Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Spawning Suspicion

Spawning Suspicion releases on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 and its blog tour begins the following day (Nov. 10-19) with 20 whistle stops on the tour. I hope you’ll join me for interesting reveals…and the giveaway!

The book’s tour page is HERE.



November 10 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 10 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT


November 11 – My Journey Back – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 12 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

November 13 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – Books to the Ceiling – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic -CHARACTER GUEST POST

November 14 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

November 15 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

November 15 – Baroness’ Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 16 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST

November 16 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

November 17 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

November 18 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

November 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 19 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST

November 19 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

Lindsey and Ike Mysteries

Series: Lindsey & Ike Novella Series, Anthology
Publisher: Muddle House Publishing
Release Date: Nov 14, 2017
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Available Formats: eBook, eBook and Print
Digital: 9780996770668
Hardcover: 9780983361404
In this three-novella anthology, an amateur sleuth and her dog return home to a town of secrets … and murder.

“Really, Truly Dead”
Lindsey McKay has no intention of being Sheriff Ike Harper’s girlfriend when she returns home with her dog to bail out the family newspaper, but Ike has his eye on her. The murder of a local judge proves to be a boon for the newspaper, but the bad news hits when her father’s arrested for the crime. Will saving her father’s life cost Lindsey hers?

“Turtle Tribbles”
The Turtle Girl, a college intern named Selma Crowley, begs newspaper editor Lindsey McKay to write about the theft of turtle eggs from their nests. Lindsey agrees but asks for more proof. Selma disappears and is soon found dead. Lindsey blames herself because she demanded concrete proof, so she noses into Sheriff Ike Harper’s investigation. Can she discover the truth before time runs out?

“Dead Men Tell No Tales”
Newspaper editor Lindsey McKay’s small town is rocked when a suspicious hunting accident proves to be premeditated murder. Sheriff Ike Harper vows to get his man and keep Lindsey safe. Only, the more Lindsey and Ike dig, the more questions they uncover. People aren’t what they seem. If only a dead man could tell tales.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales

Series: Lindsey & Ike Romantic Mystery, Book 3
Publisher: Muddle House Publishing
Release Date: Nov 2017
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Available Formats: eBook
Digital: 9780996770651
In this third installment of the Lindsey & Ike romantic mystery novella series, things don’t add up after a suspicious hunting accident. The more Sheriff Ike Harper and newspaper editor Lindsey McKay dig, the more questions they find. Will a dead man tell tales?

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© Copyright 2012 – Maggie Toussaint

Chapter 1

Despite the distant rumble of thunder, the first dinner in our new home on River Road was amazing. I couldn’t stop smiling at Ike and his eight year old son Trent. Sure, we’d grilled burgers and hot dogs here before, but tonight everything tasted extra special.

I’m Lindsey McKay, editor of the Gazette, Danville, Georgia’s, weekly newspaper. Sheriff Ike Harper is my partner in housing and love. He’d been burned in matrimony once so we were trying a less traditional route with our nearly nine-month romance. We’d joined our names on a property deed and called it good.

In principle, I agreed with Ike. A piece of paper saying we were married wasn’t a guarantee of happiness, but I also valued tradition. Living in the moment was challenging.

Forks clanked on plates, drawing me from my musings. I passed the platter of grilled meat since the baked beans and watermelon bowls were empty. “Seconds?”

Trent dug in like he hadn’t eaten in a week. Ike settled back in his seat, a goofy smile on his face. “We should’ve done this months ago.”

We’d struggled with our commitment level this summer, or so I’d thought. Turned out we had communication and processing issues. Since summer had turned to fall, I’d been learning to speak guy, and he’d been doing his best to make me happy. How was it possible to be deliriously happy and yet worried that I might mess it up?

“What?” Ike said. “You scowled.”

“I did? Sorry. Thinking of something else.”

“You must not like that something else.”

“It’s no big deal,” I said, hoping he’d let it drop.

Lucky for me, Trent distracted his dad with a question about football tryouts, and less than five minutes later, an emergency call came in for Ike. Hunting accident.

After Ike left, I thought how my role had shifted. Before, I’d chased cops to a scene to get the story for the paper. Now I lived with a cop and had more information than I could print. Best of all, I chose to stay home with Trent when these afterhours calls occurred.

