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Ellison Russell’s life resembles a rollercoaster ride. And rollercoasters make her ill. Her daughter Grace has a crush on a boy Ellison doesn’t trust and she’s taken to hosting wild parties when Ellison goes out for the evening. Worse, the bank which represents Grace’s inheritance from her father may be in trouble.

When a meeting with the chef at the country club leads to the discovery of a body, Ellison can’t afford cold feet. She must save the bank, find the killer, and convince Grace (and herself) that powerful women don’t need men to rescue them.

Ellison, welcome to Island Confidential!  Tell our readers a little bit about yourself–maybe something they might not guess?

I’m Ellison Russell. I’m a mother, a painter, and a widow (if I wasn’t a widow I’d be a divorcee). Not too long ago, I swam into a body and my life has been chaos ever since.

I don’t mourn my late-husband (he was a horrid man who, arguably, got what he deserved) but I do worry about my daughter growing up without a father. And, when she gets herself into trouble, I wish Henry was still around—frankly, being a single mother in 1974 isn’t easy.

Who’s the character you get along with the best? 

Have you met Mr. Coffee? He changed my life. Truly. What other man does exactly what what I ask when I ask? Mr. Coffee listens. He doesn’t judge. And, he doesn’t tell me what to do. Instead, he provides me with as much coffee as I can drink (which is a lot).

There are women out there who still cling to their percolators. To them, I say, “Why? Just because your mother brewed coffee that way doesn’t mean you have to. The world is changing!”

Which other character do you have a conflict with? 

Mother and I have had our differences.

She is old-school and believes that a woman’s happiness depends on a man. She wants to see me married again.

After Henry, I’m not sure I’ll ever remarry. Why would I when I have Mr. Coffee to keep me company?

Also, Mother operates under the impression that I find bodies on purpose. She seems to think I go looking for corpses. Nothing could be further from the truth. I AVOID dead people.

The following is typical Mother:

Mother staggered.

I caught her elbow, led her to a settee, and crouched next to her when she sat. “Would you like a glass of water?” I wanted one—if only to rinse the awful taste from my mouth.

Her cheeks were pale, but she found the inner fortitude to say, “No. I do not want a glass of water.” Her shoulders squared and she glared at me. “That’s two this week, Ellison. If you keep this up, we won’t have any friends left.”

Two bodies in a week. Was it only Wednesday when Laurie’s body had turned up in a freezer? “It’s not my fault. I’m not killing them.”

Mother buried her head in her hands. “People are starting to avoid you. You’ll adopt a bunch of cats and grow old alone.”

 Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

Julie has the power to send me to St. Bart’s or Milan or Paris. Instead, she leaves me in Kansas City and throws bodies in my path. Why? I’m a nice woman. I volunteer. I write checks to worthy charities. I’m a good friend and a better mother. Yet, every time I turn around there’s another body.

You know what I think? I think Julie enjoys all those dead bodies. There must be something wrong with her.

What’s next for you?

In book seven, my best friend Libba drags me to a medium…

            “You are surrounded by death.”

            Oh dear Lord. Libba’s “medium” sat on one side of a small table. I sat on the other. I tugged against her vice-like grip on my hand.

            When Libba had said “medium” I’d imagined a woman in a turban (royal purple or turquoise) and long, flowing robes who was surrounded by the scent of patchouli. Someone who spoke with a foreign accent. The reality was an older woman with a surprisingly strong grip, wispy white hair, creped skin, liver spots, and fire engine red lipstick that had bled into the wrinkles surrounding her mouth. As for that accent—pure Brooklyn.

            “You cannot fight your fate.” Madame Reyna stared at my trapped palm through rhinestone speckled cat glasses as thick as Coke bottles. Those glasses made her eyes appear ten times larger than they actually were. Those eyes, dark and enormous, lent her an otherworldly air completely at odds with our surroundings—a gold brocade living room set covered with plastic slip covers, deep, recently raked shag carpet, macramé wall hangings, and a corduroy chair the size of Maryland. Dust motes waltzed through the half-hearted sunshine peeking through the curtains. The lingering scent of a late breakfast—bacon and fried eggs by the smell of it—hung in the air.

            Again I pulled at my hand.

            Madame Reyna held on. She leaned forward, peered more closely through her Coke-bottle glasses, and tsked. “So much death.”

            I shot Libba a look that should have killed her.

Ellison, thanks for stopping by! Anyone who’s interested in reading Ellison’s adventures from the beginning should start here

About The Author  

Julie Mulhern is the USA Today bestselling author of The Country Club Murders. She is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. Julie spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean is an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog, and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.

Julie Mulhern


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