Reviewed by Cherie Jung
Over My Dead Body -- a murder magazine
That’s when I finished reading A DEADLY DEED GROWS. (I had not intended to stay up all night reading this book. I had intended to read a few pages before going to sleep and continue reading it in a day or two; especially because it contains two of my least favorite things when it comes to mysteries – Florida settings and lawyer characters.)
Such were my intentions. However, only minutes into reading the book, the author had my full attention and kept it until the very last page.
Mira Stanley travels to Cape San Blas, Florida in an attempt to stop an unscrupulous land developer from swindling her bosses’ eccentric aunt, Claire, out of her home. If she succeeds, Mira hopes to get a promotion out of the assignment. Time is quickly running out. The developer plans to begin bulldozing the property in just a few days. Mira’s presence in town and her snooping into the affairs of the developer put her on a collision course with more than one person. Who can she trust?
In A DEADLY DEED GROWS the author strikes just the right balance between suspense, action, and romance (or the possibility of romance). Not an easy task when blending those three elements. Quite often an author veers one way or the other too far and misses the mark. A DEADLY DEED GROWS isan exciting and satisfying read with a cast of memorable characters, an interesting setting, plenty of twists and turns, and all of the loose ends tied up as they should be.
While reading A DEADLY DEED GROWS, I was reminded of the enjoyment I experienced reading Mary Stewart’s novel THE MOONSPINNERS when I first began reading mysteries and romantic suspense. (Yes, I’m that old!) I’m not saying Ms. Long writes like Mary Stewart just that she has that same writing ability to spin an interesting tale while keeping the reader turning pages in an adrenalin rush.
Dying to Dream has it all, murder, intrigue, “will they or won’t
they” romance and ghosts who help solve a century old mystery.
With memorable characters, living and dead, this paranormal
mystery will delight fans of the genre or any reader looking for
a book they can’t put down. -- Michael Murphy author, Goodbye Emily
“You can’t help but feel the Louisiana heat, the passions at play
between the various characters … Murder, death, intrigue, and
a touch of romance… What more could a reader ask for? …
a satisfying reading experience, perfect for a long lazy weekend
or summertime treat.” -- Cherie Jung, Over My Dead Body!
“Two feuding families, an aunt who practices voodoo, and ghosts
who beg for justice -- a delicious mystery that twines through
generations and tangles its characters into a knot of deceit,
blackmail, and murder … Let this story carry you away!”
— Sand Pilarski, editor, The Piker Press
Long’s ‘Dying to Dream’ continues psychic theme
Among Uniontown author Kathryn Long’s previous books are the comic Lilly M. mystery series about a sort-of clairvoyant woman who lives with her meddling extended family in a town that very closely resembles Barberton. Long’s new novel Dying to Dream carries over the psychic theme into darker intrigues with a deep southern flair.
The main character is Marin Seurat, who’s relocated to Quebec but has been fetched home to Louisiana by her cousin, Charlene. There’s a curse on their family and a possible hidden treasure that Marin may be able to find by watchful attention to her dreams and the occasional visits of ghosts. A more immediate issue is the apparent suicide of Marin’s former flame’s father, who was despondent after his fishing business was destroyed by the Gulf oil spill. Was it really murder, and can Marin and Trent recapture their romance?
The cousins’ wily, interfering Tante Louise, who practices voodoo and usually is mixing up a gris-gris, and a stranger who’s competing with Trent for Marin’s attentions work into the plot. The narrative is sprinkled with French Creole expressions.
Barbara MacIntyre -- Akron Beacon Journal Life Section 7/14/13
Review: Green author mixes comedy into mystery
Published: August 14, 2011 - 01:54 AM
Whips, Cuff and Little Brown Boxes, A Lilly M. Mystery by Kathryn Long.
The provocative title and red stiletto shoes on the cover of Green author Kathryn Long’s comic mystery Whips, Cuffs and Little Brown Boxes make it appear to be an erotic novel, but it’s comparatively wholesome.
