What’s Up #7 Movies Movies Movies

Hey everyone!

My procrastination is definitely taking over as my perfectionist thing isn’t liking the structure (or forgot how I did it) of the previous recording. I don’t usually do double takes on What’s Up as its supposed to be a pretty straight forward thing. So that is where the delay is. But just so the content isn’t so crazy, I might make it into a weekly thing if time permits just to keep it more regular and less lengthy.

Just a little update before the main thing really. This was over 3 weeks and I did cut a few movies for next week’s which I’m starting to think might be a bad idea although I’m back into TV series and just rewatching old stuff I already talked about so things are not piling up as much.

Related Links
Murder on the Mind
The Meg
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
In Your Eyes: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/moviesandtea/episodes/2018-08-30T15_28_32-07_00
Sucker Punch: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/moviesandtea/episodes/2018-09-11T15_37_21-07_00

Related shows
Game Warp: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJvCOiSQ2Rf9eZYwzPKHMMQ
Movies and Tea: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/moviesandtea

Thanks so much for watching!
I’m taking recommendations for Halloween Marathon! Best ones are if they are on Netflix (I will see if its in Canada).

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Blog Tour: Just by Jenny Morton Potts [Review/Excerpt/Giveaway]

Blog Tour Just

Just
By Jenny Motion Potts

Just novel

Publication Date: June 14, 2018
Genre: Romantic Thriller

SYNOPSIS

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea.

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.

Add to Goodreads

Purchase links
Amazon UK
Amazon

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

The Elephant

At Westside Dental Practice in Cambridge, it was quitting time.

“Oh, nearly forgot.” Finlay Duff pulled an envelope from his jacket pocket and thrust it roughly towards Lucienne Langbrook. “This came for you. Hand delivered.”

Luci thought her Practice Partner looked a little out of sorts. “What’s wrong?”

“What is wrong is that your root canal patient left without paying. A full apicoectomy. That’s the best part of a grand, that is.”

“Ah. I see. Blimey, he was a gruff sort. Even before the pain and general torture.” Luci tore the letter out of the envelope with her fingers which annoyed her Partner further. Finlay always used a letter opener, the handle of which was monogrammed with his initials. She’d given him that as a birthday present, from the website What Do You Give The Smug Git Who Has Everything?

“Come to think of it, Finlay, my patient didn’t even thank me.”

“It’s not funny. May I remind you that we have spent a fortune doing this surgery up. And every penny of interest that we—”

“Oh my God.” Lucienne’s fingers flew to her mouth.

“What? What?”

The letter shook in her hand as she read it quickly again, then held it out at the end of a stiff arm. Finlay took the letter and began to murmur his way through.

Dear Lucienne

It is with enormous regret that I have to inform you of Eddie’s death. As you may know, he was in Botswana on a contract with Lucara Diamonds, and one evening on his way back to the hotel, his car ran into an elephant.

The letter shook a little in Finlay’s hand.

“Oh my sainted aunt, you cannot be laughing. Fin, tell me you’re not laughing at this.”

“I’m not! Of course, I’m not.” Finlay’s Glaswegian accent always amplified in moments of vehemence. “It’s just a nerve thing. I’m like this at funerals. I am.”

Luci grabbed the letter from him. “Well, there’s not going to be a funeral. And if there was, you certainly wouldn’t be invited. Look! She’s going out there. Her. To cremate Edward.”

“Where? Who?”

“Susan. Mrs Langbrook Mark Two. She’s going to Botswana.” Lucienne flicked her hand away from her own body and towards a far-off continent, like Susan was an imaginary fly to be propelled. “It is the incumbent, you see, the present wife, who buries the husband.”

“Whit? They’re not bringing the body back? How’s Ed going to feel about that?” Finlay tried to arrange his amusement into a frown.

“Oh you’re concerned, are you, about Ed’s wishes? Come off it. You always loathed him. Anyway, it’s what he wanted. Not to be repatriated, in such a… circumstance. Apparently. You know Edward, every administrative eventuality will have been planned for.”

“Give me back the letter, I didn’t finish.”

