Monthly Archives: May 2015

Abandoned baby found by Amish — murder suspected

LANCASTER, Pa.Sunbury Press has released Plain and Deadly, Barbara Workinger’s latest novel in the Life as a P.I. hasn’t always been what Ellerie March envisioned for herself. With a caseload mostly resembling the domestic scenarios on Jerry Springer, she’s not exactly working high-profile cases or helping to stop deadly criminals in their tracks. That is, until she meets Liddy and Annie Beiler—two Pennsylvania Amish women who have discovered an abandoned baby … or so they say. El takes the case in hopes of locating the baby’s missing mother, only to find herself in the midst of a homicide investigation and all too close to the family who might be responsible for this whole mess. Set against the backdrop of Pennsylvania and Ohio Amish country, city girl El casts her net for suspects—some of whom are the very people she needs to rely on to solve the case. Though she knows about keeping friends close and enemies closer, the lines of who is who become blurred in this “whodunit” escapade … especially when an unexpected romance springs up in the middle of everything, much to the delight of El’s grandmother and investigative “partner.”Through the course of the investigation, El uncovers not only secrets about the Amish and their friends, but also discovers special relationships she could have only found by following her instincts and her heart. The desperate search for the truth reaches its peak in a land where El thought the world would always be simple and safe, proving that even the most unsuspecting of places can be both Plain and Deadly.

pad_fcExcerpt:
“Care to elaborate on who is in the waiting room? And why they are here?” I suggested, trying to sound more patient than I felt.

“Two Amish ladies. Dressed Amish at least, of course they could be.”

“Tracy, cut the speculation. Let’s assume they are Amish. Did they say why they wanted to see me?”

“It’s something about a missing person. That was all they said.” Tracy narrowed her eyes. I could almost see the black and white 16-millimeter film running in her one-track mind. “What do you think?” she asked.

“I think you’d better show them in, Tracy.”

“OK,” she whispered, removing handfuls of papers from the two chairs that faced my desk.

A few minutes later, the two women were seated across from me. Amish they were. I’d seen enough Amish in my growing up years in Lancaster to know the real thing when I saw it. And knowing that, I was as surprised as Tracy was to have the pair in my office. It was a first for me and I’d venture it was a rarity for any investigator. The Amish had little need to frequent a domestic investigator’s office.

The elder of the two introduced herself as Liddy Beiler. Liddy was in her early forties, I guessed. Hard to tell. Amish women, without any help from cosmetics and beauticians usually looked older than the “English”—which was how they referred to the non-Amish. Despite, or maybe because of the natural look, Liddy was beautiful in a serene, clear-eyed way. Glossy dark hair was pulled away from her face and showed only slightly from its containment beneath her black bonnet. She was also very plump. Maybe that accounted for the absence of lines in her face.

The younger woman, twentyish Annie Beiler, was Liddy’s daughter-in-law. If Liddy was beautiful, Annie was drop-dead gorgeous. Huge luminous blue eyes stared out from a perfect oval face. Despite her attempt to tame her ash-blond hair beneath a traditional Amish prayer cap, it curled out in becoming tendrils around her face. Amish or not, I imagine every male from nine to ninety noticed Annie.

In Annie’s arms a rosy-faced baby of about two or three months of age slept peacefully, wrapped snugly in a miniature Amish patchwork quilt.

“What a sweet baby you have,” I said, my not-so-well-hidden maternal instincts turned on full blast.

“Oh, he’s not mine,” Annie said. I thought she looked momentarily sad when she said it. I had obviously been spending too much time around Tracy: everything seemed like a scene in an old movie.

“Oh?” I said to no one in particular.

“He—we call him Jeremiah—is why we are here,” Liddy said, answering what was to be my opening question if I hadn’t been too besotted with small Jeremiah to remember to ask it. Liddy spoke formally, using very few contractions and had a decided Pennsylvania Dutch accent, pronouncing the “J” in Jeremiah like a “Ch,” making the name sound like Cheremiah. Her voice was smooth, the tone soothing. Reminded me of a few shrinks I’d met in my work.

“He is?” I said. In a few moments I mentally examined and discarded several of possibilities as to why.

“Yes. It is Jeremiah why we are here … and this note.” She fished in her commodious black purse, coming out with a neatly folded piece of paper. She handed it over, carefully lifting it high over the clutter of my desk. I wondered how Liddy, with her Amish sense of neatness and order, could stand my office. I would learn later that the Amish don’t judge the English, although they do wonder about us.

“We want to hire you,” she continued in the direct, no-time-for-useless-preliminaries way the Amish have.

I read the note, which looked to be hastily but legibly printed on the kind of lined paper I’d noticed the Amish usually used for correspondence.

“To Liddy Beiler, midwife: I am leaving this Amish babe with you because it is the only safe place for an Amish child. You must keep him for just two weeks already. I am in danger and he will be, too, if he is found with me. If he is given to the English I will maybe be killed. I need to fix up some trouble and I will come for him. Bless you.”

The note was signed “A Mom.”

About the Author:
In writing her mysteries, Barbara Workinger draws on her background as a research journalist, an antique dealer, and an interest in the art of quilting. She combines them with a fascination for the Amish area where she lived for over twenty years. Ten of those years were spent in researching the Amish.

Plain and Deadly: An Ellerie March Mystery
Authored by Barbara Workinger
List Price: $16.95
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
214 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620064634
ISBN-10: 1620064634
BISAC: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Plain-and-Deadly-9781620…

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Keith Rommel’s “The Devil Tree” based on Port St. Lucie’s legend

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.Keith Rommel’s latest novel, The Devil Tree, based on the Port St. Lucie, Florida legend is has been released in hardcover.

tdt_fcAbout the Book:
Back in the 1970s, a series of bizarre incidents occurred at what has since been known as “The Devil Tree.”  Beneath this ancient denizen, evil was wrought by a sick serial killer, calling upon forces most evil and dark.  People were hung there … and bodies buried there … exhumed by the police.  Overcome by superstition, some tried to cut down the tree, to no avail.  Since then, it has stood in a remote section of a local park — left to its own devices — quiet in its eerie repose — until now!

