Family Mystery Sparks Book Idea

Have you ever had a family mystery tale passed down through the generations. The story is usually elaborated on along the way. My southern Missouri family had one such mystery in the 1930’s.

The mystery was the disappearance of my mother’s aunt. Aunt Leona was the sister of my mother’s father. She was five years older than my mother. The two of them saw a lot of each other when they were growing up.

It was agreed by the family that Leona was very spoiled. She was born a few years after the other four children were about grown. Her mother gave her baby girl anything she asked for including nice clothes which were the envy of my mother who didn’t have nice things.

The mystery took place in the Great Depression. Leona and her mother spent a lot of time making quilts. By the time she was in her mid twenties, Leona had a closet full of quilts stored for her hope chest. When she fell in love with a trucker, her parents disapproved. What they had against him was not clear. Who knows if Leona really loved him or just didn’t want to wind up an old maid. Nothing they said could change Leona’s mind so they gave her a fancy wedding in their front yard. According to a niece, one of Mom’s younger sisters, she wore a lovely white dress and large straw hat which in Depression times was considered expensive.

A few days later, Leona’s husband brought her back to collect her closet full of quilts. They left and were never seen again. Did she leave of her own free will? Did he murder her? Was he the bad person Leona’s parents feared, and she just didn’t want to hear, "I told you so."?

About fifteen years ago, I wrote to the reader to reader column in Capper’s, asking if anyone could help me find descendants of Aunt Leona. While I waited for a reply, I began to worry. In today’s world, the type of person who might answer my ad or show up to visit as a relative might not be to my liking. What had I let myself in for? As it turned out, I didn’t have anyone answer my request.

A few years later, I wrote Specious Nephew, Book two in the Amazing Gracie Mystery Series. ISBN 1438248202 sold on my bookstore website

and Amazon

Let’s start with the word Specious in the title. This is the way my mother pronounced suspicious, but I was surprised to find that the word specious is in the dictionary. The pronunciation fits right in with my historical mystery. However, the word tends to give libraries the impression that I misspelled the word. I’ve seen my book acknowledged in a library notice where in the title the word had been changed to suspicious to help me out.

The premise of the story is that Moser Mansion For Women resident Melinda Applegate hasn’t any family close by to invite to a special wedding for the Moser Mansion owner’s back yard wedding. So she sends a plea to the reader to reader column. If she has relatives she would like to hear from them.

Unlike me, Melinda gets an answer. A young man, Jeffrey Armstrong, shows up just in time for the wedding. He claims to be Melinda’s nephew. She’s more than willing to believe him, but Gracie Evans is not. He appears to be a con artist after what little money Melinda has. Gracie tries to warn the Moser residents but not one of them listens to her so she is determined to prove the man is up to no good.

Next week, I’ll give you an excerpt to show you why Gracie thinks the man is dishonest.









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