So What Have I Been Doing During the Pandemic? Writing of Course!

Martin

Martin Waiting for the Pandemic to Be Over

So what have I been doing during the pandemic? Writing, of course. With added people around the house, it’s been challenging at times. My husband and I “share” an office, which means I’m writing this blog post in another room. That’s okay, though, because I still like having him around. I am the kind of writer who needs as much quiet as possible. I can’t even listen to music with lyrics (I sing along).

What Have I Been Working On?

I am happy to announce I have a new three-book contract with Level Best Books. This time around I’m writing a historical mystery series called the Swinging Sixties. The books will take place in 1962, 1963 and 1964. I’ve been having so much fun researching everything in the sixties.

  • Coffee Maker = Percolator
  • Phones have dials and cords
  • You check the time- on your wrist or at the wall clock
  • The Beatles are new
  • The President is Kennedy
The First Ronald McDonald
  • There’s this new thing called fast food. Pictured above is the FIRST Ronald McDonald. Terrifying.
  • You watch the big game on a black and white tv with rabbit ears

I’ve actually written the first book and am in the drafting stage of the second, but before you start checking Amazon, these books won’t be out until the beginning of January 2022. These things take time.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: A Christmas Carol Murder

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Thanksgiving is over so it’s time to focus on Christmas! Let’s get going this weekend with A Christmas Carol Murder🎄 I’ve been caroling but have never discovered a body! There was a disagreeable Chow Chow at one house, but I’m proud to say that even though we were a group from four to seventy-five, we all ran pretty fast! 

A Christmas Carol Murder

by Heather Redmond

on Tour November 1 – December 31, 2020

Synopsis:

A Christmas Carol Murder

A Christmas Carol Murder is the latest novel from Heather Redmond’s acclaimed mystery series finds young Charles Dickens suspecting a miser of pushing his partner out a window, but his fiancée Kate Hogarth takes a more charitable view of the old man’s innocence . . .

London, December 1835: Charles and Kate are out with friends and family for a chilly night of caroling and good cheer. But their blood truly runs cold when their singing is interrupted by a body plummeting from an upper window of a house. They soon learn the dead man at their feet, his neck strangely wrapped in chains, is Jacob Harley, the business partner of the resident of the house, an unpleasant codger who owns a counting house, one Emmanuel Screws.

Ever the journalist, Charles dedicates himself to discovering who’s behind the diabolical defenestration. But before he can investigate further, Harley’s corpse is stolen. Following that, Charles is visited in his quarters by what appears to be Harley’s ghost—or is it merely Charles’s overwrought imagination? He continues to suspect Emmanuel, the same penurious penny pincher who denied his father a loan years ago, but Kate insists the old man is too weak to heave a body out a window. Their mutual affection and admiration can accommodate a difference of opinion, but matters are complicated by the unexpected arrival of an infant orphan. Charles must find the child a home while solving a murder, to ensure that the next one in chains is the guilty party . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Kensington Publishing
Publication Date: September 29th 2020
Number of Pages: 320
Series: A Dickens of a Crime #3 || A Stand Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from A Christmas Carol Murder:

Chapter One

Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, December 1, 1835

They hadn’t found the body yet. Old Sal was surely dead. Feathers had caught on candles, igniting the blaze. Maybe a yipping dog had some part in the fiery disaster. The marchioness’s advanced age had surely contributed to the fatal misadventure. The marquess, her son, had nearly killed himself in a futile attempt to rescue her.

Charles Dickens’s cough forced him to set down his pen. Ink dribbled from it, obscuring his last few words. He found it hard to stay seated, so he pushed his hands through his unruly dark hair, as if pressing on his sooty scalp would keep him on the pub bench. Only three hours of sleep before being dragged from his bed to make the twenty-three-mile journey from his rooms at Furnival’s Inn in London that morning. Nervous energy alone kept his pen moving.

He rubbed his eyes, gritty with grime and fumes from the fire, both the massive one that had destroyed the still-smoking ruins of Hatfield House’s west wing, and the much smaller one here in the taproom at Eight Bells Pub. Some light came in from out of doors, courtesy of a quarter-full moon, but the windows were small.

He called for a candle and kept working.

Putting the messy slip of paper aside, he dipped his pen in his inkwell. Starting again, he recalled the devastation of the scene, the remains of once noble apartments now reduced to rubble and ash. He filled one slip after another, describing the scene, the architecture, the theories.

When he ran out of words, he let his memories of massive oaken Tudor beams, half-burned; heaps of bricks; lumps of metal; buckets of water; black-faced people; and unending, catch-in- your-throat soot—all that remained of forty-five rooms of storied, aristocratic things—fade away.

The ringing of St. Ethelreda’s venerable church bells returned him to the moment. Had it gone eight p.m. already? Hooves and the wheels of a cart sounded in the narrow street outside. A couple of men passed by, discussing the fire. The door of the pub opened and closed,allowing the flash from a lantern to illuminate the dark room.

Charles noted the attempts to make the room festive. Greenery had been tacked to the blackened beams and draped around the mantelpiece. He thought he saw mistletoe mischievously strung up in that recess to the left of the great fireplace.

Next to it, a man slumped in a chair. He wore a tired, stained old surtout and plaid trousers with a mended tear in the knee. Next to him waited an empty stool, ready for an adoring wife or small child to sit there.

Charles stacked his completed slips of paper on the weathered table and took a fresh one from his pile, the pathos of that empty seat tugging at him. He began to write something new, imagining that last year at this time, a sweet little girl sat on the stool, looking up at the old, beaten man. How different his demeanor would have been then!

Charles drew a line between his musings and the lower blank part of the page. His pen flew again, as he made the note. Add a bit of melancholy to my Christmas festivities sketch.

Unbidden, the serving maid delivered another glass of hot rum and water. The maid, maybe fourteen, with wide, apple- colored cheeks and a weak chin, gave him a sideways glance full of suspicion.

He grinned at her and pointed to his face. “Soot from the fire. I’m sending a report back to London.” His hand brushed against his shoulder, puffing soot from his black tailcoat into his eyes.

She pressed her lips together and marched away, her little body taut with indignation. Well, she didn’t understand he had to send his report by the next mail coach. Not much time for sentiment or bathing just yet.

By the time he finished his notes, the drinks hadn’t done their job of settling his cough. He knew it would worsen if he lay down so he opened his writing desk to pull out a piece of notepaper.

Dearest Fanny, he wrote to his sister. Where to begin? I wrote to my betrothed this morning so I thought I should send my news to someone else. Was ever a man so busy? I am editing my upcoming book. Did I tell you it will be called Sketches by Boz? I have to turn in the revisions for volumes one and two by the end of the year, in advance of the first volume releasing February eighth. I am also working on an operetta, thanks to that conversation with your friend John Hullah, in my head, at least. I hope to actually commence writing it as soon as my revisions are done.

I remember all the happy Christmas memories of our earliest childhood, the games and songs and ghost stories when we lived in Portsmouth, and hope to re-create them in my own sweet home next year. How merry it will be to share Christmas with the Hogarths! To think that you, Leticia, and I will all be settled soon with our life’s companions. Soon we will know the sounds of happy children at our hearths and celebrate all the joys that the season should contain in our private chambers.

He set down his pen without signing the letter. It might be that he would have more to add before returning to London. He had no idea how long it would be before they recovered the Marchioness of Salisbury’s body, if indeed, anything was left. Restacking his papers, he considered the question of her jewels. Had they burned? At least the priceless volumes in the library all had survived, despite the walls being damaged.

His brain kept churning, so he pulled out his copy of Sketches by Boz. He would edit for a while before retiring to his room at the Salisbury Arms. No time for sleep when work had to be done.

Pounding on the chamber door woke him. Daylight scarcely streamed around the tattered edges of the inn’s curtain. Charles coughed. He still tasted acrid soot at the back of his throat. Indeed, it coated his tongue.

The pounding came again as he scratched his unshaven chin. Had the Morning Chronicle sent someone after him? He’d put his first dispatch from the fire on the mail coach. Pulling his frock coat over his stained shirt, he hopped across the floor while he tugged on his dirty trousers. Soot puffed into the air with each bounce.

“Coming, coming,” he called.

The hinges squeaked horribly when he opened the door. On the other side stood a white-capped maid. She wore a dark cloak over her dress. A bundle nestled between her joined arms. Had she been kicking the door?

“Can I help you?” Charles asked, politely enough for the hour. To his right, his boots were gone. He had left them to be polished.

The girl lifted her bundle. The lump of clothes moved.

He frowned, then leaned over the lump. A plump face topped by a thatch of black hair stared back. A baby. Was she hoping for alms? “What’s your name, girl?”

“Madge, sir. Madge Porter.”

“Well, Madge Porter, I can spare you a few coins for the babe if you’ll wait for a moment. Having hard times?”

She stared hard at him. He realized the cloaked figure was the tiny serving maid from the Eight Bells. “He’s my sister’s child.”

“I see. Is she at work?” He laugh-choked. “She’s not in here with me, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Her mouth hung open for a moment. “No, sir, I don’t think that.”

“What, then?” He glanced around for his overcoat, which had a few coins in a pocket. “What is the babe’s name?”

“Timothy, sir.” She tightened her weak chin until her pale skin folded in on itself. “Timothy Dickens?” she warbled.

“Dickens?” He took another glance at the babe. Cherry red, pursed lips, and a squashed button of a nose. He didn’t see any resemblance to his relatives. His voice sharpened. “Goodness, Madge, what a coincidence.”

Her voice strengthened. “I don’t think so, sir.”

He frowned. The serving maid did not seem to understand his sarcasm. “I’ve never been to Hatfield before. My family is from Portsmouth. I don’t know if your Timothy Dickens is a distant relative of mine or not. Who is his father?”

“She died in the fire.”

He tilted his head at the non sequitur. “Who?”

“My sister. She died in the fire. She was in service to old Sarey.” Charles coughed, holding the doorjamb to keep himself upright. This was fresh news. “How tragic. I didn’t hear that a maid died.”

“They haven’t found the bodies.”

“That I know. I’m reporting on the fire, but then, I told you that. Thank you for the information. I’ll pay you for it if you wait a moment for me to find my purse.”

She thrust the bundle toward him. “Timothy is yer son, sir. You need to take him.”

Charles took a step back, waving his hands. “No he isn’t.”

“He’s four months old. It would have been last year, around All Hallow’s Eve. Do you remember the bonfire? She’s prettier than me, my Lizzie. Her hair is lighter, not like yers or mine.”

“Truly, I’ve never been in Hatfield before now,” he said gently. “I work mostly in London.”

She huffed out a little sob. He sensed she was coming to a crescendo, rather like a dramatic piece of music that seemed pastoral at first, then exploded. “I know yer his daddy, sir. I can’t take him. My parents are dead.”

He coughed again. Blasted soot. “I’m sorry. It’s a terrible tragedy. You’re young to be all alone with a baby.”

Her entire being seemed to shudder, then, like the strike of a cobra, she shoved the wriggling bundle into his arms and dashed down the passage.

His arms fluttered like jelly for a moment, as if his bones had fled with the horror of the orphaned child’s appearance, until the baby opened its tiny maw and Charles found his strength.

Then he realized the blankets were damp. Little fatherless, motherless Timothy whoever-he-was had soiled himself. The baby wailed indignantly but his aunt did not return.

Charles completed his reporting duties with one hand while cradling the infant, now dressed in Charles’s cleanest handkerchief and spare shirt, in the other arm. Infant swaddling dried in front of the fire. When Charles had had his body and soul together well enough to chase after little Madge Porter, the proprietor of the Eight Bells had told him she wasn’t due there until the evening.

He’d begged the man for names of any Porter relatives, but the proprietor had been unhelpful. Charles had tripped over to St. Ethelreda’s, still smelling smoke through a nose dripping from the cold. The canon had been of no use and in fact smelled of Hollands, rather than incense. He went to a barbershop, holding the baby while he was shaved, but the attendant refused to offer information.

When the babe began to cry again, he took him to a stable yard and inquired if they had a cow. A stoic stableman took pity on him and sent him to his quiet wife, a new mother herself. She agreed to nurse the child while Charles went to Hatfield House to see if the marchioness had been found yet.

He attempted to gain access to the marquess, still directing the recovery efforts. While waiting, he offered the opinion that they should pull down the remaining walls, which looked likely to kill the intended rescuers more assuredly than anything else in the vast acreage of destruction. Everyone coughed, exhausted, working by rote rather than by intelligence.

After a while, he gave up on the marquess. He interviewed those working in the ruins to get an update for the Chronicle, then went to the still-standing east wing of the house to see the housekeeper. She allowed him into her parlor for half a crown. The room’s walls were freshly painted, showing evidence of care taken even with the servant’s quarters. A large plain cross decorated the free space on the wall, in between storage cupboards.

The housekeeper had a tall tower of graying hair, stiffened by some sort of grease into a peak over her forehead. Her black gown and white apron looked untouched by the fire. When she spoke, however, he sensed the fatigue and the sadness.

“I have served this family for thirty-seven years,” she moaned. “Such a tragedy.”

He took some time with her recital of the many treasures of the house, storing up a collection of things he could report on, then let her share some of her favorite history of the house. But he knew he needed to return to gather the baby from the stableman’s wife soon.

“Do you have a Lizzie Porter employed here?”

“Yes, sir.” The housekeeper gave a little sob and covered her mouth. “In the west wing, sir. I haven’t seen her since the fire.”

His fingers tingled. “Do you think she died?”

“I don’t know, sir. Not a flighty girl. I doubt she’d have run off if she lived.”

“Not a flighty girl?” He frowned. “But she has a babe.” He was surprised to know she had kept her employment.

The housekeeper shook her head. “She’s an eater, sir, but there never was a babe in her belly.”

The story became steadily more curious. “Did she take any leave, about four months ago? In July or August?”

The housekeeper picked up her teacup and stared at the leaves remaining at the bottom. “An ague went around the staff in the summer. Some kind of sweating sickness. She had it like all the rest. Went to recuperate with her sister.”

“Madge?”

She nodded absently. “Yes, that Madge. Just a slip of a girl. Hasn’t come to work here but stayed in the village.”

“I’ve met her. How long was Lizzie with her?”

“Oh, for weeks. She came back pale and thin, but so did a couple of other girls. It killed one of the cook’s helpers. Terrible.” The housekeeper fingered a thin chain around her neck.

It didn’t sound like a group of girls made up the illness to help Lizzie hide her expectations, but the ague had been timed perfectly for her to hide wee Timothy’s birth. Who had been the babe’s wet nurse?

“Do you know where Madge lives?”

“Above the Eight Bells, sir. Servants’ quarters.” The housekeeper set down her cup and rose, indicating the interview had ended.

Charles checked around the pub again when he returned to town, just a short walk from the grand, if sadly diminished, house. The quarters for servants were empty. Madge seemed to have gone into hiding. How she could abandon her nephew so carelessly, he did not know, but perhaps she was too devastated by her sister’s death to think clearly.

A day later, Charles and the baby were both sunk into exhaustion by the long journey to London. Charles’s carriage, the final step of the trip, pulled up in front of a stone building. Across from Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, it had shop space, three floors of apartments, and a half attic on top. He’d had to hire a carriage from the posting inn where the coach had left them on the outskirts of town. While he had no trouble walking many miles, carrying both a valise and an infant was more than he could manage. At least they’d kept each other warm.

He made his awkward way out of the vehicle, coughing as the smoky city air hit his tortured lungs. In his arms, the babe slept peacefully, though he had cried with hunger for part of the long coach journey.

Charles’s friends, William and Julie Aga, had taken rooms here, above a chophouse. The building exuded the scent of roasting meats. His stomach grumbled as he went up the stairs to his friends’ chambers. William was a reporter, like Charles, though more focused on crime than government.

Charles doubled over, coughing, as he reached the top of the steps. He suspected if he’d had a hand free to apply his handkerchief, it would come away black again.

The door to the Agas’ rooms opened before he had the chance to knock.

“Charles!” William exploded. “Good God, man, what a sound to torture my ears.”

Charles unbent himself and managed a nod at his friend. William had the air of a successful, fashionable man-about-town, even at his rooms on a Thursday evening. He wore a paisley waistcoat under an old black tailcoat, which fit him like it had been sewn directly on his broad-shouldered body. They both prided themselves on dressing well. His summer-golden hair had darkened due to the lack of sun. He had the look of a great horseman, though Charles knew that William, like he, spent most of his time hunched over a paper and quill.

“I like that fabric,” Charles said. “Did Julie make you that waistcoat?”

“Charles.” William waved his arms. “Whatever are you carrying in your arms?”

Charles dropped his valise to the ground. It grazed his foot. He let out a yelp and hopped. “Blast it! My toe.”

William leaned forward and snatched the bundle from Charles’s arm. The cloth over little Timothy’s face slid away, exposing the sleeping child. “No room in the inn?”

“Very funny,” Charles snarled. He rubbed his foot against the back of his calf. “That smarted.”

“Whose baby?”

“A dead serving maid’s. I remember you said that a woman across the hall from you had a screaming infant. Do you think she might be persuaded to feed this one? He’s about four months old.”

William rubbed his tongue over his gums as he glanced from Timothy to Charles, then back again.

“He needs to eat. I don’t want to starve him. Also, I think he’s a little too warm.” Charles gave Timothy an anxious glance.

“Let’s hope he isn’t coming down with something.” William stepped into the passage and gave a long-suffering sigh. Then, he crossed to the other side and used his elbow to bang on the door across from his. “Mrs. Herring?”

Charles heard a loud cry in the room beyond, a muttered imprecation, and a child’s piping voice, then the door opened. A girl about the age of his youngest brother, Boz, opened the door.

“Wot?” she said indistinctly, as she was missing several teeth.

“I need your mother,” William said, smiling at the girl.

The girl turned her head partway and shrieked for her mother. A couple of minutes later the lady of the house arrived, a fat babe burping on her shoulder. She appeared as well fed as the infant, with rounded wrists tapering into fat fingers peering out from her cotton dress sleeves.

“Mr. Aga!” she said with a smile.

Charles instantly trusted Mrs. Herring’s sweet smile. Her hand had gone to the top of her daughter’s head for a caress, the sort of woman who genuinely enjoyed her children.

“Good lady,” Charles began. “I’ve been given the custody of this orphaned child due to a rather dramatic situation. Might you be able to take him in to nurse?”

Mrs. Herring stepped toward William. She took one look at the sleeping Timothy and exclaimed, “Lor bless me!” She handed her larger infant over to her daughter, then reached out her hands to William. He promptly placed the bundle into the mother’s arms.

Charles saw Timothy stir. He began to root around. “Hungry. Hasn’t been nourished since this morning.”

“Poor mite,” Mrs. Herring cooed. “How could you have let this happen? They must be fed regularly.”

“I don’t know how to care for a baby,” Charles admitted.

“But I remembered my friends had you as a neighbor. Can you help him?”

“We’ve no room for the tiny lad,” Mrs. Herring said sternly. She coaxed her daughter back inside.

“I can pay for his board,” Charles responded.

Mrs. Herring didn’t speak but her eyebrows lifted.

“Just for tonight at first,” William suggested with an easy smile. “You can see the situation is desperate.”

Charles reached into his pocket and pulled out a shilling. “I’m good for it. Truly. This would pay for days of his care if I hire a wet nurse. He has an aunt but she disappeared. I couldn’t find her before I had to return to London.”

“We’ll talk to you again in the morning,” William said. “I won’t leave the building until we’ve spoken.”

“Where am I to put him?” she asked, staring rather fixedly at the shilling. “The bed is full and we don’t have a cradle.”

William nodded wisely, as if he’d thought of this already. “Mr. Dickens and I will consult with my wife and bring something suitable. If you can feed him while we wait?”

Mrs. Herring reached out her free hand. Charles noted she had clean nails. She seemed a good choice for wet nurse. He placed the shilling in her palm and prayed they could make longer-term arrangements for a reasonable price.

Timothy let out a thin wail.

“He sounds weak,” Charles said, guilt coloring his words.

“I’ll do what I can.” Mrs. Herring glanced at the babe in her arms, then shut the door.

***

Excerpt from A Christmas Carol Murder by Heather Redmond. Copyright 2020 by Heather Redmond. Reproduced with permission from Heather Redmond. All rights reserved.

 

Heather Redmond, Author of A Christmas Carol Murder

 

Author Bio:

 
 

Heather Redmond is an author of commercial fiction and also writes as Heather Hiestand. First published in mystery, she took a long detour through romance before returning. Though her last British-born ancestor departed London in the 1920s, she is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century.

She has lived in Illinois, California, and Texas, and now resides in a small town in Washington State with her husband and son. The author of many novels, novellas, and short stories, she has achieved best-seller status at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Her 2018 Heather Redmond debut, A Tale of Two Murders, was a multi-week Barnes & Noble Hardcover Mystery Bestseller.

Her two current mystery series are “A Dickens of a Crime” and “the Journaling mysteries.” She writes for Kensington and Severn House.

She is the 2020-21 President of the Columbia River Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC).

Catch Up With Heather Redmond:
HeatherRedmond.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Heather Redmond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway begins on November 1, 2020 and runs through January 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Oh Holy Fright

Cozy Friday: To Fetch a Villain

To Fetch a Villain Tour Banner

🐶Ahhh-Ooooh! 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! They’ve agreed to answer a few questions so read on!

To Fetch a Villain
To Fetch a Villain – Four Fun “Tails” of Scandal and Murder A Mutt Mystery
Cozy Mysteries
3rd in Series

Old dogs and new tricks abound in TO FETCH A VILLAIN, the third installment in the Mutt Mysteries series. This collection of four novellas illustrates why dogs are our best friends and the perfect companions for digging up clues, solving crimes, and bringing villains to justice. Let sleeping dogs lie? Not when the MUTTS are on the case.

About the To Fetch a Villain:

Old dogs and new tricks abound in To Fetch a Villain, the third installment in the Mutt Mysteries series. This collection of four novellas illustrates why dogs are our best friends and the perfect companions for digging up clues, solving crimes, and bringing villains to justice. Let sleeping dogs lie? Not when the MUTTS are on the case!

RUFF DAY by Jayne Ormerod
Store owner Darby Moore suffers through a “ruff” day when a dead body is discovered in her custom dog house. With her best friend topping the suspect’s list, Darby knows the police are barking up the wrong tree. It’s up to Darby’s Great Dane Mr. Belvedere to channel his inner Scooby-Doo and save the day.

AT YOUR SERVICE by Maria Hudgins
Mystery writer Jessica Chastain is deaf and relies on her service dog Trey who acts as Jessica’s ears. Kim, a Bichon like Trey, is the latest addition to their family. But life is not a walk in the park when someone threatens all they hold dear. Together they take on an unethical breeder and dog-napper, whose bite is worse than his bark.

A SHOT IN THE BARK by Teresa Inge
Dog-loving Catt Ramsey hires an ex-con as her handyman to help with her dog-walking business at the same time a crime wave hits the neighborhood. But it’s Catt who is accused of murder. She enlists the help of family, friends, and her dogs Cagney and Lacey to prove man’s best friend can be crime’s worst enemy.

STRUT YOUR MUTT by Heather Weidner
Sassy PI Delanie Fitzgerald attends the Strut Your Mutt festival, where her business partner’s English bulldog is a finalist in a pampered doggie pageant. The dog’s new-found fame leads to a client with a missing poodle. Delanie and her team put paws to the pavement, sniff out clues, and show the villain that when you lie with the dogs, you wake up with fleas.

Where to Buy To Fetch a Villain  – Amazon

A Visit With the Mutt Mystery Author Team

I’ve never interviewed so many people at once. Hey honey, bring in more chairs.

How did you come with an idea for your book? The four writers have worked together through the years on a variety of anthologies. We met one afternoon in Williamsburg and talked about a new project (novellas instead of short stories). The authors in the first two books are Teresa Inge, Jayne Ormerod, Heather Weidner, and Rosemary Shomaker. Mystery author, Maria Hudgins, has joined Teresa, Jayne and Heather for book three, TO FETCH A VILLAIN.

Heather: Delanie Fitzgerald and her partner, Duncan Reynolds, star in my private investigator series. Margaret the English bulldog is Duncan’s constant companion and the perfect character for a Mutt Mystery.

Maria: I don’t know where ideas come from. For this story, I suppose I thought: Dog. Story about a dog. How about my own two Bichons, Holly and Hamilton, now gone five years, but they played together so well. How about a story featuring them and their adventures? Their owner? Let’s make her deaf so one dog could be her service dog and the other could be . . . now let’s see. . . somebody needs to have a terrible problem so there’s a reason for the story. Something like that, I imagine.

Jayne: My story, “Ruff Day” begins at a display of custom dog house. The idea of setting a story there came from visiting a Bark-itecture event at the Norfolk, Virginia Botanical Gardens. As I toured the display of Pooch Palaces—showing everything from campers to casas— my mind wandered (as it’s wont to do) to “where could I hide a dead body.” My husband is used to these musings, but I do have to be careful because when I say things like that out loud, other people become quite concerned. Until I explain that I am a mystery writer, at which point they laugh nervously, as if not sure I am joking or not. Once I established the setting, the rest of the story wrote itself.

Teresa: For the Mutt Mysteries series, the four authors met to discuss writing a series about our two favorite things, mysteries, and dogs! We then developed a theme for each book in the series and began writing our stories. It’s been a lot of fun!

What scene do you hope your readers enjoy the most?

Heather: The Mutt Mystery novellas are fun to write. I love having my furry four-legged characters front and center in these mysteries. The Strut Your Mutt scene with Margaret the Wonder dog was a lot of fun to write. The city and the mall are real, but I made up the dog-themed event.

Maria: The scene in which Trey and Kim (the dogs) burrow under the fence and take off across the community square after the bad guy. The dogs may be little and fluffy, but they are fearless.

Jayne: I hope readers can visualize and find the humor in the scenes where my main character, Darby Moore, is dragged through the streets of the small coastal town by Mr. Belvedere, her silver Great Dane. All based on real life experiences. Hard not to laugh…now (not so funny at the time.)

Teresa: In To Fetch a Villain, I hope readers enjoy how my protagonist Catt Ramsey’s dogs Cagney and Lacey help her solve the crime and murder. They jump in and alert Catt to dangerous situations.

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

Heather: I am the author of the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, and this is the first time that these characters have appeared in a Mutt Mystery story. To read more about Delanie, Duncan, and Margaret, check out the books in this series. I’m also the author of the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. This is a cozy mystery series set near Charlottesville, VA, and it launches in October 2021.

Maria: I have written six Dotsy Lamb Travel Mysteries, each set in a different but exciting foreign country, and two Lacy Glass Archaeology Mysteries. All are available on Amazon, etc. I love to travel and I love archaeology, so that’s what I write about.

