Giveaway and Excerpt
A Game is Afoot
Beginning a new series is never easy—particularly when it means the previous one has ended. Saying goodbye to characters we’ve known and loved and argued with is difficult.
So instead of simply stopping one and starting the other, I came up with the great idea of writing a segue between the two. Actually, it wasn’t my idea—an author I know was asked by their published to write a bridge novella—I simply changed the name.
My first series took place from 2002 through 2006, moving slowly through the months. My main character, Carly Turnquist, was a 50-something forensic accountant, married to a computer programmer. She has two step-children, and two grandchildren, one of whom, in 2006, is six years old.
Fast forward to the present. Her granddaughter, Margie Hanson, a recent graduate of library sciences, inherits a mystery bookstore in Edgewater, Colorado, from her great-aunt who died under mysterious circumstances. Carly and Margie come to Colorado to figure out what happened.
Each book in the four-book series will feature a rare and/or expensive manuscript, contains a phrase from a vintage detective story, and is guaranteed to make you put on your thinking cap.
Excerpt from The Game is Afoot
Margie grabbed her ringing cell phone and checked the caller ID. Her Great Aunt Rosella. “Hello?”
“Their voices assault my hearing.”
“What are you talking about, Auntie?”
A long sigh. “I already told you.” The older woman’s voice lowered a notch in both volume and timbre. “Their voices assault my—”
“I heard that. Who are you talking about?”
Margie, newly graduated from Rutgers University with her Masters in Information and Library Sciences, sank back in the lumpy sofa of her off-campus studio apartment. She eyed the cloisonné clock perched beside her recently framed diploma—the clock a graduation gift from her aunt, the diploma the result of six years of diligent study. “Are you hearing voices?”
Three abrupt thumps, and Margie pulled the phone from her ear. What the—? Oh, right. Aunt Rosella often emphasized her displeasure by whacking the nearest tool at hand against the closest hard surface. In this case, her phone likely contacted a table. Or the wall.
“Don’t speak to me like I’m a batty old woman. I’m not hearing voices. At least, not in the way your tone implies.”
“Sorry. Tell me what’s going on.”
“What is going on, as you so eloquently put it, is criminal. And that’s all I’m going to say about the matter until I speak with you face to face.”
Margie unfolded her legs and sat forward. “Are you coming to Maine?” She hadn’t seen the older woman in years, although they chatted several times a year by telephone, and her aunt always remembered her on her birthday and at Christmas. And on the occasion of her graduation, of course. “That’s great. When?”
“I am not coming to you. You will visit me here in Denver. Immediately, if not sooner.”
“No buts about it. I have a matter I need you to look into. You have an enquiring mind, child. I’ve always appreciated that about you.”
Margie smiled. “Must have gotten it from you.”
“Pshaw. Just because I own a bookstore dedicated to mysteries doesn’t mean I can solve them. It simply provides me a business reason to read as much as I like.” She chuckled. “But don’t tell the tax man.”
“My lips are sealed.” Margie glanced at the three letters on the coffee table. Job offers. Very good ones, at that. Her dream come true. One at a public library in a small town in Indiana where she’d be librarian, curator, and teacher. The second from a local law firm, where she’d be in charge of the law library and its tomes of precedents and cases. And the third at her alma mater, where she’d be assistant to the chief librarian. The problem was deciding which to accept. “But I can’t leave right now. In fact, I have to choose between—”
“Between helping me or abandoning me to the wolves.”
“Surely it can’t be as bad as that.” Spending her days surrounded by mysteries must be affecting her aunt’s mental processes. “Perhaps I could come out over Thanksgiving?”
“It will be too late by then.” Her aunt sniffed. “Never mind. I suppose there’s nothing you can do anyway. You have a good mind for mysteries, as I said. Not as good as your Grandma Carly’s, though. She’s got a mind like Dame Agatha’s. I’ll call and see if she’s willing to help this old woman.”
Margie shook her head, seeing through her aunt’s play for sympathy. She leafed through the letters. All three graciously gave her a month to decide, leaving her three more weeks before crunch time. Perhaps a quick dash to Denver for a week or so was in order. Getting away from Augusta might free her mind. Give her time and space to analyze her options. Make the best career choice.
And the mention of her grandmother gave her another idea. “How about if I call Grandma Carly and the two of us visit?”
“Oh, that would be grand. You can stay with me in the apartment over the bookstore. The spare room has two single beds ready and waiting for you.”
Interesting how the woman’s concerns immediately translated into vacation mode. Possibly things weren’t so serious—no, she’d said she’d come. “Grandma can make up for my shortcomings, and you can show us around your beloved Denver.”
“Oh, not my Denver, dear. My Edgewater. I never venture into the Mile High City.” Another sniff. “They sell drugs on every corner and call themselves medical dispensaries.” A sigh. “Such wickedness.”
Margie smiled. No doubt her aunt’s little burg also offered marijuana and other previously illicit pleasures, but she’d not spoil the woman’s Pollyanna view of her Edgewater, a tiny city nestled between Denver, Lakewood, and Wheat Ridge. Situated beside a large lake. The park-like atmosphere with its quaint old-style downtown was exactly the Eden-like surrounding her aunt loved.
Margie scrolled to her calendar app. “I’ll call you back to confirm when we’ll arrive, and we’ll plan to stay a week.”
“With your grandmother’s help, that should be plenty of time.”
“Will somebody meet us at the airport?”
“Yes. My nephew, Arthur. You remember him, don’t you?”
Margie’s memory cast back to the far-in-the-past family reunions, recalling a weaselly boy with thick eyeglasses and a sarcastic tongue. Hopefully the years had changed him for the better. “Okay. Let me make arrangements, then I’ll call you with details.”
“Good. And bring the clock I sent you. It’s very important. Do you understand?”
“Okay.” She glanced up at the item again. After unpacking it yesterday, she hadn’t even bothered to wind it up. Just as well, since it would only run out in her suitcase, being a twenty-four-hour mini-version. Decorative, but not very practical. “Anything else?”
“A jar of Maine blueberry jam.”
A long silence filled her ear, and she wondered whether her aunt had disconnected. Then a rustling sound. Almost as though Aunt Rosella covered the receiver with a hand. To keep her from hearing a conversation in Edgewater? Or to make certain somebody there didn’t hear what she said next?
Neither made sense.
And her aunt’s words only added to her confusion.
“The game is afoot.”
Giveaway: Answer the following question, and we’ll randomly draw from all answers for a print (US only) or ebook copy of The Game is Afoot.
Question: If you could choose your dream job, would it be (a) a librarian in a public library, (b) a small independent bookstore owner, or (c) a publisher. And why?
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. Together she and Donna have published 50 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, CAN, and SinC.
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