Eve Appel Egret is adjusting to married life with Sammy and their three adopted sons in Sabal Bay, Florida. While still running her consignment stores, she is going pro with her sleuthing by becoming an apprentice to a private detective.
Until her marriage, Eve’s only “family” was her grandmother Grandy, who raised her after her parents died in a boating accident. Now, in addition to her husband and sons, she has a father-in-law who clearly dislikes her. Sammy’s father, a full-blooded Miccosukee Indian long presumed dead, has emerged from the swamps where he’s been living like a hermit, and he isn’t happy about Eve’s marriage to his half-Miccosukee, half-white son.
As for Eve’s family, are her parents really dead? A woman named Eleanor claims to be Eve’s half-sister, born after her mother faked a boating accident to escape her abusive husband, Eve’s father. Then Eleanor’s father turns up dead in the swamps, stabbed by a Bowie knife belonging to Sammy’s father, Lionel. Strange as Lionel Egret is, Eve knows he had no motive to kill this stranger. In order to clear him, Eve must investigate Eleanor’s claims, and she might not like what digging around in her family’s past uncovers.
Grandy, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Eve Apple’s maternal grandmother. I worked for years for a wealthy family in Hartford, CT and fell in love with their son, but they were not anxious for him to marry the hired help. They warned him they would disown him and write him out of their will if he chose to marry me. He was such a lovely man, and I loved him with all my heart. He was willing to go ahead with our wedding, but I knew he would eventually come to resent me for what he had to give up, so I let him go and later married Eve’s grandfather. We had only one child, Eve’s mother. I lost him soon after Eve was born, but he did get to see his only grandchild. Then my daughter and her husband died in a boating accident when Eve was only nine. It was difficult to deal with my own grief, but I had the responsibility to get Eve through her parent’s deaths, and that was not easy.
She dealt with her loss by becoming an angry rebellious child, mad at the world for dealing her such a rotten hand. But she eventually got beyond that, and I think the friendship with Madeleine Boudreau begun in grade school helped her. Eve taught Madeleine how to stand up for her rights, and Madeleine taught Eve some manners and how to deal with difficult people, other than trying to beat the snot out of them.
All of us, Eve, Madeleine and I relocated to rural Florida. I’m surprised how well Eve has done adjusting to a place where the nearest mall with a decent store for designer fashion is almost forty miles away. Eve is quite the fashionista, but she addressed her need for designer wear by opening a high-end consignment shop with Madeleine. I was a bit surprised because I thought the only thing alligator to be found around here was in the nearby swamps, but there are a few alligator bags and boots in Eve and Madeleine’s shop.
My current husband Max and I used to run a fishing charter boat out of Key Largo, but since his heart attack, we’ve relocated to be near Eve. Max has enjoyed fishing the Big Lake, Lake Okeechobee, and I work with Eve a few days each week in the shop. It’s a pretty laid-back life, unless Eve taps me to join her on one of her detective adventures. Now that’s fun. Eve says I’m responsible for her snoopy nature, and that’s probably true.
Who in the book would you say you get along with the best?
I’m close to Eve, her husband, their adopted boys and Grandfather Egret, her husband’s grandfather as well as Madeleine and her family. But I have to say I just love Nappi Napolitano, our “Family” friend from the Northeast. He treats me like a queen, always kisses my hand when he greets me and says I am a good-looking woman, and he does not add, “for your age.” How can a woman not love that in a man? Were it not for my husband Max and for the difference in age between Nappi and me, I might consider a serious fling with the guy. I have a thing for “bad boys”, and it appears Nappi is one. He dresses well, and he seems to have access to information others have trouble getting. If there’s anything a person wants to know about someone, Nappi can find it out. I know Madeleine and our police detective friend Frida have some doubts about Nappi’s “connections”, but he’s always been there for Eve, her friends and family. I’ve gone on some capers with him, you know, sleuthing adventures, and he’s always treated me as an equal partner. I must admit that some of what we’ve been involved in has been just this side of legal, but over the moon fun. You can read about my first caper in Book 1 of the Eve Appel mysteries, A Secondhand Murder.
Is there anyone you don’t get along with so well?
For most of the years I’ve known Sammy Egret, Eve husband’s, who is half Miccosukee, his father was missing, gone, we were told, into the swamps when Sammy was small. Imagine our surprise when the man showed up one day. Lionel Egret disappeared into the swamps out of a sense of guilt but returned when Sammy and Eve married and adopted three orphaned Miccosukee boys, also Lionel’s relatives. I give you this background because I think it might explain why he acts the way he does. He’s suspicious, arrogant, and sullen, and particularly hard on Eve. He’s not crazy about white folks although Sammy’s mother, Lionel’s wife was white. Given his years alone in the swamps, I try to be understanding, but the man is hard to take. I will say, however, that he does love the three boys Eve and Sammy adopted, although he thinks he knows best how to raise them. Eve says he’s coming around, slowly, very slowly.
Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?
I’m not happy she made me overweight, but she did write me as a fun-loving and adventurous gal. She also gave me my hubby, Max, who I love despite the fact he smells like fish because he spends his days out on the lake with his fishing pals. At least he cleans the catch for me!
This author never lets things be. Just when you think everything is going to settle down, and the path ahead looks easy, she injects an event to shake things up or introduces a character that sets you back on your heels. For example, I hadn’t seen my sister for years. We just seemed to drift apart, but wouldn’t you know it, Miss Diehl creates a situation in Killer Tied that demands I get in touch with her. I wasn’t expecting that, and it took adjustment on my part. Maybe it was just as well. I guess I shouldn’t have let family get so far away. And I learned a secret about my sister that I never knew.
So what’s next for you?
Max is grumbling about needing to get back to fishing the blue ocean and not the brownish waters of the fresh water lake. I miss the salt water also. I think we might divide our time between the Keys and rural Florida. I’ve heard rumors that Madeleine has family in Scotland that are eager to come to the United States for a visit. I’m eager to meet them. I’m a little worried about Nappi lately. He seems to have something on his mind. He’s just not his old charming self. I know he suffered a gunshot wound, but I thought he was fully recovered from it. Perhaps not. Maybe Eve and I should take him out to lunch and see if we can wheedle the truth out of him.
Thank you, Grandy!
It was a pleasure to talk with you, Frankie.
About The Author
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in Upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks, frequents yard sales and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work. She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. The third book in the Eve Appel murders (from Camel Press) A Sporting Murder was awarded a Readers’ Favorite Five Star Award and her short story Gator Aid a Sleuthfest (2009) short story first place. She has fired the alligator that served as her literary muse when she is in Florida and is interviewing applicants for the position.