Dear Readers, I loved the first book in Mary’s Secrets of the South series, so I was eager to read this one. It’s even better. Mary’s research really gave her a feel for the South making her settings even richer in history and tradition that wove through this contemporary romantic suspense novel. The wide variety of types of characters carried the story to amazing places. You really won’t want to miss this wonderful read.
Bio: Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, What Happened on Beale Street, is second of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling, and swimming and lives in
Ohio with her husband, dog,
Welcome back, Mary. How did this book come about?
During my travels through the South, I discovered the Mississippi Blues Trail which I followed to
Beale Street in Memphis. I’ve always loved music, so I created
a story about two PI’s who come to Memphis
to solve their friend’s murder. While researching in the area, I discovered the
marvelous Peabody Hotel. It’s had one hundred years of history, romance, and
intrigue within its stately walls. So of course my characters had to stay at
this elegant hotel.
Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.
During my last trip to
my husband and I ate at B.B. King’s Restaurant on Beale Street. I took a photograph that’s almost
identical to the book cover, but I’d never sent the photo to my publisher. The
cover designer for Harvest House couldn’t have selected a better cover for my
Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.
The events which take place in the book are pure imagination, but I tried to make the characters and setting as true to life as possible. I changed the name of the hotel to the
Carlton in the book, so readers don’t confuse
a real place with made-up events. We can’t have guests tearing about the hotel,
looking for missing jewels.
How much research did you have to do for this book?
Plenty. I studied the history of the city of
Memphis from after the
Civil War through its recent rebirth/renewal. I researched the birth of the
blues, along with its founding musicians, and then made several trips to Beale Street and
traveled the Blues Trail into Mississippi.
For the characters I interviewed a chief of police, the director of a homeless
shelter, two hotel managers and a concierge, several professional musicians,
and a real estate agent. And of course, I listened to CD’s of the blues while
I love blues music. What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you weren’t able to use in the story?
I have a subplot which involves jewels that have been missing for fifty years. While staying in the elegant hotel where this subplot takes place, I was able to incorporate several real-life details into my fiction. To tell you more than that would spoil the story.
What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?
I was able to incorporate many obscure details I learned during my trips into the story. An author never knows what will be useful while writing.
That is so true. What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?
One of my characters, Danny Andre, volunteered at an outreach center for those recovering from drug/alcohol problems. The neighborhood Danny lived in, along with his volunteer activities and late-night line of work, often put him in danger. But as a Christian, he took Jesus’s command to serve his fellow man seriously. His character is an example for all Christians.
What is the next project you’re working on?
I just finished the edits on book 3 of the Secrets of the South Mysteries. Magnolia Moonlight, the story about a murdered minister set in
will release in August. And I’m presently writing book 4, Sunset in Old Savannah. Since I plan to live in Natchez, Mississippi Georgia for half
the year after my husband retires, it was a pleasure to research and write this
I can hardly wait for the next book to release. We need to schedule it on my blot. What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?
I’m lucky to live on 3 acres of wooded land. There are always branches and broken limbs to be gathered and dragged to the burn pile. I take my dog, and we stomp around the woods for an hour. When I come back to the house, I’m physically exhausted but mentally refreshed.
Tell us about the story.
How Can Music So Beautiful
Hide Something So Deadly?
A cryptic plea for help from a childhood friend sends cousins Nate and Nicki Price from
New Orleans to
these two private investigators arrive at Danny Andre’s last known address, they
discover signs of a struggle and a lifestyle not in keeping with the choirboy
they fondly remember.
Danny’s sister, Isabelle, reluctantly accepts their help. She and Nate aren’t on the best of terms due to a shared past. Can they get beyond painful memories to find her brother?
And what on earth was Danny involved in besides becoming a rising star as a sax player? Nate and Nicki follow clues into dim and smoky clubs, trail potential stalkers, and challenge dangerous men with connections to underworld drug trafficking. To complicate things, the hotel they are staying in has its own secrets. Confronted with murder and mystery in the land of the Delta blues, the cousins and Isabelle will have to rely on their faith and investigative experience to solve the case and not lose their lives.
Please give us the first page of the book for my readers.
Nicki Price opened one eye to find an irate face looming over her in the dark room.
“Why do you pay a phone bill if you refuse to answer the thing?” Her roommate slapped the phone down on Nicki’s solar plexus, none too gently.
“I do pick up when people call during daylight hours.” Letting her cell fall to the floor, Nicki turned over and snuggled deeper under her covers.
Chloe Galen plopped down on the edge of the bed. “Nic, you’re a partner in a big-time PI agency. You need to be ready for adventure twenty-four-seven.”
“Spoken like a true artist-in-residence, who paints solely when the creative impulse strikes but under no circumstances before noon. Besides, Price Investigations is not a big-time agency. I work for my cousin for chump change.” Nicki tried to bump Chloe off the bed with her hip. “Isn’t it the middle of the night? Why are you still up?”
“Because whenever I doze off, your stupid phone wakes me up. How can you stand the theme song from a TV Western for a ringtone? If you don’t answer the next time it rings, I’m coming back with a bucket of cold water.” Chloe picked the phone from the rug just as it began its annoying tune again as though on cue and handed it to her friend.
Nicki sat upright and kicked the tangled covers to the foot of her bed. “Hello?” she demanded crossly. “Whoever you are, do you have any idea what time it is?”
“Nicki?” A familiar voice on the other end sounded distant. “It’s Danny Andre.”
“Danny. I’d recognize your Barry White imitation underwater.” Nicki changed her tone as every trace of sleepiness vanished. “How are you? Where are you? I heard you moved to the big city to seek fame and fortune. I have major news too—a new job, cool apartment, and a real live fee-ahn-say.” She couldn’t help grinning as she said that last bit.
How can readers find you on the Internet?http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236
Thank you, Mary, for writing this wonderful book. I know my readers are as eager to read it as I was when it arrived.
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What Happened on Beale Street - Christianbook.com
What Happened on Beale Street (Secrets of the South Mysteries) - Amazon
What Happened on Beale Street (Secrets of the South Mysteries Book 2) - Kindle
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