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Thicker Than Water


This time murder is complicated by a multi-million inheritance, a mysterious heiress, a scheming nephew, and a predatory televangelist. And, as usual, Jessie is in the middle of it in Thicker Than Water, the second book in the Jessie Schroeder Mystery Series.
When a crusty old Spencer Country farmer, Fred Kroner, leaves his millions to a great niece named Johanna no one has ever heard of, rumors run rampant. Speculation spreads when it is learned that if the great niece cannot be found or is dead, all the money goes to a nephew and a radio televangelist. Only four months earlier, Jessie’s involvement in a murder case nearly cost her her life. She has no intention of getting involved in anything like that again, but her best intentions are thwarted. She and Sheriff Gil Keller are called away from their dinner-for-two because of a fire at Kroner’s farmhouse.
Jessie is thrust into the center of the mystery when she sees the badly burnt remains of a woman in the smoking rubble, with her charred arm, lifted skyward as if in supplication. At that moment Jessie knows she cannot rest until she knows who the woman was and why she died. As Jessie fits together the pieces of this fast-moving murder mystery, her relationship with Gil flourishes even as she uncovers many dirty secrets and once again finds herself in harm’s way.
Jessie operates in classic cozy detective mystery style in this genre first popularized by Agatha Christie. Loosely the elements of the cozy genre are that the protagonist is an amateur sleuth, usually female, the murder is often done off stage, and the sex scenes tend to be inferred rather than described in detail. The settings for the mysteries are flexible and may occur in the country or a small town or a sprawling metropolis, the author’s choice. The cozy mystery genre continues to grow in popularity as readers increasingly want tohave their murder mysteries solved cerebrally rather than by brute force. That is not to say that the female detective is not often in life-threatening situations. The long-running TV series, Murder, She Wrote, introduced thousands to the genre.
Two of my favorite contemporary cozy authors are Gillian Roberts and Rosemary Harris. Roberts writes The Amanda Pepper Series. Amanda Pepper is a Philadelphia high school English teacher. There are 14 books in the series. Harris writes the A Dirty Business Series featuring Paula Hoilliday who owns a gardening business in a small Connecticut town. Roberts and I both have short stories featured in the anthology Untreed Detectives. My story is titled Breathing Under Water.
The first book in the series headlining Jessie Schroeder is The Best Laid Plans in which Jessie’s gardener and handyman is accused of murder, and Jessie finds herself alone in proclaiming his innocence. Number three is The Ayes Have It in which the body comes complete with a Biblical passage skewered to his chest. The fourth book underway in the series is A Change of Scene in which Jessie ventures out of the Midwest into New Mexico to teach a workshop at a summer art institute only to find murder again.
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