It's smooth sailing for Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, owners of Second to None Consignment Shop in rural Florida's Sabal Bay, land of swamps, cowboys, and lots and lots of 'gators. Eve and her detective boyfriend Alex have joined Madeleine and her new beau David Wilson for a pleasure cruise on his boat. But cloudy, dangerous waters lie ahead. A near fatal encounter with Blake Reed, David's supremely nasty neighbor, is soon followed by a shooting death on the dividing line between David and Blake's land. Both men run sport-hunting reserves, but Blake imports "exotics" from Africa and promotes gator killing, while David stays within the law, pointing clients toward the abundant quail and turkey as well as the wild pigs that ravage the landscape. Nevertheless, when a mutual client is killed, it is David who is arrested and charged with murder. Blake's nastiness is only exceeded by that of his wife, Elvira, who forces Eve and Madeleine out of their shop, intending to replace it with a consignment shop of her own. It seems that bad luck looms over them all, even Eve's brawny and hard-to-resist Miccosukee Indian friend Sammy, whose nephew has disappeared. As the case against David grows stronger and his friends' misfortunes multiply, Eve and her strange and diverse group of friends, including her ex, a mobster, her grandma, and Sammy's extended family, band together to take on the bad guys. But the waters are getting muddier and more troubled, and Eve and Madeleine may end up inundated in every sense of the word. Book 3 in the Eve Appel Mystery series, which began with A Secondhand Murder and continued with Dead in the Water.
About the Author
Lesley A. Diehl 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 a 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 the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. A Sporting Murder follows the first two books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder and Dead in the Water. For more information, go to www.lesleyadiehl.com.
Read an Excerpt
"Sharks? You're worried about sharks?" I leaned back in my chair and let the wind blow the sweet smell of salt water into my face. I sat with Madeleine, my best friend and business partner, on deck in the stern of the cabin cruiser, the sun warming us as we headed down the mangrove-lined waterway.
Madeleine moved her head from side to side, gazing into the water rushing past us. Droplets of ocean spray in her hair caught the sun, creating prisms of tiny lights in her red curls.
"We're here to relax, not worry about some big ol' fish. Besides, sharks usually only come out at dawn and dusk. To feed. We'll keep an eye out." I reached for the sun block and stretched out my legs to apply it. My legs were fish white. I needed to get outside more often. Both of us did, but that was the downside of owning a retail business. You worked six days a week, and exhausted, slept the seventh.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a break in the mangroves. "Take a look at that boat. Grandy and Max said it's been there for years and that someone lives on it."
My words had the desired effect. They took Madeleine's attention off her fears and focused it on the beaten-up sailboat that lay anchored in a small canal to our left. It looked as if it had been wedged there for decades.
Alex, a private investigator and my current squeeze — and he really was a man any woman would love to squeeze and often, towering just a bit over me and blessed with intense deep-set azure eyes and a full head of sun-bleached hair — turned his head to look and nudged David Wilson, our captain and Madeleine's new boyfriend, to take a look at the wreck.
"Yep, it has been there for a while." David backed our craft off plane, and we drifted by at idle speed. "I heard they're trying to remove it, but as long as she floats and someone lives on her, there's not much that can be done."
I raised my binoculars to my eyes and caught a glimpse of movement on the sailboat. "I see the guy. He's pretty scrawny. He looks about as bad as the boat." I handed them to Alex to take a gander.
The guy on the boat looked in our direction. I waved and smiled. He gave us the finger. I guess he thought we were invading his privacy. David pushed the throttle forward and we sped off, back on plane and down the waterway to the bay beyond.
We were on our way to Nest Key, one of the small islands near Key Largo, to meet my grandmother, her husband Max, and some of their friends for an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing. David kept his old Chris Craft cabin cruiser docked in the same marina where Grandy and Max's boat was moored. Since David's boat slept four, we decided to spend the afternoon on the island, stay for dinner cooked on the boat, then return to Key Largo. We'd anchor in Sunset Cove and do an overnight there.
It was Sunday, the only day Madeleine and I closed our consignment shop, Second to None, in Sabal Bay. We would have to return early tomorrow to reopen, but we thought it was worth giving up our one day of rest, since we rarely got out of rural Florida and almost never found the time to visit Grandy and Max, who ran a fishing charter in Key Largo.
David and Madeleine had only been dating for about a month, but it looked like she'd finally met her man — one who wasn't afraid of her. Not that she's so scary, but my friend is unusually clumsy, and she's been known to wound her dates in the first few minutes of getting to know them. Not on purpose, of course. So far David had been lucky. Or Madeleine had. We were both lucky, I thought. David was not only very fit and handsome in a Brad Pitt way — on the short side for me, but tall next to Madeleine — but he also had this great old boat, and we got a ride in it. How much better could a Sunday be? Sharks? Forget it.
A cigar boat approached us from the opposite direction. On the weekends, the wealthy from Miami drove their boats south to Key West to dock at the bars along the way. On their return north, the boats' pilots were too often drunk, although the bikini-clad girls alongside them didn't seem to worry about their driving, only about whether the sun was deepening their tans and streaking their hair. The men drove full throttle ahead, throwing out a rooster tail of water and swamping every small craft unfortunate enough to try to share the waterways with them. Canoes and kayaks were particularly vulnerable.
Although this channel was marked at idle speed, the boat continued racing down the waterway, throwing a wave of water toward us. It would have inundated a smaller craft or one not piloted by someone as expert as David. He steered toward the oncoming waves, and our bow cut through them.
Madeleine jumped out of her chair and headed for the side of the boat.
"What you doing? Get back here. You'll fall overboard." I grabbed for her and missed.
She leaned over the side for a few minutes, then straightened up. "I thought I was going to be sick."
"I thought you said you liked David's boat?"
"Shush. I don't want him to think I don't. I like it when it's smooth, but I hate that bumpy feeling."
Oh, great. That "bumpy feeling" would probably continue if there were other craft on the water. On the weekend there were lots of them, and many would be as discourteous as the last one.
"What are you looking for, Madeleine?" asked David after he rode a second wave caused by yet another boat.
"Hmm? I was looking at some fish." She shot me a look, warning me to silence.
Our afternoon of pleasure threatened to turn into a landlubber's disaster. But once we were out of the channel and into the open waters, fewer boats came near us. Or perhaps, suspecting Madeleine's problem, David gave them a wide berth.
When we arrived at Nest Key, other boats were already anchored off the island. We had to anchor farther out because David's boat was an inboard and needed a draft of several feet of water under the rudder and propeller. The others, all outboards, were steered by moving the prop right or left, which meant they could be tilted out of the water to avoid the bottom.
"Do we have to swim ashore?" asked Madeleine. She bit her bottom lip as her eyes took in the expanse of blue water separating us from the island.
"We don't, but you might." I thought she'd catch my joke. She was so short she'd have trouble keeping her nose out of the water unless she did swim. I was doing it again — being insensitive. She didn't think my little joke was funny. Ever since someone pushed her into the rim canal that circled the Big Lake, she'd been uncomfortable around water, even water as warm and inviting as the azure blue of the Keys.
Fear filled her blue eyes.
"I'm sorry." I reached out to pat her shoulder, but before I could, David took her in his arms.
"I'll carry you in," he said.
Alex and I grabbed our cooler and basket of food and toted it all onto the island, careful to keep everything out of the water. After depositing Madeleine on the sand, David went back to the boat for our chairs. Max and Grandy waved at us through the crowds of people talking in groups, lounging in beach chairs, or sitting in the shallow water. A volleyball game was about to begin. Alex and I joined in while Madeleine and David set up the chairs and flopped into them. Someone handed them each a beer. The party was on for the afternoon.
Grandy and Max introduced us to their friends, some of whom were fellow boaters living on board at the marina; others were from a campground in Key Largo. With the mix of nationalities — some from Canada, others from the U.S., a smattering of Germans and English — the island became its own tiny world community.
