Sleigh Bell Tower


Sleigh Bell Tower: Murder at the Campus Holiday Gala
(Braxton Campus Mysteries)
by James J. Cudney

About Sleigh Bell Tower

Sleigh Bell Tower: Murder at the Campus Holiday Gala (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
8th in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Next Chapter (December 20, 2021)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 276 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8763163933
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 276 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8763164046
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09JZCSRXB

When Bell Towers decides to build their newest boutique hotel in Wharton County, Braxton establishes a hospitality program as part of their university expansion. Despite the Ingram and Lynch family ties to prominent citizens, a dispute over the proposed landsite pits citizens against each other.

One takes matters into their own hands and slays the hotel magnate during the campus holiday party. As the list of suspects increases, long-lost family members are anxious to keep their secrets from being revealed, complicating Sheriff Montague’s ability to determine the murderer’s true motive. Even Kellan is forced to cast doubt on his friends and colleagues when it becomes obvious someone he knows committed the ultimate crime.

April and Kellan are also celebrating their first Christmas and Hanukkah together, exchanging gifts based on the classic Twelve Days of Christmas song. While they trim the tree, light the menorah, and experience all the traditional holiday festivities with the kids, Nana D delivers her sarcastic brand of humor and endlessly tortures the town. Among Eleanor’s surprise news, Augie’s new girlfriend, and Myriam’s hilarious demands, Kellan’s dealing with unexpected holiday drama.

The poor guy simply wants to spend the merry season with his family before he’s forced to trek to Scotland to fulfill his promise to the late Constance Garibaldi. What kind of quest has the psychic sent him on now?


Before I could respond, Nana D’s voice bellowed in Horace’s Grand Parlor, raising all the little hairs on the back of my neck. “Eleanor? Manny? Where are you two?” She hadn’t mentioned stopping by the campus, plus she’d never updated me on her acerbic discussion with Porter or her research on Marcus.

I apologized to the Lynches. “Kitchen hallway, Nana D. It’s just me.” Why was she here?

Porter’s face blanched as he studied his watch again. “Oh, will you look at the time? I’ve just recalled a pressing engagement I need to attend, Remy. You can finish the tour with your stepmother and Gia.” He turned to me and indiscriminately shook my hand. “See you, tomorrow, Kellan. And do exchange numbers with my son. The two of you should get to know one another. It can only cement the bonds between our families.”

Porter intentionally zigzagged to the opposite side of the Grand Parlor behind several pillars and stealthily exited out the glass doors onto the expansive terrace. As he left, Remy spoke up. “My family can make quite the spectacle. Although I love them all… truly, I could use a break while I’m in town. If you’re not interested in getting to know me, it’s completely okay. But I play a mean game of darts and I’ve already mapped out all the best breweries.”

I was intrigued, in all honesty. It sounded like Remy and I had a lot in common. “No, we definitely should. I’m good pals with your cousin, Finnigan. He conveyed some basic facts about you yesterday.” I handed him my phone and instructed him to text himself, so I had his contact info. Once he did, I said, “Now you have my number too. We can chat more tomorrow.”

“That’d be great. I’m pleased to meet my long-lost cousin. I hope my mother’s side of the family is more friendly and open-minded.” Remy clicked the side button on his phone to stop it from buzzing and looked up as Nana D approached us.

“Lord, this zoo is a maze. I haven’t been in this building in a long time. How are the preparations going for the Winter Gala?” she inquired, stopping short once she saw Remy at my side, followed by Charlotte and Gia strolling down the hallway. “Who the heck are all of you?”

After introducing them, I asked why Nana D was searching for Eleanor and Manny. “Or were you hoping to find me?”

“Looking for Jocelyn. Not everything is about you, brilliant one. I called the house, and her son told me she was here.” My grandmother fished out her phone, then handed her purse to a surprised Gia. “Hold that, girlie, will ya?”

Gia awkwardly accepted it, her eyes casting a confused gaze on Nana D. “Ummm… sure.”

Nana D pressed several buttons on her cell and waited while it connected to someone’s voicemail. Rather than leave a message, she pushed disconnect and tossed it in her purse. “Thanks. So… you’re the prodigal son, the ruthless younger wife, and the unruly sister-in-law. Where is the feral rat?”

Charlotte balked. “Are you referring to my husband, Porter?”

“Yep. I guess you’re a smartie too,” Nana D affirmed. “That’s who sneaked out the side entrance as soon as he saw me, isn’t it? If the puerile jackass doesn’t answer my questions about your confounded hotel project, he’s gonna be one dead swamp creature!”

A deafening roar burst from Gia’s lips. “Oh, I love this old woman already.”

About James J. Cudney


James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media, hospitality, and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote short stories, poems, and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I committed to focusing my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing, and publishing.


Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, mind, and body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels, and suspense thrillers. I conjure characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies, or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read two books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review, and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice, and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks,” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others, and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Author Links

Website    Blog

Amazon    Twitter    Author Facebook    Series Facebook    This Is My Truth Now Facebook

Bookbub    Instagram    Goodreads    LinkedIn    Pinterest   Next Chapter


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  1. Hi Mary,

    Thank you for sharing the spotlight and excerpt. Looks great. Happy Holidays!



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