Monday, July 13, 2015

Guest Blog by Susan Furlong and Review and Giveaway of Peaches and Scream - July 13, 2015

Please welcome Susan Furlong to The Qwillery. Peaches and Scream, the 1st Georgia Peach Mystery, was published on July 7th by Berkley.

This time last year, I was eating my way through middle Georgia. No kidding. I started in Macon and chowed all the way down to Hawkinsville, and then back around again just for good measure. Armed with a printout of Back Road Georgia Gems and outfitted in stretchy pants, I was a woman on a mission. Taste as much of central Georgia as possible—no foods barred and all in the name of book research. Would I find some tastes and textures, recipes and culinary traditions that I could use in my book? I sure was willing to find out!

I kicked off my quest in Macon at a hole-in-the-wall joint that served up an amazing fried pork chop sandwich that was succulent and juicy on the inside, salty and crispy on the outside and with just enough heat to balance the coolness of the lettuce and tomato--all stacked on a hard roll smothered in a zesty blue cheese cream sauce. Oh yum! I’d keep that one in mind for a lunch while my characters discuss the story’s suspects—assuming they can keep their minds off something besides their taste buds.

Down the road, somewhere in Peach County, I stopped at a family-owned restaurant for what was supposed to be the world’s best corn fritters. They weren’t exaggerating. Shallow fried, starchy sweetness with bits of corn kernels throughout, served with your choice of fruit jam or honey. This was southern cooking at its best! I couldn’t wait to prepare that recipe for my own fictional family’s Sunday breakfast.

But what southern food research would be complete without fried chicken? And in Cordele, I found a chicken shack that did it right: juicy, melt-in-your-mouth, dark meat cloaked in a perfectly seasoned, paper thin crust and paired with crisp slaw and a buttery roll—a bit of heaven! Did I mention that I wore stretchy pants? Good thing. Because I rounded off the day with my favorite dessert: peach cobbler, made fresh daily at one of Fort Valley’s largest orchards. Rich and gooey, sweet and tart, crumbly, buttery, and just a wee bit sinful, it was served hot and topped with creamy, melting ice cream, and was probably the single tastiest thing I’d ever eaten. Now this confection would definitely make it in my book!

Calorie overload? Yes. An extra pound or two on the hips? You know it. But I believe no sacrifice is too great when it comes to getting my facts straight. And one thing for sure, the characters in the first Georgia Peach Mystery, Peaches and Scream, know how to eat. Whether it’s a slice of pecan pie at Red’s Diner, peach scones from Sugar’s Bakery, or a simple glass of sweet tea out on the front porch, readers can enjoy eating right along with them--calorie free even! Just be careful, though. Because all the good food in Peaches and Scream is served up with a side of spicy mayhem and a generous dollop of murder.

Peaches and Scream
A Georgia Peach Mystery 1
Berkley, July 7, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

In the first Georgia Peach Mystery, when murder threatens her family’s orchard, Nola Harper is ready to pick out the killer and preserve the farm’s reputation…

To help run the family peach farm during her parents’ absence, Nola Harper returns to her childhood home of Cays Mill, Georgia, and soon discovers that things back at the farm aren’t exactly peachy. A poor harvest and rising costs are threatening to ruin the Harpers’ livelihood, and small-town gossip is spreading like blight thanks to Nola’s juicy reputation as a wild teenager way back when. But Nola really finds herself in the pits when she stumbles upon a local businessman murdered among the peach trees.

With suspicions and family tensions heating up faster than a cobbler in the oven, this sweet Georgia peach will have to prune through a list of murder suspects—before she too becomes ripe for the killer’s picking…


Jennifer's Review

Peaches and Scream is the first novel in Susan Furlong’s new Georgia Peach Mystery Series. This book introduces readers to Nola Mae Harper, who has returned to her childhood hometown of Cays Mill, Georgia and her family’s peach farm after a prolonged and deliberate absence. Nola Mae quickly discovers that all is not well with the family farm, her father’s health, or her sister’s marriage, and before the dust settles on the bash the family has thrown to celebrate her beloved parent’s anniversary, Nola Mae also stumbles upon the body of controversial town resident, Ben Wakefield, smack dab in the middle of the family’s peach orchard. Nola Mae now has to search for a killer before her family’s good name becomes tarnished and the family farm is destroyed forever.

Nola Mae has always been the black sheep of her family. She was a bit of a wild child and fled her home immediately following high school to avoid a terrible scandal. She has spent the intervening years traveling the world while working for a humanitarian organization, but has recently been relegated to a dreaded desk job, and is now reassessing her life path. Nola Mae is in a vulnerable frame of mind and diving headfirst into a murder investigation while trying to save her family’s livelihood is an almost welcome distraction from her personal worries.

