Tag Archives: Loretta Ross

A day in the life of Death Bogart and Wren Morgan by Loretta Ross

death-the-gravediggers-angelA cold rain rattled the window over the kitchen sink and thunder rumbled across the Missouri sky. Death (rhymes with teeth) Bogart leaned close to the glass and peered out into the early gloom. If he looked across the back yard and between the two houses on the next street over, he could see the road his girlfriend would be taking on her way home. The sheets of water blurred and marbled his view, but he could see well enough to know that no cars were approaching.

He wasn’t really expecting her quite yet. Wren Morgan wasn’t a speedster at the best of times. In this weather she’d be driving slowly, and the auction where she’d been working was well out in the country. He still worried, though.

It was in Death’s nature to worry.

When he’d met Wren, less than a year before, he’d been fresh out of a military hospital. A roadside bomb in Afghanistan had left him permanently disabled with a compromised lung capacity and unemployable in any capacity he felt qualified for. His wife had cleaned out his bank account and divorced him while he was in a coma and, when he awoke, they told him his brother had been killed.

Now he was a private detective and part-time bounty hunter with a thriving business and the sweetest girlfriend he’d ever had. He’d never imagined that his life could be this good.

The rain cleared and he caught a glimpse of a familiar blue pickup coming slowly down the road. He smiled to himself and turned the burner off under the pot he had on the stove.

He stirred the soup and the savory scent of onions filled the kitchen. He filled two heavy stoneware mugs and slid a cookie sheet containing two thick slices of Italian bread under the broiler in the oven. By the time he heard her engine turn off in the yard, the bread was lightly-toasted. He buttered the slices, floated them on top of the soup, and added a slice of Swiss cheese to each before returning them to the oven. Then he went to the front door to meet his lady.

Wren, when she came in, was dripping wet.

“You don’t want to kiss me,” she warned. “I’m sopping.”

“I don’t care. I always want to kiss you. Rough day?”

“Moron in a little sports car, speeding down country roads in the rain, I had to stop and pull him out.”

“You didn’t have to,” he said. “You’re just too nice.”

She laughed. “Not this time. He was blocking half the road. What is that amazing smell?”

“French onion soup. I found the recipe in this old cookbook in your kitchen.” The book, Cooking With An International Flare, was at least forty years old.

“Oh, yeah,” Wren said. “I got that–”

“. . .at an auction?”

“Yeah.”

“There was supposed to be a vanilla soufflé for dessert, but it kind of exploded in the oven,” he admitted reluctantly.

She raised her eyebrows. “Baking ordnance? That’s impressive. Mine usually just deflate and look sad.”

“You obviously don’t use enough gunpowder.” He leaned in and kissed her on the tip of her nose. “Go change into something dry,” he said. “Supper will be ready when you are.”

He watched her walk away toward the bedroom, shedding wet outerwear. Her cheeks were flushed from the chilly day and her red hair was plastered to her head and dripping down her neck. In passing, she stopped to pet Thomas, the burly old tomcat. Lucy, her hound dog, was playing in the rain like a puppy, but Thomas did not approve of the weather.

I’m such a lucky guy, Death thought.

Wren got to the bedroom door, stopped and looked back with a gentle smile and her eyes warm in the early twilight.

“I’m such a lucky girl,” she said.


You can read more about Death and Wren in DEATH & THE GRAVEDIGGER’S ANGEL, the third book in the Auction Block mystery series.

Death and Wren Bid on Answers to the Mysteries of Love and War

When former army medic Tony Dozier is accused of killing a member of the hate group that disrupted his wife’s funeral, the prosecution charges premeditated murder and the defense claims temporary insanity. Former marine Death Bogart and auctioneer Wren Morgan think there’s more to the story.

They’re both led to the long-abandoned Hadleigh House, where Wren begins preparing the contents for auction but ends up appraising the story behind an antique sketchbook. As Wren uncovers the century-old tale of a World War I soldier and his angel, Death finds a set of truths that will change. . .or end. . .their lives.

