Just before Walter Egret is killed in a hit-and-run, he phoned his half-brother Sammy to report that he'd unearthed their missing father's pocket watch, along with a pile of human bones. The project is put on hold until it can be determined if the site is an Indian burial ground. Then the bones disappear. Now Sammy and his brother's three orphaned children want Eve Appel to go pro, applying her innate snoopiness to the trade of private investigator. Eve already has her hands full with her two consignment stores. What is she going to do? Sammy and Walter are Miccosukee Indians, and Walter was employed as a backhoe operator on a construction site for a sportsmen's resort. Was Walter's death murder or an accident? If the bones belong to Sammy's father, how did they get there? Delving into these mysteries, Eve is aided by her usual crew of friends and family. This adventure will not only up the stakes for Eve as an investigator, but it will also open her eyes to life possibilities she never imagined. Book 6 in the Eve Appel Mystery series, which began with A Secondhand Murder.
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. Old Bones Never Die follows the first four books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder, Dead in the Water, A Sporting Murder, and Mud Bog Murder. For more information, go to www.lesleyadiehl.com.
Read an Excerpt
"No turtle bites. Darn. I've been wanting to try them since I moved here, but every time I order them, this place is out." I perused the menu, looking for some other exotic, genuine Florida swamp delicacy to try. Actually, almost everything seems unusual to me. I'm Eve Appel, and sometimes I wonder if I belong here. I'm originally from Connecticut, but I moved to rural Florida several years ago to get away from Jerry Taylor, my husband at that time, and to start a business. Along with my best friend, Madeleine, I own a consignment shop here in Sabal Bay, a small city sitting on the edge of what Floridians call the Big Lake — Lake Okeechobee.
To be clear, we now own two shops. One is stationary, housed in a newly renovated store in a small strip mall at the edge of town; the other has wheels, a large recreational vehicle converted to hold our merchandise. The big rig shop happened by accident when we were forced to move out of our original location. It was the brainstorm of my dear friend, mob boss Nappi Napolitani. He's not merely "connected," he's creative, too.
I was seated across the table from my friend Frida Martinez, a local police detective. She had the day off, so I invited her for lunch at the restaurant near the bridge crossing the Kissimmee River, where it flowed into Big Lake. Before you get all excited picturing blue water, long stretches of sand, and gentle southern breezes, this lake is for fishing only. The water is brown, it's shallow, and the alligators rule. No one except the very stupid, inebriated, or drug-addled swim in it.
Frida ran a hand through her dark hair and gave me a smile of sympathy. "Unfortunately, it's today or never for the turtle. This place is scheduled to close this weekend. That sportsmen's resort complex is breaking ground as we sit here, and the restaurant will be replaced by something finer. That's according to the article in this morning's paper."
"Sabal Bay doesn't really seem like the place for 'fine dining.' Aren't we more of a barbecue, pizza, and wings sort of town? I can't see a sportsman just in from cleaning his catch, scales still clinging to his vest, eager to be seated at a table with a linen tablecloth so he can order foie gras."
Frida chuckled and nodded. The waitress approached again.
"I'll just have a burger, medium, with fries," she said.
The waitress gave us the look of disappointment I recognized from earlier, when we ordered the turtle. "We're out of burgers. And fries."
"What do you have?" I asked, hoping against all odds it would be something I wanted to eat. If I waited much longer for lunch, I'd chew on an old cow hide. I was that hungry.
"We have barbecue."
"Oh good. I'll have that. How about you, Frida?"
"We only have one serving left," the waitress said.
"I don't understand why you even opened your doors today," I said.
More diplomatic than I — and who isn't? — Frida said, "We'll split the order. And cole slaw. You do have that, don't you?"
"Some," the waitress said. She turned quickly away and headed to the kitchen.
"I guess it was stupid to think this place would have much to offer just before closing its doors." Frida sighed. "But the view is great."
We both turned our heads to look out the windows, which provided a view across the mouth of the river. Boats flew down the waterway into the lake while others sat at anchor, lines over the side, fishing for whatever the water offered here — bass, speck, and catfish.