Lucienne looked at her watch. “It’s just gone six thirty. I’m going to lock up. My God.” She pushed her hand through her blonde streaks and held it there for a moment, at the temple, where the grey crept to the fray once more. Then she left the letter on the luxurious orange leather of the Aston treatment chair – Finlay’s personal favourite – and he reclined on it now to finish Susan Langbrook’s letter.

…accidents are actually the most common cause of death in that country. Not all animal related, obviously, but elephants are a constant hazard. The temperature drops rapidly in the evening and the tarmac is the warmest place for the beasts. Eddie wasn’t driving particularly quickly, the Botswana Police Service said (from the tyre marks) but all the same, an object of that size…

Lucienne Langbrook checked that the drug cabinets were closed properly and set the new alarm with her son Scott’s birth date. The letter said that Scott had been told about his father’s accident, but Luci had not heard from her son since he first arrived in Libya. She’d had a text, saying “Landed” and that was it. Was he in touch with Susan though? Oh dear God, was he? A little hook of pain hitched onto Lucienne’s heart. Both her loves in Africa, one dead love – Edward – who was now actually dead, and the other, her son, who was both missing and being missed terribly. Had Susan Langbrook heard from Scott though?

Lucienne could hear Finlay’s regulation brogues on the newly fitted engineered oak. She wanted to fall down, simply, on the floor and wait for something better. Finlay gestured at her torso. “C’mon Luci. Rip that Velcro.”

She took off her crisp, pale blue dental tunic. It had arrived just that morning and her Partner had wanted to tell her how much better that choice than the bottle green she’d considered. Finlay wanted to tell her how much she suited this tunic, the short sleeves showing off her perfect arms, the unnecessary but charming penny collar for the lady dentist. He cramped his toes up inside his shoes to banish his inappropriate responses. Anyway, Lucienne Langbrook wouldn’t stand for a compliment. Finlay knew that he ought to be ashamed of his skin-deep assessments, when she’d just that moment got news of her ex-husband’s brutal passing. Ought to be ashamed, but wasn’t. “Hey, not a mark on it. Your shirt, Luci. Must have been a good day. At some point.”

He threw her tunic into the laundry and got their coats. “I’m sorry about Ed. I am really. Sincerely. I do struggle with certain aspects of being a grown up but I—”

“You hated him from the very first.”

“Lucienne, please.”

“It’s alright, I did too, in the end. I hated Edward. Hated him and loved him. An elephant for fuck’s sake.” She looked up at her best friend and Practice Partner, eyes ashine with coping. “Now it really is, the end.”

REVIEW

Just is somewhat of a hard novel to review, probably the one where I’m having the most conflicted feelings about in a while. I’m always a little cautious when going into romantic thrillers. Romance itself has some blurred lines in the modern novel sense and thrillers are just tough to nail down. I’m not sure that Just nails down both of these areas or creates a good balance per se. However, despite a slow start to the novel which frankly did begin a little confusing as it jumps a little timeline (unless I missed something and just lost track), as the ideas of the thriller solidifies and the pieces slide together by around the middle, the second half takes a nice turn that almost does make up for the slow beginning.

On one hand, I think that the thriller elements does truly come together in the second half effectively. The pacing definitely could be better. But the setting it uses and the whole idea when we see the whole picture does work out. However, the romance element here is also not completely convincing. On many levels, this book reminded me a little of reading The Casual Vacancy. The characters are quite flawed so they don’t quite have you connecting or backing with any of them in particular. However, their flaws for some of the characters particularly the mother Lucienne and her associate/best friend, Finlay is the ones I thought worked the best here. Their flaws made them feel genuine.

There are some good ideas here and the setting here works overall. It starts off slow and the pacing is a tad slow but give it time and the second half does deliver on the thrills.

Goodreads: 3 out of 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JENNY MORTON POTTS

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

Author Links

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

Jenny is giving away 5 digital copies of Just in your preferred format, so be sure to enter the giveaway!

Rafflecopter Link

Blog Tour Organized by:

r&r book tours

Murder on the Mind (Jeff Resnick Mystery #1) by L.L. Bartlett

Murder on the Mind
(Jess Resnick Mystery #1)
by: L.L. Bartlett

murder on the mind

Jeff Resnick hardly knew his well-heeled half-brother. But after suffering a fractured skull in a vicious mugging, he reluctantly accepts the fact that he has a long and brutal recovery to face—and his closest of kin can provide him with the time and place to do it.