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About the author
Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Death and the Redheaded Woman was her debut novel. Connect with Loretta at lorettasueross.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Death & the Gravedigger’s Angel is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

A Day in the Life of Death Bogart by Loretta Ross

Death and the Brewmasters WidowDeath Bogart parked his ten-year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee on the back lot of a hot dog stand that had gone out of business a decade earlier. He looked around ruefully. Even the prettiest little towns seemed to have areas like this–dingy, depressed neighborhoods strewn with rundown businesses and ugly, old, abandoned buildings where the community betterment projects didn’t reach. A cold front was moving in, promising rain and threatening snow. The gray skies made the place just that much more depressing. Death popped his collar against the cold, locked his vehicle and headed for a narrow alley between a dingy car wash and an empty brick factory building.

The cell phone in his pocket buzzed. He looked at it to find a new message from his girlfriend, Wren Morgan. Death clicked on it and a picture came up. It showed a long, white spiral horn in a plastic bag against a bright splash of primary colors. A faded cardboard tag at the top read, “MAKE YOUR CAR A UNICORN! SUPER STRONG MAGNETS HOLD IT IN PLACE! TAKE THE MAGIC WITH YOU!”

Death replied, “???”

“We’re selling off a joke and novelty shop that went out of business,” Wren texted back. She was an auctioneer with a small, family-owned auction company. “Roy bought the most obscene lotion dispenser! I don’t know if he’s planning to prank his wife or his brother.”

A pause and then another text “Are you there yet?”

“Yeah. Just now.”

Her next text was a flurry of hearts. He smiled and tucked his phone away.

The old man was just where he expected to find him, bundled in old clothes and grimy blankets, nested in the shelter of a rusty trash bin. A filthy cardboard barricade guarded him against the wind. Death squatted down in front of him, ignoring the stench that might have come from the trash but probably did not.

“Winter’s coming on, Corporal Hutchinson. You need to be inside, out of the cold.”

“I like the cold.” Hutchinson’s eyes narrowed. “I never told you my name.”

“No,” Death said, “but you told me your stories. Where you served. Who you served with. That was all I needed to find you. I’m smart like that.”

Hutchinson mumbled.

“What was that?”

“I said smart ass, Sergeant. ‘Nam was a long time ago. I’m not in the Corps anymore. You don’t outrank me junior.”

“Yeah. I’m not in the Corps anymore either.” Death rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. His own combat injuries had left him with damaged lungs. Holding this position was making him short of breath and he shifted and rested one knee on the ground. “I found something else, too, though,” he said. “I tracked down your son.”

Because he was watching for it, he caught the quick intake of breath, the flash of hope swiftly hidden. “What the hell did you go and do that for?”

Death’s breath constricted in his throat. He spoke around it. “Man, if my dad was alive, I’d want to know where he was.”

“Yeah, well, Billy ain’t you. He ain’t gonna care.”

Death glanced back to the opening of the alley and the man now silhouetted there. “I wouldn’t be too sure of that.” He leaned in and slapped Hutchinson on the shoulder. “Semper fi, you old goat.”

He pulled himself to his feet and left without looking back. The man waiting outside the alley was as old as Death’s own dad had been. Tears streamed down his face. He and Death exchanged nods but didn’t speak.

Death was almost back in sight of his vehicle when his phone buzzed again. It was another text from Wren.

“He’s not you, Death.”

“He could have been.” He thought back to his life before he met Wren. He’d been disabled, homeless, broke and so alone.

“Maybe once. Not now. Never again. Come on home. I’ll have dinner ready.”

Busy walking and texting at the same time, Death didn’t look up until he reached his car. When he did, his heart soared and a smile tugged at his mouth.

His big, macho Jeep was sporting a white, spiral horn on the hood and a long, silky, rainbow-colored tail hung from the back.


Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow is the second book in the Auction Block mystery series, published by Midnight Ink, February 2016.

When firefighter Randy Bogart perishes in the arson fire at an abandoned brewery known as the Brewmaster’s Widow, Death Bogart and his girlfriend Wren Morgan travel to St. Louis, Missouri, to find closure. They discover that Randy left his badge behind at the firehouse before going to the brewery. But the coroner finds another badge on Randy’s body, leaving Death and Wren with more questions than answers.