Jayne: I have a total of fourteen literary babies out there, ranging in size from short story to full-length novels. I focus on murders that take place in small coastal towns (I love the juxtaposition of violence with tranquility.) I’ve recently had two short stories accepted for publication, but no date as to when they will be released to the world. I’m currently working on another cozy novel and something that is a little more mainstream. Those are my goals for 2021, since the pandemic threw me off my writing game this year. Threw me off a lot of things this year, but aren’t we all adjusting to a new normal now?

Teresa: Murder by the Glass will be published in 2021 and Virginia is for Mysteries III will be published next year.

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

Heather: I have always loved mysteries (since Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo). I think I may want to venture in the YA or middle grade genres one day.

Maria: I’m currently writing an historical thriller, set in war-torn Europe in 1948. Can I do it? We’ll see.

Jayne: Historical romance. I love the strict rules of courting back in the day, offering many opportunities to break said rules, consequences be damned! I did try my hand at romance when I first started writing. Trust me when I say it is very hard to keep two desperately in love people apart for 90,000 words. I found the introduction of a dead body (or three) really ups the conflict and makes for an easier write, and hopefully a more entertaining read.

Thanks for having us stop by Teresa! That was fun! Wishing all your readers good health and good spirits!

Teresa: Romance but with a mystery element. I sometimes add romance to my mysteries. It’s a genre I am learning more about and love to write.

Where can readers leave reviews of your book? Writers love when readers leave reviews. You can leave a review at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BookBub, and Goodreads.

About the Authors

Heather Weidner, co-author of To Fetch a VillainHeather Weidner

Heather Weidner writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series (Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband). Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series (To Fetch a Thief, To Fetch a Scoundrel, and To Fetch a Villain). Her new cozy series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, launches October 2021.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

Maria Hudgins, co-author of To Fetch a VillainMaria Hudgins

Maria Hudgins is a mystery writer and a former high school science teacher. She is the author of the Dotsy Lamb Travel Mysteries, the Lacy Glass Archaeology Mysteries and several published short stories. Her favorite things are traveling, reading, dogs, and cats. She lives in Hampton, Virginia with her cat, Lulu.

Jayne Omerod, co-author of To Fetch a VillainJayne Ormerod

Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town and attended a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her accountancy degree, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor). She married a naval officer, and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, settled in a cottage by the Chesapeake Bay. Jayne writes cozy mysteries about small towns with beach settings. You can read more about Jayne and her many publications at www.JayneOrmerod.com.

Teresa Inge, co-author of To Fetch a VillainTeresa Inge

Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. She is president of Sisters in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Coastal Crimes: Mysteries by the Sea, and Murder by the Glass.

She resides in Southeastern Virginia with her husband and two dogs, Luke and Lena.

MUTT MYSTERIES

Where to Buy To Fetch a Villain  – Amazon

Cozy Prizes Friday: Spawning Suspicion

Spawning Suspicion Tour Banner
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 as a chance to win in her giveaway! 

 

Spawning Suspicion

Spawning Suspicion (A Seafood Caper Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series

About Spawning Suspicion

The death of island playboy Curtis Marlin doesn’t register on busy caterer River Holloway’s radar…that is, until her brother and his girlfriend are arrested for the former athlete’s murder. Certain of the pair’s innocence, the amateur sleuth sets out to investigate. Suspicion on the island spreads like chocolate sauce when River questions the victim’s teammates. The suspects don’t appreciate her stirring up trouble, but she won’t let an election-hungry sheriff make her brother a sacrificial lamb.

But there’s more than murder on River’s to-do list. A missing groom, catered banquets, and River’s own wedding plans keep her hopping like a short order cook. And as the cherry on the sundae, she has a wild kitty to tame. Under mossy oaks and rustling palmettoes, fact and fiction blend in a mouthwatering romp of good eatin’ and yummy recipes. Spawning Suspicion is the second in Toussaint’s Seafood Capers Mystery Series.

Here’s where you can find Spawning Suspicion!

AmazonB&NKoboApple

Excerpt from Spawning Suspicion

My mobile phone buzzed. I’d placed it on the console when we climbed into the van. Georgia law prevented drivers from using cell phones while driving so I used a button on the steering wheel to answer the call. “Holloway Catering. This is River Holloway. How may I help you?” My brother’s voice blasted through the car. “River, thank goodness you picked up. I’m in jail. The cops think I did something terrible, because of Viv.”

Jail? Oh, no. This couldn’t be happening. Doug’s career had traction and his girlfriend adored him. I’d known Viv Declan since we were in grade school together. “Slow down,” I said. “I don’t understand. Did they arrest you or Viv?”

“Both of us. This can’t be happening. I’ve got jobs scheduled. I can’t rot in jail. Get me out of here.”

My thoughts spun in all directions as I navigated one of Shell Island’s many traffic circles. “Do you have a lawyer?”

“I asked for a public defender, but he hasn’t arrived.”

“Should I call Mark Horton again?” We’d used that lawyer when Doug acted out after Mama died.

“No. I can’t afford him.”

“But if they have you under false pretenses, he’ll set them straight. Might be worth it to have a pro at the helm.”

From the passenger seat, Pete held up a note. I read it. Ask him what the charge is.

I nodded at Pete and stared ahead at the busy two-lane road. “What happened?

“Viv and I were there.”

I didn’t have to feign confusion. “Where?”

“Curtis Marlin’s house.”

Curtis died in his grandmother’s house a few days ago. A former high school basketball star turned playboy, Curtis hardly worked but he’d always played hard. People orbited him, as if they could be cool through association. His bad boy charm never worked on me. Who had time to be a teenage rebel when you had to go to school and be responsible for the household’s cooking and cleaning?

“He died of natural causes,” I said.

“No.” Doug’s breath hitched. “Now it’s murder.”

Icy sensations feathered the nape of my neck. Oh, no. “Since when do you and Curtis hang out?”

“I knew him by name only. We saw him at the marina recently, and he invited us to come out sometime.”

My fingers tightened on the steering wheel. “You visited his house the night he died.”

“Yeah. They say we killed him.”

Here’s where you can find Spawning Suspicion!- AmazonB&NKoboApple

About Maggie Toussaint

Maggie Toussaint, author of Spawning Suspicion

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with twenty fiction novels published. A multi-year finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at https://maggietoussaint.com/

Author Links

Website – https:// maggietoussaint.com

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/MaggieToussaint

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MaggieToussaintAuthor

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/MaggieToussaint

Blog – https://www.mudpiesandmagnolias.blogspot.com/

Linked In – https://www.linkedin.com/pub/maggie-toussaint/30/1a5/572/

Book Lover’s Bench – https://bookloversbench.com/maggie-toussaint/

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maggie-toussaint

Here’s where you can find Spawning Suspicion!- AmazonB&NKoboApple

Prize Guy

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'Tis the Season Holiday Anthology

Christmas at Holiday House Book Review

Christmas at Holiday House

How about a holiday romance to add to your TBR Christmas stack? Here’s a sweet one with a widowed nurse who comes to Holiday House in Silver Bells, Colorado. Could you get more of a Hallmarky feel? (Yes, Hallmarky is a word because I just invented it.)

And now, on to the Christmas at Holiday House…

About the Book

In the town of Silver Bells, there’s always a feeling of Christmas in the air… Let love—and RaeAnne Thayne—melt your heart this holiday season!

This New Year will bring widowed nurse Abigail Powell a fresh start in a different city. Excited about the chance to create an unforgettable Christmas for her young son in picturesque Silver Bells, Colorado, Abby has been hired to take care of her dear friend’s recuperating grandmother. But sprightly senior Winnie insists she doesn’t need looking after. What she does need is help decorating her historic mansion, Holiday House, for a seasonal town fundraiser. Abby warms to the festive task, but she’ll have to contend with her own personal Grinch: Winnie’s prickly grandson, Ethan Lancaster.

Ethan Lancaster is good at a lot of things. Relationships surely aren’t one of them. His ex-fiancée convinced Ethan he was incapable of love, and he believes her…up until the moment he impulsively kisses Abby. What is it about this vibrant woman and her sweet son that knocks his world off-kilter? He knows they’re leaving town after Christmas. He just didn’t expect they’d be taking a little of his heart with them. But as he and Abby work together on the magical Holiday House through the record cold weather, visions of a different future dance in his head…one filled with warmth, love and a new beginning for them both.

Available on Harlequin.com and other retailers

My Review

Abby is headed to Silver Bells, Colorado to help out a friend’s grandmother, Winnie, who has had a bad fall. Winnie lives in a place called “Holiday House” and is preparing for a big Christmas event. The house is a mess but filled with rooms dedicated to nutcrackers and angels and everything Christmas. Abby tangles with Ethan, owner of several luxury hotels, and together they find the magic of Christmas. I also appreciated the character of Rodrigo, Jose’s brother with Down syndrome. When Rodrigo’s around you can’t help but feel happy. I enjoyed visiting Silver Bells and this Christmas love story. It has a beautiful ending and makes me want to live in this charming town!

Other Christmas Books Featured This Fall

In a Holidaze Hollyberry Homicide

A Dash of Murder Audiobook on Sale!

Tis’ the Season Christmas Anthology Party

If you’re missing Pecan Bayou, good news! Betsy’s back and she’s in trouble. I was honored to be included in the Tis’ the Season Christmas Anthology. There’s a lot to this post, but be sure to leave a comment if you want to answer this question: What was your favorite Christmas toy? Mine was Mrs. Gingerbread, a doll I couldn’t sleep without for years.

Here’s a little about my story, Hit-and-Run Santa.

Betsy finally gets a few hours to herself over a hectic holiday season. Just as she settles in, there is a thumping at her door and she receives a Christmas visitor, not the magical enchanted kind, but the deranged murderous variety. Now finding herself in the middle of a decades-old battle, she has to figure out how to outsmart a demented woman out for revenge.

Preorder ‘Tis the Season

Check Out The Trailer

But wait! There’s more! There are twelve authors in this anthology with stories from sweet to scary. Here’s a book trailer one of our authors put together.

Did you notice mention of p-a-r-t-y? That’s right! Join us on November 5th at 6pm Central time via Facebook. We’re having a party with games, prizes and yours truly!

'Tis the Season Holiday Anthology Book Launch Party
Click here to go to the party on November 5 at 6pm.

Want to know more about the other stories?

Enjoy the musings from this group of great authors, as they share an eclectic mix of short stories in ‘Tis the Season. There will be cookies, presents, puppies, skiing, St. Peter, Santa, and…Kaiju? Grab a cup of hot cocoa and curl up on the couch with these holiday treats: 

‘Tis The Teasing Season by Breakfield and Burkey https://www.enigmabookseries.com

Jacob and Petra celebrate a month of blended European and American holiday traditions, along with fun teasing. Their unique rituals culminate on Christmas night giving each other the perfect gift. Petra is distraught because she has found nothing to give the love of her life. 

A Christmas Tail by Mackenzie Collins www.roseiswrite.com

Follow one puppy’s journey to a forever home in this one of a kind Christmas tale. Charlie dares to adopt a young pup for his mother as a Christmas gift. Our canine hero anxiously awaits his fate as Christmas grows closer.

A COVID Christmas by Julie Gianelloni Connor https://julieconnorauthor.com

COVID-19 stalks the land, disrupting everything—families, simple pleasures like eating out, the holidays. As autumn drifts into the winter, four characters—an older lady living alone, her cleaning lady, the cleaning lady’s daughter, and a kitten—combine to turn the worst of times, and what could perhaps be the worst Christmas ever, into something quite different and magical.

A Christmas Dream by DC Gomez https://dcgomez-author.com

When his lifelong dreams were crushed, Brad lost all hope in himself and the people around him. His life takes an unexpected turn when he meets the snarky Saint Peter on Christmas Eve. Saint Peter refuses to play into Brad’s pity party, and gives him a taste of his own medicine. Fall in love with this sweet Christmas tale, and find the beauty in the simple things in life.

The Reluctant Shepherd by Kathryn Haueisen https://howwisethen.com

Things aren’t always what they seem. What seems hopeless might not be. A reluctant little shepherd boy and a stray puppy come together to give two people their best Christmas ever. 

Twisted Christmas by James Hill http://www.jlhill-books.com/

December 24th, 2020, North Pole. Approx. 2100 hours. Santa Claus is going over his list for his yearly trip around the world. The door bursts open and in walks the Devil. What could he want? 

You Better Believe It by Tassie Kalas https://tassietypes.com/

In her hopes to give her children the perfect Christmas experience all wrapped up in a bow, a single mother learns that the best gifts aren’t the ones under the tree—they’re the ones curled up under the covers upstairs.

A Kaiju Christmas by LM Mann https://mannwrites.com

Normally one would not associate kaiju (strange beasts) with the holiday season, but when Santa’s reindeer come down with COVID-RD, some out of the box thinking is required.  This was the Christmas when kaiju, along with many other magical creatures, answered Santa’s call to save the day. 

Christmas Wish by C.J. Peterson https://cjpetersonwrites.com

For six-year-old Robin Flynn and her family, this is a Christmas that will change everything. There will be treats, a wish for a healthy delivery of Robin’s new brother, and a mother’s wish for her son to move on from the past. A kindhearted Pastor is sent to help the family navigate through the turmoil that arose on this Christmas Eve night. Will their Christmas wishes come true?

It Takes A Village By Terrina Wilder https://terrinawilder.com

It Takes A Village is a story about a young man, Jon, who met the love of his life. What should have been a wonderful journey or the newlywed couple, became an experience of understanding the important roles people played in their lives. The gift of Jesus Christ would hold a significant meaning for Jon on Christmas Day.

Preorder ‘Tis the Season

Oh Holy Fright

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.😷 Scroll down for my review!

About the Book

*One of the BEST ROMANCE NOVELS OF 2020, Cosmopolitan Magazine*

“…literally a Hallmark movie in book form.

She never dreamed her holiday would include
her hometown, a dog, or a firefighter.
But a mysterious charm bracelet
predicted it all…

Ashley’s supposed to be having the Christmas of her dreams. After four years of working at an upscale jewelry store in Manhattan, she’s finally going to get a little velvet box of her own—from her boyfriend Jeremy, who’s taking her on a romantic trip to Paris. What could go wrong?

Well, everything.

Ashley heads home to Owl Lake instead, falling asleep on the train ride there…and waking up with a beautiful antique charm bracelet on her wrist. Soon, she realizes that each silver charm predicts an event that happens in real life. What does this mean for her and Jeremy…or her and Aidan, her former high school boyfriend, who’s now a local firefighter? Is there still a chance that she could have the perfect Christmas?

This small town Christmas romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Spiced Walnut Crust Cookies with Chocolate Ganache and Sea Salt.

My Review:

So you’re on a train and a lady who looks like Mrs. Santa Claus leaves you with a charm bracelet and then disappears. Not just any bracelet- a magic bracelet. Ashley, a frustrated jewelry designer working a sales clerk job in a jewelry store in New York City goes home for Christmas and jingle jingle things start happening. She runs into old heartthrob Aiden, a love she chose to leave for her career, and a beautiful Christmas romance has the chance to unfold. If you love Hallmark movies, Christmas Charms will delight you! 

Other Christmas Books Featured This Fall

In a Holidaze
Click Here for Review
Click Here to Learn More
A Dash of Murder Audiobook on Sale!

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. This keeps repeating and as in the movie Groundhog Day she finds she can change things, take different roads, and shape her future.

Read my review below the description.

In a Holidaze

About the Book

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

My Review

I loved the thought of getting to relive Christmas in your favorite place over and over again until you get things just right. In a Holidaze is a little bit Groundhog Day and a little Hallmark Perfect Christmas vibe. It isn’t all perfect though and Mae finds she needs to act like every day is important. No more putting things off. She is part of a friends and family group who meet at a mountain cabin in Utah every year. There are her parent’s college pals and now their children who range in ages from five to late twenties. They do yearly events like sledding and snow-creature making and even though they aren’t all related, it’s like family. Mae who has always hung out with two brothers, one her age and one older, makes a decision about which one she likes, and then as she travels in time back and forth continually refines how the relationship can come together. Love this one!

I received this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

A Dash of Murder Audiobook Sale

A Dash of Murder, the first book in the Pecan Bayou Series where we meet Betsy and the entire town, has been beautifully narrated by Reagan Boggs and is on sale during the month of October for $3.99 through Chirp Books.

A Dash of Murder on Chirp Books?

If you’ve never tried Chirp Books visit it here. They feature best selling audiobooks at deep discounts on a regular basis.

A Dash of Murder Audiobook on Sale for $3.99

About A Dash of Murder

When Betsy’s Aunt Maggie wants to drag her along on a ghost hunting excursion at the local abandoned tuberculosis hospital she isn’t sure if she quite believes in ghosts. When she comes upon a fresh spirit in the form of a body, she starts to rethink about what really is haunting the hospital.

Betsy must solve the murder in spite of her father, who is a lieutenant on the Pecan Bayou Police Force, town citizens worried about the effect of the occult on their children, and handsome stranger from Dallas. How do you get blood out of a silk blouse? Betsy Livingston can tell you in her newspaper column, “The Happy Hinter”. When she’s not writing, or taking care of her young son, she’s busy solving mysteries in the tiny Texas town of Pecan Bayou.

5 Stars I loved this book. A quick and quirky read. Had me guessing right up till the end. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to have a good time.

5 Stars– I have loved Teresa Trent since reading the Happy Homicides Series. Great to read her first full-length novel. I loved it.

A Dash of Murder is also available in ebook and paperback form.

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!

Hollyberry Homicide by Sharon Farrow

About Hollyberry Homicide

Hollyberry Homicide (A Berry Basket Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series

A cold wind is blowing off Lake Michigan, and murder is scaring the dickens out of everyone . . .

Considering her name, Marlee Jacob is an obvious choice for the role of Jacob Marley in Oriole Point’s production of A Christmas Carol. It’s just sad that the role has opened up because of the death of the elderly actor who’d originally been cast.

But Marlee, the proprietor of The Berry Basket, will do her best to keep spirits high—that is, until clues start mounting that there’s danger behind the scenes. There are accidents on set, the tree in the village square topples over, and worst of all, a body is found with a sprig of holly draped over it. If Marlee can’t wrap up the case, she may not have a berry merry Christmas . . .  Includes Berry Recipes!

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

But wait…there’s more! And now a visit with Marlee Jacob, the proprieter of the The Berry Basket! It’s a cold snowy afternoon and we’ve sat down with a couple of cups of cocoa just to have a chat.

Please tell us about your latest adventure.

It’s Christmas week in my scenic small town along the shores of Lake Michigan. Which means I’m over-decorating my store and my home since this is my favorite season. I’ve also been drafted to take part in our local production of A Christmas Carol after the elderly actor cast as Jacob Marley was found dead. You wouldn’t normally think a 30-year-old woman would be the first choice to replace him. But because my name is Marlee Jacob, the theater group found the idea of me stepping into the role to be irresistible. (I blame my Dickens’ loving mother for this.) I hoped the experience would be fun, except it’s not only starting to look a lot like Christmas. It also looks like the former Jacob Marley may have been murdered.

Do you have any friends/sidekicks helping you out?

My best friend Tess invariably finds herself playing Honey Wheeler to my Trixie Belden. And my friend Natasha is a current houseguest, so she’s been drawn into the mystery just by her close proximity to me. Because my boyfriend Kit Holt is a sheriff’s deputy, he once again proves to be a source of comfort and information. And my shop employees – Gillian, Dean, Andrew, and Theo – not only help me run The Berry Basket, their gossipy tidbits about the townspeople turn out to be most helpful.

Do you have any special skills to fight crime?

I’ve learned that all the information I’ve acquired about berries helps me to understand the crimes that occur at the berry-themed events in Oriole Point. In addition, I have some prior experience with murder. I used to be a TV producer of cooking shows in New York City. After one of my celebrity chefs murdered another, my testimony was required at the resulting trial which riveted the nation for months. That notorious year convinced me to return to my hometown for a quieter life as a shop owner. Only fate had other plans in store for me. But my experience with the chef murderer did teach me about the criminal mind, which has come in handy.

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

Despite my involvement with several local murders, I am definitely an amateur sleuth. Indeed, I am the proud owner of The Berry Basket, a berry-themed shop in the lakeshore village of Oriole Point, Michigan. And often my day job has been an asset when it comes to solving the mysteries. Although I could do with a little less danger.

What are you most frightened of in this story?

I always worry that my friends or family will be put in harm’s way because of my often unwilling involvement in a local crime. And I was right to worry in this story because all that stood between two of my friends and the murderer was me. That is a responsibility I hope I don’t have to shoulder again.

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

Stepping into the role of Jacob Marley didn’t go quite as planned. It turns out I don’t have the ability to memorize a script in record time. Also I’m a pretty bad actress. So I have no desire to repeat the experience. Everyone in the theater group is most grateful.

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?

Since my family always tell me that I look like a younger Sandra Bullock, I’d choose Sandra to step into my shoes. My former fiancé Ryan was a dead ringer for Ryan Gosling, ironic considering they share the same name. Piper Lyall-Pierce, head of the Visitors Bureau and the mayor’s wife, would definitely be played by Cate Blanchett. As for my staff, Gillian is a doppelganger for actress Mia Wasikowska, while Rami Malek seems the spitting image of my baker Theo Foster.

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?

While ‘Hollyberry Homicide’ is the fifth book in the Berry Basket series, all of them take place during one of the many festivals that Piper organizes. And because we live in Michigan’s Fruit Belt, the events focus on berries. In Dying for Strawberries, our town celebrated June’s Strawberry Moon with the Strawberry Moon Bash. Blackberry Burial spotlighted the Blackberry Art School centenary, which concluded with the Blackberry Road Rally. Blueberry season took center stage in Killed on Blueberry Hill, where the fun activities held at the state fairground for the Blueberry Blow-Out turned out to be less fun than deadly. Finally, Mulberry Mischief unfolded during Halloween week, which didn’t stop Piper from hosting a Haunted Halloween Harvest Health Fair. Despite her good intentions, the health fair provided us with more tricks than treats. Along with an eccentric woman in desperate need of mulberries to protect her. 

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

Don’t forget to look over the recipes that I include at the end of every story. Both my baker Theo and I have tried all of them out in the shop kitchen first. One of my favorite parts of the job.

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

This novel is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to Charles Dickens’ for A Christmas Carol, which is my favorite Christmas-themed story. I hope the reader has as much fun reading it as I did writing it. I also hope it puts everyone in an early holiday mood, which seems more needed than ever. And may God bless us everyone.

Amen to that!

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

About Sharon Farrow

Sharon Farrow author of Hollyberry Homicide

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award-winning author Sharon Pisacreta. A freelance writer since her twenties, she has been published in mystery, fantasy, and romance. Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series for Kensington. The series debuted in 2016 and is set along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline where she now lives. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

Author Links –

WEB PAGE http://sharonfarrowauthor.com/

FACEBOOK @SharonFarrowAuthor

TWITTER @SharonFarrowBB

BOOKBUB @SharonFarrow

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Oh Holy Fright
A Christmas Cozy Mystery
Pecan Bayou #8

Book Review: One by One

One on One by Ruth Ware

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.

Book Description

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.

My Review

When executives of an upstart app company called Snoop reserve a skiing chalet in France, Erin and her coworker Danny are hired to provide hospitality and meals. These aren’t your normal people from Snoop but edgy influencers who have a highly successful app on their hands. Imagine if you could listen to whatever Lady Gaga is listening to or whoever’s music you love. Beat for beat you are experiencing the same thing as a celebrity. Unfortunately, with any gathering of creatives there are arguments, lies, and in this case a sense of entitlement that is downright annoying. There are so many wonderful characters, reminding me of a Christie novel, but in the year 2020. The characters begin to be picked off one by one and identifying the killer is difficult due to the author’s great detail. This was a true mystery, through and through. 

I obtained this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Murder for a Rainy Day #6 in the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series

Educated: An Audiobook Review

Educated

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.

Book Description:

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home. 

Number one New York TimesWall Street Journal, and Boston Globe best seller

Named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review

Pick your own retailer to purchase Educated here

My Review

This was an endearing, sad, sometimes tragic visit to a family who felt they were led by the Lord, but mostly they were led by the irrationality and paranoia of a bipolar father. Tara Westover shows us her amazing journey from getting hit by scrap metal and risking her life daily with her family to her struggle for an education not only from the universities she attended but from the ingrained attitudes and ideas she had to realize were wrong. There were times when her views would frustrate me as a reader because I could clearly see her perceptions were wrong, but that was the point. She couldn’t see what other people saw. This was an amazing book. 

Till Dirt Do Us Part- #7 in the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series

Love and a Little White Lie Book Review

Love and a Little White Lie

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.

About the Book:

January Sanders grew up believing karma was more reliable than an imaginary higher power, but after suffering her worst heartbreak in 29 years, she’s open to just about anything, including taking a temporary position at her aunt’s church. Keeping her lack of faith a secret, January is determined to use her photographic memory to help Grace Community’s overworked staff, all while scraping herself off rock bottom.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting the church’s handsome and charming guitarist, who not only is a strong believer, but has also dedicated his life to Christian music. It’s a match set for disaster, and yet January has no ability to stay away, even if it means pretending to have faith in a God she doesn’t believe in.

My Review

In this story, January Sanders finds herself in the throes of breakup depression and decides to stay with her aunt who runs a wedding venue. Her aunt is very active in her large church and gets Jan a job interview working for an overworked pastor. Jan has the gift or nuisance of focusing on small details and missing the big picture. Jan gets the job at the church and her little white lie is she really doesn’t believe in all that God stuff. She falls for a dreamy church musician but doesn’t tell him she’s faking religion. She’s also getting frustrated with a guy who works on her aunt’s wedding venue and refuses to let Jan slide on anything. This was a sweet romance and a story of a character who struggles with the idea of faith and it’s reality. The author did a great job of showing just how hard it can be to look for things that are not right in front of a person and the main character’s obsession with the details played right into this. Great inspirational romance!

Die Die Blackbird-Book 3 in the Piney Woods Series

A Circle of Dead Girls Giveaway Tour

A Circle Of Dead Girls by Eleanor Kuhns Banner

I love the sound of this historical mystery! Eleanor Kuhns has included a first chapter excerpt and there is a $20 gift certificate from Amazon. Scroll down to find the Prize Guy. 

 

A Circle Of Dead Girls

 
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.

Rees begins investigating and quickly becomes entranced by the exotic circus performers, especially the beautiful young tightrope walker.

Other murders follow. Who is the killer? One of the circus performers? One of the townspeople? Or One of the Shakers?

