Tag Archives: Lesley A. Diehl

Eve Appel and the Bride Without a Wedding Gown by Lesley A. Diehl

Mud Bog MurderIt was Sunday, the day our consignment business was closed. Madeleine, my business partner and I were in the shop inventorying our merchandise and reminiscing about our move to Sabal Bay, a small city on the edge of the Big Lake in rural Florida.

There was a rap on the front door of the shop. I went to the door to explain that we were closed today, but when I looked through the window, I could see the face of a young woman, tears streaming down her face. I unlocked the door, and she rushed through throwing her arms around me.

“You’ve got to help me. I’m getting married today, and I don’t have a dress.”

Well that was poor planning, I thought to myself, trying to pry her arms from around my neck.

“I mean, I did have a dress. My maid of honor offered to press it for me, but she set the iron too hot and burned the front of the gown. The ceremony is this afternoon. Help me.”

She was in a pickle.

“I know you’re friends with a mob boss. Do you think he might be willing to break into a shop, and I could find a gown. I’d pay him, and I’d leave money for the gown, too.”

In a pickle and desperate, too.

“Don’t be silly, “ I said. “Even if you paid for the dress, the shop probably would call the cops, and you’d be charged with breaking and entering.”

“I don’t care. By then I’ll be on my honeymoon and out of reach of the cops. They can jail me when I get back from my honeymoon cruise.”

As distraught as the woman was, I was beginning to get miffed at her assumption that I could and would get a friend, regardless of his “Family” connections, to break the law so she could wrap herself in tulle and lace for her wedding day.

Madeleine, who had always maintained reservations about my friendship with mobster Nappi, tugged on my sleeve and whispered in my ear. “This is what befriending a mob boss will get you,” she said. “Aiding and abetting.”

It wasn’t as if Nappi hadn’t done favors for me over the years, favors I preferred the authorities not know about, but Madeleine had a point. No one should know about these peccadillos, and I should nip any suggestion of illegality on my or Nappi’s part in the bud.

I shook my head. “You come here asking for help and expect me to engage in illegal activities to come to your aid?”

My gruff tone of voice brought on renewed crying now increased in loudness and in the volume of tears pouring from her eyes.

“I’m sorry. How rude and thoughtless of me. I’ll just wear my jeans and a clean shirt.” She turned to go.

“You don’t have a nice dress you could wear?” Madeleine asked.

The young woman looked at Madeleine in disbelief. “I’m a ranch gal. I don’t own anything but jeans. I even wear them to church, a clean pair, I mean. I only expose my legs to the sun when I put on my bikini and go to the beach. And you can’t expect me to wear that to my wedding, can you?”

I could. It was something I might have done when I was younger, but her willingness to engage in thievery underlined how desperate she was, and I was, after all, the owner of a shop specializing in women’s designer fashions.

“We have no wedding dresses in right now, but I do have a negligee in beige with ecru lace trim that might pass as a wedding dress. It’ll reveal a bit more skin that you might like, but I think it will fit you. If not, there are only navy blue and black cocktail dresses.”

“I can’t wear black on my wedding day. Let’s see the nightgown.”

I held it up for her and she nodded. We hustled her off to the dressing room and held out breath.

“What do you think?” she asked.

“Revealing,” said Madeleine.

“You should have seen my wedding gown if you think this is revealing.” She looked at her bare back in the mirror and appeared delighted with what she saw.

“You won’t have to change from your wedding dress into your negligee on your wedding night,” I observed. Very efficient, I thought .

“You don’t need shoes, do you? Because I don’t think we have anything that would work,” said Madeleine.

“Don’t be silly. I’m wearing a new pair of blue cowboy boots, and I borrowed a matching cowboy hat from a friend.” She dried her eyes and checked her watch. “I’m late.” She didn’t bother to change back into her street clothes but dashed out of the store.

“She didn’t pay us for the gown,” said Madeleine.

“No, but she’s got everything covered now: something borrowed, something blue and something stolen. What more could a bride want?” I asked.


Mud Bog Murder is the fourth book in the Eve Appel mystery series, published by Camel Press, September 2016.

When Jenny McCleary leases her property to be ravaged by the annual mud bog races, the small rural town of Sabal Bay, Florida, is divided into warring camps: environmental activists versus monster truck fans. Jenny, who frequents the consignment store owned by Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, doesn’t seem to mind when Eve and Madeleine join the protesters the day of the races.

During the race, Eve catches Jenny’s airborne head after it is tossed into the air by the wheels of a truck. Now every protester is a suspect in Jenny’s murder. What’s left of her alligator-gnawed body is found near the airboat business of Eve’s Miccosukee Indian friends, Sammy Egret and his grandfather. When more evidence turns up nearby, Grandfather is arrested.

