Hi, I’m Tess Nakamura. Since the lakeshore community of Oriole Point, Michigan is so small, every resident knows that I’m a glass artist, live with my longtime boyfriend David Reese, and am best friends with Marlee Jacob. David and I own Oriole Glass, a glass sculpture gallery and studio. Just around the corner is The Berry Basket, Marlee’s charming shop devoted to berry themed products. Recent events have been so startling, however, that she has devoted an equal amount of time to murder this summer. Trying to be a supportive best friend led to me getting too close to a dead body during strawberry season. Marlee is still apologizing for that. I don’t blame her for our grisly discovery. After all, she was looking out for a friend, too. And Natasha Bowman gets into almost as much trouble as Marlee.
Unlike Marlee and Natasha, I prefer to take risks in my glass blowing, not my personal life. Marlee likens me to Elinor Dashwood, the level headed heroine of Sense and Sensibility. By the way, Marlee loves to describe people by finding their fictional equivalent. Blame this on her English professor mother who went into labor while reading A Christmas Carol, then proceeded to give birth on Christmas Eve. Inspired by their last name ‘Jacob’ and her rereading of Dickens, Marlee’s mom named her after Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s business partner. It makes me grateful that I was born to an ophthalmologist mother whose preferred reading material is a medical journal. But I was born on a holiday too: Halloween. Marlee claims I got the better holiday birthday; Christmas babies apparently get shortchanged on birthday gifts. I suspect she’s right.
With both of us about to turn thirty-one, it dawned on us that we’ve been friends for two decades! We regret not having met even earlier. My parents sent me to private school and I didn’t meet Marlee until we were eleven years old and competed in the state’s spelling bee contest. We made history after tying for first place. Neither of us could correctly spell ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’. Can you blame us? Floccinaucinihilipilification is the second longest word in the English language. To be honest, I had to look it up in order to spell it correctly here. Luckily, our fight to a mutual finish in the spelling bee resulted in Marlee and I becoming besties.
Our friendship continued even when we went off to college: me to the Rhode Island School of Design, and Marlee to study marketing at New York University. After graduation, I came back to Michigan, accompanied by David, a fellow glass artist and the love of my life. We’re not married, much to the chagrin of my conservative Japanese American family. But David and I are happy with the way things are. Meanwhile I’m looking forward to being maid of honor at Marlee’s upcoming wedding to Ryan Zellar. Only there are times when Marlee seems even more reluctant than me to get married. I hope there isn’t trouble ahead for them.
Because we run our own businesses, it’s hard for Marlee and me get together as often as we’d like during summer tourist season. But we often meet up in the morning to bike to work; our homes are an easy commute to the downtown shopping district. As busy as we are at Oriole Glass and The Berry Basket, we try to take a break at Coffee By Crystal. Glass blowing is a demanding endeavor and I need my daily chai as much as Marlee needs her mocha latte.
When I want to relax, there’s no better place to chill out than Marlee’s house. She lives in a 19th century ‘Painted Lady’ overlooking Lake Michigan. Best of all, she has a private beach. Marlee loves to have friends over for a barbecue and a swim. And David and I take on all challengers in beach volleyball . . . which we invariably win.
However there hasn’t been a lot of time for beach volleyball this summer. Right now we’re celebrating the centenary of the Blackberry Art School. Since we spent two summers at BAS, Marlee and I have been looking forward to the arrival of hundreds of fellow alumni. That was before Marlee discovered the buried skeleton of a former student. Thankfully, I wasn’t with her this time. But it seems clear another murder has occurred in Oriole Point, albeit twenty years ago. I’m determined to see that my best friend stays out of trouble. For that reason I’m glad we both signed up for the Blackberry Road Rally, which should be a fun break from worrying about dead bodies. Knowing how fast Marlee drives, we’re likely to outrace our competitors. Fingers crossed, we won’t wind up trying to outrace a murderer as well.
You can read more about Tess in Blackberry Burial, the second book in the “Berry Basket” mystery series.
Between a booming art scene and elaborate Independence Day festivities, July in lakeshore Oriole Point, Michigan, is always a blast. Especially when an explosive murder case crashes the fun.
As owner of The Berry Basket, Marlee Jacob has learned a thing or two about surviving the summer tourist season in Oriole Point. So she gladly agrees to help run the annual road rally in honor of the local Blackberry Art School’s centenary celebration. While alumni arrive from around the country, Marlee hopes the expansive Sanderling farm will make an appropriate starting point for the race—despite rumors that the land is cursed . . .
But when Marlee surveys the property, she stumbles upon a long-dead body hidden in the bramble. It’s a horrifying mystery to everyone except her baker, who’s convinced the skeletal remains belong to a former student who had gone missing twenty years earlier. As the Fourth of July activities heat up, Marlee must rush to catch an elusive murderer—before the next ‘blackberry victim’ is ripe for the picking!
Includes Berry Recipes!
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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Blackberry Burial. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends November 3, 2017. Good luck everyone!
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About the author
Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties, with her first novel released in 1998. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, which debuted in 2016 with Dying For Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.
In her former life, Sharon turned her hand to a variety of endeavors from principal investigator on an archaeological site, college history instructor, art gallery assistant, and dancing in a dog costume for a non-profit company (it’s a long story). Although Sharon has lived in Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, she calls Michigan home, specifically the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan. She is so enamored of the sand dunes, orchards and beaches of western Michigan, she set The Berry Basket mysteries in a town similar to the one she is lucky to live in. Connect with Sharon at sharonfarrowauthor.com and on Twitter and Facebook.
All comments are welcomed.