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  • Writer's pictureSharon Michalove

Dead in the Alley, Coming August 10

I have been a mystery reader all my life. If that seems to be an extreme statement, let me assure you that I was reading Agatha Christie by the time I was ten as well as the standard Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden, and others. While I always read lots of other things too, my love of mysteries has stood the test of time.

It should be no surprise that I have always wanted to write mysteries, but until last year, all my attempts had been failures. What changed? Probably the two most important things were that I finally learned how to put together a coherent book, and a viable plot suddenly came to me.

One Saturday morning in late summer 2021, I woke up with a fully formed idea. Plot, characters, and setting. This never happens to me. I ran with it. Fortunately my Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter was having its weekly sprint group, so I spent my time fleshing out my ideas. By the end of the weekend, I had a fully planned story, which I then put aside to work on At the Crossroads.

Then. November and NaNoWriMo rolled around. I decided that Dead in the Alley, would be my NaNo project. By the end of December, I finished my first, very rough, draft and sent it to two very forebearing early readers. And, while it still needed work, they were impressed that the story hung together so well.. So I went on. Found a cover, set up a preorder, scheduled an audiobook. Right now I'm waiting for the comments from my beta readers—and planning a new mystery series.

Dead in the Alley is a traditional mystery that takes place in northern Michigan in the fictional town of New Eleanor.

Here is a snippet from Chapter 1 to whet your appetite.

Hearing Ellen’s bad-tempered instructions to the commis, I went back into the open kitchen with it’s Wolf range and two ovens—a deck oven for breads and a convection oven for pastry. When I heard sound of a motorcycle revving up outside over Ellen’s harangue, I realized that the door to the alley was open. Vince must have gone out to join Derrick in a last cigarette. The skid, the scream, and the sound of breaking glass got my attention. Vince ran in from the alley and grabbed me by the shoulders. “You don’t want to go out there, Bay.”

I tried to push around him. “Why not?”

“Oh my god. Derrick,” he choked out, eyes rolling. “It’s…it’s a hit and run. Call 911.”

“An ambulance?”

He shook his head. “Too late for that. Just have the police come.”

Vince dropped heavily to a chair and dropped his head into his hands. When he finally looked up at me, his eyes were swollen and rivulets ran down his cheeks. He kept clearing his throat but no words came out.

I ran to the phone at the reservation stand and dialed 911. I gave them the small amount of information that I had. They told me to stay on the phone until someone arrived. Only a few minutes elapsed before I heard the sirens. I informed the dispatcher, hung up, then went back to Vince. He’d propped open the door and was watching as a team of police officers exited the two squad cars. An ambulance pulled up behind them.

Putting a hand on his shoulder, I tried to shake him to attention.

When he turned to look at me, his eyes were red-rimmed and swollen. “He was hit by a motorcycle. When I got out there, the rider was just peeling out. Just left him there, surrounded by trash, broken and bleeding. I rushed over but he just… died. Never said a word.”

Tremors hit me. I sank to my knees as the sound of screaming enveloped me. “Dead, dead, no, no, no.” I wanted the voice to shut up, leave me to mourn. Then I realized that the voice was mine. And I couldn’t stop the screaming or the tears as I curled on the floor in ball of despair.

Dead in the Alley is available for preorder now and will release August 10, 2022.

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