Lilly Millenovanovich (her name surely is a tribute to Janet Evanovich, author of the mystery series featuring dizzy bounty hunter Stephanie Plum) is a novelist with three surrogate mothers and a huge extended family, none of whom can get through a day without calling, visiting, needing a favor or asking when she’s getting married. Lilly is a little bit clairvoyant, but her readings happen sporadically and are not all that accurate, so her gift is like that broken clock that’s right twice a day.
Irene, Lilly’s primary “Mom,” calls to tell her that her secondary mom, Aunt Fran, is missing. Lilly’s secret boyfriend, policeman Kline, is on the job, but it goes without saying that Lilly will be doing some snooping, when she has time between spying on Cousin Paulie for Aunt Sadie and dodging the neighbor who thinks he’s Davy Crockett, posted on his balcony with his musket.
There’s plenty more going on in this frenetic plot — a mystery Harley rider, a series of robberies, a beautiful assassin … the whips and cuffs of the title don’t appear for quite a while, but the language makes the book a PG-13. The town of Barton must represent Long’s hometown of Barberton, down to the lake in the center of town.
Whips, Cuffs and Little Brown Boxes (339 pages, softcover) costs $12.50 from online retailers, and also is available as an e-book. Kathryn Long holds bachelor’s degrees in French and education from the University of Akron.
Apalachicola Gazette – Saturday October 8, 2012.
Renowned food critic, Clive Monk, age fifty-three, died Friday from what witnesses speculate was food poisoning. Monk had been invited to a private event where two famous culinary divas – international chef, Simone Bolivar, and pastry chef extraordinaire, Audrey Willow, prepared him a dinner and dessert to die for, literally. It was after devouring Willow’s delectable chocolate cake topped with her signature blackberry sauce that Monk fell to the floor, convulsing. Paramedics arrived within five minutes, but were unable to revive the critic. Though the official medical report won’t be released for several days, this reporter spoke to Willow’s assistant who strongly believes it was not an accident. She states it’s well-known in culinary circles that Audrey Willow and Clive Monk are, or were, enemies. She added, “Audrey Willow won’t shed one tear over Clive’s demise.”
Monday October 10th 9:00 pm:
I took the envelope inside, sat down to open it, and looked at a plane ticket. The destination was Miami, Florida. While I puzzled over its implication, my phone rang. Not recognizing the number, I almost didn't answer, but a feeling nudge me to do so.
"Hello?" I continued staring at the ticket, puzzling over questions of why and who.
"Hello Lilly. It's so good to hear your voice. How have you been?"
"Who is this?"
"I hope you like Florida. It's pleasant this time of the year."
I felt myself tense, hearing the British accent. I didn't have to make much of a leap to guess who I was talking to. In a flash, the memory of my psychic vibe came back to me, the one I warned Kline about. "What do you want, Brooke?"
"I want you to use the ticket. I want you to come to Florida."
"Why should I?" The sense of panic threatened to overwhelm me and destroy any chance at remaining calm and rational.
"Quite simple, dear. If you don't, your boyfriend becomes a dead friend. And I'm sure you don't want that to happen, do you?"
"If you hurt him …"
"Just get on the plane, tonight, and you won't have to worry. And Lilly? It would be a mistake to call him."
Monday October 10th 11:00 pm:
“You can’t go, Aunt Sadie. That’s final,” I argued. The conversation or should I say bickering had gone on for nearly a half hour. I needed to leave soon, get on a plane to Florida to face whatever Brooke had planned for me. With Jake’s life in the balance, I couldn’t afford to take chances. Besides, Sadie’s story sounded as ridiculous and insane as her personality tended to be.
“I’m telling you, I’m going. If Audrey Willow needs my help, then I can’t refuse, can I?”
“I’m sure Miss Willow has plenty of money to hire all the legal assistance she needs. What can you possibly do, anyway?” I felt exasperated to the point of hanging up on her. And I’ve never dared to hang up. She scared me too much.
“She needs my moral support.”
That’s it? That’s all the excuse she had? “Look. I realize a person doesn’t get charged with murder every day, and I’m sure if she’s that close of a friend, then she would most definitely appreciate your emotional support. But you can’t travel with me.”
“I don’t see why not. I call you late at night, asking for your help, and you tell me you’re getting ready to make an emergency trip to Florida, which is exactly where I need to go. That’s fate. Can’t ignore that.”
