Old Bones Never Die
by Lesley A. Diehl
Old Bones Never Die (Eve Appel Mystery)
Series: Eve Appel Mystery (Book 5)
Publisher: Camel Press (March 15, 2017)
Paperback: 272 pages
Just before Walter Egret is killed in a hit-and-run, he phoned his half-brother Sammy to report that he’d unearthed their missing father’s pocket watch, along with a pile of human bones. The project is put on hold until it can be determined if the site is an Indian burial ground. Then the bones disappear.
Now Sammy and his brother’s three orphaned children want Eve Appel to go pro, applying her innate snoopiness to the trade of private investigator.
Eve already has her hands full with her two consignment stores. What is she going to do? Sammy and Walter are Miccosukee Indians, and Walter was employed as a backhoe operator on a construction site for a sportsmen’s resort. Was Walter’s death murder or an accident? If the bones belong to Sammy’s father, how did they get there? Delving into these mysteries, Eve is aided by her usual crew of friends and family. This adventure will not only up the stakes for Eve as an investigator, but it will also open her eyes to life possibilities she never imagined.
Writing Characters from the Inside Out
By Lesley A. Diehl
Author of Old Bones Never Die
In my former life (the one where I received a regular paycheck and afforded me a retirement plan I’m now collecting on), I was a psychologist with a Ph. D. in developmental psychology. My focus was on psychological development over the lifespan. At book signings, people often ask if this background influences my cozy mysteries. Yes, it does, along with the impact of the sixties and seventies when I went to school and first began teaching at the university level.
My education made me aware of some important developmental issues, particularly the issue of identity, i.e., who am I, who do I want to become, and how can I establish relationships with others without threatening my own sense of self. My protagonist in Old Bones Never Die is Eve Appel and throughout this cozy mystery series she has struggled with defining herself both in terms of her career choice and a sense of internal wholeness—what she believes in, who she values and the awareness of her own self-worth, the “stuff” that makes up personality.
My understanding of development has been a plus in being able to create believable characters because I write them from the inside out. Eve isn’t just a collection of qualities such as impulsiveness, independence, sass, energy, and commitment to those she loves. Instead these characteristics arise from Eve’s background as a child who lost her parents and struggled with that loss by first becoming angry, then withdrawing and then bonding with a grandmother who gave Eve permission to become her own unique self. All of what Eve is as an adult is the outcome of this inner core of self which began to develop in her childhood and teen years and continues today, a fluid continuum of what defines who Eve is.
The other issue I’ve taken from my education is the significance of family, however we ach define it, and its impact on our development in positive ways as well as destructive ways. For Eve, career choice/change and internal identity are intertwined with her early loss of her parents. The barometer by which she judges her life choices is internalization of her only remaining family member, her grandmother. The person Eve is most like is her grandmother, a similarity she is aware and proud of. She holds her grandmother dear and extends her love to close friends and the family she is developing with the man she loves, Sammy Egret.
The issue of family secrets, a recurring concern through the Eve Apple series is most important in Old Bones Never Die. In her search to find who killed Sammy’s half-brother, Eve unearths secrets held for over three decades and discovers not only the key to the murder but also the destruction not revealing the truth can have on family unity. I use family as the centerpiece for solving the murder as well as a jumping off place for Eve to begin building her own family unit.
Along with this developmental framework, my own involvement in such social movements as civil rights, women’s rights and environmental issues finds its way into my writing in the problems Eve confronts as she works through her place in her adopted community in rural Florida. For example, can she be a part of this community if she stands up for some of its minority members and against land development? Probably the most important social issue in Eve’s life is the assault she observes on land use. Although over development is not yet as rampant in rural Florida as on either of its coasts, Eve observes in both Mud Bog Murder and in Old Bones Never Die the conflict between economic issues and environmental ones. On one hand, development brings in money and jobs. On the other, if not done with restraint, it destroys breeding and feeding habitat for animals and destruction of plant species indigenous to the swamp and plains areas. Agri-industries also play a role. Run-off from farms and ranches and sugar production pouring into Lake Okeechobee sends nutrient rich water into the canals leading to the east coast of Florida, causing the death of coral reefs and creating out-of-control algae blooms. Eve and her friends put themselves in the path of some of this abuse and earn the enmity of those responsible for it.
The inclusion of such social issues helps drive my plot, but they are integral to Eve’s character and fit inextricably into who Eve is. Other subjects such as sexual abuse, rape, racism, and human trafficking also work to help define Eve’s values and her judgment of others. These issues enhance the plot and define the characters and their interaction with one another. Eve may lead the charge in righting these wrong, but she carries with her a motley crew of friends and family to help her bring the bad guys and gals of rural Florida to justice…with—as ironic as this seems—a few laughs along the way.
About The Author –
Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.
She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.
Visit her on her website: www.lesleyadiehl.com
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