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“A delightful read!” – Mary Baker
“I couldn’t read it fast enough to see what happened. I want to know more about each and every character.” – Valerie Witt
“I especially enjoyed getting to know Packi and Deputy Tieg. The story had me suspicious of various characters and I couldn’t wait to find time to continue my read.” — Nancy Sorci
The Paradise Palms women’s tennis team jumps into action after they find the body of a flashy real estate developer floating in Gator Lake.
Packi Walsh wheedles her way into the investigation by bribing a cranky deputy with homemade cookies. Her snooping uncovers real estate fraud, irate investors, an affair between a trophy wife and her tennis pro, and a connection between the friendly neighborhood pharmacist and the New Jersey mob.
Now someone tries to silence Packi by making her gator bait.
Packi Walsh is a widow and new to the Paradise Palms ladies’ tennis team, but that doesn’t stop her from leading the team in a quest to save their favorite alligator, Big Joe. Packi, a volunteer at the nature preserve, spots a body bobbing in the pond at the same time as Big Joe sees his next meal. Convinced of the gator’s innocence, Packi rallies her new tennis team, the fourth-grade science class, and the local motorcycle gang to campaign to save Big Joe’s hide.
The tennis team, Deputy Teig, and a homeless man try to keep the feisty sleuth safe, but the real killer stalks Packi as steadily as an alligator hunts its prey.
Gator Bait – A Tennis Team Mystery is available in e-book and paperback versions on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore, other retail outlets, and from the trunk of my car.
Wolf Pack – Mystery on Isle Royale
Jeanne Meeks’ fresh voice and captivating story will have you reading well into the night.
– Lydia T. Ponczak, Author and TV personality
Can a backpacking trip to an island famous for its wolves mend the relationship between Amy and her grown daughter? Will murder and blackmail bring them together––or will they be buried on Isle Royale?
Emboldened by her adventures in the Grand Canyon, Amy Warren again laces up her hiking boots. She ferries with her daughter, Meagan, to Isle Royal National Park. When volunteer ranger Sarah Rochon is accused by a co-worker of assault and theft, Amy is torn between spending precious time with Meagan and clearing her best friend’s name.
When Amy rescues Remington, a pampered Havanese show dog, from the frigid waters of Lake Superior, he becomes her champion. Together they sniff out clues to the evil that threatens the natural tranquility of the magical island.
“Wolf Pack” is available in e-book and paperback versions on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore, and other retail outlets.
RIM To RIM – Death in the Grand Canyon
Empowering Women, Dispensing Adventure
Ladies take note: Jeanne Meeks has created a first novel that puts her up in the company of fine adventure/mystery writers, especially those for whom the novel seems intended – women standing on the brink of decision about taking control of their lives. –– Grady Harp, LA reviewer
The reader is drawn in to her every emotion and will celebrate her triumph at the end. A truly glorious read…pick it up and you will not stop until its done. — a reader from Jacksonville, FL
RIM To RIM: When her husband serves her with divorce papers for her fiftieth birthday, Amy Warren plans to rebuild her self-esteem by backpacking across the Grand Canyon. She trains for a difficult hike: heat, rock slides, rattlesnakes; but when she finds a mangled body in a ravine and a series of suspicious events occur along the trail, the adventure takes a dangerous twist.
Amy’s new friendship with experienced backpacker, Sarah Rochon, encourages her to conquer the canyon’s natural dangers. Ranger Glen Hawk tries to safeguard the women from the unnatural dangers, but his protection and affection are rebuffed. Trapped on a narrow ledge, Amy discovers her inner strengths, faces her fears, and brings peace back to the Grand Canyon and into her life.
Also available at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 W. Madison Street, Forest Park IL, 708-771-7243, http://www.centuriesandsleuths.com
To read a sample of RIM To RIM, scroll down to the end of this page.
Eternally Yours, Robert
Looking for the passion she had denied herself years ago, Rose runs away. She knows she’ll find Robert at the lovely old Empire Hotel in French Lick, Indiana. Under the scrutiny of the hotel staff, Rose awaits Robert’s arrival, lays out a red satin gown, and hopes she’ll recognize the man she left behind.
“An excellently written, fascinating story that you’ll want to read right to the end. -Lydia T. Ponczak, Author and TV Personality
“Eternally Yours, Robert was wonderful. Made me cry and that is a good thing to do sometimes.” – Patricia Walsh, Murietta, CA
Can deception lead to romance? Jim Szewiski, a softball player with the Southside Chuggers, borrows another man’s persona to improve his batting average with women and gets more than he bargained for.
The Chuggers know Jim as a dependable third baseman. His employer knows him as a decent accountant. But who is he really? Jim is tired of striking out and decides to swing for the fences––Chicago’s night life and rich, single women.