Now, Jeff is haunted by unexplained visions of a heinous crime—a banker, stalked, killed, and eviscerated like a ten-point buck. When Matt Sumner’s murder is discovered, a still-recovering Jeff realizes this was what he had seen. Jeff must not only convince himself of his new-found psychic ability, but also his skeptical brother Richard Alpert. Since Sumner was Richard’s banker, both brothers have a stake in finding out what happened. With Richard’s reluctant help, Jeff’s investigation leads him to Sumner’s belligerent family and hard-nosed business associates, none of whom want him snooping around. – Goodreads

I’m pretty sure that I picked up Murder on the Mind, the first book in what is a seven book mystery series, for free on Amazon. It might be in the free books or something or another a few years back. As I clear out the backlog, I finally got around to it. Mystery and suspense novels are my thing. I truly do enjoy ones that get me at the edge of my seat and keep me guessing and wondering the whole time through. Its quite the mixed bag when it comes to Murder on the Mind. On one hand, there is a nice twist to learning about this Jeff Resnick and how he believes he’s gotten these special powers that help him have this sense of when there’s something suspicious about a location or a person or whatnot. Its nice to let the readers learn as he learns so it really starts from zero.

At the same time, Jeff Resnick is somewhat of an odd and extreme character. Perhaps a tad reckless but then he also earns a bit of sympathy for all the unlucky things that has lead him to this point in time. At least in the beginning. We soon realize as we head to the end that the slower paced mystery here works not so much as a page turner for the mystery but rather it was a look at his life and it doubles as a way that this has tied up some loose ends in his life that has been dangling for too long, like mending the relationship with his brother or being okay with asking for help. Its gives someone the chance to reevaluate the change that he could take with the mugging that got him this point in time to have some other opportunity open up using the skills he had in his previous job as an insurance investigator. The past insurance investigator angle is good and the learning about these new paranormal/instinctive abilities are also an intriguing twist.

My main issue with Murder on the Mind is that this like most first book in series feels a lot like a book to set up. There’s a lot of filler things and its fairly slow. There is some investigation and if it did follow the path of keeping a lot more mystery apparent in its pacing, it would have been more effective. Except the set up here gives you (like what I mentioned before), development of Jeff Resnick. his weaknesses and his unpredictable and abstract feelings when something is wrong. We see that he can be calm and collected and has great deductive skills. The one thing Jeff Resnick has for himself is that he feels real because he gets pain (quite frequently) but he also is clever and daring so it makes it technically an entertaining read. But for one reason or another, it took a while to get really absorbed into the book. Maybe its just some parts felt unnecessary and the pacing was what made it not so engaging.

Don’t get me wrong. Murder on the Mind is not a bad book, in fact its pretty average and has some cool ideas and some entertaining suspenseful moments. Even the mystery itself seems rather twisty and the end game is nice to see it unveiled. Its the process of getting there that causes most of the lackluster moments but at least the stage is set now and it looks like this could be a fun one to keep checking out. I’m not sure if I will personally, maybe eventually but not right away.

Book Review: Something Great (Something Great #1) by M. Clarke

Something Great (Something Great #1)
By: M. Clarke

Something Great

Fresh out of college, life was predictable and comfortable for Jeanella. She had the strength of her friends, the security of her job, and she was dating a reliable man; it was all smooth sailing. That was until one night, when she met someone who made her feel things she’d never felt before—dangerous, heart pounding, breathless heat.

Never imagining she would see him again, Jeanella has no idea what to do when fate steps in and thrusts Maxwell Knight into her life, just as things were beginning to change around her. When she lands her dream job and travels to New York for Fashion Week, can she focus on her career instead of on Maxwell?

Will she ignore all the danger signs and jump straight into his arms; or would she miss out on the chance of finding something great? – Goodreads

As I work through the books (mostly free deals) on my Kindle to work on some saving habits and spending less habits, the next on the list was this one. To be honest, I haven’t been in much of a contemporary romance mood but then they usually are such easy reads that I couldn’t pass it up with the low energy levels I’ve been doing. Ironically, Something Great was not something great. I mean, look at the tagline up there, “She didn’t know what she was missing..until he found her.” Oh and believe me, the main guy here, Max is a pretentious rich guy. There is a difference in being self-confident and being pretentious and while the girl here, Jeanella seems to view him as self-confident, I couldn’t quite buy into it. With that said, half of Something Great already dropped to Something Good as we got to know this Max fellow more.

