|Joyce T. Strand, Author|
Following is an interview with my newest character sleuth, Emily Lazzaro, who is here to tell us what she’s been doing since her first book, Dangerous Changes, and to give us some hints about her second mystery, Dangerous Delays.
Fans of my other books might recall that Emily is the daughter of the winemaker at Brynn Bancroft’s Hilltop Sunset winery. When we encountered her in Overcast Sunset she had just broken up with her fiancé and is heading back home to Ramona, Calif. where her adventures begin.
Q: I understand that in your new mystery there is a body discovered on the first page?
Emily Lazzaro: Yes. I was so upset. One of the workmen helping with the renovation uncovered it with the excavator. It was disturbing to see—I have trouble getting it or her out of my mind. And then the Native American artifacts surrounding her – we assumed it was a she because of the skirt. It was all so surreal.
Q: I’ve heard about frequent discovery of artifacts in San Diego County but I thought bodies only turned up in burial grounds. Is this site a burial ground?
Emily Lazzaro: We don’t know. Several branches of different law enforcement, including the local Barona Tribal Council and an archeologist are investigating.
Q: What can you tell us about why you were even at this site?
Emily Lazzaro: I was hired to help manage a new B&B that we’re hoping will become a vital part of our town. I enjoy this job much more than preparing tax returns, by the way. Anyway, the first step in that project is the renovation of this mansion. I’m so excited to be part of it. The wife of the couple who owns it is from Ramona, and wants to create an iconic place that will represent the community.
Q: What will make it represent the community?
Emily Lazzaro: Well, there will be horses, riding instruction, and hikes available to those who stay there. As you know, Ramona is an equestrian town. And our menu will reflect local specialties, such as turkey and avocados. And, although we want it to be somewhat upscale, the décor will contain some aspect of Ramona—that is, if we ever get it complete given all the delays.
Q: What about your parents we met in the Brynn Bancroft trilogy? How are they doing?
Emily Lazzaro: My dad continues as the winemaker of the Hilltop Sunset winery, and my mom loves helping Brynn—the co-owner of the winery—whenever
she needs it. They’ve become really good friends. My parents still grieve for my brother who was killed in Afghanistan, but we’re all getting more used to it even though we miss him terribly.
Q: Has anyone special entered your life?
Emily Lazzaro: Not really. I have made great friends with a local chef but we’re just friends. I met him through an incident that occurred with his brother who suffers from brain damage due to an accident. But, so far, we’re just friends.
Q: What’s next?
Emily Lazzaro: Well, I’m not sure—about that someone special or about the B&B. We’ve had so many delays—the usual kind due to permits, labor shortage, and material problems. But with this new cadaver in our back yard, well, that means more and more delays—dangerous ones, at that.
Finding a corpse buried with Native American artifacts wasn’t the first delay of the renovation Emily faced. But she was not prepared for what followed. A murder investigation, excavation to uncover more artifacts, and drug dealers looking for missing product further delay the mansion's restoration into an iconic B&B. While facing these setbacks, Emily is also realizing her growing attraction to a local chef, a man who believes a relationship isn't possible due to his commitment to care for his brain-injured brother.
Reminder: although there will be a total of three Emily Lazzaro mysteries, each is standalone and can be read without knowledge of the previous book.
About Joyce T. Strand, Author
Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. Actual events and/or real people inspired all of her published novels, although they are definitely fictionalized. Dangerous Delays is her tenth book.
Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California's Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike her protagonist Jillian Hillcrest in her first trilogy, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. She currently lives with her collection of cow statuary in Ramona, California, and enjoys exploring and writing about the growing wine region in the Ramona Valley near San Diego.
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