Even without the disembodied head, Eve has her hands full. The town resents her role in the protests and is boycotting the consignment shop on wheels. She is torn between two men–GQ-handsome, devoted PI Alex and tall, dark, and exotic Sammy. Jenny’s sweet and needy teenage daughter is dating a petty criminal. Will Eve and Madeleine ever be able to move into their new digs? Not unless the town forgives them. And not if whoever decapitated Jenny gets to Eve before she and her sleuthing buddies solve the mystery.

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About the author
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in Upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. Mud Bog Murder follows the first three books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder, Dead in the Water and A Sporting Murder.  Connect with Lesley at www.lesleyadiehl.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Mud Bog Murder. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end September 3, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

A Day in the Life of Eve Appel by Lesley A. Diehl

Dead in the WaterI’m Eve Appel, and with my partner and best friend, Madeleine Boudreaux, I own and operate a consignment shop in rural Florida. We’re well established in the area now after a few ups and downs. You can read about the rollicking ride in A Secondhand Murder and the second in the series, Dead in the Water, was released by Camel Press earlier in July.

I’m the kind of woman who often can’t control what comes out of my mouth while Madeleine is always socially appropriate, but seems to have no control over what her body does. I’m saying she’s clumsy. Take this typical day for us when I’d just moved to Florida.

“A rodeo??” I said to Madeleine when she mentioned it. A rodeo? Sure. That sounded area appropriate, and not as creepy as running across a gator while picnicking in the park by the lake.

The only catch was that I’d moved here a month ago, and we hadn’t yet opened our shop.

I looked around the shop. “Things look pretty disorganized.”

“Pooh. We’ll work tomorrow. Today is the last day for the annual rodeo, and I want you to see it. It’s real Florida.”

Madeleine had been showing me around “real” Florida in the last few weeks, so I was familiar with the gators and cowboys, the cowboys I met in the local bar, the gators in nearby canals and on the lake.

Cowboys? Up close and doing their roping, riding and bull riding thing? It was too tempting.

I must admit that I did love the excitement of the events, calf roping, barrel racing, and, the most thrilling, bull riding. I don’t know what I admired most, the skill of the cowboys or the energy of the animals. We sat in the lowest row of the stands and got a close up view of everything, including a good whiff of the cattle. Pick-up riders rode past us, their attention focused on insuring that the riders were safe once off the bulls. People cheered their favorite participant on from the stands. The noise of the steers, bellowing of bulls and neighing of horses added to the air of excitement.

“That was quite a show,” I said to Madeleine as we left the stands. “I’d like a chance to get a closer look at those bulls. They’re huge.”

Madeleine shot me a look filled with skepticism. “You want to get a closer look at those cowboys near the bull pens. Don’t lie to me.”

Well, yes, but the bulls were kind of intriguing too.

“And you’ve already rubbed elbows with cowboys in the Burnt Biscuit Restaurant and Bar on the dance floor.”

“Yeah, but these are sweaty, real cowboys with bulls to boot.”

“This is not a good idea, Eve.”

“Of course it is.”

I was wrong, as I usually am where Madeleine is concerned.

We wandered in the direction of the bull pens and caught the attention of several cowboys working with the stock and others I recognized as having participated in the events.

“Well, little ladies, did you enjoy the rodeo?” asked one of the riders.

Madeleine may be little, but at over six feet with my stiletto heels which I always wore, I am not.

We struck up a conversation with the men and talked of spurs, ropes, pickup riders, and prize money, all matters important to rodeo riders. Madeleine leaned back onto the fence surrounding the stock pens as we talked. I didn’t notice what she was doing, but one of the cowboys did.

“Careful there, Ma’am. You don’t want to lean into that lever or you’ll…”

Madeleine jumped away from the fence, but too late. She’d tripped the level, and the gate swung open. The bulls inside jockeyed for position as they sniffed freedom to the outside world.

The cowboy pushed us out of the way, as the bulls rushed for the open rodeo grounds.

“Oh, oh,” said Madeleine.

“Oh, crap,” I said.

“Bulls are out!” yelled a cowboy.

The chase to round them up began. Men on horses and on foot, the two clowns who worked the rodeo and spectators not afraid to back down a bull dashed out of the stadium to herd the animals back into the pen, but not before two of them jumped on the merry-go-round, scaring the riders already there. Others took off toward the barbeque stands and knocked over three booths, scattering pounds of ribs and chicken onto the ground. It took several hours before the bulls were back in their pen.

As for Madeleine, the lure of the rodeo has worn off, and I haven’t heard her mention attending the event for the past two years. She still agrees with me, however. Cowboys are really cute, but she prefers them on the dance floor rather than riding a bull.


You can read more about Eve in Dead in the Water, the second book in the “Eve Appel” mystery series, published by Camel Press. The first book in the series is A Secondhand Murder.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on July 24 for the chance to win a copy of Dead in the Water. (US entries only, please.)