The doors to the outside porch were open, and earlier we had heard heavy machinery working the construction site just south of the restaurant. Both of us sat back and let the scenery envelop us.
It was more than wanting to have a chat over food with an old friend that made me ask Frida to lunch. I wanted to pick her brain about something Alex, my ex-boyfriend and a private investigator, had said to me. Our relationship had shifted gears, and where it had once been made up of a lot of lust, now we were friends, no benefits. I still respected his opinion on criminal matters.
I was about to steer the conversation around to my questions when Frida's cell rang. She answered, but said little, then disconnected.
"I know I'm off for the day, but there's been some problem over at the construction site. My boss knew I'd be here for lunch, so he thought maybe I'd take a look since my assistant Linc Tooney is out with the flu this week. Why don't you stay here while I run over there to see what's up? You have my share of our lunch order."
The announcement that there was some official police affair made me lose my appetite — not because I was nauseated, but because the only thing I loved more than barbecue was poking my nose into crime scenes. Murder was the main crime that inspired my nosiness.
"Couldn't I come along? I promise to stay out of the way."
Frida gave me a skeptical look. She knew my promises about keeping out of her cases were worth about as much as a Confederate dollar, at least back in the days when Confederate money had no value to collectors.
"Please? I mean we did come out here in your car. How am I supposed to get back to the shop? You owe me."
"I owe you a ride, not the right to pry into police business." Frida hesitated. "But I suppose if I say no, you'll just tag along and annoy everyone until you cause some kind of an incident."
The waitress approached our table and said, "I guess that serving of barbecue was already spoken for." She nodded at the only other table occupied in the entire restaurant.
That settled that. It was our fate not to eat, but to do crime stuff instead. My PI friend Alex Montgomery told me I had a nose for crime — not that he liked that trait in me — but he admitted I was pretty good at sleuthing out clues. That was why I'd asked Frida to have lunch today. I needed another opinion about how good I was at this detecting business. Alex had even suggested I might want to go after my PI's license, as if I had time to do professional detecting with two consignment shops to run and Madeleine about to give birth to twins.
Oh, did I forget to say that? Yep. My tiny best friend had found her soul mate, married him, and they were about to become parents. Any minute now, I suspected. She looked like an overstuffed piñata.
"Well?" said Frida. "Are you coming or what?"
I tossed a tip on the table. The waitress looked grateful until she saw the amount was only a few bucks; then she shook her head and muttered something about how badly women tip.
"We'd tip better if we got food!" I yelled back at her as we rushed out the door.
A bulldozer sat at the edge of an area scarred by earth-moving machinery and scraped clear of trees and grass. The debris removed from the site was piled up near the edge of the road. More than just bushes, trees, rocks, and dirt had been mercilessly disturbed and shoved to one side; I saw the wing of a white heron lying under one of the downed live oak trees. A breeze caught the feathers and moved them as if the bird were still alive and trying to lift itself from the rubble. Nothing escaped the machinery of development.
No one was around, but as Frida and I approached, a man in a hard hat jumped out of a pickup parked near a stand of sabal palms not yet destroyed by the work.
"You the cops?" he asked.
Frida pulled out her badge and introduced herself. "And this is, uh, Eve Appel, who is observing today."
He nodded at Frida and said to me, "You must be on some kind of a criminal justice internship, huh? You look kind of old for a college student."
"I am," I said.
For a moment, my remark puzzled him, but he shrugged and turned back to Frida. "Let me show you what we've got here."
He led the way to where the ground had been dug down several feet and leveled to begin setting forms to pour cement for the foundation of a building. He took us to the edge of the hole and pointed into the middle of the area.
"See there? We dug up a skull."
I could just make out a domed grayish object and a few longer ones near it.
"You the one who was operating the machine?" Frida asked.
"Nope. I'm the foreman. I sent the operator home. Nothing for him to do now. I also phoned my boss and told him what we found. You know what this means, don't you?" From the tone of his voice, he was clearly frustrated and angered at having to stop his work. "Damn nuisance."
"What's he mean?" I asked.
