Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Welcome to Blog Stop for Authors of Murder on the Mullet Express Today!

This book is dedicated to Constance Odessa Chambers (1888-1963) and the other members of the Army Nurse Corps. We are grateful for their service and inspiration.
When traveling with Percival Pettijohn, it was best to bring a sidearm. Cornelia was glad that she'd brought hers.
Here they were, broken down on the Dixie Highway in the no-man's-land between Gainesville and Ocala. All she saw were pines and cabbage palms on either side of the rain-soaked highway. Two vehicles had already splashed past, ignoring their waves and cries for help. If a car stopped, though, would it hold assistance, or thieves who had decided to pluck two old crows and one old coot?
...A young man climbed out of the car, straw hat in hand. He jammed it on his head, obscuring a shock of sandy hair.
"I heard that you were broken down. Has anyone offered to help yet?"
Someone had told him that they were stranded? Cornelia's mouth curled down. "Have you come offering your assistance for money, sir?"
"No, ma'am. I don't own a tow truck. But I thought you could use a ride. It's not very far to Ocala from here." He hesitated. "I'm sorry; I should have told you who I am. Peter Rowley, land agent." He stuck out his hand.
"What a coincidence," Teddy said. "We drove down for the grand opening in New Homosassa."
"I thought that might be the case...
"So, all three of you are coming to the opening?"
Uncle Percival nodded as he adjusted the amplification of his hearing aid. "I've been considering a winder home for a while, one in a milder climate."

Murder on the Mullet Express

By Gwen Mayo, and
Sarah E. Glenn
The band was playing "Nobody's Sweetheart" when they
entered the ballroom...

Prepare to travel back to the 1920s when land was being sold and companies would host a weekend full of entertainment, hoping to sell a plot of land or arrange an investment into the new community that was being built... What fun! And enjoy some of the entertainment presented throughout the weekend!

You will love the main characters--three elderly individuals, two of them related, uncle and niece, Percival and Cornelia Pettijohn, and Theodore Lawless, Cornelia's companion... Who better to solve the murders in this delightful cozy murder mystery!
"You bounder!" a man's voice shouted. "I should have known you would be here?"
Through the viewer, Cornelia now saw two men circling each other near the entrance of the
first passenger car. One, a burly man with a heavy mustache, held his fists in a boxing
stance, while the other had his arms up in a defensive pose.
"Cheat! Thief!" The aggressive one swung, and his opponent jumped back. People began
gathering--to watch, of course, not to stop the fight...
The three had been traveling together in Cornelia's car when it developed a leak and they were stranded. The land agent who was one of the sponsors and host of a weekend event to try to sell land, had gone to help, knowing it was likely they would be one of his guests... A car part had to be ordered, so the trio had to ride the Mullet Express to the actual area where they would be staying... 

And it was during that ride, that they witnessed a fight between two men, one of whom seemed to have gotten the worst beating and had shown physical distress while they were traveling... Both Cornelia and Theodore (Teddy) had been nurses in the war and instinctively started watching his symptoms... Later, they were called in to nurse him...and then to act as witnesses when he died...
"Why don't you go back to reading
Gertrude Stein?" Cornelia grumbled.
Her companion shuddered.
"I've been reading it since we began
the trip. Or, I should say, I've tried
to read it. It gives me a headache.

It is Cornelia who takes the lead as amateur detective, while Teddy, who was more socially inclined, enjoyed the drinking and parties hosted for their enjoyment. 

Uncle Percival, on the other hand, really didn't have too much of an interest of any planned events. Instead, as a retired civil engineering professor, he spent all his time talking to the train engineers or exploring what was happening in the buildings being constructed. He had just purchased the new motion picture camera and had decided to film the entire trip! 

