Looking for her past as well as her future, Samantha Richardson moves to New Orleans. A mysterious key and journal left in her apartment lead her on a fun scavenger hunt around her French Quarter neighborhood. But when she finds a body and more anonymous gifts, Sammy realizes she must find the truth or she’ll lose her new friends and possibly her life.
Targeted Age Group:: 30+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I fell in love with mysteries first and then the city of New Orleans. The Key to Murder combines my obsession with both! To escape to the French Quarter with characters and mysteries of my own creation is my favorite thing to do!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I started with my main character, Samantha Richardson. She is a woman who I'd like to know and the rest of the characters fell into place. Most of them are people I'd like to know, although some are not! You can't have all likable characters in a mystery.
I entered my building’s courtyard to find a woman standing by the bistro table under the living room window of my apartment. Swathed head to toe in soft layers of lilac and silver, she turned as I walked in her direction. She tapped a ring-laden hand on the table as her deeply lined face jutted toward me.
“Why would you put them here? Do you have any idea how dangerous these are?”
She pointed at a large vase filled with my favorite flowers, stargazer lilies. The arrangement didn’t appear problematic, but I saw nothing else on the table.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you’re talking about.” As I came closer the woman stepped back so abruptly, I assumed I startled her.
“I hope you’re being honest. Your energy is puzzling.”
I ignored her strange remark as I pulled a card from the arrangement and replied, “These flowers are from my former coworkers. I live here. How about you?”
“You’re the new neighbor.” She sighed. “I should have known Libby would rent the apartment without vetting your spirit. I have asked her repeatedly to let me examine the new renters first.”
Vetting my spirit? Was this the new age version of a credit check? I thought better than to say that to the agitated stranger and instead said, “I’m confused. Do you live here?”
“Yes. I am your neighbor.” She pointed to the apartment next to mine, closest to the back of the courtyard. “I have lived there for many years. I expect the utmost courtesy and respect from you.”
I tried to interject that I was always a good neighbor, but she didn’t give me a chance.
“Young lady, I can see that you are here for an adventure, but don’t make me any part of it. There is something strange about your aura, so I need you to keep your spirit and your troubles to yourself.”
“Excuse me? Troubles?”
She disregarded my questions and grabbed the bouquet from my table. “First thing you must do is take these flowers inside. They are poisonous to cats and I don’t want my babies anywhere near them.”
On cue, two slinky black cats strolled from the garden and sat like statues at her front door. Would she ride off on a broom next?
“I’ll bring the flowers inside,” I said. “What beautiful cats you have. I’m Samantha Richardson and you are?” I stuck out my hand to shake hers, intending to kill her with kindness, but instead she placed the vase in my hands. With a swish of her layers and a curt nod of her head, she sashayed to her front door.
“I don’t know yet if trouble follows you or if you invite it in. Time will tell.”
And with those words, my new neighbor and her cats disappeared into her apartment, leaving me dumbfounded, holding supposedly deadly flowers, and a lot of questions.
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