Lesley A. Diehl is the author of several series and short stories, all featuring country gals whose snoopy attitudes and smarts make them great candidates for taking down the bad guys. From the river valleys of Upstate New York, to the swamps of rural Florida to the cornfields of the Midwest, these sassy sleuths never let anything get in their way. Today Lesley’s Detective Stanton Lewis stops by to talk about the positives and the negatives of her amateur sleuth Emily Rhodes. Learn more about Lesley and her books at her website and blog.
My name is Detective Stanton Lewis, and I work for a police department in rural South-Central Florida. I’m told you’d like some information about Emily Rhodes, something positive about her and something negative. I can think of about a million negative aspects of her but saying anything good about the woman may be harder.
(At this point Emily’s daughter, Naomi, intervenes by pointing out that Detective Lewis is biased because he has had a crush on Emily since they first met. He has been reluctant to admit to this, and Emily has always disavowed any affection between the two of them. As Naomi says, “They are honest to a fault about everything else in their lives, but in denial about their feelings for each other.”)
The detective continues: Okay, then, let me do the easy part first. If I tell you Emily is a Yankee and a woman, that says everything about her. She’s meddlesome, thinks she’s smarter than me, and always manages to get me to tell her more about my cases than I should. Well, I guess she thinks she owns the three murders I’ve been assigned to investigate because she finds the bodies. She’s like a bloodhound when it comes to murder victims. This last one she stumbled onto in the mud and then I tripped over her, so we both were responsible for finding the guy, but the case was mine. In her usual way, she promised to stay out of the investigation, but she lied about that. She had her fingers in that pie from the time she talked with one of my suspects to when she solved the murder.
But let me say in my defense that it was serendipitous she found out who was responsible. Of course, being a woman, she has a way of getting folks, especially other women, to talk to her, but it was only a matter of time in all these cases before I would have broken through my witnesses’ resistance.
(Naomi interrupts again by reminding him he has a habit of underestimating her mother’s sensitivity to people. “Mom was a preschool teacher, so she’s tuned in to nonverbal cues. She knows how important body language is.”)
Lewis emits a sound something akin to a growl and continues with his comments:
Emily also is naïve about people, especially men. A friend of mine, Donald Green—great fisherman, but not great with the ladies—has taken a liking to Emily, but she thinks he’s just a “friend.” She even hired him as a bartender to work with her at the country club. Everyone knows he’s a hound.
(From Naomi again who says she told her mom about Donald’s crush on her, so Emily is aware, and when she hired Donald, she was desperate for another worker, and she’s regretted the decision ever since. And adds Naomi, “Donald is not a hound about any woman other than Emily. You are correct about her being naïve about some men, like you. It took her forever to figure out you were sweet on her.”)
I remind Lewis that he was supposed to talk about one negative aspect of Emily, not malign her entire character. Stanton wraps up his negative aspects of Emily by using the words “uppity” and “snoopy.”
As to those aspects of Emily’s character that are positive, Stanton continues: I would have to concede she is smart, an attribute easy to ignore because her looks are deceiving. She’s tiny, barely five-foot tall, blonde, blue-eyed and cute.
(Naomi chuckles at this, chiding Lewis for calling a fifty plus gal “cute.”) In his defense, he says he is over six feet tall, so calling her “cute” makes sense and continues: I’ve got to think about some on this. The positive parts of this woman are kind of hard to see right off.
(Naomi rolls her eyes and says, “Only for you, only for you.”)
The detective again: I’m going to ignore Naomi’s comments. She has no appreciation for how difficult it is for a detective to solve a crime if there’s some woman constantly second-guessing him and chasing down clues he thinks are dead ends. Now that I think of it, Emily is a beautiful little woman who’s really, really smart figuring out motives in a murder, she’s loyal to her friends and family, has tried hard to fit into her life here, she makes a mean martini, and… Okay, one positive aspect of her. I’ll sum it up this way: I asked her to marry me, didn’t I?
Scream Muddy Murder
A Big Lake Murder Mystery, Book 3
EMILY RHODES DOES IT AGAIN! This time she nosedives into a mud puddle at a Seminole War battle reenactment and finds she’s sharing the muck with a dead body. As usual the hunky detective she loves to aggravate, Stanton Lewis, cautions her against getting involved in the case, and as usual she ignores him. Emily’s sleuthing pays off, revealing disturbing information about the victim’s past. Is it the reason behind his murder? With the help of her family and friends, Emily sets out to uncover secrets kept too long and puts herself and the people she loves in the killer’s path. Too late she realizes Detective Lewis was right. Her snoopiness proves to be a deadly idea.
Bonus feature inside: Emily’s neighbor shares her recipes. Make them for your favorite sleuth!