Antiquarian book dealer Raymond Hilary finds himself on a white-knuckled dead-of-night ride through the roller-coaster roads of the Georgia countryside, gripping the handholds of a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith belonging to one Cornelius Astor-Beaudry, known to his many friends as “the Colonel.” They are racing to a Southern estate called Wisteria Pines, where its patriarch has been found dead in a locked room with bars on its windows. Voodoo, three wills, missing jewels, Cajun legends, Acadia, the French Revolution, the British regailia, New Orleans at Mardi Gras, and a $6-million fortune make “Murder at Wisteria Pines” a stupefying mystery pitting Raymond and the Colonel forces that the locals only speak of in whispers.
Targeted Age Group:: 12-100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have been hooked on mysteries ever since I was given a set of annotated Sherlock Holmes stories as a young man. I began writing stories about the Colonel and Raymond Hilary in the wee hours while still working a day job and raising a family. In the peace and quiet of a cottage on the Elk River in the beloved South where I was raised, I finally was able to finish this tale about Raymond Hilary meeting and becoming the personal assistant to Cornelius Astor-Beaudry, known fondly as "the Colonel."
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Every character in "Murder at Wisteria Pines" is based on one or more people I knew or encountered while growing up in Georgia and Alabama. That includes even the British narrator, Raymond Hilary. The rich heritage of the South is a heritage of strong, vibrant personalities whose sometimes rough-hewn exterior often hides an astonishing depth of wisdom, caring, and kindness. I have attempted to bring some of them back to life in these pages and introduce them to you.
I didn’t choose the right-hand hallway so much as I simply went that direction, feeling my way gingerly. Almost immediately I saw that the first doorway on my right was partially opened onto a blackness that was some shade or so deeper than that in the hallway.
I stopped and again whispered Marie’s name.
The odor was not my imagination. I knew that now. What was it? And where were the damned light switches!
I pushed gently on the partially opened door with my left hand, and advanced in a shuffling sort of way just barely into the room, feeling all the while with my right hand for a cursed light switch. I can’t say with any cer- tainty whether my foot encountered a curiously yielding mass or my hand found the switch first, or whether they were simultaneous occurrences. I do know that my fingers fumbled to operate that switch sufficiently long that mental flash-cards first of voodoo dolls and then of the dead body of Marie Dubois managed to assault my senses in the darkness before the light flooded the scene and I was staring down at the blood-crusted severed head of a black pig grinning back at me from the floor at my feet.
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