New Title – The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans

ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE SHARK SHENANIGANS

In the newest mystery from nationally bestselling author Joanna Carl, a dive into house flipping becomes a deadly flop….

When a house near Lee and Joe’s home goes up for sale, the couple teams up with Lee’s aunt and uncle, Nettie and Hogan, to buy it, remodel it, and resell it for a sweet profit. But after the owners of the house, the Baileys, accept their offer, a local developer, Richard “Spud” Dirk, suddenly swoops in with a higher one, and it seems their dreams might be snatched away.

Lee, never as passionate about the plan as her husband and uncle, is anxious to get back to focusing on managing TenHuis Chocolade. But when a long-hidden gun is found behind a pipe in the Baileys’ basement, she begins to suspect a mystery is afoot. And when Spud turns up dead in the Baileys’ carport a few days later, it becomes clear there’s something rotten at the foundation….

To solve the murder, Lee will have to strip away layers of secrets–that is, if someone doesn’t level her first….

Guest Blog Post – Myths By Kat Martin

One of the great myths about writing is that it gets easier over time.  As the author of more than seventy novels, I can tell you it just gets harder.  Perhaps because with each new book you demand more of yourself.

Sentence variety and paragraph construction become easier, grammar and spelling, the basics of writing all become second nature.  But penning the actual novel?  Not so much.  You have to come up with a different plot, make each of your characters stand out in some special way, try to give the readers something you haven’t given them before.

In the novella, SHADOWS AT DAWN, Jaxon Ryker, a former Navy SEAL, now a detective at Maximum Security, was definitely hero material, but at the same time, he was different, kind of soft-spoken, not arrogant, just a really nice guy.  Unless you pissed him off.

Turns out Jax had a protective streak a mile wide and the sweet little receptionist at The Max was his weakness.  When Jax happens upon three men attacking Mindy in the parking lot, his hero instincts kick in–big time.

Jax is convinced the attack isn’t random and that Mindy still isn’t safe.  And no way is Jax letting anything happen to her.

I hope you’ll watch for SHADOWS AT DAWN and that you enjoy it.  If you like Jax and Mindy, you can find them again in my latest novel, THE DECEPTION, and also THE CONSPIRACY.  Till next time, all best and happy reading.

Kat

SHADOWS AT DAWN

EXCERPT

Finally satisfied with her progress for the day, Mindy shoved her round tortoiseshell glasses up on her nose, slung the strap of her purse over her shoulder, and headed for the door to the parking lot behind the office.  She managed not to glance at Jax, but it wasn’t easy.

The early April weather was humid, warm but not hot, the last of a pinky gold sky fading to darkness. She spotted her little red Volkswagen Beetle, one of the few vehicles left in the lot, and started in that direction.

If she hadn’t been working for a security firm, listening to crime stories on a daily basis, she might not have noticed the white Chevy van whose motor sparked to life and began idling in the shadows not far from her car.

When her steps unconsciously slowed, she told herself she was being ridiculous, a paranoid response to the guys’ sometimes gruesome, often frightening tales.

Pausing to dig her car keys out of her purse, she took a deep breath and tried to calm her racing heart. When the effort failed, she forced her feet to move, closing the distance between her and her vehicle. She had almost reached her destination when the van doors slid open and three men dressed head-to-foot in black wearing black ski masks jumped out and started running toward her.

Terror struck.  Mindy let out a high-pitched scream, dropped her purse, whirled, and started running.

 

Jax’s long day wasn’t over yet.  Before he picked up a pizza and headed home for a couple of beers, he had a meeting with a client on the other side of Dallas, a cold case he had been working where the mother of a murder victim had discovered new evidence she believed would help find her daughter’s killer. The police weren’t convinced, but Mrs. Donahue had hired Jax to prove it. Or at least find out the truth.

He checked his heavy black wristwatch.  If he wanted to make his appointment on time, he needed to get on the road.  Grabbing his laptop off the desk, he headed for his dark blue Dodge Ram pickup, parked in the lot behind the office, his mind on the case he figured would earn him a nice fat fee–and maybe help bring a killer to justice.

