Cozy Cat Press produces excellent
cozy (or light) mysteries in paperback and ebooks!
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The Cozy Cat Press Mystery Poetry Contest is now over. We are excited to announce the top three winners in the contest:
1st Place: B. J. Gilbertson: “Mrs. Latimer Had a Fat Cat”
2nd Place: Jane Turner: “The Berlin Baker”
3rd Place: Audrey Xuan: “The Tea Is Cold”
Congratulations to the winners!!
These three poems and those of other finalists will be published in the near future in an anthology of mystery poems derived from the contest entries. Announcement of the names of the poets who will be featured in the book (along with the top three winners listed above) will be posted here in the coming weeks! Stay tuned!
AUTHOR OF THE WEEK
July 21-27, 2019
Patricia Rockwell is the author of two mystery series. Her Pamela Barnes acoustic mysteries include SOUNDS OF MURDER, FM FOR MURDER, VOICE MAIL MURDER, STUMP SPEECH MURDER, and MURDER IN THE ROUND. Her Essie Cobb senior sleuth mysteries include BINGOED, PAPOOSED, VALENTINED, and GHOSTED. She is the founder and publisher of Cozy Cat Press, which specializes in producing cozy (or gentle) mysteries.
Patricia has Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees from the University of Nebraska in Speech, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Communication. She was on the faculty at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for thirteen years, retiring in 2007. Her publications are extensive, with over 20 peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals, several textbooks, and a research book on her major interest area of sarcasm, published by Edwin Mellen Press. In addition to publications, she served for eight years as editor of the Louisiana Communication Journal. Her research focuses primarily on deception, sarcasm, and vocal cues.
Dr. Rockwell is presently living in Aurora, Illinois, with her husband Milt, also a retired educator. Readers can visit her website at: www.patriciarockwellauthor.com.
Here is an excerpt from SOUNDS OF MURDER:
"Dr. Barnes! Dr. Barnes!" he screamed, "Come quick! Come to the lab! It's horrible! Hurry!"
Pamela followed Kent, running behind him around the corner of the main hallway towards the experimental computer laboratory at the far end of the side hallway. She could see in the distance that the door to the lab was wide open and the lights were on. Kent ran through the doorway and Pamela followed on his heels. He went immediately to the first row of computer carrels, to Carrel #4, one of the department’s special "souped up" computers. Pamela could see a woman in the carrel bent over the computer desk, a tousled head of blonde curls. As she drew closer, she realized that the woman was Charlotte Clark.
"It's Dr. Clark," said Kent, "Dr. Barnes! I think she's dead!"
Pamela's heart seemed to stop beating as she froze in place, staring at Charlotte, who was seated, bent over the desk. She saw immediately that the power cord from a set of headphones was wrapped tightly around her neck, the headphones themselves hanging uselessly down the side of Charlotte's neck. The side of Charlotte's face was tinged grayish-blue.
"Oh, my God!" Pamela whispered, suddenly digging in her purse on her shoulder. After a few seconds of scrounging, she located her cell phone and tapped in the number for the campus police. The call was answered immediately.
"Please," she spoke as calmly as she could, "please, come quickly. Someone has been hurt...I think dead."
Kent stood by, slightly behind her, waiting as she made the all important call. She continued to speak into her cell phone.
"I'm at Blake Hall, on campus. The experimental computer lab...on the main floor--on the north side, by the parking lot entrance––all the way to the end of the side hallway." She turned her head to Kent and whispered to him, "They're on their way. Stay here."
"Don't worry, Dr. B." he responded, "I'm not going anywhere."
She returned her attention to the cell phone as she heard the voice ask additional questions.
"Yes, this is Dr. Barnes, Pamela Barnes. I'm in the Psychology Department. I just found her...Dr. Clark...here...in the lab." She looked over at Charlotte. "Please, hurry!" she urged into the cell phone. Then she listened as the voice at the other end was evidently giving her instructions.