Home Run is an ironic short story about love and lies. Available in e-book format on Amazon.com. Click here: http://amzn.com/B00E7SLOI8
Thank you for reading my work. I appreciate every comment and review I receive.
RIM TO RIM-Death in the Grand Canyon – A Sampling
Nervous about my flight that day to Phoenix, I awoke at dawn and padded down the carpeted staircase in my bare feet. The cold marble floor in the foyer shocked me out of my groggy state. I tiptoed through the great room into the kitchen. The strong aroma of fresh-brewed coffee would reach John on the couch and wake him gradually. We could get to O’Hare on time and—if I made it easy for him—without an argument.
I nuked oatmeal for myself and sat with my hot tea in the bay window waiting, watching frosted leaves fall from the giant oaks behind the house. A familiar ache reminded me that he no longer held me, no longer said he was proud of me, but––when had he ever? I couldn’t remember. I had tried to keep up: stayed trim, wore make up, covered bits of gray with a brunette tint. He liked my long hair at least, though it had become a bother.
I set out his favorite coffee mug and thought about how I had pulled him through college and was his cheerleader as he struggled with his business. Shouldn’t he encourage me now?
Going into the wilderness had been a lifelong dream, a postponed dream, a silly dream for a wife and mother. Still, I yearned to experience wildness, self-reliance, and to be strong enough. A thrill caught in my throat as I thought of the planned hike across the Grand Canyon––a huge step outside my comfort zone. Fear urged me to cancel. I know I’m too old, but this is all I’ve got, this body, this time.
Frost on the windows began to melt, running away in tiny gray rivers. My reflection and my courage washed away with them. I’d better wake him.
Only then, I noticed that the television wasn’t flickering in the great room. His blankets weren’t on the couch. Maybe he never came home. I checked the nearest bathroom.
“John?” I said aloud.
The furnace hummed and the grandfather clock dinged at the quarter hour. Did he sneak into bed, and I somehow missed him?
I stopped at the foot of the stairs when an envelope on the table in the foyer caught my eye. That wasn’t there last night. I turned the fine linen stationery over and ran my finger over the raised embossed lettering in the upper left corner, John H. Warren, Architectural Designs.
My name stood out in bold letters on the envelope’s face. I slipped the note out and took it into the kitchen’s light, squinting at the single sheet. I fetched my glasses and read what my husband of twenty-nine years had to say in twelve-point, Times New Roman font.
I’m moving on with my life.
I adjusted my bifocals to make sure I’d read that right.
My attorney will have papers drawn up by the time you return from this foolish trip of yours. You’ll fail at that, too, of course. Get yourself a lawyer.
My head began to throb. I skipped over the list of attorneys he recommended, skipped over additional ridicule of my backpacking, how it embarrassed us both. No signature. I turned over the paper searching for a sign that he loved me. Who am I kidding? This one is final. I pictured John sneaking back into the house and pecking away at his keyboard to deliver the blow while I slept.
I sunk into a kitchen chair and let my tea grow cold.
PHOENIX SKY HARBOR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
My smart phone chirped as soon as I turned it on. I stood off to the side, out of the stream of passengers deplaning, and jabbed at the icons. The numbers disappeared. Shoot. Without my reading glasses, I couldn’t have seen the message anyway. Maybe John had a change of heart. I pushed that fantasy out of my head. Probably Karen looking for me.
I swiped and poked at the screen. The salesman said I’d hate the new phone for a week until I got used to it. He was half right. I bought the thing a month ago and still hated the electronic nightmare. Half my messages got lost. The clock was the phone’s saving grace—at least I could see the huge numerals. 10:09. Karen’s plane should have landed twenty minutes ago. The monitors said her Indianapolis flight had arrived on schedule, so I followed the signs to baggage claim. Maybe I’d find her there.
The weather back in Chicago had been wet and blustery, a typical October day. Yet, here in Phoenix the sun beat through the high windows, causing my fellow passengers to strip off their jackets and sweaters. A good analogy for the start of my new life, I thought. I stuffed that idea, along with my fleece, into my carry-on bag before scanning the crowd around carousel two for my hiking partner. I then glanced down the row of other, mostly empty carousels. No Karen.
I moved a short distance away from the crush of passengers to find a bit of quiet and dug my glasses out of my bag. My not-so-smart phone’s call-log listed three messages from Karen. None from John. I groaned aloud. She missed her plane. Or she’s lost. I tapped the green phone icon and waited for her to answer.
“Amy,” Karen cried. “I’m so sorry.”
“What? Where are you?”
“I’m still in Indianapolis. We were on I-65, driving to the airport. A pick-up truck swerved into our lane and forced us off the road.”
“Oh my god. Are you all right?”