Meet the author
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her writing muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats, and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is author of several mystery series, all featuring country gals with attitude. Lesley has also authored a number of short stories and several standalone mystery novels. She invites readers to visit her on her website, on Twitter or on Facebook.


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A Day In The Life With Eve Appel by Lesley A. Diehl

A Secondhand MurderConnecticut Fashionista turned Country Gal

I’m Eve Appel, and I now live in rural Florida. People who knew me when I lived in Connecticut believe I’m temporarily insane living here, but I feel I’ve found myself. Finally. I didn’t come here as a destination. I came to get away from my now ex-husband Jerry. Everywhere I went I ran into him with some bimbo on his arm, and I was just sick of it. I knew he was trying to make me jealous, but what I was feeling was more like disgust that I’d ever married him.

My dear friend Madeleine Boudreau had inherited a house in Florida from her aunt. We talked daily on the phone, and I believe she got tired of hearing about my Jerry-and-girl sightings. When he brought one of his blondes to my birthday party and I ranted about it to Madeleine, she said, “I’d divorce the lout, but then I’m not you. Why don’t you come down here for a visit and get some distance.” A thousand miles seemed like about the right distance, so I hopped a plane and landed in West Palm. Madeleine and I had also talked about our setting up a business together in Sabal Bay, Florida. I was thinking tea shop; she was thinking bait shop.

As she drove me from the airport towards Sabal Bay, I watched the scenery change from gated communities with pruned plantings of palms, banyans, bougainvillea, and lantana to fields of scrub palmetto and pastures filled with funny lop-eared cows.

“What’s wrong with those cows?” I asked. “It looks like their ears are broken.”

“They’re a Brahman cross,” Madeleine replied as if that explained anything.

We crossed a high bridge over a canal which allowed me a view of a huge body of brown water. Logs were washed up on the shoreline, or so I thought.

“I thought water in Florida was blue.”

Madeleine looked at me with some concern. “That’s the Big Lake. And it’s shallow and brown. Great lake for fishing, but you wouldn’t want to swim in it. Did you see the alligators?”

“I wondered why those logs were walking.”

I thought Sabal Bay would be a city like West Palm, but as we drove up its main street, all I saw were feed and tack shops, fast food places, a large supercenter, two supermarkets, fishing camps and a whole lot of bars.

“So where are the shopping malls?” I asked

Madeleine tried a nervous laugh and her expression of concern deepened the lines on her forehead.

She braked as a pair of large birds ran into the road. I later learned they were sand hill cranes. Nice birds. I understand they mate for life, unlike Jerry and me.

We pulled into a bar and restaurant called the Burnt Biscuit.

“It’s late. Let’s grab a bite,” said Madeleine.

Inside karaoke night was in full swing and a cowboy was crooning a tune about lost love. Gosh, he was handsome. I wanted to make him forget about that little gal that done him wrong.

“I know this isn’t what you expected,” Madeleine said as we tucked into a rack of barbequed ribs.

“No. It is not.”

“So you can see why I don’t think a tea shop would work here.”

“Righto.” I watched the collection of men at the bar all wearing cowboy hats and boots, many with spurs. Some of them stared back at me. One winked. I smiled. Some of the others grinned and tipped their hats to me.

“So maybe you’re thinking you’d prefer not to consider a business here?”

I was thinking so hard I’m sure my punked blonde hair must have been twitching with excitement.

“Madeleine, my dear, these people need me. I can save the women in this place as well as the society matrons from West Palm who are looking for some pin money after their husbands lost millions in Bernie Madoff schemes. It’s simple. We bring used clothing from the matrons in West Palm straight to the wilds of rural Florida where everyone can shop in relative obscurity, and the women from Sabal Bay can upgrade to haute couture without a high price. I know I love cowboys. Don’t you think the wealthy would love sneaking off to dance here with some of those handsome dudes wearing hats and tight jeans?

Madeleine looked back at me and her face brightened. I could tell she was filling in my vision of the shop with her own ideas.

And that’s when the idea for a high end consignment shop in rural Florida was born. Eve and Madeleine, two country gals with big ideas.


You can read more about Liz in A Secondhand Murder, the first book in the new “Eve Appel” mystery series, published by Camel Press.

Meet the author
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats, and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

Lesley is author of several short stories and several mystery series: the microbrewing mystery series set in the Butternut Valley (A Deadly Draught and Poisoned Pairings) and a rural Florida series, Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Killed and Chilled. She recently signed a three-book deal with Camel Press for The Consignment Shop Murders including A Secondhand Murder. For something more heavenly, try her mystery Angel Sleuth. Several of her short stories have been published by Untreedreads including one (Murder with All the Trimmings) in the original Thanksgiving anthology “The Killer Wore Cranberry” and another (Mashed in the Potatoes) in the second anthology “The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping”.