From the incident details I overheard, one man accidentally shot the other in the swamp when he heard a noise. I didn’t know the name of the shooter yet, but Dispatch mentioned he seemed broken up about the tragedy.

The victim, John Starling, tended bar at Fiddler’s at the north end of the county. I’d met him once when he came into the office to buy a newspaper, not long after he moved here this spring.

Time flew as Trent and I played cards, bathed, and got ready for bed. Ike returned in time to tuck his son in for the night. “Was it bad?” I asked when we were cozied up on the sunporch sofa.

He drew me into his arms. “Seemed straightforward. Both men were hog hunting in the swamp. Neither was aware of the other. Sonny Mowrey shot the bartender, thinking he was a hog. Mowrey was so upset he could barely hold it together to give his statement.”

“I’ve shot a gun before, at targets mind you, but I’ve never shot a person, and I hope it never came to that. I’d be a wreck too.”

“Seemed cut and dried to me. Accident all the way.”

An accident. Many people today thought “accident” meant no one was responsible. Surely that wasn’t the case for a human life. “Will Mowrey face charges for killing someone?”

“I’m running his fingerprints right now, something he isn’t happy about.”

“Why? He said he shot the guy.”

“Learned this lesson a long time ago. Tie up loose ends or they’ll bite you in the butt. Whatever happened out there, I’ll get to the bottom of it. It’s always best to follow procedure.”

“I want to see the police report tomorrow.”

He nuzzled my neck. “I expected no less, Madame of the News.”

I swatted him playfully, enjoying his attention. “You make me sound like something dirty.”

“You make me think wild thoughts.” His hands drifted lower. “How about we take ourselves up to our bedroom and let the world take care of itself?”

“Sounds good, but I have one more question.”

Ike groaned. “What is it?”

“Where was the bullet hole?”

“Straight through the heart. Two kill shots.”

Swamp hogs came in all sizes and were ferocious. You did not want to be charged by one, so you made sure you aimed at the right spot. “A person is taller than a hog.”


“Shouldn’t Mr. Mowrey have aimed lower if he was hog hunting?”

“Good observation, but these people barely knew each other. Let’s not look for murders. The simplest explanation is usually the best.”

“I’m not looking for anything. My mind went there on its own.”

He studied me for a long moment. “You have good instincts, Linds, and I’ve learned to trust them. We’ll find out the angle of the shots at autopsy. Now, can we let the dead sleep long enough for us to have some privacy?”

I pulled free of his embrace and rose. “Race ya.”

Chapter 2

Cousin Janey, my best friend and sleuthing buddy, stopped by my office first thing in the morning. Her face glowed from all the time she was spending with Junior Curtis, so things between her and the bail bondsman must be going strong. “I heard.”

Though I was pretty sure I knew where she was headed, I couldn’t resist teasing her. “About what? The first night Ike and I spent in our home?”

She slouched in a guest chair and propped her sandal-clad feet on my desk. “Well, that too. Nothing like buying property to cement a relationship. Or destroy it.”

Janey was a Realtor. She’d seen it all with the clients she’d chauffeured around in hopes of a sale. “We’re going for cementing our relationship. Don’t jinx us.”

“Got it, but you guys are golden. With home ownership, you and Ike are legally bound. You’re as good as married now.”

“Keep that on the down low. Ike’s scared to death of the M-word.”

“At least you got a commitment out of him. My guy goes home every night. No hint of a ring or a future.”

“Junior makes you happy, and he lights up when you enter the room,” I said. “I’m glad he turned out to be a nice guy.”

“Me too. If he’d been with the mob as rumored, I’d be in deep trouble by now because I can’t stay away from him. He’s got this magnetic pull.”

I chuckled. “They’re called pheromones, Cous, and you are hooked on his.”

Janey took her time answering, as if she were considering the matter at great length. “Junior’s all-consuming. We talk, we make out, we, you know, and then he goes home. Both of us want that so we don’t have to explain that he slept over to my daughter or to my ex.”

“Y’all are finding your way. It’ll work out.”

“I suppose, but I didn’t come over to talk about either of our relationships. I heard about Sonny Mowrey. I know him.”

My curiosity spiked, and I leaned forward. “You do?”

