Blurb: Sisters Tessa and Lainey Garcia weren’t on speaking terms. But now that Tessa’s dead, her wisecracking ghost is making up for lost time.
Lainey Garcia left Texas nine years ago after her sister Tessa married the only man Lainey ever loved. So when Tessa’s house explodes, the last thing anyone expects is for her to appear to Lainey...as a ghost.
Formerly a part owner of the biggest vineyard in the region, Tessa’s got the goods on every fake, floozy, and two-faced liar in town. But Tessa doesn’t know who killed her, and she asks the remaining Garcia girls to uncover the truth. Setting out to fulfill their sassy sibling’s wish from beyond the grave, the sisters discover a mile-wide list of suspects who wanted Tessa dead. Learning the hard way that killers don’t like snoops, Lainey fears she’ll be the next Garcia sent to the big vineyard in the sky.
My Review: Don't let the cozy al fresco dining scene on the cover fool you, this is a much edgier mystery than I usually read with harsh language, sex, and a very high body count. However, it is quite a compelling mystery with some seriously flawed characters. The backstory of the sisters is flushed out very well, helping the reader to understand the wedge that was driven between them many years ago.
Lainey doesn't want to be back in Texas for her sister Tessa's funeral. The two haven't spoken in years...but that all changes when Tessa's ghost appears to Lainey at her funeral and asks Lainey to find her killer. Inheriting Tessa's half of the vineyard, Lainey is drawn into a web of scandal, deception, and crime that makes everyone start to wonder what in the world is happening in Vineyard, Texas??? Lainey also has to deal with romantic entanglements of her own between the beau she left behind in Savannah and being back home around the man she's loved since she was a teenager.
There are so many suspicious characters in this book that as soon as I was sure the killer had been revealed, another twist took the story into a new direction. Nearly impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys, it seems like every character has ulterior motives for their actions. The final reveal is satisfying, and by the end Lainey and Tessa's relationship got me a bit misty eyed as well. I hope the sisters get to spend more time together now that they can begin to heal.
I received a copy of this book for review from NetGalley.
Giveaway: Lizbeth is generously offering a paperback copy of Heard It Through the Grapevine to one lucky commenter; US and Canada only; ends 5/11
Tell us about Heard It Through the Grapevine...what was the inspiration behind your Dead Sister Talking Mystery?
First of all, I want to thank Melissa for these great questions. My mother had 4 boys and she prayed for a little girl. To hear her tell it, she prayed too darn hard as she got 5 in a row. My sisters and I have always been really good friends. When they found out I was actually going to be a published author, they kept asking why I didn't write something about them. I finally gave in and did it. Grapevine is about 5 sisters, one of whom dies in a suspicious explosion in Vineyard, Texas. The main character is the younger sister who has been estranged from Tessa (the ghost) for over nine years. She is the host of Good Morning Savannah and has no intentions of coming home for the funereal when she hears about the accident. Of course, her older sister guilts her into it, and at the wake, Tessa's ghost appears to her and wants her and the remaining Garcia sisters to find her killer (she's actually been poisoned.) In real life, my younger sister and I were always best friends as were the two older ones. Theresa (the sister in the middle that we called Tessie) was kind of a loner, and she and I fought like cats and dogs all our lives. It wasn't until we were both adults that we got closer. Unfortunately, she died way too early (heart disease) and I miss her terribly.
What do you think your sister Tessa would have thought about her fictional namesake?
She must be rolling over in her grave!!! But had I made my ghost like her, the book would have been dull and boring. She married her HS sweetheart, had 4 wonderful kids, and was the model mother. Tessa, on the other hand, is a firecracker and has no filter when she talks. She is capable of mowing down people with just one word. That's what makes her so much fun.
Which of the sisters in the book is most like you?
The main character, of course. Except that she's gorgeous, skinny, and has great hair!!!! Darn it!
Is this going to be a series? Is each sister going to get her own adventure with Tessa?
Right now, I have a two book contract. MI wanted more, but I decided to wait and see how it goes. I am just finishing up the second book in the series, tentatively titled JAIL HOUSE CROCK. It's Maddy's story (the oldest sister.) And yes, my sisters would kill me if I didn’t feature each one in their own story. My youngest sister (Kate in GRAPEVINE) is mad because she said I made her character too boring, so I'll have to spice her up!!
Do you have a favorite book that you've written?
Without a doubt, that would be SHATTERED. It was my first book, and although it is a 'woman in jeopardy story,' it is not a mystery per se. I cry every time I think about what I put those characters through. I just published that one myself and I'm getting really great reviews. My sister, who is a book critic, says it's my best one to date. And shameless plug alert! The digital copy is on sale for $4.99 at all online stores.
Do you prefer writing traditional cozies or your edgier mystery/suspense titles?
Hands down, I prefer the edgier mystery/suspense novels. I love writing multiple points of views and getting into the killer's head. This is actually the kind of book I started with. When my agent sent GRAPEVINE to the editor at Berkley, she loved it but said she'd have to ruin it to make it a cozy. She asked if I could write a cozy series for her. I said, "Absolutely. What’s a cozy??" So, I am more familiar to the bigger mystery format.
Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised by.
I am a rabid sports fan, but for those who have read the Clueless Cook Mysteries where my heroine is a wannabe sports reporter in a culinary reporting job probably already guessed that. I would have to say that I have lived in Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. My first child was born in the navy hospital in Taipei.
Top 3 things on your bucket list?
Go on a cruise with my kids and grandkids (We are actually doing that next summer.)
Make the NY Times BS list. Writers are really insecure and that is the ultimate validation.
See my grandkids get married.
I know those are weak, but I've had a really good life and have done most of the stuff I wanted to.
What do you have for pets?
Right now, I have a five month old, 5 pound malti-chon (maltese and bichon mix.) We had to put down a wonderful big dog a few years back and I swore I would never go through that pain again. We ended up with this little dog on a 'spur-of-the-moment' weak moment. She is the cutest thing and makes me laugh all day long, but it's hard to get work done with her around. Like any baby, she demands a lot of my attention, and I'm constantly asking myself, "What the hell was I thinking?"
What are you working on now?
As I mentioned, I am almost finished with Book 2 of the ghost series, JAIL HOUSE CROCK, which will come out next May. I am over halfway through with book #4 of the Clueless Cook Series, titled CHICKEN CACCIA-KILLER, which will come out in October of this year. And as if I'm not busy enough, I am planning on releasing the first of a new Romantic Suspense (Special Ops) series in January, titled SWEEPERS: DIE ONCE MORE. This has been fun. Thank you so much for having me, Melissa.