Read Heartache Motel: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas (Henery Press Mystery Novellas) Online

Authors: Terri L. Austin,Larissa Reinhart,LynDee Walker

Tags: #Mystery, #mystery books, #british mysteries, #elvis, #detective stories, #amateur sleuth, #cozy mystery, #women sleuths, #graceland, #female sleuths, #mystery series

Heartache Motel: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas (Henery Press Mystery Novellas)

BOOK: Heartache Motel: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas (Henery Press Mystery Novellas)
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Praise for HEARTACHE MOTEL

“I was laughing out loud and couldn’t stop turning the pages as I read the adventures of amateur sleuths Rose Strickland, Cherry Tucker, and Nichelle Clarke, who find themselves at the Heartache Motel in Memphis, just in time for Christmas.”

– Gigi Pandian,

Author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series


Heartache Motel
, written by three talented storytellers, is three times the fun and mystery…It is the perfect rainy day, sunny day, I don’t feel like getting out of bed book. Have your Happy Holidays with a 5-star humorous set-of-three mysteries!”

– Heather Haven,

Author of the Humorous Alvarez Family and

Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries

“For a fun, Elvis-loving mystery treat, no place is better than the Heartache Motel. Sit back and let Man-Margret check you in to follow the clues to Christmas filled with cozy mystery at its best.”

— Nancy J Parra,

Author of the Baker’s Treat Mysteries and

Perfect Proposal Mysteries

Praise for the Rose Strickland Mysteries

“With twists, turns and surprises that left me hanging on right to the end, I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely can’t wait to see what is in store for Rose and her quirky friends next.”

– Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

“I strongly recommend picking a copy up to read this summer. I know I am looking forward to reading more books by this author. Five stars out of Five.”

– Lynn Farris,

National Mystery Review Examiner at Examiner.com

“Austin’s second course has the menu of feisty underemployed gal detective with a side order of romance down pat.”


Kirkus Reviews

“Fast, fun, and full of laughs!
Last Diner Standing
has it all—mystery, action, and a spicy dash of romance...a must-read!”

– Ann Charles,

Award-Winning Author of the Deadwood Mystery Series

“This fast-paced and action-filled story kept me plowing through the pages as fast as I could because I had to know what happens next in this thrilling and riveting drama.”

– Dru’s Book Musings

Praise for the Cherry Tucker Mysteries

“Reinhart manages to braid a complicated plot into a tight and funny tale. The reader grows to love Cherry and her quirky worldview, her sometimes misguided judgment, and the eccentric characters that populate the country of Halo, Georgia.”


New York Journal of Books

“Cherry Tucker is back – tart-tongued and full of sass. With her paint-stained fingers in every pie, she’s in for a truckload of trouble.”

– J.J. Murphy,

Author of the Algonquin Round Table Mysteries

“Cherry Tucker’s got an artist’s palette of problems, but she handles them better than da Vinci on a deadline. Bust out your gesso and get primed for humor, hijackings, and a handful of hunks!”

– Diane Vallere,

Author of the Style & Error and Mad for Mod Mystery Series

“Cherry Tucker finds trouble without even looking for it, and plenty of it finds her in
Still Life in Brunswick Stew
…this mystery keeps you laughing and guessing from the first page to the last. A whole-hearted five stars.”

– Denise Grover Swank,

New York Times
and
USA Today
Bestselling Author

Praise for the Headlines in High Heels Mysteries

“Mafia hotties, corrupt politicians, old flames and murder.
Buried Leads
propels the reader on a wild ride through Richmond, Virginia, as Clarke ducks bullets and unmasks criminals, all this in her incisive exposés and her aubergine Manolo Blahniks.”

—Patricia Smiley,

Bestselling Author of
Cool Cache

“Intrepid reporter Nichelle Clarke is back again, tracking down a killer, sniffing out political corruption, and juggling studmuffin boyfriends—all in impossibly high heels. Very smartly written and cleverly plotted, with a nifty surprise ending!”

—Laura Levine, Author of the Jaine Austen Mystery Series

“This book has a great mystery, a ton of humor (I know I’ve already said that, but it was worth repeating) and really wonderful characters...I really hope there are more books in this series.”

– Kerry Hammond,

CriminalElement.com

“It’s Walker’s real life experience as a working journalist that makes this enjoyable mystery stand out. The details of newsroom machinations are every bit as complicated as the tangled puzzle that her sleuth must solve.”

