This week I’m hosting author, Anna Celeste Burke
Life is an extravaganza of unpredictable dimension and proportion: figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is the challenge. On my way to Oahu to join the rock musician and high school drop-out I had married in Tijuana, I was nabbed by the police as a runaway. When the police let me go and the rock band broke up, my husband and I had to find another way to survive. Our next stop: Disney World where we trained to be chefs, courtesy of the Walt Disney World University. A GED for my husband, and many more years of education eventually landed us in academia—with Ph.D.s from the University of Michigan we took professor jobs with U of M’s longstanding football rival, The Ohio State University.
Retired now from my role as a professor in social work and behavioral science, I have picked up a long-time interest in writing fiction. In my professional career I wrote and published widely as a scholar, with more than forty manuscripts of varying lengths on my vita. I also carried out hundreds of training, consulting and speaking engagements on a number of gloriously nerdy topics.
So what on earth does a research scientist have in common with a mystery writer? As avid fans of the mystery genre will tell you at the core of any good mystery is a passionate search for the truth. Discovering the truth involves finding and assembling pieces of complex puzzles in order to solve seemingly intractable problems—scientist and sleuth are cut from the same cloth!
Still married to the same sweet guy, I live with my husband in one of the seven desert resort cities in the Palm Springs area. In addition to reading and writing mysteries I enjoy painting, hiking, hanging out with my handsome husband and tending to my Siamese kitties.
As my heroine, Jessica Huntington will tell you, the Sonoran Desert is a beautiful setting to ponder life’s mysteries, by the surrounding mountains and the bountiful delights of the desert resort communities.
A DEAD HUSBAND
Jessica Huntington, rich, beautiful, and smart, seeks refuge from betrayal in a desert paradise only to discover life is full of surprises…like a dead husband.
Jessica is hiding out from her well-planned life, now in shambles, “after an 8.0 on the life’s-a-bitch Richter scale.” Her law career tanked by the Great Recession, she failed miserably as a desperate housewife in the Silicon Valley playing beat-the-clock with her 30-something hormones. The final blow: walking in on her husband in flagrante delicto with a well-known Hollywood blond. The lavish Rancho Mirage home where she grew up, surrounded by the beauty of the desert resort town near Palm Springs, seems the perfect place to take refuge. That is until her best friend’s husband, Roger Stone, is murdered.
An unlikely sleuth, Jessica is smack dab in the middle of a self-pitying divorce binge, black AMEX card in hand, when the “God of ambushes” strikes again. She readily admits her first day on the job was “more Stephanie Plum than Miss Marple.” Lesson learned: “don’t wear white to a crime scene.” Jessica has a lot more to learn if she is going to save all their necks and get a second chance to make more out of her life than the tabloid cliché it has become.
She and her odd little band of friends are soon thrust into the fray stalked by scoundrels in pantyhose, stilettos, Bruno Magli shoes, and Armani suits. Roger Stone had something that got him killed. What was it and to what lengths will they go to get it back? Can this flawed, but resourceful heroine, stretch beyond the bounds of privileged self-absorption to outwit the culprits and stop the murder and mayhem?
Here’s an excerpt from, A Dead Husband
In a flash, the guy took off. Toward her, though, rather than running away! Panic hit as the tall man barreled her way. She kicked off her Jimmy Choos so she could run for it. She hurled one of them at him, picking up the other to use as a weapon if he overtook her. The car alarm was still blaring as the first shoe made contact. The point of the heel hit him squarely in the forehead, bouncing off but drawing a little blood in the process. The blow stopped him, but only for a split second. Now royally pissed off, he took off again with a burst of speed that was striking for a man of his size. Jessica hurled the other shoe in his direction. He dodged it easily and actually smiled as he continued to close the distance between them.
Jessica turned, intending to put her own sprinting ability to good use. Unfortunately as she put her bare foot down in launch mode her right foot landed on something sharp. She didn’t even get a good look at what it was before she felt the guy reach out and grab her by the scruff of her neck. Jessica experienced a moment of déjà vu as, for the second time in a week some maniac grabbed her from behind. She struggled, making the pain in her foot worse. She heard the scrumptious fabric in the bodice of her dress give way as the closure in the back popped. His grip held. The thug reached around with his other hand and tried to pull the bag off her shoulder. Jessica held onto her bag stubbornly. There was another sick little ripping sound as a shoulder seam gave way to her twisting and writhing. In the struggle her cell phone went flying in one direction, her keys in the other. She was about to give in and let the bastard have her damn purse when she heard someone call out behind them.
“What’s going on? Police! Let her go.” His last hard yank on her bag unleashed from her a series of epithets that would have caused Sister Bernice to send her to Father Flynn for confession. Her tormentor took off, bounding out of the garage through an opening between pylons, heading in the direction of the shops. Upon release, she was propelled forward by the momentum of her struggle to get free. She landed, then, and skidded on her hands and knees like a kid on roller skates taking a spill. Tears of pain and frustration welled up in her eyes. “Are you okay?” She was learning to hate that question. How could she possibly be okay? She was sprawled out on the ground with her designer dress, pantyhose, knees and pride in shreds.
“No, I’m not okay,” she said as she struggled to figure out how to get up. Fortunately there was no disconcerting desert breeze blowing up her backside so she figured at least her skirt wasn’t up around her waist. One of the officers retrieved the keys she had dropped a couple feet away, manipulated the buttons on the key bob and shut off the wailing car alarm.
A Dead Husband is the first of the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mysteries. Soon to be released: A Dead Sister, Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery #2
A Dead Daughter
A Dead Mother
ANNA CELESTE BURKE & THE JESSICA HUNTINGTON DESERT CITIES MYSTERY SERIES
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BUY Anna Celeste’s novel, A DEAD HUSBAND:
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Anna Celeste and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.