In the mood for a cozy mystery? Check out Larissa Reinhart’s Cherry Tucker mystery series. Today’s spotlight is her recent release of Hijack in Abstract. Read on to learn more about the book and join the discussion with the author to share your favorite art-themed books. Be sure to enter the $25 gift card giveaway!
Hijack in Abstract by Larissa Reinhart
Release Date: December 18, 2013
Genre: Humorous Cozy Mystery / 257 pgs.
Humor, Hijackings and a Handful of Hunks . . .
With a classical series sold and a portrait commissioned, Cherry Tucker’s art career is in Georgia overdrive. But when the sheriff asks Cherry to draw a composite sketch of a hijacker, her life takes a hairpin as the composite leads to a related murder, her local card-sharking buddy Max Avtaikin becomes bear bait and her nemesis labels the classical series “pervert art.”
Cherry’s jamming gears between trailer parks, Atlanta mansions, and trucker bars searching for the hijacker who left a widow and orphan destitute. While she seeks to help the misfortunate and save her local reputation, Cherry’s hammer down attitude has her facing the headlights of an oncoming killer.
There are many places you don’t want to be at zero dark thirty, but I’ve got a personal top three. One is the ER. Second is a police station. The third is your ex-boyfriend’s bedroom.
Thank God Almighty I was not in number three. Stupid does catch me occasionally, but not this night. I was nowhere near an ex-boyfriend’s bedroom.
At two forty-five in the morning, I found myself in number two. The Forks County Sheriff’s Office to be accurate. My cornflower blues were a bit bloodshot and blurry, but my grin matched Shep Peterson’s, who also found himself in a similar location. However, Shep had a drunk tank grin. Mine was more of a self-congratulatory grin, born from knowing that finally someone in Forks County had recognized my accomplishments in the art world. Never mind the phone call that woke me from a dead sleep and near gave me a heart attack.
Or that I had to drive my sister’s Firebird because her vehicle was blocking my driveway. Or that I now sat in the junior officers’ room with a cold cup of coffee and had just realized I had forgotten to comb my bed-head designed blonde cowlicks in my bleary-eyed haste.
And to put on a bra.
The Forks County Sheriff, Uncle Will, needed my expertise. That’s all that mattered. And I was going to get paid.
Needed me for what was still a bit vague. I hoped nothing needing brushed hair and a bra.
* * * * *
With my messenger bag bumping my back, I hugged my chest, figuring it best not to give an extra show to Shep and the boys. I followed Uncle Will down the hallway, waiting while he unlocked a door. The door opened and two faces turned to look at us. One I didn’t recognize, but judging by his despondent expression, I figured he was probably in a mess of trouble. The other person, another deputy, I identified immediately. Hard not to recognize those brown ochre curls with the highlights I had decided were transparent oxide-red lake. Or the lean, muscled body, much like Michelangelo’s David. Or by the strong jaw buttressing two adorable dimples that made a rare showing.
Unfortunately, I knew Deputy Luke Harper a little too well.
He gave me a scant nod and turned back to the perp.
My hand snuck back to my hair and yanked on a particularly tall cowlick in back. I gritted my teeth and gave myself a quick lecture not to make a scene. We had aired our irreconcilable differences behind the local roadhouse, Red’s County Line Tap, a few months ago and I had not quite recovered.
“That’s Tyrone Coderre,” said Uncle Will. “He’s going to give you a description to draw. We need a composite sketch.”
Uncle Will stopped me before I entered the room and pulled me to the side. “Can I leave Deputy Harper in there with you or do I need to call in another officer? Harper’s the one who picked up Coderre, so this is his investigation.”
“I’m quite capable of separating my personal and professional life,” I said, tilting my chin so I could eyeball Uncle Will. “You might want to ask the same of him.”
“I trust Luke not to screw up his job. You are another story.”
I gave him a “why, I never” gasp.
“I’m going to be watching through the two-way.” He tapped my messenger bag. “Lucky for you, I don’t know other artists to call during the middle of the night. Wouldn’t want to be accused of nepotism. But I want a sketch while the memory is still fresh in Coderre’s mind. Don’t disappoint me, Cherry.”
“So, this is an important investigation?” Excitement zipped through my veins and made my fingers tingle. “I won’t let you down. You can even deputize me if you want.”
Uncle Will chuckled. “Just draw us a good picture. That’s plenty helpful.”
“Yes, sir,” I said and snuck by him to enter the room. I nodded to the man in the black sweat suit behind the table and held out my hand. “Hello, Mr. Coderre. I’m Cherry Tucker, a local artist.”
