The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.
The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES R.P. Dahlke's novel: A Dead Red Oleander. Last day to get it Free.
Mystery Author R.P. Dahlke is the author The Lalla Bains mystery series.
A Dead Red Oleander
The Lalla Bains mystery series
Author: R.P. Dahlke
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"The main protagonists and all the supporting characters, have larger than life personalities, which lend themselves to some great dialogue exchanges and some pretty strange and esoteric action scenes. In preparation for the couple's forthcoming nuptuals, Lalla's relatives have arrived in California, from Texas and now the fun really starts!!"
When a late in the season emergency forces Lalla Bains to accept a greenhorn ag pilot for her dad's cropdusting business, she sighs in relief . After all, he comes highly recommended, his physical is spotless, and with a name like Dewey Treat, what could possibly go wrong?
Then her quirky relatives arrive from Texas and things go south in a hurry: Dewey Treat drops dead, his tearful widow claims he was murdered, clobbers Sherriff Caleb Stone with his own gun, and makes a run for it. Lalla, convinced the widow is innocent, sets out to prove it--against the express wishes of fiancé Caleb Stone.
Feds, local law, suspicious ag-pilots, nutso relatives, and her daddy's new sidekick, Bruce the goat, make life a living hell for Lalla. Will her nosey nature solve the crime and save the day? Or put them all in mortal danger?
Excerpt from A Dead Red Oleander
The world is flat. I know it is, because for the last five hours the view has been exactly the same. Only the sun has done any traveling, working its long shadows through straight lines of harvested cotton. A few crows shop the furrowed rows for worms, weevils, and grasshoppers. One hops over to inspect the truck I’m lying under, cocks a beady black eye, probably attracted to the shiny metal police-issued handcuffs, my hand in one of the cuffs, dangling from wrist to arm, and finally down to me, Lalla Bains, aero-ag pilot, sometime busybody, meddling where I shouldn’t—again.
I’m dirt smeared and sweaty, thinking if I get out of this alive, if the killer doesn’t return to finish me off, I’ll foreswear all future sleuthing. My dad, Caleb my fiancé, my best friend Roxanne, and half of Stanislaus County will be pleased to bear witness to that promise.
I will, this time. Really, I will.
I waggle my grubby, unpainted, and unadorned fingers at the crow. Too bad I didn’t have on my engagement ring; maybe I could get him to peck at the lock mechanism and open it. Yeah, right, and while I’m hallucinating, maybe get him to bring me a nice cold Pepsi.
I never wear the ring when I’m working, and I’d worked today, starting at three a.m. as I usually do during the long hot season of flying cropdusters. I spread chemicals over cotton fields like this one to keep the aforementioned weevils from devouring the plants. Today was my last flight, and probably my last job as an aero-ag pilot, since my dad’s business will soon be absorbed by another, larger outfit in Merced.
The crow is unimpressed with my status—after all, I’m the one recumbent under a truck, unable to move. His sharp black eyes take in the cuff and then my hopeful face. Any interest he may have had in my predicament is answered with a fluff of wings, and I swear—a wink. Then he flaps up on to the hood and his sharp claws rat-tat-tat across the top of the cab. He lands in the empty bed of the truck and a quick, sharp, whistle says he’s found that wadded up McDonald’s bag from yesterday. Yesterday, when I still had a life that didn’t include murderous suspects. He fusses at the paper bag for a few more minutes until it’s agreed there’s nothing left but a greasy wrapper. I hear his wings flap again, and wheels up, he flies off to the freedom I can only dream about.
I roll onto a shoulder so I can look out from under the truck. North. We’re facing north, where I’ve been hooked up and alone for most of the day, without water, a cell, or hope.
I follow the tracks as they roll over the berm, cutting twin ruts in the banked up earth, the crazy, jigsaw pattern of my reckless descent. Trucks and drivers intent on dinner, home, family whiz past—I wish I were one of them.
Someone could notice. I think. There are those lines leading down through the harvested cotton and finally to me under my dad’s old Ford. That is, if the driver in one of those big semis took his eyes off the road, and turned his head for a quick glance at the dry, flattened, and totally unappealing two hundred acres. I’m sure he would see the hump of a faded blue cab sprouting like an odd weed in the sea of cotton. I sure wouldn’t give it a second glance.
A car slows and rolls to a stop. A door slams. My heart quickens and in the heat of late summer a feathery light shiver of fear runs across my skin. I lie waiting.