Lesley invites readers to visit her on her website and her blog.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Meet Toby Sands by Lesley A. Diehl

We’ve driven from the coast to rural Florida, passing herds of cattle, fields dotted with cabbage palms and passed a cowboy on a horse. This is certainly not the Florida of sun, fun and bikini-clad babes. As we enter the tiny cell in the Big Lake Sheriff’s Department, we see a rotund, bearded man slumped in the corner of the bottom bunk. Unwilling to speak at first, he’s been informed by the sheriff that cooperating in this interview might make the judge think better of him. His name is Toby Sands, and he used to be a detective with the local police department until he ran into a bit of trouble. We’ll let him tell you about it.

Toby speaks:

“See, I don’t like being called a dirty cop ‘cuz the whole thing was just a misunderstanding and caused by one ‘a them winter visitors, a little Yankee woman and her sassy daughter. My partner believed what they said because he’s always been jealous of my ability to get to the bottom of what’s happening around here. I was born on the Big Lake, the best fishing lake in Florida. I could have been a fishing guide, but I’m not real good around water. Makes me queasy.

“Here’s the real story behind that kidnapping. I was actually commissioned by the daughter’s husband to bring her back home. They claim I took her against her will, but the truth is she was kidnapped by her mama, the Yankee gal. I was really rescuing the daughter, though she didn’t seem real happy about it. Kind of ungrateful.

“What’s that? No, the charges haven’t been dropped yet cuz I can’t get a hold of the husband. I think his cell phone ain’t working. But when I do, he’ll clear this all up. Yeah, right. He’s under investigation too.

“Murder? I never kilt anyone. I just played along with the killers until I could turn them in.”

At this point, Toby gets off the bed and approaches the front of the cell. We retreat due to the pungent smell of him, sweat, but worse than that, chaw tobacco gone real ripe.

“You got a chew on you? They let the other prisoners go outside for a smoke, but they won’t let me have my chewing tobacco. They claim it stinks up the exercise yard. It’s not fair to old Toby.

“Anyway, anyone will tell you I skedaddled off to the police station soon as I heard the plan to murder those two folks. Did my duty and where did it get me? I got throwed in here.

“People said I was lazy cuz I spent a lot of my duty time sitting in my cruiser under a shady palm tree or resting in one of the local watering holes. What they don’t know is I was scoping out the county, seeing what folks was up to. I learned plenty. It’s what I call creative copping.

“I think I got into this trouble because I’m too ambitious. In this county everyone’s a good old boy, not that I’m not, but I went beyond my job and developed other enterprises on the side. Made myself a little money. Nothing wrong with that. Folks will take advantage of the law. They got to or they won’t get anywhere in life. Lucky they got me to do their work for them. Nothing too big, you know. Just some little jobs, grey areas of the law, like rescuing that gal and sending her home to her husband. And I worked hard on that job. Laid in a drainage ditch, kinda a stakeout and got chased outta there by a gator. I don’t mind taking on dangerous jobs if they pay good. How much? Uh, the guy never came through with the money.

“So regardless of how all this turns out, I know I’ll be picking barbeque pork out of my teeth and sipping an icy one in the Burnt Biscuit any minute now. I’ve decided to take an early retirement, go into business for myself, maybe do a little consulting work for the police departments around here or on the coast. They’d be lucky to get someone as savvy as me. Like I said, Toby Sands is an enterprising ole boy.”

Toby steps back, but before he returns to the bunk, he flashes a smile, showing brown, tobacco-stained teeth. “You gals need a tour guide for around this area, I’m your man.” He waves a pudgy hand and throws himself onto the bunk, hands crossed over his large stomach, a satisfied look on his troll-like face.

“So when’s Toby getting out of here?” we asked the sheriff on our way out.

He laughed so hard we felt the walls of the jail shudder.


Toby Sans appeared in DUMPSTER DYING, the first book in the “Big Lake” mystery series and will make another appearance in Grilled, Chilled and Killed, out soon from Oak Tree Press. Look for Lesley’s short stories and others books on Amazon.com or order them from your local book seller.

Meet the author
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats, and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work. She is author of several short stories and several mystery series: the microbrewing mystery series set in the Butternut Valley (A Deadly Draught and Poisoned Pairings) and a rural Florida series, Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Killed and Chilled (to be released late in 2012).

She recently signed a three-book deal with Camel Press for The Consignment Shop Murders including A Secondhand Murder. For something more heavenly, try her mystery Angel Sleuth. Several of her short stories have been published by Untreedreads including one (Murder with All the Trimmings) in the original Thanksgiving anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry and another (Mashed in the Potatoes) in the second anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping. She invites readers to visit her on her blog and website.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.