Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lazar's Latest Gus LeGarde Mystery Keeps This Series Moving Up! Picked for a 2014 Personal Favorite!

His eyes opened and he stared at the sky. I pressed the cloth against the cut again. The bleeding had almost stopped. “Sir? Are you okay? Can you hear me?”
His dark eyes flitted toward the plane. When he spoke, his voice resonated in a clipped British accent. “Of course I can bloody well hear you, Gus. You needn’t shout.” 
Startled, I studied him closer. The man was blessed with a Michelangelo face reminiscent of the statue of David, but with more rounded features, including a strong nose and full lips. His black skin shone with vigorous health. A small silver earring pierced his right ear. On his left hand he wore an onyx and silver band. The ring sparked some distant memory, but I still couldn’t summon his identity. He turned his eyes to mine, forced a weak smile, and took my hand. In that instant, recognition flooded through me. Byron. Byron Cunningham. “Byron.” I smiled. “You’ve changed a bit over the years. I didn’t recognize you without your granny glasses and bellbottoms.” He squeezed my hand and pushed himself onto his elbows. “I have changed a mite, I guess...
I called to tell you I accepted  a post at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester... I'm chair of the voice department. Just began last month..."
"Eastman, huh? What a Plum job."
"Quite. Many consider Eastman to be the best music school in the world, you know." Pride flitted across his face.
I couldn't resist. I gave him a bear hug.'ve damned lucky you didn't die in the crash."
"Lucky? I'd say it was some sort of divine providence. If you hadn't been riding in this area...if you hadn't dragged me out...I'd be charcoal, singing with the angels."
{Noah Stewart chosen to play Byron based upon the chill factor--he gave me chills as I listened!}

The Liar's Gallery:
A Gus LeGarde Mystery
By Aaron Paul Lazar

If I were a man, I'd want to be like Gus LeGarde... What? You've never thought about being somebody of the opposite sex... Or maybe somebody of the same sex who you admire? Gus is a man that garners respect, love, and demonstrates those qualities and more in return. Somehow I always think that he must be much like the author, don't you think? When a character is drawn so beautifully, I tend to think that the character represents either the author or somebody who was greatly admired by the author... One of the first suggestions through my search was Kelsey Grammer. You know, I think Google knows how to work for me! LOL

A good portion of each book will be set at the LeGarde family farm where LeGarde will be either gardening or fixing a meal...or picking up one of the little ones carefully and loving...
Gus' daughter lives with them now with her three children and Gus has recently remarried Camille, after losing his first wife a number of years ago through cancer. Gus also gained an adopted daughter, Shelby, with his second marriage and she is not exactly happy with her father when she falls in love with an "older man." She's still in high school and he's in college...
A new character introduced to readers is actually Gus' best friend, but they've not seen each other for years--a little fault on both while the busy world is really the culprit! Gus had played for Byron when he was either in concert or preparing for class work. Now Byron was just appointed as head of the music department at Eastman in Rochester... The new boyfriend just happens to be attending Eastman!
Byron had been flying his own plane when it went down. Fortunately, it was near where Gus had been out riding. He had just gotten Byron out when the gas blew and the plane was destroyed. Once they were back at the farm and had a night's rest, they went to the site of the plane and found a long tube that had a painting inside! Byron knew nothing about it but later at home an accidental spill caused them to realize that the original painting had been painted over!
Another image emerged beneath the garish New York City painting. The newly revealed section was beautifully textured with short violet brush strokes. I exchanged a wide-eyed glance with Byron and dabbed more juice onto the paper towel. The over-painting dissolved quickly. “Waterloo Bridge,” I whispered. I knew the painting well, having visited it frequently on the second floor of the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery. It was my favorite canvas from the museum’s Impressionist collection. Painted in 1903 by Claude Monet, it was entitled “The Waterloo Bridge, Veiled Sun.” 
Byron’s jaw dropped. “I think it’s time to call someone, Gus.” 
Johnny had stopped crying and was sniffling now. “That picture’s prettier, Opa.” He wiped his cheeks and turned to Byron. “Is that your cup-a-coffee, Mr. Cubbingham?” 
He smiled at Johnny. “You bet it is, lad. Cup of tea, cup of coffee. Any way you say it, this one I like.”

