Bringing in the Thievesby Lora Lee
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Length: 168 Pages
Frankie Lou's back and Poppy's madder than a wet hen.
Create a church choir filled with teenage misfits?
Over Poppy's dead body.
Minister's daughter Frankie Lou McMasters has come back to Ruby Springs, Texas with her daughter, Betsy, eleven years after running off to marry the town bad boy. Her mild notoriety as a bad girl is prime gossip for her childhood enemy, Poppy Fremont, now choir director of Faith Community Church--where Frankie Lou's daddy, now retired to Florida, was the preacher.
When Frankie Lou comes to the deacons with a request to add a youth choir of at-risk teens she's been coaching, Poppy throws a fit. A few hours later, Frankie Lou finds her dead in the baptistery pool. And Poppy's not playing possum.
Frankie Lou sets out to clear her name as the main suspect, and tries to locate the real killer. Could he be sexy Joe Camps, the father of one of her teen singers? In the meantime, her momma shows up from Florida to take charge of Frankie Lou's life. Bless her heart.
Lora Lee also writes as Loralee Lillibridge. Learn more about her contemporary romances and keep in tune with the Joyful Noise at lora-lee.com
Bringing in the Thieves - Excerpt 1
I knew the minute I read the church bulletin that I was fixin’ to be Southern-fried and plated-up in front of God, the Faith Community Church deacons, and eventually the entire community of Ruby Springs, Texas, sure as my name’s Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters.
My well-meaning landlady, Nettie Bloom, had decided to announce my proposed church project without asking me if I wanted her to. I had just scheduled a meeting with the deacons about it, not given them any details about the idea. I hadn’t spoken it aloud to anyone but Miss Nettie. But now there it was in print, along with Miss Nettie’s usual assortment of misplaced phrases and Mrs. Malaprop word choices. Miss Nettie had been editing the church’s newsletter, News From The Pews, for a good many years, but I’d noticed her memory getting a little tangled lately.
NEWS FROM THE PEWS
FAITH COMMUNITY CHURCH
100 Blessings St.
Ruby Springs, Texas
As we wait for the selection of a full-time pastor, we welcome back interim minister, Reverend Matthew Whitlaw to the pulpit next Sunday at Faith Community. His morning sermon will be "Jesus Walks on Water” followed by "Searching for Jesus” in the evening.
For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Members of the Weight Watchers group will meet Monday at 5:30 P.M. for weekly weigh-in. Please use large double door at the side entrance to the annex. The Low Self-Esteem Support Group will be using the back door.
Prior to prayer meeting Wednesday evening, a bean supper will be held in the church hall. Special music will follow.
Until further notice, please give massages to the church secretary, Lovey Muchmore. She will then give massages to the newsletter editor who will share the details in our newsletter.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: A NEW CHOIR FOR TEEN SINNERS IS BEING FORMED AND WILL COMPETE IN THE SLUMBER FUN AT THE CITY PARK NEXT MONTH. For more information on sinning contact Frankie Lou McMasters at Doc Adderly’s Animal Clinic.
N. Bloom, Newsletter Editor
Truth be known, there were certain people who weren’t exactly thrilled by my return to the town where my daddy, Reverend Frank Birmingham, occupied the pulpit at Faith Community before his recent retirement to Florida. I’d been gone from Ruby Springs eleven years, but it seems those certain people have the combined memory of a herd of elephants. One in particular: Poppy Rose deHaven Fremont, Faith Community’s choir director.
I grabbed my tote, made a quick call next door to Miss Nettie’s house, where my eleven-year-old, Betsy, was staying for dinner, then headed for the church. It was a hot spring night and bound to get hotter.
Help me, Lord, Miss Nettie and that newsletter are gonna get me killed one way or another.
THE UNEXPECTED appearance of Poppy Rose deHaven Fremont in the church’s conference room confirmed what I’d feared all along. My notoriety as the shamefully irreverent preacher’s daughter hadn’t been forgotten, even after an absence of more than a decade. Any hope of getting the deacons to approve my request had just been deep-sixed. Well, horse pucky!
There she was, the undisputed Queen of Mean, flapping her collagen-plumped lips faster than a whippoorwill’s tail in a windstorm while seven deacons stared in wide-eyed amazement.I shook my head in disbelief. What in the heck had she done to herself? Those puffy lips weren’t the only recently enhanced body parts, either. Poppy Rose was a walking, talking endorsement for the modern wonders of plastic surgery and extreme weight loss. My monthly house rent couldn’t begin to touch the high-dollar cost of that hot pink linen skirt and knit top clinging to her man-made curves closer than a coat of paint from Howard’s Hardware. Talk about extreme makeover, her body had been nipped and tucked in places I didn’t even want to think about. Yikes!
Bringing in the Thieves - Excerpt 2
"Have y’all read this?” Poppy’s screech-owl demand was just shy of glass-shattering pitch. "I’m telling y’all, the church simply cannot allow this fiasco to happen. Frankie Lou should be banned from evah being in charge of any church functions. Evah, y’all hear?”
