What’s black and white and dead all over? Georgia bed and breakfast proprietor Nina Fleet finds out when she comes across a corpse in a penguin costume.
Nina Fleet’s life ought to be as sweet as a Georgia peach. Awarded a tidy sum in her divorce, Nina retired at 41 to a historic Queen Anne house in quaint Cymbeline, GA. But Nina’s barely settled into her new B&B-to-be when a penguin shows up on her porch. Or, at least, a man wearing a penguin suit.
Harry Westcott is making ends meet as an ice cream shop’s mascot and has a letter from his great-aunt, pledging to leave him the house. Too bad that’s not what her will says. Meanwhile, the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty have lost their lease. Real estate developer Gregory Bainbridge intends to turn the convent into a golfing community, so Cymbeline’s mayor persuades Nina to take in the elderly nuns. And then Nina finds the “penguin” again, this time lying in an alley with a kitchen knife in his chest.
A peek under the beak tells Nina it’s not Harry inside the costume, but Bainbridge. What was he doing in Harry’s penguin suit? Was the developer really the intended victim, or did the culprit mean to kill Harry? Whoever is out to stop Harry from contesting the sale of his great-aunt’s house may also be after Nina, so she teams up with him to cage the killer before someone clips her wings in Peach Clobbered, Anna Gerard’s charming first Georgia B&B mystery.
A quaint setting, unusual circumstances, and fun characters made this a very enjoyable cozy read for me. There’s just enough humor, and I felt like I got to know Nina throughout the course of the story. This is book #1 in what I think is a very promising new series.
With that said, I am so pleased to welcome Nina Fleet, owner of Fleet House B&B, to the Book’s the Thing today!
It was only by chance that I stopped in front of the 3-story Queen Anne in Cymbeline’s historic district that day. I’d meant to spend that Saturday morning antiquing in that small Georgia town and then return to my condo in Atlanta almost three hours away. But since I’d missed the turn to the town square, I’d parked my green Mini Cooper for a minute to check my GPS. I saw the house, and it was love at first sight. Yep, I hadn’t meant to buy a place in this artsy little town, let alone turn it into a bed and breakfast inn, but I did…and I did.
I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Nina Fleet (it’s pronounced NINE-ah, like the number nine, and FLEET, like running real fast). If I put up a profile on one of those dating websites, I’d list myself as recently divorced, just turned 41, brown hair/brown eyes, height 5’5” and weight noneofyourbizbutinproportion. Of course, I’d have my picture taken with my Australian Shepherd, Matilda, since she’s my doggie BFF and unofficial co-innkeeper. There are a couple of things I try to keep on the downlow, however. First, that my ex-husband is pro golfer Cameron Fleet (yes, that Cam Fleet, major tournament winner and good-old boy philanderer). And second, that I ended up with a tidy settlement in our divorce, which was why I could afford that impulsive house buy.
So now, instead of putting in my previous fifty hours a week at a soul-sucking corporate job, I’m owner of Fleet House, a five-room bed and breakfast here in Cymbeline. So far it’s been a fun and interesting venture, but it’s not been without its challenges. I hadn’t even planned on the whole B&B thing. I kind of got arm-twisted into it by our local mayor. She convinced me to open my house to half-a-dozen evicted nuns who needed a place to stay until their new assignment came down from the diocese. As “practice” guests, they were the best. Even Mattie buddied up to them, and she’s picky about who she makes friends with.
Speaking of friends, there is one person who is NOT on the BFF list. His name is Harold A. Westcott III, a/k/a Harry Westcott. He’s a former Cymbeline resident who is now a professional actor, though not exactly famous. You might have seen his name scroll by on some B-movie credits if you looked hard enough. Actually, I’m kind of surprised he’s not more well-known, since he’s pretty darned good-looking. Okay, really good-looking. You know, dark hair, blue eyes, just a bit of manly stubble on a manly jaw, tanned and tall and just muscle-y enough.
Problem is that Harry is also kind of cray-cray, to put it nicely. You see, his great-aunt used to own my house, and he had it in his head that when she died, he would inherit it. So he was pretty ticked when I bought the place out from under him. He even tried to sic some third-rate lawyer on me so I’d sell the place back to his aunt’s estate. So far, Harry’s tactics haven’t worked. But he’s almost as sneaky as he is good-looking, so I have to keep my guard up any time he’s in town.
The one positive is that when a local recently ended up murdered, and the sheriff pursued wrong leads, Harry joined forces with me to figure out who the killer was. Not that Harry decided to play detective in real life it because he’s such a great guy. Instead, it was because he was worried that he was the killer’s real target. And then my nuns guilted me into helping him and even letting him stay in the B&B’s hidden tower room while we looked for the murderer. You’ll be glad to know we figured it out…along with a couple of other town secrets.
So next time you take a trip to Cymbeline, Georgia, why not book a few nights at Fleet House? I promise you a comfy bed, lots of southern charm…and maybe even a mystery to solve while you’re there.
Thank you for coming by Nina! 🙂
About the Author
DIANE A.S. STUCKART is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series (writing as Ali Brandon). She’s also the author of the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci historical mysteries, as well as several historical romances and numerous mystery, fantasy, and romance short stories. The first book in her Tarot Cats Mystery series is FOOL’S MOON, available in trade, large print, and Kindle versions. Her Georgia B&B Mystery series from Crooked Lane Books launched July 2019 with PEACH CLOBBERED, written as Anna Gerard.
Diane is a member of Mystery Writers of America and has served as the 2018 and 2019 Chapter President of the MWA Florida chapter. In addition to her mystery writing affiliations, she’s a member of the Cat Writers’ Association and belongs to the Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association. She’s a native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, but has been living in the West Palm Beach FL area since 2006. She shares her “almost in the Everglades” home with her husband, dogs, cats, and a few beehives. Learn more about her books at www.dianestuckart.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/blackcatmysteries
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