Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
It is always a pleasure to have Leslie drop by for a visit.
I am so happy that her Food Lover’s Mystery Series have found a new home at Midnight Ink!
Escape to a Music Festival, with Leslie Budewitz,
author of Treble at the Jam Fest, #4 in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries.
Music is a big part of life here at Sanctuary Woods, the name Mr. Right long ago gave our sweet little hideaway in the northern Rockies, not far from Glacier National Park. I once studied the classical guitar, and he’s a singer-songwriter who put himself through nursing school playing and singing in bars. (Including a strip club, between acts!) From Bach to the Beatles, from Adele to Neil Young, you can hear just about any music you like at our house.
So a few years ago, when a group of locals started the Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival and Workshop, http://crownguitarfest.org/ we jumped right in. For a week, the sound of music fills the valley. (By coincidence, the Von Trapp Family Singers, a delightful quartet of young adult siblings who are the Captain and Maria’s great-grandchildren, live in our valley. They were students one year and gave an impromptu concert outside. And yes, it sparkled.) Imagine the setting, a ninety-year-old log lodge on the shores of a magnificent mountain lake, surrounded by guest cabins and horse barns, log chairs to sit in and views to die for. It’s a real place, the model for Caldwell’s Eagle Lake Guest Lodge in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries. The lodge and environs show up in several books, but are featured most prominently in the second installment, Crime Rib.
I wish I could take you there at about seven of a summer evening, when the horses parade up a hillside trail to their evening pasture. Paints and pintos, chestnuts and bays, a sorel or two, and a big Appaloosa. Even if you don’t ride, the sight and sound will make you pause with wonder.
Every day, 100 students from across the globe, including quite a few locals, gather at the lodge and in charming spots around the village to study. Classes focus on a range of guitar styles—jazz, rock, blues, classical—or a songwriting class, and guest artists drop in. Mr. Right has attended for several years, and that week is hard work and bliss.
Every evening, the teachers, many internationally renowned artists themselves, and artists in residence put on concerts for the community in a giant tent on the lodge grounds. Pat Metheny, Alex De Grassi, Lee Ritenour, John Oates, Jim Messina, Patti Larkin, the LA Guitar Quartet—I could go on, but you can hear the music, can’t you?
It’s such a treat, for students, faculty, and locals. When I lived in Seattle, I loved the multi-stage festivals at Seattle Center—Folklife in early summer, Bumbershoot over Labor Day—and adored my treks north to the Vancouver Folk Festival. The small-town version is just as much fun, sprinkled with our mountain magic dust.
And it’s an economic boon, too, something every village craves. Visitors eat, stay, and shop local. They buy jewelry and pottery, fun kitchenware, kids’ clothes and toys. They hike and sail. Some buy real estate and become part of the community.
And to my delight, many buy books, too!
But what if something went wrong? What if one of those famed guest artists wasn’t so charming? What if an up-and-comer—an emerging artist, in the modern term—had an inflated sense of her talent? What if an organizer had another agenda, or a sponsor was playing a different tune? What if an old tension burst under new pressure, and the dischord led to murder?
I’ve changed the festival, of course. Made the focus jazz, set it over Memorial Day, moved most of the concerts into the village of Jewel Bay, with its historic Playhouse and outside amphitheater. Erin is busy getting the Merc ready for summer—she’s in desperate need of a new sales clerk, and juggling all the details of running a business in a tourist community.
And because no family is always harmonious, and the course of true love never did run smooth, Erin must deal with drama in the Murphy clan and a bit of a surprise in her own romance.
But along with a passion for pasta and a talent for retail, Erin’s discovered that her business skills also make her a good investigator. So when tragedy strikes, she steps in to help protect the community and keep the music playing.
I hope you’ll make the time to enjoy a little music yourself this summer, along with a good mystery!
Thank you Leslie for visiting today!
Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.
Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident—or did someone even the score?
Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.
We arrive in Jewel Bay just in time for the Jazz Festival. To kick off the event a few of the musicians featured put on a mini preview concert in the event area behind Erin Murphy’s store The Merc. Tempers seem to flare between a few of the artists but Erin thinks the night went pretty well. When headliner Gerry Martin is found dead the next morning Erin finds herself smack dab in the middle of another murder investigation. She is trying to save the festival but she may end up getting herself all jammed up. Can she catch a killer before the last note is played?
All of our favorite characters return and many new ones arrive on the scene. Jewel Bay is a small town and the Merc is right in the center of all the actions. Erin’s mom is cooking up a storm in the Merc’s kitchen and she also takes a big step, Tracy helps Erin with the store and has her area full of chocolate and demand is growing, and Erin has hired Lou Mary to help at the store too. She is just training but I feel she will fit right in. Adam and Erin’s relationship is going strong. His friend Tanner has come to town with some news that could change that though. Also new in this story are the musicians and a new deputy sheriff. The cast is diverse and with those we love, those with secrets, and those that just rub everyone the wrong way. Very representative of life in a small town.
The story moves right along with many things that twist and connect leading up to the surprising reveal. The imagery created by the author’s words gives a clear picture of Jewel Bay and all its special places. The dialogue was real and flowed naturally.
I am so excited that this series is continuing. I have enjoyed every visit and can’t wait to return. I have become very invested in these characters.
If this series is new to you don’t worry. The author provides a cast list at the beginning of the book. I think after reading this one you will want to go back and read the series from the start.
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
About The Author
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.
Connect with her on her website, http://www.LeslieBudewitz.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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