Thursday, February 13, 2020

Playing the Devil by R.J. Lee: Excerpt, Review & Giveaway!

Playing the Devil 

A Bridge to Death Mystery

by R.J. Lee

About Playing the Devil

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: Kensington (January 28, 2020)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1496719166
ISBN-13: 978-1496719164
Digital ASIN: B07R7M378R
Reporter and bridge player Wendy Winchester once again plays ace detective when a country club member is murdered in a hot tub . . .

Now an investigative reporter for the Rosalie Citizen in the Mississippi River port of Rosalie, Wendy still likes to unwind over a game of cards. Following the demise of the Rosalie Bridge Club, she's started her own group at the Rosalie Country Club. During the first meeting of the Country Club Bridge Players, the dummy has barely been laid down when another dummy gets in a scuffle at the bar across the room. Bridge player Carly Ogle's husband Brent is at it again.

After the club's new female golf pro breaks up the fight, Brent storms off to soak in a hot tub. But Carey soon finds the bullying Brent dead in the water, clubbed over the head with the pestle the barkeep uses to crush leaves for mint juleps.
Racist, sexist, homophobic, and an all-around lout, Brent made enough enemies to fill a bridge tournament. So Wendy has to play her cards right to get the story—and stay out of hot water long enough to put the squeeze on the killer . . .

About the Author

R. J. Lee follows in the mystery-writing footsteps of his father, R. Keene Lee, who wrote fighter pilot and detective stories for Fiction House, publishers of WINGS Magazine and other ‘pulp fiction’ periodicals in the late ’40’s and ’50’s. Lee was born and grew up in the Mississippi River port of Natchez but also spent thirty years living in the Crescent City of New Orleans. A graduate of the University of the South (Sewanee) where he studied creative writing under Sewanee Review editor, Andrew Lytle, Lee now resides in Oxford, Mississippi.
Author Link:  Facebook  

My Thoughts

Playing the Devil by R.J. Lee is the second tale in A Bridge to Death Mystery series.  Wendy Winchester got together with Deedah Hornesby, director of Rosalie Country Club, to organize the Rosalie Country Club Bridge Bunch.  To complete their first table is Carly Ogle and Deedah’s son, Hollis.  They are enjoying their inaugural bridge game until Carly’s husband Brent causes a ruckus and then the lights go out courtesy of the storm.  Thirty minutes later the power is restored, and Brent is dead in the club’s hot tub.  Detective Ross Rierson is on the case and, of course, so is Wendy.  Wendy, an investigative reporter for the local newspaper, is quick to dive into the case, gathering information and trying to fit the pieces together to solve the case.  Playing the Devil can be read on its own if you have not had the time to read Grand Slam Murders.  The information a reader needs to know about Wendy and the town is included in Playing the Devil.  Wendy is the daughter of Rosalie’s police chief, Bax Winchester and is dating Detective Ross Rierson.  She has a knack for getting information out of people and solving crimes.  Wendy wants to be a top notch investigative reporter. Brent Ogle was an obnoxious and pompous man who was lucky not to have been killed earlier in life.  It was only a matter of time before someone did him in.  He went too far this time and the killer took advantage of a power outage to do away with the man.  There were eight suspects (give or take) who all had good reasons for wanting Brent Ogle dead.  There are pointed clues to help the reader solve the whodunit before Wendy arrives at the solution.  I thought the mystery went with the story.  Those who play bridge will like that aspect of Playing the Devil and a preemptive bid is explained as well as utilized.  I found Playing the Devil to be a slow starter, but I felt the pacing picked up after the crime takes place.  There are a variety of quirky characters in the small Southern town of Rosalie, Mississippi.  I thought the author captured the feel of the south.  Playing the Devil is a blithe cozy mystery with a loathsome lout, a mystifying murder, a surfeit of suspects, a dreamy detective, and a nosy newsperson.
Vintage bridge invitation | by B-Kay


Finally, it was time for the Bridge Bunch to get things started, and it was Wendy who did the honors after everyone was seated. “Well, here we are,” she began, smiling at the look of anticipation on their faces, “and I trust we will become the only game in town after a little time has passed. We’re only four right now, but we can always hope that we will grow to four or five tables with two dozen regulars. Maybe we can eventually hold our very own championship that will mean something.”

