The Last House on the Street

I could not put down The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain. We look at the places we live at today and have no idea of the history that occurred on the land. Once on a ghost tour of downtown Houston, I was admiring a large tree only to find out it was called the “hanging tree”. It went from beautiful to extremely sad in just a second. It is that kind of awareness Diane Chamberlain portrays in this well-written story.

More about The Last House on the Street

A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.


Growing up in the well-to-do town of Round Hill, North Carolina, Ellie Hockley was raised to be a certain type of proper Southern lady. Enrolled in college and all but engaged to a bank manager, Ellie isn’t as committed to her expected future as her family believes. She’s chosen to spend her summer break as a volunteer helping to register black voters. But as Ellie follows her ideals fighting for the civil rights of the marginalized, her scandalized parents scorn her efforts, and her neighbors reveal their prejudices. And when she loses her heart to a fellow volunteer, Ellie discovers the frightening true nature of the people living in Round Hill.


Architect Kayla Carter and her husband designed a beautiful house for themselves in Round Hill’s new development, Shadow Ridge Estates. It was supposed to be a home where they could raise their three-year-old daughter and grow old together. Instead, it’s the place where Kayla’s husband died in an accident—a fact known to a mysterious woman who warns Kayla against moving in. The woods and lake behind the property are reputed to be haunted, and the new home has been targeted by vandals leaving threatening notes. And Kayla’s neighbor Ellie Hockley is harboring long buried secrets about the dark history of the land where her house was built.

Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.

Find this book at your favorite online retailer

My Review

This is a riveting story told in two timelines. 1965 and 2010. In 1965 we are in North Carolina with a group of civil rights workers. They want to help black people register to vote even though they face bigotry and violence. A young woman named Ellie wants to help, even though her white family does not support her. This part of the book is brutal in places and very well written. Then, we have Kayla in 2010 who has just moved into the house she and her deceased husband built, very near to where Ellie grew up. Something about her house is cursed, not only with her husband’s death but also involving the thick woods and kudzu around the house.
I loved this book and hated to see it end.

The Twist and Shout Murder is Out!

It’s launch day for The Twist and Shout Murder, the first book in my Swinging Sixties Mystery Series! Here are some of the early reviews that have come in through Net Galley.

Dot Morgan is perfect.

I need more from this series now! Dot Morgan is perfect. ~Heather/Net Galley

Dot is spunky and smart as a whip.

Set in the sixties, the story followed a young lady named Dot who is attending classes to become a secretary. Her father is running for city council and at an event for the people running, a despicable man named Anson Manning, brother to the local DA is murdered.
The story followed Dot’s suspicions about who killed Anson and the cast or characters that are all suspects.
Dot is spunky and smart as a whip. She’s got gumption and just the right amount of whimsy to be the perfect “small town junior detective”.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and didn’t see the twist coming at all. ~Jessica/Net Galley

I so appreciated the historic details of the time period…

This is a great cozy 60s mystery. I so appreciated the historic details of the time period interspersed throughout the novel. It made it so much fun to read. Dot is a great character and very likable. The mystery itself was well written and had some twists and turns that kept me interested. All in all a very enjoyable read and one I highly recommend!!! ~Kristie/Net Galley

The tense scenes really drive the story forward…

Dot Morgan, the ambitious young protagonist of The Twist and Shout Murders, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of small town sabotage, slander and even murder. Dot is a refreshing standout from the rest of the close-minded thinkers of 1962 Camden, Texas, using her morals and her wit to help usher the town out of the more restrictive 1950s.
When a hit-and-run leaves a single mother hospitalized and a suspicious death is swept under the rug, Dot decides to stir the pot instead of minding her own business like one of the good little Camden Ladies Club members. With the odds and powerful members of the town stacked against her, Dot challenges the society whose dated gelatin mold she refuses to conform to.
Teresa Trent keeps the reader guessing until the very end in this mystery littered with suspicious characters. Her attention to detail flushes out the time period’s changing styles, ideologies and the latest fads – hello, golden arches hamburgers!
While there were a few distracting errors that a bit of editing could fix, that’s not to say this book wasn’t an enjoyable read.
The tense scenes really drive the story forward while the heart of the story takes its time and allows us the opportunity to rub shoulders with the good, the misguided or the plain ugly people of Camden, Texas. Dot is a young woman with enough grit and determination to keep Texas on its toes. This won’t be the last we hear from her. ~Renaissance Reader Reviews/Net Galley


You can pick up either e-book or paperback today!

Merry Christmas and a Surprise!

I know they tell us that waiting is good, especially during the holiday season, but I’m excited to announce my wait is over! I was fortunate enough to have a terrific agent who landed my Swinging Sixties Series over at Level Best Books and I find myself feeling very grateful this Christmas.

The Twist and Shout Murder is Now Available for Pre-Order

Let’s all get in our homemade, socially-distanced time machines and rocket back to the year 1962 where we meet Dot Morgan, a secretarial student who is helping her father run for a city council seat in a little town north of Dallas. The town’s District Attorney has a good-for-nothing brother running against Dot’s dad, but that doesn’t seem to matter. He’s a shoe-in because of his family, not his behavior.

I researched this book by reading, watching you-tube videos, old movies and talking to friends and relatives. It was truly a labor of love. I’ve never written a historical mystery before and my apologize if I got anything wrong, but gee, what fun!

The Twist and Shout Murder’s publication date is January 4, 2022.

Merry Christmas to all of my readers and may you have a blessed and joy filled New Year.


The Prayer Box

The Prayer Box
An Oldie but a Goodie

I had to do one more oldie-but-goodie this week, because this is my favorite time of year to read novels that fill me with inspiration. The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate is a great book for those holiday blues that can transport you away to a lovely beach town with a character who seems to be at the end of her road, but is she?

Publisher’s Description:

ECPA 2014 Christian Book Award Finalist, Christy Award Finalist, Christianity Today Book Award Finalist, MAGGIE Award Finalist!

“THE PRAYER BOX is Masterpiece of story and skill.” — NYT #1 Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

My Review

Sometimes you find a miracle within a mess and that is what happens to Tandi, a single mom with a selfish boyfriend who is trying to restart her life. I loved this book from beginning to end as a voice from the past provided counsel and comfort to someone living in present day. This story features diversity, love of one’s neighbor and a family finding itself all over again. Wonderful book.

Oh Holy Fright is on sale for .99!

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard
An Oldie but a Goodie Book Recommendation

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard was recommended by a reading group I follow and when I found out it starts out at the set of Gone With the Wind, I couldn’t wait to read about the history of that troubled movie. There was so much more to it! I posted the description below and then my own review. Get ready to be transported to 1938…


In this novel from the acclaimed author of A Bridge Across the Ocean and The Last Year of the War, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie….

Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide.  

What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future. 

Here is the Amazon link for Stars Over Sunset Boulevard, but check your library first! I listened to the audiobook which was beautifully narrated.

My Review:

Years ago I read a book on the making of Gone With the Wind and loved that Susan Meisner included all the turmoil behind the scenes, but even better is the story of Audrey Duvall, an almost star, and Violet Mayfield, a southern girl running from a secret that shamed her. I really liked the unpredictability of these characters. Just when you thought you knew what she would do, she did something different, which makes it a fascinating story. Old Hollywood is beautifully created and I especially loved the drunken scene in the wardrobe room. This book is not about Rhett and Scarlett as much as it about three people who worked in the background and how it changed their lives.

Gifts Galore

Once Upon a Wardrobe

Get ready for a little bit of magic this Christmas season because Once Upon a Wardrobe is a very special book. I went through a box of tissues on this one I was crying so much, not because it’s overly sad, well, a little sad, but it was so heartwarming. You can read my review below, but first here’s more about Once Upon a Wardrobe.


When college student Megs approaches author C. S. Lewis with her younger brother’s request to find out if Narnia is real, he instead takes her on a magical journey through the moments in his life that led to his greatest creation.

Megs Devonshire, on a scholarship at Oxford, is brilliant with numbers and equations. She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.

Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, who is a professor at her school, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, begging them for answers. What she receives instead are stories . . . little-known tales from different periods in Mr. Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.

Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

Praise for Once Upon a Wardrobe:

“I advise you to read this book, then wait for a while and then read it again, for while it may not be Narnia, there is magic in it.” —Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis’s stepson

“With a touch of fairy-tale magic, Once Upon a Wardrobe will take you behind the legend and deep into the English and Irish countryside, where you’ll encounter not only the inspirations for one of the 20th century’s most beloved works, but also a tale of heartache, hope, and discovery that will forever change the Narnia you thought you knew.” —Kristin HarmelNew York Times bestselling author

  • A marvelous blend of little-known true stories from C. S. Lewis’s life that Narnia fans will treasure
  • Includes discussion questions for book clubs as well as a note from Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis’s stepson
  • Also by New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan: Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah

Once Upon a Wardrobe is $12.99 on Amazon, but check your library. I bet it’s there!

My Review

Once Upon a Wardrobe is an incredible story about a brother who is ill and a sister who would brave a lion for him. Megs is asked by her brother George to find out how C.S. Lewis got the idea for Narnia. She is a student at Oxford University where he is a professor, but the task is a big one. She gets an invitation to his home but the direct answer to her question is hard to pin down. All of these characters grow and learn in wonderful ways throughout the book. This is a beautiful story about love that will tug at your heart strings. I highly recommend Once Upon a Wardrobe, because like C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, it takes you into a glorious world. Loved it! 5 Stars

Oh Holy Fright is .99! See many more books–>

Straight Up

I’ll take mine straight up with a dash of murder! Cathi Stoler has a new Murder on The Rocks Mystery out. Straight Up is Cheers with a bit of FBI mixed into the story. It’s a great combination with a main character whose trying to keep it all together with a serial killer on the loose.

Book Description

Jude Dillane, owner of The Corner Lounge in Manhattan’s East Village, knows she will never be safe until The New Year’s Eve Serial Killer, Art Bevins, is behind bars. Still on the loose, he continues to taunt her. Blaming Jude for all his troubles, Bevins is determined to make her pay. With the FBI investigation at a stand-still Jude knows it’s up to her to bring him to justice. With all this swirling around her, Thomas “Sully” Sullivan, her friend and landlord, becomes enamored of his new tenant, Dolores Castel. Jude instantly distrusts Sully’s new love and believes Dolores is weaving a dangerous web. As she continues her pursuit of Bevins, Jude looks into Dolores’s past, uncovering a series of deadly coincidences. Can Jude stop Bevins from his deadly pursuit and protect her friend from ruin?

My Review

Straight Up takes place in a cozy little bar in Manhattan with residential apartments above it. This is the third book in the series, and the bar owner, Jude, is in recovery mode after being a target of the New Yea’s Eve Serial Killer. Having a killer on the loose has affected both her business and personal relationships, and with the killer uncaught, Jude is being watched over by the FBI. Her landlord and good friend, Sully, is there for her until he meets the beautiful Delores and her weird little assistant Diego. Delores is scheming with a whole pack full of secrets from her last home in California, but Sully is smitten. When Art Bevins, the serial killer that got away, shows back up, Jude is hard-pressed to find someone to help her through it. Straight Up was an enjoyable read with great pacing. I want to go back and read the other books in this series. 

About the Author

Cathi Stoler is an Amazon Best Selling author. Her new Urban Thriller, LAST CALL, the 2nd book in the Murder on the Rocks Mystery series, featuring The Corner Lounge bar owner, Jude Dillane, was published in November 2020 by Level Best Books. The third book in the series, STRAIGHT UP, will release in November 2021. Her series, with Blackjack player, Nick Donahue, includes the novel OUT OF TIME, and the novella, NICK OF TIME. She is also the author of the three-volume Laurel & Helen New York Mystery series, which includes TELLING LIES, KEEPING SECRETS, and THE HARD WAY, and a three-time finalist, and winner of the 2015 Derringer for Best Short Story, “The Kaluki Kings of Queens”. Very involved in the crime writing world, Cathi is a member of Sisters in Crime New York/Tri-State, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.

Find out more about Cathi at:

‘Tis the Season Anthology 2021

Texas Sisters Press is back with another Christmas anthology and I’m in it! ‘Tis the Season 2021! This year my story “Speed Dating” is a about a cop who participates in a speed dating experience because his partner won’t stop talking about it. He meets a woman who is ideal for him, but she seems so familiar. The last time he saw her? She had on fishnet stockings and short rabbit fur coat. Is she naughty or nice or just a giant Christmas puzzle?

I’m also happy to announce my friend Terry Korth Fischer has a heartwarming story, “Blessings Christmas”, centering around all the craziness of a Christmas celebration at church. If you have never read anything by Terry, she is the author of Gone Astray, a small town cozy mystery about an aging, but very smart detective in Nebraska.

There are eight more Christmas stories in genres for everyone’s taste including one by CJ Peterson, one of the Texas Sisters.

Pick up this ebook for .99 cents!

Murder, She Wrote: Debonair in Death

 Debonair in Death

There’s a little chill in the air in Cabot Cove and Jessica Fletcher is hot on the trail of another murderer. Don’t you just love it? If you’re missing America’s favorite small fictional town as well as Seth Hazlitt and Mort Metzger, stop in for a cup of clam chowder and read more about Debonair in Death. Be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway!

About Debonair in Death

 Debonair in Death

Murder, She Wrote: Debonair in Death (Murder She Wrote)

Cozy Mystery

54th in Series

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (November 2, 2021)

When a local art shop owner is murdered, Jessica Fletcher is surprised to once again be working alongside her old friend MI-6 agent Michael Haggerty to solve the case in the newest mystery in this USA Today bestselling series.

When Nelson Penzell, co-owner of a local art and treasure store in Cabot Cove, is murdered, the nail tech from Jessica Fletcher’s favorite beauty parlor is the main suspect. After all, she’s the one who ran out of the store screaming, covered in blood, and holding the murder weapon. Jessica is positive that despite the circumstances, Coreen can’t possibly be guilty, and is determined to prove it.

When Michael Haggerty, handsome MI-6 agent and Jessica’s old friend, is caught snooping around the victim’s home, it’s quickly apparent to her that she was right. Nelson has always had a bit of a reputation for being a rake, but Haggerty is sure his sins go far beyond what anyone in town imagined. If she wants to clear Coreen’s name, Jessica will have to work alongside Michael to find out who killed Nelson—and maybe help bust a crime ring in the process.

Purchase Links   Amazon -  IndieBound Barnes and Noble 

My Review

 Fall is just beginning in Cabot Cove and a new resident, Nelson Penzell, art dealer, is pretty obnoxious. Any fan of Murder She Wrote knows what happens next. When Nelson is murdered, blame falls on Coreen, a manicurist who works for Loretta. Coreen is a sweet lady and doesn’t seem to be the murdering type, so Jessica uses her sleuthing skills to figure out who the murderer really is. We have an appearance from beloved character Michael Haggerty who pitches in with some clues and his share of trouble. Jessica, meanwhile is trying to get her synopsis into her publisher, but keeps getting pulled away. This was a great Murder She Wrote read that I thoroughly enjoyed and it’s so fun visiting Cabot Cove again!

About the Authors

Terrie Farley Moran is co-author, along with Jessica Fletcher, of the Murder, She Wrote series. Terrie is also the author of the beachside Read ‘Em and Eat cozy novels, and is co-author of Laura Childs’ scrapbooking mysteries. Her short mystery fiction has been published in numerous venues. Terrie is a recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards.

Author Links – Webpage:   Facebook

Purchase Links   Amazon -  IndieBound Barnes and Noble 

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We Have a Winner!

I am happy to announce Linda H. has won a free copy of The Con Man’s Daughter and a $25 Amazon gift card!

The Con Man’s Daughter had a wild weekend being on Kindle free book list with rankings in contemporary romance in the top 100. Thank you to everyone who downloaded it, and I hope you enjoy it. If you didn’t get a chance at a free copy, no worries.

❤It is still on Kindle Unlimited.❤

The Con Man's Daughter

The Con Man’s Daughter is FREE

From October 28 until November 1 you can pick up a copy of The Con Man’s Daughter FREE at Amazon! Click Here to go to Amazon NOW. I love getting to do this for my readers and appreciate every download. Here’s more about The Con Man’s Daughter, and don’t forget to scroll down and enter my giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Book Description

When Anna Holcomb returns to her hometown in Redbird Creek, Texas she has a secret. She’s not the spoiled little rich girl she once was. She’s broke, looking for a job, and trying to start a new life. Caleb Armstrong thinks he knows her type from the years he spent with her in high school, but everything about Anna has changed, except for one little secret she dares not tell. Take a gamble on this wholesome romance and discover who’s really being conned.

Don’t Forget to Enter My Giveaway!

The Con Man’s Daughter $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

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The Con Man's Daughter It's my book birthday for The Con Man's Daughter and to celebrate I'm giving away a free digital copy and a $25 Amazon gift card! Please leave your full name and email address.

This contest is no longer accepting entries.

A New Short Story in Autumn Noir

My short story, “A Slice for Stanley” is now out in a great new anthology, Autumn Noir. Like many writers, I love to dabble in different genres, and this story is definitely on my Twilight Zone side. I grew up watching Night Gallery and Twilight Zone and have always loved the stories in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen’s mystery magazines. My family owned a newsstand at one point, and even though I was around 10, I read all the stories I could.

“A Slice for Stanley” is about a former restaurant owner who is now forced to work out of a pizza food truck, only because he received a rotten review from a restaurant critic that put him out of business. Trust me, I can tell you a thing or two about reviews.

But, there is so much more to this anthology than my story.

Original tales about the other, moodier season of change

Some of the short stories and poems in Autumn Noir unfold as gently as a wisp of chimney smoke. Others bring the heart-thumping thrills of an end-of-summer storm. All feature characters as vibrant as fall foliage and dialogue as crisp as autumn air. Join the down (but maybe not quite out), the struggling, the wicked, the forlorn, and the broken-hearted as they stumble and sometimes fall all the way down. To paraphrase Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy read.”

★ Get your $0.99 copy of Autumn Noir now before it returns to regular price on

November 1st! ★


“Some stories leave you hanging and gasping for more, some make you chuckle at the clever wickedness of seemingly innocent sneaky characters, some leave you shocked over twists at the end. All are worth reading. Autumn Noir: An Unsettling Reads Anthology is the perfect book for a cold night before a blazing fire.
— Kathleen Kaska, author of the award-winning Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series

Autumn Noir contains stories that get under your skin… an exciting collection of stories, some will make you smile, others will send a chill down your spine, and others will keep you guessing the outcome. I loved it!
— Kathryn Lane, award-winning author of the Nikki Garcia Thriller Series


Find some of your favorite authors and discover some new ones. Includes tales by Bev Vincent, Bethany Maines, Teresa Trent, Brandon Barrows, Stephen D. Rogers, and many more from the crime, mystery, noir, suspense, and thriller genres. Includes the following stories & poems:

  • ‘A Slice for Stanley’ © 2021 Teresa Trent
  • ‘Abscission’ © 2021 Dustin Engstrom
  • ‘An Orchid to Die For’ © 2021 Wendy Harrison
  • ‘Anathema’ © 2021 Robin Knabel
  • ‘Autumn Heat’ © 2021 Oisin Breen
  • ‘Death & Flying Saucers’ © 2021 Matthew Kresal
  • ‘Escape Velocity’ © 2021 Bev Vincent
  • ‘Every Single Funeral’ © 2021 Bethany Maines
  • ‘Golden Silence’ © 2021 V.S. Kemanis
  • ‘Hand Shadows’ © 2021 Rikki Santer
  • ‘Hope Is an Opiate’ © 2021 Bob McNeil
  • ‘Killer in a Diner’ © 2021 Nathan Squiers
  • ‘Let It Go’ © 2021 Brandon Barrows
  • ‘Misunderstood’ © 2021 Elif Offner
  • ‘Nineteen Creaks’ © 2021 Peter DiChellis
  • ‘Perdita’s Shoes’ © 2021 Kat Devitt
  • ‘Poor Insect’ © 2021 D.P. Blanchard
  • ‘Sensing the Fall’ © 2021 Stephen D. Rogers
  • ‘Shadow Over the Hill’ © 2021 Matthew Chabin
  • ‘The Block’ © 2021 H. Dair Brown
  • ‘The Last Phone Booth’ © 2021 Lamont Turner
  • ‘The Warbler’s Song’ © 2021 Vashelle Nino
  • ‘The Weak Man’ © 2021 JM Connors
  • ‘Those Forgotten Places’ © 2021 Mary Rajotte
  • ‘To Bury Larry Little’ © 2021 W.E. Wertenberge

Death Rang the Bell

Time to get your Halloween on! Death Rang the Bell is a great new book in the Blackwell and Watson Time Travel Mystery Series. Read the description below to find out more and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.


Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot

21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks traveling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is…until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.

The smart move is to return to the safety of the present, but Olivia possesses a secret and is about to defy the unwritten rules of time-travel. She convinces Steven to let her stay in his time and help unravel the motives behind the murder, even if it means risking her own life to save another.

When Steven delves into the investigation, he discovers how a bitter relationship, a chance encounter, and a fateful decision converged to set the stage for murder. In a maze full of unreliable clues and misdirection, dark secrets refuse to stay buried and forgotten ghosts won’t fade away. Steven is reminded that old sins cast long shadows.

Can Steven catch the killer before time runs out for Olivia?

Praise for Death Rang the Bell:

“This highly inventive series serves up a real treat–a perfect combination of mystery, time travel, and romance.”
~~ Deborah Crombie, New York Times Bestselling author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novels

“Pouliot has the period details mastered, adding realism and depth to this wholly satisfying read.”
~~ Marni Graff, author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries

“With engaging characters, a murder mystery, and a trip back in time, Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell will keep you turning the pages all night!”
~~ Nancy Allen, New York Times Bestselling Author

“A Halloween setting, a house where time folds back on itself, and a crime with deep roots in the past make Carol Pouliot’s Death Rang the Bell a joy for fans of crisp writing and twisty, character-driven plots.”
~~ Connie Berry, Agatha-nominated author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries

“A delightfully immersive story, filled with surprising twists and turns, a touch of romance — plus a heroine you will happily follow as she jumps between decades, Death Rang the Bell is a truly great escape.”
~~ Alison Gaylin, USA Today and international bestselling author

“This intriguing and beautifully written series will draw you in and make you feel right at home in a time period you’ll wish you could visit.”
~~ Grace Topping, USA Today bestselling author of the Laura Bishop Mystery Series.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery (Traditional Police Procedural with a Time-Travel Twist)
Published by: Level Best Books
Series: The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, #3 || Each is a Stand-Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


Chapter 1

Hot coffee spilled over the rim and burned her hand. Lillian wanted to cry. At nine in the morning, she’d been on her feet since six and had seven long hours to go. She didn’t know how much longer she’d be able to keep it up. She was constantly exhausted and the struggle to breathe was worsening; some days it was nearly unbearable. She knew the disease was going to overpower her, and that moment was coming soon.

Lillian slid around some tables and set a heaping plate of eggs and bacon, potatoes, and toast in front of Arnie McCormack, then topped off his cup from the pot in her other hand. McCormack lowered his newspaper and leered, pinching her behind as she stepped away. Rude bastard. She’d like to pour the scalding coffee over his head and dump his breakfast right in his lap.

The only thing that kept her going every day was the thought of her beautiful little boy. Well, not so little anymore. He was growing up fast, nine years old in January. She managed a smile and wiped away a tear before it became a flood. Best not to think too much about things. Especially money. Lillian knew if she didn’t get the money somehow, she’d never see her son grow into a man.

And what about her letter? It had been four weeks since she’d mailed it. Surely he should have written back by now. She hadn’t been unreasonable, hadn’t asked for much, only enough to pay for treatment at the Little Red Cottage in Saranac Lake.

Dr. Trudeau’s Little Red Cottage. It sounded like heaven. Lillian had heard wonderful things about people being cured there. Imagine, cured! The thought made her dizzy.

Lillian returned to the lunch counter, using the backs of chairs for support. When she arrived at the griddle, she was breathing hard.

Tomorrow, she thought, if I don’t get an answer tomorrow, I’ll send another letter.


Chapter 2

The Three Witches of Macbeth were doing a swell job. Annie, Molly, and Lilly led the parade of pirates, sailors, and fairy princesses through Knightsbridge, picking up ghosts, goblins, and a mummy along the way. Crowds of families followed the costumed children down Victoria Avenue to the entrance of The Elks Club, where, from the top of the staircase, The Three Witches hissed, “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble.”

Molly cried out, “Beware, all ye who enter here.” Then she thumped a tall gnarled staff on the stone step, and Annie and Lilly grasped the thick iron rings with both hands and heaved. As the massive oak doors creaked open, the masquerading children flew up the stairs and into the community room, awash with the scents of apples and cinnamon.

Carved pumpkins flickered in the semi-darkened room, revealing white cobweb-filled corners and big black spiders and bats hanging so low that adults had to duck. Seeing colorful bags piled on black-draped tables, one little boy jumped up and down, clapping his hands in glee. A girl grabbed her friend’s hand, and they did a little dance, and three teenagers slapped each other on the back. A Halloween treat awaited each of them. Eager to explore, the kids fanned out.

“Ooh! I feel like I’m ten again,” said Olivia, shaking the black-and-orange tin noise maker. “Why didn’t we wear costumes?”

Steven gave her a look. “What if I had to rush out for an emergency?” he asked.

“You could’ve dressed like a cop.” She smirked.

“Hi, Steven.” Decked out in an eye patch and pirate gear, Jimmy Bourgogne appeared from behind Olivia, swept off his hat, and gave a courtly bow, bending low to the floor. “Miss Watson.”

“Jimmy, you look fantastic,” exclaimed Olivia. “I didn’t recognize you with that mustache and goatee.”

“Congratulations, Jimmy. You fellas did a swell job,” Steven said.

“Thanks, but the credit really goes to Leon here.”

A slender young man with light brown hair joined them. He sported a plaid shirt with a tin sheriff’s badge pinned over his heart, red kerchief around his neck, and holster holding a toy gun attached to a leather belt.

“Hi, Leon.” Steven extended his hand. “This is my friend Olivia Watson. Olivia, Leon Quigg is my mailman.”

“Nice to meet you, Miss Watson.” Leon said, nodding as he doffed his cowboy hat.

“I’m glad to meet you, too. This is a wonderful party.”

Jean Bigelow sidled up to Olivia, yelling amidst the racket. “You made it!”

“Jean! Isn’t this swell?” Olivia chuckled to herself. Liz and Sophie would crack up hearing her talk like a real 1934 person.

After several months, acting like she belonged here had become second nature, but Olivia Watson didn’t belong here. She lived in 2014 and only visited 1934 from time to time.

This week Olivia was spending several days in Steven’s time. No passport, no suitcase, no plane ticket required. All it took was a simple step across the threshold of her bedroom door into Steven’s Depression-era house−simple but the key to her recently discovered ability to time travel.

“What are you reading tonight?” Olivia asked the librarian.

“Edgar Allan Poe. ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’”

“That’s the one where the guy gets walled up, isn’t it?”

Jean nodded. “I’ve been practicing creepy voices for days.”

“Well, you look the part. I love your cape, very 19th-century.” Olivia touched a fold of Jean’s costume. “Ooh, velvet. I wish I’d worn that.”

The organizers had packed the evening full of entertainment. Steven and Olivia watched a magician pull pennies out of children’s ears and a rabbit out of his top hat, and wondered how he made the mayor’s watch disappear. The kids bobbed for apples, the water sloshing out of the metal washtub soaking the floor. The younger children played Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey and Drop-the-Handkerchief, while the older ones played charades and told ghost stories.

At seven thirty, the kids crowded along the row of tables where members of the Elks handed out treats. Noses in their black-and-orange bags exploring the treasures within, they moved to the far end to select their favorite soda, handing the tall glass bottles of Hires Root Beer, Orange Crush, and Coca-Cola to Jimmy Bou and Leon Quigg, who were armed with metal bottle openers.

The evening culminated with story telling. The village librarian led the young children into a side room, spooky picture books in hand. The older ones gathered behind the curtain on the shadow-filled stage where Jean Bigelow waited in flickering candlelight. When they’d settled in a circle on the floor, Olivia among them, the librarian cleared her throat and began.

“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge….”


Excerpt from Death Rang the Bell by Carol Pouliot. Copyright 2021 by Carol Pouliot. Reproduced with permission from Carol Pouliot. All rights reserved.


My Review

This is the first book I’ve read by Carol Pouliot and there were plenty of things I liked about it. There were dual timelines between modern day and 1934. Imagine if you had an old house and when you walked through a doorway, you find yourself in the same house in a different year. That’s what happens to Olivia Watson who finds herself in the middle of a mystery at Halloween. The story is well plotted with plenty of suspects to ponder upon. The pacing is great and the descriptions of the little town in 1934 make you feel like you’re actually there. Great book to cuddle up with as the weather turns colder.

Author Bio:

Carol Pouliot

Carol Pouliot holds a BA in French and Spanish and an MA in French. She has taught French, Spanish, German, and English. She owned and operated a translating agency for 20 years. Her work has been published in Victoria magazine.

Carol is the author of The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, which includes Doorway to Murder (book 1), Threshold of Deceit (book 2), and Death Rang the Bell (book 3).

Carol is passionate about the world and other cultures. She has visited 5 continents thus far and always has her passport and suitcase at the ready.

Catch Up With Carol Pouliot:
BookBub – @cpouliot13
Instagram – @carolpouliotmysterywriter
Facebook – @WriterCarolPouliot


Don’t Miss Out on This Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Carol Pouliot. There will be Four (4) winners for this tour. Two (2) winners will each receive a $15 gift card; Two (2) winners will each receive 1 print edition of Death Rang The Bell by Carol Pouliot (US Only). The giveaway begins on October 1 and ends November 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Autumn Noir
I had so much fun writing this story! Autumn Noir is now available on Amazon.

God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen

God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen

And because we’re reading Christmas books this weekend, here’s another one by a favorite author of mine, Rhys Bowen. Wouldn’t you just love to be in an English country house that backs right up to the royal family’s estate…at Christmas? Not only that, but you have the world’s most unloved royal, David, here with his American girlfriend, Wallis Simpson, and they’ve decided to stay with your house party? Did I mention this is a murder mystery? Grab a cup of tea because her Royal Spyness is on the case.

