Title: Pork Pies
Author: Judy Nichols
Genre: Cozy Mystery
When her blackmailer is found stabbed to death in his hotel room, Her Majesty is the prime suspect. It’s Ian’s job to untangle a web of deception and pork pies (lies) to find the real culprit, all the while dealing with the antics of his twin sons, Jesse and Mac.
It was a Saturday, late in the afternoon, hot and humid like it always is in the middle of a Carolina summer. My twin sons Jesse and Mac were with me. Mac was sprawled in the hammock I’d hooked up between the trees next to my trailer. As usual, he had his nose in a book. No e-books for this kid. He was analog all the way. He even collected typewriters.
His brother hurled tennis balls in an aimless fury, throwing them out as quickly as my border collie Shep could return them.
“Dad, is there anything to do around here besides throw tennis balls to the dog?” Jesse asked.
He was the taller of the two, lean and lanky with a head of unruly blond curls. His brother looked more like me, with wispy dark hair and, unfortunately, my nose. While Jesse had brown eyes, Mac’s eyes were an odd shade of green, hidden behind his wire-rimmed glasses.
“There’s plenty to do.” I said. “You can go around to the shed and get yourself a rake. The yard could do with a good leafing.”
Besides the pine trees, those of us who live in this part of North Carolina are blessed with pin oaks—trees that shed their leaves all year long. There are always leaves on the ground needing to be raked up.
Mac figured out a long time ago that saying “There’s nothing to do” around my house meant he’d end up with a rake in his hand. He made a point of bringing a stack of books with him whenever he visited. His brother kept forgetting.
“I meant something fun.”
“Raking can be fun,” I said.
“In what universe?”
“It’s a job well done in this and any other universe,” I answered, knowing full well that Jesse was not at all interested in doing anything that felt like work. “You know what there is to do around here. Maybe your brother has a book he can lend you.”
“Jesse doesn’t like dystopian futurism, Dad.”
“I’m not sure I like the sound of it myself,” I said.
“It’s what happens when our civilization falls apart,” Mac answered, in an authoritative voice. “It’s not a question of if, you know, but when. Civilizations run in cycles. They’re born. They live. They die. Then another one comes up and it starts all over again. But it’s always chaos in between. Everything falls apart. I figure we’re due for a civilization shift any day now. I want to be prepared.”
Well, that was depressing. My son was preparing for the apocalypse, which he expected to happen sometime in the near future. I made a mental note to ask my ex-wife Jeannie next time I saw her if this was a problem. And to stock up on the canned goods, just in case he was right.
So now she lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.
She started her novel Caviar Dreams while her daughter was napping one day. Five years later it was finished. The biggest challenge arrived once her daughter stopped taking naps and eventually lost interest in watching the “Toy Story” video.
Judy holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University. She has been a newspaper reporter, a teacher, a temporary office worker, a customer service representative, and currently stay-at-home mom with way too much time on her hands. (And never mind that her daughter has graduated from college and lives in San Diego).
In April of 2012, Judy achieved her lifelong goal of appearing on the quiz show “Jeopardy!” She was a two day champion winning a total of $46,500 and the distinction of being officially named the smartest person in a room full of very smart people.
She has earned only two awards in her lifetime. Neither of them has anything to do with writing, but she is immensely proud of them nonetheless. Adia Temporary Agency presented her with the "Temp of the Month" award for March, 1987 and The Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy gave her a Volunteer Appreciation Award in 1991.
Her experience with The Nature Conservancy inspired her second novel Tree Huggers, about a single mom reporter covering the deadly clash between an unscrupulous developer and a militant environmentalists, published in 2008 She followed it up with a sequel in 2014 called The Reason for the Season.
Her latest book Pork Pies is the latest in her Ian Dodge mystery series. Ian is a British national, living in a small town in rural North Carolina and stubbornly hanging on to every shred of his Britishness. Any resemblance to Ian Dodge and her own prickly British husband is purely intentional. Other books in the series are Sportsman’s Bet and Trouble and Strife.
Currently, Judy is a volunteer with Phoenix Hometown Hires, a non profit group that helps people find meaningful work.