PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY
A Cherry Tucker Mystery #1
In Halo, Georgia, folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than kudzu climbs telephone poles -- but commissions are scarce. So when the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small town rival.
As the clock ticks toward the deadline, Cherry faces more trouble than just a controversial subject. Between ex-boyfriends, her flaky family, an illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry find herself painted into a corner she'll be lucky to survive.
A Cherry Tucker Mystery #2
Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, the police get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.
******** INTERVIEW ********
United By Books is pleased to have Larissa Reinhart on the blog today so we can learn more about her amazing books........
1 ~ Can you please share with us a little about yourself?
Thanks so much for having me on United By Books. I love that theme. I’m a wife and a mom to two little girls. We have a dog named Biscuit, two fish, and two frogs whose names change frequently. I’m from a tiny farming village in Illinois but have lived in Missouri, Wisconsin, Japan, and Georgia. We’ve lived in Georgia for about fifteen years, though, so it’s home.
2 ~ Please tell us a little about your newest release ?
Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, her cop boyfriend get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.
3~ Would you like to share an excerpt with us today?
Would love to, thanks! This scene from Still Life in Brunswick Stew is with Cherry and her sort-of-ex-husband Todd.
I sped past the inflatable jumping games, wandered through the craft section, and halted at my partially dismantled booth. With sweat darkening his golden blonde hair, Todd leaned over the PVC pipe frame, yanking on two pieces fitted together. A pair of slot machine cherries tattooed one calf. Sweat glistened on his shirtless back as he tugged on a pipe.
“Todd,” I called. “Thank you for taking down the stand. I know it’s a pain.”
He stood up slowly, giving me an ample view of the lean physique and tight muscles that came from lifting weights and hauling boxes. Unlike Eloise’s boyfriend, Griffin, muscles suited his long body and weren’t propagated by supplements. He turned, rubbing his brow with the back of his hand.
My breath caught as he offered me a view of his upraised bicep and the hard swells and angles of his chest and belly. A vision for a Rafael-styled fresco on my bedroom wall with Todd as the subject danced in my mind before I caught myself. Damn this weakness for beautiful men, I thought. Eloise knew me too well.
I shuffled back a step and shoved my hands in the pockets of my shorts.
“No problem,” he smiled, offering two long dimples on each cheek. “I put it on my honey-do list.”
I edged back another step. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to call a favor for a friend a honey-do list.”
“I’m just joshing you.” He winked again and ambled closer, closing the distance between us. “We’re not married anymore. You sent me the papers.”
“You shouldn’t joke about it. Signing the annulment papers took longer than our Vegas wedding. That’s sad, not funny.”
“I wish I knew what happened to that ring. It sure was pretty. I looked for it in Caesar’s Palace. The security guards sure got ticked. You know, even if you take your shoes off, they don’t like people wading in that fountain.”
I rolled my eyes. “Never mind. I’ll help you load the stuff in the Civic.”
We worked together unscrewing the pipes and yanking them apart. Todd had nestled Eloise’s Raku pots in scraps of fabric and Styrofoam sheets within large boxes. I hoisted the last box in the hatchback of Todd’s Civic, keeping far from his pheromone-laden sweat.
Since Todd had already packed most everything else away in boxes, I poked my head out the back of his car to make a comment on his diligence but didn’t see him anywhere. The aroma of barbecue and Brunswick Stew floated past the truck in a sudden gust of wind, and a sound like a chainsaw cutting through a block of cement startled me. I clamped a hand over my stomach and felt the sharp knock of hunger. My middle reverberated with another deafening growl.
“Cherry.” Todd popped around the side of the booth next door, startling me. “I could hear you three doors down. You’re hungry. Let’s get something to eat. That pulled pork smells incredible.”
“I’m not hungry.” The chainsaw in my stomach revved again.
Todd’s eyebrows drew together. “If that’s not your stomach, what is that sound?”
“I can’t eat festival food, Todd. A bunch of people took sick. Eloise died.”
I nodded, biting my lip.
Without hesitation, Todd stepped forward, wrapped an arm around me, and pulled me against his slick skin. “I’m so sorry, baby. I didn’t know. When you said they were taking her to the hospital, I thought she got heat stroke. Figured you two were sitting in the sun. It was hotter than two cats fighting in a wool sock today.”
“We were under the tent.” I pressed my hands against his stomach to shove myself away, but the bumpy ridges of his abs felt so pleasant under my fingers, I let them rest. My head dropped against his chest, and Todd stroked my hair.
“You’ve been through a lot today. How did she die?”
