Sunday, June 9, 2019

Murder at Royale Court by G.P. Gardner: Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Murder at Royale Court

(A Cleo Mack Mystery)
by G.P. Gardner

About the Book

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Lyrical Underground (June 4, 2019)
Paperback: 228 pages
ISBN-10: 1516109023
ISBN-13: 978-1516109029
Digital ASIN: B07H72BF6W

Harbor Village is a vivacious retirement paradise known for its beachy locale and active senior scene. But ever since murder moved in, the idyllic coastal community is becoming a little less lively . . .

With the first annual antique car show cruising into the tranquil bayside oasis of Fairhope, Alabama, there are bumpy roads ahead for Harbor Village director Cleo Mack. As an automobile-themed lecture series gets off to a rough start, she finds herself balancing one too many responsibilities—and dodging advances from a shady event sponsor. It’s enough to make Cleo feel twice her age. But the festivities reach a real dead end when she discovers a body at the Royale Court shopping center . . .

When an innocent man lands in the hot seat for murder, Harbor Village residents look to Cleo to crack the case. Aided by an eclectic group of energetic seniors, Cleo races to identify the true culprit from a growing list of harmless Sunday drivers—before a killer revs up for another hit and run!
This ebook includes an exclusive knitting pattern!

About the Author

Born and raised in Alabama, G. P. Gardner earned BS and MA degrees in Psychology from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL) and an MBA from Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville, AL). She also attended the University of Georgia (Athens, GA), where she studied biopsychology and primatology. But her heart belongs to Talladega College—an HBCU and the first educational institution in Alabama to admit students without regard to race—where she taught business. Her writing life began with short stories, some of which were published in regional literary journals and some of which won prizes. She enjoys the classic mystery writers as well as contemporary whodunits but reads widely. She is a knitter and once owned a knit shop in Fairhope, AL. She studied mystery writing with Terry Cline, another Fairhope resident. Murder in Harbor Village is the first in her series about social worker Cleo Mack. You can visit her at
The 67th Annual Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival will take place in downtown Fairhope, Alabama on March 15th, 16th, and 17th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

My Summary of the Book

Murder at Royale Court by G.P. Gardner takes readers to Fairhope, Alabama.  Cleo Mack is the Executive Director of Harbor Village which is a community for the over fifty set.  They are busy preparing for an automobile themed lecture series being given by Reg Handleman which will tie in with the automobile show being held at the polo field.  Cleo is surprised by the turnout for the talks until she sees how Reg captivates his audience.  Cleo accompanies Ann to the Royale Knit Shop one morning and they get a jolt when financial planner, Devon Wheatley is found dead in the bathroom.  Cleo is careful to take note of the scene before Lt. Mary Montgomery arrives.  When Todd Barnwell finds himself at the top of the suspect list, Cleo decides to help the clueless young man.  Jim Bergen is eager to assist and soon Cleo’s close group of friends dive in to help with the investigation.  Which of Cleo’s suspects disliked the financial planner enough to shut him down permanently?  Cleo intends to find out so she can return to her numerous duties in managing Harbor Village and spend some alone time with her neighbor, Riley Meddor.  But the killer may have other plans for Cleo when she gets close to the truth.
A Cleo Mack Mystery

My Thoughts

Murder at Royale Court is the second story in A Cleo Mack Mystery series.  I recommend reading Murder at Harbor Village before picking up Murder at Royale Court.  It will allow you to learn how Cleo came to be living in Fairhope and managing Harbor Village.  Cleo Mack is enjoying her new life in Fairhope, Alabama.  She has a close group of friends, an active social life and is busy learning her new job at Executive Director of Harbor Village.  As part of their new lecture series, Reg Handleman will be giving automobile themed talks for three days which ties in with the upcoming automobile show to benefit the hospital.  Cleo is surprised to learn that money can be made by investing in cars and that there are scam artists who take advantage of that fact.  When Devon Wheatley, a local financial planner is murdered, Cleo finds herself searching for answers.  The mystery is complex as Cleo plunges into the world of finance looking for suspects.  One clue, though, gave away the identity of the culprit to me.  I wish solving the crime had been more of a challenge.  The resolution of the crime was supposition instead of facts.  I would have preferred definitive answers.  There are a numerous characters in Murder at Royale court, and I found it difficult to keep track of them (employees, residents, guests, shopkeepers at Royale Court).  While I found some of the information on automobiles interesting, I could have done with less of it (though car lovers will relish it).  I thought it bogged down the story.  I like the developing romance between Cleo and Riley.  They make a cute couple and seem compatible.  There is humor sprinkled throughout the story and lovely descriptions of Fairhope.  I liked the reference to Fannie Flagg and the movie Fried Green Tomatoes based on her book.  Murder at Royale Court has charming characters, frisky felines, a complex crime, amazing automobiles, and vindictive villain.
"10 Fun Day-Trips To Take This Summer" -   #9: Visit Downtown Fairhope - This is a perfect, quaint, small town full of antique stores, 'mom and pop' shops, and outdoor markets. If you're looking for a chill day out, walking around town and shopping local, then look no further than Fairhope!