More about God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen

Georgie is back and hanging the stockings with care when a murder interrupts her Christmas cheer in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling Royal Spyness series from Rhys Bowen.

Georgie is excited for her first Christmas as a married woman in her lovely new home. She suggests to her dashing husband, Darcy, that they have a little house party, but when Darcy receives a letter from his aunt Ermintrude, there is an abrupt change in plans. She has moved to a house on the edge of the Sandringham estate, near the royal family, and wants to invite Darcy and his new bride for Christmas. Aunt Ermintrude hints that the queen would like Georgie nearby. Georgie had not known that Aunt Ermintrude was a former lady-in-waiting and close confidante of her royal highness. The letter is therefore almost a royal request, so Georgie, Darcy, and their Christmas guests: Mummy, Grandad, Fig, and Binky all head to Sandringham.

Georgie soon learns that the notorious Mrs. Simpson, mistress to the Prince of Wales, will also be in attendance. It is now crystal clear to Georgie that the Queen expects her to do a bit of spying. There is tension in the air from the get-go, and when Georgie pays a visit to the queen, she learns that there is more to her request than just some simple eavesdropping. There have been a couple of strange accidents at the estate recently. Two gentlemen of the royal household have died in mysterious circumstances and another has been shot by mistake during a hunt. Georgie begins to suspect that a member of the royal family is the real target but her investigation will put her new husband and love of her life, Darcy, in the crosshairs of a killer.

My Review

 It’s time for Georgie and her husband Darcy to go to his aunt’s country house for Christmas. Aunt Ermintrude’s home is right next to Sandringham where the royal family spends their yearly holiday and the king is not doing well. Unexpectedly they find out among the houseguests is the Prince of Wales and his American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Isn’t this a terrific setting for a good old fashioned English country house who-dunnit? I’ve read several books in this series and it is always so exciting to see what is going on with Georgie and Darcy and this book does a great job of keeping you interested. The murder mystery is well planned with a few surprises and well-planted clues. Better than a Christmas cracker!  

About the Author

Rhys was born in Bath, England and educated at London University but now divides her time between California and Arizona. Her books have been nominated for every major mystery award and she has won twenty of them to date, including four Agathas.

She currently writes two historical mystery series, each very different in tone. The Molly Murphy mysteries feature an Irish immigrant woman in turn-of-the-century New York City. These books are multi-layered, complex stories with a strong sense of time and place and have won many awards including Agatha and Anthony. There are 17 books so far in this series plus three Kindle stories, The Amersham Rubies, Through the Window and The Face in the Mirror–a great way to introduce new readers to Molly’s spunky personality.

Then there is Lady Georgie, Rhys’s latest,and very popular, heroine. She’s 35th in line to the throne of England, but she’s flat broke and struggling to survive in the Great Depression. These books are lighter and funnier than Molly’s adventures. They poke gentle fun at the British class system–about which Rhys knows a lot, having married into an upper class family rather like Georgie’s, with cousins with silly nicknames, family ghosts and stately homes. 

Find God Rest Ye Royal Gentlemen on Amazon

Mistletoe Cake Murder


Just when is it a good time to start reading Christmas mysteries? Now of course! Check out the Mistletoe Cake Murder (All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery). Not only is it Christmas but there’s a wedding! Read an excerpt below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

by Lena Gregory

About Mistletoe Cake Murder

Mistletoe Cake Murder (All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

6th in Series

Setting – Florida

’Tis the season for celebrating when Gia Morelli’s holidays include both a wedding and yuletide festivities. Until someone naughty delivers a most unwanted Christmas gift—murder. . .

For a native New Yorker, palm trees and warm temperatures don’t equal winter, much less Christmastime. Nevertheless, Gia Morelli’s friends have decked the halls and trimmed the trees to truly welcome her into their “family” with an old-fashioned Boggy Creek, Florida holiday season. Even more joyous, Savannah Mills is getting married on Christmas Eve—the greatest gift Gia could ever wish for her best friend.

But when Gia and Savannah stop by the caterer for a final tasting a week before the wedding, they overhear another bride arguing with her son about her husband-to-be. Moments later, the woman is sampling a piece of wedding cake—gorgeously decorated with mistletoe frosting—then suddenly dies.

Now Gia’s caterer friends are the prime suspects in what appears to be murder by poisoning. To clear their names and ensure Savannah has a merry matrimony will require Gia to conjure up a Christmas miracle . . .


Includes recipes from the All-Day Breakfast Café!

Mistletoe Cake Murder
Savannah Mills drummed her glitter-tipped maroon nails against the gear shift of her blue Mustang convertible as she rounded one last curve on the way to Trevor Barnes’s mansion, where she and Leo Dumont would be married in a little more than a week.


Few streetlights lined the dark road, casting small pools of light against the slick pavement, compliments of an unusually rainy day in the small town of Boggy Creek, Florida. Gia Morelli would have preferred to head out to the mansion before dark, but they had to wait until after she closed the All-Day Breakfast Café for the day.

Savannah shook her head, tumbling her long blonde hair into her face. She sighed and tucked the strands behind her ear before returning to nail tapping her staccato rhythm.

Gia laid a hand over hers, stilling the steady rat-a-tat-tat. “Will you relax. Everything’s going to be perfect.”

“I know.” She glanced at Gia, her bottom lip caught between her teeth.

Gia just lifted a brow.

“All right, all right.” Laughing, Savannah returned her attention to the road ahead. She rolled her shoulders, tilted her head from side to side. “Maybe I’ve been a little stressed lately.”

Understatement of the year; better to keep that to herself. “Ya think?”

“Hey,” Savannah pointed at her. “A good friend once told me no one likes a smart aleck.”

Gia grinned. Nothing like having her own words thrown back at her.

As Savannah pulled into the cul-de-sac where Trevor’s mansion stood at the far end, she slowed. Her mouth dropped open. “Oh, wow.”

Long strands of evergreen garland, complete with pine cones and ivory bows, had been draped along the stone wall surrounding the grounds. The faux-snow covered garland twinkled with thousands of tiny clear Christmas lights, giving the impression of a winter wonderland, despite the ridiculously hot Florida weather of late. For just a moment, Gia could imagine the rain changing to fluffy white flakes that would bury the estate in rolling hills of snow.

Huge oak trees lined the inside of the wall, their moss draped limbs alight with lanterns that seemed to hover in mid-air, a welcoming invitation to crank up the air conditioning, grab a blanket, and snuggle up with a good book in front of one of the numerous fireplaces Trevor’s mansion boasted.

“Wow,” Gia repeated, not knowing what else to say.

Savannah stopped in front of the wrought iron gate and pushed a button on the remote Trevor had given her. As the gates slowly opened, she looked at Gia. “Trevor sure did go all-out.”

“No kidding.” Trevor’s mansion and grounds were gorgeous on an average day, which was part of the reason Gia had wanted to hold Savannah’s wedding there, but seeing it fully decorated for Christmas left Gia speechless.

“I feel like I’m at the North Pole, heading straight into Santa’s castle.” Savannah rolled through the gates and closed them behind her. “It’s incredible.”

“It sure is.” The palm trees lining both sides of the driveway were strung with lights. Piles of boxes wrapped in pale pink and ivory paper with silver bows were piled beneath them. The fact that they hadn’t turned to mush in the pounding rain told Gia they must be just decorative, made from some material that could withstand the elements, but they sure looked real.

“I can’t believe Trevor did all of this for us.” With her gaze darting everywhere, Savannah pulled into the circular courtyard and stopped in front of the house.

The gardens were transformed, glittering with lights and an abundance of poinsettias, evergreens, holly and other seasonal flowers that Trevor must have had added for the occasion. Icicle lights cascaded from the mansion’s every roofline, peak and window. Warm light spilled out into the darkness from a towering Christmas tree standing sentinel in the center front windows.

“Did you know?” Savannah whispered.

Gia shook her head. Nothing she’d ever seen could have prepared her for the sheer wonder of Trevor’s mansion ready to welcome guests for the holiday. Her own experience with Christmas was limited to a small tree she decorated in her room each year while she was growing up, then whatever business parties her ex-husband dragged her to so he could meet with his important clients, clients he’d later steal millions from. She shoved the thoughts away. No way would she allow anything to intrude on this moment. “I knew he was having the mansion decorated for Christmas, but I didn’t expect all of this. I thought maybe some lights on the house and a Christmas tree.”

Tears shimmered in Savannah’s eyes.

“Hey, you okay?” Gia lay a hand on Savannah’s shoulder.

She nodded. “I just can’t believe he’d do this. How am I ever supposed to repay him for this? I can’t even imagine what all of this must have cost.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Trevor had adamantly refused any kind of payment for the use of his mansion as a venue, threating to revoke his offer if they even tried to insult him with payment, and now it seemed he’d gone way over the top with decorating. “Trevor seemed so happy and excited about doing it, so I’d say just be happy and grateful and enjoy it.”

The front door opened, and Trevor ran toward them, umbrella held over his head.

Savannah wiped the tears that tipped over her lashes and spilled down her cheeks. She rolled the window down, and rain splashed into the car.

Trevor leaned in and blocked the window with his body and the umbrella.

Thor, Gia’s Bernese Mountain Dog, barked in greeting from his spot in the back seat between Klondike and Pepper’s carriers.

“Hey, Thor.” Trevor reached behind Savannah to give his head a pat, then pointed toward the far end of the cobblestone courtyard. “I put you guys in the same suite you shared last time, and I had the canopy pulled out. I wanted to bring you in the front, so you could behold everything the way your guests will when they arrive, but I figure it’s better to keep you dry. I hope that’s okay?”

“It’s perfect, Trevor, thank you,” Savannah said.

He grinned and patted the window frame, then hurried ahead of them to the far side of the courtyard where a canvas canopy covered the entryway and the potty pavilion Thor would use.

Savannah shook her head, a brilliant smile lighting her face as she rolled up the window and followed Trevor. “The man thinks of everything.”

“Hmm…” Gia had to admit, that thought was about as surprising as finding out her mild-mannered friend was a millionaire…at least. “Who’d have thought?”

“Not me,” Savannah grinned, “that’s for sure.”

Even the potty pavilion was decorated for the occasion, with festive colored lights strung from every pine tree in the area.

Savannah parked right in front of the now covered archway and hopped out of the car without waiting for Trevor to come around with the umbrella. She ducked underneath and hugged him hard.

Gia climbed out and lifted the seat forward for Thor, who scrambled out and bolted straight for Trevor.

Knowing he would be safe with him, and that the potty pavilion—complete with cabinets, grooming area, and exercise equipment—was surrounded by a low stone wall, Gia leaned into the car to grab Klondike’s carrier. “Hey there, sweetie. I’ll have you out of here in no time, and you and your buddy can run and get into all the trouble you want.”

The little black and white kitten abruptly turned around and flicked her tail against the mesh door of the carrier. Apparently, Gia would not be forgiven so easily for putting her in there.

She sighed and hauled her carrier and Pepper’s out of the back seat.

“Here, let me take them.” Trevor took one in each hand and gestured with his elbow toward the potty pavilion. “Thor went to take care of business.”

Gia peeked in to check on him and laughed. “If by take care of business you mean run straight to the obstacle course on the opposite side of the pavilion to play on the doggie playground, then you’re absolutely right.”

“What can I say? I like to spoil my dogs.” Trevor offered a sheepish smile and swung a lock of too-long-in-the-front brown hair out of his eyes, seemingly embarrassed at his wealth—typical for him. “And, hey, at least it’s covered so he won’t be soaked and full of mud.”

The thought of Thor barreling through the house leaving a trail of sloppy footprints in his wake made her shiver. “That’s definitely a plus.”

“And he’s having fun,” Savannah piped in as she popped open the trunk.

“An even bigger plus.” Gia started toward the trunk to help her grab their bags.

“Leave that for now.” Trevor nodded toward the house. “We’ll get it all after the rain stops. Come on; I can’t wait to show you your rooms.”

Savannah shrugged and slammed the trunk closed, then followed him down the hallway toward the two-bedroom suite she and Gia shared last time they stayed with Trevor, which had been for Savannah’s protection.

Gia planned to spend a whole lot more time exploring this time than they had then.

Trevor chatted at warp speed as he strode down the long hallway. “Okay, so, you have a meeting with the caterer for tasting and final approval of the menu promptly at ten tomorrow morning, this way you can both take advantage of Cole, Willow, Earl, and Skyla opening the café tomorrow.”

Gia could kiss his cheek. A day to sleep in with no problems nagging at her. Maybe she and Savannah would sit up late and watch an old movie together, share a bucket of popcorn. A small niggle of sadness crept in. Now that Savannah and Leo were getting married, she’d probably be moving out of Gia’s spare bedroom. Not that she’d made any effort to find a place yet, so Gia was just assuming. After Savannah was kidnapped last summer while showing a house, Gia didn’t want to be the one to bring up the subject. Savannah would talk about her decision when she felt ready.

Hmm…maybe Leo would move in with them? Still, even if he did, things between Savannah and Gia were sure to change. She shook off the thoughts. This was Savannah’s time, her moment of happiness. No way would Gia ruin even an instant of it feeling sorry for herself.

“I’ve already taken care of adding the servers, I hope that’s okay. And the florist will be here a little after three to coordinate where you want the flowers, at least the ones that go in the outer rooms and the reception area. You’re not allowed to see the actual spot where you’ll get married until you’re ready to walk down the aisle.” Trevor twisted to maneuver the cat carriers up the spiral staircase and onto the loft-style second floor.

Thor bounded after him.

Savannah and Gia followed on their heels.

“You’ve already spoken with the DJ, so he’s set to go.” When Trevor reached a set of French doors to their suite, he stopped and set the carriers down, then started ticking items off on his fingers. “You have a week and two days until the wedding, and you’re both working until the day before, so I want to make sure you have plenty of time to relax.”

Though Gia would have loved to close the café for the week, she just couldn’t afford to, so she settled on closing Friday for the wedding and Saturday for Christmas. Even though she was in Florida last Christmas, and was welcomed at Savannah’s house, everything had been too new for her to fully immerse herself in the celebration. This would be her first true Christmas with her new family, and Trevor graciously offered to host it since everyone they loved would already be there for the wedding.

Trevor’s voice dragged her back to the conversation. “That’s why I stacked most of your appointments tomorrow, so you’ll have time to rest afterward. Then, on Friday mid-morning, I have people coming to do mani-pedis and massages for the two of you and the bridesmaids.”

Savannah laughed out loud.

“What?” Bright red patches crept up Trevor’s cheeks. “Was that not right?”

“Are you kidding me?” Savannah flung her arms around his neck, hugged him tight, and planted a big kiss on his cheek. “It’s perfect.”

Trevor’s face reddened to the point of almost purple, and Gia wasn’t quite sure if it was from embarrassment or if Savannah was cutting off the circulation to his head. Thankfully, she released him before he passed out from either.

“Good, because the hair stylist will be here first thing Friday morning. Sorry I couldn’t get it later in the day, but with Friday being Christmas Eve and all, it was the latest I could get him to come. It doesn’t matter anyway, though, because the photographer will be here at eight a.m., so she can document every single minute of your special day.”

Gia’s mouth dropped open, and she quickly snapped it closed. No need to further embarrass Trevor after he’d not only taken care of every detail of the wedding, but also set up last minute appointments to go over everything and ensure it would all be perfect the day of.

Trevor finally stopped talking and took a breath, then glanced back and forth between them. “What? Did I forget something?”

Who’d have thought Trevor, her good-natured, easy-going, kind-of-goofy, totally clumsy friend would turn out to be an organizational genius? Then again, she’d never have expected the owner of Storm Scoopers, the ice cream parlor down the road from her All-Day Breakfast Café, would turn out to be the wealthy owner of a mansion and grounds the size of a city block back in Manhattan either. Seemed Mr. Barnes was full of surprises.

“It’s perfect, Trevor, thank you.” Gia hugged him, careful to do so a little less enthusiastically than Savannah had.

“Now that the details have all been discussed…” A smile spread across his face from ear to ear, and he shoved the French doors open and stepped back with a flourish. “Behold!”

A giant evergreen sat against the far wall between two windows, all aglitter in pink and silver, with a bride and groom locked in an embrace to top it off. A wreath hung above the fireplace, the mantle draped in garland and lights.

Gia’s breath shot from her lungs.

“What?” Trevor asked. “Too much?”

“Not at all. It couldn’t be more perfect.” Tears shimmered, deepening the blue of Savannah’s eyes.

Trevor squeezed her hand. “Good, because I went all out in the honeymoon suite too.”

“The honey…?”

“Yup. You said you guys didn’t want to leave on your honeymoon until the day after Christmas, so I set up a special suite for you and Leo to spend your wedding night and Christmas night.”

Savannah just stood, hand in his, staring at him, tears spilling over and down her cheeks. That was a first, not that Gia could blame her, but in all the years she’d known Savannah, she’d never seen her speechless.

Trevor rubbed a hand up and down her arm. “Thank you both for trusting me with this. I really enjoyed doing it, more than I can ever tell you, and I wanted to make it perfect.”

“You definitely did, Trevor.” Savannah sniffed. “I don’t know how I can ever thank you.”

“Are you kidding me? No thanks needed. I love planning events, but in case you haven’t noticed, even though I have a number of friends, I’m a little socially awkward and uncomfortable outside of my immediate friendship zone. This was like a dream come true. I got to plan not only one, but three events, and I don’t have to be the center of attention at any. You actually did me a favor.”

“What do you mean three?” Though Gia and Savannah helped plan the parts of the wedding that weren’t meant to be a surprise right along with Trevor, she wasn’t aware of any other events.

“The wedding, the rehearsal dinner, which is going to be awesome, and Christmas dinner. Thanks to you two, I will spend Christmas surrounded by my Boggy Creek family, something I’d never have done otherwise.”

Gia gripped his free hand. When they’d discussed making Savannah’s wedding as perfect as possible for her, especially when she was still somewhat fragile after everything she’d been through over the summer, Gia never expected anything like this. “Thank you so much, Trevor.”

“There’s really no need to thank me.” He turned to look her in the eye. “When I needed a friend, you were there for me. Now, it’s my turn to be there for you and Savannah. Savannah needs to be surrounded by family in a place she feels safe, and you need a proper Christmas with family, something you said you’ve never had before. Now, we all have what we need.”

Gia lay her head against his shoulder. If they could just get through the next week without anything going wrong, life would be just about perfect.


Here’s where you can pick up your copy of Mistletoe Cake Murder!

Amazon: - Barnes & Noble   Kobo   Kensington    Apple     Google Play    GoodReads Link

About Lena Gregory

Lena Gregory author of Mistletoe Cake Murder

Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, but she recently traded in cold, damp, gray winters for the warmth and sunshine of central Florida, where she now lives with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full-time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

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Here’s where you can pick up your copy of Mistletoe Cake Murder!

Amazon: - Barnes & Noble   Kobo   Kensington    Apple     Google Play    GoodReads Link

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Stitch, Bake, Die!

Crafting is supposed to a way to relieve stress and relax, but not if you’re Anastasia Pollack. She’s off again, solving a murder and sharing crafting tips in her tenth book Stitch, Bake, Die! There’s a great description below to get your started on Anastasia’s latest mystery and don’t forget to scroll down for the giveaway.

About Stitch, Bake, Die!

Stitch, Bake, Die! (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

10th in Series

Book Description: Stitch, Bake, Die!

With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the NJ chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. At least her best friend and cooking editor Cloris McWerther has also been roped into similar duties for the culinary side of the 3-day event taking place on the grounds of the exclusive Beckwith Chateau Country Club.

Marlene Beckwith, wife of the multi-millionaire pharmaceutical magnate and country club owner, is both the chapter president and conference chairperson. The only thing greater than her ego is her sense of entitlement. She hates to lose at anything and fully expects to win both the needlework and baking competitions.

When Anastasia and Cloris arrive at the conference, they discover cash bribes in their registration packets. The Society members, few of whom are fans of Marlene, stick up for the accused and instead suggest that Marlene orchestrated the bribes to eliminate her stiffest competition.

The next morning when Marlene is found dead, Anastasia questions whether she really died peacefully in her sleep. After Marlene’s husband immediately has her cremated, Anastasia once again finds herself back in reluctant amateur sleuth mode.

With the help of Cloris, Marlene’s personal assistant Rhetta, and a laptop someone will stop at nothing to find, Anastasia soon unravels evidence of insurance scams, medical fraud, an opioid ring, long-buried family secrets, and too many possible suspects. And that’s before she not only stumbles over the body of yet another member of the Stitch and Bake Society but also finds Rhetta unconscious.

Can Anastasia piece together the various clues before she becomes the killer’s next target?

Crafting tips included.

You can find Stitch, Bake, Die at these online retailers:

Kindle - Nook - Kobo  - Apple Books 

About Lois Winston

USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

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Books to the Ceiling October 21 Newsletter

The Con Man's Daughter
It’s official. The Con Man’s Daughter comes out on October 8th! I’ve created a new town, new characters and this time instead of a murder mystery we get to fall in love, and out of it, and maybe back in it. (It wouldn’t be true love if there weren’t a few bumps along the way, right?) Anna Holcomb has returned to the only place she ever thought of as home, Redbird Creek. The residents of her hometown thought her family was successful and connected. In truth, Anna is trying to hide some major crimes by her father and wants to make it on her own as an honest event planner. She runs into members of her old “mean girl” group, as well as the girl they bullied, Gladys Ledbetter, aka Goopy Gladys. Anna finds she is working closely with Goopy and with handsome chef, Caleb Armstrong, a former boyfriend of the leader of the mean girls. What will Anna do? Continue bullying others to get ahead, or try to become a better person? You can pre-order The Con Man’s Daughter is available for pre-order right now, or you can wait for it to come out on Kindle at Amazon on October 8. Either way, thanks!



October 8/Review
The Memory Bell
With massive debt, a communist mother-in-law, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and a photojournalist boyfriend who may or may not be a spy, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack already juggles too much in her life. So she’s not thrilled when her magazine volunteers her to present workshops and judge a needlework contest at the inaugural conference of the NJ chapter of the Stitch and Bake Society, a national organization of retired professional women. When Anastasia and Cloris arrive at the conference, they discover cash bribes in their registration packets. Little did they know this could lead to murder!
See Giveaway on Day of Post
October 15/Spotlight
Mistletoe Cake Murder
’Tis the season for celebrating when Gia Morelli’s holidays include both a wedding and yuletide festivities. Until someone naughty delivers a most unwanted Christmas gift—murder. . .
See Giveaway on Day of Post
October 16/Review
God Rest Ye Royal Gentlemen
Georgie is back and hanging the stockings with care when a murder interrupts her Christmas cheer in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling Royal Spyness series from Rhys Bowen.
October 22/Review
Death Rang the Bell
21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks traveling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is…until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.
See Giveaway on Day of Post

The Happy Hinter
Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick here, Happy Hinter and part-time crime solver. Stuck bringing a treat for a Halloween party or school function? I had a friend show me this one and I’ve been doing it every year. It’s the white chocolate Halloween pretzel bone.
This is what you’ll need:
1 bag of mini-marshmallows
1 package of meltable white chocolate
1 bag of little pretzel sticks
Attach the mini-marshmallows to the ends of the pretzel sticks, making them look like bones. Then melt the white chocolate using your microwave according to the instructions on the package. Once melted, carefully dip the pretzel bones into the white chocolate and lay out on wax paper. They will dry and harden and then you can put them in a Halloween basket or bowl. Trust me, they’ll be the hit of the party.

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A Plague Among Us

Here we have it! A Covid-19 mystery, but it is oh so much more. With a wide variety of suspects, this is a new mystery by a proven author. Check out the excerpt below, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.



A Plague Among Us by Deb Pines

When Al Martin, the editor of a satiric newspaper in Chautauqua, N.Y., reportedly dies of COVID-19, the local consensus is: good riddance.

A sister suspects foul play. She wonders why Al was cremated in a hurry.

The police stay out of it.

So it takes reporter and relentless snoop Mimi Goldman to try to find which of Al’s haters— including an estranged wife, three bitter siblings, a secretive caregiver, old enemies and the many targets of Al’s poison-pen sarcasm—might be a ruthless killer.

The novel, No. 8 in a series called “an Agatha Christie for the text-message age,” once again offers page-turning suspense. Wit. And the unforgettable setting of Chautauqua, a quirky, churchy, lakeside, Victorian cottage-filled summer arts community that launched an adult-education movement Teddy Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America.”

Kirkus Reviews calls A Plague Among Us “an intriguing and engaging crime tale” and “enjoyable novel” with “captivating characters.”

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: KDP
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 979-8525017368
Series: Mimi Goldman Chautauqua Mysteries, Book 8 | Each book can be read as a Stand-Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Mimi and Sylvia were on the road again, heading to the Tissue Donor Center in Jamestown to chase Winston Suarez.

The center wasn’t far from the Loves’ funeral home. But this time Google Maps was directing them to take the highway, not back roads.

They started out the same way, heading west on 394, passing the same early landmarks: the Institution’s empty parking lots, busy golf course and We Wan Chu Cottages.

“So what’s new?” Sylvia asked.

“Too much,” Mimi said. “It’s crazy how I keep learning stuff without seeing how any of it means anything.”

“Because the medical examiner still hasn’t called?”


Sylvia sighed heavily. “Maybe he’s just as difficult as his dad.”

Tom Love Sr., in Mimi’s opinion, wasn’t difficult. All he had done was stand up for his son before Sylvia picked a fight with him. But Mimi let it go.

“Well, one thing I’ll grant the older one,” Sylvia said.


“He’s above average in the looks department.”

Mimi chuckled.


“I thought you’re done with all of that nonsense.”

“I am.”

Sylvia moved to the left lane to take the ramp onto Route 17/Interstate-86 East and floored it.

“Whoa, hey,” Mimi said. “Mario Andretti, slow down.”

Okay, okay,” Sylvia said. “Just had to get us on the highway.”

Sylvia slowed down to fit into the slow lane, sticking behind a FedEx truck going a steady 70 miles an hour.

Mimi filled Sylvia in on what she had heard from Shannon about Liam and Patrick. Their denials of knowing anything about the pranks. Their claims the decisions to have no autopsy and a quick cremation were just expedient—so Patrick could get home.

“So what time does Winston Suarez get off work?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s 5.”

Mimi had reached Winston once, described why she was calling. He got quiet, then hung up. After that, she called Winston and never reached him—leaving something like five or six messages.

They stayed on the highway about ten miles before taking the Jamestown airport exit, then winding around a maze of city streets until signs with a big “H” led them to the UPMC Hospital campus.

“Hopefully,” Sylvia said, “we’re more irresistible in person.”

The Tissue Donor Center was one of many outbuildings with medical-sounding names surrounding the redbrick main hospital.

Some were done in their own architectural style. Most, like the Tissue Donor Center, imitated the low-slung, redbrick design of the hospital, down to having a white number (for their address) and a primary-colored letter on their sides.

The letters were explained on campus signs. Building A was the main hospital. Building B, the signs said, was Outpatient Svcs. C was the Sherman Medical Bldg. D was Imaging & Medical Bldg. E was Physical Therapy, Pharmacies. F was the Tissue Donor Cntr.

Sylvia zipped past the early letters of the alphabet, slowing at F, the Tissue Donor Cntr. The main door had its name above it, an intercom to the right. Near the curb, another sign said, “No Standing any time. Ambulance Lane.”

They didn’t see any ambulances, but Sylvia decided to wait for Mimi anyway in a parking lot across the street.

“Break a leg,” Sylvia yelled as Mimi got out.

Mimi laughed.

If she did break a leg, no question, this was the place to do it. Her limb could be X-rayed at the Imaging Bldg.(D) and then set at Outpatient Svcs. (B).

At the door of the Tissue Donor Center, Mimi knocked.

“Who is it?”

The woman’s voice, through the intercom, was familiar.

“My name is Mimi Goldman,” Mimi said. “And—”

“Let me guess? You’re looking for Winston?”

Mimi laughed. “I guess I’m pretty predictable. Is he here?”

“He is. This is Hannah, by the way. We keep speaking on the phone. Why don’t I see if he’ll come out?”

Mimi had high hopes. How hard would it be for Winston to take a few steps to walk outside and see her?

On the other hand, blowing her off might be easier.

When she heard a ping, Mimi examined her phone. Sylvia, after coaching from her grandkids, texted like a teenager.


I asked for WS and someone said they’d get him. Just waiting.


Standing there, Mimi went through her email. Then she switched to her latest word game addiction: Spelling Bee in The New York Times.

Players have to make the most words, four letters or longer, from seven given letters, including one letter that had to be used in every word. The words that day had to be made from BLWCHAE, with all using an E.

Mimi started with the obvious ones: BLEACH, BLECH, BEACH, EACH, LEACH, LECH. She was moving on to trickier words when the center’s door swung open.

Out stepped a tall, handsome, dark-featured young man in a white surgical mask and blue scrubs with the name SUAREZ above his shirt pocket.

“I don’t know who you are,” he said. “I don’t know why you keep asking me about this case, but . . . I’m pleading with you to drop it and just go.”

Mimi had expected an asshole, too lazy or too self-important to talk. Not a frightened young man.

“Can you say why?” she asked. “I have no idea why this case is at all sensitive.”

Winston shook his head.

“How about off the record? You have my word that I’d never tell anyone you ever spoke to me.”

“Sorry,” he said. “I can’t risk losing my job.”


Excerpt from A Plague Among Us by Deb Pines. Copyright 2021 by Deb Pines. Reproduced with permission from Deb Pines. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Deb Pines

Deb Pines, an award-winning headline writer for the New York Post, is the author of seven Mimi Goldman novels and one novelette all set in the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York where they are top sellers.
A former reporter, Deb is also a lover of puns, show tunes and indoor cycling. She lives in New York City with her husband Dave.

Catch Up With Deb Pines:
BookBub – @debpines
Instagram – @pinesdebbie
Twitter – @pinesdeb
Facebook – @deborah.pines.9




This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Deb Pines. There will be 2 winners who will each receive one (1) Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs September 1 through October 3, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


Coming October 8 – The Con Man’s Daughter

I’ve written plenty of cozy mysteries, but this time I’m bringing you a romance, The Con Man’s Daughter. I guess what I really want to call this is a cozy romance, which isn’t actually a genre, but what the heck, let’s make it one! Some people would call this a clean romance and others a light romance. Just think cozy and you’ll have it.

