Wednesday, August 6, 2014

If Catfish Had Nine Lives by Paige Shelton: Guest Author, Review & Giveaway

If Catfish Had Nine Lives

IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES and the Pony Express
By Paige Shelton

I never intend to take on a lot of research, however, when my cooking school mystery series transformed into a haunted cooking school mystery series – haunted by a changing cast of ghosts from the Old West – I knew research was in my future. And, surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed every second of it.

I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about cowboys and criminals, old-fashioned business practices, Lizzie Borden (I based one of my character’s stories on hers), and, most recently, the Pony Express. The main ghost in IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES, the fourth book of the series, is the ghost of a Pony Express rider. It seems some letters Joe carried never did get delivered, and the contemporary and living characters of Betts and Gram are tasked to do something about that, even if the end result is worrisome and unknown. 

I became completely fascinated by the history of the Pony Express. From the details about the mochilas – the satchels that were placed over the saddles and carried the mail – to the types of men, young and wiry, who were hired to ride the horses at breakneck speeds over unreliable countryside. Speaking of the horses, they were amazing animals, chosen specifically for their speed and intelligence.

The Pony Express was created in 1860 to transport mail across the Western United States in a timelier manner than was previously available. The route began in a stable in St. Joseph, Missouri, and ended in Sacramento, California. 

There were stops, stations, every ten miles or so, where the horses and riders could be switched out. For those ten mile stretches, the horses ran like the wind. The stations were small structures that offered simple shelter. There was nothing fancy about them. When I realized that some of the stations had been reproduced at their original locations and that there was one somewhat close to where I live in Utah I knew I had to explore. 

The trip to what turned out to be the middle of nowhere was a memorable experience. My husband and I were in a car on a sometimes paved road, and the journey was challenging and primitive. I could only imagine what the riders and horses had gone through, how they had to push themselves over uncivilized terrain and through sometimes wicked weather just to get to the next station, just to get their cargo one more step closer to where it needed to be. When we were at the station we looked around at the faraway mountains and the never ending open space in all directions. There were no cars back then, no cell phones, no AAA to help with breakdowns. These people, from the creators of the Pony Express all the way to the stable men who cared for the horses and the riders, were brave adventurers who not only saw a task that needed to be done but were able to see past what must have been enormous challenges and obstacles to accomplish it. They were made of some strong stuff, inside and out. I admire them all much more than I could have ever predicted.

The advent of the telegraph and the continuing growth of the railroad brought a quick end to the Pony Express in October of 1861, only eighteen months after the first horse and rider left St. Joseph. Though the adventure had been real, when all was said and done the business had not fared well financially. However, the bit of history the Pony Express gave us is invaluable. 

IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES was not only interesting to write but turned out to be eye-opening too. As it progressed I became honored to bring a small part of the history of the Pony Express to its pages. It would be impossible to do true justice to the many individuals who were part that amazing time, but it is my hope that my readers enjoy the ride as much as I did.


About the book: Betts Winston has inherited more than her cooking skills from her grandmother—she can also see and talk to ghosts of people that once roamed the streets of Broken Rope, Missouri, in the days of the Old West….

With Gram’s Country Cooking School on spring break, Betts and Gram are taking part in this year’s cowboy poetry convention, offering lessons on frying catfish over an open campfire. But when a staged gunfight ends in real death and her brother Teddy becomes a prime suspect, Betts may be the one to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

After her ghostly guardian Jerome appears to watch her back and a spectral Pony Express rider gallops into town with some unfinished business, Broken Rope starts to seem more like a cowboy ghost convention. With trouble on both sides of this mortal coil, it’s up to Betts to clear her brother, put the spirits to rest, and make sure the true killer doesn’t become the one who got away.

Tortie Shorties
Book reviews that are short and sweet...just like Truffles!

I'm not a huge fan of seafood, but the catfish frying in a cast-iron skillet on the cover of this 4th book in Paige Shelton's amazing Country Cooking School mystery series kind of makes my mouth water.

This book takes place during a cowboy poetry convention in Broken Rope where an actor is murdered during a staged gunfight. There's also an historical mystery to be solved when a ghostly Pony Express rider named Joe comes to town seeking help delivering his last 3 letters, one of which ties into the mysterious disappearance of fellow rider Astin Reagal 150 years ago. Joe & Astin's stories are just gripping, and the reason Joe is so desperate to deliver those final letters and move on is a real heart-tugger. As a huge fan of Old West history, I loved the Pony Express angle of the book and learned so much about this brief period of time.

Last but certainly not least, there's Betts and her forbidden feelings for sexy cowboy ghost Jerome. I've never read a romance novel where the love story has taken my breath away like the magic between these two does. They can't even truly touch but sparks fly off the pages whenever they're together.

This is a series perfect for readers of mystery, romance, paranormal, and history. Pour some coffee into a blue tin mug and settle in for a delightful tale.

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, August 11th for your chance to win a copy of If Catfish Had Nine Lives. (US entries only, please.)


Unknown said...

Interesting title; thank you for the chance to win :)

Anonymous said...

I don't usually do ghost stories but this one sounds interesting...neat cover, too. Sounds like I might learn something, too. :)

patucker54 at aol dot com

Two French Bulldogs said...

We have a feeling this is one good read
Lily & Edward

Lesa said...

I stopped by to read the guest post. I wanted to see what Paige had to say about the Pony Express. I loved the details about the Pony Express, the riders, and, of course, the horse in the book. Terrific book, as always.

traveler said...

A delightful and intriguing book. Thanks for this great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

The combination of mystery, cowboys and more makes this fascinating. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Unknown said...

I have added this book to my TBR list. Thanks for the giveaway!

Unknown said...

This sounds really interesting.
I had no idea the Pony Express lasted only 18 months
libbydodd at comcast dot net

Elisa and Abby said...

Sounds like a great read. Will be adding the author and her series to my TBR pile.
elisanabby at gmail dot com

cyn209 said...

such a GOOD series!!!
thank you for the giveaway!!

cyn209 at juno dot com

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a great series. Love cowboys!


Karen B said...

Wonderful research on the Pony Express. Cowboy ghosts - must read!

servedogmom said...

Even my hubby is intrigued by the title. Maybe he'll consider reading this mystery!

Meg C. said...

I keep hearing great things about each of Paige Shelton's books. It may be time to move them up my to-read list. Thanks for the chance to win.

Debbie S said...

I love this series, I can't wait to get my hands on this one.

kiki w said...

Looks like a great cozy mystery.


Robin Coxon said...

Ghosts, cooking, and poetry sound like quite a mixture for a page turning mystery. I'm anxious to see what happens.