While discussions began with the police art experts, another famous piece was discovered when Byron was given the tour of the house...
[Note from BRH: The painting in the book is supposed to be undiscovered...this selection is an example of his work]
He took out his glasses, cleaned them with a shirttail, and put them on, scrutinizing the signature at the bottom. Hishands were shaking. “Gus,” he said in a hoarse whisper. “This is a Knight. A Daniel Ridgway Knight.” “It sure is,” I said calmly. “Are you familiar with his work?”
 “Don’t be daft! I adore him. I have several of his French countryside paintings in my apartment. I paid a fortune for them, and have them securely guarded. I’m on the website daily, looking for new offerings. But this—” he said, stepping back to admire the piece. “I’ve never seen anything like this. My God, Gus, do you know how much this is worth?” 
I looked up at the old man playing fiddle beneath an ancient tree whose branches spread like a protective canopy. His bushy white beard and rustic clothing reminded me of a French country peasant. A red knapsack lay at his feet, and a little white dog danced on his hind feet to the fiddler’s music. In the background, a distant village sprawled across the horizon. “Never really thought about it. I imagine it could be in the thousands?”
 Byron rolled his eyes. “Good God, man. You have a lot to learn. A piece of this quality could easily be worth half a million. Maybe more.” He ran his fingers nervously through his hair. “You need to get it appraised and insured...

Without going any further into the artistic world, let's just say that Gus and Byron got involved with the seamy side when they discover there is a ring of thieves working in Rochester and millions of dollars of art had already been taken and... now comes into the LeGarde's home and lives... While Byron is under suspicion since the Monet had been found in his plane...

So let's get back to Shelby. Here, too, Byron's visit brought her into the primary story. When Shelby learned that Byron was a singing teacher, she took his being there to tell Gus that she wanted to sing. Byron spent time with her, and as the family listened, they were all surprised at Shelby's beautiful voice. Needless to say that Byron immediately suggested lessons, Gus agreed, and Gus was soon driving Shelby to Rochester, but not until after the family had enjoyed many solos and duets including this piece from the Mikado... [I found this interpretation fun, don't you?And the first time she was there, she met the "University man" of her dreams... Without going into their story too much, let's say that it just may be the typical teenage romance? Maybe not!

[I loved the video background on this, plus it was shorter version!]
Maddy stood up, rummaged in her oversized bag, and drew out a CD. “I just bought this, Gus. I wanted you to take a listen. It’s André Rieu. You know how they’ve been featuring his orchestra on the public station lately? I just adored it, and couldn’t resist ordering the CD and the video.”
 I glanced at the collection of Strauss waltzes performed by the violinist/conductor and his orchestra, sliding it into the CD player. The three-four beat music swelled across the room. Camille’s eyes sparkled. She swayed to the music. When her feet started tapping, Byron turned to her. “Camille? Do you waltz?” 
“I do, but my husband is a bit reticent to try anything more than a two-step shuffle.” She looked at me apologetically.
 I shrugged. “I can’t deny it.” Byron stood and offered his arm to her. “In that case, would you do me the honor?” 

Ok, I admit it...I played up the parts that were "extras" or "fill-ins" around the major thrusts of the book. I did it and I'm glad I did it...My review is for readers, who have never read Lazar before, one of the reasons many place his books as must-reads! I know Gus better than I know any of my neighbors and I adore his love of family, music, and all things meaningful. LeGarde has to be my favorite series, but I also enjoy reading all the rest. Gus also has a very special brother-in-law who does not have too big a part in this book...but a very important part...he knows that Shelby is in trouble and starts the hunt for her! 

