Murder on the Mullet Express
Gwen Mayo and Sarah Glenn
ISBN -13: 978-0-9964209-7-6 (Print),
Publisher: Mystery and Horror, LLC Paperback
BOOK BLURB: It’s 1926. The West Coast Development Company is staging its biggest land deal in Homosassa, Florida, selling pieces of a planned city to speculators who dream of a tropical paradise. Army nurse Cornelia Pettijohn takes leave to travel to Florida with her ancient uncle, who claims that he wants a warm winter home. When their car breaks down, they take the local train, The Mullet Express, into Homosassa.
By the time they arrive, though, a passenger has been poisoned. A second murder victim boards the train later, iced down with the fish. Uncle Percival’s hidden agenda makes him the sheriff’s prime suspect. Cornelia and Teddy Lawless, a twenty-year-old flapper in a sixty-year-old body, must chase mobsters and corner suspects to dig her uncle out of the hole he’s dug for himself.
REVIEW: This was a fun, quick read with likable characters. Well, except for the bad guys, but some of their antics were pretty funny. I enjoy a book with a lot of humor, and this one kept me smiling. Just one of the many clever lines in the book that made me chuckle came when Cornelia was trying to get Teddy out of bed the morning after Teddy partied hearty. Teddy reminds Cornelia of her, Teddy’s, health issues and Cornelia says, “You might be a less delicate flower if you weren’t potted every night.”
I liked the way the relationship between Cornelia and Teddy was handled in such a understated, matter-of-fact way. Too often the relationship between two women especially in that time period would have been over-explained. But the authors simply dropped in the hints that the women were more than good friends.
The professor and Cornelia and Teddy make a interesting trio of amateur sleuths. Percival Pettijohn taught mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky when it was the Kentucky Agricultural and Mechanical College. His fascination with trains and steam engines is a nice side-note to his character and provides the knowledge and expertise when he concocts a booby trap to catch the bumbling burglars.
Cornelia and Teddy were both Army nurses, which is how Teddy acquired her lung problems that ended her nursing career. When this story takes place, Cornelia is waiting to muster out in a few months.
The details of history and geography were well done and lightly sprinkled through the narrative of the story. It is always an extra bonus to learn something when reading a story, and as a history buff, I liked getting a look at Florida in 1926 and how speculators tried to get rich off the land.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS Gwen Mayo lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. She is the author of the Nessa Donnelly Mysteries and co-author of the Old Crows stories with Sarah Glenn. Her stories have appeared in A Whodunit Halloween, Decades of Dirt, Halloween Frights (Volume I), and several flash fiction collections.
Gwen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky. Her most interesting job, though, was as a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 – 1987. She was one of the last engineers to be certified on steam locomotives.
Sarah E. Glenn has a B.S. in Journalism, which is a great degree for the dilettante she is. Later on, she did a stint as a graduate student in classical languages. She didn’t get the degree, but she’s great with crosswords. Her most interesting job was working the reports desk for the police department in Lexington, Kentucky, where she learned that criminals really are dumb.
Her great-great aunt served as a nurse in WWI, and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. A hundred years later, this would inspire Sarah to write stories Aunt Dess would probably not approve of.
Do come back on Wednesday when Gwen will be my guest, sharing a bit about trains and planes and… No, she will give us some of the skinny on Mullets, which are the most unusual of creatures.