by Elise M. Stone
Book 1: True Blue Murder
Lilliana Wentworth expects the First Annual African Violet Club Show and Sale at the Rainbow Ranch Retirement Community to be thrilling. The former librarian has developed her first hybrid, a plant with unusual deep blue flowers, and hopes to win a first place ribbon. Maybe even best in show. But her excitement turns to dread when the aggravating Bette Tesselink, her fiercest rival, turns up dead, and she becomes the logical suspect.
There’s never been a murder in the village of Rainbow Ranch, and it soon becomes apparent that the young Chief of Police is in over his head. Under pressure from the mayor, Lilliana is afraid he’ll arrest her simply to close the case. Her only option is to begin her own investigation and find the murderer before she winds up in jail.
“The characters are well developed and we get to learn surprising things about them as the story unfolds. I really like that the characters are like people I know. Seniors who have said “no thanks” to the rocker on the porch and are living full, rich lives.”
“A spry and thoughtful protagonist, lovely terrain, characters around my own age, a somewhat shocking revelation as the story is ending-thoroughly enjoyable read.”
“An excellent start to a new series!”
Book 2: Blood Red Murder
Retired librarian Lilliana Wentworth’s reputation has drawn a slew of residents to the next meeting of the Rainbow Ranch Retirement Community’s African Violet Club. It seems as if everyone is curious about their famous sleuth.
But when the retirement community’s newest resident, party girl Ruby Robinson, is murdered in plain sight, and the primary suspect is Lilliana’s friend Willie O’Mara, her joy at the thought of potential new members turns to dismay.
With the crowd crammed so close together in the small room, no one actually saw Willie commit the crime. But he was the only one who knew the victim.
Or was he?
With an abundance of elderly suspects, once again Lilliana is compelled to come to the aid of the small town chief of police to help solve a murder.
“Lilliana wins the day!”
“Another great mystery!”
Book 3: Royal Purple Murder
When an aging rodeo queen is shot dead at the annual Fourth of July celebration, Lilliana Wentworth, retired librarian, African violet fancier, and amateur sleuth, must solve the case before a kindly but somewhat ditzy friend is arrested for murder.
The village of Rainbow Ranch, Arizona is all abuzz since famous rodeo star Fox Fordyce came back to town. But not everyone is happy to see her. Fox had a lot of history in the small town, most of it not very good.
The more questions Lilliana asks, the more suspects she comes up with. With the help of her own version of the Baker Street Irregulars, Lilliana peels back the layers of secrets. But will she be able to unravel the mystery in time?
“Wow! Elise Stone surprised me again!”
CIR: What inspired this series?
STONE: One day while I was browsing through the catalog of an African violet grower looking for plants to order, I came upon a variety named Ma’s Crime Scene. The description was “So red, it’s criminal.” Of course, as a mystery reader and writer, this immediately grabbed my attention. I started thinking about the possibilities of a mystery series featuring African violets. Growing them is a popular hobby (sometimes obsession), so I couldn’t believe no one had come up with this idea before. I finally wrote True Blue Murder three years ago and revised, edited and published it this year.
CIR: Who is your favorite character and why?
STONE: That has to be my amateur sleuth, Lilliana Wentworth. A retired librarian, she’s active and curious, and dogged in bringing killers to justice.
CIR: Did this require any research, and what kind?
STONE: Although I grow African violets for pleasure, I’m not serious about it by any means. To get the details of this hobby right, I joined the local chapter of the African Violet Society, attended meetings, and volunteered to work at the annual show and sale. One year, I worked as a judge’s assistant to learn how the process worked. For Royal Purple Murder, I enjoyed exploring the history of women in the rodeos. Initially, cowgirls participated in just about all the events men did. Today they’ve been relegated to barrel racing, because of a perceived weakness in the female sex. There are some cowgirls trying to buck this trend.
CIR: What was the hardest part of writing this story?
STONE: Trying to foreshadow the incredible twist at the end of True Blue Murder without giving away too much. Since there’s a bit of woo-woo to it, if not handled carefully, it might be seen as a sudden switch in genre, which I don’t think is fair to readers.
CIR: Is there more coming?
STONE: I’m working on the fourth book in the series.