One of the things I love to do as a writer is explore other genres and I find I can do this pretty easily through my short story writing. Believe it or not, I’ve written horror, science fiction, Twilight-Zone style fiction and right now I’m working on a fantasy piece. One thing I hadn’t ever tried was writing romance as a novel. I have always featured a romantic angle in all of my mysteries, but this time, I have a romance with nobody getting killed. I think I like this idea.


When Anna Holcomb returns to her hometown in Redbird Creek, Texas she has a secret. She’s not the spoiled little rich girl she once was. She’s broke, looking for a job, and trying to start a new life. Caleb Armstrong thinks he knows her type from the years he spent with her in high school, but everything about Anna has changed, except for one little secret she dares not tell. Take a gamble on this wholesome romance and discover who’s really being conned.

The Con Man’s Daughter is available for pre-order at this time and hold on because you know there will be giveaways in any book launch I do.

Go Here to read an excerpt from The Con Man’s Daughter.

The Memory Bell

You’re given a precious family heirloom and then it breaks! Not good for when you have those holiday get-togethers. This is what happens to Grace Penner, and then, of course, we have a handsome detective and … murder. Read on to find out more about The Memory Bell. We have an excerpt and a giveaway of a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Gifted the memory bell, a family heirloom, from her grandfather’s will, Grace’s excitement is soon squashed when the bell gets broken right after she receives it. While gluing the pieces back in place, she discovers three are still missing.

Determined to find them, she is halted when the new detective, Bennet James, investigates her family. Grace is intent on showing the detective her family isn’t capable of murder, but as the investigation deepens, and pieces of the bell show up with ominous notes, Grace soon realizes the Penners are not what they seem. Amidst the tightly knit family; dark secrets, deception, and possibly even murder unfold.

Will Grace be able to save the family she loves more than anything without losing herself forever?

Praise for The Memory Bell:

“A naïve small-town girl and a disillusioned big-city cop, drawn together by an unsolved crime that is itself only the tip of the iceberg, The Memory Bell serves up the perfect steamy summer read.”
–Jenny Jaeckel, author of House of Rougeaux

“The story moves beyond a small town whodunit to probe the underlying bonds of history that connect a family.”
-Midwest Book Review

“Wonderful, engaging, and fast-paced! Flannery knows what she’s doing!”
-Jonas Saul, author of the Sarah Roberts series

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1684337089 (ISBN-13:978-1684337088)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

“Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant


Detective Bennet James stood over the remains of a hand dug grave. The morning air was brisk for July, and a foggy cloud permeated the air as he exhaled. He’d woken as the first rays of dawn crept through his hotel window casting sundogs along the planked floor.

Bones were found by the grain elevators at the mill in Oakville. The sleepy town was an hour’s drive from Chicago and where he’d been stationed for the last two weeks. It was hell, but anything was better than sitting at home waiting to hear his fate. He flexed his shoulders. The muscles ached from the mounting pressure.

He took a sip of the coffee he’d bought at the local gas station. The bitter blend was cold and old. Probably made the night before and just waiting for some poor soul to drain the last of the dregs from the decanter.

With no details other than the presence of human remains to work with, Ben made quick work of taping off the area and closing all access in and out of the mill. The trains were halted and all productivity near the tracks was at a standstill. He surveyed the grounds. Three metal silos stood in a row to his left with tracks laid in front of them. Directly behind were wooden buildings with peaked roofs, and a single track led to a dead end.

He gathered the mill was over fifty years old by the way the boards heaved and sagged. Out of commission for some time, he wondered why no one had torn the dilapidated buildings down. Being that the place was pretty much deserted it’d make things difficult in the investigation. He snorted. It wasn’t his investigation, and if things didn’t work out for him with the state, he’d never see another one again.

He rubbed his hand across his face. His heart quickened with the familiar feeling of piecing together a puzzle. It was the same feeling he got every time he was dealt a new case. Except this one was different. It wasn’t his, and even though the thought of having something to occupy his mind was appealing, he doubted Sheriff Rhoads would let him take the lead on it, much less be a part of it.

Ben glanced down at the body. Nothing left but bones and a few fragments of hair which signified the death happened years before. The grave was not shallow, but not deep either. Ben guessed it was four feet into the ground. A blue blanket caught his eye. He fingered the soft cotton with a gloved hand, a crocheted throw that was now pulled from the knots someone delicately placed there. Whoever had wrapped the victim in it did so with pristine care.

“Where is the witness?” he asked the young deputy standing to his left. He couldn’t remember the boy’s name, or was it he didn’t care? It didn’t really matter. He’d stopped caring about those around him a long time ago.

The deputy looked a bit flushed, and Ben figured the kid living in the small town had never seen anything like this before. Regret settled in his stomach at making the boy stay with him while he looked over the body and its surroundings. Ben remembered seeing his first body, a young girl, no more than six. Her image still haunted him on nights when sleep wouldn’t come.

He blinked, collected his thoughts, and faced the young man.

“You’re no longer needed here,” he said.

“The men who found the body are over there,” the kid stammered. His hand shook as he pointed to the two silhouettes standing twenty yards away.

“Thanks.” Ben dismissed him and walked toward the two men sipping coffee from their mugs. A part of him wanted to turn back to his car and leave now that Rhoads was here, but his pride and his duty wouldn’t allow it. He pulled out the small note pad and pen he kept in his pocket.

“Morning. I need to ask you a few questions.”

“Ain’t you the new fella?” one of the men asked.


“You’re that swanky detective from the city.”

Ben didn’t answer.

“Why in hell would you want to come out here?”

He remained silent. It was none of the old man’s business why he’d been placed in this shithole town.

“Talk is you got into hot water up there.”

“I need to ask you some questions,” Ben repeated, an edge creeping into his voice. He wasn’t about to discuss his shit with these guys. He shifted from one foot to the other, took a deep calming breath, cleared his throat, and waited.

“Not much to tell,” the man said. His thick white moustache spanned the whole of his upper lip and the bottoms of his cheeks.

“Your name?” he asked.

“Walter Smythe.” The man leaned in to read what Ben wrote and tapped his index finger onto the paper. “That’s Smythe with a Y not an I.”

Ben nodded.

“Can you tell me how you came upon the body?”

“Ol’ Russ was the one who found it.”

He turned to the other man.

“I ain’t Russ,” the farmer said.

“Who is—”

“That’s my dog.” Walter whistled. A large St. Bernard came loping up from the field behind the buildings.

“The dog found the body?”

“That’s right.”

“What were you doing out here?”

“I come out from time to time.”

“Why if the place is closed down?”

The man shrugged.

“Have you brought Russ out here before?” Ben asked, still trying to piece together how the remains were found.

“Sure. I bring him everywhere.”

“Why was he in the elevators?”

Walter’s wide shoulders lifted underneath the plaid jacket.

“Did the dog take anything from the grave, or disturb it in anyway?”

“Once I seen him diggin’, I called him over.” Walter guffawed. “But the damn mutt just kept on going back. So, I went over to see what the hell he was after.”

“At what point did you figure out it was a body?”

“Right away when I saw the bones.”

“Russ dug up most of the grave?”

“Nah, maybe a foot of it.” Walter nudged the farmer beside him. “I called Bill and we determined it was best to call the sheriff.”

“Why didn’t you call the sheriff first?”

Walter didn’t answer.

“Did you remove or touch anything?” Ben asked.


As much as the farmer was rough around the edges, he could tell Walter Smythe spoke the truth.

“One more question. Has anyone gone missing in the last ten years?”

“Not around these parts. Most people who go missing leave for the city.”

“Why is that?”

“Small towns ain’t for everybody.” Walter’s eyes narrowed. “Stuff like this don’t happen around here.”

Ben nodded before he walked away and headed back to his car. He opened the door but didn’t get in. Tall silos, train cars and tracks were surrounded by a field. Waist-high stalks of yellow waved in the breeze and from what he knew of farming, it looked to be canola. Why wasn’t the body buried in the field? There must be over a hundred acres of land. Until he received the coroner’s report, he couldn’t begin to guess at anything yet. Before he left, he’d need to talk to Sheriff Rhoads and see about any missing persons reports in the area.

“Well, that is odd.” Rhoads sauntered toward him, brows furrowed.

“What is?” Ben asked.

“A body, here, at the elevators, in Oakville.” His forehead wrinkled, and a perplexed look crossed his face. “Nobody has been here in years.”

“These things can happen anywhere. There are no rules for death.”

Rhoads focused on him, but remained quiet for some time before he said, “Not here.”

“I’d like to take the lead on this,” Ben said. The words surprised him, but he couldn’t take them back now. Besides, he needed something to keep him busy. The minor misdemeanors at the old folk’s home, break-ins, and an occasional kid in trouble wasn’t enough to keep him from going crazy with boredom.

“Not sure that’s wise, with your probation and all.”

Ben nodded, figuring that would be the answer.

“But I don’t see it as more than an unfortunate accident, so go ahead.”

Ben wasn’t so sure.


Excerpt from The Memory Bell by Kat Flannery. Copyright 2021 by Kat Flannery. Reproduced with permission from Kat Flannery. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Kat Flannery

Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. A member of many writing Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. When she’s not busy writing, or marketing Kat volunteers her time to other aspiring authors. She has been a keynote speaker, lecturer and guest author inspiring readers and writers at every event she attends. Kat’s been published in numerous periodicals throughout her career, and continues to write for blogs and online magazines. A bestselling author, Kat’s books are available all over the world. The BRANDED TRILOGY is Kat’s award-winning series. With seven books published, Kat continues to plot what story will be next. Creativity is in all aspects of Kat’s career. She does Social Media and Marketing for her own career and businesses, writing ads, and other content.

Catch Up With Kat Flannery:
BookBub – @KatFlannery
Instagram – @katflannery_
Twitter – @KatFlannery1
Facebook – @kat.flannery.5




This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kat Flannery. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs September 1 through October 3, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Books to the Ceiling September Newsletter


Where did the summer go? For me it was a blur of writing, editing, a few short story acceptances, a few rejections and staying out of the heat! I also discovered a wonderful Facebook group this summer called Friends of Fiction. First of all, it doesn’t list my books, but that’s okay with me. It’s a group of people talking about their favorite beach reads, books that moved them, and books that were hard to see come to an end. 
Did you have a favorite book in your summer reading? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below. Why did you like it? In August I read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain. Both wonderful!


If you want to enter more giveaways check out my GIVEAWAYS page on the blog. I update it weekly. Click Here to There Right Now. These are giveaways generated by visiting authors on blog tours.


Sept 18-October 16
A Dash of Murder Audio Book on Sale
A Dash of Murder the audiobook version will be 50% off at Apple this month.
Sept 10/Spotlight
The Memory Bell
Grace Penner’s safe haven crumbles when a body is found outside of town.
Gifted the memory bell, a family heirloom, from her grandfather’s will, Grace’s excitement is soon squashed when the bell gets broken right after she receives it. While gluing the pieces back in place, she discovers three are still missing..
See Giveaway on Day of Post

The Happy Hinter

The Happy Hinter Column- September 2021

Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick here, Happy Hinter and part-time crime solver. Feeling creatively stifled in the kitchen? Wishing you could have a meal like Mom used to make? I’m not always known for my culinary skills but was
tickled pink when I found this site on the internet. It has all those great old casserole dishes, baked dishes, just everything. It’s called Just a Pinch. Now,
please know I don’t get paid anything for this, it’s just a helpful hint. Believe me, this is a coming-together of hometown cooks and the timeless, proven recipes that pass through generations. The old-fashioned recipe swap now extends to blue-ribbon cooks across the map… each bringing their own unique flavor to the table: from mom’s Georgia peach pie to that creamy Wisconsin cheese soup you look forward to every winter. I’m sure my aunt Maggie has been using this site on the sly!



Betsy Cooking
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Railroaded 4 Murder

Railroaded 4 Murder


Chiweenie fans out there, good news! You’re dog breed has a new mystery♥ Okay the dog may not be the central focus of the story, but I just had to write the word Chiweenie. Too fun. The husband and wife team, J.C. Eaton, give us Railroaded 4 Murder, a mystery with model trains,  dancing girls and murder. Learn more about this fun cozy below and be sure to enter the giveaway!

About Railroaded 4 Murder

Railroaded 4 Murder

Railroaded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

8th in Series

While planning her wedding, Sophie “Phee” Kimball gets sidetracked by the murder of a model train enthusiast . . .

Phee’s marriage to Marshall Gregory promises to be the wedding of the year in Arizona’s Sun City West—that is, if you ask her mother Harriet. But before she can walk down the aisle, it looks like she has to solve one more murder. At a model train exhibit, Phee, Harriet, and their beloved Chiweenie, Streetman, discover the body of Sun City West’s railroad club president, with an incriminating tap shoe near his lifeless corpse.

Wilbur Maines may have loved model trains but apparently he was not a model husband. There are rumors of affairs with hot-to-trot hobbyists the Choo-Choo Chicks. The police suspect his wife—and Harriet’s friend—Roxanne, who dances with the Rhythm Tappers, but Phee’s mom is convinced they’re on the wrong track. Before the poor woman is railroaded into spending the rest of her life behind bars, Phee, Harriet, and the book club ladies will need to do some fancy footwork, infiltrate the dance group, and find the real culprit before the killer leaves the station . . .

About J.C. Eaton

J.C. Eaton is the wife and husband team of Ann I. Goldfarb and James E. Clapp. Ann spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. She has eight published YA time travel mysteries and over a decade of experience writing nonfiction for Jones Publishing and Madavor Media trade magazines. When James retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife. Nonfiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte, along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy.

Author Links


Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Google Play – IndieBound

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The Murderess Must Die

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman Banner

The Murderess Must Die

Have you ever wondered about the first woman to die in the electric chair? The Murderess Must Die is a fascinating story with a fictional true-crime feeling to it. Martha Place is a murderess, but once you start reading, it’s difficult to decide if she is evil or a victim. It’ll have you scratching your head. Be sure to scroll down for the giveaway and if you haven’t done so already, check out my GIVEAWAYS page on the upper menu. If you missed any that are still going, you can still enter!  

August 16 – September 10, 2021 Tour


The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Praise for The Murderess Must Die:

A true crime story. But in this case, the crime resides in the punishment. Martha Place was the first woman to die in the electric chair: Sing Sing, March 20, 1899. In this gorgeously written narrative, told in the first-person by Martha and by those who played a part in her life, Marlie Parker Wasserman shows us the (appalling) facts of fin-de-siècle justice. More, she lets us into the mind of Martha Place, and finally, into the heart. Beautifully observed period detail and astute psychological acuity combine to tell us Martha’s story, at once dark and illuminating. The Murderess Must Die accomplishes that rare feat: it entertains, even as it haunts.
Howard A. Rodman, author of The Great Eastern

The first woman to be executed by electric chair in 1899, Martha Place, speaks to us in Wasserman’s poignant debut novel. The narrative travels the course of Place’s life describing her desperation in a time when there were few opportunities for women to make a living. Tracing events before and after the murder of her step-daughter Ida, in lean, straightforward prose, it delivers a compelling feminist message: could an entirely male justice system possibly realize the frightful trauma of this woman’s life? This true-crime novel does more–it transcends the painful retelling of Place’s life to expand our conception of the death penalty. Although convicted of a heinous crime, Place’s personal tragedies and pitiful end are inextricably intertwined.
Nev March, author of Edgar-nominated Murder in Old Bombay

The Murderess Must Die would be a fascinating read even without its central elements of crime and punishment. Marlie Parker Wasserman gets inside the heads of a wide cast of late nineteenth century Americans and lets them tell their stories in their own words. It’s another world, both alien and similar to ours. You can almost hear the bells of the streetcars.
Edward Zuckerman, author of Small Fortunes and The Day After World War Three, Emmy-winning writer-producer of Law & Order

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all of the varying voices telling in the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished!
It isn’t often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.
This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book.
Jill, InkyReviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-1953789877
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


Martha Garretson, that’s the name I was born with, but the district attorney called me Martha Place in the murder charge. I was foolish enough to marry Mr. William Place. And before that I was dumb enough to marry another man, Wesley Savacool. So, my name is Martha Garretson Savacool Place. Friends call me Mattie. No, I guess that’s not right. I don’t have many friends, but my family, the ones I have left, they call me Mattie. I’ll tell you more before we go on. The charge was not just murder. That D.A. charged me with murder in the first degree, and he threw in assault, and a third crime, a ridiculous one, attempted suicide. In the end he decided to aim at just murder in the first. That was enough for him.

I had no plans to tell you my story. I wasn’t one of those story tellers. That changed in February 1898, soon after my alleged crimes, when I met Miss Emilie Meury. The guards called her the prison angel. She’s a missionary from the Brooklyn Auxiliary Mission Society. Spends her days at the jail where the police locked me up for five months before Sing Sing. I never thought I’d talk to a missionary lady. I didn’t take kindly to religion. But Miss Meury, she turned into a good friend and a good listener. She never snickered at me. Just nodded or asked a question or two, not like those doctors I talked to later. They asked a hundred questions. No, Miss Meury just let me go wherever I wanted, with my recollections. Because of Miss Meury, now I know how to tell my story. I talked to her for thirteen months, until the day the state of New York set to electrocute me.

We talked about the farm, that damn farm. Don’t fret, I knew enough not to say damn to Emilie Meury. She never saw a farm. She didn’t know much about New Jersey, and nothing about my village, East Millstone. I told her how Pa ruined the farm. Sixty acres, only thirty in crop, one ramshackle house with two rooms down and two rooms up. And a smokehouse, a springhouse, a root cellar, a chicken coop, and a corn crib, all run down, falling down. The barn was the best of the lot, but it leaned over to the west.

They tell me I had three baby brothers who died before I was born, two on the same day. Ma and Pa hardly talked about that, but the neighbors remembered, and they talked. For years that left just my brother Garret, well, that left Garret for a while anyway, and my sister Ellen. Then I was born, then Matilda—family called her Tillie—then Peter, then Eliza, then Garret died in the

war, then Eliza died. By the time I moved to Brooklyn, only my brother Peter and my sister Ellen were alive. Peter is the only one the police talk to these days.

The farmers nearby and some of our kin reckoned that my Ma and Pa, Isaac and Penelope Garretson were their names, they bore the blame for my three little brothers dying in just two years. Isaac and Penelope were so mean, that’s what they deserved. I don’t reckon their meanness caused the little ones to die. I was a middle child with five before me and three after, and I saw meanness all around, every day. I never blamed anything on meanness. Not even what happened to me.

On the farm there was always work to be done, a lot of it by me. Maybe Ma and Pa spread out the work even, but I never thought so. By the time I was nine, that was in 1858, I knew what I had to do. In the spring I hiked up my skirt to plow. In the fall I sharpened the knives for butchering. In the winter I chopped firewood after Pa or Garret, he was the oldest, sawed the heaviest logs. Every morning I milked and hauled water from the well. On Thursdays I churned. On Mondays I scrubbed. Pa, and Ma too, they were busy with work, but they always had time to yell when I messed up. I was two years younger than Ellen, she’s my sister, still alive, I think. I was taller and stronger. Ellen had a bent for sewing and darning, so lots of time she sat in the parlor with handiwork. I didn’t think the parlor looked shabby. Now that I’ve seen fancy houses, I remember the scratched and frayed chairs in the farmhouse and the rough plank floor, no carpets. While Ellen sewed in the parlor, I plowed the fields, sweating behind the horses. I sewed too, but everyone knew Ellen was better. I took care with all my chores. Had to sew a straight seam. Had to plow a straight line. If I messed up, Pa’s wrath came down on me, or sometimes Ma’s. Fists or worse.

When I told that story for the first time to Miss Emilie Meury, she lowered her head, looked at the Bible she always held. And when I told it to others, they looked away too.

On the farm Ma needed me and Ellen to watch over our sisters, Tillie and Eliza, and over our brother Peter. They were born after me. Just another chore, that’s what Ellen thought about watching the young ones. For me, I liked watching them, and not just because I needed a rest from farm work. I loved Peter. He was four years younger. He’s not that sharp but he’s a good-natured, kind. I loved the girls too. Tillie, the level-headed and sweet one, and Eliza, the restless one, maybe wild even. The four of us played house. I was the ma and Peter, he stretched his

back and neck to be pa. I laughed at him, in a kindly way. He and me, we ordered Tillie and Eliza around. We played school and I pranced around as schoolmarm.

But Ma and Pa judged, they judged every move. They left the younger ones alone and paid no heed to Ellen. She looked so sour. We called her sourpuss. Garret and me, we made enough mistakes to keep Ma and Pa busy all year. I remember what I said once to Ma, when she saw the messy kitchen and started in on me.

“Why don’t you whup Ellen? She didn’t wash up either.”

“Don’t need to give a reason.”

“Why don’t you whup Garret. He made the mess.”

“You heard me. Don’t need to give a reason.”

Then she threw a dish. Hit my head. I had a bump, and more to clean.

With Pa the hurt lasted longer. Here’s what I remember. “Over there.” That’s what he said, pointing. He saw the uneven lines my plow made. When I told this story to Miss Meury, I pointed, with a mean finger, to give her the idea.

I spent that night locked in the smelly chicken coop.

When I tell about the coop, I usually tell about the cemetery next, because that’s a different kind of hurt. Every December, from the time I was little to the time I left the farm, us Garretsons took the wagon or the sleigh for our yearly visit to the cemetery, first to visit Stephen, Cornelius, and Abraham. They died long before. They were ghosts to me. I remembered the gloom of the cemetery, and the silence. The whole family stood around those graves, but I never heard a cry. Even Ma stayed quiet. I told the story, just like this, to Miss Meury. But I told it again, later, to those men who came to the prison to check my sanity.

Penelope Wykoff Garretson

I was born a Wyckoff, Penelope Wyckoff, and I felt that in my bones, even when the other farm folks called me Ma Garretson. As a Wyckoff, one of the prettiest of the Wyckoffs I’m not shy to say, I lived better than lots of the villagers in central New Jersey, certainly better than the Garretsons. I had five years of schooling and new dresses for the dances each year. I can’t remember what I saw in Isaac Garretson when we married on February 5, 1841. We slept together that night. I birthed Stephen nine months later. Then comes the sing-song litany. When I was still nursing Stephen, Garret was born. And while I was still nursing Garret, the twins were born. Then the twins died and I had only Stephen and Garret. Then Stephen died and I had no one but Garret until Ellen was born. Then Martha. Some call her Mattie. Then Peter. Then Matilda. Some call her Tillie. Then Eliza. Then Garret died. Then Eliza died. Were there more births than deaths or deaths than births?

During the worst of the birthing and the burying, Isaac got real bad. He always had a temper, I knew that, but it got worse. Maybe because the farm was failing, or almost failing. The banks in New Brunswick—that was the nearby town—wouldn’t lend him money. Those bankers knew him, knew he was a risk. Then the gambling started. Horse racing. It’s a miracle he didn’t lose the farm at the track. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my sisters, about the gambling, and I certainly didn’t tell them that the bed didn’t help any. No time for shagging. Isaac pulled me to him at the end of a day. The bed was always cold because he never cut enough firewood. I rolled away most days, not all. Knew it couldn’t be all. So tired. There were no strapping boys to

help with the farm, no girls either for a while.

As Garret grew tall and Ellen and Mattie grew some, I sent the children to the schoolhouse. It wasn’t much of a school, just a one-room unpainted cottage shared with the post office, with that awful Mr. Washburn in charge. It was what we had. Isaac thought school was no use and kept Garret and the girls back as much as he could, especially in the spring. He needed them for the farm and the truth was I could use them for housework and milking and such too. Garret didn’t mind skipping school. He was fine with farm work, but Ellen and Mattie fussed and attended more days than Garret did. I worried that Garret struggled to read and write, while the girls managed pretty well. Ellen and Mattie read when there was a need and Mattie was good with her numbers. At age nine she was already helping Isaac with his messy ledgers.

I was no fool—I knew what went on in that school. The few times I went to pull out Garret midday for plowing, that teacher, that Mr. Washburn, looked uneasy when I entered the room. He stood straight as a ramrod, looking at me, grimacing. His fingernails were clean and his collar was starched. I reckon he saw that my fingernails were filthy and my muslin dress was soiled. Washburn didn’t remember that my children, the Garretson children, were Wyckoffs just as much as they were Garretsons. He saw their threadbare clothes and treated them like dirt. Had Garret chop wood and the girls haul water, while those stuck-up Neilson girls, always with those silly smiles on their faces, sat around in their pretty dresses, snickering at the others. First, I didn’t think the snickering bothered anyone except me. Then I saw Ellen and Mattie fussing with their clothes before school, pulling the fabric around their frayed elbows to the inside, and I knew they felt bad.

I wanted to raise my children, at least my daughters, like Wyckoffs. With Isaac thinking he was in charge, that wasn’t going to happen. At least the girls knew the difference, knew there was something better than this miserable farm. But me, Ma Garretson they called me, I was stuck.


Excerpt from The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman. Copyright 2021 by Marlie Wasserman. Reproduced with permission from Marlie Wasserman. All rights reserved.

My Review

The Murderess Must Die is the story of the first woman to die in the electric chair and the haunting story of Martha Place, a woman you’re just not sure about throughout the book. Is she an evil, conniving woman who kills her stepdaughter and attempts to kill her husband, or is she a victim? She lets go of a child to another family and can never quite come to terms with the separation. She marries a man who is abusive toward her and a stepdaughter who does the same. Then again, she reveals all the evil thoughts she has about them as well, and unrealistically plans to get her son back. The story is told not only by Martha but by everyone involved with her case, so we get to explore the thoughts of the victims, the neighbors, the police, the lawyers, even the jailers. It is this method of storytelling that keeps the reader asking whether or not to believe in the guilt of Martha. If you are a historical fiction fan, you will enjoy The Murderess Must Die.

Author Bio:

Marlie Wasserman

Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a career on the other side of the desk in publishing. The Murderess Must Die is her debut novel. She reviews regularly for The Historical Novel Review and is at work on a new novel about a mysterious and deadly 1899 fire in a luxury hotel in Manhattan.

Catch Up With Marlie Wasserman:
Instagram – @marliepwasserman
Twitter – @MarlieWasserman
Facebook – @marlie.wasserman

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marlie Parker Wasserman. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs from August 16th until September 12, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Scone of Contention

Would you take the whole family on your honeymoon to Scotland? That’s what Haley and Nathan do in Scone of Contention. I love the idea of a cozy set in Scotland’s creepier settings. More about the book below, and be sure to scroll down and enter Lucy Burdette’s giveaway!

About A Scone of Contention

A Scone of Contention: A Key West Food Critic Mystery

Cozy Mystery

11th in the Series

A murderer’s out to spoil Hayley’s honeymoon in national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s eleventh Key West Food Critic Mystery.

Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow and her groom, police detective Nathan Bransford, chose Scotland for their long-delayed honeymoon, hoping to sightsee and enjoy some prize-winning scones. But their romantic duo swells to a crowd when they’re joined by Nathan’s family as well as octogenarian Miss Gloria.

Nathan’s sister Vera takes the women on a whirlwind tour of some of Scotland’s iconic mystic places as research for a looming book project. But the trip takes a deadly tartan turn when a dinner party guest falls ill and claims she was poisoned. And then the group watches in horror as a mysterious tourist tumbles to his death from the famous Falkirk Wheel, high above the Forth & Clyde canal.

Vera and her friends deny knowing the dead man, but after observing their reactions to the fall, Hayley is not convinced. With one person dead, a second possibly poisoned, and the tension among Vera’s friends as thick as farmhouse cheese, Hayley fears her long-awaited honeymoon might end with another murder.

Far away from home, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, eccentric characters, and a forbiddingly gorgeous setting, Hayley must call on all her savvy to keep a killer from striking again and then escaping Scot free.

About Lucy Burdette

Courtesy Carol Tedesco

Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of 19 mysteries, including A SCONE OF CONTENTION, the eleventh book in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. THE KEY LIME CRIME won the bronze medal for popular fiction in the Florida Book Awards. Lucy’s books and stories have also been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a past president of Sisters in Crime, and currently serving as president of the Friends of the Key West Library.

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Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKobo - IndieBoundPenguinRandomHouse

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Murder on Honky-Tonk Row

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Now that my husband and I are getting up in years, I have tried to convince him that we need to buy a camper and visit all those places we’ve been too busy to see. He hates the idea, so I was tickled pink to find a mystery that centers around a group of older people who visit cities and historical areas in their RVs. Murder on Honky-Tonk Row takes place in Nashville and if the “camping with friends” thing doesn’t get you, Rita Moreau throws in a crazy ghost named Irma who loves to dress for the occasion. Read more about Murder on Honky-Tonk Row below including my review. Don’t forget to enter Rita’s giveaway!

About Murder on Honky-Tonk Row

Murder on Honky-Tonk Row

Murder on Honky-Tonk Row: A Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery

Paranormal Cozy Mystery

2nd in Series


Will camping in the country music capital have Mabel kicking up some saw dust… or line-dancing to her doom?

Despite their good deed in Savannah, Mabel Gold’s ghostly friend Irma remains stuck in Purgatory. So when the plucky sixty-something divorcée pulls her haunted vintage camper into a Nashville campground, she’s expecting Irma to accompany her on the tour of the Grand Ole Opry. But as they two-step into a honky-tonk for some live tunes, they’re shocked to encounter two lost spirits stranded there for the past twenty years after their double homicide.

Though St. Peter hints that solving the long-closed case could get Irma through the Pearly Gates, Mabel has little time to uncover the culprit before she’s due to boot-scoot off to the Badlands. But when shady financials surface and threaten to ruin the honky-tonk owner’s run for governor, trying to help the poor souls pass on could land the fearless sleuth in a whole heap o’ trouble.

Can Mabel collar the killer before she’s singing country-western with choirs of angels?

Murder on Honky-Tonk Row is the second book in the lighthearted Ghost & the Camper kooky mystery series. If you like wacky characters, quick-witted banter, and crooners with a twang, then you’ll love Rita Moreau’s clever caper.


