Welcome to the book tour for Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell! Read on for details and the fantastic giveaway at the end!
Number of Pages: 352
Date of Publication: 4 November 2021
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
My Review Summary: A detailed murder mystery that really made me feel like I was travelling to and from Italy!
📖PLOT SUMMARY 📖
To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, action-packed adventure, and the occasional dead body.
When Alec schedules an overseas trip to show Annalisse his mother’s birthplace in Bari, Italy, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s international corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.
Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The search for the truth
sends the trio straight into riddles, secrets, and an historic set of rosary beads. Annalisse leads Alec toward a discovery that is unthinkable, and events that will change their futures forever.
Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
“The reception area is completely empty, and there’s a smell like metal in damp dirt circulating overhead. Farther in, the ceiling fan is hovering on high speed, and the windows are open.
A dead body inside a warm office leaves an unmistakable odor behind, as did the body Ethan found inside the stall at Walker Farm. Decomp is one smell that sticks with you forever. Adding to the office creepiness, who chose the interior’s decor? We’re surrounded by limestone walls painted an ugly shade of ochre, slightly more yellow and definitely more unappealing than the building’s exterior. The rooms will need another coat of fresh paint to cover a harsh stench known to stick to the walls like cigarette tar does.
No one is nearby, not even the receptionist.
The office cubicles are silent but for a few flapping papers. Not a single desk phone is ringing. It’s like the office decided to have a fire drill midday, and the employees left their computers on and didn’t bother to close folders—open to anyone passing by. Frames holding pictures of sweethearts and children stand by as guardians for the people who are absent from their high-back swivel chairs.
Officer Raffa returns and mutters in heavy Italian brogue, “Il signore is waiting for his… avvocato difensore.” He points to the room with a closed door. “Come, Mr. Zavos. Your friends stay here.”
“Josh is in there waiting for his defense attorney. Back soon.” Alec touches my arm and looks at Bill, sending him a private message.
Alec’s led to a side office, and the solid door closes behind them.
“Is Alec signing autographs, or should I even worry about what’s going on in that room? Has Josh been here the entire time messing with evidence?” I ask Bill.
“Alec’s prepared for all contingencies. I’m surprised they haven’t taken Jennings down to the station by now.”
A few minutes later, Alec emerges by himself. “They weren’t going to allow us to talk to Josh, but I persuaded him. It shouldn’t be much longer.”
For what feels like an eternity, we sit in ladderback pine chairs with brown cushions while Alec keeps adjusting his watch. I don’t know what Alec had to promise the officer. Autographs are fine with me, but if he had to pay him off, I’d rather not know.
“I hope Brad is parked in the shade somewhere.” Alec looks at his watch for the eighth time in twenty minutes and turns to me. “Now that we’re here, they seem to be in no hurry to get rid of us. I’m sorry, Anna. Hold on a little longer.” His smile is an honest one full of regret.
I’ve heard the sentiment from him so often it doesn’t even register with my brain anymore. We both have a lot of work to do in the I-promise-to-do-better department.
The closed door at the back wall opens, and a guy pokes his head out, surveying the room. He’s fiftyish and, with his reading glasses, reminds me of Gen’s studious accountant.
Alec pivots, and his earlier smile vanishes.
“That’s Jennings,” Bill says quietly.
“Yes.” Alec waves to draw the man’s attention.
A confused Josh looks at us and then the floor as if he’s embarrassed. Eventually he settles his eyes on Alec. “I wasn’t sure you’d come. My attorney should be here soon. Come back to the conference room.”
Bill asks Alec, “Is it okay to go on ahead?”
Alec must have compensated the officer well to allow us entry this close to the crime scene.
“Let’s get this over with.” Alec seems queasy.
The three of us move through the aisle between desks and toward the room with a door left open for us. Josh has already gone inside. For someone who wants Alec’s help, he sure doesn’t appear happy or grateful for his effort. A huge effort. This had better not be Josh’s way of buying himself out of the woman’s death. The disgrace of being fired from Signorile after Pearce’s tragedy has to hurt his pride.
There’s news of a deadly virus moving through Europe, and the typical handshake is no longer being used between business execs.
Bill lifts his arm and catches himself. “Mr. Jennings? My name is Bill Drake, an associate of Mr. Zavos. You’ve asked to see him, and we also have some questions for you on another matter.”
“Wonderful.” The man in a sweaty, slept-in polo isn’t thrilled with us staring him down. There’s frost in the room as testosterone flies between glances. No one wants to be the first to break the sheet of ice forming around the presumed blue-eyed killer. Alec hasn’t made any assumptions yet until we talk to him, but Josh’s cool facade feels calculated to me. A superior to Alec, or something like that. For an innocent, I don’t like his peculiar behavior in the presence of a man who’s here to keep his neck from a noose.
“I asked to see Alec. Who are the rest of you?”
He’s behind a chair, using it as a shield to save himself from a CEO who wants to take his livelihood from him again. Or is it because he’s guilty of ending a woman’s life?
Alec pulls out the chair for me, and we all sit at the long conference table with a fancy letter F embellished in the center.
Josh’s temples bead with sweat, and he’s wringing his hands next to a wool felt fedora hat with a band. They seem to be popular in Italy. The guy’s bloodshot eyes and dark circles are sure signs of insomnia and stressing to the max. Wet ovals hang beneath the armpits of his beige shirt.
