Larissa considers herself lucky to have taught English in Japan, escaped a ferocious monkey in Thailand, studied archaeology in Egypt, and survived teaching high school history in the US. However, adopting her daughters from China has been her most rewarding experience. After moving around the Midwest, the South and Japan, she now lives in Georgia with her husband, daughters, and Biscuit, a Cairn Terrier.
She loves small town characters with big attitudes, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (Henery Press, August 28, 2012) is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW, a Cherry Tucker Mystery #2, releases in May 2013. When she’s not writing about southern fried chicken, she writes about Asian fried chicken at her blog about life as an ex-expat and writer at theexpatreturneth.blogspot.com.
She and her writing friends also chat weekly about books on their Little Read Hens Facebook page and littlereadhens.com. You can find Larissa chatting on Facebook;
Twitter; and Goodreads. She loves pinning on Pinterest. Her character, Cherry Tucker has her own Pinterest site now, too, for her love of DIY clothing, art, and Southern food. You can also find more information on her website at larissareinhart.com.
In Halo, Georgia, folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to sketch a portrait faster than buckshot rips from a ten gauge -- but commissions are scarce. So when the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small town rival.
As the clock ticks toward the deadline, Cherry faces more trouble than just a controversial subject. Her rival wants to ruin her reputation, her ex-flame wants to rekindle the fire, and someone’s setting her up to take the fall. Mix in her flaky family, an illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry finds herself painted into a corner she’ll be lucky to survive.
Here's an excerpt...
I surprise myself sometimes. I’m not known for being shy or cautious, but I never imagined hanging out with a dead guy. Yet here I stood next to a coffin, bopping along to the music on my headphones while I brushed on Dustin’s underpainting in bold strokes.
“Looking good,” I sang to my painting.
My head beat along to the throbbing chords ringing from my earbuds. The purplish base color, mixed from alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue, would provide a cooler tone to Dustin's skin and the shadowy background. I had snapped some photos of Dustin in case I needed to work at home, but using a live subject is always preferable. Or dead, in this case.
Taking a break for the first coat to dry, I covered my palette of mixed paints with a wet paper towel and grabbed a Coke from my bag. I took a deep swig, wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, and sighed. Painting made me happy. Getting paid for it made me downright ecstatic. A beer would perfect the moment, but I sucked on the Coke instead. Breaking into a funeral home to paint a dead body was bad enough. Somehow cracking into a six-pack pushed the crime into redneck realm.
Wandering over to the coffin, I took another swig and stared at Dustin. Something looked different. I scanned him again and spotted the incongruence. The pocket flap on the far side of his suit jacket was folded inside itself, a minor detail that would bug me. I should fix it. But no, thank you.
Though I wouldn’t actually have to touch Dustin. Just his pocket.
I twitched my nose. But every glance from the easel to Dustin would zone in on that stupid pocket flap. That’s a lot of glances.
A light flashed in my periphery and the hairs on my arms rose. I craned my neck toward the door, but saw nothing.
My head bobbed to the throbbing music while I fixated on the pocket flap. A light flashed again. This time I pivoted toward the darkened doorway and ducked.
Perfectly reasonable to have jitters standing next to a dead man in a coffin in a dark funeral parlor. I also suspected my mind was playing tricks on me so I could procrastinate touching that pocket. The flash was a car light or something. Probably some reflection thingy I didn’t understand because I didn’t pay attention in physics.
Taking a deep breath, I turned back to the coffin. My hand hovered over the body. I reached into the coffin and tugged the edge of the flap. It caught on something.
I plunged my hand into the pocket feeling for the obstruction. The flap flipped up, and I pulled out a small gray bag. Tiny hard misshapen objects rolled between my fingers through the soft pouch.
“Eew!” I dropped the bag, shaking my hand free of the heebie-jeebies. What would feel like that?
I took another swig of Coke and grabbed hold of my nerves. Just as I lectured myself to stop messing around, a beam of light slid across the wall before me, then swung toward the ceiling.
That’s no car light. That’s a flashlight.
The hairs on the back of my neck prickled. I began to turn. One crack to my skull and the headphones popped out of my ears. My knees buckled. The Coke foamed and splashed as my body dropped.
Intense, bright colors exploded in my vision.
And finally, Mars black.
I’d like to encourage readers to enter my giveaway contest. Up for grabs is an e-copy of PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, book one of the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. Leave a comment and you're automatically entered. Include your email addy so I can get in touch with you should your name be selected at random. The winner will be announced on my blog (http://theexpatreturneth.blogspot.com/) on December 12, 2012. Good luck!