Her family is made up of her parents, Ray Senior and Della Wilkes Harper, and her siblings, Ray Junior and Ida Jean, and Ida Jean’s husband Hollis and her 6 year old twins, the adorable and precocious, Charlotte and Savannah. Della is a diminutive powerhouse of a southern belle, well respected and well liked. Ray Senior is a bit of a gentle giant, a physically large man with a warm heart. Ray Junior has gone on to become a lawyer in a neighboring town; he is smart and well organized and dedicated to his family, although not so much the running of the farm. Ida Jean, currently pregnant with her third child, is obviously stressed in her personal life, which is causing her strained relationship with Nola Mae to become worse. Her husband, Hollis, is a prominent local banker who has never been well liked by Nola Mae, and is now even farther down on her list as she sees that he is drinking heavily, neglecting his young family, and is now the prime suspect in Ben Wakefield’s murder.

Secondary characters abound in this novel and are all delightfully detailed and have their own quirks and whims. The pages are chock full of townspeople who view Nola Mae not as she is now, but as she was 15 years ago, and with old friends who are nursing some old hurts. Hattie was Nola Mae’s childhood best friend, who now owns a successful dress shop in town. Hattie holds no grudges against Nola, being privy to the incident that caused her hasty departure all those years ago, and is eager to restart their friendship. Hattie’s slightly older brother Cade, a rugged and handsome local contractor, who the girls adored as kids, is a bit more cautious about welcoming Nola Mae back into the town, fearing that she is only staying for a short time before resuming her globe-trotting life. Sam and Ginny, the husband and wife who own the local family diner, are warm and kind and are happy to see Nola. Joe Puckett is the local hermit who lives in a broken down cabin on the outskirts of the Harper’s property, who has had his share of hardship since Nola left town. A few other notable characters are, Doris, the local hairdresser who deals in gossip, Candace, Hollis’s hypochondriac secretary, and Frances, a reporter for the local newspaper who is hoping to make a name for herself during the murder investigation.

To power the mystery itself, the author gives us even more diverse characters, some local and some not. Laney is the slightly trashy manicurist who has been linked romantically with Hollis and likes to fuel that fire. Floyd is a young activist who is in town to protest Ben Wakefield’s lumber business. Millicent is the estranged wife, and now widow, of Ben, with over-the-top glam that makes her stand out in the close-knit town. Dane, who goes by the professional name of Hawk, the hot and devilish private investigator that Ray Junior has hired, rides into town on a motorcycle with is sweet little puppy riding shotgun. Maudy, the local sheriff, is a bitter woman who dislikes Ida Mae with such force, that she is willing to overlook potential evidence in her zeal to pin the murder on Hollis.

While the book is certainly character driven, the storyline is also very well written. Small town southern living is vividly brought to life through the townspeople and the way in which Nola Mae interacts with them. The author masterfully teases the reader with hints regarding Nola Mae’s past, keeping the reader guessing on that subject as well as the issue of the killer. The murder mystery is central to the entire novel, but Nola Mae’s attempts to revitalize her family’s flagging peach farm are interspersed throughout the story and become just as important as finding the killer. The author also includes some touches that make the book more amusing, such as the Georgia Belle Facts that head every chapter, imparting such hilarious wisdom as “Deep fat-fried chicken pairs perfectly with crispy gossip” that is found at the beginning of the ninth chapter. The Georgia Belle Facts not only give the reader a chuckle, they also foreshadow the theme of each chapter. The town map at the front of the novel and the recipes at the end also add to the overall charm of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can see this series becoming well loved and long running, and am looking forward to the next installment, which is entitled Rest in Peach.

About Susan

Susan Furlong is the author of the debut novel in the Georgia Peach Mysteries, Peaches and Scream. She has lived throughout the United States, including in the South, but is now happily settled in the Midwest on a small hobby farm with her husband and four children. Writing about peaches comes naturally to her as she grows several varieties of her own. Susan also writes the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries under the pen name Lucy Arlington.

WebsiteTwitter @foulplayauthor ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Peaches and Scream by Susan Furlong from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below. Note that comments are moderated.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on July 22, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Love the tile and hope to get a chance to read it :)

  2. We do a bit of Southern Cooking in our house. My DIL is a Southern Belle from KY, and we have a family home outside Atlanta, Ga. The cover and the into about the food search are more than enough to peak my interest in this book and I want it for my home library.

  3. I missed Susan's book signing yesterday. Books were sold out anyway.
    Hope to win this copy so I can get a head-start on the new series.

  4. Would love to win a copy. This book sounds like great fun! Thanks for the opportunity!

  5. I cannot wait to get a copy of this book. Thanks!

  6. Thanks for this lovely feature and great giveaway. Peaches and Scream would be greatly enjoyed this summer. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Congrats on getting published. Titles like this are guaranteed to get my attention.

  8. looks like a fun read ...can't wait for this giveaway. awesome.

  9. Lived in GA about 15 years and I love to eat too. I'm afraid my body shows it. Would love to win, thanks for the giveaway.

  10. Looking forward to this one!
    afarage (at)

  11. congrats to Susan..........
    I cannot wait to read this!!!!

  12. Sharon Baker. slpetera@yahoo.comJuly 14, 2015 at 2:53:00 AM EDT

    Sorry I don't tweet, but would love to get the book.

  13. Now I'm anxiously awaiting the delivery of fresh peaches to our area---usually not until the first part of August---but then I'll gorge myself on them. I'd love to start this series right at the beginning---thanks for the contest.

  14. Would love to win a copy to read. Thanks for the give-a-way.