However, luckily, while I wasn’t a big fan of Jeanella’s choice in Max and how she changed her views so quickly and such, her character did start off rather on the right track. Her character’s heart is in the right place as she holds onto some of her values. But then, she also has some parts of her that are my absolute pet peeves when it comes to these novels. The main thing being that the moment any girl sees a hot guy, she just burns up and forgets everything and just wants to have sex with them. I’m not sure there is any enjoyment in it. I get the nervousness of seeing someone you are attracted in and Jeanella does have those moments but it is quickly masked by her desire to go to bed with him regardless of in the beginning when he is just a sexy stranger or when they get into a relationship and she get mad at him. Wanting to sleep with someone doesn’t measure love, at least not to me. So you can already see where Something Great falls apart for me.

All in all, I think I’m just not the audience for these books anymore. I sometimes find some that work well within my standards and I don’t know, create a man that I find is desirable within what I would think has those characteristics and makes me feel like its romance. Many times, it just feels like there’s a whole lot of lust in the way any scenario is described and that doesn’t link to what love is. If only authors didn’t confuse these two emotions so much, it would make for great contemporary romance. I guess, I’ll just keep hoping for the next one to hit the target better. Something Great was just something okay.

Book Trailer Reveal: The Scented Bones by Angelina Kerner

The Scented Bones
(The Svabodina Case Files Book 1)

The Scented Bones

Genre: Paranormal/Mafia

Expected Publication Date: September 28, 2018

Publisher: KDP Select

Synopsis

Angel Svabodina is a rookie forensic anthropologist, enjoying the beginning of her new career. That joy comes crashing down when she figures out the skeleton she’s working on is not human and then it vanishes.

She throws herself fully into the case without thinking about the parties involved, a psychopomp associate, and paranormal mafia families made up of vampires and werewolves—or the consequences.

When she sees there’s no avoiding the inevitable, Angel has to suck it up and work with the werewolves to solve the case but can she trust them?

Werewolves and witches are in a centuries-old feud, but that doesn’t stop the shivers running down her spine from one wolf in particular. What’s more, nothing comes for free, including information. To get what she needs from the werewolf don, Angel has to meet with the fae queen. Can she meet her without repercussions and solve the case?

A magical mystery in more than one sense of the word, this beautifully woven tale will charm you more than an ethereal fae.” – Liliyana Shadowlyn, The Faerie Review

This book is what happens when you mix crime stories with the supernatural. And, the result is spectacular.” -Dylon Crone, beta reader

This story combines the paranormal, the mafia, and good old detective work – a fun read!” – Sycamore, beta reader

Book Trailer

Add to Goodreads

Available for Pre-order: Amazon

About the AuthorAngelina Kerner

ANGELINA KERNER is a self-published author of paranormal and lighthearted romance. She’s the wife of a photographer/physicist, and the mother of a cute little toddler, but she’s also been a dancer, a psychologist, an anthropologist, a geographer, a dreamer, and an adventurer. She does her best writing while being bothered by her cats, taking care of her son, in dressing rooms while waiting for family to try on clothing, and at home in sunny California. Angelina loves to play goddess-dragon matchmaker, transporting readers to a place where young goddesses have lovable flaws, the Fates plan to dethrone, the universe is endless and untamed, and dragons roam free! She also loves to write carefree romance where one can finish reading with a smile.

Visit her website at www.kernerangelina.live

Author Links

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Facebook
Twitter
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The Scented Bones

Giveaway (August 10th-13th)

Custome Made Necklace Featuring “Tarotia” Family Tattoo

“Every family in the book has a family tattoo. Tarotia family is the main family that will appear in every book. The necklace is of the tattoo – two snakes wrapped around a T! Thank you for being part of the book trailer reveal for The Scented Bones!” – Angelina Kerner

Rafflecopter Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f42/?

Book Trailer Reveal Organized by:

r&r book tours

 

Mermen (The Mermen Trilogy #1) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Coming off reading The King Trilogy by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff, I decided to just go ahead and wrap up any other books from her in my Kindle. I believe I had gotten this one in a deal on Amazon or free offer or something. I can’t remember anymore but its how I came up on it.