Teddy turned to them. "And who is this dashing gentlemen? She fingered her long strand of beads.
 "I apologize. I didn't ask your name. I am Cornelia, and this is Teddy."
He bowed quickly. "Pleased to meet you both. My proper name is Santiago, but I go by Chago."
The band struck up "Let's All Go to Mary's House," and people began to dance. The talkers moved to the edges of the room. Cornelia moved with them, but Teddy tapped Chago's arm. "Dance with me, won't you? I love dancing, but I can only di it for a little while."
...The first song ended, and "The Charleston" was next. A whoop went out, and the floor filled quickly. Teddy kicked next to Chago, delight on her face. Their young neighbor rushed to join in...

You might begin to think Pettijohn is a bit of the forgetful professor, but he's not...His mind is still strong though his body has aged, and he has a wonderful gift of memory for all things he has seen... Of course, his unquenchable thirst for new paths to learning soon led him to trouble...he had conveniently forgotten about the police mandate for all visitors to stay at the hotel and surroundings while the murder investigation goes on.

Cornelia...decided to try
the machine for herself.
She aimed it...Shouts
broke out behind her...
Cornelia shifted the
camera...Cornelia now
saw two men circling
each other...
Of course, if he had done that, they would not have come to know about the second murder... But only after he was put in jail, mainly to keep track of him, LOL... You see that new Motion Picture Camera, without anybody realizing it, had captured both murders! Cornelia had filmed the first while her uncle had captured the second, even though he hadn't realized it...but could later clearly report everything he had seen as he put his amazing skill to work...

I have to admit that I was having too much fun with the antics of the characters that I wasn't paying too much attention on following clues...However, these two authors had me beat since I wouldn't have even begun to guess at least one of the guilty parties! Kudos to the mystery team!

One interesting characters was a man working as a driver for the event...He hooked himself with our three main characters and drove them every place, including back and forth from jail and getting himself in several tight situations...
"Cripes!" Mitch jerked the wheel hard to the right and they narrowly missed being sideswiped by the mobsters' car. Cornelia saw the reason why the men had doubled back. Traffic was at a standstill on the road to the hotel. Both lanes were filled with lines of cars headed one way..."Valentino movie," Teddy answered from the back. "Double feature."
..."They must not know where they're headed. The road ends at the river."
"Good," Cornelia said. They can't get away."

The book includes mob criminals that were prevalent at that time... And when they get involved; they, meaning more than one group of criminals, create quite a bit of excitement that Cornelia and Teddy seem to always get involved with! Oh, one other unique perspective of the societal censoring happening at that time with regard to women... This was an important addition to the era's story, but done so cleverly low-keyed that many of us would think nothing about it, except if it had been called to the readers' attention... And then, the ending was such a surprise since I had selected one man as the charlatan! So Percival Pettijohn totally quite me off guard for a perfect ending! Cool, right?!

The ladies entered the ballroom to find it blanketed in orange and white banners. Tropical flowers decorated the tables, blazing creations in crimson, gold, tangerine, with touches of blue or purple. The centerpiece of the room was an enormous white cake studded with fresh orange slices. The sweet aroma made Cornelia's mouth water...
"Here they come," Teddy said, breaking her brown study.
After the men walked in, Rowley removed the blindfold. Everyone shouted, "Happy Birthday!"
The professor beamed at the display. "Marvelous! All this for me?"
"We need to outshine Saint Petersburg tonight," the land agent said. He gestured to the gallery, and the musicians broke into "Bugle Call Rag."

It addition to providing readers with a wonderfully entertaining cozy mystery, Authors Mayo and Glenn provide additional historical background, including the drink that Teddy so enjoyed: The Mary Pickford Cocktail... It's made with white rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and Maraschino...but you'd have to read the book to get the full recipe... A short bibliography for further reading is also provided...

If you enjoy historical, humorous looks at the past, together with a splendid set of characters who save the day...you really do need to check this one! It's so much fun, I've got to  highly recommend it!


See previous blog article by Gwen Mayo on the Poison of Choice...and authors' information

And Thanks to Gwen and Sarah for sharing their book at
Book Readers Heaven!

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