Wednesday, March 18, 2009

After Four Years, eBay Murder Victim’s Identity Finally Revealed

“I always wondered what it would be like to be murdered,” said Beth Ashton, a computer technician from Fredericton, New Brunswick. “And this gave me the opportunity to be murdered on my own terms.”

And the terms? Death by chocolate-coated coffee beans.

That’s how “Beth Petersen” dies in Biff Mitchell’s Boston Jonson in Murder by Burger. She eats herself to death on chocolate-coated coffee beans—a fitting death for a computer geek.

“I had to pay big bucks for my murder, though,” said Ashton the winning eBay bidder on an auction to be murdered in Biff Mitchell’s cyberpunk mystery novel.

“I needed an extra victim,” said Mitchell. “Rather than create a new character, I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of response I’d get through eBay.”

And interesting it was. The auction roared off to a great start with bids topping three hundred dollars in the first few days. Mitchell also attracted the attention of the media and was interviewed on morning radio shows across the US.

“Normally, the bids don’t really start to move until the last day, and especially the last few hours,” said Mitchell. “But the auction never made it that far. eBay pulled the plug on me, citing an illegal link to my website and keyword manipulation—I included a list of my publishers to prove to bidders that the book they would appear in had a good chance of being published. It was meant to establish credibility, but somebody at eBay said I was trying to manipulate keywords. They cancelled the auction just when the bids were started to get interesting.”

Rankled, but undiscouraged, Mitchell ran the auction again—this time without a link to his website and without a list of publishers.

“I sent out a media release the first time around,” said Mitchell. “It had a link to the auction page, which no longer existed, but the second auction still attracted some bidders, and by the end of the week, the winning bid was $54.”

Mitchell had his victim.

“We decided to keep her real identity a secret until Murder by Burger was published,” said Mitchell. “I started a blog to promote the book and peppered it with teaser pictures of the victim, none of which showed her true identity.” Boston Jonson in Murder by Burger was published by Double Dragon Publishing in November and is available from the publisher in ebook format and from Amazon in Kindle format.

The novel takes place in the near future after global warming has swamped an Atlantic seaboard city with year-round fog, hiding most of the 700 foot high newly built Gothic cathedral used as headquarters for the world’s biggest fast food franchise, Barto Burgers. The product: cloned hamburgers. The victim: Barto himself, having eaten himself to death on his own burgers. Boston Jonson is called in to nose around and make a recommendation: bring in the police, or bring in a shaman? However, Boston stumbles into something bigger than just murder by burger and he teams up with a rubbing alcohol-swilling beauty to uncover an insidious plot to take over the world’s eating habits. Descending deep into the underground bowels of the Barto Burger building, they come face-to-face with terrifying revelations and become targets for murder.

Murder by Burger is Mitchell’s second Boston Jonson story. His first, Boston Jonson in Murder by Art is set in Studio4Ward, an artists’ studio in his home base, Fredericton, New Brunswick.

In the meantime, murder victim Beth Ashton is alive and well. “Unfortunately after reading the novel, I’ve developed an intense fear of coffee beans…but my love of chocolate has not been affected. Biff writes a fantastic detective book, complete with twist ending.”

About Murder by Burger
In the late 21st Century, A body is found in the headquarters of the world’s largest fast food franchise, Barto Burger, creators of the world’s first completely cloned hamburger. The president of the company, Gansheng Barto, has apparently eaten himself to death on his own burgers. Is it really suicide, or is it murder by burger. It’s time to bring in Boston Jonson, crime consultant extraordinaire, to use his unorthodox mixture of Zen, insults, and hula hula shirts to unravel a startling mystery. With this rubbing alcohol-swilling sidekick, the beautiful dark-eyed Marlee Dunn, Boston dives into a jungle of underground catacombs, mad scientists, homicidal public relations managers, gargoyles, and a corporate world gone mad with genetic engineering, cloning and cruelty to old people. Boston Jonson in Murder by Burger is available in a variety of ebooks formats from Double Dragon Publishing at or in Kindle format from Amazon at

ISBN-10: 1-55404-617-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-55404-617-1
Genre: Mystery/Speculative Fiction
eBook Length: 194 Pages
Imprint: Double Dragon Publishing


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