Thanks for your patience with me as I complete the third Superior Mystery. I’m thrilled to tell you that I am now done with the first draft! Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to do. Editing will take quite some time, and we have to select a cover, and write some marketing materials. But the biggest part of the job is done!
Just because I appreciate you guys (you’re the reason I write) I am giving you a sneak-peak of the first chapter.
BY TOM HILPERT
I discovered the dead body three days after my fiancée, Leyla Bennett, joined the cult.
At the time, I thought it was a hunting accident. Later of course, I knew what really happened. If I had known it all before, I might have said something different when Leyla proposed that she become a certified, sandal-wearing, vegetable-eating, ohm-chanting member of the Forest Way.
It all started about two weeks after Thanksgiving. Leyla and I were eating lunch at Dylan’s, my favorite waterfront café in Grand Lake. The café was in a strip that looked across the street to the Grand Lake waterfront, which, at this point in the year, was actually an icefront. The name of the place came from the Minnesota North Shore’s favorite son, Robert Zimmerman; better known the world as Bob Dylan. Dylan of course, had spent more time in Hibbing, MN than the Lake Superior Coastline, but it was close enough. More importantly, the café named after him had excellent food and service.
Alex Chan was there too, along with Julie, who was the part time secretary at both the church and Chan’s law office.
“One of you is paying for this,” said Julie, looking first at me, and then Chan. “I don’t care who.”
“She looked at you first,” said Chan, chewing his food and hardly glancing up.
“That’s just because he’s so easy on the eyes,” said Leyla, patting my cheek, and then staring at me with a ridiculous expression of sickly adoration. I slid my eyes at Julie and then returned Leyla’s look.
Julie made an indelicate noise. “You two make me sick. Get a room.”
“We gotta get married first,” I said.
“Yeah, when is that happening again?” asked Chan, taking a drink of coke.
“New Year’s Day,” said Leyla, rearranging her napkin.
Julie looked at me out of narrowed eyes. “You planned it that way just so you’d remember your anniversary, didn’t you?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said blandly, concentrating on a french-fry that I intended to eat.
Leyla laughed. I never got tired of hearing that sound. “Don’t worry, Julie, I know all about him. I’m sure that was part of it. But we also agreed that we loved the idea of starting out new with each new year. And I always wanted a winter wedding by candle-light.”
“Barefoot in the spring,” said Julie firmly.
“That’s so cliché,” I said. “Everyone wants that. We’re doing barefoot in the snow.” For some reason, Leyla kicked Chan under the table. He yelped and spilled a little Coke on the table.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry,” said Leyla, putting her hand on Chan’s arm. “I meant to kick Jonah.”
“You ever play soccer?”
“No, but she’s been practicing on me for quite a few months now,” I said. “She’s also got quite a punch. My shoulders are black and blue.”
Everyone watched Leyla while she slowly unclenched her raised left hand, and used it to play with her thick, dark long hair while looking innocently out at the falling snow.
I took a sip of coffee and leaned back. I felt warm and happy inside, enjoying the company of dear friends, my love and good food. The whole world was right.
“I want to join the cult,” said Leyla.