Hot Springs, Arkansas, has had a colorful history, especially during the years it was a vacation spot/hideaway for the likes of Al Capone, Owney Madden, Bugsy Segal, and other gangster-variety folks. The only “saloon” still in operation is the Ohio Club on Central Avenue. Lured by curiosity about the massive and magnificent mahogany bar (circa 1870-80, hauled from Cincinnati by barge, train, and horse-drawn cart), I popped in one afternoon for a Coke and some chips and salsa upstairs where the gambling casino used to operate. I kept feeling I wasn’t alone and glanced up to see a life-sized cut-out of Al Capone complete with fedora and cigar. Al’s grinning presence added to rumors of how he used the tunnels beneath the city for his own clandestine purposes, birthed The Dreamland Series.
Still reeling after the death of the love of her life, Capt. Ned Blake, USAF, Trixie Collier Blake returns to her barely-remembered hometown of Dreamland, Arkansas, to check out the building willed to her by her grandfather. Almost immediately she encounters a series of menacing threats and then learns of her family’s connection to notorious gangster Al Capone during his heyday.
In fact, he seems to be still hanging around the Quimby Building as evidenced by odd noises on the second floor and the pervasive smell of cigar smoke.
She meets attorney Mitch Langley, a widower, who identifies with her grief struggle because he’s been there-done that and has the scars to prove it. Unfortunately, Trixie knows, but can’t prove, it’s Mitch’s father Guy who’s trying to pry her loose from the building and get her out of Dreamland.
The chance discovery of a maze of tunnels beneath the town, an old mine put to other uses during Prohibition, deepens one mystery and leads to another. But Trixie digs in her heels, taking a page from the playbook of young Danny Jefferson, who doesn’t let his Down Syndrome define him, and who knows more about what goes on in Dreamland than anybody suspects.
Then, just when Trixie thinks she’s home free, someone from her family’s past, now bent on revenge, threatens to do what Guy Langley and Al Capone’s tunnels couldn’t.
I loved the idea of hidden history in an historical building like the Ohio Club, and I often use characters with challenges such as Danny Jefferson. As a former special ed teacher and grandmother of an adorable two-year-old boy with Down Syndrome, I knew Danny could play a hero’s role. Too, I was widowed very young like Trixie and had to deal with starting over.
Meet the residents of Dreamland, Arkansas (including its resident ghosts) in this new cozy mystery/romantic suspense series:
Kindle :Also sold as a boxed set for
Also available from Amazon: The six-book Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series, individually and as a boxed set.
Bio: Judy Nickles is a retired teacher, genealogist, traveler, British crime-drama fan, ghost tour- taker, and writer, whose favorite possession is her Kindle and who recently flew in a World War II B-24 bomber built the same year she was born. (You figure it out!) She is not aging quietly but rather having her adolescent rebellion 50+ years late. She has an alter ego as Mimi of four, one of whom had better turn out to be a writer before years of filed clippings and ideas make a bonfire for her less-imaginative sons.
Social media links:
Website: Someday IsHere
Blog: The Word Place