BY: SARALYN RICHARD
Someone comes to the party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket…
A powerful and rich playboy, a rare but naturally occurring poison, a newly divorced woman with an axe to grind, and pressure from the former President of the US—these are just a few of the challenges that African-American Detective Oliver Parrott faces when he answers a routine call for back-up and discovers someone died at a country estate the morning after an elaborate birthday party. When Parrott learns the deceased is the wealthy former US Secretary of the Treasury and just about everyone at the party had a motive to kill him, he realizes this will be the investigation to make—or break—his career.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Murder in the One Percent by Saralyn Richard, Detective Oliver Parrott is called to the scene of death after a weekend party at a local estate. The victim is the former US Secretary of the Treasury and not a very nice man. Age sixty-seven and on his fourth wife, he’s not exactly the most popular one at the party. As Parrott begins to investigate, he thinks it’s natural causes at first. Then the ME discovers he was poisoned. Now, Parrott has to interview a lot of very important, rich, and famous people, and they don’t want to talk to him. Meanwhile Parrott’s chief is getting pressure from people in really high places about both solving the murder and not stepping on the toes of the VIP suspects to do it. Is Parrott up to the challenge? Even he wonders.
Well written, fast paced, and intriguing, as well as clever and fun, this one is sure to leave you wanting more. Very well done.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Murder in the One Percent by Saralyn Richard is the story of how the rich and famous live, party—and commit murder. When African-American homicide detective, Oliver Parrott, is called upon to investigate a death following a weekend birthday bash at a local country estate, he faces a number of challenges. First of all, it’s the holiday season, and people are not readily available for him to question, and those who are refuse to talk. Secondly, everyone involved, with the exception of Parrott himself, is rich, famous, and convinced of their own importance—in the upper one-percent of society. Then there is the victim himself. While he was a former US Secretary of the Treasury, he is also a scoundrel, on his fourth wife, and generally not a nice man. Thus, almost everyone who attended the party that weekend had a motive to kill him. The most logical suspect is the pretty young wife, who had reason to believe her husband was losing interest in her and whose pre-nup gave her more as a widow than as an ex-wife. Of course, she has a solid alibi…almost. And you can’t forget the business associates he’d swindled, the close friends he’d cheated, or the ex-lovers he’d jilted. As everyone had motive and opportunity, all Parrott has to do is figure out whose motive was most pressing and who had access to the rare poison used—not quite as easy as it might appear, especially when dealing with the one percent.
Murder in the One Percent introduces us to a host of fascinating characters and gives us an in-depth look into a world most of us never see. Combining mystery and humor, with an ending that probably surprised even the author, this is one you won’t want to miss.
Sunday, December 15:
Sundays usually meant good luck. Parrott had been born on a Sunday, and every important event in his life that he could remember had happened on a Sunday, too. He’d met Tonya on a Sunday in the fall of freshman year. It was Sunday when he’d scored the winning touchdown for Syracuse at the Texas Bowl. It was Sunday when he’d received the news of being promoted to detective of the West Brandywine Police. But this Sunday, Parrott just wasn’t feeling it.
Why he’d thought being a detective in the affluent horse country outside of Philadelphia would be a rewarding job, he couldn’t imagine. There was no way a young African-American was going to fit in with the elite WASP community there. Or maybe he was just rattled by all the racial tensions associated with being a cop these days.
As he prepared for the weekly Skype-date with his fiancée, he surveyed his two-bedroom bungalow, satisfied, at least, that all was scrubbed, folded, sorted, and arranged. It might not be a mansion, but everything’s exactly the way I like it, he thought. Parrott put the final touches on the birdcage, an immaculate microcosm of the house. Horace, the cockatiel, perched on Parrott’s shoulder and whistled something over and over that sounded like, “Oh, dear.”
“My sentiments exactly,” Parrott replied. He’d had bad news last night from St. Louis.
Parrott looked at the clock. With characteristic efficiency, he polished the bars of the cage door and rang the little bell, signaling completion. “Let’s go, Horace,” he whispered to his pearl-and gold-feathered companion. “It’s almost Tonya Time.” Hearing the name of his faraway mistress, Horace nuzzled Parrott’s neck. Parrott offered his index finger as a resting place, and the bird hopped aboard for a special petting of his orange cheeks.
Tonya’s tour of duty in the US Navy had taken her to Germany, Iraq, and now Afghanistan with two stateside assignments between deployments. With the exception of furloughs the last few Christmases, she had been mostly gone since they graduated from college together five years ago. Parrott picked up her framed picture, seeking comfort from Tonya’s smiling eyes. He closed his eyes and conjured images of her that neither photo nor Skype could provide—the firmness of her slender frame, the subtle smell of sandalwood, the way she fit against him. She was strong and brave and smart and witty, and she knew all of the ragged places in his heart and loved him anyway.
It was rough being apart like this. Parrott put down the photograph in its proper place, opened the laptop with his free hand, and pushed the power button. He tucked his brooding thoughts away and positioned himself and Horace where the camera would capture them both.
As the honking of the Skype connector pierced the air around the kitchen table, he patted Horace’s head, wishing for something far from reach. When Tonya’s face appeared on the computer screen, he pasted a smile on his face and tried to look normal.
“What’s wrong, Detective?” Tonya said at once, one perfectly shaped eyebrow lifted in concern.
Parrott’s baritone voice cracked. “Nothing.”
