Beware the East Wind (The Mah Jongg Mysteries)
by Barbara Barrett
Good day, my fellow book people. I hope you’re all enjoying the Fall weather. For those of you in California, I pray that you’re safe from the fires. One of the great things about having a book blog, okay one of the many great things about having a book blog, is getting to meet and introduce you to authors and characters straight off the pages from wonderful stories. Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to Marianne Putnam, a retired pharmacist and Mah Jongg enthusiast, as well as the primary character in the Mah Jongg Mysteries by Barbara Barrett including Beware the East Wind. Ladies and gentlemen, I now turn the blog over to Marianne Putnam.
My name is Marianne Putnam. I was a pharmacist until a few years back when I retired and moved to the central Florida town of Serendipity Springs with my husband of over forty years, Beau. We didn’t know a soul when we arrived except for our realtor, so I joined a few organizations to meet people, among which was a Mah Jongg group that met weekly at the community center. I’d never played the game in my life, having dismissed it as something little old ladies did. Truth be told, I guess you could call me a “little old lady” too, although I don’t see myself like that even though the gray taking over my short red hair gives it the same appearance as that metal they sell in the Black Hills for jewelry, Black Hills Gold?
Mah Jongg introduced me to many fabulous, interesting women, especially to my three friends—Sydney Bonner, Micki Demetrius and Katrina “Kat” Faulkner. We play weekly, but we also enjoy each other’s company shopping, lunching, having coffee, the usual social activities enjoyed by women of a certain age whose retirement status affords them more free time than they ever experienced during their work lives.
Unlike other women in our same age group—well, anyone else, for that matter—we have also found ourselves in the dubious position of solving a few murders around town. Not that we went looking for cases to investigate. It started with a fellow Mah Jongg player whose husband was killed in the woods near our coffee shop. Fearing she’d be arrested as the most likely suspect, she sought us out to help find her husband’s killer before she wound up in jail. None of us had any formal investigative training. But we have developed lots of connections within the community she felt we could tap on the down low to gather intel.
We were successful in finding the killer that first time but not without help from local law enforcement personnel. Admittedly, it was a thrill for each of us to break out of our day-to-day mold and become amateur sleuths, but that was it, we didn’t see it continuing. Then others started to hear about our exploit and began coming to us when they needed similar help.
Last year, I went through a period when I didn’t feel like I was living my senior years to their fullest. Yes, I had Mah Jongg and wonderful friends and numerous social outlets here in town, and Beau and I have two terrific grown sons. Vince, the eldest, is married, has two children and lives in the East. Rob is single and lives on the West Coast. We’re proud of all of them but rarely get to see them due to their job constraints. And I also had an occasional murder to solve. But I still wanted something more for me. Something that had nothing to do with pharmaceutical knowledge or dead bodies.
One day I was flipping through magazines at the library, looking for some new exciting outlet for my imagination and energies, when I ran into a friend who was in need of a last-minute replacement for the table read of her one-act play. No time to rehearse, I read my part cold. Those ten minutes went by in a blur, but when it was over, I was a goner. I signed up for a course immediately and started writing my own one-acts. Since then I’ve even entered a few in contests around the country. I haven’t won any yet, but I’ve received enough positive feedback to keep creating more.
With the new focus on one-acts, my life was pretty good. And then one of the other students in my class came to me for help clearing his sister’s name. Her partner in their catering service, who was also a hypnotist, one whose act my friends and I had witnessed just days earlier, had been killed, and because his sister had been heard threatening her partner by one of their clients, she feared the sheriff would be arresting her soon. So we took on the case.
This one presented difficult challenges because several key suspects were private hypnosis clients. Our client, who’d been arguing with her partner about breaking out on her own, had taken advantage of her partner’s death to break into her computer files to obtain her partner’s recipes. In the process, she read through the files of some of her partner’s clients, discovering secrets and other information which, if made known, might have been the reason for someone to kill the woman. Sharing this information with us was problematic, but then our challenge was, how did we investigate people we weren’t supposed to know about?
After some difficult confrontations with Beau and Syd’s husband Trip, who were concerned for our safety if we continued to investigate, the two of them joined us as we devised plausible ways to go undercover to gather intel with some surprising results. Beau “invented” painful knees in order to speak directly with one of the suspects, an orthopedic surgeon only to discover his knees were truly in need of surgery. The two of us invented this story about wanting to post a crazy video on our so-called blog showing us shampooing a poodle in order to observe another suspect, a dog groomer. That one was memorable, especially since it happened at the same time a hurricane threatened to bear down on central Florida.
You can read about it in the latest tale of our adventures in Barbara Barrett’s Beware the East Wind.
About Beware the East Wind
Beware the East Wind (The Mah Jongg Mysteries)
4th in Series
Bowker (August 17, 2019)
Paperback: 254 pages
Digital ASIN: B07WJ7KYSW
Beware the east wind! It’s hurricane season in Florida, and everyone’s attention is focused on preparing for the latest tempest. But in Serendipity Springs, mah jongg pals Marianne, Sydney, Micki and Kat are caught in a different kind of whirlwind—a mesmerizing murder case involving a slain hypnotist/chef and the woman police suspect of doing her in, her embittered catering partner, Portia.
About the Author
Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.
Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, but it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.
Bamboozled, the second book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.
Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.
Website – http://www.barbarabarrettbooks.com
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