Deadline with Death
by Zara Keane
About the Book
1st in Series
Beaverstone Press (June 21, 2019)
Number of Pages: ~ 320
Dee Flanagan loves Irish history, bad rom-coms, and red lipstick. Dead clowns, injured time travelers, and shootouts don’t make it onto the small town reporter’s Top Ten list. After the bullets stop flying in Dunleagh Castle’s courtyard, it’s up to Dee to convince people she didn’t imagine a gunfight played out between two centuries. With the body count rising, and no one willing to believe Dee’s time travel theory, she’s forced to team up with a man who’s either a bona fide fruit cake or a police officer from the year 1919. Using her expert knowledge of the Irish War of Independence, Dee sets out to solve a century-old crime, plus a modern-day murder.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Zara Keane grew up in Dublin, Ireland, but spent her summers in a small town very similar to the fictional Ballybeg and Smuggler’s Cove.
She currently lives in Switzerland with her family. When she’s not writing or wrestling small people, she drinks far too much coffee, and tries – with occasional success – to resist the siren call of Swiss chocolate.
My Website: https://zarakeane.com/
My Newsletter: https://zarakeane.com/newsletter/
Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ballybegbelles/
The morning the clown croaked at my feet began with a cockfight and ended with a corpse. Neither covering the fight nor discovering the body was on my ToDo list. After five months of juggling my job at the Dunleagh Chronicle, a volunteer position at the museum, my history video blog, and looking after my grandmother, I finally had a free day. Until I didn’t.
Courtesy of a virus sweeping through our offices, two of the Chronicle’s reporters were out sick. With press day looming, my penny-pinching editor was desperate enough to pay me time-and-a-half, and with a mountain of bills on my nightstand, I was desperate enough to agree. I swapped my cozy bed for Mavis, my scarlet scooter, and faced the elements of an Irish winter morning.
Under different circumstances, a spin through the countryside might have been pleasant. Today’s ride was anything but. I steered Mavis through driving rain, gale-force wind, and potholes the size of mainland Europe. The crowning glory was a near collision with a herd of cattle who’d taken up residence in the middle of the road. I seriously should have held out for double pay.
By the time I pulled up outside the tumbledown farm where the cockfight was being held, the organiser had got wind that the cops were on the way. In a spectacle of flying feathers and bouncing beer bellies, both the contestants and the spectators were fleeing the coop. I dry-heaved my way through the stench of birds and unwashed men, snapped a few shots of the mayhem, and hopped back onto my scooter. I now had less than an hour to reach my desk and write an embellished account of the non-event, and Mavis and I broke several rules of the road on our return journey.
The clock in the town square chimed ten as I hung a right and chugged up the steep road that led to Dunleagh Castle. In fifteen minutes the Chronicle’s grumpy sub-editor would emerge from his lair, demanding to know why my article wasn’t on his desk. I swore under my breath and pressed hard on the Mavis’s sluggish accelerator.
At the top of the hill, the castle loomed, dark and magnificent against the stormy sky. The sight of its grey walls and tall towers never failed to thrill my inner historian, even when I was in a hurry. From its clifftop perch, Dunleagh Castle had cast a menacing glare over the harbor for the last six centuries. While most of its original outer wall was gone, and the outer courtyard had been repurposed as a parking lot, both the castle itself and its generous gardens remained intact. Today, it housed the newspaper, the mayor’s office, the museum, a small café, and several lovingly restored rooms that were open to the public. Working for a penny-pinched weekly rag wasn’t the glamorous career I’d envisioned at university, but it paid the bills—well, some of them—and I had the privilege of working within the castle walls four days a week.
I wasn’t alone in my admiration for the castle. It had earned a well-deserved place as one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. Even at low season, buses braved the steep incline and disgorged tour groups in front of the wooden drawbridge. One such bus spluttered its way up the road in front of me, moving at a painful pace. I swerved to overtake it, and narrowly missed mowing down a man who was crossing the street. He leaped sideways to avoid me, and landed in a puddle.