He had just stepped out the backdoor when a blood-curling scream cut through the sticky night air. A petite young woman with long dark hair and glasses struggled with three masked men.

Adrenaline shot into his blood.  Mindy!  Even as he bolted into a run, Jax registered their appearance: one tall and lean, one average height and weight, one big and beefy, thick-shouldered and muscular.  He was flat out running by the time Mindy spotted him and started screaming his name.

“Jax, help me! Jax!”  Kicking and biting, she fought like a wild thing, but she was no match for the men.  As they hauled her toward the open van doors, Jax grabbed the tall man and pulled him off her, pounded a fist into his face and slammed another into his stomach, doubling him over.  A hard right sent the guy careening backward, hitting the ground on his back and sliding across the asphalt.

The second man, Mr. Average, stepped in and swung a punch Jax ducked.  He shot out a kick, knocking the assailant into the side of the van, then heard the sound of a switchblade snapping open behind him.

“Jax, watch out!”

Whirling toward the threat, he dodged the flashing blade and shoved Mindy toward safety, then went back in for the kill.  Rage burned through his usual calm.  She worked with him, as far as he was concerned, was under his protection.  More than that, she was kind and sweet and he cared about her far more than he should.  Jax wanted to end the bastards who were trying to hurt her.

“Run!” he shouted. “Go back to the office and lock the door!  Call 9-1-1!” The knife flashed.  Jax dodged the sweep of gleaming silver wielded by a big, thick-fingered, extremely capable hand, jumped back from out of the way of another slashing attack as he and the big man crouched and circled each other. From the corner of his eye, he saw the tall, thin man back on his feet and rushing toward him.

Jax looked up to see Mindy swinging her purse like a ball and chain, smashing the bag into the side of the tall man’s head, sending him staggering, grunting as he landed on his hands and knees.

“Bitch! he screamed, shaking his head to clear it, providing the distraction Jax needed.  He kicked the knife out of the beefy man’s hand and threw a punch that sent him reeling.  Mr. Average had already climbed into the van and shoved the vehicle into gear.

“Come on!” the man shouted through the open passenger window.  “Let’s go!”

The tall man turned and ran, leaping through the open van doors, and the big, muscular man shot in behind him. Tires burned and smoke rolled up from the wheels as the vehicle screeched away.

 Kat Martin Bio

Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.  Kat’s next hardcover, THE DECEPTION, a Romantic Thriller, will be released on September 10th.

SHADOWS AT DAWN

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Shadows-at-Dawn-Maximum-Security-ebook/dp/B07Q43F8KZ

Barnes & Noble

NOOK

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-at-dawn-kat-martin/1131045486?ean=9781488058714

KOBO

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/shadows-at-dawn-2

GOOGLE

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kat_Martin_Shadows_at_Dawn?id=Y1mPDwAAQBAJ

ITUNES

https://books.apple.com/us/book/shadows-at-dawn/id1457964026

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog Post – A City of Scoundrels by Victoria Thompson

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Our guest today is Victoria Thompson, author of the USA Today Bestselling Gaslight Mystery Series.  Her new book, City of Scoundrels, is the third in her new Counterfeit Lady Series, which was released on November 5. She’s thrilled to have this opportunity to tell you all about the new book.

Imagine getting sick with a deadly disease for which there is no treatment or cure. Then imagine hundreds of people getting sick with the same disease at the same time, whole families, whole neighborhoods. Then imagine this happening in every city and town in the entire world! Sadly, we don’t have to imagine this because it actually happened in the fall of 1918, and at least 50 million people died world-wide.

In my new book, City of Scoundrels, con artist Elizabeth Miles and her fiancé, Gideon Bates, are holding down the home front while WWI rages a continent away.  Gideon knows he will be drafted soon, so he’s spending his time helping soldiers write their wills before they ship out. When a widow of one of these men gets cheated out of her inheritance by her scoundrel of a brother-in-law, the law is on his side, so Gideon and Elizabeth must go beyond the law to get justice. Using Elizabeth’s skills as a grifter, they must outwit not only the brother-in-law but a gang of German spies into the bargain.