Let’s check it out!

Mermen (The Mermen Trilogy #1)
by: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Mermen

SOLE SHIPWRECK SURVIVOR LIV STRATTON had been adrift at sea for ten grueling days when salvation miraculously appeared: an uncharted island. Only, the deceivingly beautiful men who live there aren’t interested in saving her. No, not at all. Because they somehow believe she is their property, a gift from the ocean to do with as they please. This is not good.  Her only hope? Billionaire Roen Doran, of all people. A man who’s said to care for nothing and no one. But if he’s so heartless, then why is he about to risk everything to help her? – Goodreads

There are days I start off this genre of books and I get worried. I only read on trilogy from Mimi Jean Pamfiloff and honestly, I enjoyed it fairly well. If you didn’t see the reviews, it was something of a slippery slope as it fell into some aspects I didn’t like but what I enjoyed about this author was her dedication to making her characters (all of them) not feel disposable. I’ve never read anything about mermen so I don’t know what is expected about it. My vision of it is still from movies like The Mermaid and The Little Mermaid, so when her plot is about these men without tails on this hidden island, well, it sets up quite an intriguing premise.

If I’m being completely honest, the world-building and lore behind the mermen was much more fascinating than any other part of the book. It sounds harsh but its really not cup of tea. The characters here were pretty generic. The rich billionaire Roen was quite one dimensional. The only reason he seemed more than that was because of the effect of the mermen lore and that doesn’t contribute back to who he is. Then we have Liv who turns into this exactly what you’d expect sort of damsel in distress. She tries to keep herself up for a while but essentially just breaks down into the ladies in this genre that I really don’t like, like falling for the man..but then maybe it had to do with the lore a little.

Either way, I don’t have an incredibly huge amount of things to say about Mermen. It was pretty disappointing see as King trilogy had some really strong aspects to it. You probably can guess that I’m not going to continue this book series. I’m just not really a fan even if the potential for the mermen back story could have had a lot of potential if it wasn’t in this genre. I’ve been watching a lot of cool movies lately and in a fairly decent mood from all the sunny weather and loving the summer, so I don’t feel like ranting more about this one. If I was you, I’d stay away from it. The only reason I gave it 2 stars out of 5 was because I saw some potential in building the mythology of this tribe of Mermen and having some interesting creations on the island itself. Everything else, I honestly could care less about.

Book Blitz: Death in Vermilion by Barbara Elle (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Blog Tour Death in Vermilion

Death in Vermilion
By: Barbara Elle

Death in Vermilion

Publication Date: April 16, 2018
Genre: Murder Mystery

SYNOPSIS

A psychological mystery about art and obsession…
Artist Leila Goodfriend is laying down the bones of a painting. When she’s interrupted by Iris, the noisy, unlikeable artist in the studio upstairs, Leila is distracted and annoyed.
When Leila discovers the racket was actually Iris’ dead body hitting the floor, she becomes obsessed: Who murdered Iris?
The other Red Barn Cooperative artists—competitive, jealous and hypocritical—are prime suspects. They all hated Iris. “An artist owes his life to his art,” Iris said.
Iris was good for a laugh. But no one is laughing now.

In this gripping mystery, new author Barbara Elle paints a clever, twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a charming Cape Code town.
Alibis fall apart. Plot twists multiply. And Leila comes to a dangerous conclusion.

Goodreads

Purchase link: Amazon

EXCERPT
Chapter 1: Bellies and Strips

There was no glance more cutting or cruel. The narrowing of unsympathetic eyes a shade of cool, blue slate, like Dylan’s on the cover of Highway 61 Revisited. The imperceptible flare of nostrils, followed by a slow yoga exhalation in Savasana, the corpse. It wasn’t going well.

Leila Goodfriend was laying down the bones of a painting. She took a step back from her easel. A no-name clam shack clung fearlessly as a barnacle to the edge of the old East End pier. A forlorn wooden structure, barely bigger than a Punch & Judy puppet stage, had withstood the fierce winds whipping off the water in the dead of winter. The pier was deserted. Anyone could paint a sunny day.

