Title: A Death In The Family
Series: Erica Coleman
Author: Marlene Bateman
BLURB supplied by Marlene Sullivan
Meet Erica Coleman—a gifted and quirky private investigator with an OCD-like passion for neatness and symmetry, a penchant for cooking, (ten terrific recipes are included), and a weakness for chocolate.
In A Death in the Family, the second in the Erica Coleman series, private eye Erica Coleman and her family happily anticipate Grandma Blanche’s eighty-first birthday celebration in the picturesque town of Florence, Oregon. But when the feisty matriarch, a savvy businesswoman, suspects wrongdoing and asks Erica to investigate her company, things get sticky.
Before the investigation can even begin, Blanche’s unexpected death leaves Erica with more questions than answers—and it is soon clear Grandma’s passing was anything but natural: she was murdered. When another relative becomes the next victim of someone with a taste for homicide, Erica uses her flair for cooking to butter up local law enforcement and gather clues.
Erica’s OCD either helps or hinders her—depending on who you talk to—but it’s those same obsessive and compulsive traits than enable Erica to see clues that others miss. When she narrowly escapes becoming the third victim, Erica is more determined than ever to solve the case.
EXCERPT“It’s hard to believe she’s gone,” Kristen said dolefully. “When I moved here, I thought I’d have years with Grandma. She was always so active—I thought she’d keep going for years.”
“And all the time, her heart was getting weaker,” Trent said glumly.
Walter commented, “The last time I saw her, Blanche said the doctor told her she had the constitution of a mule.”
There were a few smiles at this, but Martha’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But Mom’s death didn’t have anything to do with how healthy she was.”
“What are you talking about?” Trent’s impatient voice billowed out and filled the small room.
Martha squirmed but fluttered on, “Well, after what Mom said when she came to visit me, you know—about how something wrong was going on in the company—I worried that something might happen.”
Her response reverberated around the room. Everyone went very still—as if they were holding their breath.
Martha’s eyes went from one to another. “I didn’t mean—oh, I shouldn’t have said anything,” she stammered. Her voice was pure distress. “It’s just that . . . well, we’re all family here, so it’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, no one else knows.”
“No one else knows what?” Trent said brusquely.
Visibly flustered, Martha’s hands twisted in her lap. “And . . . and Mother was very old and—and the police haven’t even come, have they?”
Erica wondered what Martha could be getting at. Everyone darted quizzical looks at each other, trying to make sense out of Martha’s confused chirruping.
After meeting blank looks all around, Martha blurted, “I mean, that’s good . . . isn’t it? For the family?”
The room remained deadly silent as Martha’s cheeks flamed red.
There was a rumble as Walter cleared his throat. “Why would the police come?”
“Why, to arrest someone.” Martha sounded surprised—as if he had asked something that was completely and absolutely self-evident. She stared at Walter, as if he and he alone could straighten everything out. “Isn’t that why they’re doing an autopsy? I mean, don’t they always do an autopsy when someone has been murdered?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR & INTERVIEW
Her hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading. Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and has written a number of non-fiction books, including: Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s From Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, and Heroes of Faith. Her latest book is Gaze Into Heaven, a fascinating collection of over 50 documented near-death experiences in early church history.
Marlene’s first novel was the best-selling Light on Fire Island. Her next novel was Motive for Murder, which is the first in a mystery series that features the quirky private eye with OCD, Erica Coleman.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Always--ever since I was in elementary school. I think a large part of my wanting to be a writer came from me reading so much. As a child, I was a voracious reader. For three years in a row in elementary school, I won the contest for reading the most books. And the prize was: A book! I was delighted, of course. Sometimes I wonder if writers are born, because I’ve certainly always wanted to write.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 30 words what would you say?
The name of my latest book is A Death in the Family. Boy, its hard to summarize with so few words, but here goes:
Erica Coleman—a quirky private eye with OCD begins investigating the family company but when two people are murdered, has to find out whodunit before she becomes the next victim.