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Murder Mystery
Published by: Severn House
Publication Date: March 3rd 2020
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 0727890085 (ISBN13: 9780727890085)
Series: Will Rees Mysteries #8 (Each book “Stands Alone”)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from A Circle of Dead Girls:

Chapter 1

As if God Himself had taken a hand, winter abruptly changed to spring. The six inches of snow that had fallen just last week – the third week of April – was melting in the suddenly balmy air. Instead of hard packed snow, the roads were surfaced in slush and mud. Only on the north sides of the slopes and under the trees did snow remain and even there green spears poked through the white.

Rees had already planted peas and in a few weeks he would begin plowing the rocky fields. He sighed. Although glad to see the spring, he did not like to think about the coming backbreaking toil. He would turn forty this year and his dislike of farm work had, if anything, intensified. His father had died at the age of forty-six, while Rees was away serving with General Washington in the War for Independence, and sometimes he wondered if six years was all he had left. Six years with his arms up to their elbows in mud and manure. Just the thought of it pressed down like a heavy weight. He didn’t think he could bear it.

At least, with the coming warmer weather, he could look forward to a few weeks of freedom as he traveled these roads weaving for the farm wives. Besides the cash he would earn, he looked forward to what he imagined as sunlit days of freedom from the farm.

With a shake of his head, he pushed the gloomy thoughts from his mind. Now he was on his way into town. For the past several days men had been shouting up and down the lanes and byways: Asher’s Circus was coming to town. Rees had brought his children to the Surry road yesterday to watch the circus arrive. First came a man in a scarlet coat and top hat riding a bay. Bells jingled on his harness and feathers danced upon his head. Two carriages followed, the beautiful women seated inside leaning through the curtained windows to wave and blow kisses. At least five wagons followed, wagons that were unlike any that Rees had ever seen. These vehicles looked like the carriages but were bigger and taller and the curtains at their small windows were shut. On every wagon door a bright gold rearing horse glittered in the sunlight. Finally, clowns with colored patches painted over their eyes and vivid clothing walked alongside. One was a dwarf with a pig and a dog and the other a giant of a man. While the little man turned cartwheels, the big fellow walked straight ahead barely acknowledging the crowds lining the street.

Rees’s children were beyond excited, jumping and shouting beside the road. Even Rees, a cosmopolitan traveler who’d visited several large cities, had been enchanted. After a long winter kept mostly inside and occupied solely with mending tack and other chores he was ready for some entertainment.

Now he was on his way into town to see a performance. A sudden wash of muddy water splattered, not only the wagon, but him as well. He swore at the young sprig galloping by, so intent on reaching Durham that he paid no attention to those he passed. But Rees was not really angry. A circus was a grand event and he guessed he could extend a little charity to the eager farmer’s boy. Rees knew Lydia would have liked to join him, and probably the children as well, but no lady would be seen at such rude entertainment, so she must rely on his descriptions.

The streets of Durham were thronged with traffic. Wagons jostled for space next to horses and mules. Pedestrians were forced to cling to the side of the buildings lest they be trampled underfoot. Rees shook his head in amazement; he had never seen the streets so crowded.

And Rouge’s inn! The yard swarmed with horses and shouting men. Rees’s hope – that he could leave his horse and wagon there – died. When he turned down an alley that went to the jail, he found this narrow lane almost as impassible. But he could already see a tall structure in the field that the Durham farmers usually used for Saturday market. It was so early in the season that market was just beginning. Later in the spring the grounds would be in use every Saturday.

Finally, Rees parked his wagon and horse at the jail. He watered Hannibal from a nearby trough and joined the mob streaming toward the large field. Affluent townsmen rubbed shoulders with sunburned farmers in straw hats and dirty clogs. At first, except for the arena built in the center, the fairgrounds looked exactly as normal: an occasional ramshackle hut interspersed with large areas of open ground. The farmers usually set up their wares in one of those small squares; this was how Lydia sold her butter and cheese. Rees lifted his eyes to the tall wooden structure, dazzling with colorful flags flying around the roof, that dominated the field. At first, he did not notice how peculiar the building looked. But as he approached the flimsy construction, the lack of any windows, and the slapdash roof became apparent. An arc of roofed wooden vehicles – the circus wagons – curved around the back.

At several yards distant he could see gaps between the splintered boards that made up the walls. Posters, all designed with a crude woodcut of a horse, papered over the widest of cracks. Rees directed his steps to a bill posted on the wall and paused in front of it. “Asher’s Circus”, he read. “Mr. Joseph Asher, trained by Mr. Phillip Astley and Mr. John B. Ricketts, and just arrived from tours of London, Philadelphia, Boston, and Albany, is pleased to present daring feats of horsemanship, the world -famous rope dancer Bambola, clowns after the Italian fashion and many more acts to amaze and delight.”

Rees grunted, his eyes moving to the bottom. Names and dates scribbled in by different hands, and then crossed off, filled all the white space with the last being Durham, show time five o’clock. Since he didn’t recognize most of the names, he suspected they were for very small villages, not the cities mentioned above. Mr. Asher clearly had grandiose aspirations.

Rees walked around to the front. An opening was screened by a shabby blue curtain, dyed in streaks and with the same look as the boards- used over and over for a long time. Now more curious than ever, he bent down and peered through the gap at the bottom. He could hear the sound of hooves and as he peeked under the curtain he saw the skinny brown legs of a galloping horse thud past.

‘I really must begin my journey.’ Piggy Hanson’s whiny drawl sent Rees’s head whipping around. What the Hell was Piggy doing here? Rees had not seen Hanson, or anyone else from his hometown of Dugard, Maine, for almost two years, not since the magistrate had written an arrest warrants for Lydia – witchcraft – and for Rees – murder. His family had had to flee for their lives. He did not think he would ever forgive the people involved, especially the magistrate who had enabled the persecution. Rage swept over Rees and he turned to look around for the other man.

He saw his nemesis – they’d been enemies since boyhood – standing in a cluster of gentlemen, their cigar smoke forming a cloud around them. With every intention of punching the other man, Rees took a few steps in his direction, but then his anger succumbed to his more rational mind. He did not want Piggy Hanson to know he lived here now and anyway there were far too many men for him to take on by himself.

‘I must leave for the next town on my circuit, you know,’ Hanson continued. A magistrate for a large district, he regularly traveled from town to town ruling on judicial issues. He knew Rees was innocent of murder, Rees was certain of it, but he suspected he would still be treated as though he was guilty. And he doubted he could behave with any civility at all, not with this man. He cast around for a hiding place and, quicker than thought, he dashed behind the blue curtain.

He swiftly moved away from the portal, pressing himself against the wooden wall so that no one who came through the curtain could immediately see him. Then he inhaled a deep breath and looked around.

Stones carried in from the field outside marked off a roughly circular ring. The galloping horse thundered past, a woman in a short red frock standing on the saddle. At first scandalized to see the woman’s legs knee to ankle, Rees’s shock quickly turned to admiration. She stood on the saddle in comfort, her red dress and white petticoats fluttering in the breeze. Puffs of dust from the horse’s hooves sifted into the air.

‘Pip,’ said a voice from above. Rees looked up. A rope had been stretched tautly across the width of the enclosure and a woman in a white dress and stockings stood upon it. She wore white gloves but no hat and her wavy dark hair curled around her face. Rees stared in amazement as her white feet slid across the line. She was totally focused upon her task and did not give any indication she saw him. ‘Pip,’ she said again, and went into a flood of French mixed with some other language. Rees understood enough to know she was complaining about the rope.

This, he thought, must be Bambola, the ropewalker, crossing the sky above his head. She was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. As her white dress fluttered around her, all he could think of was angels.

‘Bon.’ A man Rees had not noticed detached himself from the wall and moved forward. He was easily as tall as Rees, if not taller, and lanky. His hair was a peculiar reddish black color. In French he assured the rope dancer that he would fix the rope in a minute.

Holding up his hand, he moved toward the ring. The equestrienne dropped down to the saddle, first riding astride and then moving one leg across so she rode sidesaddle. She pulled the horse to a stop and jumped down with none of the hesitation of a lady. She conferred with Pip for a few moments in tones too low for Rees to hear and then she went out the opening at the back. The man leaped easily into the saddle and urged the horse again into a gallop. He stood in the saddle, balancing even more easily than his female partner, and then, in one fluid motion, dropped to the saddle to stand on his hands. His lean body formed a long streak toward the sky. Rees gasped in amazement. Then the performer began jumping from one face of the saddle to the other, riding diagonally on each side with his feet pointing at the horse’s hindquarters. He was even more skilled than the woman and Rees was so enthralled he forgot why he was there and lost all track of time.

Finally, Pip moved his long body into the saddle and slowed the horse to a walk. He dismounted and, taking hold of the bridle, began to walk the animal around the ring. ‘You,’ he shouted at Rees in a heavy French accent, ‘get out. You must pay.’

Rees half-nodded, listening to the chatter floating over the wall; he could still hear Piggy talking outside, his high-pitched voice carrying over the lower tones of the other men. ‘I didn’t sneak in to see the show,’ Rees told the circus performer in a near-whisper. ‘There’s someone outside I don’t want to meet.’ With a grin – he could also hear Piggy – the other man turned and pointed to the curtain at the back. Rees struck across the ring for the screen. Disappointment – for now he would not be able to stay and enjoy the show – fell heavy upon his shoulders. Another crime to put at Piggy’s door.

Before he dropped the cloth over the opening Rees turned to look back over his shoulder. Now the tall man was scrambling up the pole to the small landing above. Rees wondered if the talented rider was a rope dancer as well as an equestrian but he did not go all the way up. Instead, as the girl withdrew to the landing on the other side, Pip began working with fittings. The rope vibrated.

Rees dropped the curtain and looked around. He found himself in the cluster of the circus carriages, horses, and hurrying people. A dwarf wearing a clown’s short ruffled red pants and with red triangles drawn in around his eyes hurried past, quickly followed by a slender fellow with oiled black hair and an aggressive black mustache streaked with gray. The performance would begin soon. No one took the slightest notice of Rees as he threaded his way through the circus performers.

Close to, the wagons looked beat up, scarred with use. Most of the gold horses on the wagon doors were simply paint and the few that were carved wood or sculpted metal were losing their gilding. Rees distinctly saw the tell- tale red of rust fringing the head of one rearing stallion.

He broke into a run. He would never have expected to meet the Magistrate here in this tiny Maine town. And he prayed Hanson would leave soon. Rees would not dare to return until he could be sure that Piggy Hanson was gone.

Leaving Durham proved just as challenging as entering town in the first place. The streets seemed even more congested now than they had been earlier. Abandoning the main road once again, Rees turned down a side street on the southern side of town. There was a narrow lane, little more than a footpath, that went east, from Durham to the Surry Road. He could follow Surry Road north past the Shaker community and then to his own farm. If he could just reach the lane. The side street was packed with wagons coming from the farms on the southern side of town. It took Rees much longer than it should have to drive the few blocks before he was finally able to turn.

But from what he could see of this winding track, there was little traffic here. Because of the narrow and twisty nature of this lane most of the traffic was on foot. Only a few vehicles were heading into town. Congratulating himself on his foresight, Rees settled himself more comfortably on the hard wooden seat. If one were not in a hurry, this was a pleasant ride through the stands of budding trees and lichen spotted boulders. He glanced at the sky; he’d reach home before it was entirely dark. And, although he had not been able to attend the circus, at least he’d seen enough to make a good story to tell Lydia and the children.

The wagon trundled around the last steep sharp curve. From here the road straightened out, cutting through farmland until it reached Surry Road.

And ahead was a group of Shaker Brothers, walking towards him. Rees was surprised to see them. A devout group that rarely left their well-ordered community, they surely could not be walking into Durham for the circus. He slowed to a stop and jumped to the ground.

Chapter 2

The group of men resolved into individual faces. One man, Brother Daniel, Rees knew well. Daniel had been the caretaker of the boys when Rees and his family had sought refuge here two years ago. Promoted to Elder since then, Daniel was beginning to look much older than his almost thirty years. He’d lost the roundness to his cheeks, his face now appearing almost gaunt, and the gray appearing in his hair made him look as though he were fading like a piece of old cloth. Rees, who’d recently discovered white hairs on his chin and chest, felt a spasm of sympathy.

Now worried lines furrowed Daniel’s forehead. ‘Rees,’ he said. ‘If I may request your assistance?’

‘Of course,’ he said immediately. ‘What do you need?’ Not only was his wife a former Shaker but the members of Zion had helped him more times than he could count.

‘When you came through town did you see a Shaker lass?’ Daniel’s normally quiet voice trembled with fear and desperation. Rees shook his head. He had seen few women or children and none clothed in the sober Shaker garb.

‘What happened? Did she run off to see the circus?’

‘Yes,’ Daniel said with a nod. ‘With one of the boys.’

‘Shem,’ said Brother Aaron. Rees knew the cantankerous old man well. and was surprised to see him here, searching for the girl. Although a Shaker, Aaron was not always kind or compassionate. ‘I fear he was easily led by that girl,’ he added, confirming Rees’s judgement.

‘Apparently they took off right after our noon dinner,’ Daniel continued, ignoring the other man. ‘We wouldn’t know that much but for the fact Shem was almost late for supper.’

‘Well, have you asked him where she is?’

‘Shem had nothing to do with it,’ Aaron said sharply at the same instant Daniel spoke.

‘Of course we did. We aren’t fools.’

Rees held up his hands in contrition. The Shakers were usually the most even-tempered of people. He knew Daniel’s testiness was a measure of his worry. ‘What did he say?’

‘That they were separated.’

‘Shem wanted to see the circus horses,’ Aaron said.

‘Leah wanted to come home,’ Daniel explained, throwing an irritated glance at his fellow Shaker. ‘Well, they wouldn’t allow a woman to enter such a rude entertainment, would they? She was probably bored-.’

‘He is horse mad,’ Aaron interjected.

‘Please Aaron,’ Daniel said in a sharp voice, staring at his fellow in exasperation. Aaron

acknowledged the rebuke with a nod and Daniel continued. ‘How could Leah have been so lost to all propriety as to imagine she would be allowed entry, I don’t know.’ For a moment his frustration with the girl overshadowed his fear. ‘What was she thinking? I’m not surprised that rapscallion Shem would behave so carelessly but Leah is soon to sign the Covenant and join us as a fully adult member. The amusements of the World should hold no attraction for her.’

Rees shook his head in disagreement. He didn’t blame the girl. He thought that this was exactly the time when she would want to see something outside the kitchen. After all, he was a man, well used to traveling, and seeing the circus had made him long to pack his loom in his wagon and go.

‘Like all women, she is flighty,’ Aaron said, frowning in condemnation. ‘Attracted to sins of -.’

‘Did you search Zion?’ Rees interrupted.

‘No,’ Daniel said. ‘When we couldn’t find the children, we suspected they’d left . . .’ His voice trailed away and he looked from side to side as though expecting the girl to spring up beside him.

‘Perhaps she just wanted to go home to her family,’ Rees suggested.

‘She has no family,’ Daniel said curtly. ‘Neither of those children do. Shem is an orphan and Leah has lived with us since she was a baby. Her mother brought her to us and died soon after. Leah knows no other family but us. She would not leave our community.’

All the more reason for her to want to experience something of the world, Rees thought but he kept his opinion to himself. ‘I drove to town on the main road,’ he said aloud. ‘I did not see any children at all.’

‘When was that?”

“About four,’ Rees replied.

Daniel nodded and rubbed a shaking hand over his jaw. ‘You were on the road too late, I think. The children left the village right after noon dinner.’

‘That means they would have been on the main road between one and two,’ Rees said. ‘Depending on their speed.’ And if Leah had parted from Shem and started home by two-thirty or three, walking either road, she would have reached Zion by four. Four-thirty at the latest. Anxiety for the girl tingled through him. He thought of his own children and the kidnapping of his daughter last winter with a shudder of remembered terror. ‘I’ll help you search,’ he said. ‘The more of us the better.’ He already feared this search would not have a good outcome.

Daniel turned to two of the younger Brothers. ‘Search along the road,’ he said. ‘And

hurry. We have less than an hour of daylight left.’ They started down the lane, moving toward town at a run.

Rees looked up at the sky. The fiery ball was almost at the horizon, and long low rays streamed across the earth in ribbons of gold. In thirty – maybe forty minutes the sun would drop below the western hill and the pink and purple streamers across the sky would fade into black. ‘I’ll park the wagon,’ he said, jumping into the seat.

He pulled it to the ditch on the left side and jumped down, looking around him as he did so. Farmer Reynard had planted the sloping fields on Rees’s right; buckwheat probably given the sloping and rocky nature of the ground. But on the left the buckwheat straw from last year stood almost four feet high, waiting to be cut down and then turned over into the soil. Rees inspected that field thoughtfully. Tall thick stems such as that could hide a girl who did not want to be found. ‘We should check the fields,’ he said as he rejoined the Shakers. ‘And the pastures.’ When Daniel looked at him in surprise, he added, ‘She might have started back to Zion and when she saw us coming gone to ground. She might not want to be dragged back to Zion in disgrace.’ Daniel nodded, pleased by the suggestion and quickly asked the other Brothers to spread out across the fields. Rees and Daniel started walking down the lane.

But before they had gone very far, one of the other Shakers called out.

‘Hey, over here.’ A young fellow whose yellow hair stuck out around his straw hat like straw itself, began retching. ‘Oh, dear God.’

Daniel did not pause to remonstrate with the boy for his language but vaulted the fence into the field and ran. Rees struggled to keep up. Was it Leah? Was she hurt? His stomach clenched; he was so afraid the situation was far worse than that.

They arrived at the body lying sprawled in its buckwheat nest at the same time. She lay partly on her right side, partly on her back, her left arm crooked at her waist at an odd angle. Her plain gray skirt was rucked up to her thighs and blood spattered the white flesh. Daniel turned around, his face white, and shouted at the Brothers approaching him, ‘Stay back. Stay back. Don’t come any closer.’

‘Oh no,’ Rees said, dropping to one knee. ‘Oh no.’ Although he’d been told Leah was fourteen, she looked much younger. Under the severe Shaker cap, her skin had the translucent quality of the child. Her eyes were open, the cloudy irises staring at the darkening sky. Rees bent over her. Although it was hard to tell in the fading light he thought he saw marks around her throat. ‘She may have been strangled,’ he said, his eyes rising to the worm fence that separated this field from the road that led into Durham. Leah’s body had been dropped only a few yards from the fence but in the high straw it would have been almost invisible, even in daylight. Rees began walking slowly toward the main road, his eyes fixed upon the ground. There did not seem to be any path from the fence to the body; none of the buckwheat stalks were bent or broken in any way. He did not see any footprints in the soft April soil either. But in the setting sun detail was difficult to see and he made a mental note to examine this section of the field more closely tomorrow.

‘The farmer, did he do this terrible thing?’ Daniel cried, glancing from side to side.

‘Perhaps, but I doubt it,’ Rees said. He touched the girl’s upraised arm to see if he could move it. As he suspected, the body was growing stiff. ‘He would be a fool to leave her in his own field.’

‘It was not Shem,’ Aaron said loudly. Rees glanced up at the man. Why was Aaron so protective of that boy?

‘She’s been dead for about some hours,’ Rees said, returning to his examination. Then he thought about the warmth of the day. Leah would have been lying here, in the sun. ‘Maybe since mid-afternoon.’ And that time would be consistent with the time she’d left town.

‘How do you know?’ Daniel stared at Rees in shock, mixed with dawning suspicion.

‘You told me she was seen at noon dinner,’ Rees replied, ‘so we know she was alive then.’ He rose to his feet and looked at Daniel ‘It must be almost six o’clock now.’

‘Probably after,’ Daniel said, looking around at the fading light.

‘A body begins to stiffen a few hours after death and then, maybe half a day later, the rigidity passes off. I saw this frequently during the War for Independence but any good butcher will tell you the same.’ Rees kept his eyes upon the other man who finally nodded with some reluctance. ‘I would guess that Leah was accosted by someone on her way home.’ He paused. The poor child had probably been lying here when he rode past, thinking of the circus. He closed his eyes as a spasm of shame went through him.

‘She knew she was not to leave Zion,’ Daniel said with a hint of wrath in his voice.

Rees sighed. This was not the first time he had seen the victim blamed. And perhaps, for a celibate such as Daniel, anger was an easier emotion right now than horror and disgust and grief as well. ‘Perhaps she behaved foolishly, but she did not deserve this end to her life.’

‘We will take her home -,’ Daniel began. But Rees interrupted.

‘We must send someone for the constable.’

‘No. No. She is one of ours.’

‘This is murder,’ Rees said, staring fixedly at Daniel. Although shocked and horrified, he had witnessed too many violent deaths to be paralyzed by such evil any longer. His calm voice and stern regard had the desired effect. Daniel sucked in a deep breath. After he had mastered himself, he left Rees’s side and joined the group of Shakers.

‘Run back to the village and get a horse,’ he told one of the youngest Brothers. ‘Ride into Durham and fetch Constable Rouge.’ His voice trembled on the final word. Rees looked at Daniel. He was swaying on his feet, his eyes were glassy and his skin pale and slick with perspiration. He looked as though he might faint. Rees drew him away from Leah’s body and pressed him down into a sitting position. Daniel was little more than a boy himself and had lived in the serene Shaker community most of his life. It was no surprise he was ill-equipped to handle such a terrible occurrence. ‘Put your head between your knees,’ Rees said. ‘I’m going to walk to the farmhouse and talk to the farmer. Maybe he saw something.’

‘I’ll go with you.’ Daniel stood up; so unsteady Rees grabbed him to keep him from falling.

‘No,’ he said with a shake of his head.

‘I need to go with you,’ the Brother said fiercely. ‘I need to do something. That poor child!’ Rees stared at the other man. Although Daniel’s face was still white, and he was trembling he had set his mouth in a determined line. ‘I must do this, Rees.’

‘Very well.’ Rees glanced over his shoulder at the body. From here, it appeared to be a bundle of rags dropped among the stalks. ‘Poor chick won’t be going anywhere.’

Daniel looked at Brother Aaron. ‘You were once a soldier,’ he said. ‘You’ve seen violence and death. Please stay with our Sister.’ Aaron nodded and, withdrawing a few steps, sat down in the row between the stalks. In the encroaching shadows he instantly faded from view. Only his pale straw hat remained, shining in the last of the light like a beacon.

Rees and Daniel set off across the fields for the distant farmhouse.

***

Excerpt from A Circle Of Dead Girls by Eleanor Kuhns. Copyright 2020 by Eleanor Kuhns. Reproduced with permission from Eleanor Kuhns. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Eleanor Kuhns

Eleanor Kuhns is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur First Crime novel competition for A Simple Murder. She lives in upstate New York. A Circle of Dead Girls is Will Rees Mystery # 8.

Catch Up With Eleanor Kuhns:
www.Eleanor-Kuhns.com, Goodreads, Instagram, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Eleanor Kuhns. There will be 5 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on September 1, 2020 and runs through October 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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A Sneeze to Die For: A Purrfectly Lovely Mystery

Book Review: Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

I’m loving that the Halloween cozy mysteries are starting to come out and today we have one by Ellen Byron. Read my review below of Murder in the Bayou Boneyard.

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

Book Description

Maggie Crozat has the Halloween heebie-jeebies in USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron’s howlingly funny sixth Cajun Country mystery.

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.

Five local plantation B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play–and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican’s spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.

Here’s where you can find a copy of Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

My Review

It’s Halloween in Louisiana and Maggie and her fiancee are working on wedding plans while also trying to attract people to their tourist cabins. Maggie feels lucky when a distant cousin who is also a masseuse moves onto the property to help out their month-long promotion of theater, visits to the graveyard, and spa treatments. There is also a rougarou running around (Louisiana werewolf) who is not a part of the program scaring off guests. In this mystery, you never know quite who to trust and cousins are not always what they make themselves out to be. There is a real taste of Cajun living here with excellent Louisiana foods, family, and bayou murder. For a downhome cozy Halloween mystery, this one can’t be beat.

I obtained this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Cozy Prizes Friday: 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.

Be sure to scroll down and find the Prize Guy because prizes follow him!

 

Mystery Follows Her

 

About Mystery Follows Her

Mystery Follows Her – A Multi-Author Cozy Mystery Collection

MISCHIEF, MAYHEM, OR MURDER?

MYSTERY FOLLOWS HER through dangerous city streets, quaint villages, and locales across the globe. Uncover the clues with feisty female sleuths of various ages in this multi-author cozy mystery collection of short stories.

Catch a mugger in THANKSGIVING AND THEFT by Dianne Ascroft
Dig up hidden treasure in BURIED BY THE BEACH by Ellen Jacobson
Open up a case in CLOSED OUT by Tamara Woods
Pray for justice in TREASURES IN HEAVEN by Sarah Biglow
Escape the blame in RING GONE ‘ROUND THE ROSES by Aubrey Elle
Try on some clues in THE MYSTERY OF THE STOLEN RING by Beate Boeker
Search for the suspect in WHEN THE CLOCK CHIMES TWO by Adriana Licio
Catch the culprit in HIJINKS IN AJIJIC by Vikki Walton
Locate the missing loot in VENDORS AND VILLAINS by Angela K. Ryan

You’ll love this collection of intriguing and light-hearted stories from award-winning and best-selling authors from across the globe.

About the Authors

Two US Today bestselling authors are among these nine authors who hail from Germany, Italy, Northern Ireland and the United States.

Their current and past occupations are diverse and include lawyer, perfumery shop owner, biology lecturer, marketing consultant, global house and pet sitter, interior designer, university campus minister, journalist, tea lady, arborist, bookseller and lottery archivist.

Their interests and hobbies are broad too. Here’s just a few: anthropology, walking and hiking, quilting, sailing, lindy hop dancing, suburban homesteading, sci-fi and urban fantasy, playing bagpipes and poetry. While many have traveled and lived in places around the world that were new and exciting to them, one even lives in a tiny campervan that’s traversed several American states this year!

Yet as diverse as they are, they all share a love of cozy mysteries and telling a good tale. And that’s what they have done in this collection of stories and novellas that introduces readers to characters in each author’s cozy mystery series.

Here’s where to find Mystery Follows Her – KoboAmazonBarnes & NobleApple BooksBooks2read

Author Links

The website links for each author in the collection:

Dianne Ascroft: www.dianneascroft.com

Ellen Jacobson: www.ellenjacobsonauthor.com

Tamara Woods: www.tamarawoodsauthor.com

Sarah Biglow: www.sarah-biglow.com

Aubrey Elle: www.authoraubreyelle.com

Beate Boeker: www.happybooks.de

Adriana Licio: www.adrianalicio.com

Vikki Walton: www.vikkiwalton.com

Angela K. Ryan: https://www.facebook.com/AngelaKRyanAuthor

 

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Read #4 in the Pecan Bayou Series: Buzzkill

Visit a Book Store Today!

