Guest Blog Post: Vintage clothes, Haight Street, and the birth of a series

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Shopping in vintage stores has always been a little frustrating for me, because so many of the clothes are meant for women who aren’t as…*ahem*…voluptuous as I am. But I’ve always enjoyed looking, and getting a sense of different times and approaches to wardrobes.

So, years ago I was meandering through the aisles of a vintage clothing store on Haight Street in San Francisco, enjoying watching the colorful characters both in the store and out on the street, and I thought to myself: what if a certain natural-born witch was searching for a home? Wouldn’t this be a great place for her to settle? The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood may have changed a lot over the decades, but it continues to be a haven for iconoclasts and outcasts, artists and outsiders of all types. It would take a lot for a person to stand out as odd on these streets.

Thus came the first inkling of what would become the Witchcraft mysteries: a misfit witch might well feel welcome in a neighborhood like this one.

As I flipped through old silk gowns and taffeta skirts, crinkly blouses and sequined dresses, I kept feeling the tiniest sense of the people who had worn these items: a young person out on the town, a career woman dressing for an interview, a mother dressing up for a school meeting. How fun would it be if one could really sense the vibrations of the people who had worn these clothes? Or…would there be cases in which one would definitely notwant to sense the history of a particular wardrobe choice?

As a mystery author, my next thoughts quite naturally turned to…murder.

(Some mystery authors feel awkward about their frequent daydreams about homicide, and it doesgive my boyfriend pause when I point out how easily one might push someone down a stairwell, or the best places to hide a body, for example. But I’ll own it.)

Aaaanywaaaay, once I decided that a Haight Street vintage clothing store was the perfect setting for a witch trying to fit in, the next item on the agenda was a witch’s familiar. I considered the proverbial black cat, but as I was researching folklore about witches I read that pigs were often considered suspect because they “root” around and dug things up, and rootwork is a powerful form of botanical witchcraft. My housemate kept threatening to get us a miniature Vietnamese pig, “just like George Clooney” – and voila! Lily-the-witch’s familiar, Oscar-the-pig, was born. Gargoyle-like, Oscar has taken on more than one role in Lily’s Haight Street vintage clothing store.

Looking back, it seems hard to believe that I’m already up to #9 in the Witchcraft Mystery series! In A Magical Match, Lily is up to her witchy ears in trouble when she starts seeing double, and her fiancé Sailor winds up in jail, accused of murder. I hope you’ll follow along with the series, and discover the world of magical mayhem, vintage clothes, and Oscar-the-pig.

And if you find it hard to fit into vintage clothes, just remember: there are always hats, jewelry, and purses!

So, what’s your favorite vintage item?

 

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Book Review – Death Below Stairs

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Death Below Stairs

By Jennifer Ashley

A Kat Holloway Mystery #1

Berkley Prime Crime Book

Historical Mystery

Paperback, 329 pages

$15.00 USA

Setting: 1881 London, England

 

Jennifer Ashley introduces us to Kat Holloway, a talented young cook who accepts a new position in the house of Lord Rankin. No sooner does she get the tour of their home and begin preparing dinner for his family, does Lady Cynthia, Rankin’s sister-in-law, nearly run down a man while driving a new rig. Being a relative of one of the wealthiest men in London, it could easily drift toward scandal. If that isn’t a sign of a problem with her new employer, his request for, Sinead, the young Irish cook’s assistant to bring him coffee to his chambers, should have signaled trouble. Believing the situation would have been one of force, Kat brings the coffee herself. Not only does she have to deal with the aggressive nature of the lord of the manor, she recognizes the man he was speaking with. Daniel McAdam’s mysterious presence in Rankin’s home has her silently questioning why he is truly there.

The next morning, Kat stumbles in the pantry and is heartbroken to learn that the young assistant is dead. She immediately feels guilty for not watching over Sinead. The constable is summoned and Lord Rankin and his wife are informed of the situation. Rankin tries to fire Kat, but his sister-in-law stands up for her. This begins a friendship not influenced by their rank in society. Kat also realizes that the housekeeper is overcome by the young woman’s death.

