Fiercely independent, insatiably curious, and always up for an adventure, public relations hotshot Skyler Moore is a hero for our time. She’s decidedly not a sleuth by trade, but mayhem often comes knocking as she and her friends visit the small towns and big cities of America.
In “The Maine Nemesis,” Skyler decides to spend the summer at her seaside cottage in Wabanaki, Maine, with her best friend—celebrity chef Brenda Braxton—and they have no idea that murder will be on the menu. But women are turning up dead inthe once sleepy village where nothing ever happens. With the residents up in arms and the rinky-dink police force overwhelmed, Skyler and her friends feel compelled to lend a hand to save the town they love so much. The backdrop is classic New England Americana: lobster rolls, the whole town out for the Fourth of July, and summer evenings cooled by the ocean breeze. That…and an occasional murder, a kidnapping, and a few dangerous liaisons.
Skyler’s mile-a-minute adventure will keep you turning the pages to see what comes next for her and her Down East ‘friends.’
There were only a handful of orangeries in the United States and Lois Millhouse had one in her side yard. The tall metal and glass structure was an architectural marvel—fashioned after the original 17th century orangery on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in France, albeit much smaller—and had been featured in several magazine and newspaper articles over the years. Most recently, House Beautiful did a cover shoot on the property.
Inside, orange trees flourished year-round at one end and flowering plants such as Tropical Anthurium, various varieties of roses, African Violets, and scores of orchids were extremely well maintained on the other. Lois employed three part-time employees to tend to ‘her babies’ and she toiled in the greenhouse herself most mornings after she ate breakfast and had carefully read every page of the Wall Street Journal. She had a thing for financial news and plants, in that order.
And, of course, for making Wabanaki everything it should have become decades earlier.
On Tuesday morning, she was on her hands and knees cleaning up a broken pot and spilled soil when she heard someone approaching. She turned her head to see Skyler holding a pie plate and smiling widely.
“I hope I didn’t startle you,” Skyler said. “I was knocking, but I don’t think anyone heard me.”
“I don’t startle too easily, Skyler,” Lois said, getting to her feet. “How are you, dear?”
“I’m fine. I brought you a pie. It’s apple. Not blueberry.”
Lois chuckled. “You are very sweet. And, yes, I do not eat blueberries anymore. I appreciate them, mind you.” She waved her arms around like a flight attendant pointing out emergency exits. “I wouldn’t have all this without those little blue berries, now would I?”
“I have a feeling that you’d be successful no matter what.”
“You didn’t come over here just to give me a pie, now did you?”
“You’ve seen right through me.”
Lois pulled off her gloves and set them on the potting bench. “You’re working with my grandson to keep the Chowder House from sinking in bad press.”
“Thank you for that. And Wabanaki thanks you.”
“Well, Madam Mayor, I too have dedicated my life to this town.”
“I know that very well,” Lois said. “Let’s go get some coffee. There’s always a fresh pot in the kitchen.”
Skyler followed the old woman through a side door, down a covered breezeway, and up a few steps into the main house. They were in the cavernous kitchen and sitting at the built-in banquette sipping coffee out of enormous mugs when a young woman appeared out of nowhere and set a plate of muffins in the center of the table. She was gone as quickly as she appeared.
“Who was that?”
“Midge,” Lois said softly. “She’s new. And like a ghost. I hardly hear her moving about the house but she manages to clean and bake and sort the mail and she changes my bed sheets every day like at a first class hotel. I’m paying her next to nothing. It makes me feel bad. But I enjoy the help.”
“Maybe she deserves a raise,” Skyler said, biting into a muffin. “These are amazing. And still warm.”
“I will be sure to compensate her appropriately. So, what is on your mind?”
“Brenda and I were talking yesterday and she told me that she had a drink with an old mutual friend of ours, a man named Augie Alameda.” Skyler stopped and inspected the woman’s face for some kind of recognition.
“And?” Lois asked evenly.