My Review  4 Stars

Mabel is traveling around the country in a camper with a group of friends. She also has one uninvited guest along with her, Irma, the overdressed ghost who often takes on the persona of the outfit she’s wearing. Not only does Irma talk about her life but directs Mabel to other lingering ghosts in the area. In Murder on Honky-Tonk Row they are in Nashville where they come upon the ghosts of a man and woman who were murdered. Mabel and her friends need to find out who killed these people so that Irma can get in good with St Peter and out of purgatory. I enjoyed this story and loved the interesting characters the author created both in this world and the next.

Buy the book here – Amazon


About Rita Moreau

Rita Moreau is the author of the Mary Catherine Mahoney Mystery series and the Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery series.

A workaholic by nature, upon retirement, Rita Moreau began work on her bucket list, writing a book. Traveling the national parks with her husband George in a vintage Bluebird motor home, (on George’s list), Rita completed her first novel Bribing Saint Anthony. Back home she completed Nuns! Psychics! & Gypsies! OH! NO, Feisty Nuns and The Russian & Aunt Sophia and The House on Xenia. Last year when we entered the Twilight Zone Rita wrote the first two new novels in the Ghost & the Camper series. Rita and her husband live in a postcard called Florida where he has fun telling everyone he is the author’s husband. When not writing she joins PatZi Gil on the Joy on Paper radio program with Book Buzz Mysteries, or you can find her teaching Silver Sneakers fitness classes and doing her best to keep busy. She loves connecting with readers. Visit her at or find her on Facebook at She would love to hear from you.

Author Links

Website –Facebook –Twitter –Instagram –Radio –GoodReads –

Purchase Link – Amazon

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Books to the Ceiling August Newsletter


Books to the Ceiling August Newsletter


August is upon us, and I’m busy writing short stories and editing what will be my first book in the Swinging Sixties Series. The series starts in 1962 with a young secretarial student in a small town north of Dallas. She’s a smart one, a little too smart for her business school teacher, which will eventually get her in trouble. Being a big fan of The Help and Mad Men, I knew I wanted to set a mystery series in this time period. The first book, The Twist and Shout Murder will be coming out in January 2022.

If you want to enter more giveaways check out my GIVEAWAYS page on the blog. I update it weekly. Click Here to There Right Now. These are giveaways generated by visiting authors on blog tours.


August 6/Review
Will camping in the country music capital have Mabel kicking up some saw dust or line-dancing to her doom?
Despite their good deed in Savannah, Mabel Gold’s ghostly friend Irma remains stuck in Purgatory. So when the plucky sixty-something divorcee pulls her haunted vintage camper into a Nashville campground, she’s expecting Irma to accompany her on the tour of the Grand Ole Opry. But as they two-step into a honky-tonk for some live tunes, they’re shocked to encounter two lost spirits stranded there for the past twenty years after their double homicide..
See Giveaway on Day of Post
August 13/Spotlight
A murderer’s out to spoil Hayley’s honeymoon in national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s eleventh Key West Food Critic Mystery.


Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow and her groom, police detective Nathan Bransford, chose Scotland for their long-delayed honeymoon, hoping to sightsee and enjoy some prize-winning scones. But their romantic duo swells to a crowd when they’re joined by Nathan’s family as well as octogenarian Miss Gloria.

Nathan’s sister Vera takes the women on a whirlwind tour of some of Scotland’s iconic mystic places as research for a looming book project. But the trip takes a deadly tartan turn when a dinner party guest falls ill and claims she was poisoned.
See Giveaway on Day of Post

August 20/Review
On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair.
See Giveaway on Day of Post
August 26/Spotlight
While planning her wedding, Sophie Kimball gets sidetracked by the murder of a model train enthusiast . . .


Phee’s marriage to Marshall Gregory promises to be the wedding of the year in Arizona’s Sun City West – that is, if you ask her mother Harriet. But before she can walk down the aisle, it looks like she has to solve one more murder. At a model train exhibit, Phee, Harriet, and their beloved Chiweenie, Streetman, discover the body of Sun City West’s railroad club president, with an incriminating tap shoe near his lifeless corpse.

See Giveaway on Day of Post

The Happy Hinter
Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick here, Happy Hinter and part-time crime solver. Leo and I have just returned from a week in Galveston and I learned a little something about sand. It gets everywhere! Cars, clothes, cell phones, ereaders, toys. Here’s a little something I learned that will help you get sand off your feet when you’re piling into the car with the kids after a long day at the beach. If you have beach feet, put a towel down in the floorboard of the car, hold your feet over the towel, sprinkle some baby powder over your feet and then rub the area. The sand will come right off. Wad up the towel and shake outside the car.

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Oona Out of Order

Every once in a while, I run into a book that is totally different from anything I’ve ever read. When Oona Out of Order was recommended to me, I started listening to the audiobook and didn’t stop for three days. Wow, what a story. Just imagine if the years of your life were out of order. Say you just turned eighteen but wake up to find you are sixty-five with an eighteen-year-old’s brain, maturation level, and lack of judgement. That is the premise of Oona Out of Order.

Realistically, don’t we all feel a little younger than what the mirror shows us? I’m still that thirty-five-year-old inside, even though the rest of me is not cooperating.

If you glanced at the cover, look at it again. Check out the different shades of Oona’s hair, including the grey! This time-travel novel came out in 2020.

Book Description:




“With its countless epiphanies and surprises, Oona proves difficult to put down.” —USA Today

“By turns tragic and triumphant, heartbreakingly poignant and joyful, this is ultimately an uplifting and redemptive read.” —The Guardian

A remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

My Review 5 Stars

I absolutely loved the idea of this story where Oona finds herself in a new year of her life on every New Year’s Day. She could be forty or twenty-one. Because she jumps around so much she tries to leave herself letters but it doesn’t always work out. She finds joy and hardship and learns to appreciate every moment of living even though it’s out of order. This is a terrific time-travel book full of surprises that will keep you reading late into the night.

Murder at the Sea Captain’s Inn

Wouldn’t you just love to inherit an old inn on the Outer Banks of North Carolina?  Murder at the Sea Captain’s Inn is full of psychic clues through books, the lifelong bond of twins, and of course, a murder. This isn’t just any inn, but one with a secret study and plenty of mystery. I don’t know if I’d be up for making those bed-and-breakfast muffins every morning, but I could get used to the view. 

Scroll down for the giveaway!

by Melissa Bourbon

About Murder at Sea Captain’s Inn

Murder at Sea Captain’s Inn (A Book Magic Mystery)

Cozy Mystery

3rd in Series

Generation after generation of Lane women die in childbirth, while the sea claims the men.

Pippin Lane Hawthorne’s grand opening of Sea Captain’s Inn is tainted when a scholar studying the Lost Colony of Roanoke is brutally murdered. Like the black crow that hangs around the old house, could the untimely death be a harbinger of dark things to come?

When her twin brother, Grey, begins bucking the curse by risking his life in the waters of the Outer Banks, Pippin lives in terror that he’ll be the next Lane male to be swallowed by the sea. Now she must use her gift of bibliomancy to save her brother, solve the murder, and end a two thousand year old pact.

My Review 4 Stars

Pippin and her twin brother Grey, are ready for the grand opening of The Sea Captain’s Inn. The inn is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and has been in their family for decades. There is an archaeological dig on the island and one of Pippin’s first guests, a very hard to please customer, is concerned about security. There are several layers to this mystery and the magical power of bibliomancy became one of the best parts of the story. I also loved the relationship between Pippin and Grey living apart but always together as twins. This is the first book I’ve read in the series and really loved it!  

About Melissa Bourbon

Melissa Bourbon is the national bestselling author of more than twenty-five mystery books, including the Book Magic mysteries, the Lola Cruz Mysteries, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series, and the Bread Shop Mysteries, written as Winnie Archer. She is a former middle school English teacher who gave up the classroom in order to live in her imagination full time. Melissa lives in North Carolina with her educator husband, Carlos. She is beyond fortunate to be living the life of her dreams. Learn more about Melissa at her website,, on Facebook @MelissaBourbon/Winnie ArcherBooks, and on Instagram @bookishly_cozy.

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Murder at the Lakeside Library

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It’s time to head to that fictional cabin on the lake we all have! Holly Danvers takes us there with Murder at the Lakeside Library. Doesn’t just the thought of spending your summer in an Adirondack chair deep into a good book, just fill you with peace? Relax, enjoy, listen to the loons. 

Be sure to scroll down for my review and to enter Holly’s giveaway!

About Murder at the Lakeside Library

Murder at

Murder at the Lakeside Library: A Lakeside Library Mystery

Cozy Mystery

1st in Series

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (July 13, 2021)

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In this series debut perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Miranda James, Rain Wilmot must discover the killer, before the book closes on her life.

Rain Wilmot has just returned to her family’s waterfront log cabin in Lofty Pines, Wisconsin after the untimely death of her husband. The cabin is peaceful compared to Rain’s corporate job and comes with an informal library that Rain’s mother, Willow, used to run. But as Rain prepares for the re-opening of the library, all hopes for a peaceful life are shattered when she discovers the body of Thornton Hughes, a real estate buyer, on the premises.

The community of Lofty Pines starts pointing fingers at Willow, since she has been unusually absent from the library this summer. A fishy rumor surfaces when Rain learns that Willow had been spending a lot of time with Thornton. The town even thought they were having an affair.

While theories swirl about Thornton’s death, Rain takes it upon herself to solve the case to exonerate her mother. As more clues surface, Rain will have to piece together the mystery. But if she isn’t careful, she may be the next to end up dead in the water in Murder at the Lakeside Library, the first in Holly Danvers’ new Lakeside Library mysteries.

My Review

Rain Wilmot goes to her family’s cabin/summer library over the summer to recover from the loss of her husband, but finds she will be responsible for running the library. She’s joined by her old friend Julia and her husband who live just down the path. A man her mother seems to have known intimately is found dead behind the outhouse holding one of Rain’s grandfather’s books. This is a story that makes you look twice at your parents! I loved the cozy setting and the whole idea of “Lakers” (not the basketball team) and running a summer library. It gave me that On Golden Pond feeling but with a delicious cozy mystery wrapped up in it! The mystery left me guessing and I enjoyed this first book of the series.

About Holly Danvers 

Holly Danvers grew up devouring every mystery novel on the shelf of her local library. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and 3 chickens, where she’s already plotting her next novel.

Author Links

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Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboIndieBound 

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Overdue for Murder

Books to the Ceiling July Newsletter

The third book in my Pecan Bayou Series takes place during the Fourth of July! I loved writing this book because of the pint-sized beauty pageant. I was a beauty pageant judge once and let me tell you, there were moms and tap dancing middle schoolers around every corner.

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FRENCH RIVER READING CLUB who won my book club giveaway! I can’t wait to Zoom with all of you. This giveaway was such a success that I plan to do more in the future.
If you want to enter more giveaways check out my GIVEAWAYS page on the blog. I update it weekly. Click Here to There Right Now. These are giveaways generated by visiting authors on blog tours.


These are the the books I have so far, but check back on Fridays just in case I add more!

July 16/Review
Murder at the Lakeside Library
Rain Wilmot has just returned to her family’s waterfront log cabin in Lofty Pines, Wisconsin after the untimely death of her husband. The cabin is peaceful compared to Rain’s corporate job and comes with an informal library that Rain’s mother, Willow, used to run. But as Rain prepares for the re-opening of the library, all hopes for a peaceful life are shattered when she discovers the body of Thornton Hughes, a real estate buyer, on the premises.
See Giveaway on Day of Post
July 23/Review
Murder at Sea Captains Inn
Generation after generation of Lane women die in childbirth, while the sea claims the men. Pippin Lane Hawthorne’s grand opening of Sea Captain’s Inn is tainted when a scholar studying the Lost Colony of Roanoke is brutally murdered. Like the black crow that hangs around the old house, could the untimely death be a harbinger of dark things to come? When her twin brother, Grey, begins bucking the curse by risking his life in the waters of the Outer Banks, Pippin lives in terror that he’ll be the next Lane male to be swallowed by the sea. Now she must use her gift of bibliomancy to save her brother, solve the murder, and end a two thousand year old pact.
See Giveaway on Day of Post

The Happy Hinter
Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick here, Happy Hinter and part-time crime solver. Spring has sprung here in Pecan Bayou cutting up onions to put on those juicy grilled hamburgers we’re all making. Instead of crying all over the place causing my family to question my mood, I cut out the root cluster of the onion. That’s the part that makes you cry. Now getting to the root cluster will still cause you eye discomfort, but then after that, you’re golden.

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The Begonia Killer

The Begonia Killer by Jeff Bond Banner

There are plenty of mysteries out there that are dark and somber, but seriously how many stories have you read about the endangered lives of begonias? The Begonia Killer is a hilarious mystery about that weird neighbor you’re just not sure of. You know the guy. Today we have an excerpt and a giveaway for The Begonia Killer.



The Begonia Killer by Jeff Bond

You know Molly McGill from her death-defying escapes in Anarchy of the Mice, book one of the Third Chance Enterprises series. Now ride along for her first standalone caper, The Begonia Killer.

When Martha Dodson hires McGill Investigators to look into an odd neighbor, Molly feels optimistic about the case — right up until Martha reveals her theory that Kent Kirkland, the neighbor, is holding two boys hostage in his papered-over upstairs bedroom.

Martha’s husband thinks she needs a hobby. Detective Art Judd, who Molly visits on her client’s behalf, sees no evidence worthy of devoting police resources.

But Molly feels a kinship with the Yancy Park housewife and bone-deep concern for the missing boys.

She forges ahead with the investigation, navigating her own headstrong kids, an unlikely romance with Detective Judd, and a suspect in Kent Kirkland every bit as terrifying as the supervillains she’s battled before alongside Quaid Rafferty and Durwood Oak Jones.

The Begonia Killer is not your grandparents’ cozy mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery — Cozy/Romance
Published by: Jeff Bond Books

You can find The Begonia Killer at these websites: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


By Jeff Bond

Chapter One

After twenty minutes on Martha Dodson’s couch, listening to her suspicions about the neighbor, I respected the woman. She was no idle snoop. She’d noticed his compulsive begonia care out the window while making lavender sachets from burlap scraps. She hadn’t even been aware of the papered-over bedroom above his garage until her postal carrier had commented.

I asked, “And the day he removed the begonias, how did you happen to see that?”

Martha set tea before me on a coaster, twisting the cup so its handle faced me. “Ziggy and I were out for a walk—he’d just done his business. I stood up to knot the bag…”

Her kindly face curdled, and I thought she might be remembering the product of Ziggy’s “business” until she finished, “Then we saw him start hacking, and scowling, and thrusting those clippers at his flowers.”

Her eyes, a pleasing hazel shade, darkened at the memory.

She added, “At his own flowers.”

I shifted my skirt, giving her a moment. “The begonias were in a mailbox planter?”

“Right by the street, yes. The whole incident happened just a few feet from passing cars, from the sidewalk where parents push babies in strollers.”

“Did he dispose of the mess afterward?”

“Immediately,” Martha said. “He looked at his clippers for a second—the blades were streaked with green from all those leaves and stems he’d destroyed—then he sort of recovered. He picked everything up and placed it in the yard-waste bin. Every last petal.”

“He sounds meticulous.”


I jotted Cleaned up begonia mess in my notebook.

Maybe because of my psychology background—I’m twelve credit-hours shy of a PhD—I like to start these introductory interviews by allowing clients time to just talk, open-ended. I want to know what they feel is important. Often this tells as much about them as it does about whatever they’re asking me to/ investigate.

Martha Dodson had talked about children first. Hers were in college. Did I have little ones? I’d waived my usual practice of withholding personal information and said yes, six and fourteen. She’d clapped and rubbed her hands. Wonderful! Where did they go to school?

Next we’d talked crafting. Martha liked to knit and make felt flowers for centerpieces, for vase arrangements, even to decorate shoes—that type of crafter whose creativity spills beyond the available mediums and fills a house, infusing every shelf and surface.

Only with this groundwork lain had she told me about the case itself, describing the various oddities of her neighbor three doors down, Kent Kirkland.

I was still waiting to hear the crux of her problem, the reason she wanted to hire McGill Investigators. (Full disclosure—although the name is plural, there’s only one investigator: Molly McGill. Me.)

“That sounds like an intense, visceral moment,” I said, squaring myself to Martha on the couch. “So has he done something to your flowers? Are you engaged in a dispute with him?”

Martha shook her head. Then, with perfect composure, she said, “I think he’s keeping a boy in the bedroom over his garage.”

I felt like somebody had blasted jets of freezing air into both my ears. The pen I’d been taking notes with tumbled from my hand to the carpet.

“Wait, keeping a boy?” I said.


“Against his will? As in, kidnapping?”

Martha nodded.

I was having trouble reconciling this woman in front of me—cardigan sweater, hair in a layered crop—with the accusation she’d just uttered. We were sitting in a nice New Jersey neighborhood. Nicer than mine. We were drinking tea.

She said, “There might be two.”

Now my notebook dropped to the carpet.

“Two?” I said. “You think this man is holding two boys hostage?”

“I don’t know for sure,” she said. “If I knew for sure, I’d be over there breaking down the door myself. But I suspect it.”

She explained that a ten-year-old boy from the next town over had gone missing six months ago. The parents had been quoted as saying they “lost track of” their son. They hadn’t reported his disappearance until the evening after they’d last seen him.

“The mother told reporters he wanted a scooter for Christmas, one of those cute kick scooters.” Martha sniffled at the memory. “Guess what I saw the UPS driver drop off on Kent Kirkland’s porch two weeks ago?”

“A scooter,” I said.

Her eyes flashed. “A very large box from a company that makes scooters.”

Having retrieved my notebook, I jotted, box delivery (scooter?) . We talked a bit about this scooter company—which also made bikes, dehumidifiers, and air fryers.

Scooter or not, there remained about a million dots to be connected from this boy’s case, which I vaguely remembered from news reports, to Kent Kirkland.

I left the dots aside for now. “How do you get to two boys?”

“There was another missing boy, about the same age. During the summer.” Martha’s mouth moved in place like she was counting up how many jars of tomatoes she’d canned yesterday. “He lived close, too. That case was complicated because the parents had just divorced, and the dad—who was a native Venezuelan—had just moved back. People suspected him of taking the boy with him.”

“To Venezuela?”

“Yes. Apparently the State Department couldn’t get any answers.”

I nodded, not because I accepted all that she was telling me, but because there was no other polite response available.

Neither of us spoke. Our eyes drifted together down the street to Kent Kirkland’s two-story saltbox home. Pale yellow vinyl siding. Tall privacy fence. Three separate posted notices to “Please pick up after your pet.” Neighborhood Watch sign at the corner.

Finally, I said, “Look, Mrs. Dodson. Martha. Most of the cases we handle at McGill Investigators are domestic in nature. Straying husbands. Teenagers mixed up with the wrong crowd. I’m a mother myself, and I’ve been a wife. Twice.” I softened this disclosure with a smirk. “I generally take cases where my own life experiences can be brought to bear.”

“But that’s why I chose you.” Martha worried her hands in her lap. “Your website says, ‘Every case will be treated with dignity and discretion.’ That’s all I ask.”

I looked into her eyes and said, “Okay.”

She seemed to sense my reluctance and started, rushing, “Those bedroom windows are papered-over twenty-four hours a day! And the begonias, you didn’t see him destroy those begonias! I saw how he severed their stalks and shredded their root systems. You don’t do that to flowers you’ve tended for an entire season. Not if you’re a person of sound mind.”

“Gardening is more challenging for some than others. I love rhododendrons, but I can’t keep them alive. I over-water, I under-water. I plant them in the wrong spot.”

“Have you ever massacred them in a fit of rage?”

“No.” I smiled. “But I’ve wanted to.”

Martha couldn’t help returning the smile. But her eyes stayed on Kent Kirkland’s house.

I said, “Some men aren’t blessed with impulse control. Maybe he was a lousy gardener, he’d tried fertilizing and everything else, and the plants just refused to—”

“But he wasn’t a lousy gardener. He was excellent. I think he grew those begonias from seed. He wanted them to be perennials, is my theory, but we’re in zone seven—they’re annuals here. He couldn’t accept them dying off.”

Again, I was at a loss. I liked Martha Dodson. She had seemed like a reasonable person, right up until she’d started talking about kidnappings and Venezuela.

She scooted closer on the couch. “You didn’t see the rage, Miss McGill. I saw it. I saw him that day. He walked out of the garage with hand pruners, but he took one look at those begonias—leaves browning at the edges, stems tangled like green worms—and flipped out. He turned right around, put away the hand pruners and came back with clippers.”

She mimed viciously snapping a pair of clippers closed.

“Rage is one thing,” I said. “Kidnapping is another.”

“Of course,” Martha said. “That’s why I’d like to hire you: to figure out what he might be capable of.”

Her pupils seemed to pulse in place.

“I want to help you out, honestly.” I took her hand. “I do.”

“Is it money? I—I could pay you more. A little.”

Saying this, she seemed to linger on my jacket. I’d recently swapped out my boiled wool standby for this slightly flashier one, red leather with zippers. I had no great ambitions about an image upgrade; it’d just felt like time for a change.

“The fee we discussed will be sufficient,” I said. Martha had mentioned she was paying out of her own pocket, not from her and her husband’s joint account. “My concern is more about the substance of the case. It feels a bit outside my expertise.”

She clasped her hands at her waist. “Is it a question of danger? Do you not handle dangerous jobs?”

I balked. In fact, I’d done extremely dangerous jobs before, but only as part of Third Chance Enterprises, the freelance small-force, private arms team led by Quaid Rafferty and Durwood Oak Jones. We’d stopped an art heist in Italy. We’d saved the world from anarchist-hackers. Sometimes I can hardly believe our missions happened. They feel like half dream, half blockbuster movies starring me. Every couple years, just about the time I start thinking they really might be dreams, Quaid shows up again on my front porch.

“I don’t mind facing danger on a client’s behalf,” I said. “But McGill Investigators isn’t meant to replace the proper authorities. If you believe Mr. Kirkland is involved in these disappearances, your first stop should be the police.”

“Mm.” Martha’s face wilted, reminding me of those unlucky begonias. “Actually, it was.”

“You spoke with the police?”

She nodded. “Yes. Well, more of a front desk person. I told him exactly what I’ve been telling you today.”

“How did he respond?”

There was a floor loom beside the couch. Martha threaded her fingers through its empty spindles, seeming to need its feel.

“He said the department would ‘give the tip its due attention.’ Then on my way out, he asked if I’d ever read anything by J.D. Robb.”

“The mystery writer?” I asked.

“Right. He told me J.D. Robb was really Nora Roberts, the romance novelist. He said I should try them. He had a hunch I’d like them.”

My teeth were grinding.

I said, “Some men are idiots.”

Martha’s face eased gratefully. “Oh, my husband thinks the same. I’m a Yancy Park housewife with too much time on her hands. He says Kirkland’s just an odd duck. When I told him about the begonias, he got this confused expression and said, ‘What’s a perennial?’”

I could relate. My first husband had once handed me baking soda when I asked for cornstarch to thicken up an Italian beef sauce. The dish came out tasting like soap. After I traced back the mistake, he grumbled, “Ah, relax. They’re both white powders.”

As much as I probably should have, I couldn’t refuse Martha. Not after this conversation.

“I suppose I can do some poking around,” I said. “See if he, I don’t know, buys suspicious items at the grocery store. Or puts something in his garbage that might have come from a child.”

Martha lurched forward and clutched my hands like I’d just solved the case of Jack the Ripper.

“That would be amazing!” she cried. “Thank you so much! I know this seems far-fetched, but my instincts tell me something’s wrong at that house. If I didn’t follow through, if it turned out I was right and those little boys…”

She didn’t finish. I was glad.


The state of New Jersey offers private investigator licenses, but I’ve never gotten one. It doesn’t entitle you to much, and you have to put up two hundred and fifty dollars, plus a three-thousand-dollar “surety bond.” Besides the money, you’re supposed to have served five years as an investigator or police officer. Which I haven’t.

For all these reasons, my first stop after taking any case involving possible crimes is the local police station. Sometimes the police are impressed enough by what I tell them to assign their own personnel, usually some rookie detective or beat cop.

Other times, not.

“Begonias, huh?” said Detective Art Judd, lacing his fingers behind a head of bushy brown hair. “The ones with the thick, fluffy flower heads?”

“You’re thinking of chrysanthemums,” I said.

“Nnnno, I feel like it was begonias.”

“Not begonias. Maybe peonies?”

“Don’t think so,” he said. “I’m pretty sure the gal in the garden center said begonias.”

I was annoyed—one, at his stubborn ignorance of flowers, and two, that he’d segued so breezily off the subject of Kent Kirkland.

“The only other possibility with a thick, fluffy flower-head would be roses,” I said. “But if you don’t know what a rose looks like, you’re in trouble.”

Art Judd’s lips curled up below a mustache. “You could be right.”

I waited for him to return to Kirkland, to stand and pace about his sparsely decorated office, to offer some comment on the bizarre behavior I’d been describing for the last twenty minutes.

But he just looked at me.

Oh, I didn’t mind terribly being looked at. He was handsome enough in a best-bowler-on-his-Tuesday-night-league-team way. Broad sloping shoulders, large hand gestures that made the physical distance between our chairs feel shorter than it was.

I’d come for Martha Dodson, though.

“Leaving aside what is or isn’t a begonia,” I said, “how would you feel about checking into Kent Kirkland? Maybe sending an officer over to his house.”

He finally gave up his stare, kicking back from his metal desk with a sigh. “The department barely has enough black-and-whites to service the parking meters downtown.”

“I’m talking about missing boys. Not parking meters.”

“Point taken,” he said. “Why didn’t Mrs. Dodson come herself with this information?”

“She did. Your front desk person brushed her off.”

The detective looked past me into the precinct lobby. “They see a lot of nut jobs. You can’t go calling in the calvary every time someone comes in saying their neighbor hung the wrong curtains.”

“They aren’t curtains,” I said. “The windows are papered-over. Completely opaque.”

He rubbed his jaw. I thought he might be struggling to keep a straight face.

I continued with conviction I wasn’t sure I actually felt, “I saw it. It isn’t normal how he obscures that window. Martha thinks it’s weird, and it is weird.”

“Weird,” he said flatly. “Two votes for weird.”

“You put those Neighborhood Watch signs up, right?” In response to his slouch, I stood. “You encourage citizens to report anything out of the ordinary. When a citizen does so, the proper response would seem to be gratitude—or, at the very least, respect.”

This, either the words or my standing up, finally pierced the detective’s blithe manner.

“Okay, I give. You win.” His barrel chest rose and fell in a concessionary breath. “It’s true, with police work you never know which detail matters until it matters. Please apologize to Mrs. Dodson on behalf of the department. And I’ll be sure to have a word with Jimmie.”

He gestured to the lobby. “Kid’s been getting too big for his britches for a while now.”

I thanked him, and he ducked his head in return.

Then he said, “I suppose she thinks one of those boys being held is Calvin Witt.”

The boy whose parents had lost track of him.

“Yes,” I said. “The timing does fit.”

I considered mentioning the scooter, Calvin’s Christmas wish, but decided not to. We didn’t need to go down the rabbit hole of box shapes and labeling, and whether grown men rode scooters.

Detective Judd looked ponderously at the ceiling. I didn’t expect him to divulge information about a live case, but I thought if he knew something exculpatory—that Calvin Witt had been spotted in Florida, say—he might pass it along and save me some trouble.

“I hate to say this, but I honestly doubt young Calvin is among the living.” Art Judd smeared a hand through his mustache. “The father gambled online. Mom wanted out of the marriage, bad. She told anybody in her old sorority who’d pick up her call. Both of them methheads.”

“That’s disheartening,” I said. “So you think the parents…”

He nodded, reluctance heavy on his brow. “It’ll be a park, under some tree. Downstream on the banks of the Millstone. Pray to God I’m wrong.”

I matched his glum expression, both a genuine reaction and a professional tactic to encourage more disclosure. “Does the department have staff psychologists, people who study these dysfunctional family dynamics? Who’re qualified to unpack the facts?”

“Eh.” Art Judd flung out his arm. “You do this job long enough, you start recognizing patterns.”

This was a common reaction to the field of psychology: that it was just everyday observation masquerading as science, than anyone with a little horse sense could practice it.

I said, “Antipathy between spouses doesn’t predict antipathy toward the offspring, generally.”

The detective’s face glazed over like I’d just recited Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

“Perhaps I could conduct an interview,” I said. “As a private citizen, just to hear more background on Calvin?”

He chuckled out of his stupor. “Good try. You’re free to call as you like, but I don’t think the Witts are real receptive to interview requests now—with the exception of the paying sort.”

I crossed my legs, causing my skirt to shift higher up my knee. “Is there any further background you’d be able to share? You personally?”

His gaze did tick down, and he seemed to lose his first word under his tongue.

“Urb, I—I guess it’s all more or less leaked in the press anyway,” he said, and proceeded to give me the story—as the police understood it—of Calvin Witt.

Calvin had a lot to overcome. His parents, besides their drug and money problems, were morbidly obese, and had passed this along to Calvin. A social worker’s report found inadequate supplies of fresh fruit and lean proteins at the home. They’d basically raised him on McDonald’s and ice cream sandwiches. Calvin had learning and attention disorders. He started fights in school. His parents couldn’t account for huge swaths of his day, of his week even.

“They let him run like the junkyard dog,” Detective Judd said. “All we know about the night he disappeared, we got off the kid’s bus pass. Thankfully it’d been registered. We know he boarded a bus downtown, late.”

I opened my mouth to ask a follow-up.

“Before you get ideas,” he said, “no, the route didn’t pass anywhere near Martha Dodson’s neighborhood. We always crosscheck Yancy Park in these cases. That’s where the Ferguson place is.”


“Yeah. Big rickety house, half falling over? Looks like the city dump. You shoulda passed it on the way.”

I shook my head.

“Well,” he continued, “that’s where the Fergusons live, crusty old married couple. Them and whatever riffraff needs a room. Plenty of crime there. Squalor. The neighbors keep trying to get it condemned.”

