Introduction to the Sheridan Hendley Series

Sheridan Hendley is the protagonist in the 5-book Cold Creek Series. Sheridan and Brett's marriage meant Sheridan moved to his place in a suburb of Appomattox - a fictitious unincorporated town of Clover Leaf. Book 1, A NEW PLACE, ANOTHER MURDER, was released on July 18, 2018. Sheridan continues to connect with some of her friends from Cold Creek, while she also makes new connections and friends in Clover Leaf. 

With the 2nd in the series, released March 24, 2019, DOGS AND MORE DOGS, ANOTHER MURDER, Sheridan's settled in with a job and her volunteer work at Pets and Paws, and involved in another murder. 

A Sheridan Hendley Mystery #1

Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for.

Pretty much settled into her new home in Appomattox with Brett and his daughter, Sheridan longs for something to keep her busy. That is, until Maddie and her new friend are framed for theft and murder. Not quite the distraction she had hoped for, but she’ll turn over every rock to prove their innocence. In the process, she learns about the powerful Buchanan family and the history of the local community. Will the truth come out before the person calling the shots takes Sheridan and Maddie out of the picture? 

Here's a sneak peak at the start of the story: 

Read an excerpt:

My complaints to my close friend, Kim, about boredom were interrupted by the slamming of the front door and I ended my call. Probably something I’d have to get used to as step-mom to a teenager. In the kitchen, I found Maddie, her backpack thrown on the floor. She was stomping around the counter island, her face in a pout.
“What’s up Maddie?”
“You won’t believe what happened today. It’s unbelievable. I still can’t believe it and I was there.”
Her voice rose an octave as she vented and I had no clue what she was talking about. Maddie went to a variety of activities during the week. They were called “camps” but that seemed a misnomer to me. Robotics, theater, and computers were not quite what I thought of as a “camp.” I waited a few seconds and she ranted some more.
“Alex was accused of stealing money from the office. It was in his backpack, but he didn’t steal it. They didn’t even give him a chance to explain. They called his mom and took him away. He was mortified.”
“Calm down and help me understand. Can we back up please? Who’s Alex?”
“He’s one of the kids attending all these camps with me. Of all the kids, he’s been the nicest to me. I don’t understand why they don’t believe he had no idea how the money got in his backpack.”
She finally simmered down and plopped into a chair, a grimace on her face.
“You may be upset for nothing. Once they got him to the station with his parents and got more information, they may have figured out they made a mistake. But why would they think he stole the money and why are you so sure he didn’t do it?”
“I don’t understand why they picked on him. The officer walked in and asked for him. Then asked where his backpack was. Alex pointed to his pack and the officer went over, opened it and pulled out an envelope and money fell out. It wasn’t even hidden. Then they grabbed him. He looked around but nobody helped him. I didn’t know what to do to help him.”
“What makes you think he’s innocent? How else would it get in his backpack?”
“You don’t understand! Alex’s nice. He … He wouldn’t do that.”
“How do you think the money ended up in his backpack then?”
“I’m not sure and Dad says I shouldn’t accuse people without facts. When the police came and asked for Alex, two other boys snickered and fist-bumped. I think they set him up. All our backpacks stay in the main room while we go in and out. They could have stolen the money and stuck it in his pack. Then they must have called the police and made an anonymous report or something. We’ve got to help him.”
She stomped around the kitchen some more and kicked her backpack.
“Maddie, is your backpack in the same place as Alex’s and the others’?”
She turned to me and nodded. “Yeah, why? They’re all together in the main room.”
“Humor me, okay? Can you dump everything out of your backpack and make sure that the only things in there really belong to you?”
