by: Tammy L. Grace
Series: Cooper Harrington Detective
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Lone Mountain Press
Coop's case takes an unexpected twist when he discovers the dead body of his latest client.
A newcomer to Nashville with a troublesome problem requests an emergency meeting with private detective Cooper “Coop” Harrington. When she fails to keep her appointment, Coop and Annabelle, his faithful friend and assistant, become worried and go in search of their new client. Their hopes for a quiet Sunday are dashed when they discover her dead body.
Coop and Annabelle find themselves immersed in the investigation, uncovering tenuous links to a handful of suspects. With the help of his loyal golden retriever, Gus, and meddling but well-meaning Aunt Camille, Coop works to untangle the web of connections to expose the motive and identity of the killer before anyone else is murdered.
Tammy L. Grace thought it was a good idea to sit Cooper Harrington down and introduce him to everyone. I love being able to see his personality come through with his answers. Enjoy.
Who are you?
My name is Cooper Harrington, but everyone calls me “Coop” and I’m a private investigator based in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m the main character in the Cooper Harrington Detective Novels, by Tammy L. Grace.
What? No small talk? Oh, yes, I have a few. Off the top of my head, I tend to overindulge in coffee. I’ve been told I can be sarcastic. Apparently, I have a commitment problem when it comes to women. I can’t seem to find the right one. I don’t easily forgive, especially when it comes to my mother.
Are you healthy?
Overall, I’m in good health. My right-hand, Annabelle, or “AB”, is doing her best to help me comply with my doctor’s recommendations to cut back on coffee and peanut M&M’s. She’s also forcing me to go to the gym in the mornings. I need to do a better job and I could be healthier. I also have suffered from chronic insomnia for years.
Tell us about a defining moment in your life?
That’s a tough one. I think when Uncle John died would be a day I label as a defining moment. I had worked with him while I attended Vanderbilt University. He was a career police detective and when he retired he started Harrington & Associates. AB and I worked for him during our college years. We both graduated with law degrees and joined Uncle John. I discovered I enjoyed the investigative work even more than the law, but do both. When Uncle John died I took over the business. He was a great mentor and I still miss him, but do my best to honor his memory.
How old are you?
I’m in my forties. Let’s leave it at that.
Do you get along with your parents?
That’s a complicated question. I am close to my dad. He lives in Nevada, where I grew up. I came to Nashville to attend college and lived with Uncle John, my dad’s brother, and Aunt Camille. They had no children and treated me like their own son. When I went away to college, my mother left my father and we’ve had a distant and rocky relationship ever since. I don’t see her often, which works for me. I haven’t forgiven her, which goes back to your earlier question about my weaknesses. It’s an unresolved situation and has been for more than twenty years.
What’s your favorite beverage? Favorite food?
Finally, an easy one. Coffee is my favorite beverage, but I’m cutting back and drink more decaf these days. I’m also a big fan of sweet tea. When it comes to food, I like too many things. One of my favorites is Aunt Camille’s chocolate pecan chunk cookies. They’re to die for.
Do you have a favorite item of clothing?
As a matter of fact I do. I have a collection of humorous t-shirts. AB says they’re snarky, but I think they’re funny. I tend to dress casually and wear one each day. I enjoy finding new ones to add to my collection.
What’s your most prized possession?
That would be my golden retriever, Gus. He’s my best buddy and always makes me smile. He’s a bit spoiled. He’s got his own leather chair in my office and even has a dog bed in the office of my best friend, Ben, who happens to be the Chief of Detectives in Nashville.
What do you drive?
I drive a vintage Jeep. Gus loves to ride with me and is always in the passenger seat, unless AB is with us.
What’s your favorite scent?
My first thought goes to food. I love the smell of coffee and bacon and my aunt’s Sunday suppers.
How about your favorite music?
I’ve lived in Nashville for over twenty years…country, of course.
Is there anything in your past you’d like to forget?
I’d like to forget the feeling of betrayal when my mom took off. I don’t think about it much, probably because it’s too painful.
What are the last five entries in your checkbook?
Hmm…I tend to pay with my card more than checks. So, I would say credit card payments, but I don’t think I’ve written a check in ages. I pay most things online, or should I say AB does. She manages the office and handles my personal accounts.
If we saw you at the grocery store, what ten items would you have in your cart?
I’m not much of a shopper. I don’t know that I’ve ever had ten items in a cart, or even a cart. I’m a bit spoiled myself. I still live with Aunt Camille. She’s got a large estate and I have my own wing in the house, complete with a home office. Aunt Camille has a housekeeper who takes care of all the shopping. Usually I run to the store only if I’m out of something like shaving cream or deodorant. You’re more apt to find me picking up donuts or lunch than actual groceries.
Do you run from or embrace conflict?
I’m a lawyer, what do you think? Like one of my favorite shirts says, “I’m not arguing, I’m just explaining why I’m right.” My business is full of conflicts and it’s one of the things I enjoy most about my work.
Are you honorable?
Yes, I would say I’m honorable and trustworthy. I sometimes might bend the rules a little, but it’s always in pursuit of the truth. I work to do the right thing and do my best to help those who need it most.
Who are the most important people in your life?
Aunt Camille is my only family in Nashville and ranks at the top of my list. She’s a bit nosy when it comes to my cases, but I’d be lost without her. AB and Ben have been my closest friends since college and I think of them as family and count them as two of the most important people in my world. My dad and brother are also foremost in my mind, but I don’t see them often, as they both live thousands of miles away.
Thanks for spending some time with us, Coop. Anything you want to add?
It was a pleasure. I would encourage your readers to give my series a try. If they like fast-paced whodunits, in the style of the Hallmark Mystery Movies, I think they’ll enjoy the series. I was honored to have the first book, KILLER MUSIC, win the 2016 Gold Medal in the Global E-Book Awards. Readers have told us the second book, DEADLY CONNECTION is even better. If your readers enjoy them, I’d be grateful if they left a positive review on Amazon. It always makes my day to read a flattering assessment.
Friday morning, Coop was ensconced in his favorite booth at Peg’s Pancakes across from his best friend and Chief of Detectives, Ben Mason. They had been meeting for breakfast every Friday for the last twenty years, having met in school at Vanderbilt. Although they couldn’t be more unalike in looks, with Ben short, stocky, and balding, and Coop tall and lanky, with a full head of dark hair, they were closer than brothers. They were discussing the current state of crime in Nashville, with Ben focused on the hit and run.
“So, no leads yet?” asked Coop.
Ben shook his head and moved his coffee cup to make room for Myrtle’s delivery. She placed two heaping plates in front of each of them. “Y’all eat up now. Anything else for my two favorite men?”
Coop smiled. “Looks delicious. I just need AB’s order before we leave.”
Myrtle smiled and turned to retrieve the coffee pot. She refilled their cups and said, “I’d never forget that sweet girl. I’ll be back with her box in a jiffy.”
“No leads. From the camera feeds it looks like a black SUV, no plates, nothing to identify it, and dark windows. We’re trying to enhance everything, but with the rain and the reflection of the lights, the quality is horrible.”
Coop shook his head. “Tragic situation all around. Looked like a nice kid.”
Ben nodded as he stuffed a wedge of pancake in his mouth. “Nobody had anything negative to say about him. I can’t figure out why the car didn’t stop though. Speeding away doesn’t help your case when you’ve hit a man.”
Myrtle returned with the check and a box she placed in front of Coop. “There y’all be.”
Ben’s phone rang and he wiped the syrup from his mouth and answered. “Got it. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He disconnected and took a swig of his coffee.
Ben nodded. “Homicide in Bells Bend. Guy shot to death while running.”
“Another reason I don’t like exercise,” said Coop, puffing up his chest so Ben could get a look at his t-shirt of the day. It read, Exercise? I thought you said extra fries.
Ben smirked and shook his head. He threw some bills on the table. “My turn this week. Give AB a hug from me.”
“Catch ya later,” waved Coop, as Ben slid out of the booth.
Myrtle came by the table and let out a tsk. “That poor man never gets to enjoy a meal anymore.” She filled Coop’s cup. “Too many hooligans in the world today.”
“There’s been a murder. He had to go.” He shoved the money and the check to Myrtle. “Keep the change.”
She beamed and tucked the money in her apron pocket. “See you boys next week.”
Coop gathered the box and took one more gulp from his cup before leaving through the glass doors, festooned with holly and berries for the holidays. He jumped in the Jeep and Gus lifted his head, sniffing the box.
“That’s not for you, big guy.” Coop petted the golden retriever’s head, causing a thumping frenzy of the dog’s tail.
He drove the few blocks to Harrington and Associates and parked behind the renovated three-story home that served as his offices. Gus bounded out of the Jeep and waited by the back door. Coop turned the handle and the dog slid across the wood floor, his paws wet from the rain.
Coop found AB at her desk and deposited her breakfast. He leaned over and engulfed her in a one armed hug. “That’s from Ben.”
She jumped in surprise and then laughed. “How’s our favorite Chief of Detectives this fine rainy morning?”
“Busy. He’s working the hit and run downtown and just got a call for a homicide in Bells Bend.”
She popped open her box and eyed the raspberry filled pancakes topped with more raspberry compote and fresh whipped cream. “Poor Ben.” She dug into the breakfast and moaned. “This is to die for. Thank you for breakfast.”
“Just another perk for being the best lawyer slash office manager in Tennessee. He gave her a sheepish grin. “It was Ben’s turn this week.” He saw Gus had positioned himself under AB’s desk, with only his tail hanging out. The dog knew he could count on a morsel from his bestie. She chuckled as she forked in another bite. “I gave the kids some time off. They’re trying to study for finals next week.” She glanced at the empty office where two interns from Vanderbilt were usually housed.
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Tammy L. Grace is the award-winning author of The Hometown Harbor Series of women’s fiction set in the picturesque San Jan Islands in Washington and a mystery series set in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring Cooper Harrington, Private Detective.
Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. When Tammy isn't working on ideas for a novel, she's spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.
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