“Yes, yes,” Karen said. “Just banged up. We hit the guardrail.”
“Your daughter was driving? Is she okay?”
“A little bruised. She’s fine. But, Amy, I banged my knee on the dashboard. I can’t even think about backpacking.”
“No, of course not.” Panic crept in. “You have to take it easy.”
“I’m sick about missing our trip after we planned everything and trained so hard. Now I’ve left you in a lurch. I’m so sorry. Are you in Phoenix?”
“Yeah, I just arrived.” I tried to sound calm and casual, but anxiety churned in my stomach. “The most important thing is that you and Tammy weren’t seriously hurt.”
Karen apologized over and over as we talked a little longer. All the while, my resolve withered. How could I hike across the Grand Canyon without Karen? Fear threatened to take over. I had to get off the phone before Karen caught on.
This can’t be happening. I sank onto the metal mesh bench and wondered about the next return flight to Chicago. But why go back? John abandoned me and now . . . How can I possibly spend five days in the canyon alone? I can use my achy knees as my excuse. Maybe I should skip the hike and get a room on the South Rim for the week.
My misery must have shown as I argued with myself. People glanced at me with hooded interest while they waited for their luggage to appear from the baggage handlers’ underworld.
I sniffled and turned away to find a tissue. You’ll never make it. You’re too old. John’s pronouncements echoed and beat me up all over again. Maybe he was right.
Dang it. Fight back. I reminded myself that I trained all summer to prove John wrong. Karen had trained with me, plodding for hours up and down the Palos toboggan slide staircase, working out, building muscle. I choked back my fear. One step at a time, Amy.
The harsh buzzer sounded and the baggage carousel clattered to life. People jostled for position as suitcases, boxes, and golf bags tumbled down the chute. I spotted my green, wheeled duffle bag and moved to intercept it further along the conveyor belt.
Elbows and suitcases buffeted me as I fought my way to where I’d last seen my bag. I scanned the conveyor belt. My green bag with the yellow ribbon had moved to the opposite side. I glued my eyes to it and wove through the mob of passengers.
A young man in his late teens, wearing a gray tee shirt and black jeans, had his eye on my bag, too. He lifted it with ease from the logjam. It was the sort of kindness my son had done in his teenage years after he discovered his muscles. Good things happen after all. This trip will be fine. I wanted to thank the young man for extracting my luggage, but he turned away and dragged my duffle bag with him.
“Wait!” I darted around old people pushing carts and children sitting on piles of luggage. I tried not to pass judgment on the eyebrow rings and dime-sized gages poking through the kid’s earlobes, but he strode away with my camping gear. I ran to keep up.
“Excuse me. Excuse me.” I reached out to touch the spiderweb tattoo on his arm. “You have my bag,” I said.
His goatee twitched in my direction. “It’s mine.” He didn’t make eye contact and kept moving.
I ran ahead to put myself in front of him. “Check the luggage tag.”
“It’s my stuff,” he growled.
I reached for the ID tag, but he jerked to the side and quickened his pace.
The claim stub that matched the airline’s sticker lost itself in my carry-on bag. It would prove me right, if only I could find it. I spent five seconds searching. To heck with that.
I kept the kid’s slicked-back hair in sight and sprinted after the gear I had so carefully collected. My tent, my backpack, my boots. I closed my fist around the canvas strap on the back end of the duffle and dug in my heels. I yanked the young man to a halt.
He glanced over his shoulder.
Ignoring his scowl and the black gages piercing his earlobes, I mustered my courage. I put on my stern employer face and tightened my grip. “This is my bag.”
With one jerk, he won the tug of war.
An abrasion burned the palm of my hand. I clutched the injury to my chest for a second, then lunged after the disappearing bag, clawing to get a hold of the handle. The crowd parted and flowed around my struggle.
“Stop!” A female voice of authority brought me to a standstill.
A woman, about my age, in a white shirt with a red bandana tied loosely at her throat blocked the young man’s path. His momentum took him nose to nose with her. She stood an inch shorter, but made up for the lack of height with an attitude and a solid build. A dark green backpack, big enough for a week on the trail, hung from her shoulder adding bulk to her figure.
The man sidestepped. Her chest obstructed his path again.
He glowered at her. “Outta my way.”
“The lady says you have her bag.” Tight dark curls bounced around her fierce face, adding emphasis to her words. “Shall we call the guard to settle this?” She jerked her thumb toward a uniform leaning against a post fifty feet away.
The woman kept her eyes on the punk’s face. Their scowls battled until his lip curled into a sneer.
“My bad.” He dropped his end of the bag and stalked off.
I snatched up the canvas strap and stared after him, my mouth agape.
“What a load of crap,” the woman said.
