Title: Paradise Series
Author: Deborah Brown
Publisher: Paradise Books
Pages: 626 (total in series)
Crazy in Paradise: Dying in the middle of the summer in the Florida Keys is sweaty business. Welcome to Tarpon Cove. Madison Westin has inherited her aunt’s beachfront motel in the Florida Keys. Trouble is she’s also inherited a slew of colorful tenant’s – drunks, ex-cons, and fugitives. Only one problem: First, she has to wrestle control from a conniving lawyer and shady motel manager. With the help of her new best friend, whose motto is never leave home without your Glock, they dive into a world of blackmail, murder, and drugs.
Deception in Paradise: Madison Westin is back!! The Florida Keys are hotter than ever. With Madison’s never-say-no style she’s smarter and packing an attitude not to mention her Glock. This time, trouble rolls into Tarpon Cove in the form of Madison’s ex-husband, Jackson Devereaux, whom she hoped to never see again. His arrival brings unparalleled chaos and an uninvited corpse. Teaming up with her hot friend, Fabiana, the two women go from chasing the usual cast of misfits and weirdos to hunting down a murderer. The action turns deadly serious when they stir up a nasty enemy as they try to stay one-step ahead in a game of cat and mouse that threatens their lives.
Trouble in Paradise: What is big news in small town Tarpon Cove? An accidental drowning or perhaps a ruthless murder? When a dead fisherman rolls up on shore, Madison cannot resist jumping into her new role as Private Investigator. But she soon discovers the people in The Cove who normally gossip about everybody’s business are unusually tight-lipped. The bad tenant radar still not working, the cottages continue to be full of riffraff. Madison gets arrested, shot at, and outsmarted. She teams up with her best friend – the Glock carrying Fabiana. Together they take on cases no other investigators would ever touch!
There should be a law in South Florida that a person can’t die during the summer. The death of a loved one was hard enough without the added humiliation of sweat. I felt it rolling down my back, like a stream trapped by the belt of my dress with nowhere to go.
My name is Madison Elizabeth Westin, and I’m seated at the funeral of my favorite aunt, people watching, of all things. Most of the mourners looked ready for a pool party, some of them in shorts and bathing suit cover-ups. I was the only one dressed in black; even my brother wore khaki shorts.
The minister began, “We are gathered here today to give thanks for the life of Elizabeth Ruth Hart, who shared herself with us. It is in her memory we come together and, for all she meant to us, we are thankful.”
My mother had named me after her older sister. Elizabeth was like a second mother to my brother Brad and me. We spent summers with her in Florida, running and playing on the beach, building sandcastles, and she was a regular visitor to our home in South Carolina.
After five years of not seeing her, I had packed for a several-month stay and planned to spend the summer with her. That’s when I got a phone call from her lawyer telling me she had died. I still found it difficult to believe it had happened so suddenly.When I walked into the funeral home earlier, the heat had smothered me; this main room was suffocating. The air conditioning wasn’t working and it felt as though it was more than one hundred degrees. The director, Dickie Vanderbilt, had apologized for that, telling me that the central unit had gone out earlier in the day. He informed me he had all of the ceiling fans on high, which, in my opinion, were only circulating hot air.
Dickie Vanderbilt gave me the creeps. He had a slight build, pasty white skin, and long skinny fingers. When he reached out to touch my arm, I tried hard not to squirm.
I’m not a big fan of shaking hands. I find people only want to shake your hand when they can see you’re not interested. A friend suggested I perfect the dog paw shake for those who insist. I extend my hand like a paw and let it hang loose. Often times, they jerk their hand away and give me an odd stare, which makes me want to laugh every time.
The minister rambled on. I found him to be uninteresting, his speech dry. He talked about Elizabeth as though she were a stranger to him and everyone here. Apparently, Elizabeth’s jerk attorney, Tucker Davis, hadn’t given the minister any information about her. I didn’t understand why my aunt left all of the details of her funeral to Tucker. Why would she exclude the people who loved her and knew her best from having input? I wished I had one more day to walk along the beach to laugh, talk, and collect shells with her.
On Sunday, Tucker called to inform me that Elizabeth had died in her sleep from a heart attack. “The funeral is Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. at Tropical Slumber Funeral Home on Highway 1 in Tarpon Cove,” he told me.
“I want to help plan the funeral.”
“All of the arrangements have been made.” He sounded impatient, emphasizing his words. “If you want to, you can call anyone else you think should be informed.”
“My aunt would’ve wanted her family to be involved in the decision-making for her funeral. After all, my mother, brother, and I are the only family she had.”
“Elizabeth appointed me executor. She left me written instructions for everything she wanted done after her death, including her funeral.”
I didn’t believe him. Elizabeth loved us. She never would’ve excluded her family in this way, knowing how important it would be to us.
“I oversaw all of the arrangements myself. I’m sure you’ll be satisfied. If you have any other questions you can call my assistant, Ann.” He hung up the phone.
My aunt never once mentioned Tucker Davis to me or anyone else in the family. Here he was, a stranger, handling her estate.
The next day, I called the lawyer back to tell him that Elizabeth’s sister Madeline, her nephew Brad, and I, would attend. He refused to take my phone call, and I was frustrated.
“This is Madison Westin. May I speak with Tucker Davis?”
“I’m Ann, Mr. Davis’s assistant. He’s not accepting calls at this time. Can I help you with something?”
“I wanted to ask again if there was anything I could do in preparation for Elizabeth Hart’s funeral? Surely, you can understand how her family would want to be involved in any final decisions.”
“Mrs. Hart wanted Mr. Davis to make those arrangements, and he has. She didn’t indicate that she wanted anyone else involved in the planning. I can assure you he’s seen to all of the details. He worked directly with Mr. Vanderbilt at the funeral home.”
“I’ll be arriving later today. Would you tell Mr. Davis I’m available to help with anything that needs to be done? He can reach me at Elizabeth’s house.”
“Does Mr. Davis know you plan to stay in Mrs. Hart’s house?”
“I don’t need Mr. Davis’ permission. I’ve never stayed anywhere but the Cove Road house, and this trip won’t be any different. If Mr. Davis has a problem with my staying there, he can call me,” I said.
“Any more messages?” Ann sniffed and, without waiting for a response, hung up on me.
About the Author
Redhead. Long legs. There’s nothing like a strawberry-lemonade in summer. Favorite activity: Filling my pockets with seashells. An avid rule follower when eating Animal Cookies: Broken ones get eaten first, match up the rest, duplicates next, line them up favorite to not, least favorite go first. South Florida is my home, with my ungrateful rescue cats, and where Mother Nature takes out her bad attitude in the form of hurricanes.