Sunday, February 9, 2020

Murder at the Million Dollar Pier by Gwen Mayo & Sarah E. Glenn | Blog Tour with Excerpt, Guest Post, and Giveaway

Murder at the Million Dollar Pier (Three Snowbirds)
by Gwen Mayo & Sarah E. Glenn

About Murder at the Million Dollar Pier

Million Dollar Pier

Murder at the Million Dollar Pier (Three Snowbirds)
Historical Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: Mystery and Horror, LLC (September 26, 2019)
Paperback: 260 pages
ISBN-10: 1949281078
ISBN-13: 978-1949281071
Digital ASIN: B07WMN9V79
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"Never waste good rum on a bad night." - Teddy Lawless, February 1926.

There are many bad nights ahead for Teddy. Shortly after she arrives at the newly opened Vinoy Hotel in Saint Petersburg, she comes face to face with her ex-fiancé, Ansel Stevens, in the dining room. Cue the slap that was thirty years in the making. Unfortunately, her ex-fiancé dies during a yacht race shortly thereafter. Conclusion of the authorities: poison. His family closes ranks, leaving Teddy as the prime suspect. Worse, Teddy's hair comb is found on the deck of Ansel's boat, leading to her swift arrest. 

Can Cornelia Pettijohn and Uncle Percival save fun-loving Teddy before she goes from the grand hotel to the big house?


Murder at the Million Dollar Pier: The book is set in Saint Petersburg in 1926. The main characters are Cornelia Pettijohn, her very close companion Teddy Lawless, and Professor Percival Pettijohn, Cornelia’s elderly uncle. Teddy is suspected of murdering Ansel Stevens, her ex-fiancé from thirty years before. 

When the trio returned to their room, they discovered Detective Knaggs and Sergeant Duncan leaning against the wall outside their hotel room, waiting for them.  Knaggs straightened and stuck his notebook back into his jacket. “We need to have a word with you three again. Something needs clearing up.”

“Of course,” Uncle Percival said, unlocking the door. Cornelia had another bad feeling in the stomach. The pair of officers didn’t sit down, and the one had his notebook out again. Her uncle didn’t sit, either. His hearing device was in his ear and his face had the calm expression he wore when he was in the middle of tricky negotiations. “You said you needed clarification, gentlemen. How may I assist you?” 

“Professor Pettijohn, we have made inquiries since our last visit,” Knaggs said. 

Duncan broke in. “And you want to know what we found out? She ain’t your niece.” He jerked a thumb towards Teddy. “You’re not related to her at all.” 

Knaggs made a quieting gesture at Duncan. “Why would you say she was your niece, when she’s not? She came from Colorado with your real niece, so why didn’t you just say she was a friend of your niece? More importantly, why are you paying for her to stay in this hotel?” 

Cornelia held her breath. Teddy had no good reason for being with them outside of friendship. What Knaggs was implying was scandalous, but the truth was illegal. 

The professor didn’t blink. “Really gentlemen, you look like men of the world.” He walked over to Teddy and put a protective arm around her shoulders. “I’m sure I can rely on your discretion. I claimed she was my niece to avoid gossip. You see, gentlemen, Miss Lawless and I are engaged to be married.” 

Shock forced Cornelia into a seat. She listened, speechless, as her uncle continued. “I realize that Theodora is perhaps twenty years younger than me, which would make us subject to talk. We wanted to avoid that while we shopped for a honeymoon cottage and made all the necessary arrangements.”
Twenty? More like thirty or thirty-five, Cornelia thought. 

“If you have done a thorough checking, you will discover that she and I have been looking at rentals to live in whilst we search for our cottage in Paradise. I assure you that she has been staying with my niece, her maid of honor, in the other side of the suite to avoid the appearance of impropriety before the ceremony.”

Teddy, teary-eyed, took the professor’s arm. “Oh, sweet Percival, I’m so sorry. I told you we should have eloped.” 

He patted her hand fondly. “Nonsense, my dear. You deserve a proper wedding with all the trimmings. Before you came along, I took for granted I would die a bachelor. You have made an old man very happy.” 

All the color had drained from Cornelia’s face. She clung to the arms of the chair and did her best not to gape. Insane, both of them.  

Knaggs harrumphed. “Well, that does explain a few things, sir. Were you aware that Miss Lawless’s former fiancé was in Saint Petersburg before you traveled here?” 

“Absolutely not,” Professor Pettijohn said. “If I had known, we would have chosen Naples or perhaps Marco Island for our nuptials. I want no distraction from our future happiness.”  

“A pity that you didn’t elope,” Knaggs said. “It would have saved us some time.” 

“My apologies,” Cornelia’s uncle said. “Can you forgive a romantic old fool for making your job harder?” 

Once the officers were gone, Cornelia’s shock turned to anger. She bounded out of the chair and rounded on her uncle. “Now look what you’ve gotten us into. Engaged? That preposterous lie is going to come back on us. Then what?” 

