About the Book:
Georgia S. Jensen, thank you kindly, finally convinces her husband of many years that nothing but good can come from her proposed business, Historical Research, By George!, never dreaming that she was about to research her way to a dead body. Everything works just as she’d predicted until an assignment involving land and money, draws her and her friend, Ellie Forsythe, into a search, not only for family links on behalf of her client, but also for clues to her client’s murderer. Ellie, along for the ride when Georgia’s husband refuses to go to Kentucky, helps as Georgia sifts through funeral home records, state archive microfilm and old cemetery records. Keeping Georgia’s sometimes acerbic personality in check is an added chore Ellie faces with increasing frequency as they move closer and closer to finding the solutions. Not just to the original problem, but a nasty case of murder as well.
Shocked to find themselves embroiled in a murder, maybe the result of that research, they decide that their expertise would help police, whether the police want it or not. They are determined to see it through to the end, possibly their own when they come face to face with the killer who is equally determined to destroy their research results, along with their bodies. Neither Georgia nor her buddy admits their age might be a handicap in facing any situation, but will mere faith in their own abilities be enough to save the research and their hides from the killer’s plan to send them up in smoke.
A little about Georgia
Georgia is modern older woman who refuses to sit back and grow old gracefully. Very different from her grandmother, she wears jeans, plays golf, and is highly disdainful of anyone who sees her as "beyond the age of Medicare entitlement." In short, she hasn’t got time to grow old, and it becomes apparent in her attitudes, her humor, her crustiness and her refusal to fit the mold. Her friendship with Ellie Forsythe has lasted through the years because they share the same beliefs, although they display them in very different ways.
Finding a dead body wasn’t part of the job description I associated with being an historical researcher. It was a downright gruesome experience. Especially since it was my client lying in a ravine about twelve feet below me, his arms and legs splayed out like a discarded toy figure. It was also a grim reminder of my own mortality, knowing that the body’s former occupant was at least ten years younger than me. To make it even worse, he hadn’t finished paying his bill for my research services before he decided to ‘slip the bonds of earth.’
Never in my most warped moments did I imagine that my little, retiree’s one-woman operation would bring me into such close proximity with sudden, unexpected death. But here I was, facing that most irreversible of human conditions. Not that I realized then the extent to which my business activities had contributed to David Hoffman’s swan dive into eternity.
My simple little ads read "Historical Research, By George!" Choosing the field as a business venture was easy for a retired history teacher with a master’s in the subject. The hard part had been finding a suitable name for it. The one that seemed to fit best was catchy, and only slightly hinted at a connection with the Father of Our Country, a tiny nuance I was sure he wouldn’t mind. It was a simple little name meant to fit a simple little business, one definitely never intended to include death in the present. Under normal circumstances, historical researchers only rub shoulders with ghostly entities as they emerge from fragile, yellowed documents housed in archives. Looking down at Hoffman’s body again, I couldn’t shake the feeling this job had turned into something beyond normal.
Standing with Ellie, at the back of an all but deserted cemetery in rural Kentucky, I struggled with an onslaught of contradictory emotions, some of which weren’t too nice. That it was my client down there, sympathy. That he had put a damper on an otherwise successful and enjoyable three-day job, resentment. That I had heeded her warning not to climb down to him, frustration. And last, but certainly not least, that Hank’s prophecy had come true, irritation.
"I can just hear Hank now. He told me I might stick my nose into something more than I’d bargained for one of these times. I didn’t believe him. I figured he was looking for ways to undermine my arguments about the business."
Ellie, calm and unruffled by this turn of events, gave me a knowing, but sympathetic smile. "He was never in favor of starting the business, now was he. But when if ever, did you pay any attention to his advice." It was a statement, not a question. She knew the answer.
Grimacing, I responded in kind. "About as often as you’ve listened to Will. We just go about it in different ways. You’re just a little more sneaky about it."
Ellie Forsythe and I have been friends ever since I married the man of my youthful, hormone-induced dreams. We’ve earned the right to say things like that to each other. She’d grown up with Hank, and knew him almost as well as I did, excluding certain connubial activities. She is one of my closest friends and had come with me on this trip because Hank informed me, in no uncertain terms, he would rather stay home and play golf with his buddies.
At the moment, I was glad Ellie, not Hank, was sharing these moments with me. First of all, she’s an emergency med technician. Her warning that my client might be dead was firmly grounded in past experience. Second, it meant I didn’t have to listen to my husband’s comments.
"I can just hear Hank. He’ll come out with the ‘I told you so’ or ‘you should have found another hobby to keep you busy’ the minute I tell him about this." After forty-five years, it wasn’t hard to predict his response.
"Georgia, you know this has nothing to do with your business. Accidents happen."
"Easy enough said, but you know the kinds of arguments I used getting him to agree. It took almost every underhanded tactic I could think of to convince him. Thought I’d never get him to believe it was a good, trouble free little business."
"So, what’s this got to do with that. There’s no comparison." Logical. But our logic was different from Hank’s.
"It will have for Hank. That’s one down, only a few more to go. He already thinks it takes up too much of my time. He accepted my argument that he doesn’t have to worry anymore about me playing Macho Woman, getting in the way of flying missiles tossed by some jerk kid or breaking up fights. He knew he couldn’t dispute my qualifications, either. But I’m sure he’ll find a down side to this one."
"Quit looking on the dark side. You are qualified, you are earning money, and you aren’t going to be assaulted."
She might be right, but that intuition I’d always trusted and a niggling uneasiness wouldn’t allow me to accept her reassurances. When I heard the wail of sirens moving closer, her advice couldn’t keep me from revisiting Hank’s misgivings about my sanity and my common sense. I couldn’t help but send up a silent petition. "Why me, God. Why did it have to be my client sprawled against the side of a mountain."
P. J. Stelzer waited until retirement to follow the career path she’d always envisioned that of becoming a published author. Married for over forty-six years, mother of three, and grandmother of seven, she pursued an earlier, five-year writing career as a newspaper reporter, feature writer and columnist, before returning to college, earning a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in history from Wright State University in Ohio. Retired after twenty-six years as a social studies teacher and department chairperson, she is currently an adjunct instructor at a community college. She draws upon a rich background in history and research to develop the plot in this first in a series of mystery novels built around the main character, Georgia Jensen, a retired teacher with a one-woman business, ‘Historical Research, by George!’ The author is in the process of putting finishing touches on the second Research, by George! novel.
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