“Don’t shake his hand,” barked Luke. “Are you crazy?”
Tyrone Coderre’s cuffed hands retreated below the table, and I blew out a hard breath.
Looked like it was going to be a long night. At least the criminal had manners.
Couldn’t say the same for the cop.
Growing up in a small town, Larissa Reinhart couldn’t wait to move to an exotic city far from corn fields. After moving around the US and Japan, now she loves to write about rough hewn characters that live near corn fields, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble.
HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is the third in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series from Henery Press, following STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. QUICK SKETCH, a Cherry Tucker prequel to PORTRAIT, is in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL (December 2013).
Larissa lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook.
Cherry Tucker’s Top Ten Art Related Reads
I write the Cherry Tucker Mystery series about an artist, Cherry Tucker, classically trained at Savannah College of Art and Design, who specializes in portraits. I’m not an artist, although I majored in art history and had a good handful of art classes. So where do I look for inspiration in writing my art-related series?
I’ll start with my favorite Art History books. I thumb through these quite a bit, particularly when I’m trying to compare something Cherry experiences to a popular painting (like her on again/off again flame, Luke Harper, who she often compares to Michelangelo’s “David”).
- GARDNER’S ART THROUGH THE AGES, Ancient, Medieval and Non-European Art.
- HISTORY OF ART Volume Two, by H.W. Janson
Both of these were used in my college Art History classes. Later I used them when I taught history and forced my high school students to learn a bit of Art History in my World History class. However,
- UFFIZI GALLERY: ART, HISTORY, COLLECTIONS by Claire Fossi,
is an absolute stunner, particularly if you love coffee table books and gazing at beautiful works. The face from Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” is on the cover, giving you a glimpse of the beauty between the pages. My absolute favorite Art History book about modern art is
- SHOCK OF THE NEW by Robert Hughes.
Hughes’s eight-part BBC miniseries appeared in 1980 and was required viewing in my Art History classes. It completely changed the way I viewed modern art and had such a powerful effect on me, it led to my senior thesis and pursuing a graduate degree in Art History.
However, my Cherry Tucker does not fit in well with the artists of SHOCK OF THE NEW. As an artist she has the classic eye of a Renaissance painter with the country personality of a Grandma Moses. I’ve always thought of Cherry Tucker as a grown Frankie Addams from MEMBER OF THE WEDDING by Carson McCullers combined with Annie Oakley, although neither are an artist. I used my own art experiences and knowledge of my artist friends to fill in Cherry’s character. She lives in the modern day, fictional small town of Halo, Georgia, and like some of my artist friends, she walks to her own beat and has some difficulty fitting in. But she’s not the tortured artist, like William Blake in
4. BURNING BRIGHT by Tracy Chevalier
Although I love reading stories about artists. I adore Tracy Chevalier’s historical art fiction books, particularly
5. GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
6.THE LADY AND THE UNICORN.
7. CONFESSIONS OF AN UGLY STEPSISTER by Gregory Maguire
8. THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Umberto Eco
offered me another new view into the art of the Old World, a Dutch Master and Medieval monks painting illuminated manuscripts. I loved how these books give us a perspective of someone close to an artist, not the artist themselves, and create a mystery subplot as well.
9. AN ARTIST OF THE FLOATING WORLD by Kazuo Ishiguro
turns the tortured artist into a tool for a corrupt government, a fascinating look at how art can have an effect on society, something the bohemians sought. And like the other tales of tortured artists, how the tunnel vision of an artist can destroy the lives of themselves and people around them.
Finally, books like
10. A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster
offers me the art historical setting, the Italian Renaissance from a Nineteenth Century point of view in this case. Not quite the artistic setting of modern day Halo, Georgia, in the CHERRY TUCKER MYSTERY series, but the view is still there to be appreciated.
Thank you! Do your readers have any favorite art themed books? I had a contemporary women’s fiction book about a girl working in a New York gallery that I lent to a friend and now can’t remember the title. It was also a fun look at the world of modern day art, artists, and gallery life. If anyone can remember the title, I’ll send them some Cherry Tucker swag!
A special thank you to Ms. Reinhart for sharing the following guest post written specifically for Sun Mountain Review’s readers!
$25 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
In response to Ms. Reinhart’s question about favorite art books, I have H.J. Janson’s History of Art,, which I have owned since college. It provides an overview of art from ancient times through the twentieth century. The photographs of the art included are beautiful, and I appreciate the background and explanations provided about piece included in the book. I also have a coffee table book of Van Gogh’s art, which I love perusing. I hope you will share some of your favorite art books here as well!