I cleaned off the table and she emptied her back pack onto the table. Books, brush, hair ties, crumpled up papers, pens, pencils, stale cookie, and an envelope.
“What? Where did that come from?” Her eyes opened wide. She went to grab the envelope and I caught her hand.
“Don’t touch it. You don’t know where the envelope came from or what’s inside?”
She shook her head, eyes wide. “Am I going to get arrested now, too?”
“I don’t think it will come to that. Your dad will be home in a little while and we’ll show him what we found. He’ll decide what to do. But don’t touch the envelope in case there are fingerprints or something else that might help identify who handled that envelope, okay?”
She nodded and sat down, staring at the mess.
“Is that everything? What about the pockets? Everything out, even the crumbs.” I realized this was going to be the cleanest this backpack had been since she got it almost a year ago. Maddie emptied and gasped as she found another envelope in one of the outside pockets.
“Sheridan, there’s another one here. Oh, no, I touched the edge!”
“It’s okay. Let me see if I can find something…” I rummaged through the kitchen drawer and pulled out serving tongs. “I’ll use these tongs and pull it the rest of the way out.” It took a few tries, but I managed to get the envelope out and dropped it with the other one. Then I released the tongs and left them on top.
“Now what?”
“Why don’t you go through all the stuff you just dumped here and either throw it away or put it back in the backpack. Except the two envelopes. In the meantime, I’ll work on finishing up the meatloaf and potatoes for dinner. Later, after we talk to your Dad, you might wipe the whole thing down with a sanitizer.”
She made a face. “This cookie doesn’t look so good. Did you make any more today?”
I looked at the cookie she’d picked up out of the pile. “That one bit the dust. Yes, there are more cookies over on the counter – only one, please. We’ll be eating in an hour.”
Somehow, my boring day seemed preferable to the drama. The idea of the camps was giving Maddie something to do. A big benefit, the camps provided an opportunity for her to make friends before starting at her new middle school in the fall. As with most 13-year-olds, middle school was a big deal. It was convenient she attended the camps at Clover Leaf Middle School where she’d be a student. And it had been working until then.
Maddie and I finished the dinner preparation and set the table as Brett pulled in the driveway. He raked his hand through his dark curly hair. That was a sure sign that he was tired or stressed. This situation with Maddie would push him over the edge, likely add a few gray hairs. Meeting him at the door, we kissed and that at least brought a smile to his eyes.
He looked past me to Maddie. I followed his gaze. Shoulders dropped and mouth quivering, she’d lost her independent teen, “I can take on the world” attitude.
“What’s wrong?”
He’d barely got the words out and she was in his arms, sobbing. Her long brown hair fell over her shoulders.
“Maddie’s friend, Alex, is in trouble. He’s been accused of stealing money. Maddie thinks he’s been arrested. The police found an envelope with money in his backpack.”
“Do you want me to see if I can find out what happened with your friend?” He caught my expression and his jaw clenched. “That’s not all, is it?”
“Afraid not. Maddie is sure he was set up, that somebody put the envelope in his backpack. When she told me both their backpacks were unattended in the room, I had her empty out hers. We found two envelopes that aren’t hers.”
His jaw clenched, he mumbled. “We’ll figure this out. Let me call Chief Peabody and have him send someone over.”
“I’ll finish putting dinner on the table. I imagine they’ll be tied up for a while.”
Brett nodded and walked down the hall to our office. Maddie moved as if to follow him and I stopped her. “He’ll take care of it and you can help me in the kitchen.”
A few minutes later, he joined us. “There was a shooting. It’ll be a while. Envelopes under the tongs?”
“We used the tongs so we wouldn’t touch them.”

He nodded. It was a quiet dinner, the envelopes grabbing our attention and dampening our usual dinnertime banter. We cleaned up and waited.

Excerpt from A New Place, Another Murder. Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

“Nardi brought along the characters I loved from Cold Creek (Sheridan, Brett, Maddie, and Charlie, Sheridan’s Sheltie) put them in new situations, bring new life to the characters. I also liked that Sheridan keeps in contact with former colleagues at Cold Creek College. This made Sheridan seem even more real to me.”

“A very down to earth read. A normal family that finds itself embroiled in murder and crime due to his job as detective and hers as nosy Nellie. Great characters that you could meet anywhere.”

A Sheridan Hendley Mystery #2

An abandoned house, an abundance of dogs. And a dead body or two. 

Sheridan Hendley’s volunteer position at Pets and Paws takes a new turn when more than twenty malnourished dogs are found at a rundown house on the outskirts of town. When the body of an elderly woman is found amidst mountains of clutter in the house, a search of the property leads to startling revelations. And another body. While Herman Stoneham’s death is deemed natural causes, his wife’s is not. Where did all the dogs come from and who’s responsible for Justine’s untimely death? Are the two connected? With dogs and murder at stake, Sheridan can't help but get involved in the investigation.

Read an excerpt (Chapter 1):
The holiday decorations were packed away, the house no longer festive. I’d procrastinated much longer than any other year and now even New Year’s was a memory. Married to State Police Detective Brett McMann and stepmom to his teenaged daughter, Maddie, about six months now, it was sad to put our first Christmas as a family behind us. Still, I was truly relieved the hustle and bustle was over. Juggling two families had been stressful, though time with my parents and sibs, Kaylie and Kevin, was good. Drinking my never empty coffee, I relished the quiet and uncluttered living area.
“Sheridan, can I go skating with Nedra and Willie? Miss Melina is taking us.”
“Is your room clean? And what time will you be home?” Melina and I both volunteered at the local dog shelter, and her daughter, Nedra was in Maddie’s eight grade class. Little did Maddie know, Melina had texted me already about taking them skating. She knew I was volunteering at Pets and Paws today and this would give Maddie something to do. Winter break is great for a few days and then it gets old.
“Yes, my room is clean. I’ll be home before dinner.”
“Okay. Let’s make sure you have everything and you’re ready when they get here to pick you up.”
I followed her to her room, Charlie and Bella padding behind us. Sometimes Maddie’s teen version of a clean room and mine didn’t quite look the same. At least on the surface, this time we were on the same page. Even Bella’s toys were all assembled in her bed.
“Heavy socks so you don’t get blisters? Extra layers or a coat? It can get cold out there with the wind.” The weather had been pretty mild for Virginia in January so far, with only a few nights of frost, and mostly in the 40s.
The eighth grader made a face. “Jeesh, I’m not a child. Besides extra layers make me look fat.”
“But you’ll be warm. What about the thermals? They’re thin and help retain heat and then you might get by without a jacket.”
“Okay. Okay. Can you get my skates?”
“On it. Skates, gloves, scarf and hat coming up.” I ignored her eye roll and gathered everything together as Melina pulled up.
“Hurry up. They’re here.” She bustled out of the room, grabbed everything and was out the door. I waved to Melina from the door.
Only a few more days and Maddie would be back at school and I’d be back to work at Millicent College teaching on Wednesdays and Fridays. I finished my coffee and cleaned up. After letting Charlie and Bella out, I headed for Pets and Paws.
Smiling, I remembered the way Mrs. Chantilly had all the dogs decked out in bells, bows, and bowties before Christmas. Pets and Paws was in an old colonial home. Mrs. Chantilly lived upstairs and the dogs were downstairs. With Luke’s help, she’d decorated the house, inside and out. She’d always reminded me of Mrs. Claus and for two weeks she dressed the part and bounced around with abundant enthusiasm. More than one of the dogs managed to destroy her holiday trappings around the place from time to time, but she took it in stride.
The house was on the news and people came from all over to view it. She’d go out and invite them in to see the rest of the decorations – and the dogs. Not unintentional by any means, she managed to get many dogs adopted.
I chuckled to myself, recalling when she’d tried singing traditional holiday songs. Unlike me, she had a beautiful voice. The problem was some of the dogs. They tried to sing, too, only the howling was not quite in tune. Sure enough, as I pulled up in front of the house I noticed the decorations were gone from Pets and Paws now, too.
Luke was moving boxes and grunted hello as I arrived. A high school student with some bad habits, like the stray and rescue dogs Mrs. Chantilly collected, Luke was a restoration project. His legal issues led to his “volunteering” at Pets and Paws. When he first started his community service there, he scowled a lot and made me nervous. He was still an entitled beachboy type.
