Portia Andrade has known since her early teens that the scenes which played before her eyes like a movie were instances woven in the fabric of Time. Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell if the haunting depictions occurred hundreds of years ago or yesterday. As an adult, she has tried everything from meditation to medication to quell the visions. However when her feisty sister is the most likely suspect in the murder of the young actress found stabbed to death in the courtyard of the Andrade House Hotel, Portia draws upon her complete arsenal of weapons – her gift, the research skills of her current boyfriend and the investigative knowledge of her ex-husband – to keep her sister out of jail amid a media storm of bad press.
A midnight gala in honor of Talia McCormick, Hollywood’s latest ingénue, has all the delights New Orleans has to offer from blackened alligator to an authentic jazz second-line under the majestic shadows of St. Louis Cathedral. But by the time the last silk handkerchief is waved, the young actress lies dying on an oyster-shelled path and Portia must embrace the most frightening part of herself because family is just that important.
Set in New Orleans, Upon an Oyster-Shelled Path, uses the culture of the Afro-Cuban and Creole communities where either you are related to or went to school with everyone else as Portia’s ally in her quest to clear her sister’s name. This completed 25,000 word novella, intended to introduce the Andrade House Mystery series, can be included in an anthology or made available as a stand-alone title for readers of cozy mysteries looking for a culturally diverse amateur sleuth in an exciting setting.
The First Page
Hollywood had invaded the quiet neighborhood of Algiers Point, located a ferry’s ride across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter. From her spot on the balcony, Portia could see the majestic steeple of St. Louis’ cathedral peeking over the horizon silhouetted against a bright cloudless sky. Double shotgun houses neatly lined the riverbank in an array of pastels from blues to pinks to yellows. It was a picture perfect snapshot that could have been taken in the early 1900s.
The only exceptions were the vans parked haphazardly along the narrow streets each with the vivid logo from a different television station. And the crowd of onlookers spilling beyond the restriction gates set up by the Algiers Point Commission to mingle with the cameramen and newscasters.
All were jostling for the best view of the star of last summer’s hit Midnight’s Kiss, Talia McCormick. All were trampling the manicured foliage of historic Algiers Point.
Portia’s stomach flipped. Danielle LeBlanc, current APC President, would surely speak with her about this later. The thought of speaking with Danielle, her perfectly coiffed eighty’s styled mushroom swinging about her thin angular face made Portia cringe and take another puff of her offensive cigarette.
She never smoked while working. Hollywood had done this to her. The people, the planning, the drama combining in a massive early morning headache and the need for just one before she could continue with the rest of the day.
Not that she wasn’t grateful.
Midnight’s Kiss had provided amazing opportunities for her family. Her sister, Jewel, was now an Oscar winning costume designer for a hit movie. The Andrade House Hotel, chosen as the backdrop for key scenes in the first film, was now slated for a more prominent showcasing in the upcoming production of Midnight’s Kiss: Renewal. She was the event planner for Talia McCormick’s First Annual Midnight Ball for Literacy this evening. It couldn’t get better than that.
A cacophony of screeching snarls and high-pitched whines erupted from her bedroom and demanded her attention. Portia took another quick puff and crushed the cigarette beneath her sneakered foot. Taking a cleansing breath, she stepped inside.
To view the first pages of my fellow minions, please click here!
To read Portia Andrade’s premier short story, please click here!