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Books: Hell with the Lid Blown Off

Hell with the Lid Blown OffAn Alafair Tucker Mystery
Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: June 2014
Hardback: ISBN 9781464202988 – $24.95
Paperback: ISBN 9781464203008 – $14.95
Large Type Paperback: ISBN 9781464202995 – $22.95
eBook: ISBN 9781464203015 available from:  Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple or Amazon



In the summer of 1916, a big twister brings destruction to the land around Boynton OK.  Alafair Tucker’s family and neighbors are not spared the ruin and grief spread by the storm.  But no one is going to mourn for Jubal Beldon, who made it his business to know the ugly secrets of everyone in town. It doesn’t matter if Jubal’s insinuations are true or not. In a small town like Boynton, rumor is as damaging as fact.But as Mr. Lee the undertaker does his grim duty for the storm victims, he discovers that even in death Jubal isn’t going to leave his neighbors in peace.  He was already dead when the tornado carried his body to the middle of a fallow field. Had he died in an accident or had he been murdered by someone whose secret he had threatened to expose? There are dozens of people who would have been happy to do the deed, including members of Jubal’s own family.As Sheriff Scott Tucker and his deputy Trenton Calder look into the circumstances surrounding Jubal’s demise, it begins to look like the prime suspect may be someone very dear to the widow Beckie MacKenzie, the beloved music teacher and mentor of Alafair’s daughter Ruth.  Ruth fears that the secrets exposed by the investigation are going to cause more damage to her friend’s life than the tornado. Alafair has her own suspicions about how Jubal Beldon came to die, and the reason may hit very close to home.

Read an excerpt from Hell With The Lid Blown Off


Trenton Calder

The summer that Jubal Beldon was killed was the same summer that we had the big storm in Boynton, Oklahoma. It was because of the storm that we found out that Jubal got himself murdered, even though he’d of probably met a bad end, anyway.

There never was a more unpleasant fellow.

He drank and used bad language and relished making trouble for folks, but he was the only one of the Beldon boys who ever earned an honest nickel, as far as I knew.  He was unpleasant to his neighbors and mean when he could get away with it, so nobody that I ever heard of liked him much. But he was tender with animals and I gave him credit for that. The calves out at his farm were sleek and fat and well cared for, and for years he had had an old three-legged dog that he had rescued from a scrap heap when it was a pup. It was just people that he couldn’t get along with.

Trenton Calder is my name, and that June of 1916 I was deputy to Scott Tucker, the town sheriff. I’d been working for Scott for about five years when my ma sold the house and moved to Missouri, so I took up residence in the American Hotel, which was located across the street from the jail, right above the Boynton Mercantile. Conveniently, both those establishments were owned by Scott Tucker himself, and him and his wife Hattie let me live there for nothing.  He told me it was part of the wages for being his assistant, and I believed it whether it was true or not.

Scott had four sons of his own, so one more dragtail youngster didn’t bother him none. It was him taught me to shoot a handgun, along with his younger boys, Butch and Spike. My own daddy had showed me the use of a shotgun, but he died before he got around to teaching me the fine art of subduing a knife-wielding drunk by shooting him in the kneecaps.

I liked being a deputy.

Scott was one of the Muskogee County Tuckers. There must have been a thousand Tuckers living around eastern Oklahoma. You couldn’t hardly turn around without bumping into one. For a long time, my best friend was a cousin of Scott’s by the name of Bill McBride. But Bill got killed back in ’14, and after that I kind of took up with Gee Dub Tucker, who was the son of another one of Scott’s cousins. Ol’ Gee Dub was three years younger than me and he never did have much to say, but what he did say was either right to the point or blamed funny.  We used to go hunting together a lot.  He was the best shot with any kind of firearm that I ever did see, right to this day.

Gee Dub had eight sisters and one brother. Some of them were older than me, married with their own homes. But most were younger and I had a devil of a time keeping them straight.  Mostly I didn’t even try.

Boys were slim on the ground over to that farm. There was Gee Dub’s only brother Charlie, who was a mischievous kid, but likable as all get-out, and a mouthy little cousin named Chase Kemp who lived with them. Then there were the little girls, a passel of skipping, giggling little creatures who flitted around like butterflies, or dragonflies, or gnats. Gee Dub loved to tease and play with them, but I never had much to do with children, especially girls, so generally I just wanted to get on with it and never paid them too much mind.

I never even noticed when the girl just younger than Gee Dub moved into town to study music.