Gone Daddy Blues
Grace Street Mysteries Book 7
by Jane Tesh
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Discouraged by a recent deadbeat dad case, PI David Randall wonders if he should close the detective agency he operates from his psychic friend Camden's boarding house at 302 Grace Street in Parkland, North Carolina. But Doreen Padgett, a scrappy teen, convinces him to find her useless father, Arliss. Arliss and Doreen's mother have divorced, and Doreen wants the man to pay what he owes her family. It's another deadbeat dad, but Randall agrees to take the case.
When policeman Jordan Finley comes to Grace Street with a blouse he wants Camden to touch, a blouse that belongs to the victim of a suspected serial killer, a man with a bizarre fondness for blond hair. Camden has a serious reaction to the blouse, but can't see anything that will lead to the killer except a hatred for a woman named Margaret.
Despite Cam using an accident as an excuse not to be psychic, Randall finds a connection to Margaret, Arliss, and the serial killer. All of them plan to attend an upcoming high school reunion, the same reunion Cam’s wife Ellin is looking forward to. Randall has to find the killer, especially since he realizes that except for himself, everyone who lives at 302 Grace Street is blond.
Gone Daddy Blues is the seventh in the Grace Street Mysteries, the continuing adventures of the family and friends who live at 302 Grace Street.
When I got home, Camden was out on the front porch feeding his werewolf. This latest stray was a large, extremely hairy, mentally challenged man, always growling and scratching around for a handout. Camden said his name was Tom, but I’d never heard Tom say anything remotely intelligible. I guess Camden remembered men like this from his own hobo days. No doubt there was a secret sign somewhere on a fence that said, “If you’re riding the rails through Parkland, 302 Grace is the place to stop for a sandwich.”
As I got out of the car, Tom grabbed his food and a can of Coke, ready to run.
“It’s okay,” Camden said. “It’s Randall. You remember him.”
Tom’s eyes beamed small and dark from his forest of hair. He said something that sounded like “Urrrhh,” and scurried across the yard to hide behind a tree.
“Nice to see you again, Tom,” I said.
“He’s been helping me rake the leaves,” Camden said. Tom wouldn’t take food unless he did a chore to pay for it.
“Haven’t seen him lately. Been visiting his relatives in Sasquatch Town?”
“He’s been at the shelter in Tranquil Grove, but he didn’t like it. I’ve been trying to explain that he can’t catch a ride with the trains the way he used to. Come have a seat. He’ll be okay.”
Camden sat down in the porch swing, and I sat down in one of the rocking chairs. Tom peered around the tree like Bigfoot deciding which camper to eat. There were several cans of soda and a pile of sandwiches on the wicker table between the rocking chairs.
“Can I have one of these, or are they all for Tom?”
“Does he know how to share?”
I got a dark look for a reply. With Tom watching my every move, I chose a sandwich and a Coke, expecting him to hurl himself at the porch to defend his food supply. When he stayed put, I raised my sandwich in salute.
“Come up and join us, Tom.”
To my surprise, he came around the tree and slowly walked up to the porch steps, where he sat down, his eyes still wary, and finished his lunch.
“Is anyone else here?” I asked Camden.
“Kary went down town to the South Avenue Clinic, and Lottie’s rewriting something she calls the windmill scene.” He stopped eating and gave me a power stare. “What’s happened?”
“You were right about something bad happening. There’s been another murder, one of Doreen’s neighbors.”
“The same killer?”
“I think so. It could very well be Arliss Padgett. Don’t be surprised if Jordan comes by with another piece of something for you to hold.”
As I said this, Jordan’s patrol car pulled up. Tom took off, a hairy blur disappearing around the house.
Jordan got out. “What the hell was that?”
“Camden’s werewolf,” I said.
“Save it, Randall.” He took a worn brown shoe from a paper bag. “Cam, if you don’t mind. We’ve got another murder victim.”
I could tell Camden did mind, but he got up and set his Coke aside. He touched the shoe and immediately zoned out. He turned three shades whiter and started breathing hard quick breaths. When I reached over to take the shoe, he shook his head.
“Wait. A few more minutes. I can’t—” He dropped the shoe, groped for the porch swing, and sat down. “Good lord.”
Jordan and I both asked if he was okay. He nodded. He took a drink and caught his breath.
“My God. Her head.”
“Is it the same man you saw before?” Jordan asked.
He took a few more moments before he could reply. “Yes, but there was something different about him this time. Much more violent. Almost as if he were trying to prove something. I still can’t see his face.” He rubbed his eyes. “Sorry. The images were so sudden.”
Jordan took the shoe. “Maybe later?”
I could tell Camden didn’t want to have anything more to do with Pauline Raterman’s shoe. “Maybe.”
“We’ll call you,” I said to Jordan.
He caught my eye and correctly interpreted the message: Enough for now. He thanked Camden for his assistance, got in his car, and drove off. A few minutes later, Tom came around the corner of the house and stood looking at the sandwiches. Camden didn’t seem to notice him, so I handed Tom the plate. He frowned a hairy frown as if I’d committed a social faux pas and carefully picked one sandwich from the pile.
“Pardon me,” I said. “I’m not up on hobo etiquette.”
He frowned another frown at Camden and then glared up the road after Jordan. Probably remembering an unpleasant run-in with the law.
“You okay?” I asked Camden.
He took another drink of Coke. “Add one more unforgettable image to my repertoire.”
“I saw her, too. What did you mean about this one being different?”
“It was the same guy, but not for the same purpose. He didn’t need her hair, he just took it.”
“Compulsively, you mean?”
“I don’t know. He’s using all the hair he’s collected for something. I can’t tell what. But he killed this poor woman just for the hell of it.”
“Because he could, maybe?”
Camden looked off into space. I knew he was seeing Pauline’s badly skinned head because I was, too. “Something else.” He sighed in exasperation. “If I’m not going to get a clear picture, then why get a picture, at all?”
Death By Dragonfly Grace Street Mysteries Book 6
"The mystery plot is convincing and motives abound, but the vivid characters are the main draw, in particular the wryly observant Randall, who narrates the story with verve. Fans of cozies with a paranormal twist will be rewarded."
Flamboyant actor Leo Pierson's Art Nouveau treasures have been stolen, including a one-of-a-kind Lalique glass dragonfly he claims is cursed. David Randall, 302 Grace Street's private eye, agrees to recover the valuables before he realizes murder has raised its ugly head in the Parkland art community. Samuel Gallant of the museum board is missing, until Randall and his landlord/consultant Camden find Gallant's body stuffed in a museum closet. When another board member suffers a fatal accident and the art critic for the Parkland Herald is attacked, Randall suspects the stolen dragonfly is indeed cursed. He investigates Richard Mason, curator of the Little Gallery, whose artwork consists of ugly mechanical sculptures, and Nancy Piper, finance manager at the Parkland Art Museum.
Meanwhile, Camden struggles against psychic visions he's had since birth, taking pills to limit sudden intense visions. His wife, Ellin, fends off Matt Grabber, a television celebrity healer threatening to take over her Psychic Service Network and using his two large pythons to emphasize his bid. The pythons take a liking to Camden, upping his stress level, while he takes more pills hoping his visions—and the snakes—disappear. Kit, a new tenant at Grace Street, is a young rock star who is also psychic. As Camden becomes more addicted, Kit becomes an early warning system, alerting Randall to the next attack.
Randall works to solve the murders, find the jeweled collection, help Cam, deter Grabber and his pythons, romance the young lovely Kary, and avoid stray curses. A spirit on the Other Side surprisingly requests his help, a spirit with ties to the stolen pieces of Art Nouveau.
"...readers seeking a cozy, feel-good mystery will enjoy this outing to Grace Street. The delightful characters navigate their worldly and otherworldly challenges with affection and humor, and Tesh maintains a whimsical tone that doesn't detract from the serious subject matter." --Publishers Weekly
Camden's friend Rufus Jackson receives a letter from his ex-wife, Bobbi, and he's surprised to learn he's the father of a baby. When Bobbi is found murdered in her home and her baby stolen, Rufus becomes suspect number one. PI David Randall immediately takes the case.
But Randall is almost sidetracked from the case by a series of what appears to be never-ending favors. When he takes his friend Cam to the Carlyle House to sing for a concert, Cam encounters Delores Carlyle, a troubled spirit trapped inside a huge mirror, who wants to see her daughter, Beverly, one last time. Beverly Carlyle will come to the house on one condition: that Randall find a home for her surly teenage son, Kit, and a band for her obnoxious daughter, Frieda. Kit is welcome at 302 Grace, but to secure a spot for Frieda, Randall has to get a local girl group a gig at a local nightclub. The owner agrees, if Cam will pose as a teenager and spy on a rival club. Cam agrees if Randall will take him to Green Valley to answer some questions about his past. And another ghost is haunting the hot dog restaurant, refusing to talk to Cam.
In addition to the tangle of deals, Randall has to contend with Rufus being hell-bent on revenge, the return of Cam's telekinesis, and growing concern that if the baby—a girl named Mary Rose, as it turns out—is found, Rufus, might not want to keep her.
But where is Mary Rose?
David Randall, a private detective short of work, invites his psychic friend Camden into a case. Miss Viola Mitchell, an aging local actress, has recently been reported missing. The Parkland PD's Jordan Finley objects to the pair inspecting Viola's home, claiming the police don't need their help. Moments later, despite the array of birds and cats perfuming the residence, Cam advises Finley, "Check the basement."
Viola is neatly planted there in a square of dirt. Who would kill her? Why? Are others targeted? Is a local performer twisted by jealousy? Could a role in a Parkland Little Theatre production have caused her death? Cam goes undercover at the theater while rejecting demands from his fiancée that they marry this month. His psychic gifts have expanded to levitate objects. He fears for their children. She wants to put him on television.
Meanwhile, a new Grace Street client, owner of popular BeautiQueen Cosmetics, is searching for her arrogant, absconding partner. Randall tracks him to Clearwater, Florida, and soon finds himself chasing shoplifters stealing pharmaceuticals and helping a jazz musician woo his woman while failing to woo his own love, Kary. Will Randall and Cam piece all this together?
Who is audacious enough to steal an antique box once owned by Harry Houdini? This collector’s treasure, skillfully hidden in the local Magic Club— a nightclub where magicians perform—is not merely an old theatrical prop. It is the prize in a contest that promises to jump start a magician’s career. At least that’s what Taft and Lucas Finch hoped before their prized possession was stolen. Private investigator David Randall is already busy searching for socialite Sandy Olaf’s missing diamond bracelet when he begins the search for Houdini’s box. But instead of finding the valuable box, Randall finds Taft murdered, his body locked in a backstage trunk. The magical world is brimming with jealous suspects, less successful magical competitors, romantic rivals, business conflicts, and festering hurts from long ago. Randall’s friend Camden is concerned with losing his voice, his girlfriend Kary insists on being a magician’s assistant, and Cam’s girlfriend Ellin has to deal with the overbearing Sheila Kirk, wife of a potential sponsor, who insists on hosting the Psychic Service Network’s programs.
Warned away from interfering in a police homicide investigation, Randall focuses on finding the box, searching for a missing diamond bracelet, and handling the crises embroiling his unique housemates in their rambling home on Grace Street. It will take a stroke of magic to connect the interlocking circles of these crimes.
"A solid mystery with a plethora of suspects and quirky regulars."--Kirkus Reviews
It's Christmas in Parkland, North Carolina, and PI David Randall is looking forward to his mother's visit, even though he knows she'll want to talk about his daughter, Lindsey, who died in a car accident. Further dampening the season's cheer, his psychic friend Camden has harrowing flashbacks to a murder: Randall and Camden found Camden's friend Jared Hunter brutally stabbed. Among the suspects is Boyd Taylor, Randall's client. Jared had served time for breaking into the Parkland Museum of History. Bert Galvin, son of the editor of the Parkland Herald, was also involved.
And what of the inept superhero, the Parkland Avenger? The Superhero Society of Parkland insists the Avenger isn't one of them. Are these things all somehow related?
2018 – ALA Book Club October Pick, Things that Go Bump: Paranormal Mysteries
David Randall's perfect family life came derailed when his little daughter Lindsey died in a car crash. Thrown out by his second wife and wanting to leave a dead-end detective agency to start his own, he reluctantly accepts his psychic friend Camden's invitation to stay in Camden's boarding house in Parkland, North Carolina.
Meanwhile, working the case of the murder of Albert Bennett, Randall's only clue is a notebook filled with odd musical notation. When another client, Melanie Gentry, hires him to prove her great-grandmother was murdered by her lover, composer John Burrows Ashford, over authorship of "Patchwork Melodies," Randall sets out to find a connection to Bennett's murder, as well as to the murder of a Smithsonian director, who was preparing a new PBS documentary on early American music.
Randall's investigations lead him to another notebook, where he finds not only "Two Hearts Singing," Ashford's most famous song, but a valuable early copy of Stephen Foster's "Oh! Susanna," hidden in the cover. But things become more complicated when Ashford's spirit parks itself in Cam...and refuses to leave until Randall proves Ashford's innocence.
Jane Tesh lives and works in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith's home town, a real life Mayberry. She is a retired media specialist and the author of ten mystery novels, three fantasy novels, and over thirty plays for children. When not writing, Jane plays the piano for productions at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
It’s often difficult to explain where you get your ideas. I usually sit down at the computer, my characters start talking, and I write down what they say. And sometimes they have very specific ideas about how the story should go.
My Grace Street Mystery series is set in the fictional city of Parkland, North Carolina. Dealing with the loss of his little daughter, Lindsey, PI David Randall comes to live in his friend Camden’s boarding house at 302 Grace Street. Cam is a talented psychic, but has trouble accepting his gift. He has a girlfriend, Ellin Belton, who produces shows for the Psychic Service Network and longs to be psychic. At 302 Grace, Randall meets the woman who will become the love of his life, Kary Ingram. Kary likes to help out on Randall’s cases, especially if she can wear a disguise.
When I first started writing the series, Randall was not the lead character. He was one of Cam’s tenants, a balding, paunchy, washed-up salesman, who was ornery and fairly useless. I had tried writing the story from Cam’s point of view, but that didn’t work. Then I tried writing it from Ellin’s. Again, the story stalled. Then one day, clear as day, I saw Randall walk in. He slouched against the doorframe, took a few puffs of his cigarette, scratched his fat stomach, and said, “It’s my story. Let me tell it.” I agreed to let him have a try. “Let’s get one thing straight first,” he said, and pointed the cigarette at me. “I’m going to be a damned sight more handsome.”
The minute he started telling me the story from his point of view, the story took off. As promised, I made him tall, dark, and handsome, with the ability to see and hear Lindsey’s little spirit as she helped him with his cases. It’s moments like this, the sheer unexplainable bursts of creativity, that make me so glad I’m a writer. So when a character decides to hijack the story, I say, “Go for it.”
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