“Don’t touch anything,” she ordered, too late. “Is he breathing?”
“No. He’s dead.”
“Is this Ann Slump’s shop? Is Ann there?”
“Yes, it’s Ann’s shop. She’s not here.”
There were more voices on the phone. I backed toward Nita. How would Jim Bergen act in this situation? He noticed things and, by this point, would probably have a guess about the autopsy results. So, I looked around the bathroom once more. A shelf above the toilet tank was decorated with artificial flowers and an air freshener. There was a box of tissues on the tank top. The knob lock across the narrow room was locked, and the light switch beside it was in the up position. There was nothing else to see, and I was hearing voices in the knit shop.
“Is it Usher?” dispatch asked.
“Usher?” I looked for Nita.
She still held the bathroom door open but had moved back into the shop, looking away from me. A cop appeared beside her.
I thanked dispatch and hung up.
The next five minutes were a blur of activity. The officer ran us away from the bathroom and directed emergency responders, including a man and a woman in scrubs, who arrived with a gurney. They left it just inside the knit shop and sauntered to the bathroom.
There were people outside, too, cordoning off the courtyard, talking into radios, holding people at bay. The emergency response felt active and organized and prompt, but there was no rushing about. There must be some code that told responders there was no life to be saved here.
After the initial spurt of activity, Nita and Evie and I were led outside.
The original cop went to one of the umbrella tables, pulled out a chair for Nita, and took our names.
“Who is he?” he asked.
“He’s dead, isn’t he?” Nita had a worried look.
The officer looked at me.
I shrugged. “Never saw him before.”
“Devon Wheat.” Evie’s voice was shaky.
“You’re going to stay right here until I get back. Okay?” The officer went back inside.
Nita turned to Evie. “Who is he?” She reached out a hand.
“Devon Wheat.” Evie pointed toward the miniature shop, then took Nita’s hand. “He has the office behind my shop.”
Nita seemed to recognize the name and shot me a worried look.
“The financial planner.” Evie glanced over her shoulder, toward Skinny Alley.
I looked, too, hoping Ann would appear. Had anyone called her?
#TravelWithTrawick to 📍Fairhope, Alabama
Has the excerpt enticed you?  Murder at Royale Court if available at AmazonB&NKobo, and Google Play.  The next book in A Cleo Mack Mystery series is Murder at the Arts & Crafts Festival which releases December 3.  Thank you for joining me today.  In honor of the tour for Murder at Royale Court, there is a giveaway for a print copy of Murder at Royale Court.  Click here to enter or use the Rafflecopter form below.  Good Luck!  I will be back tomorrow with my review of The Farmer's Bride by Kathleen Fuller.  The second An Amish Brides of Birch Creek Novel.  


The Avid Reader

Tour Participants

June 4 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews - REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 4 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

June 5 – I'm All About Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 5 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

June 5 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

June 6 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 6 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

June 7 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW

June 7 – That's What She's Reading – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 7 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 8 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

June 8 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT

June 9 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

June 10 – Carla Loves To Read - REVIEW, GUEST POST

June 10 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

June 11 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf - AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 11 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
Last picture of the sea.


  1. Thank you for your review on "Murder at Royale Court" by G.P. Gardner and for being part of the book tour.

    Sounds like a book that I would greatly enjoy reading and is on my TBR list.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net