After the game, Alex and I walked into the shallows and sat in the water. I glanced down at my arms and legs. Despite having a fair complexion — who am I kidding, my spiky blonde hair comes out of a bottle — I tan up easily. I hadn't had this much color for years. I wiggled my toes in satisfaction and scared away a school of tiny silver fish. As the sun began to slip lower on the horizon, people gathered up their picnicking articles and began to leave.
"Why don't you stay and have dinner with us?" David asked Grandy and Max. "I brought plenty. I've got a barbeque grill on deck and we're doing steaks. Stay. I know Eve would be thrilled to have more time with you."
I nodded. It would be great to catch up with them. It seemed that lately Grandy and I only got together when someone was killed, and then we were often joined by my mob friend, Nappi Napolitani, who knew his way around murder and could lend a hand bringing the bad guys down.
Grandy must have been thinking the same thing. She hesitated for a moment, then shook her head. "I've had enough food for one day. Besides, we came with our friends, who have a smaller boat than ours."
"We'll take you back. You can just eat salad or have a piece of key lime pie," David said.
"We've got two charters tomorrow," Max said. "One in the morning, the other in the afternoon. We should get the boat ready."
I waved them goodbye and watched the boat move away from the island then gain speed as it raced for deeper water.
"You know, I'm with Grandy," I said. "I'm so full I don't feel like eating now." I continued to stare at the boat as it turned into a tiny speck on the calm water.
"So let's stay here for a while and relax. Then we'll take off for the bay and grill our steaks there. How about you, little girl? You hungry yet?" David put his arm around Madeleine and squeezed her to him.
"I think I'd like to get all this sand off me. I need to take a swim," said Madeleine.
"Are you okay with that?" asked David. "Not afraid of the water now?"
"Of course not. I'm fine." Madeleine walked out into the shallow water, then farther out and began to do the breast stroke. She was a strong swimmer, but not as comfortable in the water as I am. I'd grown up in Connecticut and spent my summers on the shore. She teased me that I had gill covers. Madeleine had recently been tossed into the dark waters of the Rim Canal with her hands tied behind her back, an experience that would traumatize even the best swimmer. As I watched her confidently cut through the water, I gave a silent cheer. It looked like she'd put that horrible experience behind her.
While David watched Madeleine swim back and forth near the boat, Alex and I wandered down the shore, wading in the warm water, holding hands, and talking about nothing in particular.
The sound of an engine drew my attention away from Alex. A fishing boat pulled up near ours and anchored.
"That's an outboard," Alex said. "He could come in closer. I wonder what he's doing."
Madeleine paid no attention to the boat, but continued to swim, turning over to slowly backstroke near our boat.
David waved to us and called out, "I think he's ruined the romance. Let's pack up and go."
A man with long black hair and dark skin came toward the bow of the boat with a bucket in his hand.
"What the ...?" said Alex.
"He's throwing something into the water. It looks like —"
"It's bait. That idiot is tossing bait into the water. Doesn't he see Madeleine?"
David threw his hands into the air and yelled, but the man seemed not to hear him and continued to toss chunks of bloody fish into the water. Then he upturned the bucket and poured out the remaining slurry.
David finally gave up trying to get the man's attention and directed his yells to Madeleine.
"Get out of the water, Madeleine. That guy's dumping fish bait. It'll attract...." The last of David's warning was carried off by the wind, but I knew what he'd said. It would attract sharks.CHAPTER 2
David began running toward Madeleine, his heels kicking up the sand. Once he was in the water and it was deep enough, he dove in and began swimming.
"Oh, good. Now the sharks will have two people to dine on," I said.
Alex grabbed my arm and turned me toward him as if to reprimand me for such an insensitive remark, but when he saw the expression on my face, he knew my comment was my clumsy way of dealing with the horror of what could happen.