But as Gideon and Elizabeth work desperately to beat their adversaries, a new disease begins striking down their friends and neighbors. The influenza epidemic began in an army camp, and it quickly spread, going with the troops as they shipped out across the world. The press—restrained by war-time censorship—fails to adequately warn the public, and thousands die. The flu finally strikes very close to home for Elizabeth, and takes someone near and dear.

New York City lost more people to the flu than to the war. To this day, no one is really sure what strain of flu it was that proved so deadly. We like to think something like that could never happen again, outside of a horror movie, but can we really be sure?

Did your family lose someone in the great flu epidemic?

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USA Today Bestselling author Victoria Thompson writes the Edgar and Agatha Award nominated Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest, Murder on Trinity Place, was a April 2019 release.  City of Scoundrels is the third book in her Sue Grafton Memorial Award nominated Counterfeit Lady Series. She also contributed to the award-winning writing textbook Many Genres/One Craft. Victoria teaches in Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in Illinois with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

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Elizabeth Miles faces the terrible truth that all is NOT fair in love and war…

Elizabeth Miles finds herself in a position no scheme can help her escape: Her beloved fiancé, Gideon Bates, is awaiting his draft notice to fight in the Great War. Elizabeth finds it hard to think of anything else, but Gideon has thrown himself into his work, preparing wills for soldiers before they ship out.

As part owner of a company that makes footwear for the army, Corporal Tom Preston has a rather large estate. He needs a new will, however, because he has just secretly married Rose, a woman whom his family would never approve. He wants to make sure she and their unborn child are provided for if he does not return.

When Tom is later reported killed, Elizabeth and Gideon learn that after Tom’s bride revealed her identity to his family, the new will has gone missing. Unless it’s found and validated, the original will, which leaves everything to Tom’s brother, will prevail and Rose and their child will get nothing. If she even survives.

Some terrible threats have been leveled against her, and Elizabeth and Gideon must figure out a way, legal or not quite, to secure Tom’s fortune for his wife and child while saving her life in the process.

 

 

 

New Title: Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen

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ABOUT POPPY REDFERN AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDERS

Charming and feisty Poppy Redfern stumbles into murder in this exciting new World War II historical mystery series from critically acclaimed author Tessa Arlen.

Summer 1942. The world has been at war for three long and desperate years. In the remote English village of Little Buffenden, Poppy Redfern’s family house and farmland has been requisitioned by the War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. As the village’s Air Raid Warden, Poppy spends her nights patrolling the village as she tries to ease her neighbors’ fears about the “Friendly Invasion” and what it means to their quiet way of life.

When two young, popular women who were dating American servicemen are found strangled, Poppy quickly realizes that her little town has been divided by murder. The mistrust and suspicion of their new American partners in war threatens to tear Little Buffenden apart. Poppy decides to start her own investigation with the help of a charismatic American pilot and she soon unearths some chilling secrets and long-held grudges. Poppy will have no choice but to lay a trap for a killer so perilously close to home, she might very well become the next victim…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tessa Arlen was born in Singapore, the daughter of a British diplomat; she has lived in Egypt, Germany, the Persian Gulf, China, and India. An Englishwoman married to an American, Tessa lives on the West Coast with her family and two corgis.
Paperback | $16.00
Published by Berkley
Nov 05, 2019 | 320 Pages | 5-1/8 x 8| ISBN 9781984805805

Guest Blog Post – New Book Was Kate Carlisle’s Playground

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Kate Carlisle is the New York Times bestselling author of two ongoing series: the Bibliophile Mysteries featuring San Francisco bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, whose rare book restoration skills uncover old secrets, treachery and murder; and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries (as seen on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), featuring Shannon Hammer, a home contractor who discovers not only skeletons in her neighbors’ closets, but murder victims, too.

Kate’s Latest Fixer-Upper Mystery is Shot Through the Hearth, available October 29.

The Fixer-Upper Mysteries are, for the most part, rooted in reality. Other than the sheer unlikelihood of a small-town home contractor stumbling over one dead body after another, of course, but mystery readers accept and expect that.

What’s a murder mystery without a little murder?

What I mean is that the world in which the characters live has the same rules as our own. No one flies, no one teleports. Lighthouse Cove, like many small towns, appears quaint and idyllic but has a dark side, too.