— Lisa Brackmann,

New York Times
Bestselling Author

Books in the Rose Strickland Mystery Series

by Terri L. Austin

DINERS, DIVES & DEAD ENDS (#1)

LAST DINER STANDING (#2)

DINER IMPOSSIBLE (#3)

Books in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series

by Larissa Reinhart

PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (#1)

STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (#2)

HIJACK IN ABSTRACT (#3)

DEATH IN PERSPECTIVE (#4)

coming Summer 2014

Books in the Headlines in High Heels Mystery Series

by LynDee Walker

FRONT PAGE FATALITY (#1)

BURIED LEADS (#2)

SMALL TOWN SPIN (#3)

coming Spring 2014

HEARTACHE MOTEL

Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Collection

First Edition

Kindle edition | December 2013

Henery Press

www.henerypress.com

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Henery Press, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

“Diners Keepers, Losers Weepers” Copyright © 2013 Terri L. Austin

“Quick Sketch” Copyright © 2013 Larissa Reinhart

“Dateline Memphis” Copyright © 2013 LynDee Walker

Cover Artwork by Fayette Terlouw

This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

ISBN-13: 978-1-938383-93-9

Printed in the United States of America

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

from
Terri L. Austin…

If memory serves, Larissa Reinhart came up with the idea of writing an anthology. She wondered what our characters had planned for Christmas and it took off from there. LynDee Walker had the fabulous idea to set our stories in Graceland. It was so much fun to work with my Hen pals. And a real honor for Rose to share a book with Cherry Tucker and Nichelle Clarke, two of my favorite heroines. Thank you ladies, for making this a wonderful experience. To Kendel Flaum, our very patient editor: Thank you for your continued support and for taking on such a crazy cast of characters.

from
Larissa Reinhart…

Thank you to Albert and Tracy Sands, Jennifer Tanner, Cat Sisson, Gina Niebrugge, Gretchen Archer, Gigi Pandian, Heather Haven, and Nancy Parra for all your help. A special hug for Kendel Flaum for your dedicated elbow grease in editing, advising, and designing, and to the Hen House team for all you do. LynDee and Terri, love you. As always, I’m especially grateful to Trey and the girls for their support. And thanks to all the readers who wanted a glimpse of Cherry pre-
Portrait of a Dead Guy
.

from
LynDee Walker…

Thank you, mom and Aunt Lena, for passing along your love of Elvis’s music, and thanks to all the fans who keep his memory alive. Special shout-out to the staff at Graceland, which is a lovely place to visit (and exceptionally well-run and managed). I did take liberties with the property layout for story purposes, but stayed true to the mansion’s interior and everything else I could. Thanks also to my friend Eszter for her constant cheerleading. And to my three little monkeys, for playing quietly while mommy had Christmas in July.

PART 1:

Diners Keepers, Losers Weepers

by

Terri L. Austin

ONE

(A few months after
Diner Impossible
)

Christmastime at Ma’s Diner was busier than ever. Despite the saggy gold tinsel dangling above the plate glass window and the depressing Neil Sedaka carols Ma insisted on playing, we had more customers than chairs.

With the holiday right around the corner, people needed eggnog French toast in a bad way. As a result, our coffers overflowed and the tips were better than average.

I personally honored the Christmas spirit by donning a Rudolph pin whose nose blinked bright red. He looked like a reindeer in desperate need of an AA meeting to me, but people seemed to think it was cute.  

After our last customer cleared out, Roxy Block, my best friend and fellow server, rushed to flip the closed sign. Today she wore a green and black Goth dress—huge mutton sleeves, teeny-tiny flared skirt. Her concession to Christmas was a sprig of holly tacked to the lacy mourning bonnet covering her electric blue hair.

Sitting at the counter, Ma sipped black coffee as she tallied the day’s receipts. “Rose, Roxy, come here.” She spun on her stool and waved us over. “There’s something I need to discuss with you.”

Roxy and I shot each other a glance as we walked around the counter and planted ourselves in front of her.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Roxy said, “you’re not sick or anything, are you?”

Peering at us through enormous trifocals, Ma set down her cup. “Please, I’m healthier than a mule. Now, as you know, I’ll be turning eighty soon.” She ran her hands through her short, white hair. It stuck out in sixteen different directions and her attempts at finger combing didn’t do a thing to tame it.