“Hey,” he roared, glowering at me under bushy red eyebrows, “watch where you’re going.” “Sorry,” I said on autopilot. The word caught in my throat when I recognised the guy I’d almost rendered road kill. Charles O’Rourke, better known as Mr. Chuckles, was a popular street performer whose clown routine delighted children and tourists alike. He was also the dude I’d kneed in the nuts the previous month. I doubted I’d make it onto his Christmas card list, but then, he wouldn’t make it onto mine.
Ignoring Mr. Chuckles’s squawks about my reckless driving and general tendency to harm his person, I zoomed into the parking lot and deposited Mavis in a free space. I pulled off my helmet and yanked up the hood of my jacket. The downpour was turning into a deluge, and the brief moment between removing my helmet and getting my hood in place was all it took to turn my hair into a sodden mess.
As I exited the parking lot, my phone vibrated with an incoming call. My hand went to my pocket on reflex, but I pulled it back and kept moving. It was wet and I was late. Whoever was calling me could wait. Before I stepped onto the road, a second tour bus pulled up to the kerb opposite. If I wanted to dodge a swarm of geriatrics, I needed to pick up my pace. I speed walked across the road and then broke into a run. With a wave of greeting to the guard on duty, I bounded over the castle’s wooden drawbridge and entered the courtyard. The cobblestoned ground was slick with rain, and puddles formed in patches where the stones needed to be replaced. Standing beside one such puddle was none other than my good pal, Mr. Chuckles. I swallowed a groan. He must have reached the courtyard just before me. Seriously, why couldn’t I catch a break this morning? With my deadline imminent, the last thing I needed was an argument with the clown.
I surveyed my surroundings. A gaggle of elderly tourists huddled in front of the castle’s main entrance, all wearing bright orange raincoats emblazoned with the name of their nursing home. If I zigzagged past them, and ran the rest of the way, I’d be at my desk in five.
In spite of the slippery surface, I accelerated into a sprint. I’d almost reached the door when the clown stepped in front of me, forcing me to stagger to a standstill. He was dressed in his full clown regalia: baggy polka dotted pants, luminous green shirt, wide yellow sash, fire-engine red wig, and a shiny red plastic nose. The addition of a leopard print rain poncho completed the look. I tried to dodge the guy, but at that moment, the second influx of tourists trundled over the drawbridge and swarmed into the courtyard en masse, nixing the option for me to sidestep my adversary. Before I’d had time to react, Mr. Chuckles was up in my face, yelling and shaking a fist.
To the casual observer, we must have appeared a comical pair. Last time I’d checked, the average Irish male stood five-feet-nine-inches tall. I barely missed the six-feet mark. I’d inherited my considerable height, sturdy build, and masses of blonde hair from my father, an American with Swedish roots. The clown, in contrast, must have been descended from leprechauns.
The little man gesticulated wildly, jumping up and down to emphasise his points, none of which were flattering, and several of which would have required a bleep censor. “You came through the incident unscathed.” My gaze dropped to his mud-strewn legs. “Apart from your pants.”
“I ought to call the cops on you, Flanagan,” he snarled, eye level with my chest. “You’re a menace, on and off the roads.” A hushed silence fell over the elderly tourists and I sensed several pairs of eyes upon me. I ignored them and focused on the clown. “Calling the cops didn’t work out so well for you the last time. As I recall, the encounter ended with you receiving a formal warning for sexual harassment.”
A gasp of excitement rose from our audience but the clown appeared to be oblivious to the onlookers. “That cop is your friend,” he muttered. “She’d believe any pack of lies you fed her.” I rolled my eyes. “Dude, there was CCTV footage of you groping my butt before I kneed you in the groin. Sergeant Healey didn’t have to take my word for it.”
The clown moved closer and my stomach roiled. Everything about this creep made my skin crawl. I took a step back to regain some semblance of personal space and sought an escape route. The old folks spilling over the drawbridge surged toward the main door. Unless I wanted to shove octogenarians out of my way, my best bet was to take a detour via the museum and use their stairs to reach the corridor that connected the museum to the main castle and the offices of the Dunleagh Chronicle. First, I had to get the clown to back down and let me past.
