Mah Jongg Mysteries, Books 1-5 by @bbarrettbooks is a Mystery/Suspense pick #cozymystery #giveaway
Title: Mah Jongg Mysteries, Books 1-5
Author: Barbara Barrett
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Welcome to Serendipity Springs and the first five books in the Mah Jongg Mystery series!
Mah jongg can generate killer competition. But murder? The answer is yes when it comes to four retired Central Florida friends, who find themselves solving baffling homicides in between the games they love. Whether you know how to mah jongg or not, join these intrepid seniors as they take turns leading their own private investigations. It turns out the mental agility they use to strategize each play is the perfect tool for tracking down murderers.
Olivia settled into a chair. “Before she or anyone else arrives, we need to talk.” She leaned closer. “I need your help in another way. I’m a proud woman, Sydney. I don’t like to rely on anyone else to solve my problems, but at the moment, I’m not in a position to do that.”
Caught off guard, Sydney set down her lists, not sure what was coming. “Solve your problems? What are you talking about?” As soon as the words were out, she wanted to retract them. What was she getting herself into?
“When the sheriff pulled me into his office earlier and you waited in the outer room, it wasn’t just to console me. He said there were questions about Paul he needed to ask right away.”
“About Paul’s life. People who might bear him a grudge. People to whom he may have owed money or insulted. I told him I didn’t know of anyone like that, although as a businessman in our community, he may have stepped on toes at times.”
Where was she going with this? Maybe she just wanted to talk, vent. “I’ve never been personally involved in, uh, situations like this, but I guess that would be the kind of thing the sheriff would need to know to start his investigation.”
“His investigation, yes. Then he started asking about Paul and me. Our marriage. Our relationship.”
Uh-oh. Sydney remembered the telephone call she’d overheard. Oh, God, the sheriff wouldn’t talk to Olivia’s friends and acquaintances, would he? What would she tell him if he did? She wasn’t one to skip over the truth. “I guess that would be part of his investigation as well.”
Olivia gripped her hands in what looked like a steely prayer. “I didn’t kill him, Sydney. You have to believe me.”
“But things haven’t been what I’d describe as happy between us lately. The sheriff is sure to uncover some of that. If he does, he might stop looking for the real culprit and tie it all on me.”
“But if you’re innocent, how could he make the charges stick?” Sydney blurted out her question, flabbergasted at the woman’s statement.
Olivia glanced away, as if not wanting to face her directly. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I suspect Paul was being unfaithful. I was about to confront him, as soon as I had more definite proof.”
Sydney opened her mouth and closed it just as fast. What could she say? What was she supposed to say?
“I know. You’re surprised. To our friends and the rest of the community, even to our children, we seemed like the perfect couple. No cares in the world. So supportive of each other.”
Maybe not that perfect, but until recently, Sydney would have agreed with the statement. “I, uh, had no idea.” Okay, sometimes she did stray a tad from the truth. When it would hurt someone else if she was too frank.
“Paul had a straying eye. Probably part of aging. Had to prove to himself he still had the old charm. For all I know, this might not have been the first liaison. He wasn’t as careful hiding things this time. That’s all.”
Sydney’s mind skipped around, trying to connect loose ends in Olivia’s words with other observations of late. Would Olivia kill Paul over an affair? Sydney couldn’t dismiss the possibility, despite Olivia’s claim of innocence. Olivia had admitted she was a proud woman. No doubt about that from her play at mah jongg. Would she stand by and let the man cheat on her? What if he wanted a divorce? Would she allow that to happen? Probably not. But the idea of Olivia bashing him in the head didn’t wash. She might be a woman who took action, but she was precise, methodical. If she decided to off Paul, she would do it in a less sloppy way that wouldn’t lead back to her.
“Did you tell that to the sheriff?
Olivia pressed her lips together. “No. Like I told you, I only suspected Paul of playing around. If he was seeing someone else, let the sheriff discover it on his own.”
Sydney wondered what she’d do if she were in Olivia’s place. Not that Trip would ever cheat. If for no other reason, although there were plenty of others, the man was too busy keeping himself busy in retirement to have time to mess around. “You need to prepare yourself, then. Because Sheriff Rick Formero is no pushover. If there’s something to find out, he will.”
“That’s why I need your help.”
“What? How?” This conversation was getting weirder and weirder.
“I need to spend the next few days with my children getting through the funeral and handling the estate, but I doubt the sheriff will back away from his investigation during that time. I need for you to help me discover who really did kill Paul.”
Had she heard the woman correctly? “I’m not an investigator.”
“That’s just it. No one would suspect you of gathering information for me. But you and those cohorts of yours probably know everything that’s going on in this town. Use that talent to help me clear my name.”
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Since cozy mystery readers like to start with the first book in the series and read the rest sequentially, this boxed set is perfect for readers who’ve just discovered the Mah Jongg Mystery series. They can start with Book 1, Craks in a Marriage, and read through the next four books in the nine-book series. (Books 6-9 will be released in boxed set format at a later date.) Not only are the first five books found in one place, they are also discounted at a price less than purchasing them singly. This series features four protagonists, each with her own story and different personality, who takes turns as the lead character in each book. Readers will get to know Syd, the take-charge former small college administrator. Then there’s Micki, former English teacher at a private Eastern school, never afraid to speak up, who’s pursuing a second career as a freelance journalist. Kat, the introvert, comes alive as a cabaret singer. And Marianne, retired pharmacist and Syd’s bestie, is the glue that keeps the gang together.
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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 in human resources for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and two novellas, 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.
The nine-book series features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. 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 appear in all nine books in the series.
Barbara is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sinc-Iowa and Florida STAR Fiction Writers.
She is married to the 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, travels and enjoys lunches with friends.
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