A Stand-Alone Novel
A LETHAL JOKE is Alice Zogg’s eight stand-alone mystery novel.
The late Norma Davenport was an eccentric who poked a bit of fun at her heirs with her unconventional last will and testament of “finders keepers.” She managed to send her family members on a scavenger hunt for jewelry throughout her estate in artsy, high-end Laguna Beach.
The bulk of her assets, however, was not immediately revealed, leaving the family in turmoil. Although Norma meant no harm with her joke, it provoked two murders, which baffled Lieutenant Krop, the detective in charge of the investigation. Then he happened to overhear a fragment of a conversation by two strangers and he thought there might be a very different motive in this case.
A Lethal Joke is available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book format at
Publisher: Aventine Press (August 2023)
Hardcover ISBN number: 978-1-955162-26-5
Paperback ISBN number: 978-1-955162-25-8
eBook ISBN number: 13-978-1-45664-152-8
List Price – Hardcover US$ 25.75
List Price – Paperback US$ 12.75
eBook Price – US$ 3.99
Excerpt from Chapter 1
Norma Davenport died of natural causes on June 24 at her Laguna Beach, California residence, a week after her 81st birthday. The eccentric lady had opted not to have open heart surgery following her doctor’s diagnosis of coronary artery disease. She was known to have said, “I’ve had a good life. If I die of a heart attack, so be it, but I refuse to be cut open.”
On that fateful Saturday in June, cardiac arrest is exactly what struck her, two entire years after the doctor’s verdict.
A widow during her last ten years, she had made the best of her situation by becoming an enthusiastic traveler. When that became difficult because of her health, she found other ways to amuse herself, and her traveling companion, Zabel, became her live-in companion. Toward the end of her life, her choice of entertainment was bizarre and held a bit of Schadenfreude.
Norma was survived by four children - - two sons and two daughters - - and five grandchildren. Her kids were past middle age, except for Ava, the youngest, who was still in her forties. Her offspring were scattered all over Southern California, out of state, and some of the grandkids even out of the country. They had their own busy lives to live and seldom made it to her neck of the woods. When they did, their relationship with their mother and grandmother was amiable.
This story is not about Norma’s life, nor the circumstances of her death, but rather what transpired in the aftermath of her passing.