Today is Independent Book Store Day

August 29 is Independent Book Store Day

My parents owned one of these little stores for a few years and at the age of 10, I was expected to help on the register when they went to the backroom to eat a sandwich. I loved the smell of books and comic books. I read every issue of Archie and Little Dot and rotted my teeth out with our glorious display of candy. Not a bad thing for a kid to be around. Today you can celebrate Independent Book Store day by visiting your local bookstore.

In this world of big companies running the book business, we need to remember and support the little guy. They are the people who can recommend a good book, look the other way when you decide to read more than the first chapter and give a writer like me a chance to be around their readership.

So that’s your call to action. Put on that mask, pocket the hand sanitizer, and head for the bookstore. Don’t forget to give the books a sniff.

If you are in the Houston area make a quick visit to Murder by the Book and Katy Budget Books. I’m sure there are more out there and if you are one, put it in the comments!

Happy Reading ~ Teresa

Cozy Prizes: 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 and she brought a giveaway with her. Be sure to scroll down and find the prize guy. He’s bringing on the treats!😉

Pumpkin

How “I” came up with the title

Trick or Thief

If you’re a cozy mystery lover, then you know the titles of cozy mysteries are often cute and witty. I love this idea and work hard to come up with fun titles. For instance, my Death by Cupcake series is full of snazzy (if I do say so myself) titles:

Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker

Bring Your Own Baker

Self-Serve Murder

Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper

Fireworks, A Firecracker & Foul Play

But when I came to the title of Kristie’s Halloween story, I was stuck. Really stuck. To the point, I literally spent a Sunday afternoon Googling ‘words associated with Halloween’ and ‘sayings associated with Halloween’. I wrote pages and pages of lists in my notebook. All to no avail.

Finally, I threw gently placed my notebook on the table. My husband had his earbuds in, so I had to clear my voice several times before he finally asked what’s wrong. At which point, I started to whine and complain.

“I can’t come up with a name for my story,” I pouted

My husband looked completely confused. “The one you haven’t written yet?”

“That’s not the point!” I may have started to scream at this point.

Big sigh on his part. “Okay. What have you got?”

I started listing all the Halloween-associated words.

“Why don’t you just call it Trick or Thief?” He asked with a shrug before putting his earbuds back in.

And that is how I spent a week trying to find a title for my next Death by Cupcake installment, only to have the hubby come up with a title in less than five minutes.

Wow, Dena- I’ve done my share of Googling for titles and then having my husband come up with something amazing! ~ Teresa

About Trick or Thief

Trick or Thief, a cozy mystery by D.E. Haggerty
Trick or Thief: A Humorous Culinary Cozy Mystery Short Read (Death by Cupcake)

A little haunting sounds like innocent fun until a ghost plunders your stockroom.

Kristie is convinced ghosts don’t exist until food starts disappearing without a trace from the Youth Center storage. There are zero clues as to who’s been inside the building. The security guard hasn’t seen a thing, and the security tapes are mysteriously blank. When the ghost widens his hocus-pocus to include Kristie’s office, the gals of Callie’s Cakes jump in to find the culprit before Kristie can get in a whole mess of spooky trouble.

Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes expose the ghost before Kristie’s facility is destroyed?

Cupcakes not included, although recipes for all the delicious cupcakes Anna bakes are.

Get your copy here – Amazon

About D.E. Haggerty

D.E. Haggerty

D.E. Haggerty is actually just plain old Dena, but she thinks using initials makes her sound sophisticated and maybe even grown up. She was born and raised in the U.S. but considers herself a Dutchie and not only because it sounds way cooler. After a stint in the U.S. Army, she escaped the US to join her husband in Holland. She fled Holland over ten years ago when she couldn’t stand the idea of being a lawyer for one single second more. Turns out Bed & Breakfast owner in Germany didn’t do it for her either. When the hubby got a job in Istanbul, she jumped ship and decided to give this whole writer thing a go. She’s now back in Holland, which she considers home. Sorry, Mom.

Author links

Website: http://dehaggerty.wordpress.com

Blog: https://dehaggerty.wordpress.com/category/mymusings/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dehaggerty

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dehaggerty

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dehaggerty/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7210211.D_E_Haggerty

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/D.E.-Haggerty/e/B00ECQBURU/

Newsletter signup: https://mailchi.mp/027b2768aa1c/newsletter-sign-up-for-a-writers-life-by-de-haggerty

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/denahaggerty/

Bookbub author page: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/d-e-haggerty

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/d-e-haggerty-4b49a29/

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Pumpkin Graphic from Creative Clips

Cozy Prizes Friday: Master of Illusion

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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!  Be sure to scroll down and find the prize guy and enter Nupur’s giveaway.

About Master of Illusion

Master of Illusion

When death arrives in Paso Robles, so do clues to an infamous art heist in Boston. . .

For seven years, psychic Celine Skye has led a life free of visions in quiet Paso Robles. But now the visions are back. Along with a dubious customer from Boston.

Celine has always been able to sense death. But not even she can foresee her employer Dirck’s murder. Finding his corpse in the wine bar he owns is bad enough.

Grappling with the suspicion that Dirck’s death could be connected with the Gardner Museum heist is even worse.

As Celine struggles to make sense of the psychic clues she receives, there’s just one question in her mind: What exactly did Dirck know about the Gardner Museum heist to get himself killed?

Purchase Links – AmazonNookAppleKobo

About Nupur Tustin

Nupur Tustin, Author of Master of Illusion

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin misuses a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to paint intrigue. She also orchestrates mayhem in composer Joseph Haydn’s Europe. Visit her at ntustin.com

Author Links

Website: https://ntustin.com

Blog: https://ntustin.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ntustinauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/nupurtustin

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/nupur-tustin

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A Dash of Murder #1 in Pecan Bayou Mystery Series available in paperback, ebook and audiobook
Now available as an audiobook!

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.

The Black Midnight

Here’s where to find The Black Midnight

About the Book

Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, women were dying in their beds as The Midnight Assassin terrorized the citizens of Austin, Texas. Now, with suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter.

The prospect of a second chance to work with Annie just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer. If his theories are right, they’ll find the The Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the feisty female left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago.

Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted. 

My Review

The mystery aspect of The Black Midnight is really a backdrop to the romance between Annie/Alice, the royal turned Pinkerton detective, and Isaiah Joplin, another Pinkerton detective from Austin, Texas. She is forbidden to marry anyone outside of English society, so a Texan is way out of the question. Black Midnight is a society that operates in both America and the UK and they are on the trail of Jack the Ripper. Various suspects are investigated and there is a bit of a plot twist at the end. There are some heartwarming moments with Queen Victoria and with Annie being in Austin for Christmas.

Cozy Prizes Friday: 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?  

Be sure to scroll down to find the Prize Guy to enter Maggie’s Giveaway!

Find Your Bliss

By Mama Lacey, mother of Baxley Powell Mayes, psychic sleuth in Maggie Toussaint’s All Done With It

Hi Everyone,

I’m Mama Lacey, er, Lacey Nesbit, mother of Dreamwalker, Baxley Powell Mayes. It always amazes me that people want to know more about me because this series is clearly about my very talented daughter.

My mantra for living is “find your bliss,” because all of us should know ourselves and be able to attain the centeredness that brings love, peace, contentment, and joy. In other words, bliss is my respite and my purpose.

From our first meeting as teens, Tab Nesbit had a way about him that drew me. Luckily, he felt the same way, and ever since we’ve been two halves of a whole.

Life in a Dreamwalker family isn’t easy. Besides the extrasensory challenges, we’ve endured the scorn of locals for our nurturing lifestyle and our back-to-nature ways. We aren’t modern and don’t crave the latest and greatest of anything. What we have always suffices.

Turns out, life isn’t easy for anyone. Folks from all walks of life seek our wooded sanctuary and hospitality. We listen without judgment, feed them from our organic garden, and nourish their souls. Tab does most of that, but my special broth helps.

People ask, “What’s in that broth?” When I share the list of common ingredients, they think I’m keeping a secret ingredient off the list. The truth is that it isn’t so much about what’s in the pot, but my intentions as I stir it. I can’t explain it any better than that.

Along the way, I realized my intentions strengthen crystals in an intangible way. Baxley thinks I’m psychic but no way. I see what real psychics do. I just fiddle around in my kitchen and let my mind go where it will.

One more thing about me, and I hope you don’t think I’m bragging, is that sometimes I know what the immediate future. Sounds flaky but it’s true. When I first realized this was happening, it seemed like a coincidence. But I learned to focus in an unfocused way, and now I can fine tune the sense of what’s coming. Somehow, the weather maps on TV accentuate that sense of knowing. Once I discovered that beneficial effect, we’ve kept our TV permanently tuned to the weather station.

Enough about me. As you can see, I’m in no way extraordinary. That honor goes to Tab and my daughter, Baxley. Turns out that my granddaughter Larissa is like me. So now that Tab and I both have backup, we might travel a bit.

My bliss defines me, and some say it radiates from me. The sheer joy of living puts a spring in my step and fills my heart with love. More importantly, the legacy Tab and I built of inclusion, healing, and brotherly love are continuing with the next generation. It’s what every parent wants.

What are you waiting for? Find your bliss!

I’ll take a cup of that broth, Mama. But I guess you knew I was going to ask that.

Thanks for stopping by!

About All Done With It

All Done With It by Maggie Toussaint

All Done With It (A Dreamwalker Mystery)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery

A Jane Doe jogger homicide near the swamp mystifies Dreamwalker Baxley Powell. The petite woman carried no ID, and no one recognizes her. Worse, a shadow passes from the body to a deputy, rendering him unconscious. The deputy and the corpse are dispatched to the hospital and morgue, respectively.

With summer heat and pending childbirth on her mind, Baxley’s dreamwalks into the spirit world fail to yield leads, frustrating Baxley and her deputy husband, Native American Sam Mayes. Days later, Jane Doe’s description matches a missing Mississippi woman. Turns out, her new husband is missing too. Jane’s sketchy brother-in-law and her aunt arrive, full of secrets. At Jane’s campsite, the team encounters a terrifying anomaly, nullifying Baxley’s senses. With such danger present, they must protect their unborn child. No more dreamwalks will occur until Baxley gives birth.

When her friend Bubba Paxton vanishes, Baxley sights him in a mirror, trapped between worlds with other souls.

Meanwhile, the shadow invades other hosts, demanding to see Baxley. Mayes and Baxley ignore the shadow as they rescue Bubba, untangle the Jane Doe case, and handle missing persons reports.
To free the trapped people, Baxley must outwit a powerful foe. Can she stop this super villain before he steals her soul?

In this 7th Dreamwalker Mystery, female sleuth and psychic crime consultant Baxley Powell works a homicide case that leads straight to an evil force in the spirit world. The stakes? Her soul, her unborn child, and humanity’s freedom.

Purchase Links – Barnes and NobleKobo

About Maggie Toussaint

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with twenty-plus fiction novels published. A three-time finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won three Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows.

Author Links

Website – https://maggietoussaint.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MaggieToussaintAuthor

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/MaggieToussaint

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/MaggieToussaint

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maggie-toussaint

Your friendly Prize Guy here bringing you the giveaway for the All Done With It book tour!

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After you read All Done With It, why not try Die a Yellow Ribbon- Teresa's latest Pecan Bayou Mystery

Book Review: The First to Lie

We’ve all been home for a while, so let’s mess with your head. Can you tell when someone is lying to you? The liar may touch their hair or lips, keep everything vague, and repeat your questions back to you. Even with all those “tells” it can be difficult to spot a liar.

The First to Lie 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?

The operative word in the title is “Lie”. The reader often wonders who is lying and who isn’t. Then the lying compounds. Here’s more information about The First to Lie.

The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

About the Book

We all have our reasons for being who we are―but what if being someone else could get you what you want?
After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn’t know―she isn’t the only one plotting revenge.
An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter, in too deep. A grieving widow who has to choose her new reality. Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?
Bestselling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling cat and mouse novel of suspense that will have you guessing, and second-guessing, and then gasping with surprise.

My Review

This is a psychological thriller where everyone is lying. If the cat could talk, she would lie. It explores the world of big pharma and how business profits can be seen as more important than the human beings who are taking the drugs. There are several points of view going on in the beginning, all with interesting stories that needed keeping up with to understand the plot. This book is full of twists and turns that will keep you reading.

I acquired this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

The cast of characters from from Pecan Bayou is back as they follow the clues to find the Golden Pecan.

Book Review: The Last Mrs. Summers

I can remember many years ago roaming around my college library and coming up with a copy of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I’ll admit, I was wasting away trying to read George Eliot, and finding this gothic mystery was so much fun. Good stuff.

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.

The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen, New York Times Best Selling Author.

An Excerpt from The Last Mrs. Summers

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is just back from her honeymoon with dashing Darcy O’Mara when a friend in need pulls her into a twisted Gothic tale of betrayal, deception and, most definitely, murder. . . .

Lady Georgiana:

I am a bit at loose ends at the moment. My cook, Queenie, is making my new role as mistress of Eynsleigh something akin to constant torture as Darcy is off on another one of his top secret jaunts. And Grandad is busy helping wayward youths avoid lives of crime. So when my dearest friend, Belinda, inherits an old cottage in Cornwall and begs me to go with her to inspect the property, I jump at the chance.

After a heart-stopping journey in Belinda’s beast of a motorcar, we arrive at the creaky old cottage called White Sails and quickly realize that it is completely uninhabitable. Just when I’m starting to wonder if I would have been better off trying to get Queenie to cook a roast that hasn’t been burnt beyond all recognition, we meet Rose Summers, a woman Belinda knew as a child when she spent time in Cornwall. Rose invites us to stay at Trewoma Hall, the lovely estate now owned by her husband, Tony…

Our increasingly awkward visit soon turns deadly when a member of the household is found murdered and all clues point to Belinda as the prime suspect. I soon learn that some long buried secrets have come back to haunt those in residence at Trewoma Hall and I’ll need to sift through the ruins of their past so Belinda doesn’t lose her chance at freedom in the present. . . .

My Review

In this edition of the Royal Spyness series, Georgie, who is back from her honeymoon, finds herself bored as her husband returns to work. After being nearly run down by Brutus, a car driven by her best friend Belinda, they go to Cornwall to check out a small house her friend has inherited. Belinda was a part of a group of friends in this town that included children of the manor houses as well as children of the domestic workers.

If you liked Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, you will find there are some similarities which the author acknowledges at the beginning of the book. Look for brooding housekeepers and a second wife who can’t even come close to filling the role of the first wife. I really liked this mystery, even if Darcy, Georgie’s husband wasn’t a big part of it. Nothing like being stuck in a giant, creepy house with your best friend and a murder mystery to solve.

I was given an advanced reader copy of this book and have left an honest review.

The cast of loveable characters from Pecan Bayou is back as they follow the clues to find the Golden Pecan in Die a Yellow Ribbon.

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder

It’s a Cozy Prizes Friday! 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!  There’s a giveaway below so be sure and look for the prize guy. I am delighted to Diane visiting us today with a guest post from Diane telling us all about her newest mystery.

Some Words From Diane:

Many thanks to Teresa Trent for having me on her blog today to celebrate the release of A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder. This is the third book in the Countess of Harleigh mystery series. The historical mysteries feature Frances Wynn, former American heiress and widow to the Earl of Harleigh. Frances has more freedom as a widow than she did as a wife, but sadly little money and no salable skills—well, there’s one. She knows all the ins and outs of aristocratic society and it turns out other American heiresses are willing to pay for Frances’ sponsorship. Who knew introducing young ladies to society would involve a murder or two?

Of course, this was all done with the utmost discretion. A woman of Frances’ standing couldn’t involve herself in anything that smacked of trade or business. That was far too middle-class. But could she help it if the families of these young ladies gifted her with a lovely check or expensive bauble?

The murder part was a little more difficult to navigate. In Frances’ time, investigating crime is a man’s world. No one would take her seriously if she simply began canvassing the neighborhood. She had to insinuate herself into the investigation and use a completely different set of skills and associates than the police did. Servants knew everything about their employers and were an excellent source of information. What they didn’t know, Frances and her circle of gossiping friends would find out. Few people said no to a countess.

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder takes place outside the London social whirl. Instead we travel to Hampshire for a country house party—a staple of Victorian social life.

I couldn’t resist the lure of a Victorian country house party and only wish I could attend one myself. Instead, I created one for my characters to enjoy. It’s October, so, of course, the gentlemen are shooting, but there’s no shortage of amusements for the ladies either—riding, a visit to the village, rambling across the extensive grounds, or challenging the maze. There are picnic luncheons and archery competitions, mysterious accidents, and murder! But of course, you knew that. What’s a country house party without a murder?

About A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder

A Lady's Guide to MIschief and Murder


A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder (A Countess of Harleigh Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle BooksIndieBound

In Dianne Freeman’s charming Victorian-era mystery series, Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, finds her sister’s wedding threatened by a vow of vengeance.

London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll. . . .

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle BooksIndieBound

About Dianne Freeman

Diane Freeman

Dianne Freeman is the acclaimed author of the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series. She is an Agatha Award and Lefty Award finalist, as well as a nominee for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award from Mystery Writers of America. She spent thirty years working in corporate accounting and finance and now writes full-time. Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband now split their time between Michigan and Arizona. Visit her at difreeman.com.

Author Links

Website – www.difreeman.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DianneFreemanAuthor/

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17347322.Dianne_Freeman

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Cozy Prizes Friday Giveaway

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I’ll be at the Cozy Ink Conference This Saturday

Cozy Ink Conference on August 1, 2020

I’ll be one of the featured speakers at the Cozy Ink Conference discussing how to create colorful characters. No, this is not an in-person event, but an interview I did with Cozy Ink a few months ago. Leah has combined several of these interviews to create a FREE conference. Whether you’re a writer or someone who loves to read cozies and hear from cozy authors, I think this is something you will enjoy. Writing is a job you do mostly alone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a wonderful community of writers out there who are a wealth of information.

Here is the schedule:

The conference will feature pre-recorded podcasts pertaining to writing, publishing, etc. All events are free to attend, but donations are welcome.

REGISTER NOW!

And don’t forget, stay cozy!

My Christmas mystery is on sale until July 31 so get your copy now! I love Christmas in July and in this pandemic, I find myself switching to that Hallmark Channel to listen to the music and watch the little towns gather without masks!

Oh Holy Fright on Sale for 99 Cents

Book Review – 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. Scroll down to read my book review.

About the Book

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

You can find The Book of Lost Names at your favorite retailer on Kristen’s site. (The online stores are at the bottom of that page.)

My Review

This true story starts in Paris in 1942 and Eva Traube and her parents must escape before being sent off to an internment camp for being Jewish. Eva creates false documents to escape to a small mountain town where she becomes a valuable resource forging documents for adults and children. In the process, she meets Remy, another forger and they work side by side in the library of a church changing the names of children to get them to the Swiss border.

Eva doesn’t want the children to forget who they were even though some of them are so young, they’ll never know. To do this, they devise a system to hide the names in an existing book. The storytelling was wonderful and full of suspense. The relationship between Eva and her mother seemed unfair until you thought about what her mother was going through. There is a terrific love story in this one and even though it is about such a tragic time in history, the author gives you a sense of hope. Well done!

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 and I particularly liked it because I used to be a teacher and I love the setting of Galveston, a place I visit often. Scroll down to read my book review of What You Wish For.

Book Review of What You Wish For

About the Book

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.
But she wasn’t always that way.
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.
But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before—at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him—but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school—and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love—which is the riskiest move of all.

With Katherine Center’s sparkling dialogue, unforgettable characters, heart, hope, and humanity, What You Wish For is the author at her most compelling best.

You can find What You Wish For at Katherine’s Website along with her other books!

My Review

You know the old saying “Be careful what you wish for.”, well this humorous book illustrates just how bad it can get. When Sam, a librarian on Galveston Island thinks of unrequited love Duncan, she still pines for him. She is surprised to learn he will become the new principal at her school. He was always a crazy fun-loving teacher that she had an incredible crush on when she worked with him in California. When Duncan shows up he is nothing like he used to be and she grows to wish that he had never come to Galveston. I really enjoyed the camaraderie between the teachers and the vulnerable, romantic characters that the author created in Sam and Duncan. It was entertaining from beginning to end. This is a light, funny, inspirational tale of what happens when you get what you think you want.

Want another book review? Check out The Green Dress.

Audiobook Review – The Giver of Stars

If you love a good audiobook, then this is something you should check out. I’ve included my audiobook review of The Giver of Stars at the bottom of this blog post. The book is beautifully narrated by Julia Whelan. It involves a group of women on packhorses to deliver much-needed reading material to people in the hills of Kentucky.

Audiobook Review of The Giver of Stars

About The Giver of Stars

From the author of Me Before You, set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England.  But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. 

What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond. 

My Audiobook Review

The Giver of Stars is a well-told story that takes place in the mountains of Kentucky in the late 1930s. The WPA has instituted pack-horse libraries in order to share books to people living high up in the Kentucky mountains. A group of women from different backgrounds ride into the mountains and distribute books to homes on a weekly basis.

The story features the moonshiner’s daughter who doesn’t care what other people think of her. Then there is a British bride who finds herself in an unloving family. Her father-in-law runs the local mine in a brutal manner. The story also features an accomplished librarian, but because of her color is not allowed to ride out and deliver books. There are so many delightful stories within the overall story and the audiobook was beautifully performed by Julia Whelan. The Giver of Stars will greatly affect your sleep if you put it on before bed. Trust me, I know.

Side Note:

There is a plagiarism controversy over The Giver of Stars and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. I haven’t read the latter but plan to in the future. I really enjoyed The Giver of Stars and need more information.

Read my Audiobook Review of The Dutch House

Seeing Doggone Double

Between Saharan dust and social distancing, we will be spending our Fourth inside. How about you? If you are looking for a Fourth of July mystery, Doggone Dead takes you to Pecan Bayou on that special weekend with fireworks, exploding port-a-potties, a beauty pageant and a cowboy ghost! The stuff of great literature.

Find out about my Fourth of July mystery!

But wait, there’s more! I recently found out Kensington Publishing has a book of the same name coming out! I enjoyed meeting Dane McCaslin at a writer’s conference a couple of years back. (Remember meeting in large groups and not worrying about the guy coughing upfront?) When I noticed she had a book with the same title, I thought this would be a great way to celebrate both of them, and how great minds think alike.

First thing you need to know…

Doggone Dead by Dane McCaslin comes out on August 25th, 2020.

Book Description

Retired high school teacher Gwen Franklin has a new pet valet business with her BFF, and a whole new leash on life. But a killer is about to come sniffing around . . .
 
Gwen Franklin is looking forward to spending her retirement drinking her favorite coffee and reading mystery novels. Those peaceful plans are brought to heel by her best friend, Nora. Sporting stiletto heels, leggings, and a “more is better” makeup routine, fifty-something Nora Goldstein has a penchant for marrying—and divorcing—rich men. Now that Gwen’s got free time, Nora figures they should start a dog-walking and pet-sitting service together.
 
But it’s far from a walk in the park when the corpse of Linda Fletcher is found in Nora’s kitchen. Linda was Nora’s nemesis, and the large knife protruding from her chest points to murder. With no doubt that her bestie’s being framed, Gwen puts her sleuthing skills—acquired from reading every Agatha Christie mystery—to the test as she digs through suspects, including four disgruntled ex-husbands, ten greedy ex-stepchildren, not to mention all her exes’ exes. But with death threats and another body surfacing, can Gwen curb a killer before her own (dog) days come to an end?

You just never know what’s going to happen when you walk the dog–in a cozy mystery!

Here is the link to preorder Dane MacCaslin’s Doggone Dead

Dane McCaslin resides in the state of Arizona with her very patient husband. She has been writing all of her life: poetry, short stories, journals, letters (yes, those old-fashioned epistles that require pen and paper), and now she brings her talents to the cozy mystery genre.

In addition to being an author, Dane McCaslin is a retired high school teacher. Being an educator is still an important part of her life, and passing on her passion for reading and writing is one of her great joys.

If you want to know more about Dane you can visit her website here.

Book Review: The Green Dress

If you love watching the true crime on the ID channel then The Green Dress, part of the True Colors Series, might interest you. This is a historical mystery based on a true crime in the 1880s. Why are so many people from the same household dying mysterious deaths?

Book Description:

Fiction Based on Strange, But True, History
True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through a unique stories of historical romantic suspense. Collect them all and be inspired by the hope that always finds its way even in the darkest of times.
 
When Harriet Peters came to Boston in 1882, the Robinson family took her in like one of their own, and Harriet became closer to Lizzie Robinson than her own siblings. Now, four years later, Lizzie is deathly sick, failing quickly just like several others in her family have done over the past few years. How can so many in one family die from the same mysterious illness? Harriet doesn’t have answers, but she is determined to help the family, bringing in a new-to-the-neighborhood doctor, Michael Wheaton.
           As Harriet and Michael close in on the answer, putting their own lives at risk, can the cause be found before anyone else dies?

My Review

The Green Dress by Liz Tolsma is a true crime that takes place in the 1880s that has been fictionalized. A beautiful hatmaker Harriet Peters offers to help the Robinson family as member after member dies of a mysterious ailment. She confides in Doctor Micheal Wheaton who has secrets of his own and together they try to find the answer to the deaths. Harriet’s loyalty to the family frustrated me sometimes but because they saved her from a life on the streets, this was her way of paying them back. This is part of the True Colors Series that looks at different true crimes with a Christian focus. The pace really gets going at the end and you won’t be able to put it down. Also, keep an eye on the green dress. Great!

I obtained this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Die a Yellow Ribbon Free Today Only

You have until midnight tonight and then the free download of Die a Yellow Ribbon is over. This has been a fun week and I want to thank all of you who took the opportunity to download my book as well as the bloggers and readers who let me know they can’t wait to go on an amazing race to find the clues to the Golden Pecan.

HERE IS THE DOWNLOAD LINK

If you loved the mystery

and followed the clues,

writers succeed

when they get those reviews!

Here are my tour stops today!

June 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

Only Two Days Left for a Free Copy of Die a Yellow Ribbon

What inspired me to write Die a Yellow Ribbon? Reading the book, The Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I talk more about it over at Ashcroft, eh today. My family can tell you I drove them all crazy after reading this guide to organization. I organized every closet and drawer in the house which meant no one could find anything.

Notice the sock drawer on the cover? I think this is the first time I told a cover artist to include something like that!

If you haven’t downloaded the book for free yet,

HERE’S THE DOWNLOAD LINK.

We’ve hit over a thousand downloads in the last few days! Tell a friend! Tell your mother-in-law. Stop people on the streets–maintaining social distance.

Here are the stops on the blog tour today!

June 18 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 18 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

June 18 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – GUEST POST

Die a Yellow Ribbon Still Free and Still on Tour!