I groaned. Why did I have to be born into a family of obstinate people? “I’m going to hang up now. For your own good, Aunt Sadie, take a later flight without me. Take Aunt Irene or Aunt Fran with you. They’d be great company. It just can’t be me.” With that, I ended the call and turned my phone off.
I gathered my overnight case and purse. I’d already left Lou, my maltipoo, with my neighbor Mrs. Tenny. If I had asked anyone in the family, even my cousin and best friend, Mona, it would raise too many questions. Of course, that problem had occurred already with the phone call from Aunt Sadie.
I had to admit, the situation had curious written all over it. Audrey Willow, nationally known pastry chef, had been charged with murder. If the matter wasn’t so serious, it would make you laugh at the irony. Her sponsors referred to Audrey’s desserts with the motto, “Willow’s Desserts -- delectable, delicious, and simply to die for.” And somebody did. One of the food critics had eaten her chocolate fudge cake topped with a blackberry sauce that turned out not to be made from blackberries. The story, as Sadie heard from her friend, was that Audrey had used berries from the deadly nightshade plant, more commonly known as belladonna. Eating a dozen or so berries can kill an adult. Within minutes, the food critic was on the floor, convulsing, and the paramedics didn’t have any chance of saving him. The toxicology report, which was rushed through over the weekend by court order from an eagerly ambitious judge up for re-election, showed the victim had died of heart failure due to toxic levels of the poisonous plant. Straight out of a gothic murder mystery, I thought.
For the sake of argument, authorities could have kept an open mind to include others in their investigation. The problem was this particular food critic, Clive Monk, had written several articles on Audrey’s confectionary goodies that weren’t very complimentary. This gave Audrey motive. At least in their minds it tied the case up in a neat and tidy package.
Aunt Sadie swore that the Audrey she knew and loved would never do such a thing. She took the utmost pride in her baking. If someone didn’t like one of her confectionary goodies she’d study the matter and see whether there was a valid reason for the criticism. If so, then she’d explore ways to improve her recipe. But murder? Sadie just wouldn’t believe it. After all, she’d known Audrey since they’d attended a baking convention nearly twenty years ago. Since then, they’d stayed in touch, visited each other every so often, and shared baking secrets. Sadie claimed Audrey was like the daughter she never had. If anyone could guess what Audrey would or wouldn’t do, I’d wager Sadie knew best.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to give her. All my attention had to be for Jake. His life depended on it. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what Brooke was up to, but most assuredly it was plenty dangerous. And probably it had to do with murder since that was her profession. She killed people for a living. In fact, that’s how she met Jake.
When Jake lived in Arizona, beginning his career as a cop, he met Brooke Williams, aka hit lady for underworld crime. Unaware of her sordid history, Jake fell in love and married her, only to have it all come crashing down during a fatal shootout orchestrated by none other than Brooke. Kline lost a partner and his so-called wife in one instant. I sighed. So, here she was, again, using Kline and me as pawns in some wicked, dangerous game. And there was nothing I could do to stop her.
I had thought about calling Detective Grezzo several times after my conversation with Brooke. He and Kline and I had history together. Grezzo often claimed he considered Jake like his own son. He’d give his life to save Jake. But I couldn’t take the chance. Brooke would sniff the odor of conspiracy and then Kline would turn up dead. She was that good.
So, I was on my own, at least for now. I’d keep that option open in case I needed it. I suspected Brooke would play dirty. Why shouldn’t I?
I boarded the plane and decided to allow no more time for playing out events in my mind. I needed rest for the challenging ordeal ahead. I owed Jake Kline, former fiancé and still great friend, that much.
Apalachicola, Florida, early morning, Tuesday October 11th:
I took my place on the exit ramp. The warm and muggy night air enveloped me and caused a sweat. I noticed everyone on the ground wore skimpy t-shirts and shorts. I shed the sweater I’d put on before leaving the cool October evening back home in Barton, Ohio. I searched for any vacant cab ready to transport passengers to their destinations. It took all of ten seconds for one to pull up beside me.
“Where to, lady?”
