G. A. McKevett is the author of the acclaimed Savannah Reid Mystery series and its spin-off, the Granny Reid Mysteries. Also writing under the name Sonja Massie, she has authored over 60 books ranging from cozy mysteries to historical romances to nonfiction works on the history of Ireland. Her earthy humor and fast-paced plots delight her fans, while critics applaud her offbeat characterizations and incisive observations on human nature. Irish by ancestry, she has lived in Toronto, Ireland, and Los Angeles, but now resides in New York.
G. A. McKevett shares a special message below exclusively with Southern Lady Book Club readers. Enjoy!
Dear Southern Lady Readers,
What an honor to have Murder in Her Stocking chosen as your book club selection! It means so much to me, because at the heart of this book are three of my favorite things: mysteries, grandchildren, and Christmas.
Growing up, as I did, in numerous small Southern towns in a household without a television or radio and few books, entertainment was a rare commodity and mostly self-generated. It took various forms, like compelling one’s younger siblings to dress in our parents’ clothes, learn lines, and perform Dickensian plays. (My little brother and sister weren’t big fans of this activity, and the family’s dalmatian was even less enthused. Neck scarf aside, he made a lousy Tiny Tim.)
But there were arts and crafts projects constructed of bits and pieces I scrounged from the house or the yard. You’d be surprised what you can do with a rock, a bottle cap, and a pinecone. If you save up enough popsicle sticks, you can make a purse that’s fairly fashionable. Well, okay—not exactly haute couture, but it kept me busy, off the streets, and out of the pool halls until I learned how to embroider a pillowcase.
Then there were the newspaper comic strips. Unfortunately, it took only a couple of minutes to read them. Five minutes for the Sunday edition. The exquisite joy of reading was all too fleeting, though it did beat the heck out of counting the cars on the Cotton Belt trains as they rattled by on the track across the street.
But then…then came the day my boredom ended. I made a momentous discovery. My local library would loan me books! Not little ten-page kiddie books. Real novels that took hours to read. A devoted and compassionate librarian guided me toward a shelf of books with deliciously dark, spooky covers. She told me they were called “mysteries,” and starred a brave, smart heroine named Nancy Drew. I’ve been in love with books, mysteries, and librarians ever since. Later, I had the honor of writing not only two murder mystery series of my own, but a Nancy Drew! Yes, I was Carolyn Keene. For one book anyway. Talk about childhood dreams fulfilled—circles of life and all that.
Another of my best, soul-deep passions is that of being a grandmother. I have five grandchildren myself. I truly believe the love we grandparents have for our grand-angels is one that must be experienced to be appreciated. Stella Reid adores her grandkids, all seven of them. In her mid-fifties, six years into her widowhood, she finds herself in need of a miracle, one that will save her grand-angels from a life fraught with danger and despair.
As you may have guessed from the cover and title, Murder in Her Stocking takes place during Christmas, my absolute favorite holiday. It’s the season when magic is real; streetlamps and storefronts glimmer with tinsel; trees glitter with beautiful, delicate ornaments collected, treasured, and enjoyed year after year. Beneath the trees’ twinkling branches, presents sparkle, inviting those whose names are written on the tags to guess their contents. Kitchens churn out goodies like baked hams with pineapple rings, candied yams, pies and cakes galore, and fudge. Wondrous, glorious FUDGE! People who don’t sing a note the rest of the year attempt a carol. And usually, there is a bit more charity shown to one’s fellow world travelers than on the other 364 days. Christmas is a time when hopes are high, faith is strong, and therefore, miracles can happen!
But just before Christmas, as Stella looks for her own family’s miracle in the rural town of McGill, Georgia, the night grows very dark indeed. The foulest of evils, murder itself, stalks the streets of the tiny, intimate community and leaves a beautiful woman, Prissy Carr, to die in a cold, dark alley. Stella finds her and, although she can’t save the younger woman’s life, Stella cradles Prissy in her arms and comforts her as she slips into the next world.
Heartsick and indignant, the strong, resourceful, and feisty Stella works with Sheriff Manny Gilford to uncover Prissy’s killer. It isn’t an easy task. Prissy played free and loose with more than one married McGillian man. As a result, she was hated by the town’s women and held in disdain by its men—even some of the guys who snuck up the staircase in the alley behind the saloon. The staircase that led to Prissy Carr’s boudoir.
As Stella strives to find a solution to her grandchildren’s life-threatening situation, she searches for Prissy’s killer, deals with a neighbor who’s going through serious marital problems, and clings to the hope that Christmas and its spirit of peace will bring comfort and joy to those she loves.
If you share my passions, if you love books and Christmas, if you are a grandmother or if you were ever blessed by the love of one, I believe you’ll enjoy Murder in Her Stocking. According to my fans who have read it, this book will make you laugh out loud and give you a sniffle here and there, but it will certainly get you into the Christmas spirit. Especially if you make some of Granny Reid’s Famous Fudge and share it with your book club friends while you chat about your favorite scenes.
May the joy and peace of the season fill your homes and hearts,
-Sonja Massie (G. A. McKevett)