“It looked like she was having a fit. I guess it had something to do with her disease. Her daddy wants an autopsy.” I sucked the inside of my cheek to prevent tears from welling in my eyes again.
“That’s strange.” Todd kissed the top of my head and nestled me tighter. “Poor Eloise. I didn’t think she had anything life threatening.”
“I know. Food poisoning doesn’t usually kill people. It doesn’t sit right with me or with her family. They don’t trust the authorities. They want me to look into it.”
“Of course they want you to look into it. You like to stand up for people like the Parkers. You got a talent for telling the big folks how the cow eats the cabbage.”
A trickle of sweat dripped off his chest and smeared my face. I rubbed the wetness from my cheeks and pulled my head away. Looking up, I saw Todd’s eyes darken. A familiar feeling washed over me. A feeling I once had in Vegas. Just before Todd snookered me into marrying him for a couple of hours.
Hindsight has taught me it’s wiser, as well as cheaper, to avoid those particular feelings.
4~ What's in store next for your readers?
My third Cherry Tucker Mystery, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, comes out November fifth. In Hijack, you’ll find most of Cherry’s motley crew, but there’s also truckers, methheads, copper thieves, and an Eastern European immigration lawyer with an antebellum mansion in Buckhead, the richest part of Atlanta. When her Uncle Will, the sheriff, asks Cherry to sketch a composite portrait of a hijacker, she finds herself involved in a related murder while trying to save her local reputation after the town labels her a “pervert artist” for some classical nudes bought by the Buckhead lawyer.
December ninth, a Cherry Tucker prequel, QUICK SKETCH, releases in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL with two other Henery Pressstories by LynDee Walker and Terri L. Austin. The Heartache Motel is a sleazy, Elvis-loving dump in Memphis where all three mysteries take place. All three short stories are funny, Christmas-themed mysteries full of drag queens and Elvis impersonators. In QUICK SKETCH, Cherry and Todd are headed to Vegas, but first stop in Memphis to help Todd’s cousin. He’s fallen victim to a poker scam and needs to rely on Cherry’s creativity and Todd’s poker skills to get out of his hot mess. And because QUICK SKETCH takes place before PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, we all know what happens to Cherry and Todd in Vegas, but they don’t!
5~ What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?
I tried to tie myself to a chair with plastic bags. It didn’t work.
6~ What are some of your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I like quirky characters and humor, but love all kinds of genres. It depends on my mood, too. I need strong characters, and I love an interesting setting and a story with lots of tension.
7~ What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I wrote a song and sang it at my high school graduation. And didn’t tell my parents. They were surprised, too.
8~ Do you sing and dance around the house while picking up?
I sing and dance while doing most anything, although dancing is hard to do while writing. We have a rule at dinner. No singing until your food is gone. I eat fast.
9~ Describe yourself in three words?
Grateful, saucy, distractible.
10~ What is the most embarrassing thing you got caught doing?
Who says I’ve ever been caught?
11~ How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I was home alone with my children. My husband was in Florida on business. My friends weren’t available, either. So my girls and I went to Target bought a commemorative gift at the Dollar Spot and ate dinner at Wendy’s. Their choice.
12~ What are the scenes that are the hardest for you to write?
Dialogue and action scenes are the easiest for me. Probably romantic scenes are hardest, and for some reason something odd seems to happen every time my characters start to get it on. Hot wings fly around. Burglars break into houses.
13~ Is there anything special you would like to say to your readers while we have you here today?
I’m just so thrilled that folks seem to enjoy Cherry Tucker. I’d like to thank you for your support and let you know I’ll continue to do my best to entertain you!
Larissa Reinhart loves small town characters, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) is the second in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. The first, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. Expect HIJACK IN ABSTRACT and a Cherry Tucker novella in THE HEARTACHE MOTEL out in November and December 2013.
She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website; her expat blog; or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook; at her Facebook page; Twitter; and Goodreads.
Larissa Reinhart's STILL LIFE Blog Tour Schedule
6/10- Mad Hatter Reads (interview and review)
6/11- United by Books (interview)
6/12- The Jeep Diva (interview)
6/13- Literal Addiction (spotlight or guest post)
6/14- Books-n-Kisses (interview)
6/16 - My Book Addiction (interview)
6/17- The Reading Cafe (evening review of Book 1)
6/18- The Reading Cafe - Series Spotlight & review)
6/19- Book Monster Reviews
6/20- Froggarita's Bookcase (interview)
6/23- Love In A Book
******** GIVEAWAY ********
Larissa is giving away a $20 Visa card and an e-book of Portrait of a Dead Guy (the first in the series) to one lucky winner at the end of the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway