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J.D. Daniels’ ‘A Gift of Oleander’ entertaining read

May 17, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Local author J.D. Daniels has completed her fourth "Jessie Murphy" mystery - "A Gift of Oleander." The book was released on Amazon a few months ago and Daniels held a book signing at CW Fudge in March.

In each of the four books, the central character is Murphy. The back cover of Daniels' first book "Through Pelican Eyes" describes the central character perfectly...

"I've always thought that Matlacha, the funky Pine Island, Florida fishing village cum art colony would be a perfect setting for a mystery, when along comes Jessie Murphy, the perfect gal to sort out the riff from the raff of it all. You've got to love this lady, a Goodwill fashion queen, who comes across as a ditzy airhead whose best buddy is a Gargoyle named Gar."

A "snowbird," Murphy travels back and forth from Matlacha to Boston. It seems she can't return to Matlacha without facing a murder that needs investigating. This time Jessie takes the train from Boston to Orlando. Aboard the train she meets Simon Hill and his wife, Beverly, who, coincidentally, are also going to Matlacha. When the train arrives in Orlando, Jessie notices EMTs and police rushing to the train and she learns Simon Hill is dead. As she leaves the train, a porter hands her a note: "Miss Murphy, I need to talk to you. Simon Hill."

All four Jessie Murphy mysteries have a parade of colorful characters but one of the most fun aspects of these books is they are filled with local establishments. "A Gift of Oleander Daniels" weaves in Miceli's, Bert's Pine Bay Gallery, Bridgewater Inn, Woody's and CW Fudge. Daniels even works in the Cape Coral annexation issue Pine Islanders are facing.

The murder of Simon Hill kicks off the plot where Jessie and her friend Zen comb through the suspects to find the killer. Is it Simon Hill's wife Beverly, his mistress Helen, Zen's boyfriend Breece, Shirin from the train, a woman named Moon McCain - a 6-foot-5 former basketball star, or the preacher Paul Lowinski?

Daniels was raised in Iowa and discovered her desire to become a writer as a child listening to her mom read stories.

"Out of seven siblings on our apple orchard, I was the one who, while my sisters and brothers were out milking the cows and feeding the pigs, was found lying on a blanket under an apple tree with a book in her hand," Daniels wrote on her website.

Some of the authors that have influenced Daniels writing are: Carl Jung, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Carolyn Heilbrun, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Edgar Cayce and Agatha Christie.

In "A Gift of Oleander" Daniels captures the spirit and inspiration of Agatha Christie. Daniels weaves a suspenseful plot to a surprise ending.

Each of the first three Jessie Murphy mysteries have very positive reviews. Two books received five stars and one book has 4 1/2 stars.

One reviewer of "Mayhem in Matlacha" (Book 3) said, "So glad to see Jessie Murphy is back on the job! Loved the first two in the series and am super happy with this one..

The Jessie Murphy series of four books is available at Amazon:

"Through Pelican Eyes" (Volume 1)

"Quick Walk to Murder" (Volume 2)

"Mayhem in Matlacha" (Volume 3)

"A Gift of Oleander" (Volume 4)



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