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Grand Slam Murders by R.J. Lee
A Bridge to Death Mystery Book 1
Kensington | January 29, 2019
After four bridge players are poisoned, newspaper reporter Wendy Winchester sets out to catch a killer who’s not playing with a full deck . . .
When the four wealthy widows who make up the venerable Rosalie Bridge Club never get up from their card table, this quiet Mississippi town has its first quadruple homicide. Who put cyanide in their sugar bowl? An aspiring member and kibitzer with the exclusive club, Wendy takes a personal interest in finding justice for the ladies.
She also has a professional motivation. A frustrated society columnist for the Rosalie Citizen, she’s ready to deal herself a better hand as an investigative reporter. This could be her big break. Plus, she has a card or two up her sleeve: her sometimes boyfriend is a detective and her dad is the local chief of police.
Partnering up with the men in her life, Wendy starts shuffling through suspects and turning over secrets long held close to the chest by the ladies. But when a wild card tries to take her out of the game, Wendy decides it’s time to up the ante before she’s the next one to go down . . .
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“My daddy always said that it must be nice to have the kind of money those stuck-up ladies in there have. Nothin’ to do all day but play bridge, drink gin, and propose silly toasts to themselves,” Arden said. “No everyday reality to disturb their pampered little universe. Not a care in the world.”
Merleece could barely contain herself now. “You the biggest liar in Rosalie. Mr. Brent Wilson, he never talk like that about Miz Liddie and her friends. That is you talkin’ and nobody else. I want you to leave my kitchen right now. You been in here long enough, and my blood pressure up way too high as it is. Next time I go to the doctor, you gone be all I talk to him ’bout. I just hope he have a pill I can take to make you go away.”
Arden was fully prepared to take the argument to another level, but Liddie’s bell-ringing interrupted them once again. But it wasn’t the usual polite, patrician ringing, delicate as the whooshing of fairy wings, calling servants to their expected chores. There was something loud and shrill and insistent about it that was not business as usual, and half a second later it was accompanied by gargled, throaty sounds and the clatter of breaking crockery.
Merleece and Arden rushed into the dining room to a round table of horrors. No matter where they looked—in bridge terms, North, South, East, or West—there was a gruesome sight to behold. Their Miz Sicily seemed to be in the midst of convulsions, the shards of her demitasse scattered around her; only the whites of Miz Bethany’s eyes were showing, as she was otherwise motionless, her cheeks a bright red; Miz Hanna was making frightening, guttural sounds while clutching at her throat; and Miz Liddie, herself, continued to ring the bell as if possessed by a demon. But she somehow had gathered enough of her wits about her to point dramatically in the direction of both Merleece and Arden.
“You . . . !” she cried out.
Then she, too, clutched at her throat, trying valiantly to draw a breath.
“Don’t just stand there like you don’t have good sense. Call 9-1-1 right now!” Merleece shouted to Arden. “Call an ambulance!”
Arden fumbled around in the pocket of his overalls and finally managed to retrieve his cell phone, summoning help in a frenzied voice. Meanwhile, Merleece ran to her Miz Liddie first, prying the bell from her hands to stop the repetitious, now almost ghoulish ringing. Instead of calling the faithful to church, it seemed the bell was announcing impending death to all within earshot.
“Hold on, Miz Liddie, hold on,” Merleece told her, strok¬ing her hand gently. “We callin’ for help right now. You just hold on tight. They gone get here soon and tend to you.”
Then with all the strength she could muster considering the significant trauma she was enduring, Liddie dramatically withdrew from Merleece’s touch and slumped in her chair. It was clearly an act of rejection as the light drained from her eyes, almost as if she were trying to escape the grasp of a monster of some sort. Indeed, something monstrous and life-threatening was happening to all of the Gin Girls simultaneously, and the only thing in question now was how soon the paramedics would arrive upon the scene to verify that the ladies had played their last hand.
About the Author
R. J. Lee follows in the mystery-writing footsteps of his father, R. Keene Lee, who wrote fighter pilot and detective stories for Fiction House, publishers of WINGS Magazine and other ‘pulp fiction’ periodicals in the late ’40’s and ’50’s. Lee was born and grew up in the Mississippi River port of Natchez but also spent thirty years living in the Crescent City of New Orleans. A graduate of the University of the South (Sewanee) where he studied creative writing under Sewanee Review editor, Andrew Lytle, Lee now resides in Oxford, Mississippi.
Author Link – Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bridgetodeathmysteries/
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