“Look, I’m in a rush…” I tried to push past but he blocked my attempt and jabbed me in the chest with a chubby finger. “If Dunleagh had a proper cop in charge,” he snarled, “you’d have been arrested for assault.” “If by ‘proper’ you mean ‘male’, I doubt even the most chauvinistic man on the force could ignore the evidence on the tape.”
A churning panic warred with my rising anger, but the sneer that stretched his painted lips tipped the balance. I gritted my teeth and cast an exaggerated glance at my watch. “Fun though this has been, I gotta get to work. Unless you want a replay of last month’s nut-crushing incident, you’d better let me past.”
Red-hot rage flickered across his face and the knuckles of his fists turned white. The misogynistic pig would love to hit me, but he didn’t have the guts to do it in front of witnesses. What he did have the guts to do was to keep blocking my way. I bit back an oath and thought fast. In a flash, I opened my backpack and extracted a small can, being careful to conceal the logo. “Well, now, would you look at that. Is this pepper spray lurking in my bag?”
My words had an instant effect. The clown’s beady eyes widened. He leaped back, colliding with a group of tourists. “Why don’t you juggle a few balls for our visitors?” I winked at the open-mouthed seniors. “No pun intended.” Giving the clown a look laced with contempt, I squeezed past. This time, he didn’t try to stop me.
Deadline with Death by Zara Keane is a Time Slip Mysteries. Dee Flanagan is departing Dunleagh Castle after turning in her latest article for the Dunleagh Chronicle when Mr. Chuckles aka Charles O’Rourke stumbles through the Green Archway with a panicked look on his face and a gunshot wound to his chest. After more gun fire, a man stumbles out in a uniform that was worn by the Royal Irish Constabulary a hundred years ago and collapses near Dee after calling her Eliza. Dee also notices that the revolver and cartridge casing date from 1919. When the stranger awakens, Dee notices there is something off about his speech and he seems unfamiliar with modern technology. Could he truly be from the past? Dee uses her degree in Irish history to research the War of Independence. A couple of days later, the unscrupulous Mayor Henry Hyland is shot by Dee’s mother, Bliss during play rehearsal. The gun was not supposed to be loaded and Bliss could go away for the crime. Dee needs to figure out if the two murders are connected and uncover the guilty party.
Deadline with Death is a fast-paced humorous time travel cozy mystery. The book contains a cast of quirky, off-beat characters who inhabit Dunleagh, Ireland. Dee left university to take care of her grandmother, Eda who has a heart condition. However, Eda has no intention of letting her health slow her down. She zips about town on a mobility scooter that has been altered to whiz along at fast speeds. Dee’s scarlet scooter, Mavis could benefit from a tweak or two. Dee works a variety of jobs to support the household including the Dunleagh Chronicle which has been in operation for one hundred and fifty years. However, if Mayor Henry Hyland has is way, the newspaper, museum, library and other arts programs will be decimated. He has plans to gut the castle for high end apartments. The two mysteries were intriguing. I enjoyed learning about Irish history as Dee tried to unravel what happened in the castle courtyard. The murder of Mayor Hyland has a variety of suspects (almost every adult in town wanted him dead). Dee has her hands full as she digs for the truth and make sure Bliss does not do time for a crime she did not commit. I liked the supernatural elements and how they were incorporated into the story. Deadline with Death is a lighthearted comedic tale with multiple murders, a madcap nana, mystical mayhem, a scarlet scooter, and one resolute reporter.
|Dee's Nana (I thought she would like the look)|
Deadline with Death is available at Amazon. To win a signed copy of Deadline with Death (US Only), click here or enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Thank you for joining me today. I had fun choosing the pictures for this posting (All the pics relate to the book). Tomorrow I am featuring A Charming Misfortune by Tonya Kappes. I hope you have a jovial day. Take care and Happy Reading!
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