I hear dirt clods tumble as footsteps make their way through the ruined plants, a curse as one sticks to his pant leg. A pair of brogues—black, with enough shine on them to reflect part of a tan pant leg with a navy blue stripe. His knees pop as he squats, and he eyeballs my cuffed wrist to the bumper, and finally to the rest of me, snuggled in between the row of cotton under the1958 rusted bucket my daddy refuses to part with.
He removes the California Highway Patrol cap, and first thing I notice are the stripes on his sleeve—a sergeant, maybe someone bright enough to figure out I’m not a criminal.
My blonde hair, which usually counts for a few points with most men, is presently adorned with cotton stems and fluffy balls. The rest of me is streaked with dirt. Not my best look.
We stare at each other for a minute.
I’m parched. My lips are cracked, my tongue is dry, and it sticks to the roof of my mouth. I need that Pepsi, maybe a rum and Coke, before I can possibly say a word. I swallow, thinking nothing will come out.
But then he does the one thing guaranteed to fix my pipes.
“So,” he drawls, “what’s your story, little lady?”
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I sort of fell into the job of running a crop-dusting business when my dad decided he'd rather go on a cruise than take another season of lazy pilots, missing flaggers, testy farmers and horrific hours. After two years at the helm, I handed him back the keys and fled to a city without any of the above. And no, I was never a crop-duster.
My Lalla Bains series is about a tall, blond and beautiful ex-model turned crop-duster who, to quote Lalla Bains, has "been married so many times they oughta revoke my license." Lalla is no Danielle Steele character & she's not afraid of chipping her manicure. Scratch that, the girl doesn't have time for a manicure what with herding a bunch of recalcitrant pilots and juggling work orders just to keep her father's flagging business alive.Note: Beginning with A Dead Red Alibi, Lalla and her family will reside in South East Arizona where she will divide her time between a fledgling P.I. business with cousin, Pearlie Bains, and volunteering as a team member with Cochise County Search and Rescue.
Author's Book List
A DEAD RED MIRACLE
- #5 in the Dead Red Mystery Series
Thinking to jump start their careers as private investigators in Wishbone, Arizona, cousins Lalla and Pearlie Bains buy into it with a local P.I.
But their nifty plan starts circling the drain when his unscrupulous business practices end in his untimely death and they discover that he's been siphoning clients from their partnership.
With only a week before the state puts pulls the business license Lalla and Pearlie will have to corral a wall-climbing Apache ninja, pacify their former boss's greedy ex-wives and nail a killer. Sure Lalla and Pearlie are in a really tight spot, but all they need is a miracle or two.
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A DEAD RED ALIBI
- The Dead Red Mystery Series Book 4
A successful, but reclusive young artist with a secret life.
A wannabe lawman and his dotty gun-toting granddad.
An abandoned mine pit, a curious dad and the local police chief found with him.
When Lalla and her dad take a trip to Arizona to inspect her new property, Dad disappears. But when Lalla enlists the help of a local tracker she's relieved to find him unharmed, but in the bottom of a mine pit.
Unfortunately, he's got company--a local police chief, and it looks like he's been murdered. Then too, a young woman artist living nearby has also been murdered. What're the chances that these two murders are going to be related? Well, if you're Lalla Bains, you don't guess, you start looking for the killer!
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The Dead Red Mystery Series - Boxed Set
Over 198- 5 STAR reviews total for this humorous mystery series--A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Heart, and A Dead Red Oleander
Here's what reviewers are saying:
A Dead Red Cadillac:
"A Dead Red Cadillac may be Dahlke’s first published work, but it doesn’t read that way; the author is assured in her storytelling, crafting a witty, breezy, and thoroughly-entertaining lark peppered with interesting characters in a unique setting... and even tossing in some (much-appreciated) surprising twists along the way Wise-cracking detectives--from the rank amateurs who somehow stumble into the practice of investigating, to the licensed professionals with their fancy gizmos and snazzy Yellow Pages listings--are a dime a dozen in mystery novels... but a wise-cracking, ex-fashion-model, crop-dusting sleuth? That puts a quirky new spin on the genre, in R.P. Dahlke’s peppy debut, A Dead Red Cadillac".
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- #2 in Pilgrim's Progress-A Romantic Sailing Mystery Trilogy
While anxiously awaiting confirmation on the renewal of her TV contract, Leila Hunter Standiford, opts for a sail on the boat she and her sister co -own in Mexico. But when she impetuously invites a family friend, and fugitive from justice, Gabe Alexander, as crew, she has no idea of the trouble that will follow. Now, at the end of her vacation in Puerto Felice, all she wants is to get Gabe off her boat.