After outlining the shack in ghostly charcoal strokes, she stood, hand on hip, poised with a palette loaded with ultramarine and cobalt blues for the sky, sap green for foliage, a transparent manganese blue hue for waves in the water, Van Dyck brown for the pier’s planks and Naples Yellow Hue for sunlight. Flake white blobs dabbed in the foreground could be gulls, or children, or discarded clam containers. She hadn’t decided which. Leila loved that shack, the rough pier, and the view of dotted Race Point Lighthouse off the distance. Painting was all about execution, feeling a connection to the subject, the composition, the angles of light. Though local artists mostly painted popular summer scenes of boats and beaches.

That’s what the summer birds, vacationers who nested in the Cape Cod dunes from June until the end of August, bought. Her husband Joe dubbed them the dorks of summer. Leila didn’t care what unflattering name Joe had for them, or whether the summer birds cared as much about this place she called home as she did. She wanted to sell them a painting capturing what she loved about this place.

If she was lucky, and painting was largely a matter of luck, random strokes on the canvas would become a painting, At the Clam Bar: Succulent Bellies and Strips. If one of the summer birds bought her painting, she’d be happy. Even the most dedicated of artists needs affirmation sometimes.

A loud whacking thump overhead jarred Leila rudely from her thoughts; the thud traveled like a jolt of electricity down her spine Immediately, Leila knew the disturbance, of course, was Iris. Iris again. Always Iris. Of the six other artists who called the Red Barn home, her studio had to be, unfortunately, overhead.

And inevitably, as Iris worked, the creaking old floorboards quaked under her relentless assault with her flapping Birkenstock sandals.

Leila complained about Iris to Joe more than once, actually almost every day. It was impossible for someone who barely grazed five feet could make so much noise. Iris could be quiet if she tried, she’d say. She was inconsiderate. She was pompous. “Art,” Iris would say, “has a life of its own and an artist owes his life to his art.” Quoting Iris was good for a laugh.

If Iris bothered her so much, Joe would say, why keep talking about it? Why not rent a different studio? That would make sense, except Leila loved her space, had been there for nearly five years, and was lucky to have found it in this touristy town. Besides, she hated giving in to her own annoyance; she’d learn to ignore Iris if it killed her. Maybe, someday, Iris would just float away like a child’s birthday balloon. No such luck; gravity worked overtime with every tread Iris inflicted in her flapping Birkenstock sandals. Leila fought her first instinct, which was to grab the long, telescoping pole by the casement window, stand on a stool and bang her weapon of choice sharply on the lofty ceiling, twice. It wouldn’t work. It never did. Iris would ignore her.

Instead, Leila turned up NPR on the radio. She could drown out Iris with the sound of undemanding human voices on the radio. NPR was excellent company and, when necessary, excellent white noise. The hourly news, a lengthy interview, a personal piece affected in that breathless NPR accent was the perfect antidote for distraction. And the distraction was usually Iris.

Iris McNeil Thornton was a fellow member of the Red Barn Art Cooperative at Castle Road, which was housed in the happily dilapidated Red Barn Studio. It was high on a hill, overlooking Pamet Marsh, close enough to spy the flights of blue herons and egrets wheeling through the Aliziran Crimson sky, the sun an orb of Cadmium Yellow falling into the salt marshes from her window.

Among the Red Barn’s many charms were the old building’s quirky twists and turns, the sizeable studio spaces with high ceilings from its former life as the Southwind Bros. Button and Snap factory. Leila loved the patina on the old, uneven oak floorboards, the room secreted under the stairwell, doors that jammed and staircases that creaked.

But it was the heady mix of gesso, turp, linseed, pigments, primer, developers and emulsions, the fat smell of oil layered with acrylic resin and a faint dash of watercolor, an acrid, chemical concoction heady in the nasal passages, smells as familiar as the scent of a baby, that made it home.

Not that the Red Barn was without its problems. The daily irritations of artistry and intimacy meant the Red Barn artists were often less than happy. And when the Red Barn artists were less than happy, which occurred as frequently as the tides, they would reach for anything on hand ⎯ brooms, clogs, slammed doors, sighs in the hallways, post-it notes on the bulletin board, giggles behind a back, and any combination thereof ⎯ to convey their displeasure. Under other circumstances such communications might be considered rude, but the Red Barn operated by its own set of rules.