She nodded. “I sold Sonny and Deena that foreclosure house out on the point a few years ago.”

I grabbed a notepad and a pen, eager to take notes. “What can you tell me about them? Where’d they come from?”

“They were vague about their hometown, but they moved here from Florida. Just wanted a place on the water that was off the grid.”

“Lot of people come here for that reason. Who’d they get their loan through?”

“No loan. They paid cash.”

Even though my folks gave us a good price on the house, Ike and I had to get a mortgage to buy this place. “Cash? For a house?”

“It was an easy sale and a quick closing. They offered on the house and owned it less than a week later. They told the people they could leave any furniture they didn’t want in the house. First I ever heard of anyone doing that.”

The furniture part wasn’t too weird. Mom and Dad left a lot I still needed to go through. But we were family. “Weren’t you suspicious?”

“I needed the money,” Janey said. “But now, I’m wondering if I should mention it to Ike.”

“Ike already believes I read murder into every 9-1-1 call. Are you thinking Sonny Mowrey didn’t have an accident? That he meant to kill John Starling?”

“Something is strange about the Mowreys. Both of them had short bleached blonde hair when they moved here. Now Sonny’s totally dark-haired with a full beard and a ponytail. Deena’s sporting a pink doo at the moment. I don’t know how she walks with so many rings on her toes. Have you ever worn a toe ring?”


“Me neither. What’s wrong with us?”

I shrugged. “I dunno. Seems like with our racy ancestress, we’d be on the forefront of every trend. Guess the Episcopalian upbringing trumps the Beulah McKay exhibitionist genetics.”

“Speak for yourself. I’ve been letting my inner exhibitionist have free rein lately. It’s more fun, and Junior likes it.”

I did not want to know what they were up to at her place in the deep dark of night. “Enough about us. Can you think of any reason Sonny Mowrey might’ve shot John Starling?”

“Well. The obvious thing is two men and one woman.”

“Deena came between them?”

“Not saying she did. You asked if there was any reason. Deena seemed very flirty and . . . accessible when she was my client.”

“She flirted with you?”

“She turned on the charm everywhere we went. I always had the sense she was working a room when we hit a restaurant or the Bar and Grill for lunch.”

“Extroverted wife. Introverted husband.” I weighed the ideas in each hand. Given Janey’s observations, I had no trouble picturing a love triangle. “What was Sonny’s response?”

“He didn’t react to her flirting, but he always sat beside her in the back of my car.”

“Doesn’t sound like he’d go into a killing rage if she strayed. Do you ever see them out and about in town?”

Janey studied the ceiling for a moment. “I waved to them at last year’s Fall Festival, but I was in the kid area with CeeCee. They didn’t wade through the screaming children to speak to me, and I couldn’t leave my daughter there alone to go speak to them.”

“So they keep to themselves. They haven’t been in trouble with the law since I moved back home last fall. I ran their name through our archive and there’s never been anything in the paper about them. Then it occurred to me that I was looking in the wrong place. I searched for their names online. You know what I found?”

Janey grabbed my orange stress relief ball, squeezed it several times, and returned it to my desk. “What?”

“Nothing. I even checked the Census listing. I was stunned. They should have some digital footprint other than property ownership. Is Sonny a nickname or his legal name?”

“It was the name he signed on the contract and the name on his Florida driver’s license.”

“I wonder if Ike knows about this,” I mused, thinking out loud.

“He doesn’t like you nosing around in his cases.”

“I’m fact finding for my feature story. He can chase all the bad guys he wants. I want nothing to do with that end of things.”

“I’m sure he’ll discover this much on his own,” Janey said. “How come there’s no other information on the Mowreys?”

“Perhaps they’re not newsworthy people. If not for Aunt Fay’s membership in the DAR and her property deed, I couldn’t find her online. I checked.”

“Get real. The Mowreys are our age. Look up any late twenty-something online and you get a ton of hits from the search engine. Something’s fishy about this duo.”

“I’m getting that sense myself. What about the bartender? You know John Starling?”

“He asked me out once. I was attending a high school classmate’s birthday party at his bar not two months ago.”

“Did you do it?” I reached for the stress relief ball and massaged it absently.