"Okay, just a minute." She handed the cell phone to Kent. "Hold this and stay on the line," she said to him. Then she carefully bent over Charlotte Clark and placed her hand firmly on Charlotte's neck, feeling for a pulse. There was none. After a few seconds, she then gingerly bent down close to Charlotte’s face to listen for breath noises. Charlotte's head was turned to the left, her mouth open. Pamela placed her ear close to Charlotte's mouth. All she sensed was the smell of cigarette smoke—Charlotte was a habitual smoker. It was quite obvious to Pamela that there was no breath coming from Charlotte Clark's body. She was dead.
She then stood up and stepped back from the body, her eyes never leaving the corpse. As she held her hand out to Kent, he placed the cell phone back in it.
"I just checked for pulse and breathing sounds," she told the police dispatcher on the phone. "I couldn't feel or hear anything." She continued listening to the voice and the obvious directions that were being given. "No," she answered into the phone, "Don't worry. I won't touch anything. Yes, I’ll stay right here." She turned her head to Kent and whispered to him, "Kent, please go to the outside entrance and direct the campus police here when they arrive. It should be any minute now."
"Right, Dr. B," he said, hurrying out the lab door, "I'm on my way!"
With Kent's departure, Pamela was alone. As she stared down at the body of Charlotte Clark, it suddenly dawned on her exactly what she was seeing. This was not a natural death. Charlotte didn't keel over from a sudden heart attack. The power cord wrapped around her neck made it perfectly clear that Charlotte had been murdered. Oh, my God, she thought. Here they were worried about lab security because of the fear of theft. No one had even considered the possibility that anyone was actually in physical danger when they were alone in the lab. The lab was Charlotte's domain--her pride and joy. It was her efforts that had secured the funding for the lab. She spent many hours here. To think that she would actually die in the place of her glory. It was horrible.
Poor Charlotte. No, thought Pamela, Charlotte wasn’t one of her favorite persons. She was abrasive and confrontational, but Pamela had never personally suffered any of Charlotte’s verbal attacks—as Mitchell had earlier this evening. Oh, my God, what had happened here tonight?
As she stood there looking at Charlotte and contemplating all of the possibilities, she could hear Kent's voice and the voices of several other people--probably the police--coming down the hallway. Kent entered the lab, followed by medical personnel and two uniformed officers who quickly took over. She and Kent stood back, out of the way. The officers told them to wait because the local detectives would want to question them when they arrived.
She and Kent edged to the back of the lab and sat in two carrels in the last row of computers where they waited for at least twenty minutes. The lab was cold—to protect the equipment—and well lit, much better lit than the rest of the old building. Pamela found herself shivering; she wasn’t sure if it was from the cold or her own fear. Finally, the local police arrived and added to the crazy scene. Eventually, a tall man in a shabby grey suit and overcoat strode over to them and introduced himself. Pamela and Kent rose to greet him.
"Ms. Barnes?" he said, holding out his hand, "I'm Detective Shoop." She shook his hand perfunctorily. "Ms. Barnes," said Shoop, "were you the one who discovered the body?" He had a droopy sad face with lids that hung over his eyes like wrinkled prunes.
"No, my graduate assistant Kent Drummond, here, did," she said.
"All right." The detective motioned for them to be seated again as he pulled out a chair for himself from one of the carrels, and the threesome gathered in a circle at the back of the lab. "Let's talk about the details of all of this a bit," he said.
Pamela and Kent sat close together on their lab chairs. Pamela was clutching her jacket and purse and Kent was still holding tightly to his backpack. Shoop straddled the small rolling lab chair from behind.
"Now, start at the beginning," said the tall detective, leaning over the back of the chair and sleepily eyeing the two of them
"We’d just finished Dr. Barnes’ seminar," stated Kent. He glanced at Pamela.
"When was that?" interrupted Shoop.
"About five to nine," answered Pamela, "I checked my watch as I was leaving the seminar room."
