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Margarita Nights (A Sherri Travis Mystery Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Phyllis Smallman
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Margarita Nights is a cozy with grit -- serving Jack Daniels instead of tea.
In a small Florida beach town, Sherri Travis is a bartender with attitude and a woman with an inconveniently murdered husband who turns out to be as much trouble to her dead as he was alive.
Sifting through the debris of Jimmy's life, Sherri finds more than a few people who wanted her lying, scheming, scam artist husband gone -- but which one actually did the deed?

Editorial Reviews


"This is a terrific Book, with snappy dialog, rapid pacing and characters you'd love to meet in a beach bar. Back when Janet Evanovich was still writing fresh, original material she was this good."
......Lindor Reynolds~ Winnipeg Free Press~

... "characters you'd love to have a drink with and a sense of place that captures the essence of the Sunshine State."
.... Don Graves-~ Hamilton Spectator~

This terrific cozy serves Long Island tea as Sherri goes from sarcastic doubter to griever (for both Jimmy and Andy) to lover to killer pursuer. She makes the tale fun with her sass, spunk and spitfire sleuthing. The support cast is super also as the island community in the mind of Jimmy's mom is divided into three groups: the rich, the servant class from the other side of the causeway and the trailer trash. Phyllis Smallman provides an entertaining Florida west coast amateur sleuth with a touch of romance.
Harriet Klausner ~ Amazon #1 Reviewer

'Sherri is a likable protagonist, a strong woman with an interesting circle of loyal friends, and one or two who aren't what they seem to be. The plot keeps the reader guessing, with plenty of twists and turns, and the setting is well-drawn, taking us from the most sordid depths of Jacaranda to the heights of the well-heeled with equal ease. This is a very impressive, well-written, tightly constructed first novel.'
Shirley Wetzel ~ Amazon Reviewer

About the Author

Phyllis Smallman
After being shortlisted for the Debut Dagger in the UK and the Malice Domestic in the US, Phyllis Smallman's debut mystery won the first Arthur Ellis Unhanged Arthur award in 2007.  In 2009 MARGARITA NIGHTS was shortlisted for best first novel by the Crime Writer's of Canada.
In 2010, Good Morning America named the Sherri Travis mysteries as one of the top six series for a summer read. Her fourth book, Champagne for Buzzards, was one of three mysteries chosen for a cottage read by Zoomer Magazine for summer 2011.
Smallman worked in a library and as a potter before turning to a life of crime. Depending on the time of year she can be found on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia or Manasota Beach, Florida.

Product Details

  • File Size: 409 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1552786994
  • Publisher: Phyllis Smallman; 1 edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Q46YZU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,712 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the strongest debut novel I've come across in years July 17, 2012
Cypress Island, Key West: the Sunset Bar and Grill is a fashionable watering hole complete with pink stucco exterior, white shutters, etched glass doors, cypress-paneled walls, and giant fans to cool its upmarket patrons. It is presided over by bartender Sherri Travis, a late twenty-something divorcée who finally walked on her husband Jimmy after nine long years of lying, drinking and affairs.

Now Jimmy is dead--the result of an explosion on his pleasure boat, the Suncoaster--and the police, in the form of a taciturn Detective named Styles, are looking at Sherri as the obvious cause of his premature demise. Actually it's not all that implausible, given their stormy relationship and the fact that Jimmy wouldn't take "No" for an answer; but Sherri insists she had no reason for wanting him dead, and enlists the help of a couple of bar friends to prove Styles wrong.

The situation isn't helped by Jimmy's mother Bernice, who considers Sherri a tramp and blames him for all her son's troubles. Not a source of help, then, Sherri turns to Jimmy's friend, Andy Crown. Complicating matters, Andy is a paranoid schizophrenic who's gone off his meds, and lately has gone missing as well. (Conspiracy theory, anyone?) Sherri pokes into Jimmy's private life, learning that he'd been bedding a local doctor's wife, a fact that hadn't gone down particularly well with the good doctor. Then she discovers that the assistant golf pro at a local country club where Jimmy was in charge seems to have been running a fiddle on the side. Add to that the fact that Jimmy had recently tried to buy into a local development project with money he didn't have, and it's clear that he was punching well above his weight.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Margarita Nights February 23, 2011
By Allene
Margarita Nights, the first of the Sherri Travis mystery series, by Phyllis Smallman, introduces the reader to a character, Sherri Travis, chiseled from real life. Although not the brightest crayon in the box Sherri holds true to her trailer camp background and heart of gold attitude instilled by her bartender mother, Ruth Ann. Sometimes you want to reach between the covers of this book and give Sherri a shake of the shoulders. Her persistence that her 'godawful' estranged husband, Jimmy, didn't blow up with his boat and the subsequent events caused mostly by Sherri's ability to talk to the wrong people at the wrong time make this book an exciting read. The police want to know who killed Jimmy, if he's dead, and Sherri is the prime suspect. When another close friend is murdered the plot becomes more tangled.
Sherri and Ruth Ann are characters you won't forget after the last page. There are some very effective scenes played out between them that make them larger than life. The mother-in-law, Jimmy's mother, who doesn't, even remotely, come from a trailer camp background is convinced that everything that happened to her son is Sherri's fault. Her grimace when she opens the door to her less than perfect daughter-in-law speaks volumes. But Sherri has always been 'Jimmy's girl' whether she admits it or not.
All the characters in this book, although numerous, are all well crafted and defined. You won't want to miss the 'reunion' at the Sunset Bar when the people of Sherri's life sort out their individual parts. Smallman describes it as 'The air was charged with energy as if an electrical storm was about to crack open the room'.
All of this, plus a great look at the Florida coastline and surrounding towns ensure a very enjoyable read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jacaranda Jewel May 17, 2012
Phyllis Smallman won the first Unhanged Arthur Ellis Canadian Crime Writing
Award, earning a contract with prestigious McArthur and Company, who
published her novel this spring.