I definitely didn’t remember driving past a place like that. “Were there any witnesses who saw Calvin on the bus? Saw who he was with?”

“Nobody who’d talk.”

“Camera footage?”

The detective palmed his meaty elbow. “Have you seen the city’s transportation budget?”

I incorporated the new information, thinking about Kent Kirkland. He was single according to Martha. Mid-thirties. He worked from home—something to do with programming or web design, she thought.

Did he have a car? I’d noticed a two-car garage, but I hadn’t seen inside.

Did he go out socially? To bars? Or trivia nights?

Could he have ridden the bus downtown?

“Martha mentioned another case,” I said. “Last summer, I think it was. Another boy in the same vicinity?”

At first, Detective Judd only squinted.

I prompted, “There was some connection to Venezuela. The father was born there, maybe he—”

“Right, that Ramos kid!” Judd smacked his forehead. “How could I forget? Talk about red tape, my gosh. So he’s boy number two, is that it?”

I couldn’t very well answer “yes” to a question posed like that.

I simply repeated, “Martha mentioned the case.”

“Yep. That was a doozy.” As he remembered, he walked to a file cabinet and pulled open a drawer. “Real exercise in frustration.”

“There was trouble with the Venezuelan government?”

“And how.” He swelled his eyes, thumbing through manila folders, finally lifting out an overstuffed one. “I must’ve filled out fifty forms myself, no joke.”

He tossed the file on his desk. Documents slumped from the folder out across his computer keyboard.

I asked, “You never located the boy?”

“Not definitively. We had a witness put him with the paternal grandparents, the day before Dad put the whole crew on a plane.”

“Did you interview him?”


“The father.”

Detective Judd burbled his lips. “Nope. The Venezuelans stonewalled us—never could get him, not even on the horn. He told some website he had no clue where the kid was, but come on. They took him.”

I’d been following along with his account, understanding the logic and sequence—until this. I thought about Zach, my fourteen-year-old, and what lengths I would’ve gone to if he’d disappeared with his father.

“So you…stopped?” I said.

He stiffened. “We hit a brick wall, like I said.”

“Yes, but a boy had been taken from his mother. What did she say? Was she satisfied with the investigation?”

“No.” Judd’s mouth tightened under his mustache. His tone turned challenging. “Nobody’s satisfied when they don’t like the outcome.”

I tugged my skirt lower, covering my knee.

He continued, “I get fifty-some cases across my desk every week, Miss McGill. I don’t have the luxury of devoting my whole day to chasing crackpot theories just because somebody looks angry snipping their flowers.”

“Of course,” I said. “Which makes me the crackpot.”

He closed his eyes, as though summoning patience. “You seem like a nice lady. And look, I admit I’m a Neanderthal when it comes to matters—”

“‘Nice lady’ puts you dangerously close to pre-Neanderthal territory.”

He smiled. In the pause, two buttons began blinking on his phone.

“Pleasant as it’s been getting acquainted with you,” he said, “I can’t commit resources to this begonia guy. Just can’t. If you can pursue it without stepping over any legal boundaries, more power to you.”

I felt heat rising up my neck. I gathered my purse.

“I will pursue it. Two little boys’ welfare is on the line. Somebody needs to.”

He spread his arms wide, good-naturedly, stretching the collar of his shirt. “Hey, who better than you?”

The contents of the folder labeled Ramos were still strewn over his keyboard. “I don’t suppose I could borrow this file…”

“Official police documents?”

“Just for twenty minutes. Ten—I could flip through in the lobby, jot a few notes.”

He’d walked around his desk to show me out, and now he stopped, hands on hips, peering down at the file. The top paper had letterhead from the Venezuelan consulate.

I stepped closer to look with him, shoulder-to-shoulder. Our shoes bumped.

“Or even just this letter,” I said. “So I have the case number and contact information for the consulate. Surely there’s no harm in that?”

Detective Judd didn’t move his shoe. He smelled like bagels and coffee.

He placed his fingertip on the letter and pushed it my way.

“I can live with that.”

“Thanks,” I said, grinning, snatching the paper before he could reconsider.


I drove home through Yancy Park, thinking to get a second look at Kent Kirkland’s property. As I pulled into the subdivision, I noticed a dilapidated house up the hill, off to the west. It rose three stories and had bare-wood sides. Ragged blankets flapped over its attic windows.

The Ferguson place.

Somehow I’d missed it driving in from the other direction. Art Judd had been right: the place was an eyesore. Gutters dangled off the roof like spaghetti off a toddler’s abandoned plate. A refrigerator and TV were strewn about the dirt yard, both spilling their electronic guts.

I made a mental note to ask Martha Dodson about the property. I found it curious she suspected Kirkland instead of whoever lived in this rats’ den. Art Judd had mentioned crosschecking Yancy Park. Maybe the police had already been out and investigated to Martha’s satisfaction.

I kept driving to Martha and Kent Kirkland’s street. I slowed at the latter’s yard, peering over a rectangular yew hedge to a house that was the polar opposite of the Ferguson place. The paint job was immaculate. Gutters were not only fully affixed, but contained not a single leaf or twig. Trash bins were pulled around the side into a nook, out of sight.


Excerpt from The Begonia Killer by Jeff Bond. Copyright 2021 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.

You can find The Begonia Killer at these websites: Amazon | Goodreads

My Review — 5 Stars

This was a funny and fun mystery to read. Molly McGill, investigator is called by a woman who is sure her quirky neighbor has two boys hidden at his house. How does she know this? Because she saw him get angry at his begonias and viciously slaughter them, hacking them to death. Of course Molly has to go meet this guy and gets into house under the ruse of a gardening expert. While she is trying to search she creates more and more incidents that cause her to stay while he is trying to get her out of the house. This was the funniest part and I found myself laughing out loud. This is the first book I’ve read by Jeff Bond, but will be searching out others by him.

Author Bio:

Jeff Bond

Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters. The Pinebox Vendetta received the gold medal in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards, and the first two entries in the Third Chance Enterprises series — Anarchy of the Mice, Dear Durwood — were named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best 100 Indie Books of 2020.

Catch Up With Jeff Bond:
BookBub – @jeff_bond
Instagram – @jeffabond
Twitter – @jeffABond
Facebook – @jeffabondbooks

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jeff Bond. There will be one (1) winner of one (1) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2021 and runs through July 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Till Dirt Do Us Part


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A Glimmer of a Clue

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I’m so excited I have Daryl Wood Gerber on the blog today telling us about featuring real places in her stories. Her latest mystery, A Glimmer of a Clue is set in Carmel, California. I’ll be honest, I’ve always made stuff up (my mother would agree on that one) so didn’t have to worry about getting street names right. If you were writing a book, would you write about a real town or would make up your own fictional world? 

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Writing About a Real Place is a Challenge!

By Daryl Wood Gerber

For my new Fairy Garden Mystery series, I decided to write about Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, also known simply as Carmel. What a challenge for me. Granted, I have set my suspense novels in real places, but I have set all of my cozy mysteries in fictional places. The Cheese Shop Mysteries are set in Providence, Ohio (fictional town in Holmes County), the Cookbook Nook Mysteries are set in Crystal Cove, California (there’s a state park named Crystal Cove but not a pretty coastal town on the Central Coast), and the French Bistro Mysteries are set in Nouvelle Vie ( a fictional enclave between Yountville and St. Helena). For each of these series, I’ve created my own streets and my own shops. Heck, I even created a pier in Crystal Cove.

So why did I choose to set this series in Carmel? Because it’s one of the most delicious towns in the world, filled with fabulous art, exceptional food, eccentric people, and it’s located on one of the most gorgeous strips of the ocean you’ll ever find. [If you’ve ever watched golf tournaments, you would know that the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course is in Carmel.] Visiting the town fills my soul and feeds me spiritually.

Writing about a real place is a challenge. I have to get the streets right. Oh, sure, I can create a few fictional things, like my shop and the shops nearby and the courtyard where they are located, but I have to know the “rules of the town.” In Carmel, for example, there are no mailboxes. The original designers felt mailboxes ruined the charm, so the townsfolk go to the main post office to collect mail. Carmel is a pet-friendly town, so there are many restaurants and shops that allow dogs, on leash, to enter. In addition, there are particular rules one has to follow—visitors or locals. For example, many of the sidewalks are cobblestone, so a woman (or a man for that matter) is “not allowed” to wear high heels for fear of twisting an ankle. I always wear tennis shoes so I can do a lot of walking.

My challenge, as an author, is to incorporate all of this into the book without overloading it with “reality.” Which is why I have to visit Carmel to do research—in order to get it right. Poor me.

As I said above, because Carmel is a place that feeds my soul, I felt it was the perfect place to set a story about the supernatural—of the fairy kind. I love the adorable old cottages, packed with lots of history, the beautiful gardens which are perfect for fairy houses, and the courtyards featuring fountains and hidden doorways.

My love for Carmel is why I felt it was the perfect place to have my protagonist Courtney Kelly begin her life anew as a shop owner. She is from Carmel and she was working for her father in his landscaping business in the area, but that job wasn’t nourishing her. She felt stagnant. Uninspired. When her nana left her a small inheritance, it gave Courtney the courage to spread her wings and open her fairy garden shop.

When she opened it, she invited magic into her life. And with that, a new friend. Fiona . . .

More About A Glimmer of a Clue

A Glimmer of a Clue

A Glimmer of a Clue (A Fairy Garden Mystery)

Cozy Mystery      2nd in Series     Publisher: Kensington (June 29, 2021)

Courtney Kelly has a shop full of delights, a cat named Pixie, a green thumb—and a magical touch when it comes to garden design. But in Carmel-by-the-Sea, things aren’t all sweetness and fairy lights . . .

When Courtney’s friend Wanda gets into a ponytail-pulling wrestling match in public with a nasty local art critic, Courtney stops the fight with the help of a garden hose. But Lana Lamar has a talent for escalating things and creating tension, which she succeeds in doing by threatening a lawsuit, getting into yet another scuffle—in the midst of an elegant fundraiser, no less—and lobbing insults around like pickleballs.

Next thing Courtney knows, Lana is on the floor, stabbed with a decorative letter opener from one of Courtney’s fairy gardens, and Wanda is standing by asking “What have I done?” But the answer may not be as obvious as it seems, since Wanda is prone to sleepwalking and appears to be in a daze. Could she have risen from her nap and committed murder while unconscious? Or is the guilty party someone else Lana’s ticked off, like her long-suffering husband? To find out, Courtney will have to dig up some dirt . . .

You can find Glimmer of a Clue at these online retailers: 

Amazon   Barnes and Noble:    Kobo    Bookshop    Indiebound   Mysterious Galaxy   Murder by the Book    Target    Kensington Books

About Daryl Wood Gerber

Darly Wood Gerber, Author of A Glimmer of a Clue

Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber writes the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries, the Fairy Garden Mysteries, and theFrench Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes the Aspen Adams novels of suspense as well as stand-alone suspense. Daryl loves to cook, fairy garden, and read, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle who keeps her in line!

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You can find Glimmer of a Clue at these online retailers: 

Amazon   Barnes and Noble:    Kobo    Bookshop    Indiebound   Mysterious Galaxy   Murder by the Book    Target    Kensington Books

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Strangled by a Simile

Finally, a mystery about an English teacher who solves crime! Believe or not, there aren’t that many of these series and I was excited to find Strangled by a Simile. I used to be an English teacher and I bet you can’t guess what my favorite thing to teach was?  It wasn’t grammar. I could teach kids to write! It was a beautiful thing to see, but I’m also pretty happy I’m not going home with a stack of senior research papers to grade.  But enough about me, we have an interview with Emma Lovett our teacher and her life of crime, or at least solving crime.  Be sure to scroll down for the giveaway!

About Strangled by Simile

Strangled by a Simile
Strangled by Simile (Chalkboard Outlines)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series

Southern transplant Emma Lovett and best friend/colleague Leslie Parker can hardly believe it: it’s Emma’s third year at Thomas Jefferson High School, and in addition to an amazing year with boyfriend Hunter Wells and Leslie’s brand-new love interest, they’ve gotten all the way through Homecoming with no one dying.


At the end of October, Emma finds the strangled body of Charlie Foreman, one of Leslie’s favorite nemeses. And the first clue implicates Leslie in the crime! To make things worse, Emma’s feeling a little oogy: tired, dizzy, and something’s up with her eyes. What’s going on?

All Emma and Leslie are trying to do is find new methods for teaching the youth of America, hopefully using lessons from The Great Bard—their hero—William Shakespeare.

But someone has a different idea: more schooling in murder.

You can find Strangled by a Simile at these online retailers – AmazonKoboB&N

And now here’s an interview with our teacher Emma Lovett. Sit up straight now, and I’m watching you in the back row.

Please tell us about your latest adventure.

There’s this coach I met when I first started teachin school at Thomas Jefferson High—Charlie Foreman. He’s very mysogynistic and loudmouthed, and he and my closest Leslie prank and torment each other regularly. Whenever he’s inappropriate, everyone laughs it off because he’s the son of the school superintendent. But I guess Charlie’s not makin’ noise now, because he’s dead. Just when I thought I’d get through a year with no more murders, here we go again…

Do you have any friends/sidekicks helping you out?

Leslie Parkerand I decided three years ago we needed to get involved with an investigation of a murder at our school—a sweet old custodian named Melvin McManus. Because of the problematic law enforcement in our sweet little town—the chief of detectives is this old high school football player named Carl Niome who doesn’t know his rear end from his rear window, if you get my meanin’. Anyway, Melvin was a member of the school community, and I was a new member of that community. We just knew we had to help. 

Do you have any special skills to fight crime?

Leslie and I got together at the park one day when we first decided to solve a murder and collected stuff we thought we could use to solve it. From our whole personal collection of mystery novels to a blender, we felt like we’d need supplies. I think really we use our brains and our eyes, and that’s it. I did find out, during this particular inquiry, that some childhood skills perfected by me and my best friend Hannah and our summers at Target Swamp would be necessary. You’ll see. Turns out I’m kind of a Van Damme.

Are you a full-time detective or do you do something else?

I teach high school English at Thomas Jefferson High School in Pinewood, Colorado. This year I was also lucky enough to get to teach a beginning acting class, and we worked on Shakespeare scenes. Worked out well for me, because my friend Leslie is so good atcallin’ up Shakespeare quotes right outta her . . .head, that go with any situation. I’m trying to get better at that, but Leslie’s the master.

What are you most frightened of in this story?

Turns out . . . mobsters. And chronic illness. Both can be deadly. Both are really, really scary. But that second one is turnin’ out to be easier to handle with the help of my friends. The first one too, I guess. If you’re willing to think back to me and Hannah at the swamp.

Is there anything funny that happens to you or another character in this story?

I think our friend and librarian, Edward Dixon, has funny things happenin’ to him all the time. Only he doesn’t think they’re funny, because he’s kinda high-stress like that. He says things all the time without realizing they’re funny.

If I were to choose an actor or actress to play your part in a movie, who would that be?

Do you see any other characters in your story as actors or actresses that our readers might know? I haveactually been thinking about this as a television series for years now! I think the perfect actress for me (although she’s blonde in her series now, but she used to be brunette like me, so I know she could go back) is Melissa Benoist. You know, she plays Supergirl right now on the show Supergirl. I think she’d be a great me. And Leslie should be played by Cate Blanchett, I think, although I think that actress is older than Leslie. So don’t tell Leslie until she sees herself in the series. 😊

Do you have other mysteries you would like to tell us about? Is this the first book in the series, or have you cracked a few other cases?

I have, unfortunately. Besides Melvin, I had a student who was killed named Kisten Hollis. It was a horrible tragedy, and Leslie told me the death of a student is the worst tragedy she’s ever suffered. I can believe it.

Do you have any final words you would like to leave with our readers?

I reckon these investigations don’t amount to a hill of beans in comparison to my real job, which is teachin’ school. Kids need to learn and I wanna help them love it! 

Let’s give your author a chance to speak. Anything you would like to add?

Thomas Jefferson High School and Pinewood, physically, are a combination of both of my teaching jobs and schools, in Fruita, Colorado and South Lake Tahoe, California. Pinewood and its schools are a really fun invention, so I can utilize places I’ve been without worrying about that reader (and those readers are real, I guarantee it) who has also been to the actual places or ridden on the actual roads and is looking for the ways I can get it wrong. This way I get it right, every time… 😊) 

You can find Strangled by a Simile at these online retailers – AmazonKoboB&N

About Kelley Kaye

Kelley Kaye

“Kelley Kaye” taught High School English and Drama since 1992 in California, then Colorado and now Cali again, but her love for storytelling dates back to creating captions in her high school yearbook. Maybe back to the tales she created for her Barbie and Ken—whatever the case, the love’s been around a long time. She’s married to an amazing man who cooks for her, and they have two funny and wonderful sons.

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Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond

Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond


Murder, She Wrote fans! I have the latest Jessica on my blog today and even better an interview with the one and only Jessica Fletcher. I love, love, love this series and in Killing in a Koi Pond  Jessica even talks about Malice Domestic a wonderful conference for mystery writers and their readers that takes place every year in Bethseda, Maryland. I’ve been there many times, yet, I’ve never seen Jessica! Go figure. 

About Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond


Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond

Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond

Cozy Mystery

53rd in Series

Publisher: Berkley (June 8, 2021)

When a friend’s husband dies while Jessica Fletcher is in town visiting, Jessica’s vacation turns into a murder investigation in this latest entry in the long-running USA Today bestselling series.


After traveling to Bethesda for a mystery writers’ conference, Jessica Fletcher decides she’s earned a vacation and takes a train to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit her old college friend Dolores, who has recently married her third husband, Willis Nickens, a wealthy and cutthroat businessman. They’ve moved into an opulent historic home with plenty of space for guests, and Jessica is ready for a week of shopping, gossiping, and relaxing at the grand estate.


But the morning after she arrives, Jessica discovers Willis facedown in the koi pond, and despite what the police think, she’s sure foul play is involved. She hadn’t known Willis long, but it’s clear to her that he didn’t concern himself with making friends. The question isn’t if her friend’s husband was murdered but by whom.

A Visit With the J.B. Fletcher

Jessica Fletcher is a bestselling mystery writer who has a knack for stumbling upon real-life mysteries in her various travels.


Please tell us about your latest adventure.

After spending an exhilarating four days at Malice Domestic, a fabulous mystery conference in Bethesda Maryland, I arranged to take a few days off and visit my old college friend Dolores Nickens who lives in Columbia, South Carolina. She had recently married and wanted me to meet her new husband. We planned a lot of quality time together: lunches, shopping, touring some of the many cultural sites, generally relaxing and catching up with each other’s lives. Tragically, Dolores’s husband was murdered shortly after I arrived, and Richland County Sheriff Halvorson thinks Dolores is the most likely suspect.

Do you have any friends/sidekicks helping you out?

With Dolores in such jeopardy, I called on my good friend Harry McGraw who is a private investigator in Boston. Harry has the savvy and the contacts to dig up information all over the globe. He was a huge help. I also relied on my best buddy Dr. Seth Hazlitt to keep me in touch with what was going on in my home town of Cabot Cove, Maine.

Do you have any special skills to fight crime?

I don’t consider what I do fighting crime as much as I consider it to be ensuring that justice is served.

Are you a full-time detective or do you do something else?

A detective? Heavens no! I am a former school teacher, a profession I loved, and now I am a full time writer. Of course I do write mysteries…

What are you most frightened of in this story?

I am rarely frightened of anything. In this story I am, however, terribly concerned that my dear friend Dolores will be officially accused and perhaps even convicted of murdering her husband unless I can find a way to discover what actually happened.

Is there anything funny that happens to you or another character in this story?

Well, I don’t think it’s funny but most people find Seth Hazlitt’s parsimonious ways to be hilarious.

Do you have other mysteries you would like to tell us about? Is this the first book in the series, or have you cracked a few other cases?

I am almost embarrassed to admit that murder seems to follow me around. Murder, She Wrote Killing in a Koi Pond is book #53 of the series. Book number #54 Murder, She Wrote Debonair in Death will be released in November 2021.

Do you have any final words you would like to leave with our readers?

I am overjoyed and thankful for the grand company of everyone who follows along on my adventures.

Let’s give your author a chance to speak. Anything you would like to add?

Hi Everyone, I am Terrie Farley Moran and all I can say is that it is a pleasure to work with Jessica Fletcher and share her exploits with all of you.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Jessica is on the road visiting her old college friend Delores in Columbia, South Carolina. Delores has remarried and lives in a stately home that includes a Koi pond and plenty of people dependent on the actions of her new husband, Willis. Willis is a real piece of work displaying cutthroat business ways and rudeness to everyone, except Delores and his sweet granddaughter. The Murder She Wrote series loves to give us someone we love to hate and Willis fills the bill. Terrie Farley Moran is the new writer of this series and there were some things she did that I liked. Jessica wasn’t so dependent on Seth and Sheriff Metzger in this one although she did call up her old friend, the PI from Boston. I love these characters, but I also love it when Jessica doesn’t have to be rescued but confronts the crime with her abilities. Much like the character created for the series Jessica makes friends wherever she goes whether they work in the kitchen or own a multi-million dollar home. Her kindness to others opens many doors and I think that’s a lesson for all of us to take home. This was a fun, easy-to-read mystery, and the many suspects made figuring out whodunnit a challenge for me.

Terrie Farley Moran

Terrie Farley Moran is the author of Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond, the latest in the long-running Jessica Fletcher series, to be followed in autumn 2021 by Murder She Wrote: Debonair in Death. She has also written the beachside Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series and is co-author of Laura Childs’ New Orleans scrapbooking mysteries. Her short stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Terrie is a recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards.

Terrie’s Links

 Website: http://www.terriefarleymoran.comFacebook:

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NPenguin Random HouseKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound 

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Winter Witness

Well, it’s Friday which means you need to find a great book before you take that long drive or spend a lazy afternoon basking in the warmth of the sun. Let’s take a look at Winter Witness by Tina deBellegarde. I’m particularly interested in the historian everyone loves to hate in this story. It sounds like she causes plenty of trouble!

One more thing! This book is on sale for $1.99

About the Book

Winter Witness

When a beloved nun is murdered in a sleepy Catskill Mountain town, a grieving young widow finds herself at the center of the turmoil. Bianca St. Denis is searching for a job and seeking acceptance in her new home of Batavia-on-Hudson. Agatha Miller, the nun’s closest friend and the ailing local historian everyone loves to hate, shares her painful personal history and long-buried village secrets with Bianca. Armed with this knowledge, Bianca unravels the mysteries surrounding the death while dealing with the suspicions of her eccentric neighbors.

However, Bianca’s meddling complicates the sheriff’s investigation as well as his marriage. Can Sheriff Mike Riley escape his painful past in a town where murder and infighting over a new casino vie for his attention?

Danger stalks Bianca as she gets closer to the truth. Can the sheriff solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? Can the town heal its wounds once the truth has been uncovered?

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About the Author

Tina deBellegarde, Author of Winter Witness

Tina deBellegarde is the Agatha nominated author of Winter Witness, the first book in the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series. She lives in Catskill, New York with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby. Tina also writes short stories and flash fiction. When she isn’t writing, she is helping Denis tend their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She travels to Japan regularly to visit her son Alessandro. Tina did her graduate studies in history. She is a former exporter, paralegal, teacher, and library clerk.

Visit her website at

Death by Donut

We have a new author to check out with her book Death by Donut. This is  her fifth book in the series and it sounds delicious! I just hope  when I go my obituary doesn’t read she died while stuffing her face with a donut. Scroll down for your chance to win one of three books in Rebecca’s giveaway  (also posted on my Giveaway Page) but first let’s take a minute and learn more about the book and its author. 


Death by Donut

Death By Donut (A Pismawallops PTA Mystery)

Cozy Mystery      5th In Series

About Death by Donut

Election day’s almost here, and the island’s new pool is on the line. JJ should be all in with the campaign, but when a prominent Island businessman drops dead at her feet in the Have-A-Bite Bakery, someone has a mystery to solve. JJ’s fiancé—police chief Ron Karlson—is out of town. Who else is there?

JJ is missing her sweetheart, tired of the winter rains, and distracted by everybody’s questions about when the wedding’s happening. Even more worrying, her foster-daughter’s father has failed to show up on schedule. No wonder JJ’s struggling to wrap this one up before someone else bites into the wrong donut. There’s no time to lose, because something truly essential is on the line: saving the bakery—and JJ’s favorite espresso brownies!

A Visit with Rebecca M. Douglass

How did you come with an idea for your book?

Since this is the 5th book in a series (6th if you count the novella), the cast and setting were there waiting for me. The mystery, of course, has to be invented new each time! I honestly don’t know how I got to the donut, but the cause of death was an outgrowth of an incident in my novella, “The Christmas Question.”

What scene do you hope your readers enjoy the most?

That’s a surprisingly hard question! I hope everyone is excited to read the final scenes, but maybe I most hope people will enjoy the opening—and keep on reading. I also always have some purely fun(ny) scenes in my books. I hope to give my readers a good chuckle, at least, at some of JJ’s struggles.

What other things have you written or what projects might we see in the future?

In addition to the Pismawallops PTA series, I have written 4 children’s novels. Three are in the Ninja Librarian series, and are a lot of fun for readers of all ages. I’m also in the process of putting out several collections of my flash fiction.

My next project, besides finishing the flash fiction collections, will be a new mystery series. It’s still in pretty early development, but I will say that the heroine is even less “traditional” than JJ. I hope to be able to start writing on that story this summer.

If you could write any other genre what would that be?

I enjoy writing fantasy and science fiction as well as mystery, and would very much like to someday finish a work of historical fiction I’ve been tinkering with for years, aimed at a middle-grade audience.

Is there a giveaway or promotion with this book?

Yes, I am giving away two copies of the ebook.

Where can readers leave reviews of your book?

Please feel free to leave reviews anywhere you like! Amazon reviews are especially helpful, but wherever you bought your copy is the best place in most cases.

Rebecca M. Douglass was raised in Washington State on an island only a little bigger than Pismawallops. Though she has lived most of her adult life in California, the salt waters of Puget Sound continue to call to her and she enjoys owning an island in the Salish Sea, even if she had to invent one to do so! Rebecca has written a number of children’s books as well as her Pismawallops PTA mysteries and has had short stories published in several anthologies. When she isn’t writing, she likes to spend her free time hiking and biking, and her vacations exploring the outdoor world by camping, hiking, and backpacking.

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Do it for Daisy

Do It for Daisy

Do you have a sibling you’d do just about anything for? As we get older, sometimes we find our siblings are the few people left on earth who really get us. They were there through the ups and downs of childhood so they know you. As an Army brat, I can tell you, every time we moved, for the first three weeks in a new posting my brothers were my best friends. Then we made other friends and all bets were off! In Do it for Daisy we have a brother who would do anything for his sister. I mean anything.

Description of Do It for Daisy

Tommy Lyle was desperate for love. Orphaned when police killed his criminal parents during a shoot-out, and twice divorced before he was forty, the only person left in his life who cared about him was his big sister, Daisy. And Daisy just pushed her wealthy husband to his death in the middle of Tommy’s dinner party.

Tommy’s desperate effort to keep his sister’s affection tests his already slippery hold on morality. She demands his help covering up her crime and navigating a revengeful mother-in-law, a crooked medical examiner, a cheating undertaker, and a steely-eyed trustee.

If that wasn’t enough trouble, Tommy has to keep Detective Nick Bongiovanni from turning a simple follow up visit to the husband’s apparent accidental fall, into the crime of the century.

Other Reviews

William Ade’s “Do it for Daisy” is that rare treat—an exquisitely crafted novel that lives comfortably in a range of genres, and sets the highest possible bar in any of them. Funny, sad, suspenseful, thrilling, reflective, maddening, and ultimately triumphant, with this impressive debut Ade proves himself a master storyteller and a powerful new voice in crime fiction. Kerry K. Cox, author of the Nick Tanner Crime Thriller Series.

More About William Ade

William Ade was born and raised in a small town in Indiana during the fifties and sixties. He earned college degrees in early childhood education and special education, working in both fields until 1980. That August, he and his wife of one year moved to the Washington DC area. They had freshly minted graduate degrees, a VW Super Beetle, and no jobs.

Ade’s career shifted from education to telecommunications, and he was eventually employed by MCI and then Verizon up until his retirement in 2014. During that same period of time, he and his wife, Cynthia raised two wonderful children into adulthood.

At his retirement, Ade announced to his wife, that he wanted to try his hand at writing. She said that if he was going to do that, he had to pursue it vigorously.

Ade’s work has appeared in the Mysteries Unimagined, the Rind Literary Magazine, The Broken Plate, Black Fox Literary, Mindscapes Unimagined, and the 2018, and 2019 Best New England Crime Stories. He writes both literary, humor, and crime stories.

His collection of short stories, No Time for His Nonsense was released in early 2020. His first novel, Art of Absolution, came out in July, 2020.

Visit William’s website at Connect with William on Goodreads

Enter the giveaway to get your hands on another great book by William Ade!

Art of Absolution

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Art of Absolution Can a mother’s deceit save her child from the terrible truth? Can a virtuous man be forgiven for one horrible act? Bailey Robertson, still reeling from her husband’s death, is desperate to stop her college-aged child, Teddy, from knowing the circumstances of his birth. Five hundred miles away, Michael Werth, a prominent Midwestern businessman, is stunned that his fifteen-year-old daughter Susan is secretly digging into his past. Forced by their children into a meeting, Bailey confronts her history and fears, while Michael tests the limits of absolution. All to protect the child they created.

Enter below for your chance at a free digital copy of Art of Absolution!

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The Ghost and Haunted Portrait

Don’t you just love looking at those old pulp covers? There’s always a sexy girl and sometimes a sketchy looking guy on them.  They make you want to take a stormy afternoon and read pure escapism. The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait let’s us take a visit into the world of the artists who created them and the models who posed for them!  I reviewed this one and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

About The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait


The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait (Haunted Bookshop Mystery)

7th in Series  Publisher: Berkley (May 4, 2021)

Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure and her gumshoe ghost team up to solve the stunning mystery at the heart of a madwoman’s self-portrait in this all new installment from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle.