"Let's go," I said. "We might as well make it a four person stew." We both ran in and began swimming for the boat. Maybe more people would frighten the sharks off or confuse them. Who knew how their fishy little brains, if they had any brains, worked?
Madeleine, seeing the water turning bloody near her, panicked and began to flail her arms around as if trying to beat off whatever was causing the blood. When she spotted David swimming toward her, she must have assumed he had been injured and she began to paddle in his direction.
"No, no. Back the other way. To the boat." David continued to stroke toward her. Alex and I were not far behind.
A gray fin cut through the water nearer the fishing boat. A sandy-haired man had joined the other one, and a cheer went up from them when they spotted the fin.
David and Madeleine collided in the water. He grabbed her and began swimming her toward the boat. They reached the dive platform and pulled themselves onto it. Now Alex and I were the freshest items left on the dinner buffet. The fin swept past the fishing boat and toward ours. A huge mouth with rows of sharp teeth erupted from the water, grabbing a large piece of bloody chum. It then submerged and was lost to our view.
"You think he's full?" I asked Alex. I was breathless, not from the exertion of swimming but from the fear that he and I might end up in the shark's belly — or at least parts of us. "Where the hell is it?" It was frightening enough seeing the fin, but terrifying when I couldn't, imagining the creature sneaking up on us from behind. Or below. Dun, dun dun, dun. The theme from Jaws ran through my head.
A dark red piece of chum floated toward me, and the fin surfaced behind it, narrowing the distance between eater and stuff to be eaten. I stopped swimming for a moment, reached for the bloody piece, and flung it back toward the fishing boat. The fin turned and followed. The dive platform was now only a few feet away. We pulled ourselves out of the water.
Safe. We were all safe.
The platform was still too close to the water for my comfort. I sprung into the stern of the boat and grabbed Alex's hand to drag him after me. We were all shaking. I knew my trembling was from fear, not from the cold, even though my teeth were also chattering. Madeleine looked like a ghost. Even her freckles faded into the grayish color of her skin. Her lips were blue.
After throwing us towels, David began yelling at the men in the fishing boat. "Didn't you see there was someone swimming in the water by our boat? What's wrong with you throwing all that bait out here?"
This time the sandy-haired man heard him. "Hey, we didn't see anybody but the three of you on shore. We figured it was safe. We wanted to get ourselves a shark."
"There's one here now." The man who dumped the bait spoke nonchalantly and turned his back on David.
"You almost killed one of us. How can you be so irresponsible to toss bait around a boat people have to swim to?"
"We weren't going to be here long," the man said, his tone dismissive. "We'd get our shark and clear out. We figured it would be safe for you to swim out then." He never turned his head in our direction but continued to play the fish on the line.
"It's not going to be safe around here for a long time. Now the sharks think this is a feeding ground. I ought to —"
"What ought you to do, Mr. Wilson?" The man who was fishing handed his rod to the other man and came around to face our boat.
"I should report you." David spoke calmly, but I could tell by the red flush beginning to work its way up his neck that he was furious.
"Really? You think you have a private claim to these waters, do you? It was a mistake. Like my man here said, we thought you were safely on shore. No one got hurt. What's your problem?"
"Ah, damn. He got away, boss." The other man began to reel in the line.
"Then we go. Have a nice day." The dark-haired man's lips twitched into a crooked smile.
They hauled anchor and started their twin outboards.
I was so angry at their casual attitude that I wanted to bite them. A chunk of chum bobbed toward us. I grabbed it out of the water and threw it at their boat. It landed in the stern.
"Lucky toss, Eve," said Alex.
I smiled. "You don't know how lucky. The top was open to the box where their deck cushions are stowed. It landed in there with them." I pointed to the gory mess as it slid down into the box between the cushions.
As the boat moved away from us and its captain opened the throttle, the surge forward made the cushion box slam closed.
"That should smell pretty ripe in a few days." Alex chuckled. "That's my Eve."
David didn't laugh with the rest of us.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Sporting Murder"
Copyright © 2015 Lesley A. Diehl.
