Richard Forester, a retired CEO for a major software company, and his granddaughter Penny show up at the Pookotz Bed & Breakfast one evening and find themselves in some rather unpleasant company. All the guests somehow seem to be connected to Richard’s past and when he is found dead the next morning, everyone is suspect. However, there are a few wrinkles that the inn’s owners Edna and Mildred Pookotz need to iron out as the investigation unfolds. Not only was Richard deathly ill, but he was also accused of embezzling $750,000 which is still unaccounted for. The local Sheriff suspects that this victim’s death is not a natural one, so he–and the sisters–set forth to discover who the murderer is.
It is only by chance, and the recommendation of the sheriff, that Penny and Richard end up at the Pookotz Bed & Breakfast. They are on their way for a potential cure or to at least ease Richard's suffering. The Bed & Breakfast is booked and the various guests have their own stories from the newlyweds to the insurance salesman to the photographer to the father and son. A full house and all the guests have some investment in finding the money that Richard is accused of embezzling. When Richard is found dead, the Pookotz sisters do their best to deal with a full house of suspects. Although only one person killed Richard, they share the guilt. Gilbertson artfully weaves a combination of clues to the final conclusion. The Pookotz sisters, Felix, and the Sheriff all have unique personalities and I look forward to seeing more of them in the future.
About This Author
Bart J. Gilbertson is the author of the Pookotz Sisters Mystery Series. Although he was born in Wisconsin, he spent most of his youth and later years in the rocky mountain state of Idaho. He has been all over the northwest and it is his love for the lush green state of Oregon that inspired the setting for Pleasant Lake and its inhabitants. He attended ITT Technical Institute in Boise, ID and received an Associate in Applied Science Degree for Computer Networking Systems and graduated with honors. Bart has worn many hats over his lifetime career, but the one he is most proud of is that of being a writer. He currently resides in O’Neill, NE. He has two children.
Christa: Hi Bart! Glad to have a chance to ask you a few questions...to begin, how did you go from running computer networking to writing mysteries?
Bart: Well, truth be known, I have always been writing stories. However, my background is a technical one. I spent about 2 years working for Intel, Fab 7 in Rio Rancho, NM back in the early 90’s. I then spent another couple of years with a pharmaceutical company called TheraTech running one of their packaging machines. After that, I spent approximately 7 years with another semi-conductor fabrication company called Zilog. When Zilog closed its doors, I went to school for a couple of years at ITT Technical Institute and got my Associates in Computer Networking Systems, graduating with honors. But the one constant in all that time was my story writing. So, I wouldn’t say I went from running computer networks to writing mysteries. The jobs I’ve had over the years, along with my degree, were my “day job”. Writing is my true vocation.
Christa: When did you first start writing fiction?
Bart: I started writing at a very young age. Even before I knew I wanted to be a writer, in fact. I remember my Mom sharing with me a short story I had written when I was about 7 or 8 years old. It was about a man who worked at a museum, and late at night, everything inside came to life. (I know – this sounds like the Ben Stiller movie, “Night at the Museum”, but this story was written YEARS before that even came out). There was this one part, where a menacing gorilla came to life and went up to the man, growling, howling, and beating his fists on the floor. The man was afraid. The gorilla stopped and looked at the man and said, “Why didn’t you come to visit me last night?” Haha! Yes, creative writing was in full effect in that story.
Christa: I’m also a fan of Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony (from your Goodreads bio). How did they influence you?
Bart: Up until that point, all the books I’d read were Young Adult books. Reading Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony was my first foray into the adult world, so to speak. “The Sword of Shannara” by Terry Brooks was well over 700 pages long. I’d never tackled a book that size before, but I was determined to read it based on two things: my friend’s recommendation, and the front cover. (Yes, front covers DO sell). It was the first real, epic fantasy I’d ever read and it had a big impact on me. So much so, that I began to write a fantasy of my own, “The Diadems of Wanoka”. I actually still have plans for a fantasy series roughly based on this early idea. With Piers Anthony, it was a little different. He incorporates a lot of humor into his novels, and I loved that aspect of his writing. Can you imagine waking up only to discover you have been sleeping on top of carnivorous grass? Imagine trying to stand up! Piers Anthony has a wonderful, imaginative mind.
Christa: Is there a sleuth that just got you hooked on mysteries?
Bart: To be fair, there were two. Frank and Joe Hardy, the Hardy Boys. I absolutely adored those books growing up. I always had a Hardy Boys mystery with me wherever I went. They certainly had a huge influence on me with ideas of my own mysteries. Back in those days, when I was a kid, we didn’t have video games or the internet. We lived 3 miles outside of a small town in the rural areas, so we didn’t have cable television either. My Dad had fastened a large antenna at the top of a post he’d set up by the house, and we got 4 channels; ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS on a black and white TV…that was it. Books were my best friend. I read a lot of the Hardy Boys, and I also wrote a lot of stories.
Christa: Your bio indicates that it was your love of Oregon that inspired the setting for Deathbed and Breakfast. What (or who) inspired the Pookotz sisters?
Bart: Believe it or not, nobody did. They were just an idea that came from the minds of my sister, Billie, and I late one night. We sat around coming up with our own ideas for a possible cozy mystery series, and they were born. The name “Pookotz” was our Grandmother’s (on our father’s side of the family) maiden name. We knew we wanted the two sisters to be opposites, yet complement each other. Edna is the stern one, the organizer, the “heavy”. Mildred, on the other hand, is the warmhearted and caring one. Together, they give the reader a great balance and some humorous situations.
Christa: How would you complete this sentence: Readers who like ________ will love Deathbed & Breakfast and the Pookotz Sisters?
Bart: “Readers who like the television show, ‘Murder, She Wrote’, will love ‘Deathbed & Breakfast’ and the Pookotz Sisters.”
Christa: Since this is the first in the Pookotz Sister Mysteries, when can readers expect the next one?
Bart: Well, now that Edna and Mildred have solved their first mystery, they will find in the next book that they have a knack for it. They will become even more involved than they were in the first book. Felix will be up to his usual shenanigans (I’ve always loved that word….”shenanigans”). And you will get to meet some more of the locals too.
Christa: Care to give the readers any hints or a brief synopsis?
Bart: Hmmmm….well, I will say that it will take place against the background of an annual town festival and class reunion. There will be more fun waiting for fans of the Pookotz Sisters!
Christa: As we close the interview, what message or additional information do you want to share?
Bart: I just want to thank the many of you who’ve supported me these last few months. I’ve met and made new friends along the way, and have received continued support from others who’ve been with me from the very start of my new journey. I value and appreciate all of you! Thank you again.
Christa: I certainly enjoyed Deathbed and Breakfast and learning more about you! Thank you!
Deathbed and Breakfast is available at Amazon
Follow Bart J Gilbertson on Facebook and Goodreads