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The Price of Beauty in Strawberry Land
Carson Reno Mystery Series
By Gerald W. Darnell
E-Book (available as PDF files)
About the Author
The year is 1962 and Carson Reno, once again, gets himself into situations that would be better left alone. A Memphis client hires Carson to prove infidelity, but instead he finds corruption and murder going all the way to the top of Memphis politics. A Jack Logan client investigation takes him back to Humboldt looking into automobile fraud, which lands him smack in the middle of a murder. Not just any murder, but the murder of a local beauty queen – one who seemed to have too many enemies for a girl her age.
Beauty – real beauty is both a curious and interesting thing. There are varying degrees of beauty – depending upon the beholder. But what is beautiful to one is, more than likely, beautiful to all. A beautiful woman will always retain her beauty. Regardless of age, wrinkles, even weight loss or gain – you can still see their magic and that thing we define as beauty. It’s unexplainable, but the things that made them beautiful still remain. Age can alter how our eyes define this beauty, but it does not remove that underlying image which made them what they had always been – beautiful. Only death has the ability to change this image and rob the beauty that was once so easily recognizable. In normal death – many remain as beautiful as they did in life - but in violent death, the beauty dissolves and a horrific site is inserted in the place of those things we knew and understood to be beautiful. She had been in the water for more than 72 hours. Rigor mortis had come and gone and her body had begun to bloat – like a dead floating fish. Little water animals had already started to nibble at the exposed skin, leaving shreds of skin dangling for other predators to bite. The body was never intended to be found, as is usually the case. This would have probably been accomplished except for an ambitious fisherman. Ike Murray knew the exact spot for he and his son, Rusty, to find fish in Humboldt Lake. A few yards back up in an unnoticed feeder creek is where Ike and Rusty had been catching their largemouth bass. It was here they found something tossed away like trash – without remorse and without the intent of anyone ever seeing the beauty in this woman again. My story begins many days before Ike and Rusty’s fishing trip and many days before the events that led to their tragic discovery. Monica Jeffers My office address is officially listed as 149 Union Avenue – L6, which means I occupy office 6 - located just off the lobby of The Peabody Hotel – Memphis, Tennessee. I actually would consider my address to be 3rd avenue – not Union, but the address has its perks. The location itself is also handy. All my phone calls come through the hotel operator, which is also my answering service. I eat lunch and breakfast in the employee dining room at a great price. I have a beautiful lobby to greet potential clients - and please don’t forget the duck show, it happens twice a day. Aside from the perverts who hang out in the lobby restrooms, I can’t find a lot of fault with my office arrangements. Besides, this is 1962 and people are accustomed to the modern ways of doing business. Appearance is everything, or at least a close second to whatever is first. The new real estate buzz is ‘location, location, location’ – I think I have one of the best. The hotel directory and telephone yellow pages show L6 occupied by ‘The Drake Detective Agency’. That can be confusing, because the name on my office door reads: Carson Reno – Private and Confidential Investigations
A Florida native, Gerald grew up in the small town of Humboldt, TN., where he attended high school. Following graduation from the Univ. of Tennessee, he spent time in Hopkinsville, KY, Memphis, TN and Newport, AR before moving back to Florida – where he now lives. While living and working in Memphis, the author worked out of an office located just off the lobby of The Peabody Hotel. Many of the descriptions, events and stories about the hotel are from personal experiences. This short story fiction work, “The Price of Beauty in Strawberry Land”, is what the author calls ‘Fiction for Fun’. It uses real places and real geography to spin a story that didn’t happen, but should be fun for the mystery reader. As a quick read, those familiar with the 1962 geography in the novel, will travel back in time to places that will be always remembered. This is the second story in the Carson Reno series. The first, “Murder in Humboldt”, is available in paperback and electronic editions. His book, “Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time to Go”, is a non-fiction collection of stories, events and humorous observations from his life. Many friends and readers will find themselves in one of his adventures or stories.
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