It wasn’t that the Red Barn, a collective space of otherwise solitary individuals, didn’t have its share of fellowship and communal spirit. Sometimes it was nice to see a friendly face.

But, recently, their friendships had been called into question by a series of items gone missing, small stuff, seemingly at random, from their studios, Daklon paintbrush, a can of gesso, and unused tube of paint and a half-used tube of paint. A box of plastic gloves was now empty; which Leila was sure had been half-full. No

one said theft, not at first. It was more like, did I leave this in your studio? did you find this in the bathroom? I must be a little crazy because I was sure I had it, but as the missing items mounted, minor though they were, so did whispering, suspicion, and an uneasy sense someone, maybe one of them, was a thief.

It made Leila uneasy; maybe someone was invading her studio, without her knowing. She debated whether, like Iris, she should lock her door at the end of the day. But she shook it off as unnecessary paranoia and decided to ignore it.

Leila took a deep breath, brushed back her unruly, graying curls, squinting at her canvas. When she painted, the circling steps of the heavy woman upstairs receded from consciousness, and time was suspended.

The wood planks of the pier were muddied. The perspective wasn’t quite right. The colors weren’t right. Leila waggled the end of her paintbrush like a cigar between her lips. It was a messy habit. She looked down at the black-and-white photo of the shack, not that she had any intention of painting the snapshot, any more than a musician only plays the notes.

Leila picked up her palette knife. Shaped like a small trowel for digging in the dirt, its usefulness came from its versatility in blending colors, creating textural effects, or scraping across the surface of a painting to obliterate an offense. Artists can be rough on their work; Leila was her own toughest critic.

The pier had to go. Leila wielded the knife, scraping hard until she hit the tooth of the canvas. She preferred working on a good, tightly woven cotton duck. It wasn’t an inert surface, so it recovered quickly after Leila’s brief attack. She dabbed a rag soaked in turpentine on the wound. The reconstruction of the pier could wait until tomorrow.

What time was it? Leila lost track of time as she worked. She never wore a watch in the studio.

But if she left too late, Joe would be annoyed his port wine reduction for the seared tuna had broken. It wasn’t the sauce—he could revive with a quick whisk of butter on a low heat—it was her spending more and more time at the studio and coming home later. The sky over Cape Cod Bay was a wistful grey heading into night.

Leila put down her palette knife, turned down her radio, and listened. There was quiet, finally quiet, blissful silence.

Now, at the end of the day, Leila had to steel herself for the most infuriating moment of the day: Iris leaving. The torrential thumps of Iris’ flapping Birkenstocks as she gathered up her belongings, slammed the window, searched for her purse, and slammed her door. The old oak boards were punished as as Iris clomped overhead.

The stomp was followed by the slam. Iris was incapable of doing anything quietly. There was some relief in the slam—it meant Iris was no longer overhead. The Red Barn artists never said good night, pretending not to notice each other’s comings and goings. So Leila didn’t expect Iris to poke her head in, or wave when she passed by. However, the daily drama of the swirling clamor that was Iris, like a performer doing a star turn on the stage, made it impossible not to notice her entrances and exits.

Leila walked to the window. The light of an Indian summer day was fading. Sailboats moored in the bay listed drunkenly. Had the final thump earlier signaled Iris’ departure? Leila walked back to her canvas. She recognized this as the same solitary circling as that of her neighbor overhead. It was ironic, but that didn’t stop Iris from being an annoyance.

She put her tools on her workbench. She should rinse them in turpentine and water in the bathroom at the end of the hall—the brushes would be tackier and difficult to clean after drying overnight. Oh well, she’d deal with that in the morning. Grabbing her backpack, she turned out the lights and closed her door. The hallway was silent. The other studio doors on her floor were closed. No Philomena, no Dové.

But something in the quality of the jarring loud noise earlier somehow made the quiet louder.

The stairs were poorly lit, even after Leila switched on the bare bulb dangling overhead. The whole damn place was a fire hazard. She climbed to the second floor. No Liz, no Gretchen. Later, she couldn’t quite explain why hadn’t she gone home.

The crap fixture in the upstairs hall, that never worked right, was out, as usual. The damn, dusty moose head Iris had mounted above her door stared down dolefully through its blind, button eyes. Its antlers wore a fine coat of dust.