Excerpted by permission of Coffeetown Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lesley A. Diehl in her new book, “A Sporting Murder” Book Three in the Eve Appel Mystery series published by Camel Press gives us a new adventure with Eve Appel. From the back cover: It’s smooth sailing for Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, owners of Second to None Consignment Shop in rural Florida’s Sabal Bay, land of swamps, cowboys, and lots and lots of ’gators. Eve and her detective boyfriend Alex have joined Madeleine and her new beau David Wilson for a pleasure cruise on his boat. But cloudy, dangerous waters lie ahead. A near fatal encounter with Blake Reed, David’s supremely nasty neighbor, is soon followed by a shooting death on the dividing line between David and Blake’s land. Both men run sport-hunting reserves, but Blake imports “exotics” from Africa and promotes gator killing, while David stays within the law, pointing clients toward the abundant quail and turkey as well as the wild pigs that ravage the landscape. Nevertheless, when a mutual client is killed, it is David who is arrested and charged with murder. Blake’s nastiness is only exceeded by that of his wife, Elvira, who forces Eve and Madeleine out of their shop, intending to replace it with a consignment shop of her own. It seems that bad luck looms over them all, even Eve’s brawny and hard-to-resist Miccosukee Indian friend Sammy, whose nephew has disappeared. As the case against David grows stronger and his friends’ misfortunes multiply, Eve and her strange and diverse group of friends, including her ex, a mobster, her grandma, and Sammy’s extended family, band together to take on the bad guys. But the waters are getting muddier and more troubled, and Eve and Madeleine may end up inundated in every sense of the word. Book 3 in the Eve Appel Mystery series, which began with A Secondhand Murder and continued with Dead in the Water. If you look in The Dictionary under “Interesting” you will find an entry for this book. Ms. Diehl has provided us with a great character in Eve Appel and she does get involved in some interesting cases. Let me recommend you start this book early as you will want to finish it before you go to sleep which means you will sacrifice sleep of you start late. “A Sporting Murder” is a wonderful thriller as the tension mounts as Eve is trying to identify the killer. “A Sporting Murder” is loaded with twists and turns and red herrings that will leave you guessing all the while you are flipping pages to find out what happens next. I am already looking forward until the next book in this series comes out. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Camel Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Reviewed by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers' Favorite A Sporting Murder by author Leslie A. Diehl is a fantastic foray into the genre of cozy mysteries, and I simply loved it! In this engaging and extremely entertaining novel, we are introduced to Eve Appel, a delightful and spunky protagonist. She and her good friend Madeline own the Second to None Consignment Shop in Sabal Bay, located deep in swampy, alligator-infested rural Florida. When Madeline’s new love interest, David Wilson, is implicated in the murder of a client of his game ranch, Madeline is sure that he has nothing to do with it. In fact, David’s neighbor and rival game ranch owner, Blake Reed, also had the victim as a client, and has the reputation of being a very nasty piece of work. When Blake’s wife also comes after Eve and Madeline’s shop, wanting to use it for her own store, Eve realizes she needs to know what really happened. As Eve dives head first into her role as amateur sleuth, she needs to utilize a unique group of compatriots to assist her, and finds she just might need all of her wits to find out what really happened, and to keep herself from becoming the next victim. Author Leslie A. Diehl deftly shows her skill in writing books that any reader would love in this fine example of a cozy mystery. I was hooked from the very first page, and could not stop reading until I reached the end. A Sporting Murder is fun, funny, fast-paced and exciting, with several twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. This was the first book I have read in the Eve Appel Mystery series, and I had no trouble at all following the storyline, but I am looking forward to going back and reading the other installments as I absolutely loved this book. Any reader who enjoys mysteries, suspense, action, or just a great read would love this book, and I highly recommend it.