While gathering a collection of vintage book cover paintings for a special event in her quaint Rhode Island bookshop, Penelope discovers a spooky portrait of a beautiful woman, one who supposedly went mad, according to town gossip. Seymour, the local mailman, falls in love with the haunting image and buys the picture, refusing to part with it, even as fatal accidents befall those around it. Is the canvas cursed? Or is something more sinister at work?

For answers, Pen turns to an otherworldly source: Jack Shepard, PI. Back in the 1940s, Jack cracked a case of a killer cover artist, and (to Pen’s relief) his spirit is willing to help her solve this mystery, even if he and his license did expire decades ago.

My Review

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait
The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Penelope Thornton is about to have a book launch for a book on the history of pulp covers in her book store. In an effort to collect more classic book covers for the exhibit she visits her friend Walt, a collector. One of his covers draws her in and she finds there is a mystery attached to it. Along with her sidekick, Jack, a dead PI from the 40s she investigates the crime. I loved Jack and all of his sayings and the well-constructed mystery around the paintings of book covers and crazy Harriet. There were many suspects and the author team takes us back into the forties to see the real artists and models and the underworld around them.  There were plenty of suspects to choose from and I enjoyed the humor between Seymour and Brainert and the relationship between Jack and Penelope. 

About Cleo Coyle

Cleo Coyle – Alice Alfonsi – Marc Cerasini

CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the long-running Coffeehouse Mysteries—now celebrating eighteen years in print. They are also authors of the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, previously written under the pseudonym Alice Kimberly. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also both bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together.

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Till Dirt Do Us Part

A Giveaway for Book Clubs

Giveaway Page: Book Club Giveaway

Give your book club a complete set of Murder of a Good Man published by Harlequin! But wait, there’s more. Schedule a Zoom visit with the author Teresa Trent! Time is running out!  Your book club can be between 2 and 10 people and must reside in the United States.


Enter Below:

The Deadening Showcase and Giveaway

The Deadening

Today on Books to the Ceiling, we have some psychological suspense, The Deadening. Olivia doesn’t know who she really is–kind of like passing out after eating that entire plate of brownies. Seriously, though this is good one. Be sure to read the prologue and the excerpt–it will get you thinking. Don’t forget to scroll down for the giveaway😊💰

Synopsis of The Deadening:


OLIVIA CALLAHAN’S quiet, orderly life is shattered when she regains consciousness in a hospital and discovers she is paralyzed and cannot remember a thing. The fragmented voices she hears around her help her piece together that an apparent assault landed her in the hospital, but nobody knows who attacked her, or why.

Now, in spite of a brain injury that has rewired her personality, Olivia is on a mission to reclaim her life. As clarity surfaces, and she starts to understand who she was, she is shocked.

Could she really have been that person?

And if so, does she want her old life back?


“A gripping read populated by likable characters. Peresta draws us into a colorful detailed world and makes us care what happens to the people living in it. We root for Olivia as she struggles to regain her memory, her bearings, and the identity she lost long before her injury. Excellent!”
– Susan Crawford, Internationally bestselling author of The Pocket Wife and The Other Widow.

The Deadening is a captivating psychological suspense novel that will have you holding your breath with each turn of the page. Peresta has created a world chock-full of characters who are dynamic and unforgettable, for better or worse. Hold onto your seat.”
– Clay Stafford, bestselling author and founder of Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Suspense
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: February 21, 2021
Number of Pages: 353
ISBN: 1953789358 (ISBN13:9781953789358) (ASIN:B08SVKLMZ8)
Series: Olivia Callahan Suspense, 1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from The Deadening:


The Deadening


The stiff bristles of the brush grew coppery as he scrubbed back and forth, back and forth. Wrinkling his nose at the smell, he groped for the mask he’d bought, looped it over his head, and snugged it into place.

He dipped the brush in the red-tinged solution in a blue, plastic bowl beside him on the floor, and continued scrubbing. Fifteen minutes later, he emptied the bowl down the toilet and shoved everything he’d used into a trash bag. He fought to staunch the bile creeping up his windpipe, but his throat constricted and he gagged. After retching into the sink, he turned on the faucet and splashed water on his face. Paused to take deep breaths. He could do this. He had to do this. He gripped the edge of the counter and stared out the bathroom window.

She’d not told anyone. Thank God for that. No one could know. No one would ever know. He’d make sure.

He walked to his garage, opened his car trunk, tossed in the latest trash bag. His hands felt icy. He rubbed them together, wiggled his fingers, and slammed the trunk shut.

Admittedly, her terror had excited him. Confusion. Dawning realization in her expression. His lips curved upward into a smile, then disintegrated. Reliving it didn’t change anything. He needed to move forward.

He returned and studied the carpet. In spite of his efforts, the stain still needed work. He cursed, dropped to his knees, and pounded the dampness with a fist.

Through a veil of fatigue, he watched in horror as the kidney-shaped stain stood and pointed an accusatory finger at him. He blinked, hard. Was he hallucinating? How long had he been without sleep? He crabbed backwards, leaned against the wall, pulled his knees to his chest and squeezed his eyes shut. When he opened them some moments later, the blood-apparition had disappeared.

He groaned.

He stared at the ceiling until his brain spit out a solution.

The problem lay in the other room. That’s how he looked at her now.

A problem to solve.

He rose from the floor and walked out.

His eyes slid from her pale face, down her form, to her feet. He no longer thought of her as warm, soft, desirable. She had been so scared…eyes wide and unblinking as she fell. He shook his head and pushed the image away.

Nesting her in towels so her blood wouldn’t pool on the couch, her bronze-sandaled feet with their shiny, pink toenails hung over the edge. He looked away. “Get a grip, man. Just do it.”

The towels fell away when he picked her up. He wound them back around her, careful to tuck in the edges. His heartbeat slammed his ribs.

She was fragile, a little bit of a thing, like a bird. He drew his index finger across her lips. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “If you had just…if you had only…” His voice trailed away. Jaw clenched, he carried her to his car.

Chapter One

Nathan ambled along sidewalks that wound through the manicured hospital grounds, fishing in his pocket for a lighter. He lit the cigarette dangling from his lips and inhaled deeply, his smile saturated with nicotine’s unholy bliss.

“Thank God,” he mumbled around the cigarette, and withdrew it from his lips, stretching. He glanced over his shoulder at the brightly lit ER entrance to Mercy Hospital, rubbing his neck. He rolled his shoulders, inhaled several deep drags from the cigarette, dropped it, and ground it beneath his shoe. “These night shifts are killing me.” He groaned and gazed at the sky. Clouds hid a full moon. He’d been grateful to get the med tech job, but after two months of bodily fluid testing and storage, he was bored. He needed a challenge.

Nathan followed his typical route through the hedged lawn, almost on auto-pilot, so when he stumbled and sprawled onto the grass face-first, he was stunned. What had tripped him? Cursing softly, he explored his cheeks, nose, forehead. No damage done that he could tell. “Klutz,” he berated himself, pushing up to hands and knees.

Something soft and warm lay beneath his palms. His breathing sped up. He looked down, but it was too dark to see. Trembling, his fingers inched their way to lips, nose, eyes, stiff knots of hair. His mouth dropped in horror. The clouds obligingly slid off the moon and revealed a woman’s body, her hair blood-matted, her face ghostly white. The grass around her head was rusty with blood. He edged his head toward her lips to check her breathing. Shallow, but at least she was alive.

He scrambled to his feet, fighting nausea and staring at his palms, sticky with the woman’s blood. Shrieking for help, he raced into the hospital and skidded to a stop in front of the desk. The ER nurses behind the reception desk squinted at him like he was deranged.

“Possible head injury!” He flailed an arm at the entrance. “Someone, anyone, come quick!”

A male nurse and two aides followed him outside, shoes pounding the sidewalk at full gallop. The tech stopped, turned, and signaled them to tread carefully as they parted ways with the sidewalk and navigated the shrubbery in the dark. Single file, panting, they tiptoed through the shadows until the tech raised a palm for them to stop.

“Here,” he hissed at the nurse, and held a point like a bird dog.

The nurse dropped to the ground and clicked a flashlight on. “Ohmigosh,” he whispered. He lifted the woman’s thin, pale wrist and glanced at his watch. Satisfied that she had a pulse, he slapped the flashlight into Nathan’s bloodied palm. “Stay with her!” He rushed inside.

Within minutes, looky-loos poured from the ER and clustered around the limp form.

“Move back!” Nathan stretched out his arms like a cop directing traffic. “She’s barely breathing!” His glanced nervously at the ER entrance.

The crowd didn’t yield an inch. The ER doors whooshed open. A stretcher clattered down the sidewalk and onto the dew-damp grass. Chills shivered up the tech’s spine as the ashen pallor of death climbed from the woman’s neck to her face. He dropped to the ground and picked up her hand. The paramedic team drew closer, their flashlights piercing the darkness with slivers of light. The crowd eased apart to let them through.

Nathan bent closer to the woman, and whispered, “Hang in there. Help is on the way.”

The stretcher slid to a stop beside him. The paramedics dropped to their knees, stabilized the woman’s head with a brace, staunched the bleeding, and wrapped the wound. They eased her onto the stretcher and rumbled away. The aides shared nervous smiles of relief. They looked at Nathan, then followed the paramedic team back inside.

Nathan, his heartbeat finally slowing, called, “Thanks for the assist, guys!” as they walked away.

The crowd dispersed with curious glances at Nathan, who watched until the group disappeared behind the ER’s double glass doors. He heaved a sigh of relief and swiped perspiration off his forehead. He patted his scrubs pocket for a cigarette, reconsidered, and trotted toward the ER entrance.

After the automatic doors parted, he jogged past two closed-door exam rooms and paused at a third, wide open. He looked inside.

The paramedics shared their observations with the ER doctor on call as he deftly explored the woman’s wounds. When he finished, he nodded, barked instructions, and pointed at the bed. In seconds, the woman’s transfer from stretcher to bed was complete. One of the nurses whisked a blood pressure cuff around her arm. Another hooked an IV bag to a chrome stand, pierced the skin on the back of the woman’s hand, slid in a needle, and taped it down.

The tech stepped back from the door to allow the paramedics to exit. Holding his breath, he stole into the room and crept past a floor-to-ceiling supply cabinet. He planted both palms onto the smooth, white walls behind him and inched sideways, melting into the corner next to a shelf holding tongue depressors, a box of plastic gloves, and a sanitizer dispenser.

“Pulse one-fifteen.” The nurse studied the blood pressure cuff. “Blood pressure eight-five over fifty.”

“Need a trach,” the doctor barked. “She’s bleeding out. Get some O neg in here.”

A blur of motion, two nurses and the ER doctor huddled around the woman’s body. When they stepped back, a laryngoscope, an endotracheal tube, and four sticky electric nodes leading to a cardiac monitor had been secured.

The medical team stilled, their eyes riveted to the monitors. The nurses wore sage green scrubs. Both had pink stethoscopes around their necks. The ER doctor had on a crisp, white jacket with his name scripted in black on the pocket. Nathan fidgeted and stuck his head out from the corner a little to focus on the screens.

The readings sputtered, stalled, plummeted.

“Code Blue!” The doctor spun around. A nurse jumped to the wall and slapped a flat, white square on the wall.

“Code Blue!” echoed through the ER’s intercom system. Frantic footsteps in the hall. Shouted instructions. Clanging metal. Squealing wheels. Nathan squeezed farther into the corner as the cart bearing life-saving electronic shock equipment exploded through the door.

“Brain must be swelling,” the doctor mumbled. He grabbed two paddles and swiped them together. “Clear!”

The woman’s body jolted. The doctor’s head jerked to the cardiac monitor. Flat.

“Clear!” He placed the paddles on the woman’s chest.

Her frail torso arced. The machine blipped an erratic cadence, then droned a steady hum.

The doctor cursed. “Clear!”

Another jolt. The monitor surged, sagged, then settled into a reassuring metronome blip. Tense faces relaxed. Applause spattered around the room.

The doctor blew out a long breath. “Okay, people, good job.” He smiled.

Within minutes, more lines snaked from the woman’s form. An orogastric tube drooped from the corner of her mouth, behind the intubation tube. A lead to measure brain waves clung to her forehead. The doctor studied each monitor in turn. Nathan let out the breath he’d been holding, slid down the wall into a crouch, and balanced on the balls of his feet.

“Any additional instructions, Doctor Bradford?” Brows raised, the nurse waited.

He rubbed his head thoughtfully. “Think she’s stable for now. CAT scan already ordered?”

She nodded. “Of course.”

“Tell them to expedite.” He cocked his head at the woman. “May be a long night. Watch her closely.” The doctor strode to the door, paused, and turned. He glanced at the tech huddled in the corner. “Good job, son.”

Nathan grinned and rose from his crouch, his chest puffed out a little. He’d never saved a life before. After a sympathetic glance at Mercy Hospital’s latest Jane Doe, he returned to the lab.


Excerpt from The Deadening by Kerry Peresta. Copyright 2021 by Kerry Peresta. Reproduced with permission from Kerry Peresta. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Kerry’s publishing credits include a popular newspaper column, “The Lighter Side,” 2009-2011; and magazine articles in Local Life MagazineThe Bluffton BreezeLady Lowcountry, and Island Events Magazine. She is the author of two novels, The Hunting, women’s fiction, released by Pen-L Publishing in 2013, and The Deadening, released in February, 2021 by Level Best Books, the first in the Olivia Callahan Suspense series, She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, and copywriter. She is past chapter president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and a current member and presenter of Hilton Head Island Writers’ Network, and the Sisters in Crime organization. Recently, she worked as editor and contributor for Island Communications, a local publishing house. Kerry and her husband moved to Hilton Head six years ago. She is the mother of four adult children, and has a bunch of wonderful grandkids who keep life interesting and remind her what life is all about.




Catch Up With Kerry L Peresta:
Instagram – @kerryperesta
Twitter – @kerryperesta
Facebook – @klperesta



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kerry Peresta. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card.
The giveaway begins on April 1, 2021 and runs through May 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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The Venice Sketchbook

The Venice Sketchbook

Let’s take this weekend and head to Venice, Italy, a city of festivals, art, and romance. Rhys Bowen takes us there with her beautiful detail right before Italy enters World War II and then again in modern day in The Venice Sketchbook. If you’re feeling the loss of travel plans because of Covid, then this might be the book for you!

About the Book

Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie leaves her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper…Venice. Caroline’s quest: to scatter Juliet “Lettie” Browning’s ashes in the city she loved and to unlock the mysteries stored away for more than sixty years.

It’s 1938 when art teacher Juliet Browning arrives in romantic Venice. For her students, it’s a wealth of history, art, and beauty. For Juliet, it’s poignant memories and a chance to reconnect with Leonardo Da Rossi, the man she loves whose future is already determined by his noble family. However star-crossed, nothing can come between them. Until the threat of war closes in on Venice and they’re forced to fight, survive, and protect a secret that will bind them forever.

Key by key, Lettie’s life of impossible love, loss, and courage unfolds. It’s one that Caroline can now make right again as her own journey of self-discovery begins.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Venice Sketchbook looks at the lives of two women. Juliette is in Venice pre-war where she meets the love of her life who is married. She’s studying art and as the magical world of Venice changes around her, finds herself stuck in Italy during WWII. Caroline is her niece who finds she has inherited a 99 year lease on a building sets out to understand a sketchbook her aunt left in her former apartment. As always, I love the pictures Rhys Bowen creates and this is a great mixture of romance and historical fiction. I found Juliette frustrating at times as she continually put off going back to England while the threat of Venice becoming involved grew each day. I also liked how Caroline grew as a character to stand up against her husband.

Other Reviews

“Rhys Bowen crafts a propulsive, unexpected plot with characters who come vibrantly alive on the page.” —Mark Sullivan, author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Love and secrets collide in Venice during WWII in an enthralling novel of brief encounters and lasting romance by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and Above the Bay of Angels.

Giveaway Page: Book Club Giveaway

The Drowning Kind

The Drowning Kind

Ever watch those miracle cures on tv or popping up on your Facebook feed and think–hmmm? I wonder if it works? In The Drowning Kind there is a magical pool of water that smells terrible but cures people of all their ills. This story is a mystery with a strong paranormal element including creepy little drowned girls and a hundred years of malevolence around this water. After reading this, you’ll think twice about swimming in a lake or pond!

About The Drowning Kind

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a story told in two time periods about a pool of magic water that can heal people and make sick babies well. But, the miracles come with a price. In the modern day story we have Jax, a social worker and her sister Lexi, the creative sister, who suffers from mood swings and never quite makes it as a functioning adult. Lexi is found drowned in the pool, but she isn’t the only one. The author lets us in on a long history of drownings going back to the twenties when a hotel was built as a refuge for those seeking healing waters. I enjoyed both stories and getting into the head of Jax, a character who feels guilty for ignoring her sister in her final days. The supernatural element of the book is outstanding and the ending will get you!
I received this book from Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Are you in a bookclub? Here’s you chance to get everyone a free book!

Book Club Giveaway

Surviving Savannah

Surviving Savannah

Were you excited when they found the Titanic? What story did the artifacts reveal about the passengers? Surviving Savannah is about the retrieving clues from a sunken steamship and research into the passengers that were on it. This story has two layers, past and present.

Here’s a Description of Surviving Savannah

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah’s society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

My Review:

Everly Winthrop is asked to curate a collection from the lost steamship Pulaski, which went down in 1838 after the boiler exploded. Much like the Titanic, they are excited by the artifacts 180 years later. Everly especially relates because of the loss of her friend Mora and the fact that she’s working with Oliver who was engaged to her when she died in an accident. The story is twofold as we travel back in time to the final voyage of the Pulaski and learn about two women- Lily an aristocrat with an abusive husband and Priscilla a woman in slavery. This is a story of survival whether it be an accident or suffering abuse in 1838. The author paints a beautiful picture of Savannah helping the reader to travel there without a plane ticket! I think I loved the story of the women on the Pulaski most and then the present-day story.

Other Reviews:

“An atmospheric, compelling story of survival, tragedy, the enduring power of myth and memory, and the moments that change one’s life.” 
–Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Four Winds

“[An] enthralling and emotional tale…A story about strength and fate.”–Woman’s World

An epic novel that explores the metal of human spirit in crisis. It is an expertly told, fascinating story that runs fathoms deep on multiple levels.”—New York Journal of Books 

It was called “The Titanic of the South.” The luxury steamship sank in 1838 with Savannah’s elite on board; through time, their fates were forgotten–until the wreck was found, and now their story is finally being told in this breathtaking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

Giveaway Page: Book Club Giveaway

Every Last Fear

Every Last Fear

I love to watch true-crime television, but have you ever wondered what one of those shows does to friends and family members who had nothing to do with the crime, but are thrust into the spotlight anyway? Every Last Fear does a wonderful job of showing the impact this has on innocent people. The main character’s brother is in prison for murder and if that isn’t enough for the family to deal with, a documentary comes out that takes a side in the case. Good stuff. Read the full description below.

About the Book

They found the bodies on a Tuesday.” So begins this twisty and breathtaking novel that traces the fate of the Pine family, a thriller that will both leave you on the edge of your seat and move you to tears.

After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.

The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.

When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.

Told through multiple points-of-view and alternating between past and present, Alex Finlay’s Every Last Fear is not only a page-turning thriller, it’s also a poignant story about a family managing heartbreak and tragedy, and living through a fame they never wanted.

My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Every Last Fear is a riveting story of family found dead in Mexico but the details going into this day are rich. There’s a young man convicted of a murder he didn’t commit and a television documentary about the case that ruins the lives of a family and reputation of a small town. This is a great study of deep characters with plenty of secrets. A quick-paced thriller.

We have a new giveaway just for those book clubs. I’m still giving away those copies of Murder of a Good Man now out under Harlequin, so make sure to bring up this giveaway in this month’s meeting! Even if you don’t win, I’d love to know about your book club.

Book Club Giveaway

The Lost Village

The Lost Village

Feel like reading a bone-chilling, glued to your seat, creepy ghost-town kind of book? You do? Then it’s time to check out The Lost Village. I’ve reviewed it, and there are reviews coming out everywhere on this one. So good.

Book Description

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

Come find out.

“Come for the mounting horror and scares, but stay for a devastating examination of the nature of family secrets.” – New York Times book review

A Most Anticipated Book Goodreads * Publishers Weekly * Crime Reads * Popsugar * Bookish

An Indie Next pick!

A Library Reads Pick!

The Blair Witch Project
 meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I read the description of the book it said it was a mix between The Blair Witch Project and Midssomar. I didn’t like Midssomar and The Blair Witch Project made me tired with all the shaky camera angles. What they should have said was this book is better than these movies. A pulled-together documentary crew goes to a tiny village where back in 1959 the people of the town vanished. No one knows what happened to them. The documentary maker, Alice has a connection to the town as well as one other member of the crew, but they still have no idea what happened and are excited to film the empty houses, school, and church and try to solve the mystery. When bad things start happening, the reader begins to wonder if there’s something in the air or something supernatural cursing anyone who visits. The writer weaves this story with the historical story and masterfully leaves clues as to the whereabouts of the missing townspeople. Well written story to read late into the night!


Die Die Blackbird

Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day

I love this day! Why? Because it’s 3-21! To explain this, let me quote something from the National Down Syndrome Society. Trisomy 21 is the clinical way of saying Down syndrome, which is the third copy on the 21st chromosome. In a person without Down syndrome, there are 46 chromosomes in the human body. Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome; we have 47. Trisomy 21= 3-21 or March 21st.

So, today I celebrate my son Andrew and the journey we’ve been on together for 28 years. I celebrate all of the wonderful Down syndrome children and adults I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life. Down syndrome people want to have friends, have love, be cool, be accepted and very often, hold down a job.

Isn’t that a wonderful video? Thank you STING!

I am also thankful every day for the joy my son brings us. It’s not complicated or sophisticated. It might be hug or a smile that I didn’t expect. That’s an enormous gift for this caregiver/writer/mother.

My son loves to go to the car wash! He’d rather be here than a movie. He has Down syndrome and autism so it’s something about the brushes and the rainbow bubbles. Contentment is finding happiness in little things.

Did you know my Pecan Bayou Series features a character with Down Syndrome? Danny is a composite of the many Down syndrome people I’ve known over the years. Writing a character like this around a murder mystery can be difficult at times because I feel it would be very upsetting for this character, but the love he brings to the other characters is one of my favorite parts.

So here’s to you boys and girls, men and women on 3-21!

The Incredible Winston Browne

The Incredible Winston Browne

In these turbulent times, the world needs more books like The Incredible Winston Browne. I didn’t just like this book–I loved it. Let’s head to a little town in Florida in the fifties where the Brooklynn Dodgers are king and a small-town sheriff starts seeing the best things in life. It isn’t exactly the idyllic Mayberry, but a Mayberry for this century’s readers. I hated to see this book end but even the ending was full-on wonderful.

About the Book

Beloved writer Sean Dietrich—also known as Sean of the South—will warm your heart with this rich and nostalgic tale about community, kindness, and the meaning of the everyday incredible.

In the small, sleepy town of Moab, Florida, folks live for ice cream socials, Jackie Robinson, and the local paper’s weekly gossip column. For decades, Sheriff Winston Browne has watched over Moab with a generous eye, and by now he’s used to handling the daily dramas that keep life interesting for Moab’s quirky residents. But just after Winston receives some terrible, life-altering news, a feisty little girl with mysterious origins shows up in his best friend’s henhouse. Suddenly Winston has a child in desperate need of protection—as well as a secret of his own to keep.

With the help of Moab’s goodhearted townsfolk, the humble and well-meaning Winston Browne still has some heroic things to do. He finds romance, family, and love in unexpected places. He stumbles upon adventure, searches his soul, and grapples with the past. In doing so, he just might discover what a life well-lived truly looks like.

“Sean Dietrich has written a home run of a novel with The Incredible Winston Browne. Every bit as wonderful as its title implies, it’s the story of Browne—a principled, baseball-loving sheriff—a precocious little girl in need of help, and the community that rallies around them. This warm, witty, tender novel celebrates the power of friendship and family to transform our lives. It left me nostalgic and hopeful, missing my grandfathers, and eager for baseball season to start again. I loved it.” —Ariel Lawhon, New York Times bestselling author of I Was Anastasia

“Make no mistake. [The Incredible Winston Browne] is a classic story, told by an expert storyteller.” —Shawn Smucker, author of Light from Distant Stars

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Incredible Winston Browne is a slice of life in Moab, Florida during the fifties. The Dodgers have a chance at the World Series and Sheriff Winston Browne, a man with chocolate coins in his pocket, and a love for Mark Twain is finding life anew. He has been given the ultimate diagnosis of lung cancer, one that doesn’t slow down his love for Lucky cigarettes and now he’s beginning to live life as it should be. He’s a town patriarch who coaches the little league team, helps the young man whose grandfather is an alcoholic and pays attention to the town spinster. It’s about old friendships and new and the value of living life to the fullest. I loved this story and the beautiful way Sean Dietrich told it. The reader feels the heat, the mugginess, sees the anxious faces of the little leaguers, and sees love in the eyes of a woman unloved. Beautiful and uplifting. I obtained this book from Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Read Teresa’s second book in the Piney Woods Series, A Sneeze to Die For.

Nora Alexander has sunk her inheritance into the Tunie Hotel, in Piney Woods, Texas. Now there is a chance that her first major booking, a national cat lovers’ conference called Meow Meet-Up, will help her bottom line. It also presents increasing risk for its financial demise. Pushy reporter Alan Shaw shows up the day before the event, making trouble for Nora and the conference. When Shaw is later found dead in the bottom of the hotel’s faulty elevator shaft, Nora depends upon boyfriend and police officer, Tuck Watson, to investigate and save the Tunie Hotel’s reputation.

A Sneeze to Die for is available on Amazon, Apple, Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

Murder by Page One is on Cozy Mystery Friday

Murder by Page One

Don’t you just love getting to see a real live author at a book signing? Well, that’s what’s happening in Murder by Page One. But wait, where’s the author? I can tell you all the editing gurus who’ve counseled me have told me I have to place the murder by Chapter Three, but this sounds much more interesting! Don’t miss the excerpt below–it’ll get you!

About Murder Page One

Murder by Page One
Murder by Page One: A Peach Coast Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing (March 23, 2021)

If you love Hallmark mystery movies,
you’ll love this cozy mystery
with humor, intrigue, and a librarian amateur sleuth.

Marvey, a librarian, has moved from Brooklyn to a quirky small town in Georgia. When she’s not at the library organizing events for readers, she’s handcrafting book-themed jewelry and looking after her cranky cat. At times, her new life in the South still feels strange…and that’s before the discovery of the dead body in the bookstore.

After one of her friends becomes a suspect, Marvey sets out to solve the murder mystery. She even convinces Spence, the wealthy and charming newspaper owner, to help. With his ties to the community, her talents for research, and her fellow librarians’ knowledge, Marvey pursues the truth. But as she gets closer to it, could she be facing a deadly plot twist?

This first in series cozy mystery includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Classic Peach Cobbler.

Read an Excerpt from Murder Page One

Excerpt: Murder by Page One: A Peach Coast Library Mystery
“It’s nice that you’ve all come to support Fiona.” I turned to Fiona’s friend. “Especially you, Mr. Pelt, coming from South Carolina.”
Willy glanced up from his wristwatch. He seemed surprised that I knew his name, then he noticed Nolan. Willy inclined his head in a silent greeting to Fiona’s business partner, the expression on his pale, square face pleasant but vague. He drove his fingers through his shock of thick auburn hair. “I’ve known Fiona’s family for years.”
“I wonder what Fiona will do now?” Nolan’s attention bounced from Jo to the rest of the group. “Will she give up her share of the business to write full-time?”
It was a good question, although I knew most authors continued to work full-time. Popular media’s depiction of fiction writing as a lucrative career was greatly exaggerated.
Betty snorted. “Well, she doesn’t need a job, now does she? Not like the rest of us. When Buddy died, he left her well provided for. The rest of us have to work for a living.”
The bitterness in her voice seemed to come from far more than envy of another person’s good fortune—literally and figuratively. Then I made the connection: Fiona Lyle-Hayes. Betty Rodgers-Hayes. There was a story there, one that could explain Betty’s hostile disposition.
“I was wondering the same thing.” Willy crossed his arms over his chest. His brown jersey and tan slacks were slightly wrinkled, as though he’d recently pulled both from a suitcase. Had he just driven into town from Beaufort? How long that had taken? “Her late uncle left her his vacation property. The house’s in good shape, and the land is pretty. It’s in a quiet area on the outskirts of town where she could write without being disturbed.”
Bobby shoved his broad hands into the front pockets of his navy blue cargo pants. “She’ll probably go on a lot of tours.” He sounded disappointed, as though he was going to miss Fiona’s company.
“This is ridiculous.” Jo’s words ended the discussion. Her eyes flashed with irritation as her gaze swung to the back of her store. Her ponytail arched behind her. “The signing has started, and Fiona still hasn’t brought out her books. Now, I’m going to have to hustle to help her set everything up.”
“I’ll help.” I hurried to follow Jo as she whirled toward a book aisle.
“So will I.” Spence’s voice came from behind me.
Jo stopped long enough to give us a grateful look. “Thank you, but I can’t ask you to work for me. You’re here as guests.”
Spence arched a thick black eyebrow. “We’re also your friends. Let us help.”
“Okay, since you’ve twisted my arm.” Jo turned to continue her agitated march down the aisle. Her ponytail swung back and forth in a tsking motion. “I wish she’d let me and my team handle her books from the beginning. Unloading them now will be disruptive to the other authors who got here early and actually set up.”
I struggled to both keep up with Jo and speed read the titles on the passing shelves. We were in the young adult section. I loved young adult fantasy novels. I hesitated in front of a newly released title. Spence nudged me along.
I caught up with Jo. “This won’t endear her to the other members of her group.” I remembered the way Zelda had acted, as though Fiona was She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
“I don’t think Fiona likes them, either.” Jo’s tone was dry.
“What makes you think that?” Spence asked.
Jo glanced at us over her shoulder. “It’s just a feeling I got from her when we were organizing this signing.”
Jo crossed into the storage room. Spence and I were right behind her. The room was dimly lit in comparison to the main part of the store. Empty boxes stood to the side, waiting to be flattened for recycling. Step ladders and carts were stored in a corner for easy access. Shelving affixed to the walls held office supplies such as paper, printer inks, packing tape, markers, and box cutters. In the center of the room, two matching dark wood tables balanced open boxes of books still to be shelved. On the far table, Fiona’s books had been unpacked, only needing a cart to carry them out. But who would operate the cart?
Was I the only one feeling uneasy? “Where’s Fiona?”
In front of me, Jo frowned as her store owner’s attention seemed to catalog the room’s contents. To my right, Spence appeared to be scanning the room, searching for the source of the disquiet. I stepped forward.
“Marvey, wait.” Spence’s voice stopped me.
But not before I saw the body, lying in a pool of blood on the far side of the rear table.
I must have rocketed a foot into the air before landing on semi-solid ground. Spence’s large, strong hands gripped my shoulders to steady me.
Jo gasped. “Oh, my God. Fiona.”


