“Tagged for Death” by Sherry Harris
“Tagged for Death,” Sherry Harris’ debut novel, tells the story of Air Force wife, Sarah Winston, recovering from her husband’s betrayal. She can’t forgive him getting drunk at a party and winding up in bed with a young female airman under his authority. Especially when the gal gets pregnant during the supposedly one-night stand. That indiscretion causes the hubby to lose his command, as well as Sarah, in a matter of a few short months.
After CJ (the ex) becomes Chief of Police in the neighboring town, Sarah gets crank phone calls with gunshots in the background, and is harassed by his cop cronies – pulled over for bogus tickets. Sarah can't go to CJ to complain, not sure if the pranksters aren’t following his orders.
Sarah, ever resilient, uses her knack for bargain shopping at garage sales for distraction, but finds bloodied evidence in one of her collection bags that probably belonged to CJ. To make matters worse, CJs ‘one night stand’ goes missing. When blood (and lots of it) is found in the woman’s room, CJ comes under suspicion. Inexplicably, Sarah wants to help. I did say they were exes. The cops and even her old friends on base are wary of her motives. Harris does a nice job of teasing us along, while we wonder ‘why in the world is she doing that?’ and has the characters ask questions at just the right moments in order to move the story forward.
Sarah is a bit nosier than she should be, but how else would our amateur sleuth solve the likely crime(s) and uncover the truth? She doesn’t see that her actions could get her dead, as the pranks turn lethal and enemies pop up in unexpected places. She doesn’t know whom to trust, but there are secrets to be found and as she works her suspicious, naïve way through the twists and turns of the plot, she uncovers all.
Harris, no stranger to military living herself, gives us an insider’s look at life on an Air Force base: the many fundraising events, short-term friendships that are the norm, how personal mistakes become career nightmares, and friendships are sometimes based on spousal rank rather than on how the gals hit it off. It is great to discover that more experienced military couples do mentor the younger people on base.
Harris’ personal knowledge of garage sales (something she discovered back in the second grade) weaves a convincing thread to tie the action and sub-plots together. Through Sarah’s character, we learn how to organize a successful sale, even how to create a part-time job out of it. She includes great tips at the end of “Tagged for Death.”
Harris also explores the idea of second chances in a marriage. Sometimes people have poor judgment, but leaping to conclusions before all the facts are in? can cause irreparable harm.
Harris’ “Tagged for Death” has just been nominated for an Agatha Award-2015 in the best first novel category. Well-deserved recognition for this enjoyable read. It is the first in the ‘Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery’ series.
Please visit www.sherryharrisauthor.com for more information about Ms. Harris and her other projects.