Friday, 3 November 2017

Mistletoe and Murder by S.L. Smith

A lifelong resident of Minnesota, S.L. Smith was born in Saint Cloud and attended Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul. During her thirty-two years with the state department of public safety, she worked with law enforcement and fire officials at the state, county and municipal levels. Those interactions assisted her with writing mysteries, but were just the starting point. Without the help of a friend who spent thirty-five years as a cop, she might never have ventured into writing police procedurals. He contributed to her understanding of the perspectives of her two protagonists, Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney. Thankfully, this friend is still a resource. He proofreads each manuscript and performs a reality check on the law enforcement aspects.

All three of her previous books include a social issue. In Blinded by the Sight, it’s homelessness. For book two, Running Scared, it’s the impacts of a failing marriage on the kids. Book three, Murder on a Stick, addresses a plight faced by many of the elderly. Smith is a member of Sisters in Crime (an organization that supports mystery writers). She divides her time between Minnesota and Florida, to care for her mother.

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About the Book


Auld Lang Syne with a Twist


As Collette Hammond orchestrates an elaborate New Year’s Eve wedding reception for her brother in St. Paul’s historic Union Depot, she never anticipates the evening might end in her own mysterious death. She collapses just before midnight. A fresh needle mark suggests narcotics. St. Paul police detectives Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney are called away from their holiday celebrations to investigate, launching a trip through a labyrinth of intrigue and deception.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


Tonight, Colette rang in the New Year like there was no tomorrow. Little did she know that, for her, that was indeed the case. Had she known, she would not have spent her final hours this way. She loved her brother, and she loved to party. Just the same, she had a long list of things she intended to see and do before exiting this life for the something … or nothing … that lay beyond. She had her heart set on traveling to Australia and New Zealand to bask in the lingo and marvel at the scenery. She intended to walk at least a mile on the Great Wall. She planned to learn to play the violin.

She knew not the day, and she’d never have pegged these as her final hours. Confident she’d be on this earth for at least a few more decades, she spent little time thinking about, fretting over, or preparing for an afterlife. Some time down the road, perhaps. For now, she needn’t worry—or so she thought.

Momentarily, the consequences of her procrastination would be between her and her maker. She’d planned this party. Did that mean, in some perverse way, she’d planned her demise?

. . .

Beverages flowed freely before, during, and after the meal. Colette kept up with the best of them.

. . .

In addition to celebrating Demetrius’s wedding, guests spent tonight preparing to ring in the New Year. Some used this as an opportunity to drown regrets about a year of failed attempts to better themselves, while preparing for another shot at the golden ring.

This was Demetrius’s second time around. Colette believed he’d regret this marriage as much as the last one. Just the same, she knew sharing that opinion wouldn’t change his mind. It would, however, change their relationship—at least in the near term. For that reason, she set aside her feelings and helped with the arrangements. She always did that. Nothing, not even a gold digger, could come between her and Demetrius.

During the final seconds before midnight, Colette took center stage. Ordinarily, she reveled in the attention. Not tonight and not this type of attention.

For the last few hours, Colette danced and drank, but not in that order. Shortly before the crowd commenced singing “Auld Lang Syne,” she began slurring her words. Soon her words became unintelligible.

Most of the guests pretended not to notice. Many observed that Colette seemed unusually thirsty tonight, so this didn’t shock them. Unfortunately, what followed raised greater concern, but failed to set off any alarms.

Colette began nodding off. Repeatedly, her chin sank and rested briefly on her chest. That would have been surprising if she was seated at the time. She wasn’t. She did it while standing and talking with several people. Suddenly, without warning, she teetered and slumped to the marble floor.

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