Today one of the characters from Die a Yellow Ribbon, Bunny Donaldson, Pecan Bayou’s only Eco-Warrior is doing a guest post over at Thoughts in Progress. When you go visit, be sure to hide those plastic bags and water bottles if you don’t intend to recycle them.

When I wrote the character of Bunny, I clearly saw the actress Sissy Spacek in my mind. The braid, the sunhat, the look of a woman who takes care of herself naturally, with a little crazy on the side.

Here are my tour stops today and if you haven’t picked up your free download yet, here is the link.

FREE DOWNLOAD OF DIE A YELLOW RIBBON.

Today’s Tour Stops

June 17 – Thoughts in Progress – A Visit with Bunny Donaldson, Eco-Warrior

June 17 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 17 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

June 17 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Die a Yellow Ribbon Free and Rising Fast on Amazon

Die a Yellow Ribbon is in the top twenty free cozy mysteries on Amazon! Thank you for all the downloads! If you haven’t downloaded it yet,

HERE’S THE DOWNLOAD LINK.

First, I want to say I was overwhelmed by the many notes of thanks from readers yesterday. Wow. I saved them all, and thank you for taking the time to write to me.

On with the tour! I hope you brought a lunch because we have 4 stops today!

June 16 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 16 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

Free Cozy Mystery June 15-19

Die a Yellow Ribbon is FREE on Kindle from June 15-19 so click here and get your free download from Amazon!

But wait, there’s more! I’m on tour this week at some of my favorite blogs. There are interviews, character interviews, and guest posts! Today I’m being spotlighted at I’m All About Books and Christy’s Cozy Corners and interviewed at The Pulp and Mystery Shelf.

                               Stop by and leave me a comment!

 

Die a Yellow Ribbon (Pecan Bayou Mystery)

Betsy Fitzpatrick, a local helpful hints columnist, feels she has found her own personal guru after reading a book on organizing. Her beloved town of Pecan Bayou is competing in the Annual Golden Pecan Treasure Hunt in the suffocating heat of a Texas summer. The prize is a cruise out of Galveston, and Betsy’s husband Leo is looking forward to a little alone time with his wife, if they can only win it.

After a curious accident and an unsolved murder, Betsy finds it takes more than a precision sock drawer to spark her joy. No matter how neat and organized it might be, murder is always messy.

Die a Yellow Ribbon features the cast of loveable characters from Pecan Bayou including Ruby Green from The Best Little Hairhouse in Texas, Mrs. Thatcher the dispatcher, and Lester Jibbets the port-a-potty king. Come along and follow the clues to find the Golden Pecan.

Recipes and helpful hints included!

Purchase Link – Amazon – THE BOOK WILL BE FREE DURING THE TOUR!

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

June 15 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

June 15 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 15 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 16 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

June 16 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

June 17 – Thoughts in Progress – CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 17 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 17 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

June 17 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 18 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 18 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

June 18 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – GUEST POST

June 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

Book Review: A Study in Murder

So, you dump your fiancé. What’s the worst that could happen? Lady Amy Lovell could answer that one for you! Today we have a historical mystery that centers around a mystery book club. I really enjoyed it, so scroll down and read my review!

A mystery author is charged with murder–and the plot thickens faster than anyone can turn the pages–in USA Today bestselling author Callie Hutton’s new series debut, perfect for fans of Rhys Bowen and Ellery Adams.

Bath, England, 1890. Mystery author Lady Amy Lovell receives an anonymous letter containing shocking news: her fiancé, Mr. Ronald St. Vincent, has been dabbling in something illegal, which causes her to promptly break their engagement.

Two evenings later, as Lady Amy awaits a visit from Lord William Wethington, fellow member of the Bath Mystery Book Club, her former fiancé makes an unexpected and most unwelcome appearance at her house. She promptly sends him to the library to cool his heels but later discovers the room seemingly empty–until she stumbles upon a dead Mr. St. Vincent with a knife in his chest.

Lord Wethington arrives to find Lady Amy screaming and sends for the police, but the Bobbies immediately assume that she is the killer. Desperate to clear her name, Lady Amy and Lord Wethington launch their own investigation–and stir up a hornet’s nest of suspects, from the gardener who served time in prison for murder to a vengeful woman who was spurned by St. Vincent before he proposed to Lady Amy.

Can they close the book on the case before the real killer gets away with murder?

My Review

Lady Amy, who is secretly a successful mystery writer loves to attend her weekly book group and talk about the latest mysteries with her friend Lord William. Amy has been set up in an engagement with Mr. Ronald St. Vincent but after she ends the engagement they find him dead in her library. She then has to use her mystery-writing skills to find St. Vincent’s murderer before the police decide it was her. I enjoyed this Victorian mystery and the team of Lady Amy and Lord William. The plot moved along and the characters were interesting and propelled the story forward. Lady Amy had plenty of obstacles as she attempted to be a moving force in a society that does not yet value women’s involvement in such matters. This is a fun historical mystery with a nice touch of romance. I obtained this book from Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Book Review: The Wedding Dress

Here we are in June and there is nothing like a great story about a wedding, more specifically a wedding dress. Not just any wedding dress, but a couture creation made in 1929, all sewn and beaded by hand. This dress was so special that the bride traveled from San Francisco to Paris to have it made. I can’t imagine putting that much time, expense, and effort into acquiring a dress, but I’ve never lived in a mansion on Knob Hill in San Francisco. Scroll down to read more about Danielle Steel’s, The Wedding Dress and my review!

Description:

From the glamorous San Francisco social scene of the 1920s, through war and the social changes of the ’60s, to the rise of Silicon Valley today, this extraordinary novel takes us on a family odyssey that is both heartbreaking and inspiring, as each generation faces the challenges of their day.
 
The Parisian design houses in 1928, the crash of 1929, the losses of war, the drug culture of the 1960s—history holds many surprises, and lives are changed forever. For richer or for poorer, in cramped apartments and grand mansions, the treasured wedding dress made in Paris in 1928 follows each generation into their new lives, and represents different hopes for each of them, as they marry very different men.
 
From inherited fortunes at the outset to self-made men and women, the wedding dress remains a cherished constant for the women who wear it in each generation and forge a destiny of their own. It is a symbol of their remaining traditions and the bond of family they share in an ever-changing world.

My Review:

This was the story of a couture wedding dress that was created before the big crash of 1929 and continues being used by generations of women in the same family. Something Danielle Steele is good at is writing romances and she created not one but three love stories. Each of the women endures trials and tribulations finding true love as the decades go by from the stock market crash of ’29 to the age of computer whizzes and house-flippers. This is a good one. I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Murder She Wrote: The Murder of Twelve

You know I love my Jessica and she’s back with a wedding party stuck in a blizzard. Brrrr and just as it’s starting to heat up in South Texas. Seth and Mort Metzger are back but Jessica spends most of her time solving this one with Seamus the ex-constable from Ireland. This one definitely has the “And Then There Were None” vibe to it.

Description

   Still staying at the Hill House hotel while her beloved home is being rebuilt, Jessica Fletcher finds herself sharing the space for a weekend with a dozen members of a wedding party who have gathered there for a rehearsal dinner. The families of the bride and groom can’t stand each other but have agreed to put aside years of long-simmering tension to celebrate the nuptials.

     Unfortunately, weather forecasters underestimated the severity of a storm that turns into a historic blizzard that dumps nearly five feet of snow on Cabot Cove, leaving everyone stranded.

     But the hotel guests have bigger things to worry about than bad weather conditions and potential cold feet, because a murderer has shown up uninvited–one who has vowed to take them down one by one….

My Review

Jessica Fletcher is still living in a hotel while she is having her house remodeled. She stumbles into a wedding party in the middle of a blizzard that has both Seth and Mort unable to get to her. This story has a classic feel to it, with members of a wedding party being killed off one by one in a deadly storm. There were plenty of red herrings in this mystery, and I’m still not sure whether I liked who the murderer was. Notable mentions: Seamus the Irish ex-constable and the numbers on the clock. Murder of Twelve is a great mystery to settle in with, especially in the middle of a snowstorm.

Click Here to Find The Murder of Twelve at Your Favorite Online Retailer

I obtained this title through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Audiobook Review: The Dutch House

The Dutch House is still on the New York Times Best Seller list, and after listening to the audiobook, I can see why. Have you ever had a house that had a personality of its own? The house I presently live in was formerly owned by a NASA engineer, and there are some unusual DIY methods as well as a lovely cookbook holder built into a cabinet. Sometimes I look at my house and think of the scene in Apollo 13 where they had to make an air filter out of a sock. Yeah. The Dutch House is a historic home filled with incredible details left by the first family. You would think most people would love to live in this house, but you’d be wrong.

Tom Hanks narrates the Dutch House and he was perfect for the part. Of course, there were a couple of times when I kept thinking–There’s no crying in baseball–but wow, what a performance.

The Dutch House Audio Book Cover
Where to find this audiobook

Description:

“‘Do you think it’s possible to ever see the past as it actually was?’ I asked my sister. We were sitting in her car, parked in front of the Dutch House in the broad daylight of early summer.”

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

My Review- 5 Stars

 Something about this audiobook had me from the first sentence. This is a story of a family whose life is changed when the father chooses to move them into a historic home called the Dutch House. It is beautifully narrated by Tom Hanks, who has the right voice for Danny and narration style that seamlessly takes us through years with these characters. The story illustrates how knowing one’s family but not really understanding them can lead to pain and mistrust. I  highly recommend The Dutch House.

Book Review: Mousse and Murder

Creative people have been known to be explosive and that includes chefs at diners. Think about that last argument you had which now seems harmless. It didn’t happen that way in Elizabeth Logan’s new mystery Mousse and Murder.

Description

When Chef Charlotte “Charlie” Cooke was offered the chance to leave San Francisco and return home to Elkview, Alaska, and take over her mother’s diner, she didn’t even consider saying no. For the past year, she’s built a comfortable existence, spending her days making sure the restaurant runs smoothly and that her cat, Eggs Benedict, is appropriately pampered. But soon life at the diner starts feeling a little one-note.

Determined to bring fresh life and flavors to the Bear Claw Diner, Charlie starts planning changes to the menu, which has grown stale over the years. But her plans are fried when her head chef, Oliver turns up dead after a bitter and public fight over Charlie’s ideas—leaving Charlie as the prime suspect. 

With her career, freedom, and life all on thin ice, Charlie must find out who the real killer is, before it’s too late.

Click Here to see all the purchasing options for Mousse and Murder

My Review

In Elkview Alaska, Charlie Cooke has taken over the BearClaw Cafe. She argues with her chef, and then he turns up dead. Mousse and Murder is a first in this series, and I enjoyed the Alaska characters and the limitations of the landscape. There are some red herrings and plot twists, and if you are familiar with the world of cozies, having one set in Alaska is interesting. I enjoyed the interaction with the cat and the fact local law enforcement deputizes her to help out in the investigation. This bodes well for upcoming books!

Noticing the new look? Yes, we’re all doing DIY projects in quarantine, and this is my little home within my home. I’ve retitled the blog, Books to the Ceiling, so I can tell you about more books, but don’t worry, there will be plenty of updates on my books.

Cozy Mystery Review: Pumpkin Spice Peril

Ever had a friend start acting crazy for no reason? But there is a reason, isn’t there? That’s what happens in Pumpkin Spice Peril and the book I’m reviewing today.

Must.Have.Cupcakes….

Description:

Life is all sugar and spice for the Fairy Tale Cupcake bakers–Melanie Cooper is engaged to the delectable Joe DeLaura, Angie Harper and her husband Tate are savoring married life, and the bakery is bustling with happy customers. Until one of their most valued cupcake connoisseurs ends up dead.

Local glass artist and cupcake lover Rene Fischer-Klein has always suffered from a wide variety of health issues. In an effort to cheer her up, her doting husband, Peter, brings her a four-pack of her favorite cupcakes every week. But when the police discover that Rene has been poisoned, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that the last things she ate were the bakery’s signature pumpkin spice cupcakes! With their lives and bakery at stake, it’s up to Mel and Angie to find out who poisoned their artist friend and why, before their future is frosted for good.

Visits Jenn’s website to find your favorite online retailer to purchase Pumpkin Spice Peril.

My Review:

Mel, the owner of Fairy Tale Cupcakes, is all ready to deliver cupcakes to her friend Rene’s glass art show when she finds her friend angry, crazy, and insanely jealous. Something isn’t right with her old friend, but Mel never gets the chance to find out. As Mel navigates the investigation with her fiancee Joe, she finds herself at the top of the police’s suspect list because of a crazy encounter with the victim. Mel is surrounded by friends and family including her Uncle Stan on the police force. This is the twelfth book in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series and the author takes some time to catch up new readers to make it easy to read. Favorite Line: Life is beautiful but so very fragile.

I obtained this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Let’s Talk Cozies on Cozy Ink Podcast

Today I’m being interviewed over at Cozy Ink Podcast by author Leah Bailey. If you want to know about my writing process or learn more about the creation of Pecan Bayou or Piney Woods you might want to listen in over at Cozy Ink. Do you listen to podcasts? They’re a great way to catch up on things that interest you. I’m addicted to the true-crime podcasts like Nightline and 2020, of course, but they have them for everything from politics to bird watching.

GO TO COZY INK PODCAST INTERVIEW OF TERESA TRENT

A Dash of Murder Audiobook on Audible!

A Dash of Murder the audiobook can now be found on Amazon.com through Audible. If you acquire audiobooks through Audible, here’s your chance to pick it up!

Buy this Audiobook on Audible

This is my first mystery and the first time I explored the world of paranormal ghost hunts. If you haven’t read the Pecan Bayou Series this is an excellent introduction to my little town in Texas as you listen to the talented voice actor, Reagan Boggs.

Buy this Audiobook on Audible

A Saturday Surprise: Seas the Day-A New Series from Maggie Toussaint #Giveaway

Seas the Day (A Seafood Capers Mystery)
by Maggie Toussaint

 

Maggie Toussaint has a new series out and it’s all about seafood! Yum! And Murder! Yikes! Check out Seas the Day and don’t forget to scroll down and enter her giveaway. 

About Seas the Day

Caterer River Holloway cooks like a dream and is known on Shell Island as a “finder” of things. Which is why a desperate mother begs River to track down her grown son, Chili Bolz, who’s vanished.

Deputy Lance Hamlyn can’t find the missing man, so he teams up with River. The missing person case boils over into something frightening when Chili’s mother falls victim to a brutal assault. Worse, her dying words incriminate River’s friends in both kidnapping and, now, murder. River soon finds herself caught in an unsavory recipe for disaster.

Despite catering events and the return of her absentee boyfriend, River finds the number of suspects growing longer than her food shopping list. Along the way she befriends a black cat who becomes her crime-solving partner. River must locate Chili and discover who killed his mother before her own goose is quite literally cooked.

Maggie Toussaint serves up a fun and captivating read in Seas the Day, the first in her Seafood Capers series.

                                Purchase Seas the Day — Amazon

About the Author

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with twenty fiction novels published. A three-time finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won three Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at https://maggietoussaint.com/

Author Links

Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Pinterest | Booklover’s Bench | Amazon Author Central | Website | Bookbub

 

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Staging Wars

 

If you are like me, you’ve been staring at those walls while social distancing and thinking. How can I make this place look better? Well, Grace Topping brings us the second book in her Laura Bishop Mystery Series: Staging Wars! Not only do you have a great mystery to solve, but she gives you tips on interior design. Read below to find out more and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a print copy of Staging Wars!

 

About Staging Wars


Staging Wars (A Laura Bishop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: Henery Press (April 28, 2020)

Laura Bishop’s new home staging business is growing in popularity, though not with her nemesis. Laura has long suspected established interior designer Monica Heller of sabotaging her fledgling company—and having an affair with her late husband.

When the ultra-chic Monica is caught at the scene of a murder, Laura is plenty happy to imagine her languishing in a prison cell with bedsheets far from her normal 600-thread Egyptian cotton. But her delight is short-lived.

When Laura’s friends land on the police’s radar, Laura must overcome her dislike of Monica to help solve the crime. Not an easy task since Laura and Monica have been at war since the second grade.

Find Staging Wars at these online retailers – Amazon   B&N   Kobo

My Review: 4 Stars

Staging Wars is about the sometimes beautiful, sometimes treacherous world of home staging and interior design. Our amateur sleuth, Laura Bishop, is trying to solve a mystery and clear the name of a competing designer. I liked that the reader is thrown directly into a murder mystery in the first chapter. It was fun to watch the interactions between Laura and Detective Alex Spangler. I’m sure there will be more to come on that romantic plotline. The author has put tips on staging a home at the beginning of each chapter. Laura has a great cast of supporting characters, and I would highly recommend this book by Grace Topping. Staging Wars is the second book in the Laura Bishop series but can stand alone.

About Grace Topping

Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes for sale as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The series is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is a 2019 Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. Grace is the former vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.

Author Links

Website – https://www.gracetopping.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gtoppingauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GraceToppingAuthor

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomgracetopping

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/staging-wars-by-grace-topping

 

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Audiobook Sale!

Even if you’ve read the first book in the Pecan Bayou Series, you haven’t experienced it until you’ve heard it read by Nashville musician Reagan Boggs. Her smokey tones and grasp of character bring out the suspense and humor of life in Pecan Bayou, Texas.

Click Here to Buy This Book on CHIRP

Click Here to Buy This Book on Itunes

Description:

When Betsy’s Aunt Maggie wants to drag her along on a ghost hunting excursion at the local abandoned tuberculosis hospital she isn’t sure if she quite believes in ghosts. When she comes upon a fresh spirit in the form of a body, she starts to rethink about what really is haunting the hospital.

Betsy must solve the murder in spite of her father, who is a lieutenant on the Pecan Bayou Police Force, town citizens worried about the effect of the occult on their children, and handsome stranger from Dallas. How do you get blood out of a silk blouse? Betsy Livingston can tell you in her newspaper column, “The Happy Hinter”. When she’s not writing, or taking care of her young son, she’s busy solving mysteries in the tiny Texas town of Pecan Bayou.

5 Stars I loved this book. A quick and quirky read. Had me guessing right up till the end. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to have a good time.

5 Stars– I have loved Teresa Trent since reading the Happy Homicides Series. Great to read her first full-length novel. I loved it

This book is not yet available on Audible.

Chirp is an audiobook distributor with great sales on audiobooks. You can download the app from your phone and catch the daily deals.

Book Review: A Stroke of Malice

One thing about maintaining social distance is that you can get as close as you want with all of the wonderful characters the world of fiction offers. Today I’m reviewing a Regency mystery that takes place in 1832. Wouldn’t it be fun to go to a party, and everyone gets an assigned role and a costume to wear? Better yet, what if everyone drew a mystery character or an author to portray? I would, of course, be Jessica from Murder She Wrote or possibly Dr. Ogden from Murdoch Mysteries. Who would you want to be?

Here’s some more information about my latest read, A Stroke of Malice.

Description:

Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are looking forward to celebrating with new friends at an exciting yearly soiree, but they soon learn that murder never takes a holiday in the latest riveting installment in this national bestselling series.

January 1832. After enjoying a delightful few weeks with her family, expectant mother Kiera and Sebastian Gage have been invited to the Duchess of Bowmontʼs Twelfth Night party in Traquair, Scotland. Though she normally avoids such fashionable, rambunctious events, Kiera is ready to join in the festive merrymaking. But upon their arrival at the opulent estate, it becomes obvious that all is not merry in their hostess’s home. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes.

Matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the partygoers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castleʼs crypt. The corpse is thought to be the duchessʼs son-in-law who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage soon realize that a ruthless murderer walks among them—and may well be a member of the duchessʼs own family. And when the investigation takes a treacherous turn, Kiera discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.

My Review: 4 Stars

It is 1832, and Lady Kiera Darby, who is a portrait painter and six months pregnant, attends a Twelfth Night Party with her husband, Sebastian Gage. All of the attendees dress up in costume after being assigned roles while drinking and carousing. Keira and Gage have a reputation for solving crimes along with their maid and valet, which comes in handy when they discover a party in the Doom, which is the crypt of the castle. There are many characters and many layers to the mystery. This is mostly because being married in this aristocratic society didn’t mean you had to be loyal to that person. I enjoyed the mystery, found it easy to pick up on the clues and the unraveling of the motives. If you like Regency romance and mystery, you might enjoy this one.

I hope you are staying safe and healthy. ~Teresa

A Visit with Dominic the Paranormal Investigator

Today, I am excited to present Dominic Fazio, the front desk clerk at The Tunie Hotel and paranormal investigator extraordinaire. He is a character from Die Die Blackbird, the third book in the Piney Woods Cozy Mystery Series. Leave your ghost story in the comments in Dominic will give his professional opinion!

Take it away, Dominic!

Yo! Dominic Fazio here, the front desk clerk at the historic Tunie Hotel in Piney Woods, Texas. Nora Alexander, a part-owner of the hotel, let me talk to you today to make up for all of the liberties I took during the latest installment of the Piney Woods Mystery Series, Die Die Blackbird. So, if you got a problem with me talking to you and not that redhead, Nora…forget about it. Did I mention I was full-blooded Italian?

Believe it or not, I came to the Tunie Hotel for one reason, and that wasn’t to hand out room keys and wish people a nice day. I am a paranormal enthusiast. I’ve done some ghost hunting in my day, and when I found out Jack and Daisy Foley, hosts of the online sensation, Paranormal Party, were coming to Piney Woods to talk to the ghost of Sam Houston, batta bing, batta boom, baby. I was only too happy to add my level of expertise.

You see, our boy Sam had a girlfriend named Winifred at the Red Ruth Inn back in the day. They called it an inn, but it was really a brothel. I know, I know you won’t find this story in the history books, but we got the inside track, you know what I mean? Jack and Daisy figure he might have told her about some missing loot from the battle of Santa Anna. So not only is there the paranormal side to all of this, there’s a load of dough just begging to be found. We located the site of the brothel, and would you believe it? They tore it down, and now there’s a parking lot on top of it.

Don’t you worry about that. Ol’ Dominic has a few tricks up his sleeve. Wouldn’t it be great if the basement of the brothel still existed? The air would be thick with spirits from the other side.

Nora can tell you I took a few unscheduled days off and maybe took up meeting rooms at the hotel that were meant for the quilting ladies, but seriously? Quilts or a chance to visit with someone on the other side. Is it even a question?

So, yeah, I hope to show you more in the pages of Die Die Blackbird. I’ve written a little poem to “encourage” you.

You wanna buy it?

Click below- cause the book ain’t slow

It’s full of ghosts

Murder, quilts, and dough

Thanks for reading this,

Dominic Fazio

Front Desk Clerk

Paranormal Adventurer

Dominic Graphic Credit: Play Rainbow Kids

And Now for the Winners…

Congratulations to Karen who won a free e-copy of Die Die Blackbird and to Sharon who won a $20 Amazon gift card!

Karen and Sharon? The Rhyming Winners! (Next week- Bill and Phil, Jane and Elaine, Tamika and Lamika.)

I hope you are doing well, staying safe and reading lots of books. As a special treat, tomorrow we will have a visit from Dominic Fazio, the front desk clerk at The Tunie Hotel and paranormal enthusiast. He has quite a good time in Die Die Blackbird attempting to contact the ghost of Sam Houston and he can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Leave your ghost stories in the comments tomorrow and Dominic will give you his professional opinion. (Not as a front desk clerk, but a ghost hunter!)

Die Die Blackbird Blog Tour Starts Monday

So, I’ve had this blog tour scheduled for about a month. What I didn’t expect was for so many people to be at home during this time. My son with Down syndrome has had pneumonia many times so he is in the high-risk group for the virus and we’re not taking any chances. Needless to say, we’re at home and he is bored. One of his favorite things to do is go through automatic car washes so I’ll probably go through the car wash several times in the next week!

I’ll be sending out my newsletter with my tour information and if you are not on my mailing list you can subscribe here. I hope you’ll be careful and stay safe, and if I don’t get right back on your comments I’m probably sitting in my car watching the rainbow-colored soap drip down my windows. ~Teresa

About Die Die Blackbird


Die Die Blackbird (A Piney Woods Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Publisher: Camel Press (January 14, 2020)
Paperback: 210 pages

Nora Alexander is finding her job exciting as she welcomes paranormal investigators Jack and Daisy Foley to the Tunie Hotel. They are trying to contact the ghost of Sam Houston not only for their internet production but because it is reported there is a stash of Santa Anna’s gold hidden somewhere. They are operating on the theory that Sam Houston visited a lady of the evening in Piney Woods and locate Red Ruth Inn where a parking lot now stands. Not only do these two stir the spirit world, but they also bother some of the town’s most established citizens including the town’s quilting group who doesn’t appreciate their overtaking of the hotel with ghost hunting equipment.

When a townsperson is murdered with suspected ties to the local gang, The Alamo Runners, Nora finds herself wanting to protect his wife and daughter all the while getting cryptic messages from beyond. Jack and Daisy aren’t the only ones with a connection to the other side.

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

March 16 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

March 17 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

March 17 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews –  REVIEW

March 18 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 19 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Curling up by the Fire – REVIEW

March 20 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 20 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST

Book Review: Death with a Dark Red Rose

You have to know nothing good will come of a giant corporation named Plastisource in a little town, but that’s not all that’s going on in this cozy mystery. This week I’m reviewing one from the Writer’s Apprentice Series by Julia Buckley.

Book Description:

Lena is starting to feel like having it all may actually be possible! She and suspense novelist Camilla Graham are busily plotting their next novel and she’s got a brand-new diamond ring on her finger thanks to her fiancé, Sam West. The only blot on her Blue Lake life is a strange new corporation that has come to town called Plastisource. They seem to be intent on gobbling up prime real estate and changing the landscape of Lena’s lovely adopted home.

Visit Julia’s website to see the entire series and purchase Death with a Dark Red Rose.

My Review

This was the first mystery I’ve read in this series. Newly engaged Lena London works for novelist Camilla Graham. When a friend goes missing, they meet her slightly different brother who tells them of a friend that has disappeared. It sounds complicated, but it was very easy to read and I really liked the character of Carl and how he was brought into the story. Lena and company set out to find out about the missing man and the mystery goes from there. I enjoyed the story, the supportive ways the characters acted toward one another and the pacing. I look forward to reading other books in this series.

Get Ready for the Die Die Blackbird Tour!

Don’t you love the quilt on the cover? Now, you may ask yourself why are there blackbirds? Because Sam Houston’s Native American name was blackbird. Intrigued? Here’s a little more about the book.

