Title: The Deep End
Author: Julie Mulhern
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Women’s Fiction
Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.
It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.
As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her?
About Julie Mulhern
Julie Mulhern is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean–and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is–she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions. She is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist. The Deep End is her first mystery and is the winner of The Sheila Award.
Kansas City, Missouri
My morning swim doesn’t usually involve corpses. If it did, I’d give up swimming for something less stressful, like coaxing cobras out of baskets or my mother out of bed before ten.
Watching the sun rise over the seventh green is often the best part of my day. I dive into the pool while the water is still inky. When the light has changed from deepest indigo to lavender, I break my stroke, tread water and admire the sky as it bleeds from gold to yellow to pink. It’s a ritual, a metaphorical cleansing, a moment of stolen peace.
After all, I have a teenage daughter, a mother with strong opinions, a Weimaraner named Max who plots to take over our house on his path toward world domination, and a husband. Much as I’d like to, I can’t leave him out.
I kicked off my Dr. Scholl’s, tossed my husband’s button-down onto a deck chair, dove into the dark water and gasped at the sudden, encompassing cold. That shock of chilly water against my skin is better than coffee when it comes to waking up. Maybe not better. Faster.
My legs kicked, my arms sliced and I settled into the comforting rhythm of the Australian crawl. My fingers knifed through the water, anticipating the smooth parting of liquid. They found fabric and the horrific touch of cold flesh.
I watched the sunrise from a deck chair. It was not cathartic or peaceful. It was awful. The police swarmed around the pool like industrious ants, pausing only when someone jumped into the water and floated the body to the side. They fished it out and laid it at the edge of the pool.
I turned my head away. I didn’t want to see.
A man wearing a truly unfortunate pair of plaid pants broke away from the ants and sat on the deck chair next to mine. “Are you all right? Do you want a glass of water?” He had nice eyes. Brown. Like coffee.
“Coffee,” I croaked.
He waved at the ants and a moment later one of them appeared with a thermos. He poured some caffeinated ambrosia into the red plastic top and handed it to me.
“I’m afraid we don’t have cream or sugar.”
“Black is fine.” I took a sip to prove it.
“I’m Detective Jones. Can you tell me what happened this morning?”
“I was swimming.”
“Without a lifeguard?” I could hear the disapproval in his voice. Detective Jones, purveyor of thermos coffee, wearer of plaid pants, was a follower of rules. I used to like that in a man. There’s something comforting about someone who colors within the lines. Problems arise when a strict follower of rules decides to forsake them. He doesn’t just jaywalk. Nope. A lifetime of good behavior gives him the right to sleep with other women. Or, if he’s slightly more powerful, order a break-in at Watergate. Goes to show, you can’t trust anyone these days. Not husbands. Not presidents. Not cops.