Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Traci Hall & Murder at a Scottish Castle

Posted January 27, 2024 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, clean, contemporary, cozy mystery, giveaway, mystery/suspense, Traci Hall / 15 Comments


Traci Hall guest post

Please join me in welcoming author Traci Hall to the blog today to talk about her new cozy mystery, Murder at a Scottish Castle, and to share an excerpt!

Murder at a Scottish Castle by Traci HallMURDER AT A SCOTTISH CASTLE by Traci Hall
SERIES:
Scottish Shire Mysteries #2
GENRE: Cozy Mystery (Clean)
PUBLISHER: Kensington Cozies
RELEASE DATE: January 23, 2024
PAGES: 325

USA Today bestselling author returns with the latest novel in a Scottish seaside cozy knitting mystery series featuring busy single mom Paislee Shaw, owner of a specialty sweater shop, knitting enthusiast, and reluctant sleuth who must untangle another murderous yarn!

With the summer days getting shorter in the seaside village of Nairn, the annual bagpiping competition at Ramsey Castle promises to be quite the end-of-season blowout. Paisley has snagged a special invitation from the Dowager Countess, who wants to showcase her cashmere goods in the castle gift shop, and she’s brought her son Brody, Grandpa, and their black Scottish terrier Wallace.

There’s a fierce rivalry between Robert Grant, the Earl of Lyon, and last year’s winner Jory Baxter, with Grant loudly vowing to show up the blowhard Baxter and claim clan bragging rights. But the reigning champion has barely put the reed to his lips when he turns red and collapses, soon to take his dying breath. DI Zeffer confirms foul play, suspecting the reed may have been poisoned.

With a murderer in their midst, the rest of Nairn won’t breathe easy until Paisley applies her sleuthing skills to make sure justice is served and the killer pays the piper . . .

 

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by Traci Hall, author of Murder at a Scottish Castle

Sometimes it’s difficult to decide how much to include in the actual story. I mean, you might not care about the specific rules for the bagpiping competition, or how the Great Highland Bagpipes compare to pipes from other countries—or the difference between a plastic chanter and a reed one. It’s my job to take this wealth of information (dive down that rabbit hole!) and boil it down to what serves the story. In my creative process I add it all, but then delete what doesn’t fit in the revisions.

Next was Clan Grant. Eight performers in their group, with Robert at the lead. Lissia wore the snare drums just as proudly as her brother held the Great Highland Bagpipe.

The dowager countess, on the opposite stands from Paislee, stood and clapped.

Robert Grant, every inch the Earl of Lyon, bowed toward her. “This set is dedicated tae our mother, Dowager Countess Sorcha Grant, our biggest supporter.”

Sorcha Grant bowed in return. “Many thanks for the tribute, my darlings.” She scanned the crowd as if looking for someone…Patrick? He wasn’t there to share in the moment.

Finn McDonald watched from the sidelines, his arms crossed before him as he scowled at the rowdy crowd around Jory Baxter’s team. Clan Cunningham fans chanted Jory’s name even though the Grants were on the field.

Cinda, next to Sorcha, showed her support by wearing the Grant colors in a bold red blouse with green, navy-blue, and light-blue accents. She kept glancing toward Jory’s group too. Would she be loyal to Clan Grant, or did she favor the other team?

Paislee didn’t recall Jory Baxter being better last year, so she was glad she didn’t have to judge and could simply enjoy the music. She turned her attention to the grass as the band director for Clan Grant raised a hand.

The eight band members seemed to puff their chests and shoulders in unison.

White shirts, red, green, navy-blue, and lighter blue kilts, navy socks, and shoes. They wore fitted navy jackets. The overcast sky kept them cool—still no rain, a minor miracle considering how the day had started.

Paislee sat forward, her hands over her knees.

When the Grants performed the sound was heavenly. Lissia was a master with her drum strokes, soft to loud, urgent to casual. Her maple drumsticks created a snappy sound. Oh, and how Robert played, taking the lead, letting everyone know as he stepped toward Jory and Jory’s team that he was here to win. To reclaim his crown.

How could Jory beat Robert, who appeared blessed by the angels as he piped today? When it was over, Paislee was so overcome that she had to wipe a tear from her cheek before she bolted upward to clap her hands until they stung.

“That was lovely. So lovely,” she said.

Grandpa stomped his feet with approval, his large hands clapping hard. “They have tae win. How could anybody be better? Not a single bloody mistake in either set.”

They looked at the judges who each wrote on their clipboards. Were they as swept away?

It took several moments for the crowd to calm down and finally Meri had to blow her whistle to get them to quiet down.

“And that was Clan Grant! Robert Grant, Lissia Grant, and the Ramsey Castle crew,” Meri announced. Her clipboard was to her chest as if to conceal any notes she’d taken from curious eyes.

“Well played!” Connor, the other judge, commended as the Grants strode, heads high, off the grass to the stands.