Iris’ door was open a crack, which surprised Leila. Iris worked behind closed, locked doors, all day, every day. The other Red Barn artists left their doors open at least a smidgen, not exactly an invitation, but not a deliberately antisocial act. Iris had no such compunctions.

Leila knocked. Silence. She hesitated. Should she leave Iris alone? She took a few steps back toward the stairs, but turned around. What harm was it peeking inside? “Iris, its only me, Leila. ” No answer. “Iris, are you there?”

Leila stared through the crack in the door. At first, she thought the room was empty, but as her eyes adjusted, Leila made out a shape, or maybe a shadow, in the center of the studio.

The value of the only available light source, through the far window, made it difficult to see. Iris refused to use artificial light. She insisted on painting ‘as the Old Masters had’, that is, only by natural light. For a time, she had painted by candlelight, until the Red Barn got wind of it, banning burning candles before Iris burned the place down.

Leila stared at the shape. It didn’t move. Iris never left her door unlocked. Maybe she’d left something behind and would come back for it. Leila pushed the door open further, venturing into the silent studio, under the disapproving gaze of the mildewed moose, inching towards the shadow.

Iris, who incurred the Red Barn artists’ collective ire by deprecating the work of her fellow artists, neglecting to lock the front door, leaving puddles around communal hall sink, and far worse, as the prime suspect in the ongoing war of toilet squatting accusations, that same annoying Iris, was splayed on the floor, eyes wide open, inert as a tube of sepia.

It was a body. Iris’ body. Later, Leila recalled the body like a dead deer, abandoned on the side of the road after an accident. She remembered noting the color of Iris’ skin, like the underpainting of flesh in a neutral shade—what artists called grisaille, or dead coloring.

Ironically, under the circumstances, the scene is not unlike Iris’ own brooding assemblages: the carnage of death, overripe fruit in silver bowls, bird carcasses on platters, and game animals, fresh and bloodied, trophies of the hunt hung in the background, rendered in the style of the Old Masters.

And later, Leila was vaguely ashamed of her observations, her detachment. But, she thought defensively, isn’t observation was a habit developed over a lifetime?

Tentatively, Leila inched forward, reaching out her hand to touch the body. She yanked it back as if it was submerged in a shark tank. Iris was surprisingly warm, alive warm.

As her eyes adjusted to the low light, Leila saw Iris’ blood was a seeping stain from her flowing blue dress onto the floorboards. The red was the red every paint manufacturer had tried, but failed, to capture in a tube. Brilliant, blood red. But the eyes were dead, even if the heart was beating. Leila’s heart dropped a beat. Fear crept up her throat. Leila had to look away; she couldn’t look at those eyes. Should she call out? Is anyone here? But it was better she was alone, even if it was with a dead body. But, Iris wasn’t alone.

A small figure stood—as if on guard—over the body. Leila bent down to look at it: it was a wooden artist’s mannequin, no bigger than a child’s toy, standing guard over Iris. She recognized him immediately.

Jesus, it was Fred, fucking Fred— Leila, in a fanciful mood, had painted the figure to be anatomically correct, as well as well-endowed—who had gone missing from her studio months ago.

But poor Fred, as an eyewitness to a crime, could have nothing to say. There was no doubt he was Fred, and that he belonged to her. Bending down to pick up her missing mannequin, Leila gazed into his dead eyes. What to do?

In truth, she was both embarrassed by her handiwork, and concerned his presence could be construed as evidence at the scene of the crime; she pocketed Fred and in a sleight of hand he disappeared.

Leila didn’t need Fred to paint the picture. Iris prone. The blood. The burnished wood handle of a knife stuck in an ample left breast. Iris had been murdered. Leila didn’t scream. Leila wasn’t a screamer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barbara Elle

Barbara Elle grew up in Boston, but as an adult became a New Yorker. Barbara loves writing about people and places she remembers, so Death In Vermilion is set on Cape Cod, a place of many memories. She continues collecting memories and places, traveling the world with her touring musician husband, whether exploring Buddhist temples in Beijing, crypts in Vienna or Kabuki Theater in Tokyo, in search of new stories to write about. She invariably packs a notebook and her laptop.

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