I’m actually with two publishers. All of my non-fiction is with Cedar Fort. My latest book with them came out last year and is called Gaze Into Heaven—Near Death Experiences in Early Church History. There have been a lot of books written about modern day near-death experiences, but this one focuses solely on those that occurred in the early days of the Church. My novels have been published by Covenant Communications. Last year, the first book in the Erica Coleman series came out; Motive for Murder. Then, A Death in the Family was recently released.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I have two books that have been accepted and are awaiting publication. The first is Crooked House but my publisher always changes the titles so I don’t know what they will call it! Here is a short summary:
Someone is trying to kill Liz Johnson, and it is up to quirky private investigator, Erica Coleman, to find out who it is. With an authentic setting in Dover, Delaware and against a background of NASCAR racing, Erica works to stop the killer who has already survived two murder attempts. Then, the murderer kills an innocent bystander. It’s up to Erica to pinpoint the killer before he can succeed on his fourth try. Crooked House is a thrilling mystery that will keep you on the edge until the last page. As always, ten delicious recipes are included.
My second book that is awaiting publication is my first effort in a new genre—romance. It’s called, A Home for Christmas. Here’s a short summary:
Kenzie has big plans—the only problem is she hasn’t told anyone about them. One of them is to buy the house she grew up in—the home her brother, Tom, recently put up for sale. When she arrives in Lake Forest for Christmas vacation, Kenzie is shocked to find that her brother has accepted an offer on the house she desperately wants to buy. Unwilling to give up her plans, Kenzie tries over and over to wrest the house from the man who made the offer, a handsome widower named Jared Phillips. Although they find themselves attracted to each other, it’s impossible for Kenzie to even think about a relationship with the man who is taking away the house she desperately wants. Jared is also drawn to Kenzie, but is cool and suspicious because of what he considers her underhanded tricks. Then, a surprising revelation works a Christmas miracle. As a special bonus, seven delicious cookie recipes are included.
I’m also working on another Erica Coleman mystery, called, Murder in the Black Hills. I’d also like to do a sequel for my latest non-fiction book, which came out last year— Gaze Into Heaven—Near Death Experiences in Early Church History.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?
Mostly my ideas come from other books. I pay attention to novels I read and often when I’m done with a book I like, I write up a short summary and file it away. Then, when it’s time to come up with a new idea for a book, I read through all of my summaries, do a lot of thinking and pondering, and eventually come up with an idea for a new plot.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
My first book, Light on Fire Island, which is a mystery romance, took me three years to write, but I had seven children at the time. The kids have gotten older and I’ve gotten a little faster. Now if I work hard, I can write a non-fiction book in about 6 months and a mystery in 9 months.
What genre would you place your books into?
I write in two main genres. For many years, I wrote non-fiction. All of those books were compilations of wonderful stories in early Church History. The first was LDS Heroes and Heroines, which has true stories about saints who risked their life in defense of the gospel. My next three books were of true stories about early saints who either heard or saw an angel. These books are; And There Were Angels Among Them, Visits From Beyond the Veil, and By the Ministering of Angels. Next came Brigham’s Boys, which tells the life stories of sixteen men who worked closely with Brigham Young.
I then branched out into writing novels and the genre I liked best was mysteries, so I concentrated on that. However, last year I wrote a romance, which is set at Christmas. It’s called, A Home for Christmas, and will be released next year.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I settled on mysteries because I have a passion for them. I adore Agatha Christie and gobble them down like chocolates. I also grew up reading Phyllis Whitney and Victoria Holt.
I love the pull that comes when you really want to find out whodunit. It makes the reader so involved in the story and as I read, I am right there with the detective, finding clues, deciphering if they mean anything or if they are red herrings, trying to find the psychological motive for the murder. I find these things intensely interesting.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I get my names from two sources. First, I can look online. I found a great website that lists names according to year. This way, if I have an older character, I can type in their birth year and have a long list of names from that era to pick from. Second, I save names from the sports pages of my local newspaper when they list all-star football and basketball teams. I clip out the entire page and file it away for when I need some current popular names. Each page has dozens of cool names.
As for the place names in my books, they are all 100% accurate. For A Death in the Family, my husband and I drove to Oregon, rented a car and drove all over Florence and Lake Oswego. When I describe the Sea Lion Caves and how the gift shop and caves are laid out, it’s all accurate, as is the descriptions of the beach, Heceta Head lighthouse, the historic Siuslaw Bridge, Charl’s Restaurant, etc. Everything, including the church house and stores in historic Florence are as described. I take great pride in going to each and every setting I write about, taking tons of pictures and notes, so that everything is accurate.
Where can readers follow you?
They can check out my website at: www.marlenebateman.info
They can check out my website at: www.marlenebateman.info