Title: Make Old Bones
Author: Leslie S. Talley
Series: Clarice Campion and Miss Letty, #1
Publisher: Wild Child Publishing
Length: 227 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
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Fifteen-year-old Connie Kittredge disappears in 1953, presumed drowned, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Almost forty years later her skeleton is discovered in the disused dumbwaiter of historic Belgrath House, situated on an island in the tidal Halifax River. The discovery coincides with the thirty-five year reunion of Connie’s Class of ’57.
Clarice and Otis Campion function as caretakers of Belgrath, newly restored and opened as a B & B. Clarice, along with their permanent guest Miss Letty, ninety-year-old star of the silent screen, decides to investigate the mystery. Could the murderer be one of Connie’s classmates, now respectable citizens? A rejected boy friend? A jealous girl? Connie, a sneaky child, loved the power of finding out secrets; perhaps she found one just too dangerous for her to live.
At a wake for Connie held at Belgrath House someone collapses from iced tea laced with cherry laurel, proving that the murderer is still around – and dangerous. Complications cloud the picture in the form of suspicious bed and breakfasters, restoration society members, University of Florida freshmen…and a certain pelican. Clarice and Miss Letty re-double their efforts at sleuthing. The death of Connie Kittredge is tied directly to the history of the house, they learn. The house will ultimately reveal its secrets, but not before exposing Clarice to danger.
Inadvertently left behind during a forced evacuation due to Category Four Hurricane Aphrodite, Clarice finds herself confronting a killer – and a rising tidal surge.
As a Florida born girl myself, I loved the setting and authenticity offered in Make Old Bones. Make Old Bones begins with the murder of Connie, a 15 year old girl that was never solved. Move ahead to what would have been her 30th high school reunion and the discovery of her bones in the dumbwaiter. From there you head out on a wild and tangled journey to find the killer, excuse me, double murderer, while a hurricane, or ‘cane, is bearing down on the B&B this is centres around.
I loved that while I strongly disliked the killer from the get go, I didn’t ‘solve’ the murders until right near the end. The story writing was rich. The ‘feel’ was so real that I felt like I was there. I actually honeymooned in Dayton Beach to the setting was great, IMO.
For any that have never dealt directly with hurricanes, this story also portrays how violent and viscous they are. . . and how communities often come together. Leslie S. Talley really did her research on the area, issues, weather, and more to weave together a wonderful mystery/thriller that any that love the genre will get lost in, only coming up for air on the last page.
What would the children think if they saw her? She thought of the others that way: children. Why did she still bother with them? Not much longer, she thought. An idea sprouted in her brain. Why not scare them? Hide. Don’t come out. Let them think some Bogeyman found her. She knew just the spot, too. She found it the previous week, the same trip that secured for her the piece of map. She came to the house by herself – well, actually to meet someone. Someone who didn’t show up. But he would. Oh, yes! And that other she’d seen – Connie hugged herself as she thought of the power.
Stubbing out the cigarette in the stone urn on the post, Connie groped her way to the kitchen at the rear of the house. Gleefully, she opened the door of one of the pantries. She ran her hand along the wall until she found the knob. She remembered that it looked just like one of the other cabinets. She wedged herself inside the tiny space: a miniature elevator. Perfect. They’d never look for her here. Best of all, she needn’t go near the third floor.
The jolt jarred her, tipping her over so that her head rested on the doorframe. A hollow noise reverberated down the shaft. Slowly her crawlspace moved…upward.
Leslie Talley received her B.S. in nursing from the University of Kentucky and a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, where she subsequently taught, as an adjunct, Technical Writing and Business Writing for ten years.
Leslie and her husband Luke have two children: Terri Talley Venters, Wild Child Publishing author of Carbon Copy, and Damon Talley, education specialist in aerospace. Forty-four-year residents of Titusville, Florida, Leslie and Luke also have four grandchildren.