Friday, April 08, 2016


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, and cat.

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 Memphis, 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 story.

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 writing.

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 Natchez, Mississippi, will release in August. And I’m presently writing book 4, Sunset in Old Savannah. Since I plan to live in Georgia for half the year after my husband retires, it was a pleasure to research and write this book.

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 Memphis. When 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.
New Orleans
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?
I love interacting with readers at:  http://  or!/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.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
What Happened on Beale Street -
What Happened on Beale Street (Secrets of the South Mysteries) - Amazon
What Happened on Beale Street (Secrets of the South Mysteries Book 2) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Anonymous said...

would love to win angela in ky

Connie said...

I am very excited about this book and series. Thank you for sharing.
Connie from KY

Melanie Backus said...

I am intrigued by this one, Lena. Thank you for the opportunity.

Melanie Backus, TX

Mary Ellis said...

Thanks, Lena, for inviting me to your lovely blog. Good luck to everyone who leaves me a comment and enters the drawing. This book was a joy to research and write!

Caryl Kane said...

Lena, I enjoyed learning more about Mary. This book is at the TOP of my must read list!

Caryl K in TEXAS

Mary Preston said...

This does sound exciting.

Mary P


Just Commonly said...

This sounds great. What happened on Beale Street has been on my TBR list. And this interview allows me to get to know the story and Mary better thank you!
Annie (MD)

Sandy Quandt said...

What a great premise and location. The book sounds like a must read.

Sandy Q TX

Kim hansen said...

Love her books. North Platte Nebraska.

Anonymous said...

This book sounds very interesting and I love the location. Sounds like a great series!
marypopmom (at) yahoo dot) com
Maryann in NY

Pam K. said...

I've read a couple of Mary Ellis' Amish books so know she is a good writer. Her mysteries sound intriguing; I'd very much enjoy winning a copy of What Happened on Beale Street.
Thanks for the chance.


Trixi said...

I'm excited for Mary's new book! Thanks for the author interview & giveaway chance :-)

Trixi in OR

kam110476 said...

Hi Mary & Lena! I cannot wait to read Beale Street! It sounds so I that I'm just itchin' to get my hands on a copy!
Kristen in OK

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me in your great giveaway!!
Conway, SC.

Abigail Richmond said...

Looks so good! Thanks for the awesome giveaway! I always love a good mystery. :) please enter me.
Blanch NC.

Anonymous said...

This book from Mary Ellis sure looks interesting. Please put my name in for a chance to win it. Maxie from TX.
( mac262(at)me(dot)com )

Edward Arrington said...

This sounds like a book I could really get into.
Edward A in VA

Mary Ellis said...

Thanks so much to everyone who left me a comment. Good luck with the drawing!!

Brenda Arrington said...

Sounds like a great read. Thanks for the giveaway.
Brenda in VA

BJM said...

I'd love to read this. I think my husband would enjoy it too.


rubynreba said...

We visited Beale Street a couple of years ago and found it very interesting! Love to read the book.
Beth from IA

EJ said...

I enjoy Mary's books - sounds like another good one. Elaine from Wisc

Terrill R. said...

I'm just as excited for this book as I was for Midnight on the Missippi. :)

Terrill - WA

Bakersdozen said...

This book sounds so interesting with the missing jewels and private investigators. I would love to read it.


KayM said...

Love the Peabody Hotel. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

Lourdes said...

Looking forward to this book. Thanks for a chance to win.

Lourdes Long Island