It's a winner from page 1, where we are introduced to feisty bartender
Sherri Travis in Jacaranda, Florida. She's separated from her husband Jimmy,
but when his boat blows up and she's named on an insurance policy, Sherri
finds herself swimming with the sharks in blue waters streaked with blood.

Jimmy was no prince; a legion of people wanted him turned into fish food,
and Sherri's at the top of her game in a hunt to exonerate herself.

Put a sharp-witted woman in the exotic setting of the Gulf Islands playing a
game in which she's both predator and prey, and you have a perfect storm.
The details put the reader on the spot, immersed in place and time: "The
Sunset is the creme de la creme of watering holes. On the second floor of a
pink stucco building decorated with white Bermuda shutters and tall graceful
palms, etched glass doors lead from the lobby of the restaurant into the
bar. Black-and-white photographs of Key West in the thirties line the
Cypress-panelled walls. Overhead, two giant fans on pulleys stir air
smelling of old leather chairs, long ago Cuban cigars and expensive

You are there, no doubt about it. Breathe in that warm ocean air and sip a
frosted drink.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars this is the first...they get better each book June 9, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The price along w/reviews led me to buy. I was just looking for something to fill the gap til Evanovich's #17.
Pleasantly surprised to find Margarita Nights very entertaining. Worth the price...and more. Really like the characters and anxious to learn how they develop thru the series.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 4 days ago by charles alvarado
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Didn't find the characters too engaging, but okay for a light read.
Published 2 months ago by KFG
5.0 out of 5 stars That was the BEST story plot EVER
That was the BEST story plot EVER! !! The story from the beginning kept weaving like a spiders web! It has the reader going in all different directions to figure out if Jimmy is... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Marcy Eisel
5.0 out of 5 stars Margarita Nights - Great new discovery!
This is a new author for me and I am very happy I discovered her through Amazon's recommendations. Her first book was very well written. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Linda S Holt
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this summer read
Super summer read, good and fun plot, on to the second book for me!
Published 4 months ago by Pat Seper
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
I live in Florida, so alot of things she refers to in the book are true! This book kept me guessing, and interested. I am now buying the series.
Published 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Maragritas and in book form as well.
Really enjoyed this. Love a plot that involves one of my favorite drinks ( or any drink for that matter). Looking forward more by this author.
Published 9 months ago by Carolyn R
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
The book was comical and an easy read. The plot could have been a bit more thought provoking. Fun book tonnotnhabe to think about.
Published 10 months ago by Summer Kern
4.0 out of 5 stars Light & enjoyable.
I enjoyed this book, as I was in the mood for a light, no brain needed read. It was well written and I look forward to reading more books by this author.
Published 14 months ago by Julia Johnston
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read!
This is a fun read if you like quirky and lovable characters and a murder mystery that doesn't let you down. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Karen Allain
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More About the Author

Phyllis Smallman's first novel, MARGARITA NIGHTS, won the inaugural Unhanged Arthur award from the Crime Writers of Canada after being shortlisted for the Debut Dagger in the U.K. and the Malice Domestic in the U.S.. Her writing has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. The Florida Writer's Association awarded CHAMPAGNE FOR BUZZARDS a silver medal for the best mystery and her fifth book, HIGHBALL EXIT, won an IPPY award in 2013. LONG GONE MAN won the Independent Publisher's IPPY Gold Award as best Emystery/thriller in 2014. The Sherri Travis mystery series was one of six chosen by Good Morning America for a summer read.
Before turning to a life of crime, Smallman was a potter. She divides her time between a beach in Florida and an island in the Salish Sea.
Visit her website at

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