a tight French braid who looks about Rainy’s age, probably young twenties, are finishing their plates. The chuckle came from the male deputy, who nods and says, “She thinks she’s a horseshoeing detective.”

 

“A horseshoeing detective?” Sheila asks. “That’s a thing?”

 

A ponytail keeps Rainy’s long brown hair out of her plate as she leans forward and uses both hands to stuff the last bite into her mouth. She looks at Sheila in the mirrored wall and nods.

 

Charlie reaches for the laminated menu. One burger option is local, grass-fed beef.

 

A tall, blond young man in a chef’s shirt comes through the swinging doors from the kitchen, plates in each hand. “A sample of blackened spears of butternut squash drizzled in maple-infused vinegar.”

 

Rainy smiles and wrinkles her nose.  “Guy, that looks and sounds suspiciously like vegetables.”

 

“I’ll try it,” the male deputy says.

 

Charlie studies the man’s uniform—it’s slightly different from what the woman is wearing. The man’s shoulder patch reads Deputy above the shield, Butte County below. The young woman’s sleeve has two lines above the cloth badge. Reserve Deputy.

 

The horseshoer and the reserve deputy give each other the stink eye in the mirror. What kind of ire lurks between them?

 

Guy, the cook, fires up a tiny butane hand torch that hisses as he caramelizes sugar on a small, perfect-looking crème brulée. The scent of browning sugar wafts over them, making Charlie and Sheila think of eating dessert first. Guy carries the dessert to the man at the first table.

 

Charlie wonders how many homicides the deputy has investigated.

 

“How many sworn officers are in your Sheriff’s Department?” he asks over Rainy’s head.

 

(This is how law enforcement officers compare department size—by the number of sworn and non-sworn employees.)

 

The regular deputy nods as though recognizing he’s likely talking to a brother officer. “Twelve deputies in a county of seven thousand square miles. About as many people as square miles.”

 

Charlie whistles. “That’s not really enough personnel for full twenty-four-hour coverage. How do you patrol that much land with so few deputies?”

 

The deputy jerks a thumb to the young woman seated beside him. “With reservists like her.”

 

The reserve deputy quits making faces at the horseshoer and sips her soda.

 

This is the modern American West. More going on than would appear at first glance. Maybe Charlie and Sheila will stay a night or two.”

*****

 

Many thanks to Lisa Preston for stopping by and introducing Rainy Dale, horseshoer, to the Kerrian’s Notebook readers. Rainy is a truly original voice, with a talent for sizing up people and their horses. Horses kick and people get dead around her, but….. 🙂

 

Click on the link and let Rainy tell her story in “The Clincher.”

The Clincher

 

 

 

http://www.lisapreston.com/Clincher.html

 

 

 

 

“The Clincher,” is the debut novel for Preston’s Rainy Dale horseshoer series. An important scene in the book mentions a practical application of the sport of “Ride & Tie,” and the photo above shows Preston competing in a real life Ride & Tie race. Although her experience and love of horses and other animals did not start out to be research for any of her books, the knowledge gained throughout her globetrotting life flows richly on the pages.

 

VisitingDetectiveRainyDale-LisaPreston

Lisa Preston began writing after careers as a fire department paramedic and a city police officer. She was first published in nonfiction, with titles on animal care, such as The Ultimate Guide to Horse Feed, Supplements and Nutrition. Her debut novel, Orchids and Stone, (Thomas & Mercer, 2016), has been described as a book club thriller, or domestic noir. Her psychological suspense novel, The Measure of the Moon, (Thomas & Mercer, 2017) was also a book club pick. The Clincher (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) debuted her mystery series featuring a young woman horseshoer. She lives with her husband in western Washington.

 

 

Please visit www.lisapreston.com for links to her bestselling books and more about this multi-faceted author of both non-fiction (animals and their care) and fiction.

 

 

 

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