Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery, Spotlight on May 29, 2016

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DEATH UNDER A FULL MOON (Wilbarger County Series #2)

by Dianne Smithwick-Braden

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date of Publication: February 4, 2016
# of pages: 268

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This second installment of the Wilbarger County Series joins Sheriff Wade Adams and Lizzie Fletcher as they investigate murder. Wade and Lizzie attend a dinner party near the small community of Rayland, Texas. One week later, one the guests is murdered.  With his only female deputy out on maternity leave, Sheriff Adams makes a quick decision to deputize Lizzie. That decision proves to be good for the department but damaging to their relationship. The Sheriff and his deputies follow every possible lead to no avail.  Lizzie happens to overhear a conversation that gives them the break they need. With little time to spare, Sheriff Adams and his team rush to prevent yet another death.



guest post

Rayland, Texas is a special place to my family.  Family stories and my own memories were the inspiration for Death under a Full Moon.

Although it is located in the northeast corner of Foard County, Rayland is less than five minutes from our family farm. People who live nearby in Hardeman or Wilbarger Counties are said to live “at” Rayland.

My grandmother and her four older sisters were raised in Rayland. My grandfather lived across the Pease River near Chillicothe, Texas. He would ride his horse across the river to visit her while they were “courting.” Granny and Pawpaw were married in 1938.

Mama never lived at Rayland, but she often visited her grandparents there when she was a child. She recalls several businesses and going to see her aunt who worked at the local laundry. Mama and Daddy were married in 1958 at church in Rayland.

During the summers, my brother and I would stay with Granny and Pawpaw while our parents were at work. Sometimes we would drive through Rayland and across the riverbed to visit our great-grandparents who lived near Chillicothe. Other times, we would go with Pawpaw to buy cotton burs at the Rayland Gin. Those burs would be spread on the driveway and the barnyard to keep the sand from blowing.  After his business was finished, we’d go to the spring or the riverbed to play. If we weren’t too muddy, our visits would end with a trip to the store. He’d treat us to a coke (any kind of carbonated soft drink) while he visited with his friends who owned the store.

The store was a cross between an old fashioned general store and a modern day convenience store. Outside, you could buy fuel for your tractor, truck, or car. Inside, you could purchase groceries and hardware.  I remember wood shelves painted white stocked with loaves of bread and other grocery items. The wood floors creaked as you walked across them.

The last time that I tried to visit the spring, time and erosion had taken a toll. The natural spring, of course, is still there, but it looks nothing like the spring of my memories. The banks of the Pease River are much steeper than they were in the days of my childhood. It wouldn’t be possible to drive across now. I’m not sure that it would be safe to try to ride a horse across.

I still drive through Rayland when going to visit my family. Sadly, Rayland is practically a ghost town now. The store closed long ago although the building still stands. All that remains of the gin are the decaying office building and the cotton scales. There are only a few inhabited houses left.

All is not lost. There are still working farms and families who live “at” Rayland.  There have been new homes built in the past few years on neighboring farms. Maybe one day, Rayland will again be a thriving community.


about the author

Dianne PicDianne Smithwick-Braden is a native Texas raised in rural Wilbarger County on the family farm. She is a graduate of Vernon High School and West Texas A & M University. She currently resides in Amarillo, Texas with her husband, Richard. She has been a high school science teacher in Amarillo since August of 1990.  Dianne is an avid reader of fiction but murder mysteries are by far her favorite genre. Death under a Full Moon is her second novel and the second installment of the Wilbarger County Series.

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