Rural Florida is quite an interesting place for a mystery novel. "Gators cross the roadways to get to water, food and mates." "Feral pigs are running around." "All kinds of bugs and crawly things come to visit in the night." It's where matrons from the coast drive out to drool over the Indian warrior hunk giving airboat rides and to go two-stepping with the sexy cowboys down at The Biscuit, the local watering hole that just so happens to have the best ribs in town. But the sense of serenity that an end of the day sunset gives to the residents of Sabal Bay is often short lived. The environment is ever changing. Dark, ominous looking clouds are always threatening to blow in from off shore, the wind ready to whip the palm trees around even while it lifts the oppressive heat and humidity from the air. Because danger is always lurking in an area where different nationalities are forced to mix and those lower down the economic ladder are exploited, taken advantage of by the well to do. It creates a sense of hopelessness for the working class along with a stubborn determination to hold on. "Like her home, Mrs. Warren looked worn out, but her hair was a bubble of salt and pepper curls and her clothing neat and pressed." The streets are laid out in a grid pattern, but the canals connecting them meander in all different directions, causing outsiders to have to backtrack and find a bridge to get to the other side. It's a confusing sort of environment that functions more as a maze, trapping its poorer residents where they land, and giving the upwardly mobile their own tiny insulated community, free of strife. But the salt of the earth working stiffs cling to what makes them happy. "The casino wasn't grand, no fancy bars or restaurants—only worn and tired carpeting and gray and dingy walls—rural Floridians' need to toss away their money and drink without having to travel too far." But when native Miccosukee men start going missing from the casino, things become a lot more dangerous than a cowboy's jangling spurs upping the charm factor. Because the rusticity doesn't look so charming when minorities are getting picked off left and right with hunting rifles. That's when a line gets crossed and things go way too far. Eve Appel is often accused of reading too many mystery novels, her overactive imagination getting the better of her. But she refuses to believe the ingrained prejudice that runs so deeply though her hometown—that these missing natives are just off somewhere, drying out after a bender. She knows they're not all alcoholics and drug addicts, running away from their problems. They're good, decent, hard-working men, looking to provide for their families. They would never up and leave them without any means of support. And that's why Eve is determined to bring them home, or die trying, even when her friends keep asking her: "Why do you try to make everything your issue?" Because for Eve, it's not a choice. It's just something she has to do, be a champion for those being denied a voice.
Cutthroat business competition. That's what drives this mystery novel. And the competing parties meet during what's supposed to be a fun Sunday out on the water. Eve and Madeleine are on a double date with their boyfriends, Alex and David. Madeleine's swimming next to David's boat when Blake Reed suddenly motors up next to them and tosses a bucket of bloody bait over the side, attracting a whole swarm of sharks. Madeleine barely makes it onboard before they start attacking everything bobbing on the surface. Eve doesn't wait to give Blake a piece of her mind, but she's taken aback by his "So what?" reaction to almost getting her best friend killed. "His predatory gaze reminded me of what I'd seen in the shark's eyes when it surfaced to take the bait. Hungry. Evil. A killing machine." Eve and Madeleine had hoped to enjoy their day off, since owning the consignment shop, Second to None, usually has them working six days a week, and resting on the seventh. They have to bust their butts to stay afloat in a risky retail climate by catering to the tastes of the rich matrons along the Florida coast. But when they go back to work on Monday, after their nasty encounter with Blake, their rent is suddenly doubled overnight, forcing them to have to move out without much notice. And who's the person taking their space? Blake's wife, Elvira. She's out to ruin them by starting her own clothing store in their location. "Yes, I know what you do. I intend to do the same." It doesn't help that David is also competing against Blake when it comes to their abutting hunting ranches. However, David is actually looking to sell. A few years ago, a thirteen-year-old intruder broke into his home and threatened his daughter at gunpoint. David had no choice but to shoot the kid, killing him in the process. Ever since, he's hated guns, wanting to put as much distance between them as he can. But David doesn't want to give the ranch away either, but he might not have a choice when a client is found dead on his property. David admits that he got into an argument with the man, telling him not to kill the exotic oryx that wandered over from the Reed ranch. Stocking exotic game isn't a practice that David approves of. "Hunt what Florida has to offer—not setting up the African plains in Sabal Bay." But the man apparently shoots the oryx because his body is found sprawled in the mud next to the animal carcass. When Blake Reed arrives on his neighbor's property to see what all the ruckus is about, Eve watches him intently. "I wondered at someone who could drive up to a crime scene, see a human corpse, and remark only on the dead animal lying nearby. The guy was a piece of work." In the end, David is charged with first-degree murder, and Eve firmly believes that Blake Reed set him up—she only has to prove it. Then Second to None burns down. Eve and Madeleine are forced to transition their business into a mobile home, converting it into a "new shop on wheels" while hitting local outdoor flea markets and casino parking lots. Yet they can't help but wonder if Elvira was behind it when the fire is ruled an arson. But the Reeds have something much more sinister in store for them than just taking their livelihood, and throwing their loved ones in prison. Eve and Madeleine are about to find out just how exotic the game is at the Reed ranch, and how dangerous a game this psychotic couple is ready to play.
