Thank you, Marcia, for letting me join you all here on The Write Stuff. I can’t believe I haven’t stumbled on this wonderful blog before now.
Hi, Everyone. *waving from Florida* My name is Kassandra Lamb and I’m the author of a successful mystery series, the Kate Huntington mysteries. And now I’m launching a new series of cozy mysteries.
I’m so excited to share a little bit of the first book, about a young woman (whose first name is also Marcia) who trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Wait, I’ll let her introduce herself:
I’m a normal person. Granted I have a somewhat abnormal vocation. I train service animals for PTSD sufferers–mostly combat veterans.
But other than that, I’m just a small-town, thirty-something divorcee.
My name is Marcia Banks–pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha. Okay, okay, so I don’t have a totally normal name.
I live in central Florida, on the outskirts of the Ocala National Forest, in a little town called Mayfair, population 258 (and a half. Agnes Baker’s pregnant. Again.)
Mayfair sprang up in the 1960s, in response to the transitory success of the Mayfair Alligator Farm (rumor has it that old Mr. Mayfair poached the gators from the Forest). Billboards plastered along the newly minted I-75 corridor drew in vacationing families to witness the wonders of gator wrestling and to buy fake alligator skin handbags and belts. Sadly, the farm went under in the mid-seventies, when Walt Disney plopped his amusement park down next to another sleepy Florida hamlet–Orlando.
Mayfair was virtually a ghost town when I moved here two years ago, shortly after the demise of my brief but disastrous marriage to a concert violinist in the Baltimore Symphony.
It’s a great place to train service animals because everybody knows everybody. It didn’t take long for the residents to learn the rules. The main one being to never, ever pet the dogs I’m training unless I say it’s okay.
The exception is my Black Lab-Rottie mix, Buddy, if he’s the only dog I’m walking at the time.
He was my first trainee, and how he came back into my possession was the beginning of my not-so-normal avocation–unwilling amateur sleuth.
One sunny day last winter, I received the most shocking phone call of my life. It even beat out the anonymous one three years ago informing me that my husband was having an affair with a cello player.
The caller said she was with the Collinsville Sheriff’s Department and wanted to know if I had trained a service dog named Buddy.
My mind scrambled for a reason why someone from a sheriff’s department would be asking me that. Had Buddy bit someone?
“Where exactly is Collinsville?” I asked, stalling for time.
“Off 33, near Polk City.”
“In Florida?” More stalling.
“Yes, ma’am, not far from Lakeland.” Her tone said she was losing patience with me. “Are you the Marcia Banks who trained Buddy?” She mispronounced my first name, of course.
I couldn’t figure out how to get around admitting it, since I had signed off on his training certificate. “Uh, yes.”
“Could ya come get the dog as soon as possible?”
“Why? What’s happened to his owner?” Jimmy Garrett was an Iraqi veteran who’d had a close encounter with an IED. As a result, he’d come home with a prosthesis where his right leg used to be and some pretty disabling nightmares, among other PTSD symptoms.
“He’s been arrested, ma’am.”
“What about his wife?”
A long pause. “That’s why he’s been arrested. He’s bein’ held on suspicion of murder.”
“Of his wife?” My voice rose, ending on a squeak.
The book is available for pre-order now and will be released on April 10, 2016 (Psst! It’s just $1.99 during the pre-order period; it goes up to $3.99 once it’s released.)