August 5th, 2015
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Midnight on the Mississippi

Midnight on the Mississippi

Secrets of the South Mysteries #1
Harvest House
August 2015
On Sale: August 1, 2015
Featuring: Hunter Galen; Nicki Price
352 pages
ISBN: 0736961690
EAN: 9780736961691
Kindle: B00X4WA4YI
Paperback / e-Book
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Book Club Extras

Setting Ė the First Character Readers Notice in a Story

What first comes to mind if someone mentions the television show, Hawaii 5-0? The muscular actor who plays Commander Steve McGarrett, or perhaps a clever plot twist in an episode involving identity theft? More likely itís a visual of tanned young surfers riding the perfect wave to the shores of Waikiki, or perhaps a volcanic peak rising from the mist above the rainforest. How about NCIS Ė New Orleans? Those whoíve seen the show might picture Scott Bakula chasing a murderer through the crowd of perennial spring-breakers on Bourbon Street, or maybe tracking a psychopath by airboat through the gator-infested bayous of Cajun country. Most TV shows and movies rely on setting for more than just backdrop. The setting becomes as integral to the story as heroes and villains. I recently read about a serious drug problem in a rural town in southern Ohio. Despite sharing the same key elements, I canít imagine Michael Mann considering Chillicothe for his series, Miami Vice. Julian Fellows didnít start by writing dialogue for the characters of Downton Abbey, he began with Highclere Castle and wove his drama around this magnificent English estate.

Yes, movie and television rely primarily on visuals, but books paint pictures in the minds of readers. Consider the imagery created by Michenerís South Pacific, John Grishamís The Testament, or Charles Dickensís Great Expectations. Could you imagine moving Oliver Twist from the slums of London to the heath-covered Scottish highlands? I donít think so. Setting can be protagonistic as in Jane Eyre or Under a Tuscan Sun or antagonistic as in Steinbeckís Grapes of Wrath or Jack Londonís Call of the Wild. Whether creating a romantic spot to rekindle the flame of lost love, or a dangerous snake pit from which characters must escape, authors must create a memorable world that readers can see, hear, taste and smell.

When an author writes a series of books, location becomes even more crucial. Consider Jan Karonís marvelous stories set in Mitford, or Debbie Macomberís lively romances in Cedar Cove. One of my favorite series by Nevada Barr involves Anna Pigeon, a federal park ranger engaged to an Episcopal priest. Anna solves murder after murder when transferred from one national park to the next. In addition to an intriguing whodunit, readers get a mini-vacation as they visit Carlsbad Canyons National Park in Blind Descent or the Natchez Trace Parkway in Deep South.

Personally, I love to travel. As my husband and I investigate spots where we may someday retire, Iím finding plenty of settings for my books. My new series, Secrets of the South Mysteries, involves a variety of cities south of the Mason Dixon line. My current release, Midnight on the Mississippi, takes place in New Orleans and the backwaters of Terrebonne and Lafayette Parishes, Louisiana. Hunter Galen, a New Orleans securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, of embezzling their clientsí money, but heís reluctant to jeopardize their friendship. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life. Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbrokerís murder as she establishes herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen-Nowak Investments, Hunterís fiancťe, Ashley Menard, rubs her the wrong way. Nicki doesnít trust the ostentatious woman who seems to be hiding something, but is the PIís growing attraction to Hunteróthe policeís only suspectóher true reason for disliking Ashley? As Hunter and Nicki encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and death threats both subtle and overt, danger swirls around them like the mysterious dark water of the bayou. The second of the series, What Happened on Beale Street, takes place in Memphis, Tennessee, and will release in February.


Midnight on the Mississippi begins the new Secrets of the South Mysteries from bestselling author Mary Ellis. These complex crime dramas follow an investigator's quest to make the world a better place...solving one case at a time.

New Orleans--Hunter Galen, a stock and securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, may be involved in embezzling their clients' money, but he's reluctant to jeopardize their friendship based on suspicion alone. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life.

Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbroker's murder, recover the missing millions from the client accounts, and establish herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen Investments, Hunter's fiancee, Ashley Menard, rubs Nicki the wrong way. Nicki doesn't trust the ostentatious woman with an agenda longer than the Mississippi River. Ashley seems to be hiding something, but is Nicki's growing attraction to Hunter--a suspected murderer--her true reason for disliking Ashley?

As they encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and murder, Nicki and Hunter's only option is to turn to God as they search for answers, elude lethal danger, and perhaps discover love along the way.

"This kicks off a new series with quirky but lovable characters who are determined to make the world a better place, one complex crime case at a time. The storyline has many interesting layers for readers to discover, with twists and unexpected turns throughout." Romantic Times Bookreviews 4 1/2 stars


Read the first chapter of Midnight on the Mississippi here

Mary Ellis has written twelve novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances. Her latest series of mysteries is from Harvest House Publishers. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat and can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or www.maryeellis.wordpress.com or Facebook

Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, THE LAST HEIRESS, released in 2015. MIDNIGHT ON THE MISSISSIPPI set in New Orleans is the first of a new contemporary mystery series, Secrets of the South. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat.


Steamy August books...great for ending the summer

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Making the world a better place...solving one case at a time.


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Getting even. One step at a timeÖ


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Is he a keeper?


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Following her heart can make dreams come true!


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An unexpected catchÖ


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Every fighter has a weakness...


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This salon's styles are to die for.


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