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
Grandfather addressed the waiting customers. "If you'll just step to one side and let them off the boat, you can find your seats, and we'll be off again." He directed them down the path toward the landing, where Sammy was refueling the boat. Sammy looked up and saw me and waved. He set the gas cans down and started up the path. When he got to where I stood, he put his arms around me and hugged me close. The women watching swooned in envy, and I almost lost my footing as he lifted me off the ground and spun me around. Wow.
"I haven't seen you much lately." He set me back on my feet and held me at arm's length. "You look good."
"Is he your boyfriend?" asked one of the women.
Before I could answer, Sammy nodded.
"Sammy," I said so only he could hear. "What are you saying?"
"You could be my girlfriend, you know." He gave me a roguish grin.
"Alex might protest."
"Yeah, but he's not my worry. You are."
Sammy was in a mood I'd never seen before--flirtatious, something I didn't know he did.
"What's got into you?" I asked.
"Oh, I don't know." He looked around him, at the sky and then the river beyond the landing. "It's a beautiful day, and I've got more customers than I can handle."
"Oh, I get it. All this money is making you horny."
The words had leaped out of my mouth. It was the kind of sassy, sexual teasing I might say to some of my cowboy friends from the Burnt Biscuit, but I'd always been careful around Sammy. We'd spent a night alone in the swamps, and had never talked about the feelings that had developed out there. It seemed to make us both self-conscious. Besides, Alex and I were a couple.
"Sorry, Sammy. I didn't mean that."
He gave me one of his soul-searching looks. "Didn't you? Too bad for me."
Both of us stared at the ground; then the uncomfortable moment passed. Sammy broke the spell.
"Well, you did us right, woman. Sending all these folks our way. I may be able to buy a new shirt for the first time in five years."
"Keep that one. It looks great." I liked Sammy's understated handsome looks and rugged style--the faded pink and turquoise Miccosukee-pattern long-sleeved shirt, which pulled tightly across his broad chest, and the jeans bleached almost white from too many washings. The clothes did not make the man. Not in this case, anyway. This man--tall, dark-skinned, with long black hair--made the clothes. On anyone else they would just look worn. On him, they looked like a very attractive second skin.
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.