Evah?"Now wait just a darn minute, Poppy Rose,” I said. All of a sudden my blood pressure started shooting for the high numbers. Who did she think she was? My fists were balled so tight if I’d had fancy, glued-on fingernails like Poppy’s my palms would be shredded. "You should get the facts before you go spouting stuff like that.” My head pounded with the stress of trying not to yell back. Calm was not how I was feeling.
"Oh, I’ve got facts,” she said, her face getting redder by the minute, "right here.” She stabbed the paper with a hot pink fingernail. "You’ve gone behind our backs and started a new singing group with a bunch of street punks! It says so right here in the church newsletter. A choir for sinners!”
Her outburst of hot air blew Earl’s toupee slightly off center. Wild-eyed, he scrambled to grab it and scooted his chair back out of her way like he was afraid she might jump over the table. A definite probability in her overblown exasperation, however, she kept right on ranting and waving her hands.
"Do y’all know what will happen if you let those kind of hoodlums into the church? Well, I’ll tell you. They’ll be carrying on like a bunch of heathens, that’s what. And, that’s not all.” The drama queen executed a long, theatrical pause before she continued. The deacons froze in their seats like deer caught in headlights. "The church’s name will be smeared all ovah the county. Shameful, that’s what it’ll be. Downright shameful. I insist you put a stop to this right now. Y’all hear me?” She rolled her eyes heavenward. "Lord, have mercy on us all.”Now, Poppy Rose was full of a lot of things when we were in school, but religion definitely hadn’t been one of them. However, the deluxe hissie-fit-with-a-tail-on-it she was pitching on behalf of the church right now earned a five-star rating, bless her heart. Nothing would make her happier than to see me barred from Faith Community membership forever, but hey, I wasn’t about to let that happen. Not now, not ever.
Bringing in the Thieves Excerpt
Haste really does make waste, I quickly learned. When I yanked a little too hard on the door to the baptistery, the handle came off in my hand and the door flew open. I staggered backwards, teetering precariously to keep my balance with my arms flailing like a crazy windmill, and completely missed the first metal step. My foot slid on the second, water-covered one, and next thing I knew, I was airborne like the rock out of David’s sling-shot.
Before I could yell for help, my face slapped the water with a hard smack. The sting of the impact burned like fire on my cheeks. The rest of me made waves big enough for boogie-boarding. I shot up spitting water like a breaching whale and sloshed back toward the steps to give the faucet an angry twist. Whose inexcusable carelessness had caused this gosh-awful mess? I’d definitely be fixin’ to report the matter soon as I could get to my phone. Why, who knows when the disaster would’ve been discovered if I hadn’t come back for my tote? The entire church could’ve flooded by then.
I groaned and rubbed my stinging cheeks, bemoaning the condition of the dripping capris and shirt plastered to my body like I’d been paper maché’d with wet tissue paper. There was nothing to do now but stay soaked to the skin until I got home.
To add to the bizarre craziness of the evening, one of my sandals had launched in mid-flight when I hit the water and was somewhere on the bottom at the other end of the pool. Since buying new sandals wasn’t in this month’s budget, I was about to launch an underwater Search and Retrieve. Whoever left that faucet running owed me a new pair of shoes. Why was it turned on? I’ve never been a fan of water sports, certainly not in a baptistery, but I was not leaving without my shoe.
I shoved my stringy, wet hair out of my eyes, held my breath, and stuck my head under the water. Feeling like a mermaid in the supporting cast of Finding Nemo, I spotted the sandal not far from where I stood and reached for it. That’s when my blurry underwater vision snagged on another much larger object. I sloshed over to investigate. I choked on my watery scream.Lord have mercy!
About Lora Lee
You can’t be a preacher’s kid and raise a little hob without some serious repercussions. Yes, ma’am, that’s the gospel truth. Lora Lee’s JOYFUL NOISE mystery series for Bell Bridge Books, sheds a little light on just how serious those consequences can be when Frankie Lou Birmingham McMasters returns to her hometown of Ruby Springs, Texas after ten years in hopes of putting some shine on her tarnished reputation, but finds herself in the middle of murder and mayhem instead.
Though author Lora Lee insists the series isn’t about her in any way, shape or form, she does admit to being a real-life P.K. (that’s preacher’s kid, in case you didn’t know.) She was born in Texas and her Southern blood runs deep. Her daddy told her any place below the Mason-Dixon line was part of the South, including the Lone Star State.
Since living in West Michigan most of her married life, she’s lost some of her Texas twang, but once in awhile, a might could and a y’all or two slips into her conversation with her critique partners. They love her, anyway. So does her husband of fifty-plus years and their children. With a current family count of twenty-three, get-togethers often resemble an old time revival when they all gather for fun and food.
Lora Lee is a member of Romance Writer’s of America, Mid-Michigan RWA, Sisters-in-Crime, RWA’s specialty chapter Kiss of Death and is currently published in contemporary romance. She is also a proud graduate of the Grand Rapids Citizens Police Academy.When not writing or trying to keep up with her ever-growing family, she enjoys reading, music and travel. Come back and visit for more on the upcoming release of BRINGING IN THE THIEVES, the first book in the JOYFUL NOISE series, and other upcoming news.