Scarlett’s last words provide the only clue: “Find the jade elephant. Explains everything.” That is until a book of poetry turns up with a dangerous secret inside. Dealing with a diva ghost ain’t easy in the Bible belt. Throw in a sexy police detective, a crooked mayor with connections to the mob, a family cover-up, a mother who hasn’t cut the apron strings, and you get one stressed out middle-aged hairstylist with murder and mayhem on the brain.
Now that sounds like the next book on my "to be read" list. Author Penny Burwell Ewing tells us she grew up along the pristine shores of Fort Pierce, Florida. She says living in a southern coastal town gave her the best of small town living where the residents look out for one another and she adds that her love of the supernatural and mysteries lead her to write the Haunted Salon Series. After spending years behind the stylist chair, she gave up her cosmetology license in favor of a desk chair and the adventures that come with fiction writing. She says we can find a few of her hairstylist’s adventures in her books.
She now lives in a quaint town in South Georgia, where she says it’s "dang hot" most of the time, and the gnats are bigger than the state bird; the Brown Thrasher. When not busy writing, she wiles away the hours with counted cross-stitch projects, crocheting, and other fine needlecrafts. She also says loves dark chocolate and blackberry wine.
We're looking forward to more adventures from Penny. But for now let's get an excerpt from Dixieland Dead.
The facial room pulled at me like a magnet. Where did the human life energy go after departing this life? Could Heaven and Hell truly be our last destination, or could we linger here trapped in the last peaceful or hellish moments of our life? Thoughts like these had troubled me since Daddy died. For years afterward, I’d studied books on the afterlife, religious teachings from various faiths, the great philosophers, and the occult, and even ancient alien theorists, always trying in vain to contact him.
This morning’s strange incident at the cemetery resurfaced. I removed the yellow-crime scene tape, the door vibrating under my hands. Call it déjà vu or precognition, but I suddenly knew something monumental waited on the other side. Slowly, I turned the knob. The hairs on my nape prickled as a voice whispered in my ear, “You can’t go in there.”
I snatched my hand from the door knob. “Crap, Deena, you scared the hell outta me. Must you sneak around?”
“I never sneak. You simply weren’t listening.”
The kitchen door swung open. Mama stood in the doorway. “What’s going on out here? Stop horsing around. Go find Billie Jo. I’m ready to leave.”
“Jolene’s going in there.” Deena jerked her thumb toward the closed facial room door.
Billie Jo rounded the corner. “What’s all the commotion?”
“Jolene’s going in there,” Deena repeated.
“No, she’s not,” Mama said. “The police will accuse us of tampering with evidence. We’ll go in when Sam gives the okay.”
“We can’t leave before making sure that multi-function Skin Care Station is properly shut off,” I said. “It cost over fifteen hundred dollars.”
“No one’s going in there,” Mama huffed. “Got it?”
Billie Jo reached out and tested the knob. “It’s locked anyway.”
“That’s strange. It wasn’t a moment ago,” I said, twisting the knob and finding it locked. “Go get the key, Deena.”
“We lost the key years ago.”
“Wait,” I said excitedly. “I’ll get a butter knife from the kitchen.” I turned to leave, but Mama grabbed me by the arm, causing me to stumble against the door. With a thump, it flew open, propelling me into the room. As I stumbled for balance, something white fluttered in the semi-darkness. Regaining my balance, I quickly switched on the lights before Mama could protest.
“Ahhh,” I said with vexation, my eyes taking in the discarded jars lining the counter top. A dusting of fine powder covered the floor. “This room’s a mess. It’ll take hours to clean.”
“They must’ve take a sample of everything,” Deena piped up behind me. “What’s on the floor?”
Billie Jo bent down and ran her finger over the floor, leaving a thin trail. “It looks like oatmeal. Carla said she mixed everything into that death mask.”
Mama stuck her head in the doorway. “Don’t touch anything and get out of there right now. We need to get over to the hospital. Jolene, if you don’t come out of there right this instant, I promise you that when the roll is called up yonder, you’ll be there!”
Deena backed out of the room. “She’s right; the hospital is expecting me.”
“I’m ready to leave, too,” Billie Jo said, joining Mama and Deena in the hallway.
There wasn’t any need to try and argue my point with them—my vote would be vetoed immediately. The facial equipment was unplugged, so I turned off the lights and shut the door. A loud crash sounded from inside the room. Quickly, I flung open the door, flipped on the overhead lights, and screamed with every ounce of my being—for there, on the facial bed, sat the faint, ghostly image of Scarlett Cantrell.
If you want to read more, here are the buy links:
If you want to read more, here are the buy links:
And here is where you can read more about Penny:
Thank you, Penny, for being my guest and bringing us a new mystery. Any comments or questions for Penny?