Title: Deception in Mariposa Beach
Author: Teresa Michael
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Welcome back to Mariposa Beach for the third book in the Mariposa Café Mystery Series, where it’s all about fun Florida mysteries featuring fearless, female sleuths.
There’s a new, big-time New York City director in town–Jerry Mann–but whether or not he’ll live to see opening night of the play he’s there to direct isn’t a guarantee. With several new crimes to solve that appear to have followed Mr. Mann to Mariposa Beach, Libby Marshall, a former prosecutor, and her super-hot detective boyfriend, Jack Seiler, will need all the help they can get from the quirky crew and patrons of the Mariposa Café.
But, this time, it’s more than a little personal for Libby. Her Aunt Julia appears to have a mysterious past with Jerry Mann, and it’s looking like a past that will have a major impact on Libby’s future.
The Mariposa Café Mysteries are Friends meets Miami Vice.
An Excerpt from Chapter 1
Thursday Evening, Mid-April, Mariposa Beach, Florida
A Rainy Night in Florida
Libby Marshall stood in the back of the theater, waiting for her cousin, David Bailey, to finish rehearsal. He had the lead role in the Mariposa Players Sunset Theater production of The Drowsy Chaperone. When David called and asked if she could pick him up from rehearsal, Libby was happy to do so and headed to the theater after she closed the café a little after six. As the co-owner of the Mariposa Café, located two blocks from the beach in their southwest Florida town of Mariposa Beach, she wasn’t far away from the theater, at all.
David ambled up the aisle, his backpack slung over his shoulder. “Thanks for picking me up and letting me stay at your house. It saves me a long drive home and then a drive back to school just a few hours later.”
“You’re welcome to stay at my house anytime,” Libby said, totally agreeing that there was no reason for him to drive the forty miles to Longboat Key where he lived with his mother, Libby’s Aunt Julia, and then back to Mariposa Beach where he was a theater arts teacher at the Performing Arts School.
They jogged across the gravel parking lot through the pelting rain to Libby’s Jeep. David threw his bag into the back seat and slid into the passenger seat. Libby pulled the drivers’ door closed, wiped the rain off her face, and started the car.
“Miserable night,” she said, putting the car in gear. “The bridge was a little slick when I came across.”
Originally a church, the Sunset Theater stood on a lush barrier island with enviable frontage on the Gulf of Mexico famous for beautiful sunset vistas, thus the name Sunset Theater. Located south of Mariposa Beach, a narrow bridge was the only entrance at the northernmost point of the island; however, a more substantial bridge provided southern access to the island’s beaches and residences.
“Jerry borrowed my car. Living in New York, he doesn’t drive very often. I warned him about that bridge before he left to meet Mom at the Crow’s Nest,” David said.
Jerry Mann was the visiting director contracted for the spring musical at the Sunset Theater. Jerry had directed David in a couple of Broadway plays when David lived and worked in New York City.
“What happened to his rental car?” Libby asked.
“He had a problem with the brakes, so he had the rental agency pick up the car at The Inn, but they didn’t have another to give him tonight,” David said and yawned. “He didn’t want to miss this dinner. He’s trying to make amends with Mom for past misdeeds.”
“Do you know what happened between them back in the day?” Libby asked.
“I have an idea, but I don’t know for sure.”
“They were involved, right?” Libby asked, glanced at David, then returned her eyes to the road ahead.
“I think she ended up with a broken heart, and he’s here thirty-five years later, begging for her forgiveness.”
“What do you think his chances are of making up with her? Aunt Julia does tend to hold a grudge. We’ve both been on the wrong end of that stick. She was sure mad at us for not warning her that Jerry was in town after he showed up at the café looking for you three weeks ago.”
“I got an ear full about it. But, Mom agreed to have dinner with him, so that’s something,” David said. “I’m trying to stay out of my mother’s love life.”
“You looked good up there on stage,” Libby said, figuring it was time to change the subject.
David sighed. “It’s been a while. I must admit I do miss being on stage.”
It had been a little over two years since David had relocated to Mariposa Beach from New York, about a year after Libby had moved to Florida from Ohio. And she was so glad he was there.
“How’s rehearsal going?” she asked.
David shook his head. “There’s a lot of tension on the set. You can feel it in the air.”
“Really? With whom?”
“Primarily between Sanford Reed, the theater’s creative director, and Executive Producing Director and CEO, Mr. Gleason, but I’m not exactly sure what’s going on. Creative differences, I guess. Jerry seems to be trying to steer clear of it all.”
“Wise move. That kind of tension can surely make for a difficult few weeks and probably results in not the best performances.”
David gave a little snort, laid his head against the seat, and closed his eyes.
Approaching the narrow bridge, Libby slowed down. No oncoming lights were visible from the opposite side, but she caught a sudden flash behind her and checked the rearview mirror. Blinding headlights appeared, bearing down on them way too fast.
“Holy crap! What’s this guy doing?”
David sat up with a start. “What?”
“He’s trying to pass us.” Libby braked and tried to steer toward the right.
“On the bridge? That’s crazy!” David turned to look out the back. The truck’s headlights illuminated his face like a spotlight.
Libby braked harder and tried to move onto the shoulder to allow the truck to pass. She heard the shrill scrape of metal as the large pick-up truck sideswiped the Jeep, pushing it into a skid. The truck sped across the bridge as the Jeep slammed through the guardrail and over the side. They slid down the short embankment, coming to rest with a body-shaking thud against a concrete post, and then sank into the mud at the edge of the canal.
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What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
I love to curl up with a warm, soft blanket, a hot drink, and a good book. Sometimes there’s a cat snuggled up next to me.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
The Mariposa Café Mysteries are set in the fictional town of Mariposa Beach on the Southwest coast of Florida. When it’s cold, windy, and the snowdrifts are piled high, it’s nice to read about a warm, fun beach town with a welcoming café, quirky characters, a savvy female sleuth and a sexy detective.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs March 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on April 1.
Teresa Michael is an award-winning mystery author. Her Mariposa Café Mystery, “Murder in Mariposa Beach,” recently received the Firebird Book Award in the mystery category. Teresa enjoys reading, writing, chocolate chip cookies, a great cappuccino, and traveling with friends and family. She was the Team Manager for US Archery at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, has visited 49 states and many foreign countries. Teresa lives in Sarasota, FL with her husband and two cats and hopes to someday visit that 50th state.
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Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18633273.Teresa_Michael