Then a beautiful vintage Alden sails into the anchorage, and though she admires the boat, and the handsome captain, she doesn't realize the lovely yacht will soon burn to the water line, or that a dead body will be found below, or that the captain, who may or may not be the killer, might also be the man of her dreams.
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A DANGEROUS HARBOR
- Pilgrim's Progress
"This is an engaging, well-written mystery with characters that took up residence in my imagination; moving in with all their baggage and quirks. I found them incredibly difficult to dislodge even several days after I had finished reading the book. I loved the setting; the beauty of the waters and the lovely hillsides existing alongside the abject poverty and ugliness of the slummy, sleazy habitats of those less fortunate. The day to day uncertainly of life is realistically portrayed in an area where powerful drug cartels operate from shadowy positions in almost all levels of government..." LauriJ's Reviews for Night Owl Reviews Reviewer Top Pick
"Take a San Francisco police officer who is on leave for shooting a man who threatened her sister, send her on a sailing trip into Mexican waters where she finds the body of a murdered teenage girl, and you've got the mix for an intriguing mystery. Add an irresistible Mexican-Italian man who happens to be the lead investigator on the case and the romance begins to sizzle. I loved the vivid descriptions of this coastal Mexican town, and the methodic way in which officer Katy Hunter helps with the investigation. A satisfying ending in which all the threads come together into a neatly plotted book." - Connie Shelton, author of the best-selling Charlie Parker mysteries and the new Samantha Sweet mysteries
Here's the set-up:
Bleary-eyed and sleep deprived after a long overnighter into Mexico, solo sailor and SFPD police detective, Katrina Hunter, thinks the mermaid twenty yards behind her thirty-two foot Westsail is nothing more than a sailor's hallucination But everything she knows about floaters convinces her to turn her boat around for another look.
Now, alone and isolated in the Mexican port's police station for six hours she's convinced that reporting a floater to authorities was a mistake. Even the arrival of a handsome, if somewhat dour, Mexican/Italian investigator does nothing to dispel her growing anxiety that she's about to be charged with the murder.
Chief Inspector, Raul Vignaroli, is as surprised by the attractive solo-sailor as he is to find that she's a respected member of the San Francisco police force, and after some well-placed phone calls he's sure that he's found the perfect partner to help him solve a murder, if not the cure for his broken heart.
Released, she's free to go. But leaving the police station hits a snag when two policemen march in, dragging a listless prisoner between them. But before Katy can dodge them for the exit, the prisoner raises his head and a startling pair of aquamarine eyes meet hers.
He straightens his back, wincing at the angle of his cuffed wrists. "What the... Whisper?"
Suddenly, the sound of the ceiling fan is terribly loud. Blood pounds in her ears, her mouth goes dry, her palms are damp and her feet are nailed to the floor. In a knee jerk reaction, she hisses, "Don't call me that!"
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A DEAD RED HEART
- The Lalla Bains Series
When a lovesick, homeless veteran litters her vintage red caddy with paper snowflakes, Lalla Bains, Aero Ag pilot figures it's time for a showdown. Unfortunately, someone else has the same idea leaving Lalla with a dying man at her feet, and only his strange last words, "The more there is, the less you see," as a clue to his killer.
Compounding her life her tightwad, widowed father becomes a born-again ladies man, a disreputable competitor tries to push her out of business, and last but not least, her antennae twitches that the sultry redhead in Modesto's police department may be vying for Sheriff Caleb Stone's affections.
It soon becomes crystal clear that the police are totally off base on this murder investigation and someone else is going to have to suit up to solve this case. Someone who is just exasperating, pushy, and tenacious enough to get the job done--and that person will be none other than:Ms. Lalla Bains.
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A DEAD RED CADILLAC
"I've been married so many times, they should revoke my license," says NY model, and reluctant pilot Lalla Bains.
Running her dad's Crop-Dusting business in Modesto, California she's hoping to dodge the inevitable fortieth birthday party. But when her trophy red '58 Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask why a widowed piano teacher, who couldn't possibly see beyond the hood ornament, was found strapped in the driver's seat.
Reeling from an interrogation with local homicide, Lalla is determined to extricate herself as a suspect in this strange murder case. Unfortunately, drug running pilots, a cross-dressing convict, a crazy Chihuahua, and the dead woman's hunky nephew throw enough road blocks to keep Lalla neck deep in an investigation that links her family to a twenty-year old murder only she can solve.
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