“That would be lovely,” Deedah chimed in, and the others nodded approvingly.

“Before we begin,” Wendy continued, “I’d like to offer a helpful pointer. I thought it would be fun for one of us to take turns explaining one particular element of bridge that’s not used as much as it could be. I’ll be the one this first time, and we’ll go around the table as the weeks pass.”
"Bridge Game", October 14, 1950 Giclee Print by Constantin Alajalov at
She paused and then drew their attention to a hand she had already arranged for herself, separating it by suits and displaying it in the center of the table. “If you need to get up and stand behind me while I discuss this, be my guest.”

Wendy began explaining. “Today’s pointer is the preemptive bid. Take your time to look it over.”
There were, in order:

7 6 4 of spades
K Q J 10 9 6 2 of hearts
9 of diamonds
J 4 of clubs

After a short period of time had passed, Wendy resumed her presentation. “As you all can see, this hand does not have very much in the way of high card points—just seven, counting the four face cards. It does not have the thirteen or fourteen points normally required for an opening bid. But what it does have is length in hearts—seven of them, in fact. This is the perfect hand for a preemptive bid.”

The others agreed by nodding their heads or making soft noises that showed they understood.
There are ‘Ladies who Lunch’ and there are ladies who enjoy a little ‘retail therapy’, but these ladies prefer something a little more exciting. Dressed in their smartest outfits and wearing their best hairdo and makeup, they are really enjoying their weekly game of cards. I can’t help wondering if there might be some cheating going on at the back, or maybe all those long sleeves are concealing more than jewellery, as they all seem so very confident. Perhaps it’s because they’ve all got a winnin
Although it’s possible that the heart suit might become the trump suit, depending upon what your partner has in the way of support, the primary purpose of a preemptive bid is to give the opponents trouble, to disrupt their communication. You preempt by opening at a high level. Thus, if they should get the contract, they will probably be at a much higher level than they would prefer to be. So, you would bid three hearts here, and your partner knows you do not have strength, you have length. The preemptive bid is a defensive bid, but you take the offensive even though you are in a weak position with point count traditionally.”

Wendy allowed a few more moments to pass and then said, “Any questions on the preemptive bid?”
Bridge elegance!
It was Hollis who spoke up, applauding her softly a few times. “You did that beautifully, Wendy. I’ve always understood about preempting, but I must confess, I’m always nervous about actually using it. I’m afraid I’ll actually get caught playing the hand and messing up. You know, going down in flames.”

"Probably not, though,” Wendy said. “At the very least, you will likely rob your opponents of a legit contract they could have had if you hadn’t thrown them off the track and gotten them out of their comfort zone.” Wendy then asked for further questions, but as there were none, the foursome again took their places around the table, and the Bridge Bunch began their very first deal.
Playing the Devil is available at the following retailers:  Amazon*,  B&N, Google PlayIndieBound, and Kobo.  The first novel in A Bridge to Death Mystery series is Grand Slam Murder.  As part of the tour for Playing the Devil, there is a giveaway for five (5) hard copies of the book (sorry, but U.S. Only).  You can click here to enter or use the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway.  Leave a comment on my blog for an extra entry.  Good Luck!  Thank you for visiting today.  Next time I am featuring The Long Bridge Home by Kelly Irvin.  It is the second book in Amish of Big Sky Country series.  I hope you have a merry day.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

Clubwomen Playing Bridge Photographic Print by Nina Leen |

Tour Participants

February 13 – The Avid Reader  - REVIEW, EXCERPT

February 13 – Lori's Reading Corner – GUEST POST

February 14 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT

February 14 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 15 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW

February 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST  

February 16 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – GUEST POST

February 16 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
Snooopy And Bridge - November 07, 1999
February 17 – T's Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

February 17 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

February 18 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

February 19 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

February 19 – Readeropolis - SPOTLIGHT

February 20 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT 

February 20 – Hearts & Scribbles - SPOTLIGHT

February 21 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

February 21 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT
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