(A Maggie McDonald Mystery)
by Mary Feliz
About the Book
Cliff Hanger (A Maggie McDonald Mystery)
5th in Series
Lyrical Underground (July 16, 2019)
Paperback: 215 pages
Digital ASIN: B07JLLRRT2
When a hang-gliding stranger is found fatally injured in the cliffs above Monterey Bay, the investigation into his death becomes a cluttered mess. Professional organizer Maggie McDonald must sort the clues to catch a coastal killer before her family becomes a target . . .
Maggie has her work cut out for her helping Renée Alvarez organize her property management office. Though the condominium complex boasts a prime location on the shores of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, aging buildings and the high-maintenance tenants have Renée run ragged. But Maggie’s efforts are complicated when her sons attempt to rescue a badly injured man who crashed his ultra-light on the coastal cliffs.
Despite their efforts to save him, the man dies. Maggie’s family members become the prime suspects in a murder investigation and the target of a lawsuit. Her instincts say something’s out of place, but solving a murder won’t be easy. Maggie still needs to manage her business, the pushy press, and unwanted interest from criminal elements. Controlling chaos is her specialty, but with this killer’s crime wave, Maggie may be left hanging . .
Moves like a wind-up toy.
Looks like an origami sculpture.
Makes my mom belly-laugh.
What’s not to like? They are funny little aquatic birds that look as though they’re made of origami. Better still, they feed by spinning in circles and then snapping their pointy little beaks to slurp what they’ve stirred up. The result is behavior most often seen in a wind-up toy. It’s been researched by experts in hydrodynamics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Males sit on the nests and incubate the eggs.
And my 91-year-old mom can’t look at them without laughing. I love them. Several species, most often the red-necked phalarope, visit our coastal pond in the fall as they return from the Arctic tundra to their winter feeding grounds far off the coast of South America.
Spotting them any other time is unusual. Their primary habitat is at sea, feeding off the critters that hang out in kelp beds. But every once in a while, during particularly stormy weather, one or two will seek sheltered waters ashore.
And while they’re quietly spinning their circles, the local birding community goes mad. This spring, my novice birder husband spotted four phalaropes early in the morning. Three were already dressed in full-mating plumage for the Arctic party. The trio were easily identifiable as the red-necked phalaropes, male and female.
But another bird lurked in their midst. The mostly white and grey mottled bird with dramatic eye markings sported its subtle winter feathers. We told a local avian aficionado, asking him to let us know when he’d identified the fourth bird. He told a few friends. Within the hour there were five birders with binoculars, cameras, and funny hats recording every head bob. A gentle drizzle pockmarked the water surface. Pondering head slope, beak length and width, markings, and body size, no one was sure. Was it a red-necked, or the far rarer and slightly larger red phalarope? The birds swam close enough together for a size comparison and cameras clicked as though snapping royal offspring. By mid-afternoon, in driving rain and high winds, more fans ogled from the shoreline. That evening, after enlarging and comparing photos online, Alex Rinkert, an editor for the E-bird phone app, made the call. Size, head, and beak made it a red.
My novice birder husband had been the first to alert the locals. Mostly, we were happy to share our avian neighbors with the bird-crazy community. But there was a certain amount of sublime pleasure in having scooped the experts.
What does birding have to do with writing? I’m not sure, but a significant percentage of authors are nature geeks, including bird watchers. Maybe it’s the patience required for both pursuits. Maybe it’s the need soothe our brains with the peace that can only be found in the outdoors. Or the creativity that’s sparked when quiet minds are immersed in a world in which we’re not in control. It’s a mystery!
What about you? Are you a nature lover, a city slicker, or both? Have you ever spotted a natural phenomenon that the experts missed? How do you spur your creativity?
Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Series of cozy mysteries featuring a professional organizer turned amateur detective and her sidekick golden retriever in California’s San Francisco Bay Area.
Cliff Hanger, the fifth book in the series, releases July 16 from Kensington Publishing. Address to Die For, the first title in the six-book series, was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. A resident of Northern California for decades, she now lives on Monterey Bay, enjoying the area’s myriad natural treasures. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. For more about Mary and her books, visit her website at http://www.maryfeliz.com.
Red phalarope in non-breeding plumage
An aerial view of the pond, slough, and Monterey Bay near Sunset Beach in Santa Cruz County, California.
Red-necked phalarope (foreground) with juvenile mallards behind, ducking their heads to eat.
About the Author
Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Her first book, ADDRESS TO DIE FOR, received a Kirkus Star and was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews.
July 16 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST
July 16 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 16 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW
July 17 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT
July 17 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
July 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
July 18 – Handcrafted Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
July 18 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW
July 19 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
July 19 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 20 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
July 20 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
July 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST
July 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
July 22 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
July 22 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW