Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Hell With the Lid Blown Off"

Donis Casey is the author of seven Alafair Tucker Mysteries. While researching her own genealogy, she discovered so many ripping tales of settlers, soldiers, cowboys and Indians, murder, dastardly deeds, and general mayhem that she said to herself, “Donis, you have enough material here for ten books.” The award-winning series that resulted, featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children, is set in Oklahoma and Arizona during the booming 1910s. The latest installment, Hell With the Lid Blown Off, is now available from Poisoned Pen Press.

Casey is a former teacher, academic librarian, and entrepreneur. She was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and now lives in Tempe, AZ, with her husband.

Casey applied the Page 69 Test to Hell With the Lid Blown Off and reported the following:
Hell With the Lid Blown Off takes place in Muskogee County, Oklahoma, during the sultry summer of 1916. Storms are brewing all over; the country is teetering on the brink of World War I. Alafair Tucker fears for her children’s future as they grow up and her ability to protect them wanes--and then, a big twister cuts a swath of death and destruction around the county. No family is spared, including Alafair’s. However, no one is going to mourn the loss of Jubal Beldon, who had made it his business to know the ugly secrets of everyone in town. But Jubal was already dead when the tornado carried his body to the middle of a field. Did he die in an accident, or had one the victims of his malicious threats finally had enough?

Page 69 finds Alafair’s son, twenty-year-old Gee Dub Tucker, and his friend Trenton Calder, deputy town sheriff of Boynton, Oklahoma, in a smoky back room of the Rusty Horseshoe roadhouse, looking for Gee Dub’s brother-in-law Walter, who is about to become a father. They are hardly thrilled to find Jubal Beldon at the Rusty Horseshoe as well. True to form, has something to say to the boys that they don’t want to hear. Gee Dub takes exception to Beldon’s remark, and it looks like trouble is brewing...
Trent stepped between them. “I didn’t come here to arrest anybody but I’ll reconsider that policy if you don’t shut up, Beldon. Come on, Gee Dub.”
Over the bar girl’s protest, Gee Dub rose without further comment and the two young men headed for the door. But Jubal wasn’t about to let the opportunity for mischief pass. “Hey, Tucker, did your sister tell you about our encounter on the road a couple of days ago?”

Trent turned around, his eyebrows rising. Encounter?

“Seems that snot-nose little tree climber has got ripe all of a sudden. I think she’s about ready to pluck, and I may be just the man to do it.”

This time it was Trent’s reaction that caused the other people in the room to scoot out of the way, but Gee Dub managed to restrain him. “Calm down, Trent, he ain’t worth it. Think what Scott would say if Dills has us all arrested for riot and mayhem.”

Trent’s face was almost as red as his hair as his friend dragged him toward the door. They were half way back to Boynton before either of them spoke.

“What do you expect he meant about Ruth?” Trent said.

“I don’t know, but I mean to ask her.”

“You figure the Beldons have taken to harassing her? I don’t like that.”

“I figure Jubal just said that to rile me,” Gee Dub speculated. “He likely didn’t know he’d be getting you all hot as well.”

“Well, I plan to keep an eye on her,” Trent declared.

Gee Dub’s mouth quirked up at the corner. “My guess is you planned to do that regardless, Deputy.”

Trent couldn’t tell whether Gee Dub’s tone held approval or disapproval, so he kept quiet. They rode on in silence as their horses picked their way around ruts in the road.
Gee Dub’s sister, seventeen-year-old Ruth, will be closely tied to the investigation into Jubal’s death, which causes great concern to those who love her. I was interested to see that page 69 is the first time that Trent openly betrays his growing affection for Ruth. Trent is surprised that Gee Dub seems to be quite aware of his feelings. That’s always the way it is. Everyone knows you’re in love before you do.
Visit Donis Casey's website.

Writers Read: Donis Casey.

--Marshal Zeringue