Title: Beware the East Wind
Author: Barbara Barrett
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Beware the east wind! It’s hurricane season in Florida, and everyone’s attention is focused on preparing for the latest tempest. But in Serendipity Springs, mah jongg pals Marianne, Sydney, Micki and Kat are caught in a different kind of whirlwind—a mesmerizing murder case involving a slain hypnotist/chef and the woman police suspect of doing her in, her embittered catering partner, Portia.
Tasked by Portia to help clear her name, and at the risk of infuriating Kat’s sheriff boyfriend, Marianne and her friends discover there are more than enough suspects—and secrets—to go around. Wary of getting themselves into more dangerous situations, Marianne and Syd agree to let their protective spouses join the hunt, even if their scheming husbands are really in it for the action, not bodyguard duty.
As they dig into the hypnotist’s explosive files, more and more questions arise. Was she blackmailing her clients? Did her husband knock her off to gain access to those secrets? And is Portia telling them everything she knows? The sleuths pile their own deceptions on top of the suspects’ lies as a dangerous storm gathers steam offshore. When will the east wind strike, and will the hurricane’s merciless eye reveal a killer?
A couple of days after the fundraiser, Kat studied her image in the mirror. A magenta sequined number hugged her five-six body like a tight glove. What was she thinking, letting Mick select her new wardrobe? Though she was preoccupied these days with a story she was freelancing for the Orlando Gazette, Micki had carved out time in her busy schedule to accompany Kat on a shopping trip to purchase new gowns. Kat was resuming her cabaret act after months on the sidelines recuperating from breast cancer. Her friend had assured her and then reassured her she not only looked great, she looked sensational.
Now Kat wasn’t so sure. When she pivoted, her back end was quite prominent. She wanted her audiences to look at her, not her derriere. “But I do look pretty damn good!” Involuntarily, she brought a hand to her mouth. She never said damn out loud, didn’t even think it. But in this situation, it seemed to work.
“Ms. Kat, the sheriff is here,” her housekeeper, Greta, announced from the bedroom door.
“Rick?” She checked the bedside clock, since she’d discarded her wristwatch before she slid into this outfit. He wasn’t due for several more hours. “Tell him I’ll be right down.”
Greta remained where she was. “He, uh, said he was kinda in a hurry.”
It had taken Kat several minutes to slip into this getup. She really didn’t want him to see her in these duds before her first show, but it appeared she didn’t have much choice.
The usually formal sheriff, hat in hand, offered a wolf whistle upon seeing her. “Don’t tell me you dressed up that much for our date?”
“No movie, unless it’s a Hollywood premiere, deserves this number,” she said with a laugh. “What’s up?”
He offered an apologetic smile. “I have to postpone our time together tonight. I’m sorry, especially since I couldn’t accompany you to that fundraiser the other night. I know how much you were looking forward to seeing that film.”
“A new case?”
What little smile he’d shown a minute before disappeared into a firm line between his lips. “Unfortunately. There’s been a murder.”
“Oh my gosh! Where? In town?”
He nodded. “Can’t say much, since we’re still in the initial stages of investigation. But it means I’ll be tied up for however long it takes us to nail whoever did it.”
Of course he would. That was his job. But it surprised her how disappointed she was by this turn of events, especially since she’d been the one dragging her feet in their relationship. Prodded by Rick to explain her hesitation, she’d finally told him how recently the grief she suffered upon losing her fiancé in a horrendous auto accident years before had returned. She thought she’d worked her way through that devastating period in her life, but those painful feelings of loss had come roaring back when she viewed a similar catastrophe. With his understanding and at his suggestion, she’d begun seeing a professional to help her cope with her emotions and move on with her life.
Now, her conscience kicked in. “Don’t worry. There’ll be other chances to see that film. You have things to do. And I’m keeping you from doing them.”
“Thanks. I’ll make it up to you. Sometime. Not sure how soon we’ll solve this one. Gotta go. I’ll call when I can.”
He was almost at the door when her curiosity got the better of her. “Can you tell me who it was?”
“Since the news people have already descended upon the scene, guess you’ll know sooner or later. It was a woman. An entertainer. Name was Alice Erskine.”
Why is your featured book a must-read?
This is a must-read book because it reads fast and it presents an intriguing plot, likeable characters and a resolution that keeps you guessing until the end. It takes place in a small town in central Florida and focuses on friendships and community. Although this is the fourth book in the series, it is stand-alone, although readers who want to start at the beginning can check out Craks in a Marriage, the first book in the series. The reader doesn’t need to know how to play mah jongg or even like the game to appreciate this series; mah jongg is the vehicle that frames every story. Besides solving at least one murder in every book, the series carries a long-term arc chronicling the second careers of the four protagonists as well as the romantic lives of two.
Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 42 books featured in the Cozy Mystery Bookish Event:
Runs October 13 – 19, 2020.
Winner will be drawn on October 23, 2020.
Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.
Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.
Beware the East Wind, the fourth book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who seek the murderer of another mah jongg player’s husband before she is charged. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Barbara is married to man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.
Now retired, she is a resident of Florida, although she spends her summers in Iowa, her home state. She earned her B.A. degree in History from the University of Iowa and her Master’s Degree in History from Drake University.
When not in front of her laptop creating her next story, she plays mah jongg, knits and enjoys lunches with friends.
Social Media Links:
Newsletter subscription: https://subscribepage.com/BBCozies