Kat, Daniel, Cynthia and a love-struck math whiz work together to try in figure out who killed Sinead and why. Kat’s intuition leads her to believe that Daniel is either a detective or he has a higher position within the Queen’s realm. What would seem like an isolated murder turns into something devious that could very well lead to war.

I don’t know where to begin with this one. Downton Abbey fans are going to recognize the connection between the wealthy family and the individuals that devote every moment around the clock to serving them. There’s the reality of Kat’s frustrating situation that has denied her a life with her daughter and may even be severed further. There’s the mystery behind Sinead’s friendship with some troubling young men. Add another measure of mystery in trying to figure out Daniel’s identity. His responsibilities, which he never mentions, put him and his son in constant danger and the boy seems to know his way about the city, better than Kat. Then there’s the relationship between Cynthia and her friend. Cynthia wants the freedom men are allowed, will even dress like a man, but you sense she draws the line at going beyond friendship with the other woman. This is another book I loved. I was even reading it at a Mariano’s hot buffet bar because I couldn’t wait to read the ending. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

Four cook’s aprons out of five

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

April 15, 2018

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog Post: Introducing TwoSpells, A Magical Tale About An Ancient Realm

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Mark & Sarah

Mark and his daughter, Sarah, whom the phenomenal heroine of TwoSpells is based. She’s beautiful, tough and clever.

Hello Everyone,

I’m Mark Morrison. I’m originally from a teeny-tiny town in Ohio called Salem. My father used to say that it was the armpit of the country. Peeuuw! I have seven brothers and sisters, a slew of nieces and nephews and a couple dozen great nieces and nephews. I now live in Florida with my loving wife, four children and two beautiful grand-babes. It’s hot, but it’s just a sticky, obnoxiously wet heat. Hahaha.

My father used to say that I was definitely an uneducated genius. I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that. I suppose it was because I spent most of my time in school more involved in sports and art classes growing up than mathematics, history or science. I did, however, sneak in several elective credits as a librarian’s assistant. That was a whole lot of fun and I was able to read a ton of awesome books.

As a boy I grew up reading things like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew mysteries, and the classics, like Huckleberry Finn and Charlotte’s Web. I also read some outstanding comics and MAD magazines. But as I got older my taste changed. I was big into Isaac Asimov, George Orwell and Edgar Allen Poe. I didn’t just read. I watched a little television as well. Star Trek, Dark Shadows, The Twilight Zone, Dr. Who, Andy Griffith, Mary Tyler Moore, the Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island rounded out some dull afternoons.

As most folks with large families know, board games are an inexpensive way to entertain ourselves. We’d always get a batch of new games at Christmas along with a new pair of socks and underwear. On one particular low budget Christmas, my father introduced us to a game he claimed he’d invented called, “Uh!”

We’d all gather in the living room and one of us was elected to start. That person would have to create a totally fictitious story out of thin air. They’d pause mid-sentence and let the next player take over from there. This continued around the room until someone hesitated or said “uh”. That player was out and the game continued until only one person was left. The stories were creative and often incredibly strange, each of us attempting to make the next in line chuckle and fumble. It was an awesome game of improvisation and I credit my love of storytelling to that silly game.

Every night my mind is inundated with a fresh batch of unusual dreams and nightmares, always in outlandish worlds and dimensions fraught with bizarre characters who can do wondrous things. But through my writings, I’ve allowed some of them to escape onto the freedom of the blank pages and into my first novel, Twospells. I’ll pardon another batch of weird mind games and characters in future books.

TwoSpells is a magical tale about a set of teenage twins, Sarah and Jon, who find out that they are heirs to an ancient, magical realm containing an enchanted library that can transport a reader to anywhere or anytime the author has written into the story.