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(This picture of the Lighthouse Cove police car is from the set of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, who have brought three of Kate’s Fixer-Upper Mysteries to the small screen.)

With the latest book, Shot Through the Hearth, I felt somewhat less constrained by reality—and I had an absolute ball writing it! Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t suddenly start writing sci-fi or paranormal or magical realism or anything like that. Let me explain. . .

Shannon Hammer specializes in Victorian home renovation, and she’s been hired by tech billionaire Raphael Nash (Rafe) to restore his farmhouse in time for his green technology summit. He wants to save the planet, and he’s convinced that he can. He has invited some of the world’s most forward thinkers to Lighthouse Cove to collaborate.

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This gave me so much freedom to play! I researched and included lots of real-life cutting-edge technology, but I also let my imagination take me—and the reader—to exciting, unexpected places.

Here’s a snippet from the book to whet your appetite:

Rafe sat forward in his chair, getting into the subject. “We’ve got an eco-fisheries expert whose passion is tide pools. And another, my friend Julian Reedy, is a world-renowned plant expert who is determined to prove that plants can communicate with humans.” He grinned. “Oh, and wait ’til you see the Stephanie vine. She’s this huge, fast-growing plant that moves and grows in reaction to human pheromones. She’s extraordinary.”

 “Wait,” Carla said. “Stephanie is . . . a plant?”

 “Yeah. You’ll see. It’s very cool. And another buddy, Arnold Larsson, is a pioneer in the field of smart mice studies.”

 Mice? I shivered. One of my deepest, darkest secrets was that I was deathly afraid of mice. But I wasn’t about to mention it here and now.

 “And Shannon, I would love to display some of the tiny houses you’ve been building. They’re perfect for people who’re looking to step away from the grid and leave a smaller carbon footprint.”

See what I mean? So much fun! I don’t want to spoil too much for you, so I’ll just say that there are lots of other fun concepts and ideas to fire up your imagination as you read.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled about the conference. Rafe’s former business partner, in particular, is cranky about all the money flying out the window. Some people can never be rich enough. But he won’t be alive to complain very long. . .

I hope you’ll have as much fun reading Shot Through the Hearth as I had writing it. You can read chapter one for free at https://katecarlisle.com/shot-through-the-hearth.phpPlease let me know what you think! You can reach me via my website or at www.facebook.com/katecarlislebooks

 ABOUT SHOT THROUGH THE HEARTH:

shot-through-the-hearth-225Contractor Shannon Hammer is measuring murder motives in the latest Fixer-Upper Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of A Wrench in the Works and Eaves of Destruction

Shannon’s good friend and retired tech billionaire, Raphael Nash, is loving his new retired life but he can’t stay unoccupied for too long. He’s started the Marigold Foundation that helps fund small companies and individuals who do humanitarian work around the world. It’s an exciting time in Lighthouse Cove as Raphael hosts the first ever global conference inviting big thinkers from every area of industry to give presentations on eco-living.

Raphael’s old business partner arrives in town with a grudge and a plan to steal him away from his important new passion project. Shannon knows her friend has no intention of giving up Marigold and is proud of Raphael for sticking to his guns. But when his former associate winds up dead, all signs point to Raphael.

It’s up to Shannon to hammer out the details of the murder before her friend gets pinned for the crime…

 Amazon: https://amzn.to/2U55a1K

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2HKrHud

BN: http://bit.ly/2YaPtFr

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2CwAEnI

 

Book Reviews – ‘Dark Blossom,’ ‘Harry, the Wonder Cat,’ ‘Rosie Colored Glasses,’ ‘Mumbo Gumbo Murder’

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Hi everyone,

Since June, I’ve been focusing a lot of my free time on re-writing my fourth manuscript, which is the second Zoe Montgomery paranormal thriller. I’m about 382 pages through. Yep, this is a long one. It’s a multi-time jump adventure. Soon I’ll either seek an agent or go the small press publisher route, which I fully stand behind. If you know a publisher interested in time travel/paranormals please IM me at Netera@aol.com. I’ve put so much time and effort in this book and I really love it.