Frida explained, "This land used to belong to the Miccosukees, but the courts deeded it to the state, and the state sold it to the development corporation. Since it once belonged to the tribe, finding a body means it could be a tribe member buried here. The tribe might want to reclaim it for reburial in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act."
"That damn foolishness," the foreman said.
"Any body found on any piece of property requires investigation by the police; you know that."
He grunted in reply.
"I'll need the name of the backhoe operator. You should have kept him here, so I could talk with him. Have you informed the state authorities yet?"
"Nope. Not my responsibility. My bosses might have."
Frida looked perturbed at the foreman's obstructionist attitude. "I'll call in case your bosses forgot." She stepped away from the site and made a call. I leaned over the area.
"The bones don't look that old," I said.
"You some kind of an expert — an archaeologist, maybe?" the foreman asked.
"No, but you can see pieces of fabric, maybe the person's clothing near the bones."
He grunted again and walked back toward his truck.
Gosh, it was tempting to get closer for a better look at those bones.
I felt hot breath on my neck. "Don't you dare, Eve," said Frida. "You stay here. I want to take a closer look." She stepped gingerly into the depression, drew on a pair of latex gloves and leaned over the skull. "I'd better not move or touch anything until we get the state authorities and our forensic team out here for a look."
I tried to stretch my neck out farther to examine it more closely and would have pitched forward if someone hadn't grabbed my arm and pulled me back.
"Who ...?" I said.
"Danny Cypress. I'm the lawyer for Coastal Development and Gator Way. Sorry to frighten you, but I was certain you were going to pitch forward into the good soil of our area and spoil your beautiful boots. We wouldn't want that, now, would we?"
I looked into black eyes and a broad smile. "You're Miccosukee, aren't you?"
"Yes, ma'am, but only half on my father's side. Maybe you've heard of him. He's a rancher around here. Name's also Danny."
"I'm not from around here," I said. His hand was still on my arm, and the physical contact was beginning to make me feel uncomfortable.
"I didn't think so. You don't dress like any woman I know in Sabal Bay. What's your name?'
"Eve Appel." I moved away from him, forcing him to drop his hand from my arm.
"You must be from the state then."
"No. I'm with the detective." I nodded toward Frida, still carefully moving around the bones.
"So ... cop, then." His tone turned less friendly.
"She's a friend," Frida said. "How are you doing, Mr. Cypress? I heard you'd taken a job with the company developing the sportsmen's complex." Her words were respectful but had an edge. She appeared wary of Danny Cypress, and I wondered why.
"I gather you contacted the appropriate authorities?" he said.
"Just now. I assumed the company might drag its feet."
"Now, why would we do that? We like to stay within the law, and we respect the tribe's right to their dead. I mean, if this body even belongs to the tribe. And that will take some time to establish, won't it?"
"Well, since you're so eager for the company to obey the law, would you like to notify the tribal elders? With your contacts, you probably know them better than I do."
"I do, but I don't think it's my place to make that call. I work for the company, despite my Miccosukee heritage."
"Let's keep everything above board. No conflict of interest, right?"
Wow, what a tense conversation this was.
"Oh, and by the way, the state won't be sending anyone out here until tomorrow. I'll have to wait until then to see what evidence I can gather. I'll be posting a guard here until they arrive."
A police cruiser pulled past the palms and drove up to the bulldozer. "Well, here the guard is now. Time for everyone to leave." Frida said "everyone," but her remark was directed at Danny Cypress.
"She doesn't trust me," said the lawyer to me, loud enough for Frida to hear.
"Right," she said.
Frida and I watched the foreman as well as Danny Cypress leave. Both of their vehicles — the foreman's truck and the lawyer's black Escalade — had the development corporation's name and logo on the driver's door: "Gator Way" and a picture of an alligator with a huge grin on his face. I looked over at the heron's feathers in the pile of debris and couldn't think of a more incongruous image for this company.
"I wish I could get into that area with my forensics team. I'd like to take a closer look at those bones and collect evidence to take back to the lab." Frida turned the cruiser into the parking area in front of the consignment shop.
"Yeah, I know just what you mean."
"I'll bet you do. I shouldn't have allowed you near the place today, but I didn't know what to do with you. All I did was set free the snooping monster inside you."