They are soon caught up in an inter-dimensional war between good and evil, both sides looking to claim the library’s unique magical enchantment. Along the way, the twins meet astonishing and fascinating characters who can do amazing things, but not all are good. Some are of unspeakably horrific creation and are bent on one thing: destroying the two strange intruders who have entered and disrupted their sacred two-dimensional domain.

Sarah and Jon must leave behind their much simpler life as Regulars and embrace their new positions as successors to a very special kingdom designed for their kind only, the Irregulars. I truly believe you’ll enjoy every moment of this story.

 I’ve attached a snapshot of me and my daughter Sarah, whom the phenomenal heroine of TwoSpells is based. She’s beautiful, tough and clever.

Here’s a link to TwoSpells on Amazon:

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079ZBBSPM

 Thanks for listening,

 Mark Morrison

Guest Blog Post – Wedding Cake Crumble

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PRODUCT DETAILS Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 Published by Berkley Apr 03, 2018 | 288 Pages | 4-3/16 x 6-3/4 | ISBN 9780399583834

By Jenn McKinlay

It was late at night, I’d been writing all day, so I decided to hit the social media interwebs to distract my brain from plot and character and all that jazz for a while. The plain truth is I’m a sucker for animal videos. I follow all the popular Twitter feeds like Cute Emergency and Fluff Society and when an adorable video comes up that makes me laugh or say “Aw”, it’s like a mini therapy session, or a shot of sunshine on a dark day. I never imagined, however, that it would change the plot of one of my books!

Why am I telling you this? Well, when I wrote the synopsis for WEDDING CAKE CRUMBLE, there was no dog adoption in it. None. But on one of those late night breaks, I watched a video about a Boston terrier, who had gone to town on a feather pillow, ripping it open and leaving a knee deep pile of feathers in the house. OMG! It was madness, delightful, hilarious, unbelievable madness!

Of course the best part was the dog’s sheer joy with the disaster. She raced around the sofa, kicking up feathers and I swear she was smiling when she did it. There was no regret, no remorse, just a zest for life that was impossible to resist. She circled the couch at top speed again and again, only stopping when she wiped out and skidded across the floor, leaving a cloud of feathers in her wake. I laughed so hard, I just knew I had to add her, or a fictional version of her, to the book.

Enter Peanut, a puppy that Mel and Joe find in the apartment of one of the murder victims. Of course, they already have a rescue kitten named Captain Jack, so the merging of the pets adds more chaos that is their best friend’s wedding, a murder investigation, and running the bakery. It is a real test for Mel and Joe to see if they can get the canine and the feline to cohabit without the fur flying. So, does Peanut get to stay? Does Captain Jack warm up to his new roommate? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Here’s brief description to give you more details about this upcoming release! With Angie and Tate’s wedding just around the corner, it’s a happy time for Melanie Cooper and the bakery crew. Not only are they finessing the last minute details of the big day, but their bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, has just been hired to bake cupcakes for the blockbuster book signing of a controversial author who wrote a steamy bestseller filled with juicy local gossip.

But one by one, the people Angie has hired to work at the wedding begin turning up dead. As the body count rises, the bestselling author is the next to bite the dust. Mel quickly realizes she needs to figure out how the murders are connected and why–before the killer brings the entire cupcake crew crumbling down. After all, Angie and Tate deserve their sweet happily ever after.

Happy Reading!

Jenn

 

 

 

Put a Little Spring in your step with new mysteries from Berkley!

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9780451488848ABOUT SHOT IN THE DARK

From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Dead Cold Brew, comes a delicious new entry in the “fun and gripping” (The Huffington Post) Coffeehouse Mystery series.

A smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hotspot–until a gunshot turns the landmark coffeehouse into a crime scene.

As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi fixes a date for her wedding, her ex-husband is making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these match-ups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find.