About Olivia Matthews

Olivia Matthews author of Murder by Page One

Olivia Matthews is the cozy mystery pseudonym for Patricia Sargeant, a national best-selling, award-winning author. Her work has been featured in national publications such as Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Kirkus Reviews, Suspense Magazine, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and RT Book Reviews. For more information about Patricia and her work, visit

Author Links





You can find Murder by Page One at these online retailers AmazonHallmark PublishingAppleBarnes & NobleBookshop Fantastic FictionKobo

Congratulations to Linda, Virginia, Andra, Jennifer and Karen! They were the winners of the Murder of a Good Man Giveaway! 

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Vera Book Review


The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco changed lives and leveled the city. The daughter of a bordello owner fights to survive through earthquake and then fire. I’ll admit I’ve seen every disaster movie out there probably because I’ve been through a couple myself.

About the Book

New York Times bestselling author Carol Edgarian delivers an astonishing feat of imagination, a grand adventure set in 1906 San Francisco—a city leveled by quake and fire—featuring an indomitable heroine coming of age in the aftermath of catastrophe and her quest for love and reinvention.

Meet Vera Johnson, the uncommonly resourceful fifteen-year-old illegitimate daughter of Rose, notorious proprietor of San Francisco’s most legendary bordello and ally to the city’s corrupt politicians. Vera has grown up straddling two worlds—the madam’s alluring sphere, replete with tickets to the opera, surly henchmen, and scant morality, and the violent, debt ridden domestic life of the family paid to raise her.

On the morning of the great quake, Vera’s worlds collide. As the shattered city burns and looters vie with the injured, orphaned, and starving, Vera and her guileless sister, Pie, are cast adrift. Vera disregards societal norms and prejudices and begins to imagine a new kind of life. She collaborates with Tan, her former rival, and forges an unlikely family of survivors. Together they navigate their way beyond disaster.

Buy this Book on

Amazon Barnes and Noble Indie Bookstore

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is the story of Vera Johnson, a resilient young woman who has just turned fifteen. We find out that she is the daughter of a notorious madam and that her mother has parked her with a Swedish woman and her daughter so that she doesn’t have to grow up in a brothel. The relationship between Vera and her mother, Rose, is complicated. Vera’s drive for survival even at such a young age is something she shares with her mother, and when the earthquake of 1906 hits, she has to find her. Even though her mother has never been friendly, Vera needs to care for her. The earthquake and the recovery story are fascinating as the reader sees Vera overcome struggle after struggle. There are crooked politicians, good people, and a little romance. Great book!
I obtained this book from Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Float Plan Book Review

If you had lost your groom-to-be would you still go on a trip the two of you had planned? Even if it is slightly dangerous for one person? That’s what Anna decides to do in Float Plan. This wonderful story shows us the strength of a woman deep in the throes of grief and the truths she finds sailing in the Caribbean.

About the Book

Heartbroken by the loss of her fiancé, adventurous Anna finds a second chance at love with an Irish sailor in this riveting, emotional romance.

After a reminder goes off for the Caribbean sailing trip Anna was supposed to take with her fiancé, she impulsively goes to sea in the sailboat he left her, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.

In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.

“The perfect escape. Fresh, funny, and romantic. I wish I could sail away with this book.” – Meg Cabot, New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries and Little Bridge series

Here’s where you can find your copy of Float Plan

Float Plan

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Anna as she finds her next steps in life after her fiancé commits suicide. After wallowing in grief for a year she packs his boat and attempts to take the route they had planned to do together ending in their wedding. She meets up with Keene, a lovable Irishman, who helps her guide the boat through the islands of the Caribbean. This is a romance that is built on two people who come to love each other even though they both have their obstacles. It is also wonderful to experience their carefree trip, the people they meet, and the love that develops between them. I highly recommend it!

I acquired this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

About the Author

TRISH DOLLER is the author of novels for teens and adults about love, life, and finding your place in the world. A former journalist and radio personality, Trish has written several YA novels, including the critically acclaimed Something Like Normal, as well as Float Plan, her adult women’s fiction debut. When she’s not writing, Trish loves sailing, traveling, and avoiding housework. She lives in southwest Florida with an opinionated herding dog and an ex-pirate.

Here’s where you can find your copy of Float Plan

Social Links: @TrishDoller on Instagram and Twitter

The Purple Nightgown Book Review

The Purple Nightgown

It’s a true crime Saturday! The Purple Nightgown comes from the awesome True Colors Series. If you’ve ever suffered from blinding migraines, you understand how desperate a sufferer can be for a cure.

About The Purple Nightgown

Marvel at true but forgotten history when patients check into Linda Hazzard’s Washington state spa in 1912 and soon become victim of her twisted greed.
Heiress Stella Burke is plagued by insincere suitors and nonstop headaches. Exhausting all other medical aides for her migraines, Stella reads Fasting for the Cure of Disease by Linda Hazzard and determines to go to the spa the author runs. Stella’s chauffer and long-time friend, Henry Clayton, is reluctant to leave her at the spa. Something doesn’t feel right to him, still Stella submits herself into Linda Hazzard’s care. Stella soon learns the spa has a dark side and Linda a mean streak. But when Stella has had enough, all ways to leave are suddenly blocked. Will Stella become a walking skeleton like many of the other patients or succumb to a worse fate?

You can find The Purple Nightgown here.

My Review

One thing I like about the True Colors Series is that the stories are built around true crimes. In The Purple Nightgown, Stella Burke, a well to do young lady suffers from migraine headaches. It is 1911 and she’s in search of a miracle cure, which leads her to Dr. Linda Hazzard who has written a book on fasting for better health. Even though Stella is discouraged from going to a fasting sanitorium, run by Hazzard by her lifelong friend, Henry, she tricks him into letting her go. The treatment she finds there is horrible and has to find a way to escape or die. The author explains in the end of the book that Linda Hazzard and this place of torture really did exist in Ollala, Washington. I enjoyed the pacing, the love story and A.D. Lawrence does an excellent job of showing the evilness of Linda Hazzard. She puts her main character right into the clutches of the villain and then shows how faith plays a vital role in survival.

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Gone Astray is on Cozy Prizes Friday!

Gone Astray Banner
Had enough of winter? Let’s go to Winterset, Nebraska, a cold midwestern town with a bit of a crime problem. You’ll meet a detective that you’ll come to love and the author’s attention to detail is excellent! Read my review below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

About Gone Astray

Gone Astray

Gone Astray
Publisher: Wild Rose Press (February 15, 2021)

Goodreads Button for Gone Astray

A heart attack sends detective Rory Naysmith reeling. Too young to retire, he accepts a position in small-town Winterset, Nebraska. Handed an unsolved truck hijacking case, with the assistance of a rookie, Rory sets out to prove he is still able to go toe-to-toe with younger men. When the body of a Vietnam veteran turns up, he dons his fedora and spit-shines his shoes. But before he can solve the murder, an older woman disappears, followed closely by a second hijacking. He doggedly works the cases, following a thread that ties the two crimes together. But can Rory find the mental and physical strength to up his game and bring the criminals to justice before disaster strikes and he loses his job?

My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed Gone Astray as it settled into a cold Nebraska winter with a seasoned detective taking a job in a small town. Rory Naysmith isn’t the man he used to be physically, but mentally he’s a top-notch detective who is finding the town of Winterset, Nebraska has its share of crime. I love the amount of detail Fischer uses in each and every scene making the reader feel like they’re hunching down with Rory noting that strange tarp at the construction company and making some flirting glances at a local bookkeeper whose mother is missing. The characters are well defined in such a way you want to know more about them. This story will keep you reading! 

You can find Gone Astray at these retailers – AmazonB&N

About Terry Korth Fischer

Terry Korth Fischer, Author of Gone Astray

Terry Korth Fischer writes mystery and memoir. Her memoir, Omaha to Ogallala, was released in 2019, S&H Publishing, Inc. Her short stories have appeared in The Write Place at the Write Time, Spies & Heroes, Voices from the Plains, and numerous anthologies. Transplanted from the Midwest, Terry lives in Houston with her husband and their two guard cats. She enjoys a good mystery, the heat and humidity, and long summer days.

Author Links




Amazon Author Page:


BLOG Website:

You can find Gone Astray at these retailers – AmazonB&N

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One more giveaway♥  It ends tonight so enter now!


Murder of a Good Man Giveaway

March Newsletter

Don’t subscribe to my newsletter? This is what you’re missing!

Books the the Ceiling Newsletter
Feed Me Seymour
Our “Feed Me, Seymour” Palm Tree Covered in Snow!Boy are we glad it’s March in Texas. Let’s just say February wasn’t our best month, and I have an urge to write about energy gurus who don’t have a clue. Have you ever been visited with a sudden calamity that takes days to resolve? Judd Kelsey, part of the Pecan Bayou Police Force tells us about all he encountered in the big Texas Freeze. Don’t forget to get your monthly helpful hint from The Happy Hinter. I have plenty of books on the review/showcase list this month, so mark your calendars and stop in any time.

Murder of a Good Man will be available through the Harlequin website on March 9th with a snazzy new cover!

Murder of a Good Man Giveaway

Find it at Harlequin Here

I will be giving away 5 paperback copies of Murder of a Good Man. Just a few more days to enter!

The Happy Hinter

This is Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick, the Happy Hinter part-time crime solver. So I’m sure you’ve all heard of it-the Magic Eraser. This little white foamy rectangle you can use for a myriad of uses. Leave a corner of it in your toilet to get rid of your toilet bowl ring. Use it to take your preschooler’s artwork off the wall. Clean your grout, and you can even run it gently over your computer keyboard to get those nasty crumbs. I know Josiah Thatcher would sure love that little sponge to work on his anniversary blunder. His wife, Primrose, also known as Mrs. Thatcher the Dispatcher, requested a blue scarf for their anniversary. She had seen Grace Kelly wearing a beautiful silk scarf framing her classic features while watching an old movie. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but we had a terrible freeze in February. Their anniversary happened during the freeze so when Josiah was out gathering firewood he ran into Glory McGiver and bemoaned the fact that all the stores were closed and he didn’t have the gift she had requested. She volunteered to make her a blue scarf and on the morning of the anniversary he showed up with a blue … muffler. Prim was polite and accepted the gift and then confessed her desire to look like Grace Kelly. Josiah realized he’d missed the mark, but Prim later told us he told her she didn’t need a blue scarf to look like Grace. She was even prettier. True love is an inspiration at 18 and 81, isn’t it? That’s all for now,
The Happy Hinter

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Pecan Bayou Post Card
Hello Neighbor!
This is Judd Kelsey, member of the Pecan Bayou Police Force and the father of our Happy Hinter. You may be aware that we had quite a winter storm last month and our people here in Pecan Bayou were trying not to freeze to death. Firewood came at a premium and that was how I discovered J.R. Ledbetter selling firewood on a sliding scale. J.R.’s scale was not based on a person’s salary but how good a joke they could tell. That’s J.R. for you. Libby Loper tried the classic chicken-crossed-the-road joke and got a pile of twigs. Earl from Earl’s Java made a joke asking what ERCOT, the energy gurus who got us into this mess- really means. The answer? Excluding Reliability when Cold OTemperate. That got him a cord of wood.
Stay safe, wear a mask, and take care.
~Judd Kelsey

Coming Up in March

March 5/Review/Giveaway

Gone Astray

A heart attack sends detective Rory Naysmith reeling. Too young to retire, he accepts a position in small-town Winterset, Nebraska. Handed an unsolved truck hijacking case, with the assistance of a rookie, Rory sets out to prove he is still able to go toe-to-toe with younger men.

March 6/Review

The Purple Nightgown
Marvel at true but forgotten history when patients check into Linda Hazzard’s Washington state spa in 1912 and soon become victim of her twisted greed.

March 12/Review

Float Plan

After a reminder goes off for the Caribbean sailing trip Anna was supposed to take with her fiancé, she impulsively goes to sea in the sailboat he left her, intending to complete the voyage alone. But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help .

March 13/Review


New York Times bestselling author Carol Edgarian delivers an astonishing feat of imagination, a grand adventure set in 1906 San Francisco – a city leveled by quake and fire—featuring an indomitable heroine coming of age in the aftermath of catastrophe and her quest for love and reinvention.

March 19/Spotlight/Giveaway

Murder Page One

Marvey, a librarian, has moved from Brooklyn to a quirky small town in Georgia. When she’s not at the library organizing events for readers, she’s handcrafting book-themed jewelry and looking after her cranky cat. At times, her new life in the South still feels strange…and that’s before the discovery of the dead body in the bookstore.

March 20/Spotlight

The Incredible Winston Browne

In the small, sleepy town of Moab, Florida, folks live for ice cream socials, Jackie Robinson, and the local paper’s weekly gossip column. For decades, Sheriff Winston Browne has watched over Moab with a generous eye, and by now he’s used to handling the daily dramas that keep life interesting for Moab’s quirky residents. But just after Winston receives some terrible, life-altering news, a feisty little girl with mysterious origins shows up in his best friend’s henhouse. Suddenly Winston has a child in desperate need of protection—as well as a secret of his own to keep.

March 26/Review

The Lost Village

The Blair Witch Project meets Midsommar in this brilliantly disturbing thriller from Camilla Sten, an electrifying new voice in suspense. Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

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The Turncoat’s Widow Spotlight and Giveaway

The Turncoat's Widow by Mally Becker Banner

At the end of a dreary February, lets dig into a historical romance by Mally Becker.

Check out the description, the excerpt and wink wink– the giveaway!

Mally’s from Level Best Books, my new publishing family that I’m so happy to be a part of, and today I get to spotlight her new book for you. 


The Turncoat's Widow by Mally Becker

Recently widowed, Rebecca Parcell is too busy struggling to maintain her farm in Morristown to care who wins the War for Independence. But rumors are spreading in 1780 that she’s a Loyalist sympathizer who betrayed her husband to the British—quite a tidy way to end her disastrous marriage, the village gossips whisper.

Everyone knows that her husband was a Patriot, a hero who died aboard a British prison ship moored in New York Harbor. But “everyone” is wrong. Parcell was a British spy, and General Washington – who spent two winters in Morristown – can prove it. He swears he’ll safeguard Becca’s farm if she unravels her husband’s secrets. With a mob ready to exile her or worse in the winter of 1780, it’s an offer she can’t refuse.

Escaped British prisoner of war Daniel Alloway was the last person to see Becca’s husband alive, and Washington throws this unlikely couple together on an espionage mission to British-occupied New York City. Moving from glittering balls to an underworld of brothels and prisons, Becca and Daniel uncover a plot that threatens the new country’s future. But will they move quickly enough to warn General Washington? And can Becca, who’s lost almost everyone she loves, fight her growing attraction to Daniel, a man who always moves on?

Praise for The Turncoat’s Widow

The Turncoat’s Widow has it all. A sizzling romance, meticulous research, and an exhilarating adventure. Becca Parcell is too independent for both 18th-century Morristown and her feckless English husband. Her individual plight when she is pressed into service as an unwilling spy after her husband’s death reflects the larger situation of colonists during the American Revolution, whose lives were upended by a political fight they cared nothing about. Becker balances the ruthlessness of George Washington and the underhanded charm of Alexander Hamilton with the excesses of the British, as part of a detailed picture of how the colonies were governed during a war that was far from a simple fight between two opposing nations. But historical exactitude is balanced by dashing romance between Becca and Daniel Alloway, the escaped prisoner charged with protecting her, and plot full of bold escapes and twists. A great series debut. I can’t wait for the next installment.
– Erica Obey, author, Dazzle Paint (coming 02/2021), The Curse of the Braddock Brides, and The Horseman’s Word.

An exciting Revolutionary-era thriller with a twisty mystery, great characters, and historical accuracy to boot.
– Eleanor Kuhns,author of the Will Rees mysteries

The Turncoat’s Widow reminds readers that treachery from within and without to our republic were real, and those early days for American independence from the British were fragile, the patriot cause, unpopular. This is a rousing debut novel with insights into the hardships of colonial life, the precarious place of women in society, while giving fans of historical fiction a tale with suspense, surprises, and anoutspoken and admirable heroine in Becca Parcell. Mally Becker is an author to watch.
– Gabriel Valjan, Agatha and Anthony-nominated author of The Naming Game

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Suspense / Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-953789-27-3
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads


Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Morristown – January 1780

There was a nervous rustling in the white-washed meeting house, a disturbance of air like the sound of sparrows taking wing.

Becca Parcell peered over the balcony’s rough, wood railing, blinking away the fog of half-sleep. She had been dreaming of the figures in her account book and wondering whether there would be enough money for seed this spring.

“I didn’t hear what ….” she whispered to Philip’s mother.

Lady Augusta Georgiana Stokes Parcell, known simply as Lady Augusta, covered Becca’s hand with her own. “Philip. They’re speaking of Philip.”

Becca couldn’t tell whether it was her hand or Augusta’s that trembled.

“The Bible says, if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, does it not?” The preacher’s voice was soft, yet it carried to every corner of the congregation. “They’re here. Amongst us. Neighbors who toast the King behind closed doors. Neighbors with no love of liberty.”

Philip was a Patriot. He had died a hero. Everyone knew. Minister Townsend couldn’t be talking about him.

The minister raised his eyes to hers. With his long thin arms and legs and round belly, he reminded her of a spider. She twisted her lips into the semblance of a smile as if to say “you don’t scare me.” But he did.

“Which of your neighbors celebrates each time a Patriot dies?” Townsend’s voice rose like smoke to the rafters, took on strength and caught fire. “Their presence here is an abomination.” He rapped the podium with a flat palm, the sound bruising in the quiet church. “Then cast them out. Now.”

Men pounded the floor with their feet.

Becca flinched. It wouldn’t take much to tip the congregation into violence. Everyone had lost someone or something to this endless war. It had been going on for almost five years.

Townsend’s thin arm rose, pointing to her.

Becca’s breath caught.

“And what of widows like Mrs. Parcell? Left alone, no longer guided by the wise direction of their husbands.”

Guided? Becca pulled her hand from Augusta’s. She rubbed her thumb along the palm of her hand, feeling the rough calluses stamped there. She had learned the rhythm of the scythe at the end of the summer, how to twist and swing low until her hands were so stiff that she’d struggle to free them from the handle. She’d fallen into a dreamless sleep each night during the harvest too exhausted even to dream of Philip. She, Augusta and their servant Annie were doing just fine.

“He hardly slept at home, as I hear it,” a woman behind her sniffed to a neighbor.

Becca’s spine straightened.

“No wonder there were no babes,” the second woman murmured.

Becca twisted and nodded a smile to Mrs. Huber and Mrs. Harrington. Their mouths pursed into surprised tight circles. She’d heard them murmur, their mouths hidden by fluttering fans: About her lack of social graces; her friendship with servants; her awkward silence in company. “What else could you expect from her?” they would say, snapping shut their fans.

Relief washed through Becca, nonetheless. This was merely the old gossip, not the new rumors.

“Some of you thought Mr. Parcell was just another smuggler.” The pastor’s voice boomed.

A few in the congregation chuckled. It was illegal to sell food to the British in New York – the “London Trade” some called it — but most turned a blind eye. Even Patriots need hard currency to live, Becca recalled Philip saying.

“He only married her for the dowry,” Mrs. Huber hissed.

Becca’s hand curved into a fist.

Augusta cleared her throat, and Becca forced herself to relax.

“Perhaps some of you thought Mr. Parcell was still a Tory,” the minister said.

The chuckling died.

“He came to his senses, though. He was, after all, one of us,” Minister Townsend continued.

One of us. Invitations from the finer families had trickled away after Philip’s death.

“We all know his story,” Townsend continued. “He smuggled whiskey into New York City. And what a perfect disguise his aristocratic roots provided.” The minister lifted his nose in the air as if mimicking a dandy.
“The British thought he was one of them, at least until the end.” The minister’s voice swooped as if telling a story around a campfire. “He brought home information about the British troops in the City.”

Becca shifted on the bench. She hadn’t known about her husband’s bravery until after his death. It had baffled her. Philip never spoke of politics.

Townsend lifted one finger to his chin as if he had a new thought. “But who told the British where Mr. Parcell would be on the day he was captured? Who told the Redcoats that Mr. Parcell was a spy for independence?”

Becca forgot to breathe. He wouldn’t dare.

“It must have been someone who knew him well.” The minister’s gaze moved slowly through the congregation and came to rest on Becca. His eyes were the color of creosote, dark and burning. “Very, very well.”
Mrs. Coddington, who sat to Becca’s left, pulled the hem of her black silk gown close to avoid contact. Men in the front pews swiveled and stared.

“I would never. I didn’t.” Becca’s corset gouged her ribcage.

“Speak up, Mrs. Parcell. We can’t hear you,” the minister said in a singsong voice.

Townsend might as well strip her naked before the entire town. Respectable women didn’t speak in public. He means to humiliate me.

“Stand up, Mrs. Parcell.” His voice boomed. “We all want to hear.”

She didn’t remember standing. But there she was, the fingers of her right hand curled as it held the hunting bow she’d used since she was a child. Becca turned back to the minister. “Hogwash.” If they didn’t think she was a lady, she need not act like one. “Your independence is a wickedly unfair thing if it lets you accuse me without proof.”

Gasps cascaded throughout the darkening church.

From the balcony, where slaves and servants sat, she heard two coughs, explosive as gun fire. She twisted. Carl scowled down at her in warning. His white halo of hair, fine as duckling feathers, seemed to stand on end. He had worked for her father and helped to raise her. He had taught her numbers and mathematics. She couldn’t remember life without him.

“Accuse? Accuse you of what, Mrs. Parcell?” The minister opened his arms to the congregation. “What have we accused you of?”

Becca didn’t feel the chill now. “Of killing my husband. If this is what your new nation stands for – neighbors accusing neighbors, dividing us with lies – I’ll have none of it. “Five years into this endless war, is anyone better off for Congress’ Declaration of Independence? Independence won’t pay for food. It won’t bring my husband home.”

It was as if she’d burst into flames. “What has the war brought any of us? Heartache, is all. Curse your independence. Curse you for ….”

Augusta yanked on Becca’s gown with such force that she teetered, then rocked back onto the bench.

The church erupted in shouts, a crashing wave of sound meant to crush her.

Becca’s breath came in short puffs. What had she done?

“Now that’s just grief speaking, gentlemen. Mrs. Parcell is still mourning her husband. No need to get worked up.” The voice rose from the front row. She recognized Thomas Lockwood’s slow, confident drawl.
She craned her neck to watch Thomas, with his wheat-colored hair and wide shoulders. His broad stance reminded her of a captain at the wheel. He was a gentleman, a friend of General Washington. They’ll listen to him, she thought.

“Our minister doesn’t mean to accuse Mrs. Parcell of anything, now do you, sir?”

The two men stared at each other. A minister depended on the good will of gentlemen like Thomas Lockwood.
The pastor blinked first. He shook his head.

Becca’s breathing slowed.

“There now. As I said.” Lockwood’s voice calmed the room.

Then Mr. Baldwin stood slowly. Wrinkles crisscrossed his cheeks. He’d sent his three boys to fight with the Continental Army in ’75. Only one body came home to be buried. The other two were never found. He pointed at Becca with fingers twisted by arthritis. “Mrs. Parcell didn’t help when the women raised money for the soldiers last month.”

A woman at the end of Becca’s pew sobbed quietly. It was Mrs. Baldwin.

“You didn’t invite me.” Becca searched the closed faces for proof that someone believed her.

“Is she on our side or theirs?” another woman called.

The congregation quieted again. But it was the charged silence between two claps of thunder, and the Assembly waited for a fresh explosion in the dim light of the tired winter afternoon.

With that, Augusta’s imperious voice sliced through the silence: “Someone help my daughter-in-law. She’s not well. I believe she’s about to faint.”

Becca might be rash, but she wasn’t stupid, and she knew a command when she heard one. She shut her eyes and fell gracelessly into the aisle. Her head and shoulder thumped against the rough pine floorboards.

Mrs. Coddington gasped. So did Becca, from the sharp pain in her cheek and shoulder.

Women in the surrounding rows scooted back in surprise, their boots shuffling with a shh-shh sound.

“Lady Augusta,” Mrs. Coddington huffed.

Independence be damned. All of Morristown seemed to enjoy using Augusta’s family title, her former title, as often as possible.

“Lady Augusta,” she repeated. “I’ve had my suspicions about that girl since the day she married your son. I don’t know why you haven’t sent her back to her people.”

“She has no ‘people,’ Mrs. Coddington. She has me,” Augusta’s voice was as frosty as the air in the church. “And if I had doubts about Rebecca, do you think I’d live with her?”

Becca imagined Augusta’s raised eyebrows, her delicate lifted chin. She couldn’t have borne it if her mother-in-law believed the minister’s lies.

Augusta’s featherlight touch stroked her forehead. “Well done,” she murmured. “Now rise slowly. And don’t lean on me. I might just topple over.”

“We are eager to hear the rest of the service on this Sabbath day, Minister Townsend. Do continue,” Thomas Lockwood called.

Becca stood, her petite mother-in-law’s arm around her waist. The parishioners at the edges of the aisles averted their eyes as the two women passed.

As they stepped into the stark, brittle daylight, one last question shred the silence they left behind: “Do you think she turned her husband over to the British?”

Someone else answered. “It must be true. Everyone says so.


Excerpt from The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker. Copyright 2021 by Mally Becker. Reproduced with permission from Mally Becker. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Mally Becker

Mally Becker is a writer whose historical suspense novel, The Turncoat’s Widow, will be published in February 2021 by Level Best Books. She was born in Brooklyn and began her professional career in New York City as a publicist and freelance magazine writer, then moved on, becoming an attorney and, later, an advocate for children in foster care.

As a volunteer, she used her legal background to create a digest of letters from US Supreme Court Justices owned by the Morristown National Park. That’s where she found a copy of an indictment for the Revolutionary War crime of traveling from New Jersey to New York City “without permission or passport.” It led her to the idea for her story.

​A winner of the Leon B. Burstein/MWA-NY Scholarship for Mystery Writing, Mally lives with her husband in the wilds of New Jersey where they hike, kayak, look forward to visits from their son, and poke around the region’s historical sites.

Catch Up With Mally Becker On:
Instagram – @mallybeckerwrites
Twitter – @mally_becker
Facebook – Mally Baumel Becker




Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Mally Becker. There will be Five (5) winners for this tour. One winner will receive a $20. Gift Card, Two (2) winners will each win a physical copy of The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker (U.S. addresses only), and Two (2) winners will each win an eBook copy of The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker. The giveaway begins on February 22, 2021 and runs through March 21, 2021.
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Dangerous Women Book Review

Dangerous Women

It’s been crazy in Texas this week and I almost didn’t get this posted. We’ve had power on for over 14 hours so I’m typing quickly! I think I’m going to have to write a book about energy brokers who don’t have a clue to life, but really, we’re fine and I’m on day 3 of my Netflix/Amazon Prime withdrawal.

Speaking a dangerous women, you can take your choice- today’s book is historical and a great mystery. This story is like a cruise ship for convicts and just when it’s getting interesting someone gets murdered. Dangerous Women is based on a true story and the quilt the women make is actually on display in Australia. Read my review under the description and don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a signed paperback copy of Murder of a Good Man coming out with Harlequin.

More about Dangerous Women

Nearly two hundred condemned women board a transport ship bound for Australia. One of them is a murderer. From debut author Hope Adams comes a thrilling novel based on the 1841 voyage of the convict ship Rajah, about confinement, hope, and the terrible things we do to survive.

London, 1841. One hundred eighty Englishwomen file aboard the Rajah, embarking on a three-month voyage to the other side of the world. 

They’re daughters, sisters, mothers—and convicts. 

Transported for petty crimes. 

Except one of them has a deadly secret, and will do anything to flee justice.

As the Rajah sails farther from land, the women forge a tenuous kinship. Until, in the middle of the cold and unforgiving sea, a young mother is mortally wounded, and the hunt is on for the assailant before he or she strikes again.

Each woman called in for question has something to fear: Will she be attacked next? Will she be believed? Because far from land, there is nowhere to flee, and how can you prove innocence when you’ve already been found guilty?

My Review

A group of women who have committed crimes like stealing are put on the ship Rajah and will be given a new life in Australia in the year 1841. In this debut novel, Hope Adams gives us a fascinating look at the prisoners and the reasons they committed their crimes and then takes it one step further when there is a murder onboard. At this point, Dangerous Women went from a historical novel to a heck of a whodunnit. There were plenty of suspects and reasons for the murder with a cryptic clue stitched into a quilt scrap. The matron of these women decides making a quilt while being aboard ship for over one hundred days would be a great way to give them a positive endeavor and get to know each woman. A member of the quilt group is murdered and suddenly the seven women involved became potential murderers. Excellent story! 5 Stars

Murder of a Good Man Giveaway

Mardi Gras Mysteries

I have another short story out, this time with Mystery and Horror, LLC. All the mysteries take place during Mardi Gras which with my husband being from New Orleans, I had an instant expert.

“Unfiltered” is about a woman who says what she says and she doesn’t care who hears it or who it might hurt. You know this woman, right? Proud of being rude? But the fun part of being a writer is you can turn the tables on a character like this!

Here’s where you can pick up Mardi Gras Mysteries.