I'd love to introduce you to Eve Appel, but I think she'd do a much better job introducing herself. "I find chasing down killers more exciting than selling fashionable used clothing." "Crying is not something I often give into; I'm more of a 'turn your troubles into anger and blame someone else' gal." "Nobody ever accused me of having generous thoughts about those I don't like." In A SPORTING MURDER, Eve is often described as insensitive, a bully, and immune to the needs of others whenever she wants her way. Not exactly the most flattering traits one usually associates with a main character, but Eve's sense of humor redeems her in more ways than one. "There's no worse romance spoiler than peanut butter breath." "How many killings can one sassy gal stumble into?" "There's nothing like work to take your mind off murder. Well, there are other things too. Like sex, food, dancing…" She can be a tad self-absorbed, but her best friend and business partner, Madeleine, is the selfless balm to her constant dose of assertiveness. They run a consignment clothing shop together, but aggressive just isn't Madeleine's style. She's a petite redhead to Eve's tall, sexy blond. She worries about the money while Eve always assumes that thinks will work out. Madeleine is clumsy and naive, but she holds fast to her principles, refusing to let Eve talk her into asking a mob boss for a small business loan they so desperately need. But when Madeleine's boyfriend, David, is convicted of first-degree murder, Eve tries to protect her from all of the ugly details related to the case. But this only angers Madeleine more when she feels that Eve doesn't think she can handle the truth, that she's too much of a wimp. Eve tries to help Madeleine by investigating what clues they do have, but she feels guilty leaving her BFF out of the loop. "I should be a better friend to her instead of running all over, trying to play the tough little sleuth." Alex, Eve's PI boyfriend, couldn't agree more. But Eve hates seeing others in action while she's forced to sit on the sidelines. Even when for the most part her plans never work out, she still dives in, headfirst. She thinks chasing clues will bring her and Alex closer together as a couple, but it really doesn't. Instead, she quickly turns into a problem for him, getting in the way, and endangering herself in the process. "He wanted me to stay out of this murder investigation/possible abduction more than he wanted me naked between the sheets. Well, he couldn't have it both ways." And that's when things start to get complicated, because there's another man, waiting in the wings, ready to take Alex's place. Sammy is a Miccosukee Indian with dark skin and long black hair. He looks like a warrior. Eve readily admits, "I liked Sammy's understated handsome looks and rugged style." When she takes off with him to investigate and doesn't come back until morning, she knows she's in a heap of trouble. "Alone with a handsome Indian. Talking? Who would believe that?" Namely, Madeleine. Eve knows she can con her into not telling Alex that she was out all night with Sammy, even though their friendship is already pretty strained. "I waited for her anger to pass. It did. It always did between us. Nothing, but nothing could sever our bond." But Eve's secrets soon catch up with her, putting both of their lives in danger. And as the action reaches its epic conclusion, Eve finds herself in quite a quandary.