“Well, to be very blunt, we wondered if perhaps you hired him.”
“Hired him to do what?”
“Seriously? Do you not know him?”
“It’s really none of your business, frankly.”
Skyler blushed. “It’s sort of my business. I mean, that’s my business. I’m a public relations professional. It’s what I do. And it’s what I’m doing for Tanner and the Chowder House. We all want to see Wabanaki overcome this slump, don’t we? Especially the mayor?”
“My dear,” Lois began sweetly, “I want nothing more than for this town to flourish. Just like my plants out there. But I did not hire this Mr. Alameda to do anything and I have no idea what he does anyway. How could he possibly help?”
“You said it was none of my business, like there was something there.”
“Because I meant that, not because I actually have something to hide from you. I don’t think I like you coming in here and interrogating me, that’s all. You’re a P.R. professional, not a detective on the Wabanaki police force.
“I see. And I am sorry if I upset you.”“I’m not upset. But I will bite. Who is Augie Alameda?”
Skyler gave the woman a rundown of Augie’s credentials and history. “And he got Brenda her start.”
“But you don’t like him?” Lois asked.
“I don’t, but that’s because we worked together a few times and we’re both pretty much independent contractors. We’re both solo practitioners, if you will. We butted heads and it wasn’t pretty.”
“But he can get the job done?”
“Oh yes. He can. And he most certainly will. Which is why the Chowder House and the Lobster Shanty and the Sea Captain’s Inn and all the businesses in town need to be prepared. Combined with the Boston Globe piece that’s coming, we could get quite busy.”
“I’m thrilled, Skyler,” Lois said, standing, indicating that the visit was over, “I really am. But it wasn’t me.”
They exchanged pleasantries and Skyler was shown the door. It didn’t actually slam shut behind her, but it felt that way.
Skyler was more suspicious than ever and wondered if the Mayor was lying to her…or if someone else was behind Augie’s coming to town.
Skyler Moore is a public relations professional and her best friend Brenda is a restaurant owner and chef. When the Deputy’s wife is killed and her body found in on of the restaurants everyone is shocked. This is a small coastal town in Maine an murders just done happen here. Skyler is hired to handle the PR nightmare after the murder and eventually decides she is going to do her own investigation. Growing up in New England I can relate to the small coastal town feel and mentality, especially being in a own where these kind of things just don’t happen. I liked that this was a quick easy “beach read”. I wish the two women were a little less entitled and whiny but it wasn’t enough to make this a DNF. Overall a decent read by a first time writer. There is a sequel already out with a third on the way. I give this 3 out of 5 stars
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
R. Scott Wallis is endlessly inspired by his surroundings and adventures. And he thrives on new chapters and creating unique projects to keep himself out of trouble. Scott started his working life as an advance person and assistant to a sitting United States Vice President. Later, he served as the creative director for a leading Washington think tank. That led to working directly for one of the richest men on Earth, conceiving and executing exclusive events for his billionaire friends. Tired of working for the man, Scott became a top-rated pop-culture podcaster and celebrity interviewer, while also dabbling in both the worlds of clothing manufacturing (creating his own baby clothes brand that was sold in over 300 stores nationwide) and retail sales, with his own well-received men’s clothing store.
Always willing to lend a hand or donate what he can, he’s an enthusiastic philanthropist, championing causes such as childhood bullying, animal adoption, and feeding the less fortunate. A wide-eyed world traveler, Scott has been to four continents, mostly by sea. While he loves exploring Europe and the Caribbean islands, it’s the vast United States that he likes best. He’s been to Alaska four times, Hawaii twice, and can’t wait to explore the eight states he hasn’t been to yet. Technically a Connecticut Yankee, Scott grew up in historic Williamsburg, Virginia, and lived for 25 years in the Washington, D.C. area, before recently discovering that the American West is where he is most at home. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Learn more at www.rscottwallis.com
R. Scott Wallis will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour