Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli – Dead Little Dolly

This week, I’m pleased to host author, Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli.

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Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli moved to the shores of a little lake in northwest northern Michigan and never looked back. She lives, sometimes uncomfortably, with the crows and bears and turtles and finds her material in the villages and forests that surround her. With degrees from Macomb County Community College, Oakland University, and the University of Michigan, she now teaches creative writing at Northwestern Michigan College and at writers’ conferences around the country.

Her novels include: Gift of Evil (Bantam), Dead Dancing Women, Dead Floating Lovers, Dead Sleeping Shaman, and Dead Dogs and Englishmen (Midnight Ink), Dead Little Dolly, and A Tough Nut to Kill (writing as Elizabeth Lee), Berkley Publishers.

Elizabeth is also fascinated with the craft of the short story and hers have appeared in The Creative Woman, The Driftwood Review, Passages North, The MacGuffin, Quality Women’s Fiction (Great Britain), and elsewhere. With a grant from the State of Michigan she also created short stories that have been produced onstage as well as being read on NPR.
For many years she taught in the International Women’s Guild summer program at Skidmore College and appeared as a moderator and panelist at writing conferences. Her fascination with all things murderous began with a love for puzzles of all sorts, which was handed down to her by a mother who devoured mysteries. Sometimes playful, sometimes deadly serious, her books reflect a wide interest in women’s lives and futures.

Mystery writer and journalist with 7 published novels including her latest, the first in a series: A Tough Nut to Kill from Berkley Publishers/Penguin Group.

She teaches fiction writing at Northern Michigan College, was a reporter for the ROMEO OBSERVER, and has written for the DETROIT NEWS, Traverse Magazine, the British Literary Journal: Women’s Quality Fiction, and many others.

Her fourth novel in the Emily Kincaid series, DEAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN, was chosen one of the best mysteries of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and the Christian Science Monitor.  Writing as Elizabeth Lee, the first in her Texas series: A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, is in stores and online now.  The second and third in the series will be out in 2015.

 Dead Little Dolly

Even the beauty of Northern Michigan can’t put a smile on the face of Emily Kincaid’s perpetually cranky friend, Deputy Dolly Wakowski, and when someone tries to destroy the only family Dolly has ever had, her crankiness turns lethal, even as the crime threatens to overwhelm her.

Still struggling in her career as a mystery writer, Emily takes a deep breath before stepping in to help. As they launch their search for Dolly’s assailant and the investigation deepens, two strange clues emerge, the attacker’s trademark black jellybeans and a note to Dolly reading “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”

Here is an excerpt:


The sun was thick and warm on Deputy Dolly Wakowski’s back, and on her neck, and on the top of her head.  She pulled off her blue uniform hat and set it on the damp cemetery earth beside where she knelt.

A quiet May Sunday afternoon.  Quieter, because there was no one else in the old Leetsville, Michigan, cemetery.  No one there, among the tombstones, but Deputy Dolly, of the two-man Leetsville Police Department, who bowed her head over the bearded lady’s grave then laid a bouquet of wilting white daisies atop the mossy headstone:


1873  — 1926

“Another year, Grace,” Dolly bent to whisper as she patted Grace Humbert’s grave, fingers brushing over the prickly sprouts of new weeds and grasses.

“Happy Mother’s Day.  It’s me, Dolly.”

The day was all washed-fresh light and the shine of new spring green spreading over the sunken graves of Civil War soldiers and around old headstones standing crookedly, slump-shouldered, names of the poor wiped away by harsh Michigan winters.

Tiny, yellow dandelions—bright little toys—speckled the clustered graves of babies dead in a long-ago epidemic.  Toward the back of the cemetery, proud family plots, surrounded by rusted and crooked iron railings, bloomed with new weeds.

Dolly’s uniform pants were damp at both knees, but that was as it should be.  It was proper that once a year she came here and knelt to talk to Grace Humbert, the famous bearded lady of a long ago Barnum and Bailey Circus.

