Murder Mysteries

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Book Series is Set on the California
Coast in the Nice Skates Ice Arena
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覧 A Lighthouse on the California Coast and
a view of the Coastline near the Ice Arena 覧

The Storyline for the Niceskates Ice Skating Mystery Series is Set on the California Coast

The "Storyline" for the cozy (malice domestic) murder mysteries in this book series is set in a new ice arena in the town of Portugal. Portugal is a small fictitious town on the California Coast about 40 miles southwest of San Francisco. The book's heroine, Berrien Gamble, is the co-owner of the "Nice Skates Ice Arena" and an amateur woman sleuth.

Joan's published book titles include "Nice Shows" and "Judge Me Nottingham." This is the end of the series as Joan passed away on January 25, 2006. More details on her two books follow.

In this series, the author uses the malice domestic writing style made famous by that paragon of women murder mystery authors, Agatha Christie and popularized by actress Angela Lansbury in the "Murder She Wrote" television series.

To accurately and credibly weave an ice-skating storyline in with a series of fictional murders in an ice arena requires that the author have a strong background through working in the ice-skating world. In this regard, the author draws upon her many years in various ice-skating capacities, as stated above.

The series title for book 1 (Nice Shows) was "A Berrien Gamble Ice Skating Mystery." Because this murder mystery series centers around the heroine, Berrien Gamble, her friends (co-owners of the Nice Skates Ice Arena) and the skaters at the arena, the series title was changed in book 2 (Judge Me Nottingham) to the "Nice Skates Ice Skating Mystery Series." This change applies to all titles.

The Nice Skates Ice Arena
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覧 Fictitious Photo of the Nice Skates Ice Arena
and a view of the adjacent California Coastline 覧

The Nice Skates Ice Arena

The "Nice Skates Ice Arena" is a beautiful new ice-skating complex in Portugal, California, a small town on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, and about 40 miles southwest of downtown San Francisco. Berrien has an unfortunate propensity for discovering dead bodies in and around the rink. She also has an unusual knack for the investigative techniques and problem-solving skills needed to solve these murders.

Berrien was invested with all of these skills because the author has a very special knowledge of the ice-skating world and also had the honor of spending a number of years as a civilian volunteer with her local police department. Consequently, Berrien's talents prove to be a great help to the law enforcement personnel assigned to the investigations.

While doing this investigative work, Berrien simultaneously continues to perform her many duties as co-owner, teaching professional and ice show producer at the "Nice Skates Ice Arena." Under these conditions, can Berrien solve the murders? She must, because all of the training activities for the students must go on and the new rink still isn't paid for. This includes learning and perfecting the skating techniques and moves, learning the competition programs and the associated music, and receiving instruction in ballet, floor exercises and weight training.

Book 1
Dead Body Found Curled Up At "Center Ice"
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覧 Cover of Book 1
Joan Bartlett receiving flowers after one of her amateur ice shows 覧


Storyline for Nice Shows (Book 1)

Center Ice. The "Star's place." Only it wasn't a skating star Berrien and Misty-Joy (her Akita/Labrador) found early one morning at the "Nice Skates Ice Arena." A stranger was curled up in that coveted spot, not moving, stone-cold dead. Neither Berrien nor Etienne, the live-in arena manager, had the faintest idea of the man's identity.

As the police began their grisly investigation more troubles surfaced when it became obvious that one of the arena's champion pair skaters was missing. She was reported as kidnapped, adding FBI agents to the law enforcement mix. 

Then a decidedly upset coach from the Midwest arrived in the California town to take back "His Pair Team" one of whom is the missing girl.

Parents, skaters and coaches are all in an uproar, lessons cancelled, rehearsals for the up-coming show running overtime in short, confusion reigned.  First local, then national media carried news of the unfolding drama to the nation.

The ending of Book 1 is truly a Grande Finale.

Book 2
International Ice-Skating Judge Found Dead in Ice Arena
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Cover of Book 2
Misty-Joy, the canine co-star of Books 1 & 2 覧

Storyline for Judge Me Nottingham (Book 2)

A famous, international ice-skating judge is found dead in the pro's room just minutes before the last event Senior Ladies long program.

"Nice Skates," an ice arena complex on the very edge of the Pacific Ocean, was holding the Pacific Coast Championships in the first week of December, 1994. It was the qualifying competition for the 1995 Nationals. Many great skaters were in attendance, as well as some very important judges. One was from Nice Skates' home town of Portugal, California, Judge Melissa Elizabeth Nottingham.

Then, just minutes before the start of the final round of judging for the Senior Ladies competition free program one of the judges was noted as missing. Berrien literally tripped over Judge Nottingham in the pro's room, "dead," sitting by the fireplace in a Queen Anne chair.

It's the last night of competition with an arena jam-packed with 5,000 spectators, rink employees, parents, coaches and competitors in attendance (many of whom did not like Melissa Elizabeth Nottingham). The last event was ready to start, and Berrien has a murdered judge on her hands.

One of the coaches was Judge Nottingham's daughter. Her son was known to be a hanger-on of a local biker gang and was in and out of the ice arena and the surrounding area the entire week.

This murder of Melissa Elizabeth Nottingham complicated matters because the law officers were also dealing with a suspected amphetamine production laboratories in the area, therefore they were frequently working at cross-purposes during the murder investigation.

Berrien is a skating coach as well as the co-owner of the ice arena. She found the body the second at the ice arena in less than two years and becomes involved, once again, with the county sheriff deputies including tall, handsome and short-tempered Sean Mather.

Skating episodes and an intriguing murder investigation crown this new addition to the "Nice Skates Ice Skating Mystery Series."

Book 3 has been Cancelled
Planned Storyline Centered Around Russian Ice Skaters
Training at the Nice Skates Ice Arena
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覧 Point Reyes Lighthouse and the Point Bonita Lighthouse
on the California Coast (left to right) 覧

Storyline for Axel Who? (Book 3)

"Axel Who?" was to be the third book in the series. The storyline was to be centered around a number of foreign skaters spending a summer of training at the "Nice Skates Ice Arena."

The series ends with Book 2 as Joan passed away on January 25, 2006.

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