One other mention that deserves a spotlight is the relationship between Gus and Byron... After being close friends for a major part of their lives, it was only when Gus saves Byron's life in this book, that Byron emotionally came "out" to Gus. It is a truly touching scene as one close friend tells his best friend that he never quite trusted him...enough... Needless to say, Gus was both angry and hurt... What a world we created in the past,  and which still needs work... This became very important in the story because Byron's lover had just died and... Well, you're going to have to find that out for yourself! Read this book! 

I loved it! You will too!


Aaron Paul Lazar wasn't always a mystery writer. It wasn't until eight members of his family and friends died within five years that the urge to write became overwhelming. "When my father died, I lost it. I needed an outlet, and writing provided the kind of solace I couldn't find elsewhere."

Lazar created the Gus LeGarde mystery series, with the founding novel, DOUBLE FORTÉ (2004), a chilling winter mystery set in the Genesee Valley of upstate New York. Like Lazar's father, protagonist Gus LeGarde is a classical music professor. Gus, a grandfather, gardener, chef, and nature lover, plays Chopin etudes to feed his soul and thinks of himself as a "Renaissance man caught in the 21st century." This book has since be rereleased in 2012 as an "author's preferred edition," via Twilight Times Books.

The creation of the series lent Lazar the comfort he sought, yet in the process, a new passion was unleashed. Obsessed with his parallel universe, he now lives, breathes, and dreams about his characters, and has written ten LeGarde mysteries in eight years. (UPSTAGED - 2005; TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON - 2007 Twilight Times Books; MAZURKA - 2009 Twilight Times Books, FIRESONG - 2011, DON'T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU - 2013, VIRTUOSO - 2014, with more to come.) The author has just completed his twenty-first novel.

One day while rototilling his gardens, Lazar unearthed a green cat's eye marble, which prompted the new paranormal mystery series featuring Sam Moore, retired country doctor and passionate gardener. The green marble, a powerful talisman, connects all three of the books in the series, whisking Sam back in time to uncover his brother's dreadful fate fifty years earlier. (HEALEY'S CAVE, 2010; TERROR COMES KNOCKING, 2011; FOR KEEPS, 2012) Lazar intends to continue both series.

Lazar's books feature breathless chase scenes, nasty villains, and taut suspense, but are also intensely human stories, replete with kids, dogs, horses, food, romance, and humor. The author calls them, "country mysteries," although reviewers have dubbed them "literary mysteries."

"It seems as though every image ever impressed upon my brain finds its way into my work. Whether it's the light dancing through stained-glass windows in a Parisian chapel, curly slate-green lichen covering a boulder at the edge of a pond in Maine, or hoarfrost dangling from a cherry tree branch in mid-winter, these images burrow into my memory cells. In time they bubble back, persistently itching, until they are poured out on the page."

In 2009, Kodak gave him up for grabs, and during the year off before he landed in his coveted new job with KB America, he had time to explore and reconnect with his environment. Little did he know that several trips to the Adirondack Mountains would reawaken his passion for that part of the country. Two new books were written in that time frame, starting yet another mystery series, Tall Pines Mysteries. The first two combooks in the series, FOR THE BIRDS - 2011 and ESSENTIALLY YOURS - 2012 have been winning literary awards. Keep an eye out for SANCTUARY (2014), and MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA (2015), coming via Twilight Times Books.

In between all the novels, Lazar found time to issue three writing guides based on his many years of writing advice blogs, entitled WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volumes 1-3. These are available in eBook and audio book.

In his twenty-first book, Lazar has jumped genre. THE SEACREST - OCT 2013 -, a love story, is poised to capture hearts across the globe.
The author lives on a ridge overlooking the Genesee Valley in upstate New York with his wife, mother-in-law, two dogs, and cat. He finds grandfathering one of the most precious and important times of life, and spends as much time as possible with Julian, Gordon, and Isabella.

Lazar maintains several websites and blogs, was the Gather Saturday Writing Essential host for three years, writes his monthly "Seedlings" columns for the Voice in the Dark literary journal and the Future Mystery Anthology Magazine. He has been published in Absolute Write as well as The Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine. See excerpts and reviews here:

Contact him at
Twilight Times Books by multi-award winning author, Aaron Lazar:

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