Nora Alexander is finding her job exciting as she welcomes paranormal investigators Jack and Daisy Foley to the Tunie Hotel. They are trying to contact the ghost of Sam Houston not only for their internet production but because it is reported there is a stash of Santa Anna’s gold hidden somewhere. They are operating on the theory that Sam Houston visited a lady of the evening in Piney Woods and locate Red Ruth Inn where a parking lot now stands. Not only do these two stir the spirit world, but they also bother some of the town’s most established citizens including the town’s quilting group who doesn’t appreciate their overtaking of the hotel with ghost hunting equipment.

When a townsperson is murdered with suspected ties to the local gang, The Alamo Runners, Nora finds herself wanting to protect his wife and daughter all the while getting cryptic messages from beyond. Jack and Daisy aren’t the only ones with a connection to the other side.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THIS BOOK

My Book Tour Hosts! Spotlight means they are featuring the book that day. There are also reviews, interviews, and some characters sharing their two bits.

Hope to see you there and don’t forget to enter the giveaway while you visit their sites!

March 16 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

March 17 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

March 17 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 17 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 18 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews –  REVIEW

March 18 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 18 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 19 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 19 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Curling up by the Fire – REVIEW

March 20 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 20 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST

A Valentine and A Book Review: Field Guide to Homicide

Happy Valentine’s Day! I grew up in Loveland, Colorado, so you can bet Valentine’s Day was a pretty big deal. Hot air balloons, a Miss Valentine, and even a signature Valentine card each year that people all over the country ordered and sent through our post office to their loved ones. When I wrote my novella, A Heart for Murder, I was channeling all that pink and red goodness from growing up in Loveland.

If you are not a member of my mailing list yet and would like a free copy of the novella A Heart for Murder, then click here to sign up for your free book!

Onto my Friday cozy mystery review! I read and really like A Field Guide to Homicide, mostly because it was about writers. Sometimes I feel like being a writer is akin to being the mother of a special needs child. Very few people understand what problems and joys you face in your journey. Author Lynn Cahoon writes her series with writers trying to get agents and working through drafts, editing, plotting. If you aren’t a writer, you get a pretty accurate picture of the job.

Here is my Review:

This is the first book I’ve read in this series and greatly enjoyed the atmosphere created by Cahoon at the writer’s retreat. If you are a writer or just love to read, you like these people. They bounce around the mechanics of writing along with agents and the business side of the job. The writers find the body of a man thought dead years ago and mystery begins there. This cozy mystery not only gives you a puzzle to solve but a chance to spend some time with interesting people.

More about this book:

Cat’s sweetheart, Seth, is going all out on an outing into the local mountains—for the benefit of the writing group Cat’s hosting at her Colorado B&B. But when they try to identify some plant and animal life, they find death instead. The body belongs to a man with a gold claim a few miles away. Instead of striking it rich, he’s been struck down.
 
To his surprise, Seth recognizes the victim from his military days—and up to now believed he’d already died during his last tour of duty. Now Cat has to solve this mystery before the killer takes a hike . . .

Where to get a Field Guide to Homicide

Book Review: A View to a Kilt

Time to head to snowy Maine to the wee town of Moosetookalook. I say “wee” because the mystery centers around the Scottish Emporium where you can find kilts in all colors and sizes. This is the 13th book in the Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mystery Series and full of cute little dogs, mysteries from the past and evil corporate conglomerate. Perfect for a snowy afternoon.

A series of blizzards have kept tourists away from Moosetookalook, Maine, and shoppers out of Liss MacCrimmon’s Scottish Emporium. But as warmer weather brings promises of tartan sales and new faces, melting snow reveals cold-blooded murder . . .

Liss has suddenly found herself in charge of the March Madness Mud Season Sale, a town-wide celebration created to boost the local economy during the slushy weeks of early spring. With businesses ailing after a rough winter, the pressure is on to make this year’s effort the can’t-miss-event of the season. But before Liss can get her hands dirty, her husband makes a horrifying discovery. There’s a dead man on their property, and he didn’t die of natural causes . . .

Visit Kaitlyn Dunnet’s Website to order from your favorite online retailer.

My Review

It’s a snowy time in Moosetookalook where Liss and Dan are dogsitting two Scotties, Dandy and Doni. Liss runs a specialty gift store and Dan is on the way to his carpentry shop when they discover a dead body in the garden. Liss immediately recognizes something familiar about the dead man, but can’t figure out what. It seems he is someone from her father’s past who has come back to town for a reason. This is the thirteenth book in this series, but my first time enjoying these characters and the little town of Moosetookalook, Maine. I would recommend this if you are a cozy mystery fan.

Pecan Bayou Mystery Series

Book Review: Death Comes to the Nursery

Click on the book cover to go to Catherine’s website to order from your favorite retailer.

This week we are traveling back in time Regency England where Lady Lucy has found she is expecting her second child. What to do? Hire a nursery attendant–who is drop-dead gorgeous.

Here is my review-

Death Comes to the Nursery is a part of the Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series. Lady Lucy and Sir Robert hire an attractive young girl to become a nursery attendant for their 18-month-old son. The problem with employing such a beautiful woman is that men begin to flock to her to the point of fighting for her attention. Because this is a mystery, nothing is as it seems, and Lady Lucy and Sir Robert follow the clues and end up investigating the seedier side of the theater scene in London. This is a light enjoyable mystery with a touch of cozy!

I obtained this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Other Exciting News!

Die Die Blackbird is out in ebook and print form! Click here to go to the book page. I will be having a book tour for this third book in the Piney Woods Series in March, so stay tuned for tour stops and PRIZES!

News on My Latest Mystery and a Book Review

Believe it or not, I don’t always read cozy mysteries. I love historical mysteries and women’s fiction. I found this one on Net Galley and just loved it! I put myself on the waiting list for another of her books, The White City.

My Review: Edyth Foster is your average twenty-five year old in the year 1887 who loves fencing and her fencing instructor Bane. She is about to come into her fortune when she is involuntarily committed to an institution. I really enjoyed this story! The romance, pacing, and history were all well done. I would highly recommend it, but set aside some time. You won’t be able to put it down.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO GRACE’S SITE AND ORDER THIS BOOK FROM YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER

Die Die Blackbird is now out in paperback at Amazon which means the ebook is due any day. I loved writing this and taking another trip into the paranormal, or at least the world of the paranormal investigator. Do you believe a ghost can haunt an old hotel? I stayed a night in the hotel The Shining was based on and I would have to say…YES.

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Coming Soon! Die Die Blackbird

I am happy to announce that Die Die Blackbird, the third book in the Piney Woods Series is coming out during the month of January!

The Tunie Hotel in Piney Woods Texas has a few guests that checked in decades ago, and paranormal investigators are here to contact famous Texan Sam Houston.  Who knows what they’ll find when they really start digging?

I had so much fun writing the next adventure for Nora Alexander and of course, couldn’t stop humming the song Bye Bye Blackbird while I wrote it. It is always so fun to delve into the world of the paranormal and decide that gobblygook like blahblahmmmmmugauga means “It is I, the ghost of Sam Houston.” 😉

Stay tuned for purchase details!

Oh Holy Fright-An Excerpt- The Port-a-Potty King is there for Aunt Maggie

As we get closer to Christmas, I wanted to share some of my Christmas mystery, Oh Holy Fright. I love creating characters for my little town, and one of my favorites is Lester Jibbets, the port-a-potty king. I couldn’t think of a funnier thing to make into a business empire than portable toilets, so Lester was born.

In this scene, which is the opening of the book, Aunt Maggie is angry because Joe, the choir director, gave her solo in the Christmas Eve production to another woman who can’t sing. She suspects something fishy is going on and vows never to sing another note.

Excerpt- Oh Holy Fright

 “What would possess Joe Nelson to give the Christmas solo to a woman who sings like a washing machine full of rocks?” Aunt Maggie’s voice echoed in the community center gym, the location hosting many of the neighborhood churches for the Christmas Eve service. Her attitude was in direct contrast to Rudolph’s blinking nose on her fire engine red Christmas sweatshirt.

“Ooh. You better watch out,” Danny whispered in my ear. “When Mama says words like that, it’s best to look busy.” I had just picked up Danny from the Christmas party for people with disabilities held at his adult care center. Today he seemed especially happy for some reason. And from the way he kept giggling, I could tell Danny had a secret he was bursting to tell me.

“Joe!” Aunt Maggie called out.

The choir director, who was busily engaged in a conversation with Enid Sanford—solo-stealer and owner of the voice that sounded like a washing machine full of rocks—didn’t respond.

“Joe!” she bellowed.

When he failed to respond a second time, she stomped back, turned him around by the shoulders, and plopped her slender black music folder into his hands.

“Take it. I can’t sing in a choir where my voice isn’t heard.”

I had to admit, Maggie was one of the better singers in the holiday choir. Some of the other vocalists possessed lesser talent. One time when I was watching Joe’s friend Howard Gunther at the soundboard, I noticed he was turning down certain microphones. It was wonderful these people volunteered, but some of the singers could be described as cats screeching in the night. Enid Sanford was one of those people; when she hit the high C, it could make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Leaving an astonished Joe, Maggie returned to us. “Well, that’s it. You’re hearing it right here and now. I am quitting the Pecan Bayou Singers. They can jingle their bells with somebody else.”

Lester Jibbets, a tall wiry man with protruding cheekbones and the owner of the most successful port-a-potty business in Central Texas, walked over waving a bony hand. “I totally agree, Maggie. What happened here is nothing short of criminal. It will ruin the Christmas Eve performance, uh huh.” He nodded his head to reinforce his point.

“Thanks, Lester,” Maggie said, about to continue her tirade, but Lester just kept talking.

“Yes, sir, I knew right away I needed to come over and help a beautiful lady in trouble, I did.” More nods.

“Thank you, Lester,” Maggie repeated, but this time she waited. Lester Jibbets was not an easy man to shut up once he got started. I guess the portable bathroom business is pretty lonely, even if you’re at the top of your game.

Click Here to Get Your Copy of Oh Holy Fright

Murder, She Encountered-Historical Mystery Review

Let’s head to the World’s Fair in 1939 where Biz Adams, girl reporter is hot on the case. Peg Cochran does a great job helping us all escape to another time, although there do seem to be some people getting killed!

My Review:

Biz Adams, also known as Elizabeth, is working as a photographic journalist along with veteran reporter Ralph Kaminsky as they cover the World’s Fair in 1939. Nylon stockings are just coming into use, and a young woman is found dead with one around her neck. I enjoyed the many characters that worked at various booths in the World’s Fair. It set us up with plenty of suspects. There was also a sweet story between Biz and Kaminsky, her work partner, and then a romance with a detective who was not from her social set. Thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery.

A gutsy Manhattan socialite encounters murder and corruption at the World’s Fair in this captivating historical cozy mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Rhys Bowen.

New York City, 1939. A rising star at the Daily Trumpet, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams has been sent to the World’s Fair—billed as the “World of Tomorrow,” a look toward a brighter future even as the drumbeats of war grow louder—to cover a robbery. What she stumbles upon instead is a dead woman, dumped into the Aquacade’s pool with a nylon stocking wrapped around her neck.

Elizabeth snaps a photo as the police arrest Joey Dorman, a gentle young hot dog vendor who made no secret of his obsession with the murder victim. Even though she’s thrilled that her photo makes the front page, the fear and confusion evident on Joey’s face are haunting. So Elizabeth vows to prove his innocence—or his guilt—with her partner at the Daily Trumpet, Ralph Kaminsky. Meanwhile, her romance with Detective Sal Marino is heating up, and Elizabeth is more determined than ever to follow her heart.

But when Kaminsky’s efforts to expose the real killer land him in the hospital, Elizabeth is forced to continue the investigation on her own. And as she tries to narrow down the long list of suspects, she discovers a dark secret running through the Fair—a secret some would kill to protect.

Look for all of Peg Cochran’s delightful mysteries featuring Elizabeth Adams, which can be read together or separately:
MURDER, SHE REPORTED
MURDER, SHE UNCOVERED
MURDER, SHE ENCOUNTERED

Cozy Prizes Friday: Bookmarked for Murder

Let’s get on the bus with Nana Jo and the residents of Shady Acres and go do some gambling! V.M. Burns is back with another great Mystery Bookshop Mystery! Don’t forget to scroll down and enter Valerie’s giveaway and to read my review!

 

About Bookmarked for Murder

Bookmarked for Murder (Mystery Bookshop)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .

After some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

 

My Review:

Bookmarked for Murder is the second book I’ve read in the Mystery Bookshop Series, and it was like visiting family. I love Nana Jo and the crowd from Shady Acres. I loved Irma with her hooker heels and way of finding a man to flirt with and another resident who seems to be knitting all the time. The main character, Samantha, is not only escorting the group to go gambling, but she also runs a mystery book store and is busily writing a regency mystery novel. During the bus trip, a gentleman who was writing about the death of Robert Kennedy is found dead. Sam, along with her detective boyfriend, set us on a journey to find his killer. There were several times I laughed out loud while reading this book.

About V.M. Burns

V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com

Author Links:

Website: http://www.vmburns.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/

Twitter: @vmburns

Purchase Links – AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBoundBooks-A-MillionHudson BooksellersKobo
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Cozy Prizes Friday: Favorite Recipes From Cozy Writers

As we all begin to think about delicious holiday dishes right around the corner, this week’s visiting cozy is a cookbook! Not only that they sent along a couple of recipes! One for Fido and one for you!

Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes

What happens when 128 cozy mystery writers get together to do a cookbook? You get more than 220 recipes that are as varied and interesting as an amateur sleuth’s day job.

Regional recipes come from every part of the United States and England — a couple find their way from Australia and Italy, too — and from diverse times. There are recipes from people looking to keep gluten out of their lives, eat vegetarian, or make a treat or two for their furry four-legged friends. And yes, there are recipes that appeal to the sweet tooth, lots of them, in fact.
There’s no mystery about what happens when cozy writers get together. They bring the wit, inventiveness, and adventure found in their books right along with their recipes.
The recipes are introduced by their authors and linked to the writer bios in the back of the book.
You can look up your favorite cozy writer and see which recipes are their favorites; they’ll tell you what the recipe means to them. Or you can enjoy a dish and then link to the recipe’s author’s biography and books.
Either way you enjoy the cookbook, you’re sure to find great new recipes to make and terrific new cozy authors to read.

What would a cozy mystery be without pets? And what would Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes be with something for those pets? Fortunately Sparkle Abbey and Laurie Cass (Bookmobile Cat Mysteries) shared some of their favorites for the book. Here’s a dog treat.

My Review:

This is a giant cookbook! With 128 cozy writers contributing there are plenty of recipes to whip up. What I liked about this recipe collection was that you get a little insight into each cozy writer’s fictional world. Great recipes like Artery-Clogging Clam Chowder and even treats for your pets. This is a big effort and a great addition to any recipe collection.

Caro’s Good Dog Treats

From the Pampered Pets mystery series by Sparkle Abbey

Carolina Lamont, animal lover and former Texas beauty queen, moved to California after a very nasty and public divorce. With eleven-thousand dogs – more dogs than kids – Laguna Beach seemed like the perfect spot to open a pet therapy business. And it had been, up until she had to catch a killer by the tail. Whether dealing with misbehaving canines or murder suspects, Caro always keeps a few of her homemade dog treats on hand. Here’s Caro’s recipe:

First, preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a big bowl, combine all the ingredients with just enough water to make it the consistency of cookie dough.

1/2 cup of creamy unsalted peanut butter

1 cup oat flour

1 cup brown rice flour (Caro uses organic)

1 egg

1 tablespoon of honey

1/2 cup finely grated carrot (Dogbert , Caro’s dog, loves carrots)

Optional: You can also add cooked bacon, a bit of grated cheese, or other ingredients for flavor, but don’t add too much or it will mess with the consistency of the dough, and cause your treats to fall apart.

Once you’ve got your treat dough all stirred up, put it between pieces of parchment paper and roll it out to about ¼ inch thickness. Then cut the dough with a cookie cutter. You can use whatever shape strikes your fancy. Caro often uses dog bone shapes of different sizes. Next, put them on a regular cookie sheet and bake them between fifteen and twenty minutes or until they’re golden retriever brown.

Let them cool and then put them in an airtight container. You can store your Caro’s Good Dog treats for about a week (or you can freeze them for later use) but keep an eye on them. There are no preservatives, so watch out for spoilage.

This makes a couple of dozen treats so there’s plenty to go around. Please share them with your dog.

Laurie Cass contributed a recipe cozy cats will love.

Catnip Burgers

From the Bookmobile Cat Mysteries by Laurie Cass

Although Minnie’s favorite recipe is a take-out menu, she does occasionally make a foray into the kitchen to cook up treats for Eddie. Catnip burgers are his favorite, not that he would ever say so to Minnie…

4 oz. sausage or ground beef

3 tablespoons oatmeal

2 tablespoons catnip, finely chopped

1 egg

Knead ingredients together thoroughly and shape into 4 flat patties.

Broil on high heat until the outside is crisp, 8-12 minutes. Turn often to make sure they crisp up evenly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cut cooled patties into cat bite-sized pieces and serve.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: The Body on the Train

How about a weekend trip to London by train in 1929! This week we’re going historical with a little intrigue and an overabundance of rhubarb. That’s right. Rhubarb. I’ve included the book description and my review of this British mystery and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this blog and enter my giveaway. You could use that $20 gift card from Amazon!

Book Description:

Frances Brody’s eleventh Kate Shackleton mystery is sure to delight readers of Rhys Bowen and Jacqueline Winspear.

Two murders. A one-way ticket to trouble.

And it’s up to Kate to derail the killer.

London, 1929. In the darkness before dawn, a railway porter, unloading a special train from Yorkshire, discovers a man’s body, shot and placed in a sack. There are no means of identification to be found and as Scotland Yard hits a dead end, they call on the inimitable Kate Shackleton, a local sleuth, confident her local knowledge and investigative skills will produce results. But it’s no easy task.

Suspicion of political intrigue and fears of unrest in the Yorkshire coalfields, impose secrecy on her already difficult task. The murder of a shopkeeper, around the same time, seems too much of a coincidence. The convicted felon was found with blood on his hands, but it’s too tidy and Kate becomes convinced the police have the wrong man.

By then it’s too late. Kate finds herself in a den of vipers. The real killer is still at large, and having tinkered with Kate’s car, nearly causes her to crash. Not only that, but Scotland Yard has turned their back on her. As Kate edges toward the shocking truth, she’s going to need all the strength and resourcefulness she can muster to uncover this sinister web of deceit.

My Review

This is the first book I’ve read in this series. It is 1929 and a body has been found on the rhubarb train. There are so many factors that figure into the mystery including a  children’s home, a mine, the Ryder Cup, rhubarb farmers and an interesting cast of detective helpers. I enjoyed the pace of the story. I was never quite sure just who to trust. Nicely done!

Giveaway!!!!

Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece

As a creative person, I thought of getting a little trailer and going from book show to book show. In Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece, Rose Pressey shows how it can be done!

Where would you go if you had a little pink trailer and were pursuing your dream career?

Be sure to scroll down and read my review and there are only a few days left on my giveaway! ENTER NOW

Book Description: Artist Celeste Cabot welcomes the chance to show her paintings at a craft fair in her hometown of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where she and her Chihuahua, Van Gogh, can park her vintage Shasta trailer and sell her creations, too.
 
Unfortunately, her sales take a hit when a customer returns a painting, claiming it’s haunted. When a fellow vendor discovers images hidden in Celeste’s artwork—and a ghost pays her a late-night visit—she’s shocked to realize she has psychic abilities. After the grumpy manager of the craft fair is found with a knife in his neck, Celeste’s brushes with the paranormal may help fill in the picture—and make sure the wrong person doesn’t get framed . . .

My Review:

I really enjoyed this quirky little cozy mystery about an artist who travels around in a trailer exhibiting her art at craft fairs. She is at her first craft fair in a cute little pink trailer that her family has helped her fix up and so the reader gets to meet her parents and brothers and aunts and it is a delightful escape . As she meets other exhibitors while living near them in their trailers a murder occurs and there are so many suspects and reasons why they could have committed homicide. She had me guessing to the end and I especially liked the paranormal element that comes through in her paintings . This is a fun mystery and easy to read. 

Enter My Giveaway

Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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Cozy Prizes Friday: A Cup of Holiday Fear

Halloween is officially over so let’s talk Christmas. I feel like Hallmark where it seems to be Christmas all year long. We are starting out the season with a new Bakeshop Mystery from Ellie Alexander. Its Christmas time in Oregon and Torte Bakery is running at top efficiency thanks to the leadership of Jules Capshaw and her mother. The entire town is putting on an incredible Christmas celebration. When Jules treats her staff to a Dicken’s themed dinner at the Winchester Hotel, they discover everything is not so perfect in this land of holiday enchantment. Get ready for plenty of Christmas description to get in the mood for the holiday season. My favorite character was definitely Lance, the theater owner.

Here is the book description:

Ashland, Oregon, looks as pretty as a postcard this holiday season. The halls are decked, stockings hung, and eyes are all aglow—mostly thanks to the buttered rum. Jules Capshaw and her staff at Torte are busier than ever. . . still, even the town’s most in-demand bakers need to take a break. So Jules invites everyone to celebrate at the local Winchester Inn’s Dickens Feast, a six-course extravaganza with Yorkshire Pudding, Christmas goose, and all the trimmings. But as the weather outside becomes frightful, things inside turn less delightful when one of the guests ends up as dead as Scrooge’s doornail. Now it’s up to Jules and her helpers to make a list of suspects—and check it twice—to try to find out who’s naughty, who’s nice, and who’s guilty of murder…

Pick up this book on Amazon

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Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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My Review:

What better way to prepare for the holidays than in a busy bakeshop? I enjoyed the magical pre-Christmas atmosphere the author created as well as a murder mystery puzzle to solve. The plot moved along at a good rate but at times was slowed by the act of cooking, but there were mouthwatering recipes that were added to the book. I did have an idea who the murderer was early on, but the placement of clues and red herrings was excellent. I would highly recommend this book if you’re in the mood for a Christmas cozy.

Cozy Mystery’s Happy Hinter: Refrigerator Selfie

After writing eight Pecan Bayou mysteries that feature Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick, AKA The Happy Hinter, I am happy to bring to you some of Betsy’s fictional columns from The Pecan Bayou Gazette. Her life-hacking columns are very popular in a little town like Pecan Bayou. She not only tells you how to do things like stop a leak, but she also makes mention of some of the goings-on in town.

Want more Pecan Bayou? Go to my book page here.

Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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Autumn Cozy Giveaway Logo A cup of hot chocolate, a good cozy mystery, and a warm fire. Enter for your chance at some cozy cash- a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: A Dash of Murder- A Halloween Ghost Hunting Book!

Happy October! I have been busy finalizing the start of the audio book process for my very first novel, A Dash of Murder.  It won’t be available until next year, but if you haven’t read this book yet, you can find it for 99 Cents in ebook form.

This is the beginning of Betsy, Leo, Zach, Aunt Maggie, Danny and Judd. Betsy is surviving as a single parent after her husband walked out on her seven years earlier. This is where she gets her start as a helpful hints writer and the book where she runs headlong into that handsome meteorologist, Leo Fitzpatrick.

READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS OF A DASH OF MURDER HERE

Description:

A Mystery for Ghost Hunters!
When Betsy’s Aunt Maggie wants to drag her along on a ghost hunting excursion at the local abandoned tuberculosis hospital she isn’t sure if she quite believes in ghosts. When she comes upon a fresh spirit in the form of a body, she starts to rethink about what really is haunting the hospital.

I also have a list of discussion questions to be used with book clubs.  If your club does use the book-I would love to hear about it!

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway!

Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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Autumn Cozy Giveaway Logo A cup of hot chocolate, a good cozy mystery, and a warm fire. Enter for your chance at some cozy cash- a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

This contest is no longer accepting entries.

Cozy Prizes Friday: Fatal Cajun Festival

I love Fall! Time for festivals and in the case of the Fatal Cajun Festival plenty of Cajun food and pralines. Scroll down to read my review of Fatal Cajun Festival and be sure to scroll down and enter my giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card.

Book Description:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Byron cranks it up to eleven in the fifth fast and funny Cajun Country mystery.

Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.

Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.

The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.

Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.

Find out more at Ellen Byron’s Website!

My Review

4 Stars

Time to visit the big jazz festival in Ellen Byron’s latest installment of her Cajun Country Mystery Series. Not only are there delicious pralines but the winner of a television singing show and her entourage will be appearing. She’s a hometown girl who is feeling her stardom. This mystery is a delightful escape to all things Cajun with sexy cops, tipsy grandmothers and an interesting homicide investigation. I received this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Cozy Prizes Friday: Buried in the Stacks

Two things I love–libraries and stories about hauntings! We’ve got a winner with this one. Evelyn the ghost has some new information coming out about her death in Buried in the Stacks and we have a character interview with the investigative librarian, Carrie Singleton.

Don’t forget to scroll down for the giveaway!


Buried in the Stacks: A Haunted Library Mystery
Crooked Lane Books (September 10, 2019)
Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?

In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.

As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her–and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier.

And then Dorothy is murdered–run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

You can find Buried in the Stacks at these retailers

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...And now a few words from our favorite fictional librarian…Carrie Singleton

Please tell us about your latest adventure.

I helped solve the murder of a fellow librarian and exposed a group that was planning to use a day center for the homeless as a front for their greedy exploits.

Do you have any friends/sidekicks helping you out?

Evelyn Havers, who haunts the library where I work, sometimes helps me, though she also holds back information when her relatives are involved. My best friend Angela, who also works in the library, is often a sounding board for my ideas. So is my boyfriend, Dylan.

Do you have any special skills to fight crime?

I’m persistent and don’t hesitate to ask questions—which occasionally gets me into trouble. As a librarian, my research techniques are quite good, and I’ve recently joined a local group to suss out some suspects .

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

I am the head of programs and events of the Clover Ridge Library in Clover Ridge, CT.

What are you most frightened of in this story?

I am frightened when a car follows me home one night from a meeting that some of the suspects attended.

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 think Natalie Portman would do a great job playing me in a movie.

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?

BURIED IN THE STACKS is the third book in the Haunted Library mystery series. In DEATH OVERDUE, the first book in the series, I solve a cold case after a retired homicide detective dies while giving a program about a woman who was murdered fifteen years earlier. In READ AND GONE, my father, a professional thief visits me for the first time in years and is soon accused of murdering the local jeweler. I clear my father and find the real murderer.

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

My life is filled with work and people I love; taking care of Smoky Joe, the library cat, and spending time with Dylan. Whenever a mystery or a murder crops up in the beautiful village of Clover Ridge, CT, I find myself smack in the middle of the investigation.

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

I think Carrie has said it all. She’s doing a terrific job as Clover Ridge Library’s head of programs and events and she’s become quite an accomplished investigator.

 

 

 

About Allison Brook

Allison Brook is the pseudonym for Marilyn Levinson, who writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. She lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling, reading, watching foreign films, doing Sudoku and dining out. She especially loves to visit with her grandchildren on FaceTime.

