Haunted Housewives of Allister, Alabama

The Haunted Housewives of Allister, Alabama (A Cleo Tidwell Paranormal Mystery) by Susan Abel Sullivan

“Grab a peanut butter and banana sandwich and settle in for a cozy mystery full of zany characters, haunted paintings, and a big dose of Southern humor.” — Heidi Ruby Miller, author of Greenshift and Ambasadora

Who knew one gaudy Velvet Elvis could lead to such a heap of haunted trouble? – When Cleo Tidwell said, “I do,” for the third time, she had no idea her marriage vows would be tested by a tacky piece of art. But Cleo’s not the kind of woman to let a velvet-offense-against-good-taste just hang — oh no, she’s on a mission to oust the King. Trouble is, Elvis won’t leave the building. And he’s attractin’ all manner of kooks, fanatics, and looky-loos to Cleo’s doorstep, including the entire congregation of the Church of the Blue Suede Shoes.

Everyone wants a piece of the painting, but Cleo’s starting to suspect that whatever’s haunting the Velvet Elvis wants a piece of her husband. Why else would her hubby trade in his car for a ’56 pink Caddy, moonlight as an Elvis impersonator, and develop a sudden hankering for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches? Certainly it can’t be anything as simple as a mid-life crisis, because Cleo is not getting divorced again — her mother would never let her hear the end of it.

Cleo’s life is all shook up by crazies with death threats, psychic warnings “from beyond,” kidnapping attempts, invitations to join the Blue Shoe Loonies, and even murder! Cleo’s in a fight for her life, her marriage, and the perseverance of good taste everywhere.


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  • Release date: October 16, 2012 (ebook), October 30, 2012 (print)
  • Genre: Suburban Fantasy / Paranormal Cozy Mystery
  • Length: Novel, approx. 305 pages
  • Series: A Cleo Tidwell Paranormal Mystery, #1
  • Praise for The Haunted Housewives of Allister, Alabama
  • Praise for Susan Abel Sullivan
  • Excerpt from Chapter One
  • ISBN (paperback): 978-0615700892
  • eISBN (epub): 978-1301147939
  • B&N Identifier: 2940015602050
  • ASIN (mobi): B009Q9VL7M
  • Kobo eISBN: 9781301147939
  • Goodreads listing and reviews

Haunted Housewives of Allister Alabama on Goodreads


Susan Abel Sullivan lives in a Victorian house in northeastern Alabama with two dogs, way too many cats, and a couple of snakes. Her work has graced the pages of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, ASIM Best of Horror: Vol II, New Myths, Writers’ Journal, and others. For more about Susan Abel Sullivan visit her author page or check out her collection of short fiction Cursed: Wickedly Fun Stories.


Praise for The Haunted Housewives of Allister, Alabama

“Prepare for the read of your life!”
— Perpetual Motion Machine

“Funniest novel I’ve read since Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
 New Myths.com

“Laugh out loud funny, with solidly defined characters, each more quirky and oddly enjoyable than the last. Five stars!”
— The Jeep Diva

“Part mystery, part ghost story, this humorous whodunnit will have you humming Elvis tunes and watching for the King himself to come gyrating through your door.”
— Jason Jack Miller, award-winning author of Hellbender and The Devil and Preston Black

“Cleo Tidwell has taste, sass, and heart. Unfortunately, she also has a velvet painting of Elvis. So begins a fast-paced, fun, and compulsively readable romp. The Burg gave us Stephanie Plum, Las Vegas gave us Lucky O’Toole, and now, Allister, AL, presents us with Cleo Tidwell.”
— Lane Robins, critically acclaimed author of Maledicte, Kings and Assassins, and the Shadows Inquiries series (as Lyn Benedict)

“Mystery, murder, mayhem, and…Elvis? Cozy in for a laugh-filled evening as Susan Abel Sullivan spins a ghost tale with Southern attitude and good style that you won’t be able to put down.”
— Heidi Ruby Miller, author of Greenshift and Ambasadora

“You’ll love this heroine and her quirky family and be clamoring for more!”
— Rebecca Roland, author of Shards of History

“Imaginative, suspenseful, and funny … a unique, must-have addition to your to-be-read stack!”
— Kelly L. Stone, author of Grave Secret and Time to Write: No Excuses, No Distractions, No More Blank Pages

“Fans of Stephanie Plum and the paranormal will love The Haunted Housewives of Allister, Alabama!
— Sherry Peters, author of Silencing Your Inner Saboteur

Praise for Susan Abel Sullivan

“A writer blessed with imagination and wit.”
— Hugo Award Winner Allen Steele, author of THE COYOTE TRILOGY

“Sullivan is the new mistress of humor in horror and in the paranormal.”
Perpetual Motion Machine

“Sullivan … delivers a sense of humor, wit and playfulness that cannot be beat.”
— Good Choice Reading


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Excerpt from Chapter One of The Haunted Housewives of Allister, Alabama

Late September


My name is Cleopatra Kilgore Tidwell. As a middle class Southern gal born and raised in small town Alabama, I was brought up with certain social rules. You don’t wear white after Labor Day, you don’t decorate your lawn with pink flamingos, and you most certainly don’t hang black velvet paintings in your home.