Sorcha, from the stands, blew the Grants a kiss.

Paislee peered over her shoulder. Wallace was still watching Brody as he played football with his new mates—nothing wrong.

She turned back to the field. High-fives and cheers slowly calmed down and everyone resumed their seats.

Finally, it was time for Jory Baxter and his team, Clan Cunningham. Clyde Cunningham was the pipe major. He had brown hair and wore it long in front, short in back. Paislee guessed he’d be in his forties.

Paislee felt very confident that there was no way Jory and his team could do better than what they’d just heard.

Eventually Clan Cunningham found their marks. She wondered if they were nervous by the previous talent, or if they were unaffected. The energy pulsed.

Jerry and the Campbells were seated on the first rows, with the other clans. She heard them murmur that Robert would be impossible to beat, and surely the Campbells would be second place.

At last, Clan Cunningham was in formation. They were just as impressive as the previous bands had been. Their kilts were black and red rows, with thin white stripes, black socks and shoes, and black shirts. The black jacket was fitted.

The ten players of their group were an even split of five drums, five pipers, with Jory at the lead. Two of the snare drummers were women. Pretty lasses, slender yet strong. There was a large bass drum, and two medium-sized drums that Grandpa said were tenor drums.

Clyde faced them and dramatically raised his pipe major’s mace, holding the stick high.

A few hoots from the stands made it to the field.

Jory Baxter had vocal supporters in the crowd though the event was on Grant land; Scots were fierce in their rights to their own opinions, laird of the manor or no. A man (or woman) had to earn any respect.

Tension weighted the air, like a summer storm right before the rain broke free.

Jory, as last year’s champion soloist, had booted Robert from the top spot, bringing Clan Cunningham the win. It was coveted for the right to brag of being best, with a nominal cash prize. Sorcha had said this was about clan pride.

Robert was a handsome man of forty years and Jory just thirty. Robert had been classic in looks, sable-brown hair and clean-shaven. Jory was raven-eyed with black curls to his shoulders, caught back out of his way with a leather hair tie. His profile was sensual, his hands as he held the bagpipes, steady.

Paislee watched, throat dry, as Jory brought the mouthpiece of the blowpipe to his full lips. How the muscles in his arms flexed as he held the black leather bag to his body as sensual as a lover, his fingers caressing the chanter. Silver flashed around the drones. Paislee swallowed and fanned her face.

The others on his team waited for him to begin, the “attack” beginning with the pipes rather than the drums, and then the band was as one. Like the other clans, it was talent collected and returned, a thing of beauty.

She broke from the spell to see Lissia and Robert, seated below Sorcha. Lissia glared at Jory, though Robert kept his gaze non-committal. The arrogant lord of the castle unaffected by the riffraff.

Cinda kept glancing at Robert, then Jory and the Cunningham performers. Who did she favor?

The tune finished. The crowd went wild with applause, but it wasn’t over just yet. They had another song to play, their last one. This would be Jory’s solo. Jory smirked toward Robert, Lissia, and Sorcha with no respect.

Jory breathed in and put his lips on the mouthpiece. Eyes closed, he blew into the blowpipe.

And then…his face turned a dark reddish purple.

He fell, stumbling into his other players. They oohed in alarm and paused—this wasn’t part of the performance. Should they continue? The female snare drummers slowed their strokes of sticks to the round tops.

Jory swerved, his eyes fluttering closed, as he landed on his back.

The awkward musical instrument hit the ground with a clatter as the drones knocked together. The kilt hiked up to his hips.

It was true that men wore nothing beneath them, and Jory briefly flashed the crowd before the tartan settled at his muscular thighs.

His bagpipes made an awful screech, matched by Cinda Dorset’s scream.


Traci Hall

From cozy mysteries to seaside romance, USA Today bestselling author Traci Hall writes stories that captivate her readers. As a hybrid author with over sixty published works, Ms. Hall has a favorite tale for everyone.

Mystery lovers, check out her Scottish Shire series, set in the seaside town of Nairn, or the Salem B&B Mystery series, co-written as Traci Wilton. Her latest project is an Irish Castle cozy as Ellie Brannigan. Whether it’s her ever-popular By the Sea romances, an Appletree Cove sweet romance, or a fun who-done-it, Traci finds her inspiration in sunny South Florida, living right near the ocean.


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What about you? What makes you want to read Murder at a Scottish Castle by Traci Hall?

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15 responses to “Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Traci Hall & Murder at a Scottish Castle

    • I hope you do! It’s available at the library if you don’t want to purchase 😉 Or, I highly recommend the audio version. The narrator takes us right to Scotland!

  1. Kay Garrett

    Thank you for introducing me to a new to me author! MURDER AT A SCOTTISH CASTLE by Traci Hall sounds like a magnificent book and one I just know I’m going to love. It’s now on my TBR list and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review it.

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