"Good," nodded Shoop, then he pointed to Kent, indicating that he should continue. Shoop reached in his suit pocket and pulled out a large cloth handkerchief and wiped his nose firmly. Then he replaced the hanky in his pocket.
"Uh, Dr. Barnes wanted me to check to see if the lab was locked, so I came down here to check."
"Is this laboratory typically left unlocked?" Shoop asked, directing this comment to Pamela.
"No, never," she responded firmly. "There is so much expensive equipment here. Only faculty members have keys, and graduate students can check out keys only with a faculty member's permission."
"Hmmm," said Shoop, thinking and biting his lower lip. "Continue."
"When I got here," said Kent, "the door was open..."
"Open?" asked Shoop, “Is that normal?”
Kent thought a moment. "Not for this time of night, no. That's what struck me as odd right away. I mean, it’s usually closed and locked when the last grad assistant leaves for the day. Hardly anyone uses it this late. I figured that a faculty member must be in the lab working late and when I saw Dr. Clark, that's what I thought it was--until I saw how she was..."
"Yes," said Shoop, cutting him off. "Then what did you do?”
"I ran back to the seminar room to get Dr. Barnes," he responded.
"Did you see anyone in the lab? Or near the lab, either before or after you first entered at nine o’clock?" Shoop asked the young man.
"No. No one,” replied Kent. “The building was deserted except for Dr. Barnes and me."
Another man in a suit and overcoat arrived and waved a greeting to Detective Shoop, who pointed him towards the body.
"The coroner," announced Shoop. He redirected his interest back to Pamela and Kent. "Now, Mr. Drummond, did you or Ms. Barnes touch the body or anything around the
body or in the lab after you entered?"
"No," said Kent, "I didn't touch anything."
"I touched Charlotte," responded Pamela. "I checked her pulse and listened for breath sounds. The police operator directed me to do that."
"Yes," nodded Shoop, "yes, that's fine. Did you touch anything else?"
"No, nothing." she responded.
"All right," Shoop said, standing. "Mr. Drummond, I'm going to have you go with Officer Kline, here." He motioned for one of the uniformed officers to come over. "He’ll ask you some more questions, standard procedure, and then he’ll see that you’re returned safely to your residence." The uniformed officer escorted Kent out of the laboratory. Pamela remained seated.
"Now, Ms. Barnes," began the lanky detective, looking around. "Is there some place more private we could talk?"
"Tonight?" she asked. "Couldn't this wait until tomorrow? I'm so tired. So drained emotionally. I really need to go home."
"I understand, Ms. Barnes," said the detective, "But, I'm sorry. I must ask you some questions right now, while all of this is still fresh in your mind." He looked at her expectantly.
"I guess we can go to my office," she said, sighing, "It's upstairs."
"Fine," he responded and started to lead her out of the lab, his dark overcoat flapping against his legs as he walked.
"Detective," she said, stopping him, hesitating, "Could I first please call my husband? He's probably worried that I'm not home yet."
"Sure," stated Shoop, returning to his chair and reseating himself, obviously intending to wait for her while she made her call. Pamela again reached into her purse and pulled out her cell phone. She pressed the number key for her home. Her husband answered almost immediately.
"Hey, Babe," he said, "Where are you?"
"Oh, Rocky," she said, tears now welling up, "I...I ...won't be home for a while. There was an...an accident here." Then she added quickly, sensing his concern, "I'm fine. I'm fine, but...one of our faculty has died. The police are here. I'm going to be here a bit longer."
"Do you need me to come get you?" he asked. She could hear his voice catch.
"No," she said, gulping. "I'm really fine. I just need to talk to the police a bit more. I'll explain everything when I get home. Oh, Rocky..."
"Please, wait up."
"You know it."
She hung up and slowly put her phone away. Then as Detective Shoop gestured for her to lead the way to her office, she headed out of the lab, with a quick final look toward the carrel that contained the body of Charlotte Clark.
To Read more of Sounds of Murder, check it out here.