Author Links

Website: http://www.marilynlevinson.com

My Amazon page: http://amzn.to/K6Md1O

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.levinson.10?ref=ts&fref=ts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/161602.Marilyn_Levinson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarilynLevinson

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marilev/

 

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Happy Cozy Mystery Day!

It’s National Cozy Mystery Day today and to kick it off I am posting my Fall 2019 Giveaway! Enter to win a $20 gift card from Amazon so you can snuggle up with a few new cozies!

Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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Autumn Cozy Giveaway Logo A cup of hot chocolate, a good cozy mystery, and a warm fire. Enter for your chance at some cozy cash- a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

This contest is no longer accepting entries.

Book Review: The Long Call

I am reviewing a new Ann Cleeves mystery this week. If you are a fan of Vera or British mystery, in general, you will enjoy The Long Call. I especially related to it because it centered around a day center for people with disabilities. I don’t know if Ann has friends or relatives who attend a day habilitation center but she did a beautiful job with it.

As a parent, I identified with the parents in the story who went through stages of fear and an almost manic desire to protect their children. The adults with Down syndrome were well written and then on top of all that, it was an excellent mystery with some really interesting detectives.

Here is my review: 5 Stars

The Long Call was centered around The Woodyard, a combined arts center for the community and day center for learning disabled adults. Being a parent with an adult Down syndrome son, I have to say that the author was incredibly accurate in her portrayal of learning disabled adults who attend the day center and of the parents who loved and looked after them and sometimes feared for their safety. The readers get to know the lives of the detectives as well as the families who work and participate at The Woodyard. The mystery was excellent on many levels with a variety of characters that kept me guessing until the end. I would highly recommend this novel.

A new giveaway is coming… Come back on September 15–NATIONAL COZY MYSTERY DAY!!


			

Cozy Prizes Friday: Mulberry Mischief

Woo hoo hoo! Time for a Fall cozy full of mulberry and evil spirits! Love it and love this cover! So get your pumpkin spice on and check out Mulberry Mischief! Don’t forget to scroll down and enter Sharon’s giveaway!

Congratulations to CAROLYN, the winner of my 2019 Summer Giveaway. Watch your inbox!

About the Book

Mulberry Mischief (A Berry Basket Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series

Autumn has arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan, but Marlee Jacob, proprietor of The Berry Basket, is feeling a chill for other reasons …

With the Harvest Health Fair in full swing, Marlee makes sure to stock up on elderberry products for cold and flu season. But this year there’s also a run on mulberry when an eccentric customer wants to use the dried berries to ward off evil forces. True, it’s almost Halloween, but something else seems to be spooking Leticia the Lake Lady, Oriole Point’s oddest resident. She believes someone plans to kill her—and the ghost. Only mulberries can protect them. Marlee doesn’t take her fears seriously until a man named Felix Bonaventure arrives in the village, asking questions about a mysterious woman.

The next day, Marlee finds Bonaventure dead on Leticia’s property—shot through the heart with an arrow made of mulberry wood. And Leticia has disappeared. Marlee soon learns the Lake Lady has a deadly past that is connected to the famous Sable family who are in town for the health fair. A bunch of clues start to come together—and figuring out what’s going on puts Marlee in a real jam …

Includes Berry Recipes!

Available at these online retailers – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

About Sharon Farrow

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award-winning author Sharon Pisacreta. A freelance writer since her twenties, she has been published in mystery, fantasy, and romance. Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series for Kensington. The series debuted in 2016 and is set along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline where she now lives. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

Author Links –

WEB PAGE http://sharonfarrowauthor.com/

FACEBOOK @SharonFarrowAuthor

TWITTER @SharonFarrowBB

BOOKBUB @SharonFarrow

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Silent Night, Deadly Night

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Getting together for the holidays with old friends can be fun…and stressful especially if there is a murder involved. Yes! It’s a Christmas mystery! I love these yuletide stories! It’s kind of like the Hallmark Channel went a little dark.    We have a special visitor today, a character from Silent Night, Deadly Night who is beginning to regret getting together with her old college friends. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter Vicki’s giveaway!

About the Book


Silent Night, Deadly Night
4th in Series
Berkley (August 27, 2019)

Residents of Rudolph keep the spirit of Christmas alive year-round—but their joy is threatened when a group of grinches visits the town, in the charming fourth installment of the Year-Round Christmas series.

It’s the week before Thanksgiving, and Merry Wilkinson, owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, is preparing for a weekend reunion of her mother’s college friends. But when the group of women comes into Merry’s shop, Merry is met with frosty attitudes and cold hearts.

The women argue amongst themselves constantly, and the bickering only intensifies after one of the friends is poisoned. With her father’s role as Santa in danger due to his proximity to the crime, Merry will need to use all of her investigative gifts to wrap this mystery up and save Santa and her favorite holiday.

You can find Silent Night, Deadly Night at these online retailers:  AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

About the Author

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Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, the Year Round Christmas mysteries and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library series.

You can find Vicki Here!

Websitewww.vickidelany.com

Facebookwww.facebook.com/evagatesauthor;

Twitter: @vickidelany and@evagatesauthor

Instagram: vickidelany

A Visit with Aline from Silent Night, Deadly Night

It’s Thanksgiving in America’s Christmas Town

By Aline Steiner Wilkinson from the Year Round Christmas Mysteries by Vicki Delany

I’m beginning to regret inviting my five friends from college for a reunion at my home in Rudolph New York

They are not, to put it mildly, getting on very well.

Plus it’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I know how important Thanksgiving is to my eldest daughter, Merry.

Merry owns a charming little gift and holiday decor shop called Mrs. Claus’s Treasures on Jingle Bell Lane in Rudolph. Christmas, for Merry, is all about work. The lead-up to the holiday season, the busy holiday shopping hours themselves, and then the equally busy post-Christmas sale season. She sees Thanksgiving as her final chance to take a deep breath and relax before plunging into the frenzy of the season. So I try to do the full, traditional thanksgiving meal. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and Brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce. Two types of pie for dessert. Of course, I don’t do ANY of that cooking by myself. Noel, my husband, does most of it, and I shop at Victoria’s Bake Shoppe for the desserts, bread rolls, and condiments. I never quite got into the domestication thing, not with my career as a soloist at the Metropolitan Opera and on stages around the world.

Back to the matter at hand. My college reunion.

We haven’t all been together since we graduated (or left in some cases) college more than forty years ago. I’ve visited Constance in California, Ruth in Rochester, had lunch with Barbara and Genevieve in New York City when I’ve been performing there. I haven’t seen Karla in all those years, but she’s the one who works hard to keep us all in touch. Karla’s the glue, so to speak, that holds our group together with news of babies and grandchildren, moves, marriages and divorces, career changes.

All those years ago, we were all planning a career in the performing arts. Only Genevieve and I stuck with it. Genevieve had a role in a few low-budget movies, achieved some small and fleeting success in a soap opera in the 1990s. I was fortunate enough to be able to pursue the career I loved before retiring the height of my career and settling down in Rudolph, New York, to teach voice.

Now, they’re here. All of them. Visiting me in Rudolph while Noel’s away on his annual fishing trip to Florida. The timing isn’t good – the weekend before Thanksgiving, but that was the only time our schedules matched. Somehow, without quite knowing what I was doing, I invited them here.

The whole miserable bunch. I guess I’d forgotten that they never really got on. Personality clashes, petty jealousies, income disparities. And a lot of resentment that appears to not only have not been forgotten over the years but to grow, ready to be unleased the moment they set eyes on each other.

Tonight we’re having pot luck. Everyone is making their speciality. Hoping my guests won’t bicker too much with strangers in our midst, I invited (more like ordered) Merry and Vicky Casey to come to dinner.

Sigh. Oh, well, only a weekend to get through. And then they’ll be gone their separate ways, Noel will be home, and we can have the traditional big Thanksgiving dinner Merry loves so much.

First, this blasted pot luck to get through.

Find out if the pot luck dinner is a success in SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT the fourth Year Round Christmas mystery by Vicki Delany, coming August 27 from Berkley.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Review of The Pawful Truth

This week it’s time to go back to school with Charlie Harris in his latest Cat in the Stacks mystery. He’s auditing a medieval history class, (oo-wee, so fun) which leads him to the unraveling of a murder mystery. I’ll admit I took classes in things like roller skating-a p.e. credit, I promise.

Don’t forget to scroll down and enter my summer giveaway!

Book Description

 In addition to his library duties and his role as doting grandad, Charlie has enrolled in an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.

 Charlie wonders if Professor Warriner had anything to do with Dixie’s death. Warriner is married to a fellow professor who happens to be a successful author. There are rumors on campus that their marriage was on the rocks. Was Dixie’s death the result of a lovers’ triangle gone bad? Charlie soon discovers that the professor’s wife may have some secrets of her own and his suspect list is only getting longer. 

As he and Diesel step further into the tangled web of relationships, someone else is viciously killed. Whose jealousy finally erupted into murderous rage? Was it a crime of passion or is there another more sinister motive? Charlie races to unravel this mystery: and to draw out the culprit, he may just have to put his own life on the line…

Purchase This Book on Amazon

My Review

Librarian Charlie Harris is looking forward to auditing a class in medieval history but can’t help noticing a mature flirtatious female student who seems to be stalking the professor. From this point, we are immersed into the world and love lives of university professors along with a wonderful cast of characters who are regulars in the Cat in the Stacks series. I really liked the cozy setting of Charlie’s house and Diesel the Maine Coon cat who is as much of a character as Charlie. The mystery moves along well and had me guessing.

I obtained this book from Net Galley and have given an honest review.

Summer Reading Giveaway 2019

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Review of Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

This week I’m reviewing Rhys Bowen’s latest installment in the Royal Spyness series. If you enjoyed Georgina and Darcy’s love story and wedding, now we get to go on the honeymoon. Not just any honeymoon, mind you, but the Happy Valley of Kenya. This cozy mystery just came out!

Don’t forget to enter my summer giveaway listed below! You need that gift card and your own copy of Buzzkill.

About the Book

Book Description:

Georgie and Darcy are finally on their honeymoon in Kenya’s Happy Valley, but murder crashes the party in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling series.

I was so excited when Darcy announced out of the blue that we were flying to Kenya for our extended honeymoon. Now that we are here, I suspect he has actually been sent to fulfill another secret mission. I am trying very hard not to pick a fight about it, because after all, we are in paradise! Darcy finally confides that there have been robberies in London and Paris. It seems the thief was a member of the aristocracy and may have fled to Kenya. Since we are staying in the Happy Valley—the center of upper-class English life—we are well positioned to hunt for clues and ferret out possible suspects.

Now that I am a sophisticated married woman, I am doing my best to sound like one. But crikey! These aristocrats are a thoroughly loathsome sort enjoying a completely decadent lifestyle filled with wild parties and rampant infidelity. And one of the leading lights in the community, Lord Cheriton, has the nerve to make a play for me. While I am on my honeymoon! Of course, I put an end to that right off. 

When he is found bloodied and lifeless along a lonely stretch of road, it appears he fell victim to a lion. But it seems that the Happy Valley community wants to close the case a bit too quickly. Darcy and I soon discover that there is much more than a simple robbery and an animal attack to contend with here in Kenya. Nearly everyone has a motive to want Lord Cheriton dead and some will go to great lengths to silence anyone who asks too many questions. The hunt is on! I just hope I can survive my honeymoon long enough to catch a killer. . . .

Purchase this book on Amazon

My Review

 Georgina and Darcy are back and are on their honeymoon moon to of all places Kenya. This historical mystery showcases life in the Happy Valley of Kenya during the twenties and thirties. Georgina and her husband handsome British spy are off on a trip where they will encounter elephants Tigers lions and murderers. It was a pleasure to reacquaint myself with this couple now married and Bowen did not disappoint with this British mystery. Not only were they solving a murder but she was also rubbing elbows with Prince David and mrs Simpson which gave it that historical excitement. I do wish the murder would have occurred earlier in the book but very enjoyable.

Summer Reading Giveaway 2019

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Knot on Her Life

Today we have a new quilting mystery from Mary Marks. Pick up a copy and “piece” together the clues! (Quilting Humor) Be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway for your chance at a print copy.

About the Book

Knot on Her Life (A Quilting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery

While quilter Martha Rose awaits the birth of her granddaughter, a neighborhood girl appears at her door with a mystery that can’t be pinned down . .

Martha’s eager to finish the baby quilt she’s making for her new granddaughter, but she scraps those plans when a young girl rings her doorbell begging for help. Poppy Halaby, the foster child of Martha’s neighbor, is an orphan whose parents were murdered by a killer who was never caught. When Poppy’s doting foster mom falls suspiciously ill, Martha is determined to keep the child safe. But she’ll have to unravel more about Poppy’s parents to stitch a broken family back together again—and prevent another crime cut from the same cloth . . .

You can find Knot on Her Life at these online retailers:

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My Review: 4 Stars

Martha Rose is happily preparing for a grandchild which sets the stage for the entrance of Poppy, a little girl who saw her parents murdered.  The child’s parents were different religions and Marks does a wonderful job of showing us each world. This was a heartwarming cozy that can be read as a standalone or as a part of the series. I loved the character of Crusher, the gentle giant, and want to belong to that quilt group!

About Mary Marks

About the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program. Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011. She is currently a reviewer of cozy mysteries for The New York Journal of Books at www.nyjournalofbooks.com.

Readers can visit her at www.marymarksmysteries.com and https://www.facebook.com/mmarks2013

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Cozy Prizes Friday: No More Time

Would you help your ex if he or she was accused of murder? That’s what Dodie O’Dell decides to do in Suzanne Trauth’s latest mystery, No More Time. There was something you liked about this person once, right? Of course, then you got to know them.  Be sure to scroll down and enter Suzanne’s giveaway and she was kind enough to share some of her thoughts about writing her series.

 

About The Book


No More Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series

DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY

Restaurant manager Dodie O’Dell has found her niche in the cozy New Jersey town of Etonville, creating menus that make a delicious double-act with the community theater’s productions. Now she’s ready for a vacation at the Jersey Shore town she called home before a hurricane hit. Sun, salty air, and seagulls make for a nostalgic escape from regular life—until a contingent from Etonville arrives to compete in a Jersey Shore theater festival.

Roped into helping her former boss cater the event, Dodie also gets a visit from her old flame, Jackson, who’s hoping to revive his charter boat business and is looking for a place to crash. Before Dodie can tell him that ship has sailed, Jackson’s partner is found murdered on his boat. Dodie knows her ex is a mooch, but she’s sure he’s no killer. But as she follows a trail of evidence that leads into her own past, Dodie stumbles on a dangerous conspiracy theory that could bring the festival to a shocking finale…

Excerpt from No More Time

By noon we were both hot and famished. I suggested a break from the sun at the tiki bar and we gathered our beach gear and trudged through the sand to the Polynesian music. We were halfway through our bucket of steamed clams when an elderly twosome at a table next to ours gasped in shock. We couldn’t help noticing.

“Is everything okay?” I asked gently.

The woman’s head bobbled and her wide-brimmed sunhat swung from side to side. She picked up the newspaper she’d been reading, the Candle Beach Courier, a local rag, and shoved the front page at us. “He was such a nice boy. We knew his parents years ago.”
I smiled sympathetically and scanned the sheet. Then I gasped.

“Dodie, what’s the matter?” Lola said.
“Were you acquainted with him too?” the woman asked.

I nodded numbly. Was I ever. The headline read LOCAL MAN DEAD. Underneath was a photo of the victim: It was Vinnie C. I rotated the paper so Lola could see the front page. “It’s him,” I said hoarsely.

Lola blinked. “Vincent Carcherelli,” she read.

I scanned the story. Apparently his body had been washed up on the beach sometime overnight and was discovered by a jogger early today in time to make the mid-morning edition. The police were calling it a drowning and speculating that he’d fallen off his boat, The Bounty, which had drifted half a mile off the shoreline. No foul play suspected at the moment but the investigation was ongoing.

I offered to return the newspaper but the couple refused to accept it, saying the story was too upsetting. They picked up their bill and left.

“Wow. What a coincidence. We were talking about how Jackson saw him yesterday …” Lola stopped. A light bulb went on. “The police will want to speak with Jackson. He might have been one of the last people to see Vinnie alive.”

It was Lola’s last word that brought me up short: alive. Jackson had been steamed during that meeting on the boardwalk. Did he know anything about Vinnie’s last hours? If Bill were here he’d tell me to mind my own business, let Jackson alone, let the police determine the actual cause of death. Bill was right, of course. But something about the whole event didn’t sit right with me. Why did Jackson lie about what happened when he met Vinnie?

Purchase No More Time at these online retailers!

Amazon B&NKobo

 

A Visit With Suzanne Trauth

Suzanne Trauth, Harvard Studio, Montclair, NJ. 06/27/2014 Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

     I’ve had fun since I first began the Dodie O’Dell mystery series with Show Time (followed by Time Out, Running Out of Time, Just in Time, and No More Time debuting in July) writing about Etonville, New Jersey’s community theater: the Etonville Little Theatre. Known as  the ELT. I have been able to draw on my long career in the theater as a teacher, director, writer and producer to create the on-and-offstage dramas that constantly plague the members of the ELT.

     In fact, with every novel in the series, I began by choosing a play to be performed and then found ways to tie the casting, rehearsal, and performances to the murder investigation. And, of course, to Dodie’s theme food ideas! As anyone who has experienced community theater knows, there are plenty of opportunities for turmoil and conflict among the members of the organization. Much of which generates the comic elements of the Dodie O’Dell mystery series.  

     The characters associated with the ELT are a quirky bunch: Lola, Dodie’s BFF and ELT diva; prickly director Walter; loyal sidekick and cliché-mangling Penny; character-actor-and-perpetually-grouchy Abby; full-of-himself Romeo; and police-dispatcher-wannabe-star Edna. They are a fun ensemble that keep Dodie on her toes and the town ever-ready for opening night. From Walter’s pre-show warm-ups—circle of light, blindfold trust exercises, and floating balloons—to Penny’s antics keeping the cast in line through technical and dress rehearsals, the Etonville Little Theatre is usually a hotbed of chaos.

     Which is why, in No More Time, Dodie is happy to have a break from the daily hubbub of her Etonville BFFs, friends, and neighbors for a couple of peaceful weeks vacationing down the Jersey Shore with Bill, her current love interest and Etonville police chief. At least that was the plan…

     First, her parents appear on the scene from Florida to visit old friends in Candle Beach where Dodie grew up. And to catch up with their daughter and Bill. Then her ex-boyfriend materializes on the porch of the Candle Beach bungalow she and Bill have rented needing a place to crash. Finally, Dodie discovers the ELT is coming to town having been offered a spot in the New Jersey Community Theater Festival. Yikes! There goes Dodie’s scheme to escape the Etonville havoc for sun and sand and salt air…

     At this point I was able to indulge my theatrical background and create a slate of plays for the theater festival finalists—seven entries that would vie for the first place award among New Jersey’s fictional community theaters. I decided to get some help. I had run a Facebook contest with Just in Time—readers submitted ideas for entrees and appetizers that I included on the Windjammer’s menu. I received such interesting suggestions that it was great fun creating scenes and dialogue around the winning dinner specials.

     So…for No More Time, I asked folks to send in their favorite play titles. I had a number of great submissions to choose from, giving me options for crafting a list of titles that included musicals, classics, and comedies. Thanks readers! I ended up with seven plays from seven fictional community theaters: The Sound of Music, Cinderella, King Lear, Death of a Salesman, Noises Off, Harvey, and Mousetrap. All of these choices provided wonderful opportunities for theatrical bedlam—costume snags, rehearsal glitches, and cast malfunctions. When the actors in Harvey come down with food poisoning at a company picnic, the Etonville Little Theatre takes their place with Arsenic and Old Lace. Despite murder and mayhem, it turns out to be a terrific festival with first, second, and third place winners announced on Labor Day weekend. And the winners were…oh, wait…you’ll need to read No More Time to find out.

     See you down the Shore!

Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Author Links

Webpage: www.suzannetrauth.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneTrauth/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuzanneMTrauth

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6187623.Suzanne_M_Trauth

 

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Guest Post from Suzanne Trouth

Cozy Prizes Friday: Left Fur Dead

We will be having a Harvey moment this week. Left Fur Dead features a rabbit who finds bodies. I like it! We have a a little about the book, and the author, J.M. Griffin and don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway for a chance at a print copy of this furry cozy mystery!

About the Book


Left Fur Dead (A Jules & Bun Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Kensington (June 25, 2019)

On Fur Bridge Farm, Jules cares for rescued rabbits. But when a killer strikes, she’ll need a rabbit to rescue her . . .

Juliette “Jules” Bridge prides herself on the tender rehabilitation she provides for injured or abused rabbits on her New Hampshire rescue farm, but she has a very special relationship with one bunny in particular. Bun is a black-and-white rabbit who happens to have the ability to communicate through mental telepathy. Once she got over the shock, Jules found her furry friend had a lot to say.

One frigid March morning on their walk together, Bun spots a body. The police identify the frozen stiff as Arthur Freeman, aka Arty the Mime. Jules and Arty knew each other on the children’s party circuit, where he’d perform magic tricks and she had an educational rabbit petting pen. With Bun egging her on, Jules decides it’s time they hop to it and put their heads together to discover who silenced the mime. But their investigation leads them down a rabbit hole of more suspects and lies, while a killer sets a trap for them . . .

You can find Left Fur Dead at these online retailers

AmazonB&NKoboGoogle Play IndieBound

About the Author

J. M. Griffin is the bestselling cozy mystery author of sixteen novels, including the Vinnie Esposito series. She lives in rural Rhode Island with her husband and two very mysterious cats. Visit her at jm-griffin.com.

Author Links

WebsiteFacebookBlog

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If you haven’t already, you can also enter my summer giveaway. That’s right. Two giveaways to enter!

Summer Reading Giveaway 2019

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Book Review and Giveaway: A Face in the Crowd

Imagine this. You are at the end of a long frustrating day at work and worrying about money. Then, all of a sudden, you find an envelope full of money in your bag. What would you do with it? You really need that money. This is the premise of Kerry Wilkinson’s mystery A Face in the Crowd.

More about the book below. Leave a comment below and tell me what you would do with an unexpected windfall of cash.

If you haven’t entered my summer giveaway yet, scroll down and put your name in for a chance at a $20 gift card and a copy of my wedding mystery, Buzzkill!

Lucy gets the same bus every day. Today, her journey home will change her life.

Lucy can barely afford her weekly ticket for the grimy number 24, tries to avoid eye contact, and, if she’s really lucky, she gets a seat and reads a chapter of her book. But it’s a Friday – and the bus is always crammed at the end of the week. She keeps her elbows close and clings to a pole at every juddering stop. All she wants to do is get home to her dog, Billy, the only comfort she has right now. 

When she gets off, something feels different.

An envelope stuffed with thousands of pounds is in her bag.

Is it the answer to her prayers, or the beginning of a nightmare?

Because, in the end, everything has a price.

My Review:

A woman who works in a grocery store with no one in the world but a sweet little dog is struggling to pay back a substantial debt. She finds herself the recipient of an envelope full of money that shows up in her bag after riding on a crowded bus. Who does it belong to? Should she return it? Can she spend it and cover some of her debts? Kerry Wilkinson gives us a nicely woven mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. The author takes us down some paths that seem logical, but nothing is what it seems. A Face in the Crowd will have you looking over your shoulder!

I obtained this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Summer Reading Giveaway 2019

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Book Review: A Plain Vanilla Murder

Susan Wittig Albert is back with another mystery taking place in the world of plants. I learned a lot about that little brown bottle of vanilla I have in my kitchen cabinet and treacherous the acquisition of spices can be! This is the 27th book in the China Bayles Series. If you love learning about plants and their uses, I would also recommend her Book of Days.

Be sure to enter my summer giveaway below for your chance at a $20 gift card and a digital copy of my wedding mystery–Buzzkill.

China Bayles and Ruby Wilcox are offering their popular “Not Just Plain Vanilla” workshop when, across town on the campus of Central Texas State University, a botany professor (an expert on the vanilla orchid) is found dead in his greenhouse—an apparent suicide. Summoned to the scene, police chief Sheila Dawson (now in her last few months of pregnancy) wonders whether there’s something more to his death and opens an investigation into the many rivalries that have splintered CTSU’s plant sciences faculty.

But the dead professor is also the ex-husband of China’s friend Maggie, owner of the local garden center and manager of an orchid-sitting business. When suicide becomes murder, suspicion falls on Maggie. But China learns that there are many more suspects in this complex, vanilla-flavored affair. Does this story begin with a passionate desire for an exotic flower and its costly, delectable fruit? Does it start in a corrosive desire for revenge? Or is the professor’s death the result of a bizarre black-market orchid-smuggling scheme gone awry?

Once again, prize-winning author, herbalist, and amateur naturalist Susan Wittig Albert draws on history, legend, science, and the culinary arts to craft a botanical mystery that will entertain and enlighten mystery fans, gardeners, and nature lovers alike.

Special features: an author’s note on the history and uses of both natural and synthetic vanilla, and recipes and crafting instructions for “wonderful things to do with the ice cream orchid.”

My Review: Was it really suicide? China Bayles is back investigating a college professor’s death surrounded by the rich scent of vanilla. Like many of Albert’s books, you get a rich education on plant history. In A Plain Vanilla Murder, the story centers around the university community showing you professional jealousy between the professors and some curious ways to make extra cash. It was pretty cut-throat for a bunch of mild-mannered academic types! I enjoyed A Plain Vanilla Murder and would recommend it, especially if you love gardening or academic mysteries.

I obtained this book through NetGalley and have left an honest review.

Summer Reading Giveaway 2019

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Whiskers in the Dark

We have some cozy royalty visiting us today! Rita Mae Brown is bringing us her 28th book in her Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series. Time to add some crime-solving cats and dogs and a ghost beagle to your summer reading list.  This looks like a good one! 

Don’t forget to enter Rita’s giveaway for your chance at a print copy of Whiskers in the Dark. 

About the Book

Whiskers in the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
Cozy Mystery
28th in Series

Death stalks the Blue Ridge Mountains as a centuries-old mystery resurfaces and murder mars the lead-up to an annual beagle competition, in a thrilling new tale from Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown.

A massive nor’easter has hit northern Virginia, where Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen joins groundskeeping efforts at the National Beagle Club at Aldie as the date for its springtime Hounds for Heroes veterans’ benefit approaches. Harry’s fellow volunteers, including her oldest friend, Susan Tucker, comprise a spirited group of hunting enthusiasts, some former service members themselves. But things take a sinister turn when, after a routine tree cleanup along the Club’s hunting trails, retired foreign services officer Jason Holzknect is found dead, throat slit from ear to ear. Soon enough, another murder in their midst jolts the preparations, convincing Harry that the killer is familiar with the Club—and must be close by, masked in plain sight.