Best-selling psychological-thriller author Keith Rommel has imagined the whole tale anew. He’s brought the tree to life and retold the tale with gory detail only possible in a fiction novel. Action-packed, with spine-tingling detail, this thriller is beyond parallel in the ground it uncovers … one author’s explanation of what may have really been said — what may have really happened — under Port St. Lucie’s “Devil Tree.”

Excerpt:
PICNIC
The past.
The big oak tree had crooked limbs that reached for the sky and a trunk over twenty feet in circumference. The thick canopy above blocked the midday sun, making the air seem ten degrees cooler than the scorching ninety-degree heat beating down from the hot Florida rays.

Port Saint Lucie was a quiet town and seemed to be a world within its own. Dirt roads and cheap housing had the allure to invite northern folks in hopes of escaping the bustle of city life, high costs of living, and the brutal cold winters that took their toll on the mind, body, and spirit.

For Marion, so far the change of pace was nothing short of perfect. The house she lived in was beautiful, her neighbors were pleasant; the air seemed cleaner and the sky a different kind of blue.

Looking at the ground surrounding the oak tree, she thought it the ideal spot to have a picnic with her two children, Bobby and Judy. She had Bobby carry the white and red checkered sheet, which was folded into a neat and manageable square. Judy helped by carrying the wicker picnic basket but struggled with the weight. Neither her mother or her brother offered to help her because she insisted she could do it and didn’t want help from anyone. Headstrong and full of temper, she was a handful.

Marion fiddled with a transistor radio and tried to get a clear signal so they could listen to music while they spent some quality family time on this perfect day out.

“Right here,” Marion said to Bobby, pointing at the flat ground underneath the giant oak. She mopped the sweat from her brow and looked up the hulking trunk and into the intricate weave of branches that was marvelous to the eyes. Spanish moss hung down, and if it wasn’t daytime the oak might have left the impression of a creepy Halloween prop.

Bobby placed the blanket down and did a fine job of getting all the wrinkles out of it. Marion assisted Judy in placing the basket down on the corner of the blanket, and although she didn’t say so, Marion thought she was thankful for the assistance.

She kicked off her shoes and stepped onto the squares and sat cross-legged. The ground was soft enough, and a coolness from the soil seeped up through the blanket, adding to the relief of being out of the direct sunlight.

“Yes, this is perfect,” Marion said, and the radio caught the marvelous chorus of “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles. “Put your shoes off to the side before you step on the blanket,” she told the children. “I don’t want you tracking dirt all over the place before we eat.”

The kids did as they were told and Marion looked around, admiring the spot she had chosen. It was the first time she had been to this particular part of town and was glad she’d come across it. She had seen a couple of fishermen on her way in, tugging on the invisible lines they had cast and drinking Blue Ribbon beer. The men had looked over their shoulders at the sound of her car, but she had pulled far enough into the oversized lot that she couldn’t see them from her space.

The water in the canal looked clean enough to cool their feet if they needed, and the flow of water was slow enough that it posed little to no threat of sweeping them away. But she would decide whether or not they would go into the canal after the children had eaten and if they behaved well enough.

Bobby and Judy sat on the blanket, their legs folded Indian-style just like their mother. Bobby’s face lit up as he admired the giant oak and the things that dangled over him.

“Do you think I can climb it when we’re done eating?”

Marion thought about it. There was no question the tree was strong enough to hold him. But the sharp angles of the branches and clumps of Spanish moss made her nervous. She’d heard something about there being chiggers in moss. Despite the warm weather, she shivered just thinking about those nasty biting mites.

“I don’t know, Bobby, let Mommy think about it,” she said but already knew the answer to be no. She just didn’t want to start the picnic on a negative. “Let’s eat some lunch then afterward I’d like to go down to the water there and have a look. Maybe we can get our feet wet.”

“Neat, Mom,” Bobby said.

Static filled the Zenith 500 transistor radio, and Marion fiddled with the small dial, delicately turning it until the tuning was sharp. The Beatles came back to life and she couldn’t help but sing along in an emotional whisper.

She opened the basket and handed Bobby and Judy their bologna sandwiches, which were cut into fours. The children placed them into their laps and ate neatly and with manners.

“How did you find this place, Mom? It’s really neat,” Bobby said and was unable to keep his eyes out of the canopy. The tree seemed to invite him up the hefty trunk and into the tangle of branches. The vantage point from up there must be spectacular, he thought, and he bit into his sandwich with an ailing whine in an attempt to sway his mother’s thinking.

Marion ignored him and continued to take in her surroundings. Their 1966 Studebaker Wagonaire was parked about thirty yards away, cooking in the midday heat. She grabbed her own sandwich and unfolded the foil. As she sat there, taking tiny bites, a sudden chill rocked her body. The cold that came up through the ground and the shade of the giant oak maybe took away too much of the warmth, she decided. Marion looked at her children with the flesh goosed on her arms.

“Are you guys cold at all?”

“No,” Judy said. “It’s nice here. I like it, Mommy.”

“Yeah, Mom, it’s really neat here.”

The Devil Tree
Authored by Keith Rommel

List Price: $29.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
192 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620065884
ISBN-10: 1620065880
BISAC: Fiction / Occult & Supernatural

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/The-Devil-Tree-9781620065884.htm