Bamboozled (The Mah Jongg Mysteries)
by Barbara Barrett
Today we get to meet Katrina Faulkner, one of the four protagonists in the Mah Jongg Mystery Series. She’s a lottery winner who plays mah jongg and helps to solve mysteries with her fellow players. Barbara is giving away one digital copy of Bamboozled for each tour stop so someone who enters here will WIN!
About the Book
Bamboozled (The Mah Jongg Mysteries)
2nd in Series
Self Published (April 3, 2018)
Paperback: 272 pages
Digital ASIN: B07C9CLL4R
Essential oils distributor Dorcas Wiley is the boss everyone loves to hate. So when she turns up dead, killed by her own trophy, disgruntled saleswoman Cathy Broderick is the obvious suspect in her murder. Despite opportunity, motive and incriminating evidence, Cathy declares her innocence and enlists her mah jongg pals—Sydney Bonner and her cronies Marianne, Micki and Kat—to help save her from the death penalty.
Hot off a recent and nearly deadly investigation, the women are cautious about putting themselves in peril again. Syd’s spouse isn’t thrilled about another mystery in their lives, either, but he can’t resist the plea of Cathy’s husband. Soon, Syd is leading the way as they tangle with grumpy salespeople, the victim’s estranged husband and boyfriend, a mysterious housekeeper, a litigious customer, an annoyed sheriff and Cathy’s own arrogant lawyer.
The women have their own issues to deal with in their central Florida town of Serendipity Springs. Kat faces a health challenge, Micki fields a mysterious inquiry from her ex, Marianne has a chaotic anniversary and Syd wrestles with her husband over who’s really in charge. But nothing puts everyday life into perspective like the moment when their investigation brings them face to face with danger.
Character Interview: Katrina Faulkner
(Author’s note: Kat is one of my four protagonists in my Mah Jongg Mystery series. You can meet her in both Craks in a Marriage and Bamboozled.)
My name is Katrina Faulkner. I am a single woman over sixty. I retired a few years back after serving several years as the executive assistant to the CEO of a major corporation in Illinois. My professional talents include being detail-oriented and the ability to follow through. There was a man in my life years ago, but before I was ready to tell him I loved him, he was killed in an auto accident. After that, my social life dropped off, especially when my widowed mother got sick. I moved in with her and was her caregiver in her last years. My late father hadn’t left us with much life insurance, which we quickly went through with Mom’s illness. Much of my salary went toward her care.
A few months after she passed, I bought a lottery ticket and wound up winning millions, enough money to retire on and enjoy the rest of my life. On my own after many years of living with and for my mother, I went a little crazy with my newfound wealth. I learned the total amount of my winnings on a cold, blustery day in January. I immediately booked a flight to Florida, deciding to splurge with a visit to Disney World, the trip I’d been planning when my mother fell ill. I couldn’t believe I could go outside this first month of the year and not have to wear a coat. And everything was so green.
I didn’t want to return north. In fact, I stayed another week, rented a car and explored central Florida. When I pulled into the small town of Serendipity Springs to get gas, it was love at first sight. I’d found my new home. Two days later, I found my actual home in the very ritzy development of Mangrove Estates. I bought a house, well, a mini-mansion, much too big for just me, but I was still riding the wave of euphoria over my new wealth. I bought it furnished and decided to live in it a while before making any changes.
I didn’t know a soul in my new community. After all these years, with money to burn and no more family responsibilities, I was ready to make new friends. I visited the community center and saw a note on a bulletin board announcing a new class in mah jongg. I had no idea what that was, but it was the first thing that caught my eye and was starting the next day. I sat next to this woman with shoulder-length black hair with a silver streak that cascaded down one side. Her name was Micki Demetrius, and from that day forward we became fast friends.
After my spending spree on my new home, I returned to my budget-watching self. Then Micki learned of my newfound wealth. Since she really has to watch her small nest egg, she has taken to helping me adjust to my affluence, especially when it comes to changing my wardrobe and pampering myself with spa visits.
Two of our instructors in that class were Sydney Bonner and Marianne Putnam. The four of us hit it off, and they even invited us to join their mah jongg group after the class ended. Since then, the four of us typically play together and enjoy each other’s company so much we do other things together too, including an occasional unofficial murder investigation. I met my boyfriend, Sheriff Rick Formero, that way. He isn’t crazy about our participation in those, but I swear we don’t go looking for them. They seem to drop in our laps, usually because they somehow involve a fellow mah jongg player.
Did I say “boyfriend”? Maybe I got ahead of myself. Rick would be overjoyed to hear me call him that, but this is all so new to me, I want to take it slow and not rush into something I might regret later. I know, I’m not as young as I was once, when I moved too slow to find love. I just need a little more courage to take the plunge. I’m getting there.
Besides, I have to take things slow anyhow, since I’m recovering from breast cancer. I was one of the lucky ones; they caught it in the early stages. A program of aggressive chemo seems to have taken care of it, but it has taken a while to snap back to my old self. Actually, my new self, because I’ve recently started a singing career. One of the few times I got outside the house when my mom was alive was to sing in the church choir. After she died, even though I had more time for it, I stopped. It didn’t give me the same feeling of escape it once had.
It wasn’t until years later, once I came to Serendipity Springs, that I got caught up in the excitement of open mic night at a local lounge and sang a song I didn’t even realize I knew. Magic happened. Maybe not for the audience, but for me. The introvert me gave way to this new persona who loved being in the limelight. I had to put my singing aside for a bit while I dealt with my cancer, but I’m back on the road to recovery now. Who knows what great things lie ahead?
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About the Author
Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.
Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.
Bamboozled, the second book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.
Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.
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