I eyed the cabbie with skepticism. He seemed a bit too eager, but then again my paranoia was working overtime. Brooke wouldn’t have sent someone in the guise of cab driver to meet me. “Just take me to the closest hotel.” I quickly added, “Reputable hotel.”
“That would be the airport hotel, the Oasis. It’s down the block. It’s a bit average, but real clean.” He looked at me with the question in his eyes.
“Sounds good.” I nodded and then settled back into my seat. It only took five minutes to get there. I moaned at the interruption to the rest my body really begged for. I handed the cabbie his fare and he handed me an envelope. My forehead drew together in confusion.
“Lady with nice legs and dark hair told me to give it to you.”
I looked down at the envelope and thought for a moment. “But how did you know she meant me?” I studied his face.
“She showed me a photo of you and told me to take you here. Say, look. Don’t get rattled at me. I’m just the go between, okay? You have a nice visit.” With that, the cabbie drove away.
I stayed at the curb and opened the envelope, too curious to wait.
Lilly, I want you to tell the concierge that you have a reservation for room 325. Don’t worry. The bill has been paid. When you get inside the room, you’ll find further directions taped to the back of the nightstand.
I scratched underneath my chin and digested the new information, including my hunch about the cabbie. “Guess my radar is working after all.” I picked up my overnight bag and purse, tucked the envelope inside one of the pockets, and headed for the hotel lobby. I couldn’t help but shift my eyes from side to side, worried that someone was watching me, someone like Brooke.
Once I had my key card in hand, I took the elevator up to the third floor. I had to give her credit. Brooke spared no expense. I had the best room in the place, a suite with a king sized bed, Jacuzzi, and a fridge stocked full of goodies, including a varied assortment of beverages. Too bad I didn’t have time or felt in the mood to enjoy it all. Such a waste.
I dropped my bag on the bed and pulled the nightstand away from the wall. I removed a thickly padded envelope from the back and examined the message taped to the outside.
Take this to the Saint Margolis hotel at exactly five this afternoon. Give it to the body guard dressed in a blue suit and blue ball cap. He will be waiting outside on the front entrance stairs. Wear a red blouse – I know you packed one. It’s your favorite color. The guard has been instructed to watch for a woman wearing red. Don’t screw this up! If you ever want to see Jake alive, that is.
I read the message aloud and then again to myself. I felt the package, pressing it with my fingers. I couldn’t help but think what it contained was money, and lots of it.
My stomach gurgled with such force that I thought I might hurl. “You better appreciate this, Jake Kline,” I muttered and lay the package down on the nightstand. I felt agitated as I pulled the red blouse out of my bag, along with a red bra and red shoes. Though I realized somebody in her profession would have keen observation skills, it still seemed like I’d been violated. I doubted that even Jake knew red was my favorite color.
A glance at the clock showed me I had almost sixteen hours before I needed to leave for Saint Margolis and deliver the package. I stared longingly at the bed with heavy, red-rimmed eyes that hadn’t seen rest in more than a day. Without deliberation, I sank down on the soft and silky sheets. Only seconds later I succumbed to the quiet rhythm of sleep.
Saint Margolis Hotel, 5:00 pm:
I sat in the rental. It was nondescript, mid-sized beige, I-don’t-know what make or model car that I’d picked up before heading to the Saint Margolis. This wasn’t part of Brooke’s instructions, but that’s why it seemed like a smart thing to do. I didn’t know whether the body guard was expecting me to arrive in a cab, a cab maybe driven by my cabbie messenger. I wanted some element of surprise. Besides, right now I had the advantage of watching and observing.
Within a minute or two I spotted him. The body guard. Blue suit, blue cap, and very muscular, he would probably know how to get the upper hand if I got anywhere near him. He stayed on the top step. I noticed his head moved from side to side, perusing the hotel grounds. I did the same. And that’s when I noticed. Total surprise left me with my mouth hanging open.
On the balcony of a second floor room stood two women, one older than the other, or at least she appeared that way with her gray-white hair. The other one had bright red hair, long and wavy. Yet the one detail that really caught my attention and sent my radar soaring was the dress of the older woman. I knew that dress. I had bought that dress as a Christmas gift last year.
“Aunt Sadie,” I exclaimed breathlessly.