The corpse is an entrepreneur who used dating apps with reckless abandon–breaking hearts along the way. The NYPD quickly arrests one of the heartbreaker’s recent conquests. But the suspect’s sister tearfully swears her sibling was framed. Clare not only finds reason to believe it, she fears the real killer will strike again.

Now Clare is “swiping” through suspects in her own shop–with the help of her globetrotting ex-husband, a man who’s spent his life hunting for coffee and women. Together they’re determined to find justice before another shot rings out.

9780425275955

ABOUT CINCO DE MURDER

Tex-Mex waitress and part-time reporter Josie Callahan serves up more Lone Star justice in this spicy mystery from the author of The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole.

It’s fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklórico dances for Saturday’s big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot’s First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie’s hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie’s beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead’s life– before another cook kicks the bucket.

9780399584183

ABOUT A MAGICAL MATCH

Witch and vintage store owner Lily Ivory faces her most difficult mystery to date with a case of mistaken identity that hits close to home…

Lily Ivory and her friends are planning a 1950s-themed brunch to benefit the local women’s shelter. When a figure from her past shows up unannounced, threatening her unless she returns something that belonged to him, Lily’s fiancé, Sailor, steps in to defend her. After the same man is found dead later that day, Sailor is the primary suspect. He swears he’s innocent, but multiple witnesses ID him as the perpetrator of the assault. Lily vows to clear his name…only she’s not sure where to start with the mounting evidence against him.

When she sees Sailor in the neighborhood despite knowing he’s in jail, Lily starts to wonder if there could be a doppelganger in San Francisco. When she’s not busy helping customers find matching outfits for the upcoming event, searching for a vintage wedding dress for her own nuptials, and dealing with an ill-timed magical cold, Lily begins to suspect one of her magical foes is targeting her loved ones in attempt to weaken her.

9780399583834

ABOUT WEDDING CAKE CRUMBLE

For the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew, wedding bells turn to death knells in this latest mystery in the New York Times bestselling series.

With Angie and Tate’s wedding just around the corner, it’s a happy time for Melanie Cooper and the bakery crew. Not only are they finessing the last minute details of the big day, but their bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, has just been hired to bake cupcakes for the blockbuster book signing of a controversial author who wrote a steamy bestseller filled with juicy local gossip.

But one by one, the people Angie has hired to work at the wedding begin turning up dead. As the body count rises, the bestselling author is the next to bite the dust. Mel quickly realizes she needs to figure out how the murders are connected and why–before the killer brings the entire cupcake crew crumbling down. After all, Angie and Tate deserve their sweet happily ever after.

 

 

New Title: Queen Anne’s Lace

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queen anne's laceABOUT QUEEN ANNE’S LACE

A present day ghost leads China Bayles to a secret from Pecan Springs’s past in this haunting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert.

While helping Ruby Wilcox clean up the loft above their shops, China comes upon a box of antique handcrafted lace and old photographs. Following the discovery, she hears a woman humming an old Scottish ballad and smells the delicate scent of lavender….

Soon, strange happenings start to occur in Thyme and Seasons: misplaced items, a ringing bell, and the appearance of lavender sprigs in odd places. When a customer mentions seeing a mysterious woman picking flowers nearby and then suddenly disappearing, China must finally admit what Ruby has always known–their building is haunted. But by whom?

As China investigates, the tragic story of a woman in one of the old photographs unfolds. Annie Laurie was a young widow who’d lost both her husband and her child in the same day. She manages to survive through her lace-making business and finds happiness again only to have a suspicious death overshadow her new life.

China delves into Annie’s century-old mystery and realizes that solving it could have unimaginable repercussions in the here and now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 SUSAN WITTIG ALBERT grew up on a farm in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. A former professor of English and a university administrator and vice president, she is the New York Times bestselling author of the China Bayles Mysteries, the Darling Dahlias Mysteries, and the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. She and her husband, Bill, co-author a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries under the name Robin Paige. The Alberts live near Austin, Texas.

