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Not Me! Speluncaphobia, Secrets and Hidden Treasure by @quirkymysteries is a KU Event pick #ku

Title: Not Me! Speluncaphobia, Secrets and Hidden Treasure (A Discount Detective Mystery #4)

Author: Charlotte Stuart

Genre: Mystery/ female private detective

Book Blurb:

Aztec gold artifacts from the 16th Century, a fake treasure map, and cryptic clues leading to a cave in the Canadian wilderness—

  • Feuding family members

  • A suspicious death and surfeit of suspects

  • A sailboat trip up the Inside Passage and . . . a stowaway cat

Two cousins get together to investigate the death of a favorite uncle and to honor his legacy by fulfilling his dream to recover Aztec gold. They are thwarted in their efforts by greedy family members, a jumble of challenging clues, a prank from the grave, and unscrupulous treasure seekers.

What begins with a letter from the deceased leads to a wilderness adventure and ends with revealed secrets and a confession.


Chapter 2 - Family Ties and Tribulations

My name is Bryn Geneva Baczek. It’s a mouthful, more chewy caramel than smooth dark chocolate. My grandmother was named Geneva, and my paternal lineage is Polish. My mother has a Welsh first name, Gwen, so I’m indirectly named after her. I’m okay with “Bryn”; it’s at least short. I complain a lot about my surname though because it’s hard to pronounce. But I complain even more about my mother’s side of the family in general. They are mostly misfits and wannabes, with only a tiny handful who can pass for normal. Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of interaction with any of them because at one point there was a mass exodus of Paynes from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. My side of the family owes both a thank you and an apology to Canada.

My favorite relative on my mother’s side is Elspeth Agatha Baczek, the only female cousin my same age. When I was in grade school, Elspeth lived two doors down from us. She was a kind, soft-spoken girl, socially awkward and skinny. Her knobby knees were always on prominent display between her hand-knit knee socks and the hem of her hand-made dresses. The girls whispered about her clothes behind her back. Even her unruly curls set her apart. Straight hair was “in.” And although I hated my red hair, it was at least straight.

Another thing that made Elspeth vulnerable to teasing and bullying was her slight lisp. Some of the kids would follow her around chanting her name, replacing the “s” with “th,” until I finally intervened and insisted she be called Ellie. That was a name they couldn’t make fun of. Or so I thought. It turned out there were a lot of words that rhymed with Ellie. “Ellie has a ‘pain’ in her belly from eating too much jelly.” “Ellie is smelly.” “Ellie from New Delhi.” The phrases didn’t have to make sense to the kids taunting her.

Poor Ellie. There was something about her looks and demeanor when she was young that attracted the mean kids. One time two boys locked her in the supply closet just as the class was heading out for a field trip. She wasn’t discovered until we returned at the end of the day. By then she was a nervous wreck. The boys had removed the light bulb, so she’d spent the entire time in the dark. The experience traumatized her for life. At least that’s what the therapists told her parents when she was diagnosed with Speluncaphobia and gephyrophobia, fear of caves and fear of bridges and tunnels. Actually, she was fine with bridges . . . unless they went through a tunnel.

I remember when my mother sat me down for the “phobia talk.” She wanted me to understand so I would know what to do if Ellie had an attack when we were together. Not too long after that, we were playing with a group of kids in the woods when we came across a tiny cave scooped out of a steep embankment. One of the boys dared another boy to crawl into it to see if there was an animal inside. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Ellie backing away, her face pale under the umbrella of overhanging fir branches. Then one of the boys decided Ellie should be the one to crawl into the hole. She turned and ran, and they chased after her. I followed as fast as I could, yelling for them to stop.

When they caught up with Ellie and started dragging her back toward the cave, I attacked. Fired by adrenaline and anger, I pulled one of the boys off and punched him in the stomach as hard as I could. Then I swirled about and kicked another in the balls, like my brother had taught me to do if attacked. I bit a third boy on the arm when he tried to shove me away. Then I grabbed Ellie and raced off with her. It wasn’t what my mother had in mind when she gave me the “phobia talk,” but it definitely worked.

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What makes your featured book a must-read?

This lighthearted mystery has a little of everything—a wilderness adventure, hidden treasure, family conflict and a cantankerous cat. If you want to take a vicarious trip up the Inside Passage and let others face the bad guys while you sit back with a cup of tea, this is the book for you. Or, feel free to read it with a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or the beverage of your choice. It’s especially good with dark chocolate.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.

Runs November 15 – November 24, 2022.

Winner will be drawn on November 25, 2022.

Author Biography:

Charlotte Stuart PhD is an award-winning mystery writer who got her start in academia, left a tenured faculty position to go commercial fishing in Alaska, spent a frustrating year as a political speech writer, enjoyed time as a management consultant, and survived several years as a VP of HR and training.

Her current passion is for writing mysteries with complex characters and twisty plots. She has published seven mysteries since 2019 and won numerous awards including a gold Global eBook, a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and two NYC Big Book Distinguished Favorites. One of her books was a finalist in Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion contest. Charlotte lives and writes on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest and is currently president of the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime.

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