We watched the kid retreating through a throng of travelers, each dragging luggage of all shapes and sizes. Groups of twos and threes exited through automatic doors letting sunlight flash into the terminal. Silhouetted against one snapshot of brightness, a taller man shoved the tattooed kid in the shoulder in rough greeting. The doors blinked shut behind them.
“You okay?” the woman asked, her face softened. A grin accentuated her red-apple cheeks.
“No harm done.” Still shaken by the experience, I offered my hand and received a firm, businesslike grip in return. The abrasion on my palm stung, but I ignored the pain. “Thanks for intervening. Nobody else seemed to care.”
She was maybe fifty-two, tan and strong, the outdoors woman I aspired to be.
“He really wanted your bag. Do you want to report this to security?”
No more issues, please. I gave my head a quick shake. “We’ve seen the last of him.”
“Hope so.” She looked down at me and adjusted a leather thong around her neck. A joke played behind her brown eyes. “Have a nice trip.” She shifted the backpack on her shoulder and turned toward the exit.
There goes a real backpacker. Her clothes were perfect: a breezy shirt, quick-dry pants, a brimmed hat hanging flat against her back. I had studied brands for months and bought the best, but she found the look I envied—an efficient pack, well-worn boots, and an abundance of confidence. My own inadequacy and jangled nerves added weight to the nylon duffle bag I dragged toward ground transportation. Reassured that such a woman existed, I put one foot in front of the other and moved on.
* * *
While waiting for the shuttle bus to the car rental agency, I found a quiet corner to calm myself, away from the flow of passengers exiting the airport. I sat on my duffle bag, propped my elbows on my knees, and tried to think of a reason not to turn around and go home. This is your dream. Envision the Grand Canyon. Beautiful plateaus. The river. I sighed and kneaded my fingertips into my forehead. I can’t do this.
Weariness defeated me until I pictured John gloating over my failed hike. I won’t give him the satisfaction. I yanked open the green duffle bag and pulled out my two-toned brown backpack, boots, and straw cowboy hat. Look the part, feel the part. I transitioned from traveler to backpacker.
The bus chugged to a stop at the curb, so I gave my bootlaces a final tug and threw my traveling shoes and carry-on bag into the duffle. I hoisted my pack onto my shoulder and rushed to join the line.
The driver greeted passengers and took their luggage. Unwilling to relinquish my gear to anyone, I said hello and climbed aboard to stow my own backpack and duffle bag on the rack. I settled into the nearest seat, leaned my head against the window, and rested my eyes. Another step forward. I can do this.
That odd feeling of being watched made me open my eyes and look around. Behind the tourists with their golf shirts and Bermuda shorts, I spotted the woman with the red bandana. She returned my nod with that little grin she had had earlier.
Now or never, Amy. The bus is filling up. A big man plopped down next to me, making the decision easy. I stood to switch seats and the woman put on a real smile. She nodded toward the long back seat next to her.
I held out my hand. “My name is Amy. Thanks again for coming to my rescue back there. My trip would’ve been over if he’d taken my bag by mistake.”
“Sarah Rochon. Sit. Glad I could help, but that was no mistake.”
She was right, of course, but I was working very hard to keep positive thoughts. “But why would he steal my bag?”
Sarah widened her eyes. “Because you look like a brand new backpacker and would have all new equipment?”
I groaned. “Do I really look like such a novice?”
“New Mountain Hardware shirt, new convertible pants.” She laughed. “I wondered if you were a backpacker. Now I see that pack—as big as you are.” She pointed to the rack. “You’re a serious backpacker.”
Though delighted with the description, my confidence faltered under her gentle teasing. I pushed the conversation to safer ground.
“Where are you headed, Sarah?”
“The canyon. South Rim.”
“Same here.” I loved talking about hiking itineraries, trailheads, gear—anything backpacking. “My plan is to shuttle from the South Rim to the North Rim and hike across the canyon from there.”
“Really?” Sarah looked me up and down. “Have you trained?”
John’s criticisms came to mind as I defended my plan to the woman—and myself. I told her about my mileage, repetitions on the stairs, and Karen’s car accident. I hoped it was enough to prove I was capable.
“I’ve hiked the canyon twice,” Sarah said with a light flick of her hand. “You’ll be fine.
Her approval sent an unwarranted flood of relief through me. I grinned like a fool and quickly calculated what it might be to travel with the woman. How bad could she be? No twitching, no furtive looks. She looked sane and responsible.
I had hired hundreds of employees during my years in business. My character assessments were usually right, so I trusted my instincts. “Shall we carpool to the South Rim together—share expenses?”
“Absolutely. Anything to cut costs.” Sarah jumped on the idea so fast, I began to second guess myself. It’s been a heck of a day. Maybe my judgment is off.
I hoped my impetuous invitation wouldn’t come back to haunt me.
* * *
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