She’d heard about Grace when she first came to Leetsville from southern Michigan, thirteen years before.   Grace Humbert, memorialized in the museum down the road, in Kalkaska, but forgotten by everyone else except as an oddity a local newspaper or magazine would revisit every ten years of so: a woman who didn’t fit anywhere, not with her flowing beard and mustache, not with eyes direct and slightly amused, never part of the world around her, but never cowed by that world, her look steady and challenging, her back straight in satiny gowns draped across an ample bosom.

“Forty-seven Famous Freaks,” a 1903 photo hanging on the crowded old depot wall had screamed at Dolly and there was Grace, a dark image in the third row, smiling, happy to be among her kinfolk of sword swallowers and tiny people and tall people and leopard skinned people, and pin-headed people.  Different.  An outsider.

Like Dolly Wakowski.

Dolly turned to frown a squinting frown at robins in the leafing maples. Too loud, all that mating stuff, for a cemetery.  Birds chirping playfully in a graveyard didn’t obey Dolly’s ‘seemly’ rule.  There should be quiet and reverence when a pretend-daughter knelt beside a pretend-mother’s grave, honoring her because there was nobody else for Dolly Wakowski to honor.  And nobody else came to honor Grace. That was a fact—nobody, and that meant Grace Humbert needed Dolly as much as she needed Grace.

Dolly moved from her damp right knee to her left.  She looked around before bending to whisper, “Found my grandmother this last year.  Cate Thomas, she’s called.  Livin’ with me now.  And guess what . . .” She waited, as if somehow she’d get an answer. Her small, homely face puckered into a smile.  “I got a baby.”  She nodded a few times. “Name’s Baby Jane. I call her that so she can pick her own name when the time comes.  You know, get the name she wants.  Not like me.  Stuck all my life with a name like ‘Delores’ foisted on me when I couldn’t sit up and say “NO” to that woman who never wanted me anyway.”

She turned to look over her shoulder toward the scout car she’d pulled up under the high, cast iron, cemetery gate where four-month-old, Baby Jane, slept in her car seat.  The windows were down so Dolly could hear if she woke up.  Nothing to fear.

Nothing at all.

_Dead_Little_Dolly copy

Dead Little Dolly is available at Amazon.com,  Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and iBook.

The first in her new series, writing as Elizabeth Lee, A TOUGH NUT TO KILL, is out from Berkley and available in bookstores everywhere, or Online.  The next two in this series will be out in 2015.   Others in her Emily Kincaid series are available at Brilliant Books of Traverse City:  231-946-book or online.

My website, at which I’m now asking for help with a woman’s novel I’m writing, is www.elizabethbuzzelli.com

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Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s Books

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Elizabeth and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment.


About Evelyn Cullet

I write mystery romance and romantic suspense novels. I'm an avid organic gardener, and I play the piano. I have a spoiled Black Lab mix., Bailey, whom I adore. Visit my blog every Monday to discover new authors and their novels at: http://evelyncullet.com/blog/
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5 Responses to Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli – Dead Little Dolly

  1. Laura Huerta says:

    I have read the entire Emily Kincaid series and loved them. The descriptions of northern Michigan help fill a void in my soul that was created when we move from there. Reading these books makes me feel like I am curled up in a chair in Emily’s living room and I struggle through her misadventures right along with her. I have enjoyed watching Emily and Dolly’s friendship develop as well as Emily’s acceptance into the clan in Leetsville. Looking forward to reading Elizabeth’s next series. Keep up the good work!

  2. Marja McGraw says:

    Your excerpt hooked me. This is a book I’ve got to read. Thank you for sharing some of it.

  3. Evelyn, thanks so much for asking. I’m afraid I’m so deep into so many other novels I’m writing I got the name of the first in the series from Berkley wrong. It’s A TOUGH NUT TO KILL. Phew–glad I set that straight before my editor looked at the blog.

  4. Thank you for being a guest on my blog this week, Elizabeth. I really enjoyed reading this novel and every one of the novels in your “Dead” mystery series.

  5. Elizabeth, Have added your books to my TBR list that is growing in such a way that I will never catch up! I’m a UM grad too [and I won’t tell you where I took a job just in case you’re a football fan]. Enjoyed this post very much…thanks Evelyn for introducing me to this author. Cheers!

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