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TAILS FROM THE DEEP

Mermaid Sisters Cozy Mystery #1
eBook ISBN: 9781939197825

Zoe seeks underwater adventure. The local police seek a mermaid informant. Can she help without risking her family’s safety?

Zoe wasn’t looking for trouble. As the middle daughter in a family of three mermaid sisters, she never gets the attention she deserves. She spends her days frolicking with sea creatures by the sunken battleship that sits at the edge of Sirenia, and her nights being lectured about danger. But when she finds a diver trapped in the kelp by the wreckage, she overcomes her shock to free him. The problem? The only available tool to cut him loose is in the body that on the ocean floor beside him.

Zoe learns the diver is a detective tasked with solving the dead man’s murder. Being in the unique position of finding evidence underwater, Zoe volunteers to help . . . until she finds a clue that links the victim to her older sister. Now the only way to ensure the safety of her sister—and protect the mermaid colony she always dreamed of leaving behind—is to discover the dead man’s identity herself. Zoe is used to being invisible around the other mermaids, but will digging for clues in the ocean floor lead to her watery grave?

Tails from the Deep is the charming first cozy mystery in the Mermaid Sisters trilogy. If you like fun reads, unusual settings, and unique characters, you’ll love Diane Vallere’s Mermaid Sisters Mysteries.

Buy Tails from the Deep to escape into Mermaid adventure today!

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

I hated being told what to do. Mother thought it was unseemly for a mermaid to show interest in something that came from the human world, but just because I was a mermaid didn’t mean I couldn’t be curious about other things. To me, exploration was thrilling, and there was definitely something different and exciting about the old shipwreck that rested on the ocean floor below me. I just had to explore it. I angrily flipped a spray of water from the ocean with my pearlescent blue tail.

“I don’t care,” I said, though no one was about to hear me. “Something’s going on with that shipwreck, and I’m going to find out what.” With a glance over my shoulder, I peered through the bright, silvery bubbles that I’d created with my fin flip, and, seeing no one watching me, dove down deep into the water and swam toward the sunken boat.

For as long as I could remember, I’d been the mermaid who always got into trouble. It wasn’t that I looked for it, but I couldn’t help myself. Mermaids were trained to inspire humans to grand adventures, that was our role in life. But honestly, I didn’t understand how I could inspire those traits without possessing them.

Who cared about inspiring humans? I wanted my own grand adventures! Even if the sight of a mermaid did inspire bravery, passion, and integrity—all the traits I’d been taught mermaids inspired when I studied mermaid mythology at the Coelacanth University—and that was only if the human believed what they saw. It was more likely they’d see a hint of me and write it off as a mirage. Where was the thrill in that?

I undulated through the deep blue-green water, passing two schools of fish and a crab. On another day, I might have dallied by the coral or even wrapped my tail in kelp to bring out the natural luster of my scales, but I was already taking a risk by swimming away from my sisters. Kyra would cover for me—she was the baby and always did what I asked—but I wasn’t sure about Ava. She’s the oldest, the most dependable, which also made her the likeliest to rat me out. Ava would keep my secrets only as long as the information was useful. If Ava wanted, she could make my life difficult.

I was going to have to make sure Ava had no reason to make my life difficult.

As I approached the wreckage, I twirled around in the water to slow my forward momentum and hung back, behind a reef. Like yesterday, I knew something was different from the previous times I’d been here. The water was clear and I had no trouble seeing the details: rusted rivets, crumbling metal gashes, and tiny, shimmery, silver fish swimming in and out of the long out-of-use portholes.

But there was something else. Bubbles. Large, oblong bubbles spilled out of the back of the shipwreck and floated to the surface.

Bubbles could be generated by pulling air from the surface to the water below. But I was deep enough to know these bubbles didn’t come from the surface. They originated from the far side of the ship. Just like yesterday.

A shiver ran through me and a tickle of anxiety climbed my spine like a family of overactive sand crabs. I wasn’t alone.

I floated behind some kelp that waved with the current and peeked between the blades.. Slowly, I pulled myself along using the plant as leverage, until I was at the end of the shipwreck. The bubbles were meters away. They hadn’t moved since I first noticed them. Whoever—or whatever—was there wasn’t active, but I couldn’t know who—or what—it was without getting closer. The rules of the sea were clear in cases like this. Turn back. Get help. Be safe.

You already know what I did. I swam closer.

As I peeked over the side of the shipwreck, I spied a diver. He wasn’t supposed to be down here! He full black wetsuit and an air tank with a regulator in his mouth. This stretch of the ocean was far beyond the waters that were safe for humans. Ever since the accident caused in the great shrimper/mermaid tragedy, there had been an understanding between humans and mermaids. A charter had been written and voted into law to keep them from risking their lives (and ours) by diving past the border.

The diver was now beyond the border. Quite.

If he saw me, if he learned how close he was to Sirenia, the mermaid and mermen colonies where I lived, he’d bring others. The merfolk freedom would be compromised. Greedy sailors would hunt us and catch us and sell us to the highest bidders.

At least those were the stories I’d been told at swim camp.

But I’d outgrown scary stories long ago, and besides, I’d never seen an evil sailor up close and this might be my last chance. Despite the fear, the warnings, and the possibility of capture, I couldn’t look away. Maybe, if I could learn something about the diver, I could report back to Sirenia and tell the others. They would listen to my stories and develop ways to defend themselves. I could be the one to save them!

Pride at the possibility surged through me, and the scales on my tail, which had dulled from the exertion of swimming this distance from home, now glowed a magnificent shade of orange. There would be no hiding amongst the kelp at this rate. I curled my tail to hide the bright color. The movement caught the attention of the diver, who looked directly at me.

I froze.

The diver watched me watching him. He didn’t move. A thin stream of red floated in a cloud from somewhere below him. It was blood. I’d read about it in books from the Library Under the Sea.

I unfurled my tail and wriggled out from behind the kelp and closed the distance between us. My arm scraped against the rusted metal of the shipwreck, but I didn’t stop. When I rounded the corner, I learned why the diver hadn’t approached me like I’d feared.

His leg was caught. A twist of sea kelp was wrapped around his ankle, keeping him tethered to the ocean floor. He kicked his foot, but the plant kept him in place. The blood, however, was unrelated to his current dilemma.

The blood came from the body lying on the ocean floor next to the diver’s foot.

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