Desperate to know what really happened, Death and Wren begin to investigate. Their digging leads to a connection between Randy’s death and the mysterious Cherokee Caves once used by nineteenth-century beer barons. But the Brewmaster’s Widow is jealous of her secrets. Prying them loose could cost Death and Wren their lives.

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About the author
Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow is her second published novel. Visit Loretta at lorettasueross.com, on Twitter, Goodreads, and on Facebook.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end February 24, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

Discoveries With Wren Morgan by Loretta Ross

Death and the Redheaded WomanMy name is Wren Morgan and I’m an auctioneer with Keystone and Sons Auctioneers, a family-owned company based in the little town of East Bledsoe Ferry, Missouri. You may have seen my name in the paper recently, after I went in to catalog the Campbell estate and found a naked dead guy on the stairs.

While dead bodies are a rarity, the fact is you find a lot of strange things when you’re preparing for an auction. One thing that always intrigues me is abandoned craft projects.

I don’t mean those that were interrupted by death, though there’s a certain poignancy to that; finding a half-completed afghan tucked into the corner of a well-worn easy chair, with the crochet hook stabbed into the ball of yarn and the hands that were working it forever stilled. But what truly feeds my curiosity is projects that were obviously set aside. Sometimes the reason is obvious, if the threads are tangled or the pattern has gone awry. But sometimes it’s not.

I once found a cedar chest full of perfectly-embroidered linens and tea towels. Everything was completed except for three towels and a pillowcase, already stamped with the pattern. The pillowcase was nearly finished, the still-threaded needle stuck through the cloth and the whole lot packed away and never used. The chest was in the estate of an elderly widower and I finally tracked down a daughter-in-law who knew the story.

His late wife had owned the chest before they were married and had been embroidering the linens as part of her trousseau. She stopped working on them when she found out he was allergic to the woolen embroidery thread she was using.

Sometimes the reason things get abandoned is heartbreaking.

In one estate I found a pink-and-white, crocheted baby dress, completed except for the final seams and about three inches of ruffling on the trim. The families of the people whose estates we sell don’t always come to the auctions. It can be a difficult thing to watch. The woman’s daughter was there, though, and I showed her the dress in case it was something she’d want to keep. She’d never seen it before, but was able to guess at an explanation.

Her parents had lost their first child, a newborn baby daughter, to SIDS.

The daughter didn’t want the dress. I considered buying it myself and finishing the work, even if only to give it to little Mercy Keystone for one of her dolls. In the end I did not. It seemed wrong to give a child something that had been made for the dead, so I let it go on to auction and pass to someone who didn’t know its sad history.

The strangest thing I ever found while preparing an auction, though (in terms of unfinished craft projects and barring naked dead men) was a Tupperware container that held thirteen 4″ Ohio star quilt blocks.

The Ohio star isn’t a difficult block, but these were tiny and pieced neatly and showed a certain level of skill. There were three each of red, yellow, and green stars and four blue. Thirteen quilt blocks does not make a quilt of any size no matter how you arrange them, so it was obviously the beginning of a larger project.

I found them, as I said, in a Tupperware container. Specifically, it was a vintage green Tupperware container dating to the early 1950’s. They’d been ironed flat, wrapped in brown tissue paper that had been trimmed from a sewing pattern, and put in the Tupperware. Then the Tupperware was wrapped completely in aluminum foil, wrapped again in a layer of duct tape, and labeled with a crude drawing of a skull-and-crossbones.

There was no one to tell me the story of the quilt blocks and these I did wind up buying. I added three plain white blocks and made a quilted wall hanging and every time I looked at it I wondered. Finally, almost three years later, I had a chance to talk to the man whose mother had owned that estate.

He didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked him about the quilt blocks, but when I described the package he recognized it. He hadn’t known what was inside, nor had his mother. It had already been wrapped up like that when she got it. It was in the bottom of a box of books she bought years and years ago.

At an auction.


You can read more about Wren in Death and the Redheaded Woman, the first book in the NEW “Auction Block” mystery series, published by Midnight Ink.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on February 17 for the chance to win a copy of Death and the Redheaded Woman. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes.

Meet the author
Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Death and the Redheaded Woman will be her first published novel.

Visit Loretta at www.lorettasueross.com