“Nah. No chemistry. After my divorce, I thought I wouldn’t date again. I was devoting myself to being the best Mama ever.”

“And look at you now. How do you explain Junior to your daughter?”

“I just say we’re seeing each other. CeeCee doesn’t have a problem with it one way or another.”

“And your ex?”

“He’s steamed about Junior, but he’s keeping his mouth shut. Junior’s badass reputation is serving me well.”

“My, how the tide has turned.”

We were grinning at each other like silly fools when the front door burst open. I heard my assistant’s voice go from placating to loud in the lobby. Ellen is a good gatekeeper, and she keeps the public at bay when I’m busy. She only allows people back if they’re blood relatives, Ike, or someone we’re interviewing for our next paper.

A buxom woman appeared in my doorway. She was pretty in an overdone, big pink hair and fake eyelashes kind of way. The short dress, bare legs, and high heels made a feminine statement. A closer look revealed shiny rings on her toes.

Deena Mowrey had come to me. Oh, joy.

No Quarter

Series: Cleopatra Jones Mystery, Novella, Book 4
Release Date: September 15, 2018
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Available Formats: eBook
No Quarter, A Cleopatra Jones Novella by Maggie Toussaint–Amnesia, the doctor says when accountant Cleopatra Jones wakes in a distant hospital. Hours later most of her memory returns. Detective Jack Martinez visits Cleo’s nearby wealthy client, only she’s dead and broke. To Cleo’s horror, she’s a murder suspect. Will she totally recover her memory before the killer returns?


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© Copyright 2017 – Maggie Toussaint
“Ma’am? Are you all right?

The voice sounded a million miles away. I barely caught the words. Didn’t matter though. I was too woozy to answer.

The voice persisted. “Ma’am. What is your name?”

Go away. Let me sleep.

Fingers pried an eyelid open, and a light blinded me. Startled, I tried to rear back, only there was nowhere for my head to retreat. The light winked out, then it blazed into my other eye.

Leave me alone. I tried to curl into a fetal position, only my arms and legs didn’t move. I was paralyzed! Icy fear shot through my bloodstream. I was in danger. Had to hide. Had to sleep.

Painful tingles lanced my hands and feet. I groaned inwardly at the awful sensations. Why wouldn’t they leave me be? I felt like a slab of meat with people standing around and poking me.

“She’s coming round,” the voice said.

“Ma’am, can you hear me?” a deeper voice asked.

“Yes,” I said, only my lips didn’t move. Cold. I was so cold. I shivered and trembled.

“She’s going into shock,” the voice said.


Joints ached. Head pounded. I squinted through slits of eyelids. White ceiling. White room. Where am I? What happened to me?

My fingers curled, nails dug into my palms. I tried to lift my head, and pain sliced through me. Beeps sounded. Footsteps approached. My eyes opened wide with terror.

A woman dressed in white beamed at me as if I’d won a prize. “There you are.” She punched a few buttons, and the noise ceased. The throbbing in my head lessened.
“I’m Nurse Holly Ann, and you’re in the hospital,” she said in a perky voice. “We think you were in a car accident. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Car accident? No way. I’m a safe driver. I tried to tell her, but my words came out gibberish. My pulse thrummed in my ears.

“Take it easy,” Nurse Holly Ann continued. “I’m going to check your vitals now.”

Vital signs. I’m alive. That was good news. A cuff squeezed my arm, sending my heart rate into a gallop.

The nurse stuck a device in my ear briefly. “Temp is ninety-seven. A little low, dear, but that’s to be expected.”
Why was it expected?

She must’ve read the question in my eyes. “Because of the cold weather. It’s January. You were wandering on a Christmas tree farm in northern Virginia. The farmer called an ambulance, and now you’re safe in the hospital. Sit tight, and I’ll get the doctor. He’ll tell you more.”

A tree farm? This was all so confusing. What happened to me? I tried to remember, but static filled the void where my memory should be.

“The charge nurse said you were awake,” a man said.

I opened my eyes, tried to speak, and got gibberish again. So frustrating.

“Ah, hello there. I’m Doctor Garwood. Good to see you’re conscious. You may be experiencing a headache. You have a concussion, and we’re monitoring you. Your CT scan came back fine, so there’s no internal bleeding. Blink twice if you have a headache. Blink once if you have no pain.”

I blinked twice at the tall man in the white coat, and he smiled.

“You’re doing fine,” he said. “You may experience temporary problems with speech and memory. That’s routine for your type of injury. Most cases like this resolve satisfactorily in twenty-four to forty-eight hours.”

An injury? I had no memory of an accident or injury. Then I rewound more of what he’d said. Oh. Memory loss. The mental fog made sense now. Regardless, I wanted out of here. I wanted to go home. I blinked twice and waited. Home. Where was home?

“We’ll get you squared away in no time,” he said. “Do you remember your name? Three blinks for yes, two for no.”

My name. Somebody asked me my name earlier. It’s . . . what is it? I couldn’t remember. I blinked twice.

“That’s what I thought, but your memory should return shortly. You have a bump on your head. Nothing broken and no other swelling, so you’re good there. Since you carried no identification, we sent your photo to area police departments.”

Photo to the cops. Good. My family would find me. Wait. What was that about a bump on my head? I blinked three times in a row.

He jotted notes on a chart, ignoring me. I tried to sit, but my stiffened joints protested.

Dr. Garwood glanced over at my thrashing. “Be patient while your body reboots. We’re still waiting on your toxicology reports and hoping for a positive ID. Sit tight.”

Sit tight. As if I could leave. I flexed my fingers again and then I tried my toes. They didn’t respond. Not good. I wanted to lift my head and see if they were still attached to my feet, but that would trigger alarms again, which would make my headache pound harder.

With each passing moment, mental clarity strengthened. I tried to piece the facts together. Something happened to me, and I was in a hospital. It was January, and I’d been walking through a tree farm. The farmer hadn’t recognized me, the cops didn’t know me, so I must not be local. Why was I walking around someplace I didn’t belong in the middle of winter?

I thought and thought until I gave up. Somebody must be searching for me. Somebody would come for me. My eyes drifted shut again.

Turtle Tribbles

Series: Lindsey & Ike Romantic Mystery Series, Book 2
Publisher: Muddle House Publishing
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Available Formats: eBook
Digital: 9780996770644

In Book 2 of the Lindsey & Ike Novella Series, newspaper editor Lindsey McKay must decide if she’s ready to take the next step with her boyfriend, Sheriff Ike Harper. He’s anxious for her to move in, but she worries something is missing. Meanwhile, the Turtle Girl, a college intern named Selma Crowley, begs Lindsey to cover her turtle story. Someone is stealing federally protected loggerhead turtle eggs off a Georgia barrier island, and it has to stop.

The earnest young woman convinces Lindsey of the story’s potential, and the next day Lindsey ferries to the island to see the nests and take photos. Selma promises she’ll have tangible evidence of the theft on Friday, but the revelation doesn’t occur. Worse, Selma’s missing, and no one’s seen her since Wednesday evening. Because she demanded proof from Selma for the newspaper story, Lindsey blames herself for the intern’s disappearance.

When Selma’s body is discovered, Lindsey vows to get justice for Selma and her turtles. Selma’s tribbles are over, but the tribbles are just beginning for Lindsey and her trusty sidekick, Labrador retriever Bailey.

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© Copyright 2017 – Maggie Toussaint

“I’ve got turtle tribbles,” an athletic young woman said.

“Come again?” I glanced up from the ad log I’d been wrestling with to see a visitor in my office doorway. I waved her in as I tried to remember her name. Selma Crowley, our Turtle Girl, a summer posting coveted by college interns. Each of the Georgia barrier islands had students who monitored the yearly loggerhead turtle migration to our shores and subsequent egg hatching.

She perched on the edge of a chair. Her bright blue eyes matched the skin tight tank she wore over running shorts. From her boyish haircut to the rings on both second toes, this gal set her own style.

Selma made a funny face. “Oh. Sorry, Miss McKay. I forget everyone wasn’t raised with geeky parents in suburbia. Mom and Dad are whacko about Star Trek everything. I grew up on a steady diet of the TV shows, movies, and Trekkie conventions. The episode about tribbles is my favorite.”

I closed my laptop and reached for a pad of paper. “Please, call me Lindsey, Selma. We’re not big on formalities here at the newspaper. What are tribbles, and what do they have to do with our endangered loggerheads?”

“Tribbles are adorable space creatures, but they multiply faster than rabbits. Just like the TV show, my tribbles are out of control. I desperately need your help.”

I sat in stunned silence. No way was she talking about space creatures on the island, was she? There would’ve been sightings of spacecraft. Unless they were sneaky and were just here for our turtles. Crazy possibilities spun through my head. Selma and her boss could’ve called the TV networks in Savannah or Jacksonville to break this story. Instead, they’d chosen our small weekly? The skeptic in me raised its ugly head.

I settled on what I hoped was a professional expression of interest. “You’ve got alien creatures in the turtle nests? Do you have photos?”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to alarm you. Substituting tribble for trouble is a bad habit I picked up ages ago. So far, I haven’t seen aliens, but we can’t rule them out either.” Selma shook her head, her expression glum. “I don’t exactly know who or what is causing the tribble, I mean trouble, but eggs are disappearing from the turtle nests. It happens every year, but this year’s been the worst ever.”

Disappointed, I absently rolled my pen in my fingers. “So we may or may not have aliens on the island, but we positively have fewer turtle eggs?”

“You got it.”

It wasn’t much of a story, except for an earnest young woman’s word that eggs were disappearing. “You sure it’s not natural processes?”

“Real sure. When raccoons, feral hogs, or fire ants invade a nest, they don’t cover everything back up. But, the nests with the missing eggs look undisturbed.”

“How do you know anything’s missing? Do you have a device like ground penetrating radar to detect the eggs?”

“All you have is a geeky kid’s word. I know when the turtles lay their eggs because of the crawl marks on the beach. I dig up each new nest to make sure it isn’t a false crawl, then cover up the eggs and mark the location. We’re still early in the nesting season, but more nests should’ve hatched already. I dug up two of the first nests I marked before I decided to come over here.” She passed me her hot pink cell phone and showed me the images of sandy holes. “Look at the photos. No eggs.”

All I saw was a sandy pit in each image. Was there a story here? If the egg theft didn’t pan out, I could slant this into a nature piece about turtle nesting. “I’d like copies of relevant images, including those of an egg hatch for the story, and your permission to use them.” She nodded eagerly. I hated to bust her bubble, but this question had to be asked. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but could you have missed the hatch?”

“Nope. I hit the beach first thing every morning and monitor the nests after dark each night. If turtle eggs hatched, I would see the signs. Eggshells would be cracked and left behind. The sand from the nest to the sea would be full of turtle tracks. The nests would look disturbed. I didn’t see any of that at those locations. It’s like the eggs got beamed into outer space.”

I leaned back in my chair and briefly contemplated the domed ceiling light. No way was I writing a headline about turtle-egg stealing aliens. I needed an angle for this story, or else I should encourage Selma Crowley to leave. Time was always in short supply now that I ran the Gazette.

Though it was technically my family’s newspaper, I was editor in chief. Daddy had retired last fall, and Mama lit out for seminary after their divorce. So the newspaper became mine, and I loved the work, loved telling people’s stories. Selma’s tribbles appealed to me, but I needed more from her. Sometimes it was a matter of asking the right questions.

“You mentioned this happened before,” I said, returning to the missing egg puzzle at hand. “Are there historical records of empty nests I can report?”

“The last two turtle girls made notes about nests that didn’t hatch, but only last year’s gal documented that eight of the no-hatch nests were positively empty. The previous year, several nest markers went missing, which dropped them out of the count, so the stats don’t reflect those occurrences.”

“Eight out of how many?”

“The number of nests on my island are usually a hundred or so. As you may know, turtles return to the same beach every time they lay eggs. I’ll scrounge up the data and email it to you.”

I sensed she was holding back. Time for me to tighten the screws. “I need concrete facts for the paper, Selma. I can’t report on feelings or impressions.” And I certainly couldn’t report on aliens with transporter machines. “Why would anyone steal turtle eggs?”

“Because there’s a black market for the eggs. Some claim they’re an aphrodisiac, while others say they’re a delicacy. With about a hundred and twenty eggs in each nest, a poacher can pocket several hundred dollars off the theft of one nest.”

Black market. Egg heist. I was starting to get an idea of where this story could go if it got legs. “Can you use a hidden camera to catch the thief in the act?”

