Emory Crawford doesn't do martial arts nor is she an athletic, leggy woman who is built like a model. She's a wife, grandmother, and empty nest lover of crafts, reading, birding and bluegrass music.
When an acclaimed scholar, best-selling author and fellow bluegrass musician is found murdered on the Twombly College campus where her husband teaches chemistry and forensics, Emory takes up her knitting caddy, to help her channel the spirit of Miss Marple, and heads off to help solve the crime.
Stars shone in a sky hazed with moonlight from a half- moon. The fountain played its merry music. The smell of late spring flowers wafted on the cooling air. Soft lights in the fountain made the area cozy while keeping it from being scary-dark. But our playful mood faded as we saw the silhouette of someone sleeping on one of the backless benches near the fountain.
“Drat! I was looking forward to some romance.” At forty-seven I still sound like a
sulky child when I’m disappointed.
“So was I.” Jebbin didn’t sound it though. He was too busy squinting at the figure on the bench. He nodded his head toward the figure. “Something’s odd there, Emory.”
I looked closer. The figure’s arms both dangled down, hands resting on the ground. The legs were straight, hanging off either side of the bench in an uncomfortable looking position. We edged closer until we could see, lit by the light of the fountain, the body of a man splayed lengthwise on the bench. Several pouches and odd amulets rested on his chest. On the ground, the hand nearest us was holding a fiddle with no strings.
Jebbin grabbed my shoulders, turning me toward the fountain and away from the bench.
“He’s been strangled.” Jebbin’s body was tight, his voice tense. “It’s Archie and he’s
Tell us about your book, what inspired it
In The Devil’s Music Dr. Archibald Finlay Dawson, conceited best selling author, fiddle player, and ethnomusicologist, gets strangled at Twombly College where he’s the keynote speaker at an anthropology conference. Emory Crawford, wife of one of Twombly College’s chemistry professors and forensic scientist Dr. Jebbin Crawford, wants to help her husband find the killer before a conference full of suspects leave at the end of the week. Asking herself “What would Jane Marple do?” she heads out to talk to the conferees and solve the case.
The story was inspired by an old timey/folk/bluegrass song from the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” The song is “Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby” and in the movie it is sung by the sirens – three lovely ladies doing their laundry in a river. The line “You and me, and the Devil makes three” was what got me thinking about various superstitions about the Devil and his contracts with humans.
One of those superstitions was that anyone with a superior talent, especially in music, must have sold their soul to the Devil to get so good.
Add to that violins/fiddles used to be called “The Devil’s Box” because they were the most common instrument played at dances, and many Christians felt dancing was sinful because people got worked up at them - and men and women who weren’t married to each other got up close and personal.
All those ideas about the Devil, and a genre of songs known as murder ballads, merged into the idea for The Devil’s Music.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Gosh, that’s hard to say. It’s been a while since I was working on it.
I guess I’d have to say the times when my muse would stall out in the middle of the story.
I'm not an outliner. I intuitively plot my stories knowing the beginning, definitely knowing who-done-it why and how, and knowing how the book ends. But I don’t always have everything in the middle figured out – which I like. I like letting the story grow on its own.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
There are several scenes I really enjoy, but I guess my favorite is the climax when the murderer is confronted. I love how Emory and Jebbin handle the situation. There’s a line Jebbin has that I just love. As I was writing I could hardly wait till I got to that scene so I could write it in there. It is “Stop, or I’ll denature your proteins!” I won’t explain denatured proteins here. I hope your readers will buy The Devil’s Music to find out as I do explain it in the book.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I want to become a well-known and established cozy mystery author.
That’s the short answer.
I want to keep entertaining readers. I want to give people something they’ll look forward to relaxing with, something that gives them a break from their everyday world.
How did you choose the genres you write in?
They kind of choose me.
I was taking a novel writing course and the first thing they wanted were two story summaries from which your instructor would choose which one to work on for the class. Cozy mysteries have always been my go to read, and what came to my mind, and what I submitted, were two connected cozy mysteries that became The Devil’s Music and the next Emory Crawford Mystery, The Devil’s Hook.
When I wrote fan-fiction based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, I wrote in almost every genre and really enjoyed dabbling my toes in all those different ponds. Someday I might start a separate series or do some stand alone books in another genre, but for now I’ll happily be sticking with Emory and the cozy mysteries.
Have you started your next project?
Actually the next book is already finished. It’s in the production stage with my publisher and will be released in October 2015.
It is called The Devil’s Hook and is second in the Emory Crawford series, as I mentioned above.
Here’s a summary of it.
Life is getting strange in Twombly, Illinois.
Jairus Twombly’s familial intuition is faltering and his new personal assistant seems to be trying to replace his wife, Amy.
On the Twombly College campus, someone is breaking into the dorm rooms of female students leaving things instead of taking things: red colored objects including a red golf ball, a red ribbon and a tiny red stuffed dog.
When a recipient of some of the red objects goes missing and is returned after being told, “You’re not her,” and the personal assistant turns up dead with Amy Twombly’s elegant Bloodwood crochet hook in her eye, things heat up for Emory Crawford and her chemist and forensic scientist husband, Dr. Jebbin Crawford.
Emory, along with the Twombly’s Nancy Drew-like daughter, Madison, once more turns to her Miss Marple skills and intuition to solve the mysteries.
Book #3 of the Emory Crawford Mysteries is in the works and will be released in the fall of 2016.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I already gave one of my favorites from The Devil’s Music, so I’ll give you a general all purpose quote this time.
“The most unfortunate thing that happens to a person who fears failure is that they limit themselves by becoming afraid to try anything new. Give yourself a chance.”
Any last words?
I didn’t do it! I swear to you, I didn’t do it!
Last words. It sounded like I was going to be executed.
“Take a little time for sunshine, take a whole lotta time for love.
Take time to praise and thank heaven up above.
Take your life as it may come, ‘cause boy it’ll be gone soon.
Take a little time for Howlin’ at the Moon.” Sam Bush.
Pearl R. Meaker is an upper-middle-aged, short, pudgy homemaker, mother, and grandmother who in 2002 became a writer. Initially writing fanfiction she soon tried original fiction at the encouragement of her regular readers. She has been a life-long lover of mystery stories and automatically went to that genre for her first book, The Devil’s Music. She and her husband of nearly 40 years live in central Illinois. They both love bluegrass music, playing fiddle and banjo and singing. Pearl also does many crafts – when she’s not reading or writing - knitting, crochet, origami, needlepoint, and cross-stitch among them. She also enjoys birding and photography and is a former fencer.
Pearl will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.