“It seemed to be the best explanation,” her uncle said. “It stopped them from asking more personal questions. An engagement rather neatly explains why we’re traveling together. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before.” 

“I can’t believe you thought of it at all,” Cornelia snapped. “You realize that now people will expect the two of you to marry, and sooner rather than later.” 

“Hmm.” The professor rubbed his white-haired chin. “We can always break the engagement if we need to.” 

“Now, wait a minute,” Teddy said. “One broken engagement is bad enough. Another one will make people think I’m a shrew.” 

“They already think you’re a murderess,” Cornelia said. “How much worse could the gossip get?” 

“A woman can have any number of good reasons to kill a man, but getting jilted twice makes her sound like an ugly spinster.” 

Cornelia smacked herself in the forehead as she sank back down in the armchair. They were both hopeless. “You are a spinster. Just not an ugly one.”
“That’s hardly the point. I’m already suffering from public humiliation.” 

“I can’t fake my death again; you can only get away with that once. I could simply marry her,” Uncle Percival said. “Then we could argue that she wanted Stevens alive, so he could see that she’d found a better prospect.”
“They’ll think she’s a gold digger.” 

“Nonsense, they’ll think I’m an old fool.” 

“They’ll think both,” Cornelia snapped, “and they’ll be right about you.”

Guest Post

The New Twenties
By Gwen Mayo

The 1920s might seem quaint to us now, but at the time they were unsettling, a break from tradition, and a leap into the modern world. Women had made strides in the workplace and the universities, they had just gained the right to vote, and were fighting for reproductive freedom. As we celebrate the new year many people dawned Roaring Twenties garb and partied the night away. We remember flappers stylistically, but more substantively the 1920s saw first-wave feminism, the Harlem Renaissance and what at the time was an unprecedented openness about homosexuality — at least in urban centers such as New York, London, Paris, and Berlin.

Then, as now, technology drove social change. Cars were mass-produced. Telephones became commonplace household items; by decade’s end nearly half of American homes had one. The rural-urban divide of the ’20s was electric, literally, Power lines were expensive and most rural areas were unable to support the cost. Today, it’s broadband internet rural areas are still dreaming about. 

In the 20s, Robert Goddard launched his first liquid-fueled rocket; today we’ve ridden rockets to the moon and are talking about sending people to Mars. Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic in 1927; today, planes crisscross the globe as a matter of routine. Alexander Fleming discovered something he called penicillin in 1928. Medicine today cures diseases we scarcely knew existed a century ago, but the magic of penicillin is fading in the face of superbugs produced in its overuse.

Jazz wasn’t invented in the ’20s, but the ’20s became the Jazz Age. It’s still with us, just not as the dominant musical genre. Movies boomed; vaudeville died. By the decade’s end, movies changed — silent films were history, “talkies” were in. 

All that sounds like progress, but the ’20s were not an uninterrupted march toward a better future. The ’20s saw a dark surge of racism across America, partly in response to decades of large-scale immigration and the domestic migration of African Americans from the South to the North. 

The Klan saw its membership soar. Some estimates state that by 1924, some 1.5 million to 4 million people were members of that hateful organization. The 1920s brand of the Klan came through the conservative churches and seared cross burning and lynching into the national consciousness. The ’20s also saw a wave of Confederate nostalgia, powered both by the Civil War generation dying off and a reaction to the social changes people saw around them.

The ’20s saw the passage of prohibition laws and the rise of organized crime. That era passed, but the criminal organizations of the era are embedded in our culture. Today we’re also dealing with a different sort of prohibition, as states begin to loosen the laws banning marijuana. It seems ironic that it was in the 1920s that American states first began banning marijuana, culminating with a federal ban in 1937.

A century ago in the ’20s, we were dealing with the rights of women and minorities, vast technological and social changes, immigration, and regulating the sale of intoxicating substances. The mass production of automobiles led to the demand for better infrastructure across the country. 

In the new ’20s, we are facing the aging of our highway system and the need to find new and better ways to travel, including a return to mass transit, via high-speed trains or special bus-only lanes on our highways. We are also seeing the emergence of new ways of travel with self-driving cars, Uber, electric helicopters for urban commutes, and personal space travel for those who can afford the hefty price. 

About Gwen Mayo

Gwen Mayo is passionate about blending the colorful history of her native Kentucky with her love for mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.

​Her stories have appeared in anthologies, at online short fiction sites, and in micro-fiction collections. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Gwen attended the University of Kentucky on a poetry scholarship but has an associate degree in business and a bachelor's degree in political science. Interesting side note: Gwen was a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 - 1987.

About Sarah E. Glenn

Sarah E. Glenn loves mystery and horror stories, often with a sidecar of humor. Several have appeared in mystery and paranormal anthologies, including G.W. Thomas’ Ghostbreakers series, Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, and Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Her great-great aunt served as a nurse in WWI, and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. After being mustered out, she traveled widely. A hundred years later, 'Aunt Dess' would inspire Sarah to write stories she would likely not have approved of.

Author Links

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