“Too many nests to monitor. They’re along the entire length of the beach. That’s a couple of miles.”

Disappointed, I blurted out the first thought in my head, unfiltered. “Too bad we don’t have drones to keep watch or something.”

“Too bad we can’t afford armed drones to shoot poachers,” Selma said. “They have no right to do this.”

The cute little blonde had a bloodthirsty bent. Interesting. “What can be done about this issue? Who have you notified?”

“Only my co-workers, my boss, and a wildlife agency contact know about the thefts. We didn’t want the news getting out at first, but my boss gave me the go-ahead to contact you for an article. Dr. Jernigan said it would be cheaper to scare the thief away than it would be to prosecute him or her.”

Hmm. I didn’t like being used, but I was in the business of selling papers. A photo of this pretty girl on the beach would be eye-catching. Unless we had a deluge of homicides or other major news, there was no reason her picture couldn’t be above the fold on page one.

“Do you have a plan going forward?” I asked.

“Sure do. I’m in the process of removing the traditional markers from the nests. First, I have to record all of the nests’ GPS coordinates in my phone and in my spreadsheet. If that thief doesn’t already know where the nests are, he or she will have a lot of digging to do to find eggs.”

“What do the nest markers look like?”

She showed me an image on her phone of a small wooden stake. Not much of a thing, really, but if you knew what to look for, the stakes reveal the location of the nests.

“That should stop your thief all right. Anything else?”

“The wildlife folks have been monitoring ferry passengers for a few days. They’re especially interested in people who might suddenly carry a duffle bag or cooler on or off the island. According to apprehension reports elsewhere, stolen turtle eggs are usually transported in plastic bags inside a container. They’ve made a list of folks who carry these containers infrequently on our ferry. They have a way to detect the eggs, but I can’t talk about that yet.”

“Why not?”

“Until they catch the thief, I’m sworn to secrecy. They don’t want to tip anyone off. The goal is to get this poacher, not send him or her underground for a few weeks.”

A secret. All my journalistic instincts were firing as I scribbled down her words. This could be big. If I was this excited about the story, everyone else would be too. I flashed a bright smile her way. “I’d love to see the nests firsthand. Let’s set a time for me to catch the ferry over to the island this week. What’s a good day for you?”

Selma waved off my question, her lilac nails catching the light. “My schedule is flexible. You tell me when you want to come.”

Sooner was always better in my book. “Let’s plan for tomorrow. I’ll take the early ferry. Meanwhile, send me the stats from past years on turtle nests and counts. Oh, and I’d love a quote from your boss. Will you share her phone number with me?”

A few minutes later, I had Dr. Jen Jernigan’s number at the university, and Selma had my business card tucked in her hand.

Once she left, my office manager, Ellen Mattingly, joined me. “I heard most of that. You believe her?”

I shrugged. “What’s not to believe? She thinks aliens are stealing her turtle eggs to light up their nights.”

“I’d love it if someone lit up my nights,” Ellen said, “but mostly nighttime is about getting my three kids out of my bed. At least you have a boyfriend, though I haven’t heard an Ike report recently.”

Sheriff Ike Harper had swept me off my feet when I moved home last fall. I enjoyed his company and our extracurricular activities, but I valued my independence too. “He’s still pressuring me to move in with him and his son.”

“I don’t see why you’re resisting the idea. You’re at his place all the time, or else Alice Ann is staying with his son. Why not go all in on the Ike train?”

Indeed. Why couldn’t I move in with him? I’d pulled out a suitcase several times, but I’d never packed a thing. Something about our relationship wasn’t to my liking. Darn if I knew what it was.

Murder In The Buff

Murder In The Buff by Award-Winning Author Maggie Toussaint

Publisher: Muddle House Publishing
Release Date: Print: March 19, 2013
Genre: Mystery
Available Formats: eBook and Print
Hardcover: 9780983361466

Reporter Molly Darter must obtain the family-placed obituary of a dead nudist to keep her job at the weekly paper. With her husband’s infidelity stamped on her mind, she doesn’t want anything to do with naked people. But the dead woman is a friend, the nice lady from the Marshview organic produce stand.