I want you all to know that I’m still reading review books everyday during my lunch break. I’ve recently finished, “Dark Blossom” by Neil Mullick, “Harry the Wonder Cat” by Denise Brixey, “Rosie Colored Glasses” by Brianna Wolfson and “Mumbo Gumbo Murder” by Laura Childs. Two of them I really loved. That would be “Rosie” and “Mumbo.” I have so many more books in my TBR pile. I’m looking forward to each fiction novel, mystery and thriller. I also have a number of e-books to read.

For now, I’m hoping to catch up on my reviews and start thinking about my third Zoe Montgomery novel. Here’s my opinion on the following:

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Dark Blossom

By Neel Mullick

Rupa Publications, India

Trade paperback

214 pages

Neal Mullick’s “Dark Blossom” is a study in raw grief and how it turns your world upside down. There is a parallel of Sam’s sudden loss of his wife Marisa and son William in a car accident and the recent divorce of his new therapist Cynthia.

Sam is clearly distraught and confused. He is desperate to learn why they died and how he can get them back. We’re talking denial and emptiness and it’s visibly affecting his ability to care for himself.

While Cynthia is trying to help Sam accept his loss, grieve for his wife and son and move on, she’s caught in a difficult transition with her daughter who all of a sudden doesn’t want to open up and talk to her. Cynthia is leaning on her mentor to get her through this tough patch in life. He is guiding her toward a stronger relationship with her daughter.

Then comes the symbolic “crossing the line” when Sam says he’s unable to cope and asks to come over. When he meets her daughter, things change. But not the way you think.

Gosh, I’m caught on the wall with this one. In one way, I was curious to find out if Cynthia could be successful in her ability to transition Sam through his all-consuming grief over the loss of his son. He was so overwhelmed with emotions. Then there was something not quite right. Something mentioned about broken glass, flowers and a wound. He was suppose to be nowhere near the accident when it happened. Or was he? Not sure if that was fully explained. I simply think there’s more to this story then he told and maybe grief is guilt.

three and a half therapist appointments out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

Oct. 19, 2019

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Harry the Wonder Cat

The Legend of the Pink Diamond

By Denise Brixey

Lifestyles Entrepreneurs Press

Trade paperback

187 pages

Begins in 1815 and then jumps to 2018

With little warning, in 1815, a cat named Harry is swept away to a magical kingdom of cats to be knighted. Shortly after, he receives his assignment, along with magical powers to provide care and comfort to the Johnson family. He is informed that only the first born would know of his powers and he wasn’t to interfere with the deaths of the family.

Fast forward to 2018. His charge, Lynn, dies and during her transition, she informs Harry that she was poisoned. Though, she doesn’t state when and by whom. That is for him and her niece, Nikki, to learn. Nikki would be arriving shortly as she invited her home before Christmas.

Upon arriving at Lynn’s home, Nikki and her friend, Heather, are shocked to find Lynn’s body. Nikki is heartbroken, yet she notices two things: a mystery novel on the antique side table and the smell of garlic on Lynn’s breath. Even though they call 9-1-1, Sheriff Grady O’Neil considers Nikki the lead suspect in her aunt’s death.

Meanwhile, Henry gathers his cat gang and puts them to work to find out what is in the sheriff’s report.

Something smells rotten here and its the fact the sheriff has it out for Nikki and her family. He intentionally neglected to secure a crime scene and to properly search the house for evidence. Did he even question the aunt’s nurse who was conveniently not around when Lynn died? Or the greedy neighbor interested if Nikki was going to sell her late aunt’s home because she wanted to buy it. There’s also a motivator for murder and that’s the rumor of a pink diamond being in Lynn’s home.

What caught my interest in the beginning was the paranormal element of Harry having exceptional abilities. He might even be an immortal. The house had a mysterious nature to it, possibly because of the long history of the family residing there. There was the protective friendship of Nikki and her friend, Heather. What distracted me was the issue of Point of View. There wasn’t a smooth transition with Nikki and Heather. I also wanted to see a relationship between Nikki and Harry. There didn’t seem to be that close-knit bond. Though, the book did keep my interest. I had to know who would want such a special person like Lynn to die.

Three pink diamonds out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

Oct. 19, 2019

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Rosie Colored Glasses

By Brianna Wolfson

Mira

306 pages, includes a readers guide

trade paperback

Central topics/issues: divorce and mental health

Like Rex, you immediately want to fall in love with free-spirited Rosie. These true opposites meet at the floral shop where Rosie worked. Rosie didn’t like Rex’s impersonal message to his girlfriend and changed it on the card she tucked in with the flowers. Rex returned to the floral shop to lay it into Rosie for doing such a thing without his approval. Instead of this ending right there and then, it led to Rex and Rosie dating and Rex probably experiencing love for the first time in his life. Though he loved Rosie, he knew it wasn’t a forever type of love. Where he was strong and in control, she was spontaneous, immature, colorful, always cheerful and wanting to have fun. Yes, Rex loved the joy being in love brought for awhile.

Real life happens. Their special times together were replaced with every day responsibilities of being married and expecting a child. Eventually leading to the need to move out of their first home where Rosie was really happy into a bigger home in a better neighborhood.

When Willow is born, Rosie showers her in love, music and activities. Willow is terribly bullied in school which makes her miserable. Even the special things Rosie does to make her smile can’t take away her frustration. And it’s at this point where I don’t understand why Rex and Rosie didn’t do something to lessen the negative experiences at school.

When their son is born, Rosie experiences postpartum depression and can hardly function and life gets more difficult for everyone even after the divorce.

The book presents Rex, Rosie and Willow’s point of view consistently throughout their story. I didn’t find it distracting, I welcomed it as it showed what they were all going through. It also goes back in time to earlier experiences that help the reader understand why Rosie acts as she does. It makes you realize that what you see on the outside isn’t what is going on in the heart and mind of those you love.

Rex might have been all structure and perfection, but he was being a parent the best way he knew how. He envied the closeness Rosie had with the kids and had to move beyond his comfort zone to reach that level of love. I do think he should have encouraged Rosie and Willow to go to therapy.

You’re going to cry and you’re going to feel. You’re going to want to give Rosie and Willow a big hug and say “It’s going to be okay.” This one is a heartbreaker – an emotional whirlpool.

Four and three quarters Pixy Stix out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

Oct. 19, 2019

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Mumbo Gumbo Murder

By Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran

A Scrapbooking Mystery

Hardcover

Oct. 1, 2019

$26.00

Berkley Prime Crime

Carmela Bertrand and her friend, Ava, were minding their own business (it’s possible), enjoying the kick-off for the Jazz Fest. They just happen to be strolling down Royal Street when they heard a storefront window broken. To their surprise, it just happened to be at their friend Devin Dowling’s antique shop. They weren’t alone. Others had gathered on the sidewalk to see what all the commotion was about. Carmela enters the store and is stricken with grief in witnessing Devon dead on a lovely antique carpet. The police pull back the crowd and Detective Babcock arrives to secure the crime scene and remove poor Devon.

Shortly after, her former boyfriend’s manager quits and Quigg Brevard literally pushes Carmela into working the craft end of a Paint ‘n Sip business. So life gets rather complicated for Carmela. Of course, she and her adorable buddy, Ava, are determined to hunt down Devon’s killer. Carmela not only has her business to maintain, but now Quigg’s, as well, and if that isn’t a lot to juggle she has to seriously start planning for her wedding. Babcock is impatiently waiting to see some progress. And don’t forget Devon’s adorable dog, Mimi, who witnessed the murder and just might know who the killer is.

Possible suspects are: Devon’s assistant, TJ, who is totally depressed and often drowning his sorrow with more than a few drinks. Richard Drake, the mysterious vampire society representative (think Anne Rice’s characters). Devon’s landlord who immediately informs the public that the property is going to be redeveloped into condos. Don’t forget Sonny Boy Holmes, a local thief and then there’s a rich collector.

Hands down, Laura Childs is my favorite cozy mystery author. Her books are the first I reach for when Penguin sends me a monthly batch. Why? Character personality and friendships, New Orleans is a great setting, the trouble Carmela and Ava get into, scrapbooking, stamping, craft tips and recipes. What I’m not thrilled about is Carmela solves the crimes and Babcock gets the credit. She puts her life, and those of her friends, in danger every single time, but that’s Carmela. She’s a smart cookie, determined and brave and there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do to see a killer behind bars. Side note: Ava cracks me up.