He’d made some attitude adjustments in the past few months and I was glad to see it. I still didn’t quite trust him despite Mrs. Chantilly always singing his praises. Mrs. Chantilly met me at the door, grandmotherly, soft, and light, only without the Mrs. Claus attire. I also noted the bounce in her step was gone. Even though she had to be in her sixties, she always seemed to have energy and a happy face.
“Isn’t this weather just delightful? Sunny, not too, too cold. I heard it’s going to freeze tonight and maybe snow. Those abandoned dogs wouldn’t survive if that happened.”
Now used to her manner of speech, I simply asked, “What abandoned dogs?”
“Over at the Stoneham place of course, near Blake Buchanan’s. Have you ever been to his home? It is beautiful. A mansion fit for a king. His wife, Ava, studied interior decorating you know.”
“No, I didn’t know. Did they find dogs at the Stoneham’s?”
“That’s what I said. Nobody ever bothered the Stoneham’s for many years. Older couple and all, their children grown and gone, they kept to themselves. Justine and Herman didn’t live there when I was growing up here. Someone else did though. Never knew who they were.”
Mrs. Dora Chantilly had left Clover Hill after high school and she’d only returned when her grandmother died and left her the house, now Clover Hill Pets and Paws.  Her grandmother had taken in strays and the place was a mess. I was about to ask again about the dogs, and an SUV pulled up.
“Here they are with more of the dogs. Poor things. Luke and I already fed and bathed the first group Blake brought over. I’m sure glad you’re here to help.”
I followed her as she hurried to the car and greeted Blake Buchanan, former mayor of Clover Hill. He took her in his arms and then seemed to realize I was there. He and Mrs. Chantilly had been an item in high school and they renewed their friendship when she returned.
“Dora, we uncovered a mama and pups.” He shook his head. “One of them didn’t make it. Dane mix. Where’s Luke? Even malnourished, it’ll take two of us to get her and her pups inside.” Mrs. Chantilly rushed to open the door and see to the animals.
“Mr. Buchanan, can you fill me in? Mrs. Chantilly hasn’t had a chance yet.”
He smiled and his eyes twinkled. We both understood that sometimes she was a bit hard to follow. Almost like putting a puzzle together. Me, I prefer things to be in order when someone is telling me a story.
“Last night, I was sitting on the deck and my dog, Bridgit, showed up with a puppy, not in good shape. As soon as I took the pup, she darted in the direction of the Stoneham place. I called to my wife, put the pup in a blanket, and took off after her.”
He paused for effect.
 “The house was dark but Bridgit stood at the front porch and dug to get further underneath. I knocked at the door and no one answered. I called Chief Peabody and then with my flashlight got a look at dogs huddled together from the cold under the porch. With help, we extracted six dogs and two more puppies and brought them here.”
He shuddered. “Such bad shape. Bridgit still wasn’t happy, but that was all we could do last night. Four of us have been on the property this morning. Brought four more dogs earlier. Butch and Bridgit, my best dogs, are helping us wade through it.”
“Huh? What do you mean ‘wade through it’ – is the house that much of a mess?”
“That’s a mild description. Stuff stacked on top of stuff on top of stuff, and the smell.” He shuddered again. “This mama and pups were in the kitchen. We could hear yelping from other parts of the house.”
“Here comes Luke. We need to get these dogs  inside. Sheridan, can you start some formula going? These pups are near starved to death. And we’ll have to keep them isolated until the vet can check them out.”
Luke lumbered up and his eyes about popped out as he looked from Blake to the Dane and pups. “Where are we going to put all these dogs?”
Mrs. Chantilly’s face fell. “Mama and pups in the house. The side room on the right is empty now with all the adoptions. We put the first bunch in the room on the left. You were just in the garage. Is there room in there? Grandpa used to work out there so I think there’s electric heat if we need it and a bathroom, too. Blake, how many more dogs?”
He pulled her close. “Remember, we need to keep these dogs separate from your other dogs. Let me check out the garage. We can always pull your car out. Work on getting them some food and water. Luke, come with me.”
They disappeared. I turned to Mrs. Chantilly, “You stay with them. I’ll go get water and start the bottles going.”
As I walked in to the house, I glanced down at the concrete floor, painted blue slate and sealed. At least if the dogs made a mess, there wouldn’t be any damage. It was about an hour later when we finished relocating the Pets and Paws residents to the larger back room. The two new mamas and pups were situated on one side of the kitchen. They’d been bathed and fed and each family rested on a palette.
That left space in the other side room for any smaller dogs that might come in. If the new arrivals were medium to large sized dogs we moved them to the unattached garage. They’d been fed and some had been bathed, now settled into crates. The heat was on and that at least took the chill off. Not exactly warm, but the dogs would all be out of the wind.
Blake hinted there still would be more dogs coming. With Mrs. Chantilly’s blessing, I sent an email out to all the volunteers with a short note about the dogs coming in and needing assistance if they were available. Whatever supplies were needed, starting with towels and blankets, I was confident Blake would take care of them.

