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!
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…
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.
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
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. . . .
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
If you could write any other genre what would
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:
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.
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.
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
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
Take a bite out of this year's Agatha nominees with a $20 gift card from Amazon!