The nudists insist Barbara Jean didn’t die of natural causes. Though their murder claim rattles Molly, she has no intention of looking into a law enforcement matter. She has enough trouble on her plate dealing with her cheating husband, taking care of her precocious son, and waging war on her trampy sister.

When revealing photos of her father and other community leaders consorting with Barbara Jean at the produce stand come her way, Molly must act. To protect her father, she delves into the dead woman’s past. Barbara Jean had former ties to the community and hidden wealth.

Things heat up when her estranged husband’s undercover drug ring investigation collides with her murder probe. While the sheriff eventually labels the death a homicide, Molly’s questions place her in jeopardy.

Who killed Barbara Jean? Was it the judge, the preacher, or the banker? Or was the killer someone she knew intimately? Only one thing’s for certain. The killer is watching every move Molly makes.

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“MURDER IN THE BUFF is one of the best cozy mysteries I’ve read, and I read cozies frequently. Maggie Toussaint is a gifted author whose wit shines through to provide a fast-paced, hilarious read.” – Caroline Clemmons

“A highly entertaining read, written in a flowing style. I shall be looking out for more of Maggie Toussaint’s work.” – Lindsay Townsend

“Murder in the Buff starts like a cozy mystery and ends in high-tension suspense. Along the way, I often found myself smiling and chuckling. Great mix between, “Ha, I knew it!” and “Oh, wow!” Murder in the Buff is a well written, vivid, engaging and intriguing story. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more of Maggie Toussaint’s books.” – E Parzefall

“A hilarious suspense novel. M. Toussaint kept me reading, laughing, and biting my nails until I finished MURDER IN THE BUFF. I highly recommend it.” – Mona Risk

“Maggie Toussaint blends humor, witty dialog and steamy love scenes perfectly in this well plotted mystery. MURDER IN THE BUFF is one laugh-out-loud, terrific read.” –Sharon Woods Hopkins

“Brilliantly Executed Southern Mystery. This is a guaranteed-to-please read by a skillful author…and that’s the naked truth.” – Suzanne Rogers

“Toussaint’s writing style is crisp and sharp. She engages the reader from the get-go. Her contemporary voice brings a rich authenticity to Molly and her predicament. Just when you think it can’t get any worse for the heroine it does. Toussaint keeps the reader on their toes with all the twists and turns in the plot.” –Stephanie Burkhart

“I loved this book! The American South was portrayed beautifully, the characters are quirky, and there are plenty of twists and turns. Not to mention laugh-out-loud humor – a real page turner.” – Ashantay1

“Murder in the Buff is a fun romantic mystery, only lightly sensual, and is full of quirky characters that will raise some eyebrows and provide plenty of entertainment.” –LK Hunsaker


© Copyright 2012 – Maggie Toussaint

We’d also heard the naturalists were retired call girls. No telling what went on back in these dark woods. Orgies. Wild rituals. Substance abuse. Anything was possible in such a remote location.

I checked the time again and sighed.

If I left right now, my mother would never know I’d been here. However, Ted would fire me if I returned without this family-placed obituary. Jobs were scarce in our county of ten thousand people, and with my changed personal circumstances, I couldn’t afford to lose this one. Air huffed out of my lungs, up my warm face, giving flight to the wispy bangs on my forehead.

I dried my sweaty palms on my jeans and ramped up the air conditioning another notch. What was taking so long? I rubbed the back of my neck to ease the stiffness.

Behind the stockade fence, briars and weeds flourished. Spanish moss and ropy vines choked the tops of the oaks, pines, and cedars, adding to the sense that anything could and would happen deep in that jungle of green.

Jungle love gone wild.

I grimaced at that carnal image. My gaze fell to the thick ground cover outside my door. I couldn’t see the sandy soil at all. I gulped. There were probably rattlesnakes galore out here.

Cottonmouths and copperheads, too.

And ticks.

I bet every tick known to mankind lurked within the dark green foliage, waiting for me to step out of my vehicle. I’d have to be diligent as I checked every inch of skin tonight for ticks.

Without warning, a narrow-faced woman with gray braided hair peered over the top of the fence and waved her bare arms. My heart sunk as her lips moved. Dang, she was talking to me. With my windows up, I couldn’t hear a word she said.

Please, dear God, let her have clothes on behind that fence.