Excerpt from Dogs and More Dogs, Another Murder : Sheridan Hendley #2. Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.

A Sheridan Hendley Mystery #3

A touch of nostalgia, a murder, and good friends.

When a former colleague is implicated in his neighbor’s demise, Sheridan Hendley returns to Cold Creek to try to prove his innocence. Annoying as Max can be, she can’t imagine the quirky professor is capable of murder. Unfortunately, not everyone shares her opinion. Of course, it doesn’t help that Max threatened his neighbor in a public place soon before the man was murdered. Or that the victim’s drug shipments had a habit of turning up on Max’s doorstep. 

Read an excerpt (Chapter 1):

Charlie and Bella’s barking and pawing woke me up.  Even a little disgruntled, I couldn’t help but smile at the antics of my older Sheltie and the young lab mix. The smell of coffee helped, too.
A glance at the clock and I groaned. I had overslept. Again. With the weekend over, work beckoned, at least three days a week at my continuing temporary job at Millicent College. That and the joys of getting one teenager up and ready for high school.
Grumbling to myself, I checked Maddie’s room on my way to the kitchen. She didn’t answer the knock on her door, so I opened it and shooed the dogs inside. She screeched and I chuckled. Definitely not a morning person. Her typical teen concern for her appearance slowed her down even more whenever she had to leave the house.
“Come on, Maddie. You need to get a move on.”
In the kitchen, Brett was absorbed in something on his tablet. Although we were no longer newlyweds, nothing was better than waking up to this man, with his hazel eyes, dark curly hair, contagious smile, and dimples. A six-foot teddy bear unless on the job as a State Police detective or in protective mode.
He quickly shifted the screen on the tablet and smiled.
“Work already? Anything interesting?”
“Not really.”
Maddie stumbled into the kitchen. At fifteen, she was a feminine version of her father, with long, dark hair and hazel eyes. With her last growth spurt, she was almost as tall as me. To her dismay, that made her taller than most of the boys in her grade, including her close friend, Alex.
“Maddie, stand up straight. You look great. Got all your homework?” Brett handed her a glass of orange juice as he spoke and kissed her forehead.
“Thanks.” A quick glance at her watch and she emptied the glass. “Gotta run.” She grabbed her coat and raced out the door, her backpack slung over her shoulder.
Brett shook his head and smiled. “She’s grown up so fast.”
“For sure, and that learner’s permit is burning a hole in her wallet. In no time, she’ll be driving.”
His jaw dropped and his eyes widened. “I’m not ready for that. Or boys who drive.”
The ring tone of his phone interrupted his train of thought. Work. I bustled around the kitchen and made myself a bagel. I waved one at him and he shook his head as he stashed his phone and grabbed his tablet.
“Fabry. We need to go to North Shore. Something’s come up and we need to check it out.” He leaned over, kissed me, and stole a bite of my bagel. “Later.”
I nodded. Detective James Fabry was his partner when something bigger than the ordinary assignments locally came up. That “something” often translated to a dead body or major drug bust or similar. Assigned to Division III in Appomattox, Brett and Fabry often caught the situations outside of the immediate area. Like Brett, Fabry had been with the State Police for many years, though he was the older and more cynical of the two. 
Brett and I met when he was assigned to the murder of one of  my colleagues in Cold Creek. I smiled as I recalled my time in Cold Creek, meeting Brett, and our friends. Cold Creek wasn’t that far away from Clover Hill where we lived now.
Charlie’s nose nudged me out of my dreams. Brett had already fed both dogs and I let them out. The temperature had dropped, not unexpected for a fall day. A quick glance at the thermometer of our weather station assured me it was chilly, but not yet cold. I poured myself another cup of coffee, settled the dogs in, and, as usual, was the last to leave the house.
Like Maddie, with everything I needed was in my backpack. A quick stop at the Starbucks drive through and I was on my way. The ride through the hills from Clover Hill to the college was beautiful, the leaves on the trees beginning to turn. In the winter, the drive got a little tricky with possible black ice, especially on the two bridges. For now, I enjoyed the kaleidoscope of color and sunlight.
Millicent College was a small liberal arts college like Cold Creek College. Originally,  a women’s college that changed in the 70s though no one at the college seemed to remember that earlier time. Least not that I had met. Least not that I had met. This was my second year as a Visiting Assistant Professor and it suited me.
Unlike my position at Cold Creek College, my only responsibility was to teach assigned classes and attend a meeting or two. Like semi-retirement, though I still had a few years before I reached fifty. This schedule fit my new life style, leaving me with plenty of time for Brett and Maddie, as well as to volunteer at the local dog rescue, Clover Hill Pets & Paws.
I arrived early for a change, walking in with Dr. Addison, the Psychology Department Head. About my age, he had reddish blonde hair and a moustache, set off with blue eyes. His wool trench coat in deference to the weather reminded me of old westerns and made me smile.
“Good morning, Dr. Hendley. You seem in a good mood this brisk morning.”
“I am. How are you this morning?”
“Good. Busy. Meetings and paperwork. Semester seems to be going well. Enrollment is up and the trustees are happy.” He hesitated and added, “Hopefully, the faculty and staff are as well.”
I smiled as we reached the hall where his suite of offices was located. He nodded and disappeared, and I ducked into the large lounge area and refilled my coffee from the Keurig machine. Coffee in hand, I stopped at my office to drop things off and then was in teaching mode.
I nodded and smiled at colleagues and students as I made my way back to my friend, Keurig, after class. As usual, the lounge was bustling with activity and noise, students, staff, and faculty alike. It was lunch time and the fast food venues had long lines. I got in line and watched the big screen as I waited.
A running announcement on the bottom of the screen indicated “Breaking News: State Police make a concerning discovery in North Shore, VA.” That’s it. No details. And then the announcements shifted to report sports scores. Frustrated, I checked my phone but there were no messages from Brett. No doubt he and Fabry were preoccupied with whatever had been discovered. My curiosity was killing me.

Excerpt from Old Friends and New, Another Murder : Sheridan Hendley #2. Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.

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