This week, my guest is mystery author, Larissa Reinhart
After teaching in the US and Japan, Larissa enjoys writing, particularly sassy female characters with a penchant for trouble. A 2014 Georgia Author of the Year nominee, she lives near Atlanta with her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website or find her chatting on Facebook. Death in Perspective is the fourth book in the best selling Cherry Tucker Mystery series.
Death in Perspective:
In Cherry Tucker’s fourth mystery, the curtain rises on Cherry’s debut as a high school set designer at the posh, private Peerless Day Academy. Cherry’s been hired to design scenery for an avant garde adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, but the theater teacher’s hoping Cherry can also turn the spotlight on a malicious bully who’s sending poisonous texts to the faculty. The director’s got his own drama to hide, and the phantom texter seems eager to spill school secrets. When a school secretary’s death is ruled a suicide, Cherry suspects foul play. The phantom bully may be using blackmail to rid the school of unwanted staff, urging a Montague-Capulet styled showdown.
With Deputy Luke Harper wanting to return as Cherry’s leading man, he’s eager to assist her efforts in fingering the phantom culprit, but Cherry fears family secrets may doom them to the role of star-crossed lovers. Offstage, Cherry’s searching for her missing brother who’s fixed on a vendetta against Luke’s stepfamily, so she instead turns to the local, foreign racketeer, Max Avtaikin, for assistance. With the bully waiting for a murderous encore and her own family skeletons to hide, Cherry scrambles to find her brother and the mysterious texter before the phantom decides its curtains for Cherry and forces her to take a final bow.
Here is an excerpt:
Someone should have told me Maranda Pringle was dead. For the past twenty minutes, I’d been sitting in her office, picking at my Toulouse La’Lilac painted nails and wondering where in the hell Miss Pringle could be. Hindsight later taught me she’d be found somewhere in that mystical realm between the Peerless Day Academy and the Great Beyond, but currently, it ticked me off that Miss Pringle had clearly forgotten I had a twelve o’clock appointment with Principal Cleveland. I had spent plenty of time waiting on principals in my previous life as a high school troublemaker, so waiting on one now had brought back feelings of anxiety.
Which was why my nails appeared so spotty.
Before I had the nerve to leave Miss Pringle’s small antechamber and knock on Principal Cleveland’s door, another woman entered Miss Pringle’s room and proceeded to stare at me for a long five seconds before finding her voice. Her blunt blonde bob, expensive blue suit, and no-nonsense designer pumps gave her a look of authority, but a snazzy, silk scarf knotted around her neck said, “I’m also fashionable.”
“Who are you?”she asked. “Why are you in Miss Pringle’s office?”
“I’m Cherry Tucker. I’m waiting for Principal Cleveland to discuss my clearance for working with the drama department on the backdrop and props for Romeo and Juliet.”
My fingers flew to smooth my cornsilk blonde strands and straighten my belted Bert and Ernie t-shirt dress. I had figured school personnel would appreciate Sesame Street characters as educational innovators. And as most teachers I knew wore khakis and polo shirts and I owned neither a khaki nor a polo, retrofitted Sesame Street attire from the Big Boys department would have to do for an interview.
“I am the assistant principal, Brenda Cooke. Why would the drama department need help with the stage art? We have a fully equipped art department.”
I waited a moment to see if the question was rhetorical. Then I remembered this was a school and teachers expected answers. “I got a call from a Mr. Tinsley needing an artist to help with ‘original art pieces’for his ‘avant-garde’musical production of Romeo and Juliet. Why he doesn’t ask the art teacher, I haven’t the faintest. But here I am.”
When she didn’t respond, I added, “I’m an artist. Portrait artist by trade, but classically trained at Savannah College of Art and Design in a number of genres. I’m also a graduate of Halo High School, and although I know your school is located near Line Creek, I figure you don’t have the animosity toward Halo’s Fighting Angels that the Line Creek Legions does. As you’re a private school and all.”
“Today is not a good day.”Ms. Cooke’s shoulders sagged, and she dropped her principal swagger. “Actually, we just learned we lost Miss Pringle this past weekend. Principal Cleveland is at her home right now and this afternoon we’re having an emergency staff meeting.”
“Bless your heart. I’m sorry to hear that. I had no idea.”My cheeks reddened at my hustle to gain a job when the school had just lost their secretary.
Ms. Cooke nodded. “Thank you. It’s tragic, but I’m worried about the school. I don’t want to see our students suffer from this loss.”
I left Ms. Cooke in the small office and walked into the large reception area. Students chatted in small groups and harried teachers trotted through, clutching reams of copies in their arms. At the front desk, I eyed the woman who had sent me to poor Miss Pringle’s office and wondered why no one had told her Miss Pringle would no longer take visitors. The brunette did not have the khakis look. She had the sleek haircut, chunky jewelry, and tasteful yet cleavage baring top of someone who had never considered pursuing the not-for-profit world of teaching.
I stopped at the front desk and leaned a hip against the counter.
Mrs. Brunette raised a freshly waxed eyebrow and ran her eyes over Bert and Ernie. “Can I help you? Why aren’t you in uniform? Are you new?”
“I’m not a student. I’m Cherry Tucker, the artist. You just sent me to Mr. Cleveland’s office.”
Mrs. Brunette turned slightly in her chair, enough to deliver the message that she didn’t want to talk to me. “Right, I forgot. Did you need directions somewhere?”
“No, there’s something you need to know. It’s about sending folks into Miss Pringle’s office.”
Mrs. Brunette sighed. “Yes?”
“Don’t do it anymore today.”
“Thank you,”she wiggled French manicured fingers in dismissal.
“Don’t you want to know why?”The funny thing about dismissing me, it makes me want to stay. “Are you on staff here? You don’t look like a teacher.”
“Good Lord, no. I’m a parent. We’re required to volunteer and this is one of my days.”She readjusted so I could get the full frontal. Her cleavage showed a lift and separate appropriate for packaging bowling balls. Except she didn’t need a bra. “I’m Pamela Hargraves. We live in Ballantyne.”
“It’s Miss Pringle. She passed yesterday. So don’t send anyone to her room today.
Pamela leaned forward, gripping my arm with her multi-ringed fingers. “No. Way. That bitch is dead?”
Thanks so much for having Cherry Tucker & I on your blog!
I’d love to offer a lucky commenter a Cherry Tucker e-book of their choice! What do you like about small town reads?
Congratulations to Christa Nardi for winning one of the Cherry Tucker mysteries by Larissa Reinhart