“You can’t fool me, sweetheart. I see it in your eyes. So c’mon. Out with it.”
She looked so damn beautiful with those full lips and large brown eyes, those Hollywood eyelashes. Parrott felt like smashing the computer screen to get to her. Instead, he said, “It’s nothing. I’m not going to gripe to you with all you’re going through over there. Tell me about you.”
“Everything’s fine here. Quiet. Busy, but peaceful. Now you.”
“Okay, okay. I didn’t sleep much last night. Police shooting in Missouri last night—this time my cousin Bo got killed.”
“Oh, dear,” chirped Horace, a Greek chorus in the room.
“Bo Jones? The guy who showed me how to fix my bike when we were freshmen?”
“Yeah.” Parrott stood and paced around the kitchen table, remembering Bo’s telling him then, “She’s a keeper, Ol’. Better not let that girl get away.”
“I’m really sorry. He was a good guy,” Tonya said. “He sure doesn’t seem like the kind to get mixed up with police, though.”
“He wasn’t. Apparently, an innocent bystander. Senseless. No details yet.” Parrott stood and paced in front of the computer screen, oblivious to the fact that Horace now perched on his head.
“I can tell you’re taking this hard. Don’t blame you, either.”
Parrot sat. “Yeah. Maybe I chose the wrong profession. I thought I could get the bad guys, make things better for the good guys. But now, seems like people think cops are bad guys, and I’m not sure who is who. I almost envy you for being in Afghanistan. At least the good guys and bad guys are better defined.”
Tonya shook her head. “Oh, no. You aren’t even making sense. Are you letting those rich folks mess with your head, Oliver? You’ve accomplished a lot, and you’ve earned respect from ’most everyone you’ve met.”
“Maybe.” He twirled the hairs in his moustache. “But there’s not much to be proud of when all your cases involve stolen property, insured property belonging to people so rich they hardly even miss it when it’s gone.”
Tonya grinned, showing that endearing tiny space between her front teeth. “Are you saying you’re hankering for something more gruesome—assault and battery, rape, or murder?”
Parrott ran his hands through his short-cropped hair and gave a sheepish smile. “The dilemma of a cop—the best opportunities come from other people’s misfortune. Can’t say I want someone hurt, but I sure would like to get something challenging, something where I can make a difference. And after what happened to poor Bo, I hope it happens soon.”
Just as Parrott disconnected from Skype, his cell phone jangled in his pocket. The caller ID showed W Brandywine PD, unusual for a Sunday.
When he answered, prickles traveled up his spine.
“Parrott, hate to disturb you on your day off. Need you to check out a death at the Campbell farm. Lots of important people at a weekend party. Looks like natural causes, but you need to make sure.
Be careful what you wish for? “Okay, Chief. I’m on it.” Parrott shut down his computer, refilled Horace’s water bowl, and escorted the little fellow back into the cage. He put on his heavy coat. He glanced back at Tonya’s picture before he stepped out and closed the door.
© 2018 by Saralyn Richard
“An Everyman detective is asked to solve a murder in a wealthy community in which ample motives and abundant resources make everyone a suspect. Detective Oliver Parrott, who takes charge of the case, is so struck by the partygoers’ consensual impressions of the selfish businessman that he realizes the case may be more about who didn’t kill Preston than who did.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“The twists unravel then turn around and bite you. Saralyn Richard’s take on the classic murder mystery is fresh, fun, and deadly.” ~ Bob Bickford, author of Deadly Kiss, ITW Best First Novel Award winner
“Some might call Murder in the One Percent an American cozy with nods to contemporary social issues. I call it a page turner packed with humorous lines that made me laugh out loud. Or maybe it’s best to call this delightful mystery a satire about the upper class. However you describe it, Saralyn Richard successfully delivers a rollicking whodunit that will make you stay up late at night and leave you guessing until the very end. Move over, Dame Agatha Christie. There’s a new kid on the block.” ~ Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel DuPree
“Newcomer Saralyn Richard rolls out a swanky Rolls Royce of a novel in her debut mystery, Murder in the One Percent. It’s no simple task to clothe a troupe of shallow, upper-crust characters in true-to-life garments, but with this one, you can smell the over-priced cologne and catch the atomic blast blinding glare of perfect teeth while you settle in for the slow burn—there’s as much intrigue here and build-up as the best the genre has to offer. Ms. Richard has a modern winner in Detective Oliver Parrott, a real cop’s cop. If there’s a sequel coming, I’ll want first dibs.” ~ George Wier, author of the Bill Travis Mysteries and co-author of Long Fall From Heaven
“The festering secrets and grievances of the idle rich make for a combustible combination during a weekend birthday gathering in bucolic Pennsylvania horse country…With a crisp, felicitous prose style, and a vivid eye for the kind of detail that conjures a world and characters of dimension, Saralyn Richard stakes claim to territory pioneered by P. D. James and Agatha Christie…An impressive, page-turning debut…The perfect beach read.” ~ Mark Valadez, Executive Story Editor, USA Network’s Queen of the South, Crackle’s The Oath
Susan P. Baker
“In this Detective Parrot mystery, Author Saralyn Richard gives the reader convincing insight into the lives of twenty-first-century party-going one-percenters, many with a motive for murder, and a puzzle worthy of Dame Agatha.” ~ Susan P. Baker, author of Unaware, A Suspense Novel