The intrigue extends to the grounds of Harry’s beloved local church, where the identity of an eighteenth-century skeleton wearing precious pearls remains a mystery. The anonymous woman’s neck had been snapped, and marks on the grave where her body was secreted indicate that someone recently tried to remove it, leading Harry to question how well she really knows those around her.

As always, Harry’s crime-solving cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker the Corgi share her determination to sniff out the foes among friends, even those long buried. Harry will need her four-legged companions’ help more than ever: a ghostly beagle only they can see may hold the key to the culprit.

You can find Whiskers in the Dark at these online retailers 

AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

About the Author

 

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.

Sneaky Pie Brown, a tiger cat born somewhere in Albemarle County, Virginia, was discovered by Rita Mae Brown at her local SPCA. They have collaborated on numerous Mrs. Murphy mysteries—in addition to Sneaky Pie’s Cookbook for Mystery Lovers and Sneaky Pie for President.

 
Author Links
 
 
 
 

Cozying Up for Wedding Season

I can’t let May come to an end without saying thank you to V.M. Burns for including my book Buzzkill in her article “The Irrepressible Allure of the Wedding Cozy” on Crime Reads.

I loved writing the book and based some of the cozy craziness on my own wedding now almost thirty years ago. Are you invited to a wedding this summer or possibly planning one? It’s summer, there’s love in the air and you have the hall booked. What could possibly go wrong?

In Buzzkill, Betsy gets overwhelmed with the process until she enlists a wily wedding planner, Mr. Andre, to help her escape a white wedding catastrophe. It doesn’t help that she has endangered Pecan Bayou with a bad recipe for homemade calamine lotion.

Did you have a crazy wedding? Do you have a favorite wedding cozy mystery? Let me know in the comments!

And if you would like to check out the excellent books of V.M. Burns, Malice nominee, visit her at VMBURNS.COM.

Book Review: Murder She Wrote-Murder in Red

With the passing of Donald Bain, I worried there would be no more Murder She Wrote books. I am slowly making my way through the series but didn’t want them to come to an end. Well, Jessica has a new co-writer and this mystery brings us back to our beloved Cabot Cove.

My Review:

Jessica is back this time with a mystery in her own home town of Cabot Cove, Maine. John Land is Jessica Fletcher’s new co-author, and we are once again entertained with more adventures of the great crime-solving retired English teacher. This time her old friend George Sutherland shows up in Cabot Cove for a drug trial at a local private hospital. Jessica is of upset George is ill especially after the loss she suffered with her husband years ago. When her friend Mimi dies after seeking treatment to delay aging at the same private hospital, Jessica is on the case working with series regular, Mort the sheriff. I wish there had been more of one of my favorite characters, Seth Hazlitt, which meant there was a lack of Cabot Cove characters saying, “Ayah”. Murder in Red is standard JB Fletcher and a fun mystery to fill an afternoon.

Cozy Prizes Friday: Staging is Murder



Just to show you how on top of my blog schedule I am, I had lunch with this lovely lady at Malice Domestic and didn’t realize she was scheduled for an interview today! Senior cozy author moment. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter for a chance at a free copy of Staging is Murder!

Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, replacing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties.

To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.

Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

My Interview with Grace

  • How did you come with an idea for your book? 

There were two things I had to come up with for my book. One was the hook for my character, and the other one was the “what if” question.

In a cozy, the main character usually has a hook, which I learned is a profession or interest (baker, florist, garage sale expert, etc.) that becomes a major part of the story. I was advised that since I would be spending a lot of time writing about this hook that I should pick one that I like or know something about—or be willing to do a lot of research. After looking at all of the areas of my life, work, interests, hobbies, etc., I came to realize the one thing that I enjoyed was home staging. I had spent way too many hours watching HGTV home staging shows, and when I discovered that I had a knack for it, I helped friends stage their homes. So I decided that would be my hook, and that’s how STAGING IS MURDER came about.

The “What if” question is the basis for a story. For example, what if a young boy receives a scholarship to a school of wizardry? The basis of the Harry Potter books. What if a little girl and her home are blown away by a tornado? The basis for the “Wizard of Oz.” In my case, I wrote my mystery around the question: What if a fax went to the wrong number? What could be in that fax that might cause someone to commit murder?

  • What scene do you hope your readers enjoy the most?

When I started writing fiction, the one thing that surprised me was how humor kept creeping into my writing—either from situations I put my characters in or from the snarky remarks my main character, Laura Bishop, made. A scene that I hope readers enjoy, and I hope find a bit humorous, is the one where Laura and her BFF Nita go to a campground at night to investigate whether some men living there in a rickety camper could be the ones who committed the murder. First they had to cross a field to get there, which they discovered had been used to graze cows. You can imagine the stuff they ran (or stepped) into. Later Nita also drags Laura to the same campground searching for some members of Hell’s Angels who might have been involved with the murder. Laura frequently ends up playing Ethel to Nita’s Lucy.

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

I’m busy working on the second book in the Laura Bishop series (tentatively titled STAGING WARS). This one involves members of a local arts group. Laura gets to see Monica, her high school nemesis, behind bars and having to sleep on a cot without her usual silk sheets. Monica definitely needs Laura’s help. But would you be willing to help clear someone of murder when you suspect that person had an affair with your late husband?

I recently completed a short story about a woman who discovers her husband of twenty-five years plans to leave her for a very young woman who lives next door and what she plans to do about it. He may regret that he strayed.

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

I spent a career writing step-by-step procedural guidelines and computer user guides. Quite boring, which is why I turned to murder mysteries. But if I had to write in another area, I would probably draw on that experience and turn to writing nonfiction self-help books or articles. During my career, I helped guide a lot of people in writing their resumes and applying for work. I’m definitely not an expert in that area, but I know enough to help someone who doesn’t have a clue where to start.

  • Is there a giveaway or promotion with this book?

I will be happy to send one commenter a copy of the ARC for STAGING IS MURDER.

  • Where can readers leave reviews of your book?

I hope readers will enjoy STAGING IS MURDER, and if they are willing to leave a comment or review, I would greatly appreciate it. They can leave it at one of the following:

Amazon 

Goodreads

Grace’s Website: https://www.gracetopping.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/GraceToppingAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gtoppingauthor

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44098504-staging-is-murder?from_search=true

Back Cover Copy

Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, removing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties. 

To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.

Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

Bio

More About the Author

Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.

Author Links

Website – https://www.gracetopping.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gtoppingauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GraceToppingAuthor

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomgracetopping

Purchase Links – Amazon B&N Kobo

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Malice Books Gift Card Winner!

Congratulations to Carolyn D. who is the winner of my Amazon gift card!

I am back from Malice Domestic in Maryland where I hung out with a bunch of amazing authors and fans! My panel was “Putting the Fun in Murder” and here I am with Jenna Hart and Catriona McPherson. Catriona is Scottish and is asking why in America potluck means you invite guests to dinner and expect them to bring the food???

As you can tell, we laughed quite a bit during this panel. And thank you to Dru of Dru’s Book Musings for posting this picture ❤

Without further ado, here are the winners of this years Agatha Awards

Best Contemporary Novel-
Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)

Best Historical Novel

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)

Best First Novel- A Tie!

A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall (St. Martin’s)

Cozy Prizes Friday: Murder on Trinity Place

Okay, this one isn’t an Agatha Nominee…yet… but it is the latest by Victoria Thompson, nominated for Murder on Union Square this year. I didn’t get all of the Agatha Nominees read but really enjoyed the ones I did.

Don’t forget! Time is running out for my Amazon gift card giveaway. I’m at Malice Domestic in Maryland this weekend getting to see some favorite authors!

Here is my review:

This was a true historical murder mystery with gangsters, swill milk, and an ending that will keep you guessing. Murder on Trinity Place takes place around a dairy that endorses pure milk over a more common method of feeding the cows swill. Almost every character had a secret making it hard to figure just who the murderer was. There were also some sweeter moments that rounded out the book nicely. I loved the plot twists and deductive reasoning of the principal characters. Highly recommend it!

I received this book from NetGalley and have left an honest review.

Agatha Nominees Gift Card For Mystery Spending

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Trust Me Review

Today I’m reviewing another Agatha Award nominee–Hank Phillipi Ryan with Trust Me. Of all the books I’ve read on this list, this one was the most unique. If you haven’t entered my giveaway yet, scroll down add your name and email.

Malice Domestic, the mystery readers conference in Bethesda, Maryland is only a week or so away, and I’m getting so excited to meet other authors and readers. The panel I will be appearing in this year is “Putting the Fun in Murder” with Patricia Ruoccopa, Jenna Hart, V.M. Burns, Catriona McPherson, and Jeff Cohen.

My Review- 5 Stars

The first thing you need to know about Trust Me is that it may not be what you expect. Yes, it is a mystery, but instead of a dark and stormy night with the sleuth sorting out characters and motives, you have a troubled journalist sorting out the highly confusing and deceptive mind of a woman who was accused of killing her own child. It was so different that I loved it. The assumptions you make will change and then change again. This is a psychologically centered mystery that will mess with your head!

Agatha Nominees Gift Card For Mystery Spending

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Bad Pick Mystery Tour and an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Let’s talk about goat yoga. (Never thought I’d be saying that!) Not really sure if this means the goats are doing the yoga or people are acting like goats doing yoga? Well, some of the characters in Bad Pick think it’s downright evil.  This is the third book in the Brie Hooker Mystery Series. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway for an Amazon gift card!

Synopsis:

Bad Pick by Linda Lovely

Vegan Brie Hooker lives and works with her feisty Aunt Eva at Udderly Kidding Dairy, a hop, skip, and jump away from South Carolina’s Clemson University. Brie’s fun farm outreach attempt backfires when religious extremists decide goat yoga is a form of devil worship. Believing one of the zealots might be persuaded to see reason, Brie’s free-wheeling friend Mollye convinces her they should call on the young woman. Big mistake.

Picketers at Udderly’s gates soon become the least of Brie’s troubles. Not only is she accused of murder, she worries the death might actually be her fault. Danger mounts when an old family friend’s visit ensnares Brie in a high-stakes feud between a U.S. Supreme Court nominee and the woman determined to expose his secrets. In her personal life, Brie’s still torn between the town’s two most eligible bachelors. While she’s edging toward a decision, she must first survive a cunning killer adept at crafting murders that look like tragic accidents. Will Brie be another “accident” victim? Pay a visit to Udderly Kidding Dairy and find out!

Praise for Bad Pick

“There’s such a lot to enjoy in Linda Lovely’s third Brie Hooker mystery Bad Pick. Of course, I came for the goat yoga and the religious extremists (I’m only human), but I stayed for the love triangle, the female friendships, the family members rubbing along so realistically, the sidelights on vegan cooking and the rich depiction of small-town life. And what kept me flicking the pages fast enough to cause a draft? The twisty, knotty, killer plot underneath all that charm. Bad Pick is a good un!”—Catriona McPherson, Multi-Award-Winning Author of the Last Ditch Mysteries.

“Wow! In Bad Pick, Lovely wrote an amazing novel only to see one part of the plot come to life in headlines all over the country. A fringe religious cult, a Supreme Court nominee, and goat yoga combine together in a tale that fans of mysteries won’t want to miss. –Sherry Harris, Agatha Award Nominee and Author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries.

“The Brie Hooker mysteries from author Linda Lovely continue to entertain, this time with extremists who really don’t like the farm’s new goat yoga offering. You’ll find yourself muttering, “What the feta?” as you follow the action around not one but two murders from the edge of your seat. Fix yourself a chevre sandwich and sit down to enjoy a delightful – and suspense-filled – read.”—Edith Maxwell, Author of the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Number of Pages: 270
ISBN: 9781635114744
Series: Brie Hooker Mystery Series
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

ONE

“How many people did you con into trying this goat yoga?” Aunt Eva asked as she slapped two strips of cold bacon in a skillet.

“No conning needed,” I answered. “Everyone’s looking forward to the class.”

“You sure goat yoga’s a good idea?”

I laughed. “I’m sure. People love it. Admittedly, a sense of humor’s required, but it’s caught on all across the country. Why don’t you join the fun? Class starts at three. We don’t have many Sunday customers this time of year. We’ll probably have the farm to ourselves by then. You up for some downward-facing dog?”

“No.” Eva harrumphed. “Don’t go insulting our noble dogs. Bad enough you’ll expose our baby goats to human pretzels. It’s bound to confuse the poor kids. Won’t know which human end is supposed to be up. They’ll think all us two-legged beings are bonkers. So who’s coming?”

“Jayla, our yoga instructor, wanted to limit the trial class to four students so it’s just Mollye, Fara, Mimi, and me.”

I pulled out a bag of frozen blueberries I’d picked at the Happy Berry Farm last summer. While Udderly Kidding Dairy, my home for the past seven months, boasted dozens of blueberry bushes, our four-hundred goats called first dibs on the fruit.

“Oh, and Paint’s shooting video to promote the class,” I added.

Aunt Eva chuckled as she flipped her sizzling bacon strips. “Not a hardship for Paint, videoing young ladies in nothing but skivvies and tutus.”

I glanced heavenward. “We don’t wear tutus. Our workout clothes show less skin than you do on the Fourth of July.”

Eva cocked an eyebrow. “Could be you’re helping Paint select babes for the weeks he’s not your designated beau.”

I opened the cupboard and grabbed a microwave packet of steel-cut oatmeal. “Paint sees a variety of ladies when we’re not dating, and he knows everyone in this class. No behind-the-camera scouting required.”

“Maybe, but as far as I know, he hasn’t seen any of them with their ankles up around their ears.”

“And he won’t today.”

“If you say so, but I swear my old bones creak just looking at some of those yoga contortions.”

Eva cracked two eggs in the hot bacon grease, while I used our microwave—a new kitchen addition—to thaw my frozen berries and heat the oats. My usual February morning fare. At Udderly, we didn’t chow down until the morning chores were done. That meant I was starved and in dire need of a caffeine injection.

Eva glanced over. “So how’s that boyfriend-for-a-week plan working? Who’s ahead in the Brie Hooker heart throb race? Any close calls on the clothing discard clause?”

I smiled. “Paint and Andy try to outdo each other in dreaming up ways to initiate a striptease. Despite their enterprising efforts, the nude- default clause remains unchallenged.”

Last November, I’d agreed to this bizarre boyfriend pact with Andy Green, our veterinarian, and David “Paint” Paynter, an entrepreneurial moonshiner. Though strongly attracted to both thirty-four-year-old hunks, I’d sworn I’d date neither. Didn’t want to lose them as friends or come between them. They’d been best buds for thirty years, practically since they left diapers.

The boys came up with an alternative. I’d date Paint one week, Andy the next, until either I selected a fulltime beau, one of them opted out, or a ridiculous nudity clause kicked in. If I disrobed on any date, the magician who assisted in making my clothes disappear would win by default. Both men swore the arrangement would not affect their friendship.

Me? I felt like I’d been locked in a chastity belt. Foreplay’s a lot less fun when there’s no after.

“You know it can’t last, don’t you?” Aunt Eva asked, giving voice to my own misgivings.

“Yep, I do. But like today’s sunny warmth—way too early for mid- February—I’ll enjoy it while I can.”

TWO

Jayla Johnson, our tall, willowy teacher waved as she walked toward me. Had to admit Paint would get an eyeful watching her stretch every which way. He was male, and Jayla was a stunner. As a shorty—I’m five four—I’d always envied long-legged ladies like Jayla. Somehow those extra inches made them look cool and sophisticated.

Luckily, Jayla wasn’t in the running to join Paint’s off-week harem. She was happily married to one of Clemson University’s football coaches and had a darling three-year-old son.

“Do we have a plan B?” Jayla glanced up at the Carolina blue sky. “It’s really warm for February, but the ground’s too muddy to put our mats down in a pasture. After five minutes, we’d look like we’d been mud wrestling.”

“Agreed. It’d be a shame to get that outfit muddy.” Jayla looked like an Oreo cookie, her ebony skin a sharp contrast to her snowy outfit. “I did warn you baby goats aren’t potty-trained, didn’t I? Accidents can happen.” “Not to worry.” Jayla smiled. “My laundry room has one whole shelf devoted to stain removers for husband-son accidents. So where are we setting up?”

“The horse barn. Plenty of room and it will be easier to keep Curly, Moe, and Larry contained.”

“Who?”

“Curly, Moe, and Larry are the baby goats—five-day-old triplets. We named the kids after The Three Stooges. Full of energetic hijinks. They’re also super cuddly.”

We turned as Mollye Camp’s psychedelic van crunched down the gravel drive. Her van’s midnight blue paint job served as a backdrop for a galaxy of glittering stars, a super-sized harvest moon, and a broom-riding witch. Moll, my best friend since childhood, was a gifted potter who sold her creations along with an eclectic hodgepodge of homeopathic remedies, herbs, and astrological doodads in her Starry Skies shop.

Moll jangled as she hopped down from her ride. She adored jewelry and had more piercings than a rapper. A vibrant purple streak adorned her white-blonde hair. She chose a new neon hue every month.

Mollye hustled over. “Who we waiting for?”

“Mimi and Fara,” I answered. “We’re keeping the group small for the test run. Paint’s shooting video.”

Mollye checked the amount of cleavage revealed by her scoop-necked purple top and inspected the seams of her orange leggings as they meandered south of her shorts. “Glad I didn’t wear anything too revealing. Don’t want folks thinking I’d participate in some racy video.”

Mimi and Fara’s arrival cut short Jayla’s and my eye rolls. Racy might not be Mollye’s middle name, but outrageous could be. I loved Mollye and her adventurous spirit though it sometimes landed me in hot water. Okay, in one case, freezing water.

With rolled mats tucked under their arms, the class newcomers looked like an odd couple. Mimi, who’d emigrated from Vietnam at age two, stood four feet nine on tiptoe, while Fara, a busty blonde with long braids, topped out at five ten. Mimi was a pharmacist; Fara grew up in her family’s funeral parlor and was now the town’s youngest funeral director.

Hard for this class to be more diverse. Paint would enjoy himself. “Hey, Fara, you boxing anyone up today?” Mollye joked.

“Maybe you after class,” the funeral director quipped. “You want the deluxe mahogany coffin or a pine box? I’m thinking you and Brie have used up eight of your nine lives. Better not exert yourselves today.”

Jayla clapped her hands. “Now children. Snarky is not the proper frame of mind for yoga. Think serenity. We want to clear our minds, be one with nature.”

I chuckled at the good-natured kidding. “Follow me to our classroom. We have the horse barn to ourselves. The smell alone will remind you we’re one with nature. I evicted Rita and Hank. They’re grazing in the pasture. Figured Lilly’s mule and Eva’s horse were more inclined to nicker than meditate.”

“Where are the goats in this goat yoga?” Fara asked.

“Eva will bring Curly, Moe, and Larry in after we start. We need to leave the barn door open for the light. Jim, our Border collie, will keep the little goat Houdinis from escaping.”

The triplets’ antics drove Jim nuts. Yesterday Moe pranced on top of a picnic table for five minutes taunting the poor herd dog. Jim ran circles around the table, barking in protest, unable to figure out how to nudge Moe back to her pen. After we placed our mats, Jayla led us through a series of simple warm-up stretches and breathing exercises. I’d been an avid runner and swimmer for years, but yoga was a new pursuit. I was pleasantly surprised to find its emphasis on breathing and mindfulness and its practiced movements helped me shed stress and fall asleep faster.

Believe me, falling asleep quickly is a prized skill for anyone required to rise before the sun. At Udderly, one of my jobs appeared to be waking the roosters.

Jayla announced the cat pose. I knelt on my mat and set my arms to provide four-point support. Then I arched my back like cats do when threatened. I lowered my head, giving my neck muscles a pleasant stretch.

“Looking good, ladies.” With my head down I heard the man’s voice before I saw him.

“Don’t mind me,” the newcomer continued. “I’m gonna wander around and take photos.”

The sexy baritone belonged to Paint. It should be outlawed.

“Have fun, kids—human and goat.” Eva laughed as she let the baby goats loose in the barn. Moe immediately darted under my arched back, executed a one-eighty, and raced back again as if she were playing a game of London Bridge.

My concentration faltered as Curly discovered she had easy access to one of my earlobes and began to nibble with her lips. It tickled.

Fara broke out laughing as Larry scrambled up her arched back and danced a little jig on his newly discovered perch.

“I’ve got a miniature geisha doing a four-footed massage.” Fara giggled. “Actually feels kind of good, though very strange.”

“No talking,” Jayla admonished. “Concentrate on your breathing, your muscles. Be one with nature.”

Paint hooted. “Nature’s winning.”

Paint obviously felt he was exempt from Jayla’s no-talking reprimand. The instructor began laughing, too. Moe had curled her body around Jayla’s legs as she attempted to hold the Big Toe pose.

We were all bent in half, butts in the air, when a loud voice brayed, “Oh dear God, save us. They are bowing to the devil, mocking the Lord Jesus by thrusting their bottoms at heaven above.”

THREE

What the feta?

I snapped around to see who was calling us devil worshippers. Was this a joke?

Flipping out of downward dog, I body slammed the mat. A second after hitting the plastic, a furry comedian bounced against my side. Curly shook her head as she attempted an impressive four-legged hop. She’d taken my tumble to the ground as an invitation to play. The little goat butted my side again.

“Lord Jesus, help us keep these devil worshippers from claiming more souls!” the stranger bellowed.

I was flabbergasted. No other word for it. Then my shock morphed into anger. Who did this woman think she was, calling us devil worshippers? Who invited her to our private workout? How did she even find out about it?

The plump leader held a super-sized wooden cross before her as if she were fending off a clutch of vampires. I figured her for mid-fifties. Gray streaks wound through her mousy brown hair. Light glinting off oversized spectacles lent her the look of an alien with round yellow bug eyes.

Two cross-carrying acolytes hovered about a foot behind her.

Were these people serious? I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. My heartbeat raced. Angry? You betcha.

I almost yelled one of my old-time favorite curses. Years back, I cleaned up my salty language for dear old Mom. As a vegan, processed- meat-and-cheese exclamations had become my exclamatory substitutes. But Cruddy corndogs! didn’t quite express my outrage.

Mollye, closest to the barn door, marched toward the scowling leader. “Susan, what in blazes do you think you’re doing?” she growled. “I got a restraining order to keep you and your looney-tune zealots off my property. Now you’re following me?”

“I didn’t know you’d be here,” the intruder raged, “though I’m not surprised. Goat yoga! What blasphemy. At church this morning, one of our faithful told me you were planning this abomination. I prayed on it, and decided we had to stop the spread of this evil in Ardon County.”

She waved her cross at us. “In the name of the Father and the Son we demand—”

“You need to leave,” Paint spoke through gritted teeth. “The only evil here is you.”

Susan closed her eyes and rocked back and forth on her heels. “You are Satan’s handmaidens duping people into believing Baphomet goat worship is fun.”

Susan’s diatribe was accompanied by a murmur of “Amen, Sister, Amen” from her backups. The sidekicks still wore church-go-to-meeting dresses, nylons, and heels. They kept sneaking peeks at the ground. Worried their high heels might sink in goat doo-doo during their barnyard sortie?

One of the acolytes looked to be Susan’s age; the other much younger, about my age.

“Knights Templar worshipped Baphomet as a deity.” Susan’s tone changed. Her words flowed in a singsong chant. “These monsters with their snake eyes are his descendants.”

“Are you nuts?” Jayla broke in. “How can you think these adorable babies are evil?”

Susan’s rant hadn’t cowed my friends.

The harpy wasn’t deterred. “Open your eyes. The Satanic goat is a source of evil.” Her yellow bug eyes flashed at each of us in turn. “You worship the Devil. We won’t allow your sickness to infect the pious people of Ardon County.”

Aunt Eva appeared in the barn door carrying two pails of goat milk. “You’re trespassing and you’re scaring the baby goats.”

My aunt’s face flamed red.

“We’ll leave,” Susan said. “But this isn’t over. We will fight to the death for the soul of Ardon County. Goat yoga will not corrupt our world.”

Curly made a break for it. The tiny kid ran pell-mell toward the barn door, which happened to be a few feet beyond where the intruding trio stood. Susan screeched. Did she really believe the Devil inhabited the itty- bitty creature?

The woman raised her leg to kick Curly.

Eva flung both buckets of goat milk, drenching Susan. The white liquid plastered her beehive hairdo to her scalp and her puffy blouse to her chest.

Oh my, was she really wearing a flaming red teddy under her prim white cotton?

A laugh bubbled up. I laughed so hard I doubled over.

Susan shrieked like a storm-warning siren and ran. Though only a few drops of goat’s milk spattered her companions, they caterwauled like they’d been doused with acid as they scurried after their leader.

The entire Udderly Kidding Dairy crew exploded in laughter.

Eva halted her hee-haws long enough to imitate a cackling witch. “You’ve been baptized with the milk of Baaa-Phooey. Your souls belong to us!”

Susan spun when she reached a shiny Chevy van. “You’ll pay for this!” she yelled. “Laugh all you want. You’ll see Hell sooner than you thought.”

I quit laughing as abruptly as I’d started. It was Susan’s tone not her words that gave me the heebie-jeebies. We’d embarrassed the woman. Humiliated her. Perhaps she’d started this protest as some form of ecclesiastical theater, art for show, a way to rally the troops.

Now it was personal. Susan had been scorned.

***

Excerpt from Bad Pick by Linda Lovely. Copyright © 2019 by Linda Lovely. Reproduced with permission from Linda Lovely. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Linda Lovely

Hundreds of mystery writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers’ Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. She writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. Bad Pick is her eighth published mystery novel. She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
lindalovely.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Lovely. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2019 and runs through June 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Looking at Kingdom of the Blind

Today we continue with our Agatha Award nominees with Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache mystery Kingdom of the Blind. You might want to put on some warm socks and sweater for this one because we’re headed to Canada and winter itself becomes a character. Can you imagine being named an executor of a will for a woman you have never met? That is exactly what happens to Gamache while he is waiting to be cleared in an investigation. There are several plots to sink your teeth into and some interesting characters. Find out more about the book below and read my review and don’t forget to put your name in for the giveaway for your chance at an Amazon gift card to buy some of these amazing Agatha nominated mysteries.

My Review:

Imagine being named the executor of somebody’s will that you have never met. That is what happens to Inspector Gamache in Kingdom of the Blind. Once again Louise Penny has given us a wonderful mystery and characters who are interesting and lovable. The construction of the mystery was well done and there were plenty of suspects to choose from. I was never exactly sure who to trust. This one was hard to put down.

Agatha Nominees Gift Card For Mystery Spending

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