Murder at Royale Court (A Cleo Mack Mystery) by G.P. Gardner
Cozy Mystery, 2nd in Series
Lyrical Underground (June 4, 2019)
Paperback: 228 pages
Harbor Village is a vivacious retirement paradise known for its beachy locale and active senior scene. But ever since murder moved in, the idyllic coastal community is becoming a little less lively . . .
With the first annual antique car show cruising into the tranquil bayside oasis of Fairhope, Alabama, there are bumpy roads ahead for Harbor Village director Cleo Mack. As an automobile-themed lecture series gets off to a rough start, she finds herself balancing one too many responsibilities—and dodging advances from a shady event sponsor. It’s enough to make Cleo feel twice her age. But the festivities reach a real dead end when she discovers a body at the Royale Court shopping center . . .
When an innocent man lands in the hot seat for murder, Harbor Village residents look to Cleo to crack the case. Aided by an eclectic group of energetic seniors, Cleo races to identify the true culprit from a growing list of harmless Sunday drivers—before a killer revs up for another hit and run!
This ebook includes an exclusive knitting pattern!
Murder at Royal Court is the second book in the Cleo Mack Mystery series. Although it can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading the fist in the series to get a feel of the characters and circumstances surrounding Cleo’s new life. This cozy takes place in Fairhope, Alabama, a small town on the coast, and centers around Harbor Village, a retirement community with many interesting residents. Cleo is a college professor who took an early retirement and suddenly found herself as the Director of Harbor Village. In this book, Cleo and her friend Nita have volunteered to work at Ann’s knitting shop for the day, while she was busy setting up plans for a knitting retreat. What they were not counting on was finding a dead body in the shared washroom. Once it is determined that he was strangled, Cleo’s friend Ann asks for her help as her brother, Usher seems to be the main suspect.
There are many things I enjoy about this book. First are the many and varied residents of Harbor Village. They are not all main characters but their individuality, quirks and eccentricities add so much to the story. This book was also about an antique automobile show that has come to Harbor Village, complete with a lecture series given by a car afficenado, a scam about a long lost Bugatti to invest in, some romance for Cleo, family relationships, and life in Harbor Village in general. There is also murder and mayhem with several red herrings, and some twists and turns. The plot unfolds slowly and builds nicely until the reveal. I will say that I was pretty sure I knew who the murderer was just past halfway, but wasn’t positive until the reveal. This did not diminish my enjoyment of the story in any way. If you enjoy a good well-paced and plotted cozy mystery you should enjoy this book. If you like cars, especially classic ones, you will probably enjoy this book. If you like a cozy with more mature characters, you will love this book. I recommend this one as well as the first in this series. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
About the Author: Born and raised in Alabama, G. P. Gardner earned BS and MA degrees in Psychology from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL) and an MBA from Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville, AL). She also attended the University of Georgia (Athens, GA), where she studied biopsychology and primatology. But her heart belongs to Talladega College—an HBCU and the first educational institution in Alabama to admit students without regard to race—where she taught business. Her writing life began with short stories, some of which were published in regional literary journals and some of which won prizes. She enjoys the classic mystery writers as well as contemporary whodunits but reads widely. She is a knitter and once owned a knit shop in Fairhope, AL. She studied mystery writing with Terry Cline, another Fairhope resident. Murder in Harbor Village is the first in her series about social worker Cleo Mack. You can visit her at gpgardner.com.
GUEST POST FROM G.P. GARDNER
Thank you for inviting me to do a guest post in conjunction with the release of the second Cleo Mack Mystery. MURDER AT ROYALE COURT appears in June and, as with the first book in the series (MURDER AT HARBOR VILLAGE), Kensington/Lyrical Underground has given it a wonderful cover. This time, the feature is a knit shop in Royale Court, a cute (but fictional) shopping center in the bayside town of Fairhope, Alabama.
Knit shops are dear to my heart. I had one for two lovely years, and spent many hours there, teaching people to knit or helping them select yarns for projects, or interpret patterns, or make garments fit. I specialized in picking up dropped stitches without ripping out a lot of work, and did a fair job of mending, although I was always nervous about attempting that. It was challenging work and not very profitable in the financial sense, but oh so rewarding.
I made wonderful friends through the knit shop. One of them was the owner and developer of the courtyard and surrounding shops, a tiny, beautiful woman named Bessie. She was always perfectly dressed and coiffed and furiously busy. Customers came from many miles away to shop and visit with Bessie. Even in her 80s, she maintained the buildings and garden, cleaned the fountain, climbed ladders, painted while wearing tiny gold slippers. And when the chores were finally done, she opened her clothing shop and presided there until closing time, six days a week. Seven during the Christmas shopping season.
She was a beauty queen and barely in her 20s when she opened the clothing store she would run for 74 years. She was always upbeat, always accepting whatever fate delivered and turning it into something positive.
Bessie didn’t knit and didn’t read mysteries, and couldn’t really understand anyone who sat around enough for either. But she did most everything else.
Bessie’s group of shops was my model for Royale Court, where Cleo Mack and her pal Nita Bergen discovered a body in the knit shop. As far as I know, Bessie never had an experience like that. But if it had happened, her attitude would’ve been much like that of the shop owner in the book, who claimed that a murder guaranteed sales would hit a record high.
I hope you enjoy reading about Cleo and her active retiree friends.