Restless, I wiggled around on the seat. "That's something I wanted to talk to you about today."
"Turning over a new leaf? Is it that you'll stay out of police business because you have enough stuff of your own to do? What is it with you, Eve? It seems you have the need to multitask more than any person I've met. Don't those two shops take up enough of your time? Maybe I should talk to your Miccosukee lover Sammy about filling your life with more stuff like canoe rides in the moonlight, or would you like to take over his airboat business too?"
She was kidding, but her words held a kernel of truth. I seemed to have endless energy. And the most curious mind. That was what finally drove Alex and me apart, my insistence that I could do the job he did — follow leads, interview people, ferret out clues. He agreed I could do these things and well. He just didn't like my presence in his cases. Frida felt much the same way.
As for Sammy, my snoopy nature didn't bother him. He accepted it as part of who I was. He and I had something going on, but we hadn't yet decided what it was. I'd felt nothing like it for any other man. There was an odd tension between us, a sensual feeling, as if the air was filled with a longing almost fluid in nature, like a mist. We seemed to breathe each other in, as if there was no space between our bodies or our souls.
Frida broke into my thoughts of Sammy and surprised me by her comment, an echo of something Alex had said. "Maybe you should consider working with Crusty McNabb, apprentice yourself to him. With Alex gone to Miami, this area has only one private detective. I know Crusty could use the help, and his office is about next door to your shop."
I was aghast at Frida's words. "You're kidding, right?" Why would she suggest such a thing? And then I knew. "You figure if I have cases of my own, I'll be too busy to help with yours."
Frida smiled. "I think the word we want here is 'interfere' with my cases."
"I've been a big help. You know that."
Frida leaned her head into the headrest. "You have, but if you're hell- bent on fighting crime, you could use some discipline, not enough to destroy your creative, intuitive side, mind you, just enough professional training to hone your skills. I'm only saying this to make my life easier."
I gave her a look filled with hurt. "You find me a nuisance."
Frida reached out and touched my arm. "Sometimes. And sometimes you are positively brilliant. I want you to find your calling. Maybe it isn't selling secondhand designer fashions fulltime. Maybe it's a combination of things."
"Okay. I'll give it some thought. Would you help me? I'll have to carry a weapon — I mean other than my sassy attitude and my stiletto heels."
My meaning seemed to finally hit Frida. Her normally café au lait skin blanched. "A gun? Oh God. You'll be carrying a gun. I hadn't thought of that."
I had, and I thought I liked the thought, but before I could tell Frida how I felt, I caught sight of Grandy, my grandmother who was tending the store today, waving to me from the front window.
"Gotta run. Something's up. We'll get together and talk more about guns and stuff."
Frida gave me a tentative smile as I jumped out of the car and ran into the store.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Old Bones Never Die"
Copyright © 2017 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
Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite In Old Bones Never Die by Lesley A. Diehl, Connecticut fashionista Eve Appel has gone into business with her friend in a consignment store in Florida, but things never run smoothly and Eve just can’t keep her nose out. Becoming an apprentice to a retiring PI, Eve finds herself mixed up in things that she should have stayed away from. This time, she gets involved in the mystery of Walter Egret. Just before he died, he told his half-brother that he had found some bones and a pocket watch that belonged to their missing father. Eve gets on the trail and finds herself mixed up in a mystery that will open her eyes. Was the hit and run that killed Walter an accident, or did it have something to do with the construction company that unearthed what was possibly an Indian burial ground? This is Eve’s toughest mystery yet and could be the one that makes her as an investigator. Old Bones Never Die (An Eve Appel Mystery) by Lesley Diehl is a great story. I haven’t read any of the previous books, but I felt there was enough backstory so that I didn’t miss out. However, it’s probably best to read the series in order to get the full picture. This is an easy book to follow and is packed with twists, turns and plenty of action. The characters are likable and identifiable with plenty of development, and the plot was deep enough to keep me interested. This is a fun book with serious undertones and I will most likely read the entire series. This is a great, easy read, good for whiling away a few hours and drifting off into another world.