Alec’s unshakable gaze lands on Jennings, who abruptly turns away.
This meeting isn’t opening well.
Bill addresses Josh. “We don’t have a lot of time. Authorities aren’t thrilled with us questioning you, but they were… let’s say, swayed. Tell us what happened here?”
“She was tied and tortured in my office after I left night before last. I opened the building in the morning at seven and found her lying on her side, strapped to a chair and wrapped in wire near my desk. Lots of blood.” Josh holds a paper towel over his mouth, then uses it to wipe away perspiration. “When I left the building, she was in the conference room. I have no idea how she ended up in the office. Maybe the cat went in there.” He slides the fedora into his lap.
“Who is she?” Alec asks.
I saw this on R&R Book Tours and had to put my name down for it! I love a murder mystery and when I saw that it was for fans of the Da Vinci Code I was sold!
Whilst I did enjoy it, it wasn’t quite as standalone as I thought it would be. There were a lot of references to previous books that I didn’t think necessarily added to the story. Despite the references to previous books, the style of writing was clear and I was able to keep up with what was happening in the book. The detail was excellent and really took me into the characters’ world.
The story was split into fairly long chapters which meant that you weren’t flipping from place to place or person to person too much. Each chapter slowly built up the story by pulling in different bits of information and eventually tying them together.
My interest was kept by the balance of being given just enough information to keep you going, yet still leaving little bits for you to follow. As the reader you were privileged to know little titbits of information before the characters, but without giving the game away too early.
I loved the characters themselves. Whilst they were clearly well off, they still seemed grounded and personable. I actually felt sorry for them having to live their lives looking over their shoulders! They all obviously have back stories that we only lightly touch upon in this book and that added to the suspense and the mistrust. The historical fiction aspect of this book was cleverly woven in to one of the main character’s back story and that added a sense of realism.
I thought that the way that the characters handled themselves in certain situations was very descriptive and obviously a lot of thought and research had gone into this. An example of this being the surveillance technique Bill used to gather the information he needed as well as some of the situations that Annalise found herself in.
Lastly I have to mention the settings. I loved them! Who wouldn’t want to be transported to Italy? The descriptions were brilliant and it was the little details brought the whole thing to life. One particular example of this was the description of a thirsty plant in the corner of a room. In addition smells were also described (and not always pleasant ones!). Sometimes books just concentrate on the characters and rely on their conversations to bring the story to life, but this book takes you on a sensory journey!
Overall an enjoyable read and one that I would recommend to people who like historical fiction and mystery.
About the Author
“Mystery at a killing pace”
Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer, artist, and sheep breeder who resides in beautiful East Texas. Her renown sheep photographs grace the covers of many livestock magazines.
The third book in the Annalisse Series releases in 2021. Scattered Legacy is an international mystery with light touches of romance. Stolen Obsession and Spent Identity, books one and two, received numerous awards including the Independent Press Award for Best Mystery in 2020. Her mysteries can be found at marlenembell.com.
Marlene also writes children’s books. Her first children’s picture book, Mia and Nattie: One Great Team! is based on true events with Natalie from the Bell’s ranch. It’s a touching story of compassion and love between a little girl and her lamb. Mia and Nattie is honored to be a Mom’s Choice Gold Award winner.
Marlene shares her life with her husband and a few dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep: a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, and cats, Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks. The cats believe they rule the household—and do.
How the Annalisse Mystery Series Came About
During my teenage years, a set of historical romance novels transported me to a time hundreds of years ago. I read a long series by husband and wife team, Serge and Anne Golon. They wrote the Angelique Series in 1959 through the 1960s as a duo, referring to themselves as a single writer, Sergeanne Golon. Their work fascinated me. King Louis XIV, his queens and dastardly villains were woven in and out of their books that took place during 17th century France and England. I have no idea if any of their stories were based upon actual events or completely fictional, but the eight-year-old Baron’s daughter, Angelique, left quite an impression on my young mind. Her dangerous romps through womanhood over numerous books were hard to leave behind. I’ve never forgotten her.
I dabbled with writing my first work of non-fiction in 2007 and published Among the Sheep (no longer in print) in 2009, based on my story— raising sheep. I loved that writing experience, even in a book riddled with newbie mistakes. So much so, that I decided to jump into fiction as my next adventure. A crazy, insane adventure to be sure!
When I began to think about writing my own novel, the main character had to have a memorable first name. I settled on Annalisse easily. Eerily similar to my favorite heroine in those books from my teens. Naming her was the easy part. Writing fiction is far more difficult than anything in my imagination. Who Annalisse was, her job and circumstances changed over many manuscripts.
The first book in my Annalisse Series, Stolen Obsession, went through eight drafts and took ten long years to complete. Along the way, I learned the craft of writing fiction with the help of online classes, agent tutorials, and reading tons of books. Not only craft books on the subject of writing, but I made it a rule to read at least one new book by another author each week. Reading improves a writer’s style.
Spent Identity, and Scattered Legacy Annalisse book two and three— each took six months to write and another six to edit and publish. Writing modern-day Annalisse Drury mysteries flow more easily, thanks to an awesome fictional character born in 1640.
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Giveaway US Only:
A Signed Copy of Scattered Legacy – The Annalisse Series
Annalisse Series Flashlight (red)
Biking in Tuscany Wooden Puzzle
Tessilechiti Italian Designer Throw Blanket (51×67 inches) Made in Italy
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