Book Review – Plum Tea Crazy

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9780451489609

Plum Tea Crazy

Tea Shop Mystery #19

By Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime Hardcover

March 6, 2018

$26.00/US

Includes recipes

Received the book from the publisher for an honest review

 

While carefully navigating the widow’s walk of Timothy Neville’s Charleston mansion, Indigo Tea Shop owner and amateur sleuth, Theo Browning, and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley watch two-dozen tall ships in the harbor during the Gaslights and Galleons Parade. They are among other guests enjoying the event until fate strikes its deadly blow. Immediately after the cannons are fired, the unthinkable happens.

Banker Carson Lanier falls three stories to his death from the widow’s walk. Those present witness the horrible scene and run out of the mansion to see if the poor man is still alive. There was no way he could have survived impaled on a sharply pointed old fence. The movement of a curtain on the Stagwood Inn’s upper window has Theo and Drayton running next door to see if the person responsible for Carson’s death is still there. The quarrel from a pistol crossbow is still in Carson’s body so it was no accident. He was murdered. They aren’t the only ones to believe that the murder was committed from a distance. Detective Burt Tidwell of the Charleston Police Department’s Robbery and Homicide Division feels the same way.

Feeling guilty for inviting Carson, Timothy requests Theo’s assistance in finding out who wanted Carson dead. At the same time, Jud Harker is threatening the heritage society for sponsoring a historical weapon show and Delaine is planning a Silk Road Fashion Show. Carson’s nearly-ex wife, Sissy Lanier is steaming mad, but not over his death. His co-worker Betty only seems concerned about herself. There’s never a boring day in this historic town.

I’ve read a number of books in this series and never tire of them. Theo’s intuition and bravery are on target. Each characters’ personality has you knowing who they are just by their antics and attitudes. This is a very animated book. I don’t know how Theo plans themed tea parties and still finds time to solve crimes.

Plum Tea Crazy touches upon the history of weapons and both our interest and outrage. It slides into rumors and putting a price tag on marriage. I think focusing on weapons and how they ruin lives might have been an opportunity to parallel what’s going on in our lives now. Instead the author focused on another motive. All in all, the book was entertaining and keeps on giving us another chapter in Theo’s life.

Four scones with Devonshire cream out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

April 1, 2018

GWN’s TBR list for reviews:

th     a tale of two murders  image

 

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Q&A with Anna Lee Huber

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Whenever I’m asked to write a blog for the release of a new book, I always turn to my readers on social media to ask them if there are any questions they would like answered. As an author, it isn’t always easy to know what readers are most curious about. So I’m grateful for their input.

One reader queried: I have wondered if Lady Darby will use her artistic knowledge and talent in the future, related to a case or otherwise.

Those of you who read the series know that Lady Darby is a gifted portrait artist, and she’s used these skills in numerous ways in the past to help with investigations. And, yes, she will definitely continue to do so, whether it’s sketching possible suspects, or her keen artistic eye, or spotting something off in a potentially forged piece of artwork. As alluded to at the end of As Death Draws Near, she will also be painting a series of portraits based on the people she met in Ireland—The Faces of Ireland—with the goal to exhibit them and showcase their humanity. Readers will also recall her notoriety has made her portraits all the rage, so she will also continue to accept commissions, but only for subjects she’s interested in painting.

Another reader asked: I just would like to know how you come up with your plots, and also how you decided to let your readers get into Kiera’s head.

My plots have been inspired in a number of different ways. The plot for The Anatomist’s Wife emerged from the development of Kiera’s character and background, as well as the necessity for a mystery in an isolated setting. For Mortal Arts, the story actually started with a dream I had of the scene where Will is drawing on the walls and Kiera comes to sit beside him and help him. For A Grave Matter, I was inspired by a documentary I watched about how criminals planned to steal President Lincoln’s corpse and ransom it. For A Study in Death, it was the desire to pursue the topic of domestic violence in that period. For As Death Draws Near, I’d had the idea early on for Kiera to investigate the death of a nun, for it seemed feasible that in such a murder, a woman might be requested to view the body rather than a man. For the latest Lady Darby book, A Brush with Shadows, the plot was entirely inspired by the setting, as well as a desire to force Gage to return to his childhood home. I’d already established this manor stood at the edge of Dartmoor—a place I have visited and long wanted to set a book in. There is so much rich history and myth and mystery already surrounding that patch of England, so it was ripe with material.

