Second Series Syndrome
Mash-ups are all the rage among recording artists. Today I’d like to introduce you to a fellow sleuth who also happens to be a mash-up. Gracie Elliott is the star of the Empty Nest Mysteries. Never heard of them? You’re not alone. The Empty Nest Mystery series seems to suffer from Second Series Syndrome. Growing up in the shadow of “big sister” Anastasia Pollack is not easy for Gracie. Even diehard fans of Anastasia are often unaware of her existence. So in an attempt to shine the spotlight on Gracie, I’ve put Definitely Dead, the first book in the series, on sale at Amazon for only .99 cents throughout June.
Although Gracie lives in the same town as Anastasia, the two women are quite different. Gracie is one part Goldie Hawn (from back in her Laugh-In days), one part Jessica Fletcher. The idea for the series sprang to life as I binge-watched a Thin Man marathon several years ago. The Empty Nest Mysteries are my homage to those movies, except that I’ve given them a modern spin with the wife as the sleuth. The Empty Nest series is also much more in keeping within the cozy genre, whereas the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series is a bit edgier and therefore more amateur sleuth than cozy.
When her career is outsourced to Asia, fledgling romance author and empty-nester Gracie Elliott wants a job that will allow her time to write. So she opens Relatively Speaking, becoming a wing woman to the senior set. Since her clients need several hours each morning to find their teeth, lube their creaky joints, and deal with lower GI necessities, and they always turn in after the early bird specials, she has plenty of time to pen her future bestsellers.
Gracie deliberately avoids mentioning her new business venture to husband Blake until after she signs her first client. Blake joins the company as a not-so-silent partner, tagging along to make sure Gracie doesn’t cause a septuagenarian uprising. When Client #13 is found murdered in the parking lot behind the Moose Lodge, Gracie knows, no matter how much Blake protests otherwise, she can’t wait around for the police to find the killer if she wants to save her livelihood.
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After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.
With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.
Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.