Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mystery We Write Tour ~ Larissa Reinhart


PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY is set in the fictional, small town of Halo, Georgia, home to the artist Cherry Tucker, her nutty, dysfunctional family, and the recent murder of Dustin Branson. Halo is in the northeast corner of the fictional Forks County, cattywampus from the county seat of Linecreek where folks’ noses tend to raise a smidge when talking about poor, little Halo. That’s damn irritating if you’re from Halo.

Halo’s not big enough for a Walmart, but they’ve got what they need -- the TruBuy, BBQ, and a Sonic. Unless what they need can only be found at Walmart. Then they’ve got to suck it up and go to Linecreek.

At one time, Halo had been a train stop, like many towns in the South. On two main avenues running off the town square like spokes, the remnants of their whistlestop heyday can be seen in the turn of century homes -- a few Georgian Foursquare mansions and around two dozen small bungalows, including Cherry’s studio, her Great-Gam’s old cottage. A few old families still occupy these homes, other houses have been converted into commercial property for doctors, lawyers, small shops like Cherry’s, and Cooper’s Funeral Home. The avenues are lined with trees and azaleas, but the sidewalks suffer from tree root upheaval and crumbling curbs. The streets are wide but patched with blacktop that has a tendency to sink in comparison to the paved, narrow roads on the outskirts of town.

A few blocks more and you’ve crossed the old town line and found Red’s County Line Tap, an old tavern that has been revived into a sports bar. Red’s promises cold beer, hot wings, and tables that can be shoved together to accommodate Little League teams after their Saturday afternoon games. Stretching beyond the rough town boundaries are the commercial properties you find in most small towns such as JB’s pristine Ford dealership and Mather’s begrimed Tire Shop. Follow the county highways in any direction and they’ll lead you to newer developments of finer homes, like the Bransons or Max Avtaikin’s, or even Cherry’s Grandpa’s farm which is neither fine nor new.

Although it had a different name, you’ve been to this town or driven through it, right?

In my mind, Halo is a synthesis of various small towns I have known and lived, some in Georgia, some in the midwest, and even one in Japan. The characteristics of a small town are similar the world over in terms of the older center and newer outskirts. Other common small town characteristics lie in town pride, interesting characters, and love of gossip.

Halo is not unique in these matters, and that’s on purpose. When I write about Halo, I want the reader to already know her. The reader should feel comfortable following Cherry and her motley crew of family and friends through the streets of town and know that when Cherry shops at the TruBuy, it will have dusty shelves and crowded aisles. When she goes to Mather’s Tire Shop, there will be a nudie calendar from 1982 stuck on the back wall of the garage. And when she enters JB’s Ford Dealership, you already know the glass windows showcasing a Mustang and F-150 are immaculate and the showroom is permeated with new-car scent.

Does Halo remind you of another town? I hope so. And I hope you want to visit Halo again.

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!


Larissa began her writing career in second grade when she sold her first publication to a neighbor for a nickel. After moving around the Midwest, Japan, and the South, 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 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 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.

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Larissa Reinhart said...

Thanks for having me on Madison! Hope you have some small town fans and I hope some lucky person wins Portrait!

Terri L. Austin said...

We have a lot of Halos in Missouri. I know this town well! Great job, Larissa. And I loved Portrait of a Dead Guy. The premise was so unique, the characters hilarious. Can't wait for book 2!

Larissa Reinhart said...

Actually Kirksville, MO, is part Halo. Or Halo is part Kirksville. Thanks for stopping in, Terri!

Anonymous said...

Love stories about small towns, especially ones with secrets! I can taste the BBQ now. Plus, you have me craving a Route 44 Diet Coke with Lime from Sonic. Hmmmm... must find a Sonic soon.

WS Gager said...

I loved the walk through Halo. I could picture it all like I was right beside you. Great bit of description and I've known several Halos.
W.S. Gager on Writing

Alicia Tonne said...

Gotta love those Southern small towns... My grandparents lived in a town just like Halo and it seemed everybody was always in everybody else's business. But, that's part of the charm! Thanks for reminding me of the simpler (well, sometimes) life of a great small town. :)And writing PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, which really brings Halo to life!

Larissa Reinhart said...

Oh, Anna. I may have to run to Sonic now for some tater tots! There's one in the town next door...

Hey Wendy, thanks so much!

Alicia, I grew up in a town of 600 and yearned to live in the city. However, after living in the suburbs for a few years, I do miss the charm and head to the surrounding small towns whenever I can.

M.M. Gornell said...

I also loved the "walk thru" Halo. Especially liked the tavern name, Red’s County Line Tap. Very nice post.


Larissa Reinhart said...

Thanks Madeline!

cmgren said...

Larissa thanks for the tour of Halo. Makes me want to read PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY even more. Thanks for having this contest.

Larissa Reinhart said...

Thanks so much cmgren! Good luck with the contest!

Madison Johns said...

I'm happy to have you stopping by and love small towns and your post. You really have it mapped out well. Good luck with the book!

Larissa Reinhart said...

Thanks Madison!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I love small towns too. Though I do think there is a different flavor to each one depending upon what part of the country they are in. I love you "voice", the post made me smile.

Collin Kelley said...

Sounds like a very familiar town. :)

Jake said...

Not sure how I missed yesterday. Enjoyed your blog.