As far as choosing to write in first person, inside Kiera’s head, I simply enjoy it. And I also think it adds a layer of suspense and uncertainty to a mystery, as well as immediacy.

A third reader asked: Will Gage inherit his father’s title? If he inherits his father’s title, then will Kiera be Lady Gage? Considering everything Gage has done for the Crown, will he receive his own title?

Yes, upon Lord Gage’s death, his son—Sebastian Gage—will inherit his title and become Baron Gage. And Kiera will become Lady Gage, a baroness, both by right and courtesy, as the title of baron is higher-ranked than her first husband (Sir Anthony), who was a baronet. As far as Gage receiving his own title from the Crown, only time will tell. No spoilers. Although, there are a number of factors against this happening—namely the fact that Gage will be inheriting a title eventually, and Lord Gage, who is good friends with the King, would likely be displeased to see his son ranked higher than or equal to him. But that doesn’t mean something extraordinary couldn’t happen. Readers will have to wait and see.

Another reader asked: How did you choose the names for your lady protagonists? I love the name Ella & am familiar with it, but Kiera &, especially, Verity, were new to me.

I am a bit idiosyncratic when it comes to names. It’s one of the first things I have to know about a character, and it MUST fit them in my mind, or I simply can’t move forward with them. I wrangle with names a lot. But fortunately, my main female protagonists seem to tell me their names rather quickly when they’re forming in my head. From what I can recall, and bizarre as it sounds, Kiera simply told me that was her name, and that was that. Verity (from my Verity Kent Mystery series) was slightly trickier. I wanted something a bit unique, so I started searching through name lists and stumbled across Verity, which means “truth.” Quite fitting for a mystery sleuth, huh? And her last name simply slid into place once I had her first name.

One final question: Your settings are often unique. How do you choose them?

Other than character, I would say setting is the element of my stories I enjoy crafting most. It’s something I’m drawn to, and I love exploring new places through fiction. Sometimes, I’m inspired by a picture. Sometimes, I happened to visit the site and connected with the place. Other times, a location pops up while I’m doing research and presents itself as the perfect setting for a mystery. I love London, but sometimes I get tired of seeing it used so often in 19th century mysteries, so I gravitate more toward Edinburgh and rural settings. That being said, Lady Darby Book 7 (out April 2019), is set in London, but only because a piece of 1831 history demanded Kiera be there. However, Book 8 will find Kiera and Gage venturing to some distinctive locale yet again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Lee Huber is the RITA and Daphne awards–nominated author of the Lady Darby Mysteries, including A Grave Matter and Mortal Arts, among others. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in music and minored in psychology. She resides in Indiana with her family.

PRODUCT DETAILS

 

Book Review – The Plot is Murder

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Image 3-25-18 at 11.12 PM

The Plot is Murder

By V.M. Burns

First in a new series: Mystery Bookshop

Kensington

248 pages, $15.00

Setting: North Beach, Michigan

Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

Samantha Washington and her late husband, Leon, were avid mystery readers. While Samantha’s goal was to write a mystery, Leon wanted to open a bookstore. Cancer severed any opportunities Leon could ever dream of experiencing. Before he died, Samantha promised him that she’d purchase the brick brownstone they both adored and open a mystery bookstore.

Samantha sold their house, left her job as an English teacher, and purchased the old building. She also began writing the historical mystery she was eager to write. She and her toy poodles, Snickers and Oreo settled into the upstairs apartment, hoping to ease back into a normal life. Sam’s family is supportive, but their concern for her often invades her need for privacy.