“Define soon.” Roxy reached into her apron pocket and withdrew a pack of nicotine gum, popping a piece in her mouth.

“Your birthday’s not until May,” I said.

Ma wiggled her bony butt on the stool. “If I want to celebrate a little early, that’s my business. Listen, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. There’s something I need to do before it’s too late. And I want you girls to do it with me.” She grinned and raised her penciled eyebrows.

“Ma, we’ve been over this a million times,” I said. “We’re not taking you to the highway porn shop. There’s nothing for you there, I promise. You can get all that stuff on the internet without rubbing shoulders with the creepers.”

“Well, to be fair, they do have a niche aisle,” Roxy said. “It’s a little twisted, but I don’t judge.”

“No, not the porn store,” Ma said. “Although it’s still on my bucket list. I’m talking Graceland, girls. Who’s with me?”

I leaned my elbows on the counter. “I think you’re going to have to be more specific. Graceland? As in Elvis and Memphis and all that?”

She nodded, causing her green jingle bell earrings to tinkle softly against her jaw. “Exactly. I’m closing the diner for four days.”

Roxy gasped. And rightly so. With the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, we were open every day of the year, from six a.m. to one p.m. People sort of depended on it. Especially the old timers.

“Ma, we never close,” I said. Besides, I couldn’t afford to take a trip. All those extra tips had been earmarked to buy my nephew, Scotty, a video game for Christmas and pay for next semester’s tuition at Huntingford City College. A jaunt to Memphis wasn’t on the menu. 

“I’m only going to turn eighty a couple of times and I want to see Graceland during the holidays. Is that too much to ask? And you girls should see it, too, so I’m paying for the whole trip.”

Roxy grinned. “Cool. When do we leave?”

“Wait a minute. I can’t just take off.” I planned on spending Christmas day with my family. Scotty still believed in Santa and I loved seeing the surprise on his little face as he ripped into each present. Also Sullivan, my criminally-mischievous boyfriend, and I had plans for Christmas night. Hot plans. Sexy plans. Plans I’d miss if I were stuck in Memphis. “Now’s not a good time. I’m sorry.”

Ma’s bright red lips slipped into a frown. “Oh. Okay. Roxy and I will go alone, celebrate my birthday with strangers.”

“Ma—”

“No, no, Rose. I understand. It’s just that Elvis Presley holds a very special place in this old heart. A heart so old, it might not be ticking for much longer.” Running a hand over her embroidered Santa sweatshirt, Ma straightened her shoulders. “Really, it’s fine.”

Roxy glared at me from the corner of her eye. “Rose,” she hissed. 

“It’s just that Christmas day—I’ve got plans,” I said.

Ma brightened. “I’ll have you home for Christmas, toots. Promise.”

I opened my mouth to make another stab at protesting when the diner door opened and Axton Graystone walked in, bringing a fresh wave of cold, December air with him. “Hey, dudes.” His wind-whipped, dishwater blond hair tangled around his head like a messy halo. He shrugged out of his coat and displayed a t-shirt that read:
Keep Calm and Speak Klingon.
Trotting to the counter, he heaved his ever-present backpack on the stool next to him. “What’s the haps?”

“We’re going to Graceland,” Ma said.

His scruffy jaw dropped. “No. Way. Graceland? I’m so jealous right now, I could howl.”

“Ax,” I said, “you’ve never mentioned Elvis to me once.
The Hobbit
, George Lucas,
Battlestar Galactica
, but never, ever Elvis.”

He slouched on the stool. “Yeah. It’s a sore subject.”

Roxy rolled her eyes and grabbed a rag. “Here we go,” she muttered. “Why so touchy about Elvis, Ax?”

“Go ahead and laugh, but when I was a little kid, I watched every single one of his movies with my favorite nanny. When she left, I was bummed for a long time. Those movies were, like, our thing.”

Axton and I both came from a privileged background, but we’d taken our own paths in life. After a falling out with my parents, I became a waitress and part-time student. Six years later I still worked for Ma, who had taught me the sacred tao of food service. Ax grew up to become an IT guy with a penchant for the doobage. Our respective families did not approve.

BOOK: Heartache Motel: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas (Henery Press Mystery Novellas)
7.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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