Mardis Gras Mysteries


By popular demand, we present the sequel to Mardi Gras Murder. Mardi Gras Mysteries offers seventeen tales of crime, mayhem, and murder set during the celebration and licentiousness of Carnival. For a savory sample of New Orleans lore, take a sip of “A Prayer to Momus” by DJ Tyrer or “Carnival Carnage” by John Kiste. For a dish of redemption and revenge, returning author and Louisiana native Nathan Pettigrew serves up “The Steel Pelican.” Is a mystery with a literary flavor more to your taste? Try “The Brass Menagerie” by DG Critchley. If you prefer a racier seasoning, there’s “Unholy Beads” and “Gussy Saint and the Case of the Three-Boobed Woman.” For the deepest bowl of intrigue, we end with “Keep Your Head Up,” a thriller by Tom Andes. And don’t forget my story “Unfiltered” a Mardis Gras murder mystery with a twist!

Available on Amazon

Have you entered my giveaway yet?

The Four Winds Book Review

The Four Winds

We are going historical today. Think Dust Bowl and people out of choices, desperate to survive. The Four Winds is amazing. Believe it or not, this was the first book I’ve read by Kristin Hannah, but it won’t be the last. Be sure to scroll down to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of Murder of a Good Man.

Book Description

From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

My Review

Kristin Hannah is a tremendous storyteller. The Four Winds gives us the character of Elsa who is told she is too tall, too thin, and not overly attractive daily. Living in Texas during the dust bowl she flees to California with her children for a better life and finds herself under the thumb of large farms who use the company store to keep underpaid workers always in debt. This is a story of struggle, stubbornness, the triumph of women when they work together, and how the American dream does end up being the same for everyone. I treasured the tale of Elsa and hoped for her to have the life she deserved the whole way through the book. Excellent.

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Coming up in February at Books to the Ceiling

It’s hard to believe we’re coming upon a year of this pandemic. Spending more time at home has had us organizing, cooking, baking, and learning to cope with loving loved ones. Have you done something different this year? This blog post is my February newsletter. If you would like to subscribe click here or on the banner at the bottom of the page. We’ll make a visit to the fictional town of Pecan Bayou to see how Ruby Green, owner of The Best Little Hairhouse in Texas is making it through the pandemic.

Did you know that Murder of a Good Man has been picked up by Harlequin? It will be available through their website on March 9th with a snazzy new cover!

GIVEAWAY! I will be giving away 5 signed paperback copies of Murder of a Good Man.

February 5/Review

The Four Winds
“Through one woman’s survival during the harsh and haunting Dust Bowl,
master storyteller, Kristin Hannah, reminds us that the human heart and our Earth are as tough, yet as fragile, as a change in the wind.”
Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing

February 19/Review

Dangerous Women
Nearly two hundred condemned women board a transport ship bound for Australia. One of them is a murderer. From debut author Hope Adams comes a thrilling novel based on the 1841 voyage of the convict ship Rajah, about confinement, hope, and the terrible things we do to survive.

February 26/Showcase

Dangerous Women
Recently widowed, Rebecca Parcell is too busy struggling to maintain her farm in Morristown to care who wins the War for Independence. But rumors are spreading in 1780 that she’s a Loyalist sympathizer who betrayed her husband to the British- quite a tidy way to end her disastrous marriage, the village gossips whisper.

Hello Residents of Pecan Bayou. This is Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick, the Happy Hinter and part-time crime solver. If you have been revamping pieces of furniture with spray paints you might find that stray cans are all over your garage or work area. When you are ready to start that new project, where is that can of paint? Could it be in the mess you’ve created as you rushed to the finish of your last project? Here’s my helpful hint and it’s one to lessen the amount of trash you put to the curb every week. If you have cardboard six pack cases, whether from soft drinks or beer, you’ll find the six square pockets are a perfect fit for a can of spray paint. Not only do you have the paint all in one place, but now you have a handy handle to transport it! Now, just because you feel good about being on the road to organization with this helpful hint, you do not need to empty out a six pack right away!
This will lead me to my next column, “Cures for a Nasty Hangover”. That’s all for now,
The Happy Hinter

Hello Neighbor!
Ruby Green here to tell you how Pecan Bayou is doing in the pandemic. The Best Little Hair House in Texas had to close down for awhile. Betsy came up with the idea of wearing a green trash bag as my smock and one of those big clear plastic masks. That way I could cut hair and still be socially distant.
I looked like I belonged in the creature feature down at the Rialto. I wore that for a while, but Texas in the summer can be a devilish place and wearing a coating of Hefty was a big pain in the you-know-what. Other people in Pecan Bayou have learned to get along with all of the rules and regulations. Birdie’s Diner and Benny’s Barbecue went down two tables on the sidewalk. That seemed to work out until the hurricane season hit.
The Pecan Bayou Congregational Church is back to meeting in person. My brother, Pastor Green, tried going online but some of our older members had trouble with that YouTube thing. We’ve only had one case of Covid here, mostly because people who live here stay here no matter what’s going on. Why would they leave? This is Pecan Bayou. That’s all for now, and if you need those bangs trimmed, come on in.
You don’t need an appointment at The Best Little Hairhouse.


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A Tourist’s Guide to Murder is on Cozy Prizes Friday

V.M. Burns has her sixth installment out in the Mystery Bookshop series. Her characters go on a mystery tour in London, England. I want to go! Don’t you? Seeing as the only travel we’re doing is from our reading chairs, let’s check out A Tourist’s Guide to Murder. Be sure to scroll down for the giveaway!

About A Tourist’s Guide to Murder

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder (Mystery Bookshop)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Kensington (January 26, 2021)

While visiting the land of Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes, bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Samantha Washington finds herself on a tragical mystery tour . . .

Sam joins Nana Jo and her Shady Acres Retirement Village friends Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae on a weeklong trip to London, England, to experience the Peabody Mystery Lovers Tour. The chance to see the sights and walk the streets that inspired Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle is a dream come true for Sam—and a perfect way to celebrate her new publishing contract as a mystery author.

But between visits to Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel district and 221B Baker Street, Major Horace Peabody is found dead, supposedly of natural causes. Despite his employer’s unfortunate demise, the tour guide insists on keeping calm and carrying on—until another tourist on their trip also dies under mysterious circumstances. Now it’s up to Sam and the Shady Acres ladies to mix and mingle among their fellow mystery lovers, find a motive, and turn up a murderer . . .

You can find A Tourist’s Guide to Murder at these retailers:

AppleAmazonGoogleKoboNookBAMBookshop.orgHudson BooksellersIndieBoundTarget

And now we spend a little time with Samantha Washington, a character from the Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series…

Welcome to the blog, Samantha! Please tell us about your latest adventure.

My grandmother, Nana Jo and the girls from the retirement village accompany me on Peabody Mystery Lovers Tour of England to research my next British historic cozy. When Major Peabody dies of apparently natural causes, we carry on. When a second tour member is murdered it becomes apparent that there’s nothing natural about either death. Suspicion falls on the members of the tour group and it’s up to us to find the real killer.

Do you have any friends/sidekicks helping you out?

My grandmother, Josephine Thomas (Nana Jo) and her friends from Shady Acres Retirement Village have helped me solve several mysteries. Nana Jo is a crack shot and she and Dorothy, are both aikido experts. Ruby Mae has a vast extended family network. She has the type of face that people trust and people tell her things. Irma is a major flirt and always manages to get men to tell her their secrets. I wouldn’t be able to get the information I need without Nana Jo and the girls.

Do you have any special skills to fight crime?

My biggest skill is solving puzzles. As the owner of a mystery bookshop and an avid mystery reader, I’ve read a lot of whodunits in my time. Hours spent immersed in mysteries has helped me to sift through evidence, filter out the red herrings and put the clues together to help get to the truth.

Are you a full-time detective or do you do something else?

I am not a full-time detective. I used to be a high school English teacher, but when my husband died, I decided to follow my dream. We had always dreamed that one day, we’d quit our jobs and open a mystery bookshop. When Leon died, that’s what I did. So, I own a mystery bookshop and I also write British historic cozy mysteries in my spare time.

What are you most frightened of in this story?

Normally, when I’ve solved mysteries, it’s been in my hometown of North Harbor, Michigan. This is the first time that I’ve had to solve a mystery in another country, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to do it without access to friends and family members we’ve tapped in the past for information. Will solving a mystery in the U.K. be the same?

Is there anything funny that happens to you or another character in this story?

I certainly didn’t think it was funny at the time, but just getting onboard our plane was fraught with problems, from missing our shuttle to losing my passport. We had a number of embarrassing and humorous incidents. And, for the record, TSA doesn’t have a sense of humor.

If I were to choose an actor or actress to play your part in a movie, who would that be? Do you see any other characters in your story as actors or actresses that our readers might know?

Personally, I’d love to see Halle Berry play me, but that’s just because I think she’s gorgeous. I’m actually a lot shorter and curvier than her, but then they say the camera adds fifteen pounds, right?

Do you have other mysteries you would like to tell us about? Is this the first book in the series, or have you cracked a few other cases?

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder is the sixth book in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series, so I have cracked a few cases before this one. However, this case is unique in that it happens while on vacation in England.

Do you have any final words you would like to leave with our readers?

In addition to solving mysteries, I also write British historic mysteries which are set in between the two world wars. I’ve found that writing helps my subconscious work through the clues to help figure out whodunit.

Let’s give your author a chance to speak. Anything you would like to add?

Each book in the Mystery Bookshop mystery series includes two mysteries for the reader to solve. There’s a contemporary mystery along with the British historic cozy mystery that Sam is writing.

About V.M. Burns

V.M. Burns

V.M. (Valerie) Burns was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She currently resides in the warmer region of the country in East Tennessee with her two poodles. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers of America, Crime Writers of Color, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime. Valerie is the author of the RJ Franklin Mysteries, the Dog Club Mysteries, and the Agatha Award-nominated Mystery Bookshop Mystery series.

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In the Garden of Spite Book Review

Belle Gunness was a prolific serial killer who could rethink everything she was doing making herself the victim. In the Garden of Spite is a fascinating book about her men, her crimes, and the loving family that protected her.

In the Garden of Spite

Book Description: In the Garden of Spite

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

My Review

Camilla Bruce does an outstanding job of letting the readers get into the head of Belle Gunness. What does a murderer think before they kill? How does this person justify taking another life? Then we go a step further and get into the rationalizations of Bella’s protective sister. Men flock around Bella and then disappear but who could suspect a poor widow? I not only loved watching the crimes occur but Bella’s outlook change. She saw things as beautiful and food as fresh. Then things became moldy and rotten. The pacing is excellent, especially if you love true crime.

I obtained this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

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The Broken Spine is on Cozy Prizes Friday

The Broken Spine Tour Banner
Today we have The Broken Spine, a book about a rule-breaking librarian. Be still my heart! Let’s save all those discarded books because you are literally throwing away an adventure for somebody, somewhere.  Dorothy St. James was kind enough to answer some questions for us and brought a giveaway with her! 

About The Broken Spine

The Broken Spine
The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Berkley (January 19, 2021)

The first in an exciting new series featuring Trudell Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer!

Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library’s beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library’s basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.

When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library’s transformation into a “futuristic technological center,” is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police’s prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that’s not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.

But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she’d have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, Trudell–with the help of a group of dedicated readers–decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can’t always judge a book by its cover.


Read an Excerpt

The Broken Spine

No one in the moderately sized rural southern town of Cypress would ever suspect their stalwart assistant librarian of breaking into the library where she worked. Why would they? A bronze plaque hangs on my kitchen wall. It was personally presented to me by Mayor Goodvale. He declared me an asset to the town. I’d received the award because I always performed my job with the highest level of pride and professionalism. For the past thirteen years I put the town and library first, often to the detriment of my personal life.
An even bigger honor occurred a few years ago when Mrs. Lida Farnsworth, the town’s head librarian, whispered (she always whispered) while we busily returned books to their shelves: “Trudell Becket, I couldn’t be more pleased to be wrong about my first impression of you. I would have hired any other candidate for the position. But, alas, the only other person who’d applied was that drunkard Cooper Berry. I honestly didn’t think you had it in you, honey. But, bless your heart, you’ve become the model of a perfect librarian.”
And she was right. I was perfect. Until . . .
Well, let’s just say someone needed to do this.
As a general rule, librarians don’t speak in loud voices. Librarians don’t exceed the speed limit when driving to work. And librarians certainly don’t dress head-to-toe in black ninja-wear while attempting to pick the library’s backdoor lock.
Yet, librarians can always be counted on to get things done.
“Don’t look at me like that,” I muttered to a lanky brown cat with black tiger stripes. It had emerged from the darkened back alleyway to stand next to library’s cool pearly-pink granite wall and watch me. “Someone needs to protect those books before they all end up destroyed. They’re sending them to the landfill.” The small metal flashlight clenched between my teeth caused the words to come out garbled. Both of my hands were busy working the lock.
A textbook for locksmiths that I’d borrowed from the library’s reference section sat open to the page featuring a diagram of a lock. Since I didn’t own a lockpick kit—why would I?—I’d improvised with a few sturdy paperclips bent to resemble the tools depicted on the book’s previous page. Every little sound, every scrape and rumble in Cypress’s quaint downtown, boomed in my ears. I jumped at the soft cough of a car engine. And with that cat watching me, I felt an itchy need to scurry into the nearest mousehole to hide.
But I couldn’t run. I had to finish what I’d set my mind to finishing.
After what felt like a million thundering heartbeats while I fumbled with the paperclips, the lock clicked. The door opened. I rose on shaky legs, gathering up the reference book and the stack of flattened moving boxes I’d brought with me. My gaze darted to the darkest corners of the alleyway before I slipped inside.
Just as the door started to close, the cat that had been watching with such a judgmental glare shimmied between my legs and into the library before the heavy metal back door clanked closed.
“Hey!” I called in a harsh whisper because shouting in a library simply wasn’t done. Whispering seemed even more important in the middle of the night as I sneaked inside on my clandestine mission.
The brown cat ignored me. With a yeow loud enough to have me instinctively hissing, “Shhhh!” the little beast darted upstairs and disappeared into the shadows of the stacks.
“Tru, you’re in for it now,” I muttered before dropping the stack of boxes. I sprinted after that darn cat.
Mrs. Farnsworth would have a heart attack if she discovered a flea-bitten kitty wandering among her books in the morning. I needed to get him out. The head librarian was already on edge with having to deal with the changes coming to the library. If I didn’t know the tough older woman better, I would have suspected she was busy plotting a murder.

And now a word from Dorothy…

How did you come with an idea for your book?

I have always been intrigued by the story surrounding the Grand Library of Alexander. I love how the library attempted to collect all written knowledge and store it in one place. I grieved when reading how the library burned. This story has stuck with me and tugged at me for decades. I finally decided I wanted to write about it, but two things stopped me. First, I’m not an expert of ancient times. Second, I hate how the story ends, with the library’s burning. If I were writing about the famous library, I’d be temped to try and change history. So, I decided to take the story and modernize it. I picked a small town in South Carolina as the setting for the story, since that’s my backyard. And I gave my heroine—an assistant librarian for the town’s public library—the task of saving the books that were about to be destroyed thanks to a modernization scheme that the town leaders have all embraced. With this as my backdrop, I knew I had the makings of a novel I simply had to write. And that’s how the idea for The Broken Spine was born.

What scene do you hope your readers enjoy the most?

All the scenes! What? That’s not the best answer? I get it. The scene that really inspired me is the opening scene. It’s where Trudell Becket, my assistant librarian and consummate rule-follower, makes the decision to break into her beloved library and save the print books that are slated to be destroyed. She believes in her library and the work she’s been doing at the library so much that she steps far, far outside of her comfort zone. I love that about her. I love her conviction. I wish I possessed more of it in my own life sometimes. But, on the other hand, her actions did cause all sorts of trouble for herself.

What other things have you written or what projects might we see in the future?

The Broken Spine is the first book in the Beloved Bookroom Mystery series being published by Berkley Prime Crime. The second book in the series, A Perfect Bind, should be released in the Fall. And I’m writing the third book in the series now.

The Beloved Bookroom Mystery series is my third cozy mystery series. I also have written the White House Gardener Mystery series (also for Berkley Prime Crime) and the Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series. All my series have their roots firmly based in South Carolina, my home state. I also have a couple of standalone mysteries available. There’s a little something for everyone!

If you could write any other genre what would that be?

As Dorothy McFalls, I’ve written romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and historical romance novels. I love writing in both the mystery and the romance genres. I am so glad that I have had the freedom to explore different ways to tell the stories playing out in my mind. I think I have one literary story within me, but I’m not ready to write it yet.

With that said, I do hope to be able to keep writing mystery novels for many, many years to come. I love the genre!

Is there a giveaway or promotion with this book?

Yes! There’s a giveaway associated with this blog tour. Also, I’ll be holding giveaways and contests on my Facebook page, so be sure to visit the page and hit “Like.” Occasionally, I’ll announce contests through my email list. You can sign up for that on my website. I don’t send out an email often, so don’t worry about my filling up your inbox.

Where can readers leave reviews of your book?

I love it when readers leave reviews! It helps other readers find my books. I think the best kind of reviews are word-of-mouth. Tell your friends and neighbors about my books if you enjoy them. Also, you can leave a review in several places. Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Bookbub are all places where readers look for books. You can also post reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even make a TikTok video. You could literally sing my book’s praises. Wouldn’t that be fun?


About Dorothy St. James

Dorothy St. James

Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, a crazy dog, and fluffy cat. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn’t as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: “amazing”, “perfect”, “filled with emotion”, and “lined with danger.”

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Overdue for Murder

The Crime Scene Connection is on Cozy Prizes Friday

Time for that weekly crime story, but how about a little romance along the way? Crime Scene Connection is a fast paced, someone’s out to get her thriller and a handsome man who is sent to protect her! Read my review below and don’t forget to scroll down for the giveaway!

Crime Scene Connection

by Deena Alexander

About Crime Scene Connection

Crime Scene Connection (Love Inspired Suspense)
Inspirational Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense (January 12, 2021)

Her writing was fiction,

until a killer made the danger very real…

A serial killer’s imitating crime scenes from Addison Keller’s bestselling novel, determined to make her the final victim. But with former police officer Jace Montana and his dog at her side, Addison might just be able to unmask the murderer. With time running out as the killer closes in, she must confront her past and unravel long-buried secrets…and hope they can all escape with their lives.

My Review

Addison is a crime writer and someone is out there imitating the murders in her first book. She feels incredible guilt for her unwitting part in the crimes and as the danger comes closer to her Jace, a former partner of her ex-husband’s becomes her bodyguard. He is also best friends with Connor, her brother-in-law. As Addison and Jace try to figure out the killer’s next move they are forced to run and hide only to be discovered. The pace of the story was good and there was an interesting twist at the end. This is an inspirational romance and both characters, when forced into dangerous situations turned to their faith to carry them through. 

Pick up your copy of Crime Scene Connection at any of these retailers:

AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboHarlequinBooks-a-MillionTarget

IndieboundWalmartApple BooksGoogle Play

About Deena Alexander

Deena Alexander

Deena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, where she met and married her high school sweetheart. She recently relocated to Florida with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Now she enjoys long walks in nature all year long, despite the occasional alligator or snake she sometimes encounters. Deena’s love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night, and she now works full time as a writer and a freelance editor.

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Time for that weekly crime story, but how about a little romance along the way? Crime Scene Connection is a fast paced, someone’s out to get her thriller and a handsome man who is sent to protect her! Read my review below and don’t forget to scroll down for the giveaway!


by Deena Alexander

About Crime Scene Connection

Crime Scene Connection (Love Inspired Suspense)""
Inspirational Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense (January 12, 2021)


Her writing was fiction,

until a killer made the danger very real…

A serial killer’s imitating crime scenes from Addison Keller’s bestselling novel, determined to make her the final victim. But with former police officer Jace Montana and his dog at her side, Addison might just be able to unmask the murderer. With time running out as the killer closes in, she must confront her past and unravel long-buried secrets…and hope they can all escape with their lives.

My Review

Addison is a crime writer and someone is out there imitating the murders in her first book. She feels incredible guilt for her unwitting part in the crimes and as the danger comes closer to her Jace, a former partner of her ex-husband’s becomes her bodyguard. He is also best friends with Connor, her brother-in-law. As Addison and Jace try to figure out the killer’s next move they are forced to run and hide only to be discovered. The pace of the story was good and there was an interesting twist at the end. This is an inspirational romance and both characters, when forced into dangerous situations turned to their faith to carry them through. 

About Deena Alexander


Deena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, where she met and married her high school sweetheart. She recently relocated to Florida with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Now she enjoys long walks in nature all year long, despite the occasional alligator or snake she sometimes encounters. Deena’s love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night, and she now works full time as a writer and a freelance editor.

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Purchase Links –

AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboHarlequinBooks-a-MillionTarget

IndieboundWalmartApple BooksGoogle Play
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A Sneeze to Die For/Woman's World

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

In these rocky days, it’s good to find a place in the fictional world to put up your feet, drink some sweet tea and eat some fried green tomatoes. Thank you Fannie Flagg for writing The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop. Like your character Evelyn, I didn’t grow up in Whistle Stop, Alabama, but I always feel refreshed when I visit.

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

Book Description

Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop with his mother, Ruth, church-going and proper, and his Aunt Idgie, the fun-loving hell-raiser. Together they ran the town’s popular Whistle Stop Cafe, known far and wide for its fun and famous fried green tomatoes. And as Bud often said of his childhood to his daughter Ruthie, “How lucky can you get?”

But sadly, as the railroad yards shut down and Whistle Stop became a ghost town, nothing was left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time.

Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see what has become of his beloved Whistle Stop. In so doing, he discovers new friends, as well as surprises about Idgie’s life, about Ninny Threadgoode and other beloved Fannie Flagg characters, and about the town itself. He also sets off a series of events, both touching and inspiring, which change his life and the lives of his daughter and many others. Could these events all be just coincidences? Or something else? And can you really go home again?

My Review

Every time I finish a book by Fannie Flagg I say to myself was her best book ever, so here it is. This was her best book ever. In The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop she takes us back to the days of Fried Green Tomatoes and the legendary town of Whistle Stop, Alabama. Flagg successfully goes back and forth between the past and the present and we get to see how her characters have grown. Some have died and and all share a sense of loss because the little town of Whistle Stop no longer exists. We get to see Bud Threadgoode who was the child of Iggy and Ruth, owners of the Whistle Stop Café. Not only do we find out about Bud, we see what happened to Idgie, Dot Weems, Evelyn, who still has more insurance than I do, Opal Butts and all of the delightful characters created for this magical world. If you’ve read Fried Green Tomatoes or have seen the movie, you’ll want to read this book. I found myself left with the feeling of positive expectations, joy, and a chance to come home again.

Till Dirt Do Us Part

All the Book Posts of 2020- Part 2

As we look to the new year, I am looking at a lovely little 2020 ornament my son’s Down syndrome group gave him in a stocking. Is there anyone else out there who doesn’t want to save anything decorative with 2020 on it? I don’t even want to add anything in our yearly Christmas journal, but I will. Whether we like it or not, we will always remember 2020.

For my part, a remarkable thing happened to me. I was signed by Level Best Books for a new historical mystery series that will take place in 1962. That’s worth remembering and something I’m incredibly thankful for in 2020.

As we are remembering the year, here is Part 2 of the books that made a stop on the blog whether through a review or a blog tour feature.

Seeing Doggone Double

The Fourth of July is bursting out all over! Doggone Dead x2! Find out about Dane MacCaslin’s new book coming out in August that shares the name of my Fourth of July Mystery. #FourthofJuly #Kensington #cozymystery

Audiobook Review – The Giver of Stars

If you love a good audiobook, then The Giver of Stars is something you should check out. The book is beautifully narrated by Julia Whelan. It involves a group of women who went out on packhorses to deliver much-needed reading material to people in the hills of Kentucky.

Book Review – What You Wish For

Ever wish that person you were infatuated with years ago, came back into your life? That’s what happens in What You Wish For when a librarian in Galveston finds herself face to face with a man she had a crush on in a former job. What You Wish For is a sweet, funny romance.

The Book of Lost Names

There is a lot of fiction out there right now set in the time period of World War II, so standing out can be difficult. The Book of Lost Names is a sweet, brave story in a terrible time.  Continue Reading

A Ladies Guide to Mischief and Murder

 Let’s get together at the country house this weekend? What do you say? That’s what’s happening in the Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder. I love this series because Diane Freeman beautifully blends the best of regency and the best of cozy! Continue Reading

Book Review: The Last Mrs. Summers

When I chose to review Rhys Bowen’s latest installment of the Royal Spyness Series I was excited she wrote it in the likeness of Rebecca. If you like mystery in an old English house next to the cliffs (really scary, exceptionally sharp cliffs) I think you’re going to love The Last Mrs. Summers.

Book Review: The First to Lie

The First to Lie, a novel by Hank Phillipi Ryan focuses on the vulnerability of women who have had difficulty conceiving a child. If you desperately wanted a baby and couldn’t have one, what would you be willing to put up with from a doctor or clinic? What would you risk?  Continue Reading

All Done With It

Not only is it Cozy Prizes Friday but Maggie Toussaint, the author of All Done With it has brought along Mama Lacey, who is Baxley Powell’s (Dreamwalker) mother. Talk about a difficult parenting challenge. Do you let them wander around other worlds or make them do their homework first?  Continue Reading

Book Review: The Black Midnight

Have you ever heard about the many theories of who Jack the Ripper actually was? Some thought it was a member of the royal family but it was never proven. The True Colors Series which fictionalizes true crime with a Christian perspective visits this topic with a royal lady Pinkerton detective and Texan in The Black Midnight. Continue Reading

Master of Illusion

Ever get that sinking feeling? Something is about to happen but you have no idea why you feel this way. You might be a little bit psychic like Celine Skye in Master of Illusion! Continue Reading

Trick or Thief

Are you starting to think about Halloween? I’ll admit I was looking at some Halloween items in a catalog yesterday and wondering if there were be any trick or treaters this year.  2020 has leaned way too heavily on the trick side of this holiday. But, good news! D.E. Haggerty is here today to talk about how she came up with her clever title. Continue Reading

Mystery Follows Her

Cozy Mystery Friday has hit an all-time high with not one cozy author but 9!! Mystery Follows Her celebrates sleuths of all ages in a variety of locations with an international collection of talented authors. Continue Reading

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

Maggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October–and Halloween–approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana. Continue Reading

A Circle of Dead Girls

In the spring of 1800, a traveling circus arrives in town. Rees is about to attend, but sees his nemesis, Magistrate Hanson in the crowd, and leaves. On the way home he meets a party of Shaker brothers searching for a missing girl. They quickly come across her lifeless body thrown into a farmer’s field. Continue Reading

Love and a Little White Lie Book Review

Can you be true to someone you love and still keep a little secret from them? That’s what happens in Love and a Little White Lie. This is a Christian romance from award-winning author Tammy L. Gray and it not only explores life in a megachurch, but the relationships and problems that happen between the employees. Continue Reading

Educated: An Audiobook Review

Set some time aside for Educated, a stirring memoir of a girl who was raised without ever attending school while growing up in Idaho with a bipolar father. This audiobook is over 12 hours and I couldn’t stop listening to it! I recognized the voice of the talented narrator, Julia Whelan, from her work on Giver of Stars. She’s excellent again. Continue Reading

One by One

See all that snow on the cover? Time to snuggle in with a good who-done-it and spend the day in French chalet. One by One is a gripping mystery about a group of young entrepreneurs who have created the latest “gotta have it” app. They’re the glamorous influencers that can change the world. They also have a few secrets and an avalanche warning or two. Continue Reading

Cozy Prizes Friday: Hollyberry Homicide

For all of us who have been sneaking off to watch those early Hallmark Christmas movies, Hollyberry Homicide is the book for you. Learn more about this yuletide mystery and don’t forget to scroll down and find the prize guy and enter the giveaway! About Hollyberry Homicide Hollyberry Homicide (A Berry Basket Mystery)Cozy Mystery5th in … Continue reading

In a Holidaze Book Review

Here’s another Christmas book to put on your TBR pile this fall. In a Holidaze is a time-travel romantic comedy featuring a group of old college friends and their grown children who visit a cabin in Utah every year. The main character Mae is in her late twenties and re-examining some of the choices she’s made in her life. At the end of the holiday, she suffers a bump on the head and finds herself back on the plane on her way to the cabin on the 20th of December. Continue Reading

Book Review: Christmas Charms

Time for another Christmas book and what a magical one Christmas Charms is! Isn’t that what a good Christmas story has? A little magic? This is the kind of book I like to pick in stressful times, say in the middle of a pandemic … Continue reading

Christmas at Holiday House Book Review

Christmas at Holiday House is a delightful romance about helping others and finding love in the holidays. Review Included! Continue Reading

Cozy Prizes Friday: Spawning Suspicion

Time for the wedding, but wait! The groom is missing and their’s murder afoot in River Holloway’s busy world. Maggie Toussaint is back with her second Seafood Caper mystery, Spawning Suspicion, and she shared an excerpt with us as well. Continue Reading

Cozy Friday: To Fetch a Villain

Cozy mystery readers find cats in their stories, cats on the covers, cats solving murders while coughing up fur balls, but today is DOG DAY FRIDAY! I have four wonderful authors here to talk about their latest installment in the Mutt Mysteries Series: To Fetch a Villain!. Continue Reading

Cozy Prizes Friday: A Christmas Carol Murder

Read an excerpt from A Christmas Carol Murder and enter the giveaway. Travel back in history with a young Charles Dickens. Continue Reading

Book Review: Murder She Wrote: Murder in Season

I love a snuggly Christmas mystery to read during the holiday season. What better friend to have come calling than Jessica Fletcher in her latest adventure, Murder in Season. She’s brought along Seth Hazlett and Mort Metzger and of course, somebody up and died. Continue Reading

40 Books in 2020!!!

All the Book Posts of 2020- Part 1

I always think to myself that I don’t read enough. Really. I look at these people on Goodreads who seem to be absorbing a book a day. How do they do that? I decided to compile a “Best of 2020” (Is this an oxymoron?) and list the books that I have either reviewed or featured on Books to the Ceiling this year.

Well, I’ll be. There’s forty of them. Use this as a directory, an appendix or somebody else’s list of reviews to find your next great read.