CASTLES, CUDGELS—AND MURDER!
After the worst breakup in human history, Robbi Bryan needs a carefree summer and a place to fly her falcon. To give her wounded heart time to recover, she joins the Sherwood Renaissance Faire. But the faire holds much more than jugglers, archers, and a chance to reenact the days of yore. Robbi finds herself entangled in a web of secrets, lies, rivalries, and murder. The last thing she has time for is a handsome Scotsman with some hefty baggage of his own.
Mal McClaren has found a haven and a retreat among the permanent residents of Sherwood, Tennessee’s year-round Ren Faire. When a murder threatens his home, the brawny Scotsman comes up with a risky plan to find the killer and save the faire. He didn’t count on falling for a feisty falconer with a troubled past.
Trouble, the famous black cat detective, has never lost a human in his charge. He’s also never had—or wanted—a sidekick. But with a killer on the loose and the future of the faire in jeopardy, Trouble must work paw-in-hoof with Tuck, an incorrigible potbellied pig, to unmask the killer and show two wounded people that love is a risk worth taking.
I love the Trouble mysteries and I actually felt a bit sorry for him in this book. The black cat detective has been left with Laura a friend of his beloved owner Tammy. Laura lives on the grounds of the pretty spectacular Sherwood Renaissance Faire and Trouble has been enjoying the expanse of the grounds and it’s unusual residents.
Robbi has just gone through a horrible break-up and needs a place to regroup, since she is a falconer she also needs a place where her kestrel would be welcome as well. When Laura invites her to stay with her, it’s perfect since she can also do demonstrations as part of the Faire when it opens.
Six miles out Robbi’s car dies and she ends up walking the rest of the way with her falcon, in a carrier of course. On the final leg of her trip as she approaches the footbridge leading into the grounds she meets Trouble, and has an altercation with Joanne the blacksmith over Tuck the thieving pig.
This is a favorite scene.
The black cat rolled onto his back across the trail and batted at a dust mote. He looked sleek and well fed, his eyes clear and greenish-gold in the dappled sunlight. Robbi set the kestrel carrier down and rubbed her aching arms. “Are you lost, big fella?”
The cat cocked his head and graced her with an indignant meow. No, not lost. He looked too well cared for to be a stray.
She pushed a damp strand of hair away from her face and sighed. This wasn’t how she’d planned to make her grand entrance, footsore and covered in trail dust. But her car, the miniature SUV she jokingly called “Old Reliable” because it was anything but, had sputtered to a halt six miles back.
She reached into her back pocket and pulled out the hand-scrawled map her friend Laura had sent. Yes, there was the bend she’d just come around, and just beyond the cat was the footbridge spanning a narrow section of the river. Not far now. Then she could freshen up a bit at Laura’s cottage and gulp down a gallon of ice water before calling for a tow and meeting the rest of the Troupe.
She’d just folded the map and stuffed it back into her pocket when a shriek cut through the stillness, followed by the violent rustling of the underbrush on the far side of the bridge, another long squeal, and a stream of curses more colorful than her own. A small potbellied pig hurtled out of the trees, pursued by the tallest, most muscular woman Robbi had ever seen.
“You little…! Why, I’ll…” The woman gasped, narrowly missing the pig with a blow from her hand axe. “I warned you, Tuck, you little glutton! You’ll be bacon by bedtime!”
Robbi stepped onto the footbridge. The pig shot past her and she spread her arms wide to block the axe-wielder, who skidded to a stop in the middle of the bridge and glowered past her at the pig. The pig slowed to a trot and then dropped, panting, into the dust beside the cat.
Robbi swallowed. The woman looked even bigger at this distance, thick and mannish, with bulging biceps, callused hands, and an angry red face. In her tunic and trousers, blacksmith’s apron, and leather boots, she might have stepped out of a medieval painting. She glared at Robbi and growled, “Step aside, princess.”
Princess? Robbi suppressed a laugh. “I don’t think so.”
“Little early for a Seasonal, aren’t you? Any rate, this is not your business.”
“What’s your problem with the pig? Tuck, you said?”
“Third time this week he’s raided the horse feed, the thievin’ little scoundrel. Now let me by before I…” The woman shook the axe, stuck out her chin. “Don’t make me pitch you in the river.”
Robbi’s shoulders tensed. Was she really going to get into a brawl on her first day here? And with a giantess, no less?
She blew out a slow breath and sank into a defensive stance, like her Tai Chi sifu had taught her. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather just grab a couple of ales and talk it out?”
The woman’s eyes narrowed. She glared at the pig again, then at Robbi. Flinging the axe away, she charged.
Robbi wasn’t about to abandon the pig. But the woman had a good ten inches and at least fifty pounds on her, so a grappling defense was impossible. Instead, she’d have to use her attacker’s size and weight for leverage. Borrow her force, as her instructor would say. Robbi took a step toward the railing, then launched herself forward to meet the charge. As she ducked into the woman’s punch, her left hand clasped and pulled the attacker’s wrist, while her right palm pushed against the woman’s opposite shoulder. Momentum lifted the giantess off her feet and spun her over the railing.
Time seemed to slow, and for a moment Robbi saw it like a snapshot— the woman’s flailing arms, her widening eyes, her broad mouth open in a startled “o.” Robbi heard a bark from the far side of the bridge, then caught a flash of movement as a red border collie and a man in a kilt ran toward her from the trees where she’d first seen the pig.
Then time snapped back into place. As the giantess fell, a huge hand clamped over Robbi’s arm and yanked her off her feet. The wooden rails flashed past, then spinning trees and patches of sky.
Robbi had just time enough to fill her lungs before the icy water closed over her.
Jaden Terrell. Advance Reader Copy: TROUBLE MOST FAIRE: Familiar Legacy #11 (Kindle Locations 72-106). KaliOka Press.
This altercation leads to meeting Mal and his dog Miss Scarlett and the startling discovery of Laura’s body.
Now Trouble has to solve this murder, never has he lost a human in his care. He has to prove himself worthy, fortunately Robbi quickly figures things with him out. Including the proper care and feeding.
A suspenseful and intriguing tale that will have you on the edge of your seat while also enjoying the antics, commentary and investigating by Trouble and Tuck.
I can’t wait for more of these books, I love how each author identifies with Trouble. I’m also finding new to me authors which means new books and series as well.
5 Contented Purrs for Jaden!
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Jaden Terrell is a Shamus award finalist and the internationally published author of four novels, Racing the Devil, A Cup Full of Midnight, River of Glass, and A Taste of Blood and Ashes, featuring Nashville-based private detective Jared McKean. Terrell is also a contributor to Now Write! Mysteries a collection of exercises published by Tarcher/Penguin for writers of crime fiction.
A Nashville-based writing coach & consultant, Terrell also teaches a series of workshops and online courses for writers.
The former special education teacher has attended the Metro Nashville, FBI/TBI, and TBI Citizen Academies and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, Women’s National Book Association, and Private Eye Writers of America.
Terrell is a recipient of the 2009 Magnolia Award and the 2016 Silver Quill Award for service to the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and of the 2016 Killer Nashville Builder Award.