Murder at the Pontchartrain by Kathleen Kaska – Guest Post: Sydney Lockhart’s World

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Murder at the Pontchartrain
by Kathleen Kaska

About Murder at the Pontchartrain

Murder at the Pontchartrain
Cozy Mystery (Humorous)
6th in Series
Setting – New Orleans, Louisiana
Anamcara Press LLC (June 15, 2023)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 280 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1941237940
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1941237946

“My name is Sydney Lockhart. I solve murders, most of which I’m the primary suspect.

My boyfriend/partner, Ralph Dixon, and I came to the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans to get married. Instead, Dixon’s in jail for a double murder. I’m in a swamp, spying on the KKK. Helping me untangle this mess is my bubble-headed cousin Ruth who’s undercover as a chef at the Pontchartrain. My twelve-year-old charge, Lydia LaBeau, dressed as a voodoo queen, is looking for clues at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter. Rip Thigbee, a ghost detective, is my only hope.

I’m not making any of this up. This is my life and this is what I deal with, like it or not.

So, mix yourself a Hurricane and join me in the Big Easy for another historic hotel murder case.”

Sydney Lockhart’s World

By Kathleen Kaska

The men in my life are stable and encouraging. The women in my life are all lunatics. I fall somewhere in the middle. My name is Sydney Lockhart, and I’m a PI, unusual for a woman in the early 1950s. I tried my hand at teaching and reporting—both great professions. Teaching didn’t suit me, but my academic guidance counselor, a man, pushed me in that direction, saying that it was my calling. I think he just wanted me out of his office. I liked being a news reporter and probably would have stayed with it if it weren’t for a few murders I’d stumbled upon and an attractive police detective who wouldn’t leave me alone.

I’m about to turn thirty, and as I sit here in our eight-floor office, sipping my martini and watching the sun set over the Hill Country west of Austin, Texas, I’m reflecting on all that’s happened in my life during the past year. My partner/future husband, Ralph Dixon, the aforementioned police detective and stable guy, and I went private a few months ago. We have a young partner named Billy Ludlow who takes the cheating husbands and missing person cases, while Dixon and I handle the precarious ones, like murders. We even have an efficient secretary named Phoebe, whom we often find in the closet fooling around with Billy—their business, not mine.

We have a crew of folks to pitch in occasionally, some annoying, some welcomed, and some uninvited. My cousin, Ruth Echland (annoying), is a wealthy, bubble-headed blonde from Dallas. Her illegitimate step-sister, Marcella Wheatly (welcomed), a whip-smart lawyer who is always there to bail me out of jail. And believe it or not, a twelve-year-old girl who runs her father’s live theatre here in Austin. Defining Lydia LaBeau (invited) would take more time than you have, so I’ll just say that Little Lydia is often the smartest person in the room.

I never know what will happen from one minute to the next, except that it usually involves me, a murder, and a hotel. Here are a few examples of what I mean: A few weeks ago, I was trailing a notorious bookie who checked into the Menger Hotel in San Antonio. I checked into the room next to his. He was murdered the following day. Guess who was a suspect? Another time, I went undercover on a case in New Orleans to find the person who murdered a woman in the Pontchartrain Hotel. As a result, I almost ended up buried alive in a nearby swamp. Oh, I failed to mention that the woman was killed in my room. And then there was the New Year’s Eve party at the Luther Hotel on the Texas Coast. A dead guy—murdered—fell into my arms while I was on the dance floor. And finally, while searching for the killer of a dead man found in my bathtub at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Spring, Arkansas, I ended up in an illegal casino while the place was raided. The only means of escape was across a train trestle. Playing chicken with a train is no fun. Oh, wait. There’s one more. While in Galveston, Texas, the cops found a dead guy—murdered—in the trunk of my car in the parking lot behind the Galvez Hotel.

Our agency, Dixon, Lockhart, and Ludlow, has gained a reputation as being the one to call if the crime involves murder and hotels. I’m beginning to think it is personal, a cat-and-mouse game between us and people who want to waste someone. The word among the killers is out. “Let’s bump this guy off at the such-and-such hotel and be the first to get away with it.”

Right now, I’m trying to figure out where the next hotel murder might be. The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego? The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky? The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island might be nice. But then again, we probably should stick around Austin for a while. A few weeks ago our office caught fire. We thought it was due to bad wiring but discovered it was arson. We’re pretty sure we know who the pyromaniac is, and I’m afraid that vengeful person is not finished with us. My ruminations are interrupted by Dixon. Excuse me for a moment.

“Like some company, hon?”

“Sure.” (I love it when he calls me “hon.” He took the martini from my hand and finished it.

“Have you ever heard of a town called New Braunfels?” (Dickson’s new to Texas, having just moved here from Arkansas.)

“A small German town, known for its beer and sausage, located between here and San Antonio. Why?”

“Let’s go. We’re wanted.”

“Wanted, as in?”

“I’ll let you figure it out.”

Giddiness fluttered my stomach. I like being a PI. I don’t have to deal with hormonal teenagers or fussy, demanding newspaper editors. I get to spend most of my days with Dixon. I get to carry a gun and occasionally hang around with scumbags, and I don’t have to give up my stilettoes to do it. What’s not to like?

About Kathleen Kaska

Kathleen Kaska is the author of the awarding-winning mystery series: the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series set in the 1950s and the Kate Caraway Animal-Rights Mystery Series. Her first two Lockhart mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the country’s largest book group. She also writes mystery trivia. The Sherlock Holmes Quiz Book was published by Rowman & Littlefield. Her Holmes short story, “The Adventure at Old Basingstoke,” appears in Sherlock Holmes of Baking Street, a Belanger Books anthology. She is the founder of The Dogs in the Nighttime, the Sherlock Holmes Society of Anacortes, Washington, a scion of The Baker Street Irregulars. Watch for Murder at the Pontchartrain: the 6th Sydney Lockhart Mystery in June 2023.

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