So when my husband Bertram and I were recruited to help his mother pare down her Elvis collection and pack up the rest of her stuff for her upcoming move to a senior’s condo, I was a bit judgmental about all the tacky Elvis doo-dads.

Okay, I was a good bit judgmental. Don’t get me wrong. Out of the three mothers-in-law I’ve had, Georgia is hands down my favorite. But really? A black velvet painting of Elvis Presley? That was supposedly haunted. She might as well have hung a dogs-playing-poker print smack dab in the middle of her living room. It was just not done in Allister unless you were a redneck or trailer trash.

And Georgia was neither, bless her heart.

My mother, Martha Jane, always says, “Hindsight is wiser.” I didn’t know at the time that the “haunted” Velvet Elvis would lead to murder, mayhem and a media circus. Or that my whole worldview on the subject of psychics, angels, the occult, and disembodied spirits would be turned on its head. Yep, I was in for a rude awakening. Uh huh.


My gorgeous mother-in-law, who at sixty-two could still turn younger men’s heads, plucked a framed 8×10 photograph from the end table beside her couch. Her spacious ranch home was in complete disarray from the three of us sorting through a lifetime of belongings for her upcoming move to a smaller abode. But Georgia herself was the epitome of neatness, her blonde hair done up in a 60s flip, her navy slacks neatly pressed, and not a smudge of dirt or dust on her hot pink knit top.

“Oh, Bertram, I absolutely must take this photo to the condo with me.”

“Now, Mama, you know you can’t take everything with you.”

Bertram stroked his beard, a clear sign he was thinking up some alternative for his mother. He’d opted against his usual suburban uniform of khakis and polo shirt and was wearing jeans and a Jimmy Buffet t-shirt touting the song, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”

“How about you trade something in your gonna-keep pile with that photograph?” He rose to his full six foot four height, his knees cracking with the effort. He pointed to the spot on the golden shag carpet where we’d gathered a growing pile of Elvis memorabilia. “Like this Velvet Elvis?”

He hoisted up a two by three foot acrylic painting of Elvis preserved for all posterity on black velvet and bordered with a gold frame that would have been right at home in a Liberace museum. This was the often parodied Elvis: white rhinestone-spangled jumpsuit, chiffon scarf, dark, longish hair in the early seventies style, thick mutton-chop sideburns, and a hint of a jowl. For an odd moment, I thought I heard Elvis saying, “Priscilla,” in my head. And then it was gone.

“But that’s the painting I bought last month when I went to Graceland,” Georgia said. “A little fella was sellin’ ‘em by the roadside. Said it was haunted. I paid a thousand dollars for it.”

Oh, Lordy, Martha Jane would be fit to be tied if she heard this. A thousand dollars for something only a bonafide Elvis fanatic would want and hideously tacky, to boot.

Bertram frowned. “A thousand dollars, Mama?” He was still holding the painting, staring at Elvis’s one eye as if he could silently discern its dubious secrets. I was just relieved the trashy thing didn’t belong to us.

“Well, yes, hon. If this was the real deal, I wanted to be the next person to witness it. I wasn’t about to let another Elvis collector get their hands on it.” She nodded at me as if I were a kindred spirit.

“How is it haunted?” I said. I’m tellin’ ya, some people will believe anything.

“Well, the little fella said it sang ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ at night after he and his family had all gone to sleep. A pitiful soul. He reminded me of those men you see by the interstate holding up the will-work-for-food signs.”

Bertram set the painting down on the thick carpet again, propping it against the wall, but one hand lingered along the upper edge of the gilt frame. “If they were all asleep, how’d they know it sang anything?”

“Because he videotaped it. And he also told me it showed Elvis leavin’ the painting.”

I didn’t doubt for one moment that this was all a gimmick to dupe the gullible, but it could be entertaining to see someone’s amateur efforts at pulling a con. “Did he give you the tape?”

“No, darlin’,” Georgia shook her head sadly. “Said it burned up in a trailer fire.” [Read the rest of Chapter One]


Read the digital edition for $6.99 from these ebook retailers:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | OmniLit

Read the trade paperback edition for $12.99 from these and other online retailers:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound

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