Then just when she nearly has the bookstore ready to open, Clayton Parker, a shady realtor, comes knocking on Samantha’s door. Not wanting anything to do with him, she doesn’t let him in. The next morning, they find him dead on her property. She didn’t kill him, so who did? Detective Brad Pitt, not the actor, wanted to know the same thing. After the passing of guilt for not letting Clayton in subsided, fear moved in and she turned to writing the 1938 mystery to help calm her nerves and clear her mind.

The storyline presents Samantha trying to get to the truth of Clayton’s death, with the next scene often being the continuation of her manuscript. Some may feel this is distracting and disturbs the flow of the story. I felt it was a nice alternative to a regular storyline. Authors introduce flashbacks. Time travel moves from the past to the future or the future to the past. This book features a story-within-a-story. I see it as a creative challenge. You begin to wonder about the fictional characters and who is guilty of murder, just as much as you do Samantha’s investigation. Hoping her manuscript is published and that her fans will come to meet her. Wouldn’t that be great for her business?

I thought Samantha was brave not only risking her life but giving up her full-time job to start a new business. It’s difficult enough for a widow to move on.

I loved the brownstone. I could picture the old statues in the building and can imagine all the work that went into creating the bookstore. I also loved the cover.

Would have liked to have known more about Samantha’s life with Leon, her interests and more background. Would have given the detective another name and attitude. Loved Nana Jo and her friends and how they helped Samantha. They seemed to have more personality than the main character.

Three and a half brownstones out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

March 25, 2018

 

Guest Blog Post – New Culinary Capers Dinner Club Mystery Released

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9780425278246

Marinating in Murder, a Dinner Club Mystery by Linda Wiken, Berkley paperback, 289 pages, $7.99/US

By Linda Wiken

What do you think is the worst thing that can happen to a cop? I’ll tell you because one of my best friends is a cop and it’s happened to her.  Try finding the body of your soon-to-be ex in the back of your SUV! That’s Alison Manovich’s nightmare right now. I’ll tell you up front, she didn’t kill him. And I know that her fellow officers believe that too but they have to be seen as impartial throughout the investigation. So, she’s been suspended with pay and is under strict orders to twiddle her thumbs at home while the police search for the real murderer.

So that’s where we come in, my buds and me in the Culinary Capers Dinner Club. I’m J.J. Tanner and although Alison usually warns us to stay out of police business, and I have had more than my share of murders happen in my professional life, this time we can’t leave it to the cops. Who knows what their attempts at looking ‘above board’ will do to the investigation?  Besides, we have a proven track record – two murders, two killers caught. And of course, we always have had valid reasons for getting involved, beyond the fact that the murders happened at two events I planned as an event planner.

Thinking back, the first murder happened at the 2lst birthday celebration of the daughter of a local IT bigwig. It had an Italian theme and I’d hired an Italian caterer. Big mistake. Not the Italian part but the guy turned out to be a dud. And dead. You can read all about it in Toasting Up Trouble. The cops at first thought I’d make a good suspect because of a fight we’d had. A very loud one, it was. Well, you know how that spurs a gal into investigative mode.

The second murder, this one in Roux the Day, took place on a fundraising Casino Dinner Cruise and I again had to get involved when one of the emcee’s was killed. I’d hired her, after all, and her co-emcee, a member of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club, was the prime suspect.

Anyway, back to this case. You’d think things couldn’t get worse for Alison…but they do. Oh, man…they sure do.

I can’t go into more details right now but you can read all about it yourself because Marinating in Murder, the third in the Dinner Club Mysteries, has just been released.

Just remember, Alison didn’t do it. We all believe in her….do you?

 ABOUT LINDA WIKEN

Linda Wiken is the author of the national bestselling Ashton Corners mysteries under the pseudonym Erika Chase and is the former owner of a mystery bookstore.