Four and three quarters bizarre puppets out of five

Denise Fleischer

gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com

Oct. 20, 2019

Next up to read and review:

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Guest Blog Post: The Absent Character By Marty Wingate, author of The Bodies in the Library, book one in the First Edition Library mysteries

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It’s with a great deal of pleasure that I introduce Hayley Burke, curator of a fabulous collection of books from the Golden Age of Mystery and the main character in The Bodies in the Library, book one in my new series set in present-day Bath, England. Bath, a World Heritage city, has a rich history with its Roman baths, eccentric characters such as eighteenth-century fashionista Beau Nash, and a connection to Jane Austen. The First Edition Library series adds to that history, in a purely fictional way, with a connection to those fertile decades of the mid-twentieth century (1920s through the 1950s) when mystery, murder, and crime became all the rage. At least, in books.

As quickly as an author creates a new world, it populates itself. In The Bodies in the Library, Hayley is joined by a fan-fiction writers group, First Edition Society board members, family, and, inevitably, the police. Added to the group is another important character in the series.

Presenting Lady Georgiana Fowling, who died at age ninety-four, three years before The Bodies in the Library opens. She is not a ghost, although Hayley feels her presence at Middlebank, the Georgian terraced house where her ladyship lived and that now holds the First Edition library. Regardless of her status in the land of the living, I count Georgiana Fowling as an actual character in the book, for reasons best left unexplained at the moment.

Lady Fowling started the Society. Its library is made up of her own books, collected over many decades—volumes from those women mystery writers who still hold their own today, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Josephine Tey. Also on the shelves of the First Edition library are copies of books written by Lady Fowling herself and featuring her own detective, François Flambeaux. Hayley knows as much about Agatha as she does François—that is to say, very little. But she feels an immediate affinity for François’s creator, whose portrait occupies the wall on the first-floor landing at Middlebank.

Her ladyship married at twenty and was widowed at thirty, an event that, although still sad, is not surprising when you learn her husband, Sir John Fowling, was seventy when they wed. He had made his fortune early in the twentieth century as a captain of industry, and had never married until he met the young Georgiana and fell in love. By all accounts, it was a happy, albeit short, marriage. They had no children. Alone and young, Lady Fowling found comfort in books and became a well-known and generous fixture in Bath. And, as they say, the rest is history.

(Only after I had written the backstory of this May–December romance did I learn of actual events that mirrored it. In 1934 at Samarès Manor on Jersey in the Channel Islands, Sir James Knott married Elizabeth Chystie Gauntlet. He was seventy-four, she twenty-five. My bit of fiction isn’t so outlandish, is it?)

Lady Fowling was drawn to more than the Golden Age of Mystery books. She became quite fond of the fashions of the 1930s and had dressed the part, as evidenced by that full-length portrait outside the library. Her ladyship’s friend and personal assistant, Glynis Woolgar, carries on this affectation. As directed in Lady Fowling’s will, Mrs. Woolgar is secretary in perpetuum for the Society, and as far as the secretary is concerned, nothing gets done unless it’s done the way her ladyship would’ve done it. She holds tightly to this power lest anyone—especially Hayley, it seems—tries to wrest it from her.

It’s no wonder Lady Fowling’s presence is still felt at Middlebank. Along with Mrs. Woolgar, keeper of the flame, there is the board (its five members were all good friends of Lady Fowling); the Society’s solicitor, who has been around for donkey’s years (his grandfather was Sir John’s solicitor); and a lout of a nephew in the shadows. Georgiana Fowling may be gone, but she’s not forgotten, and Hayley likes it that way.

ABOUT MARTY WINGATE

A Seattle native, Marty Wingate is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and leads garden tours through England, Scotland, and Ireland when she is not killing people in fiction.

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Guest Blog Post – Meet Harry the Wonder Cat By Denise Brixey

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Harry the Wonder Cat is a cozy mystery series that deals with murder, revenge and a magical cat who saves the day. In each book, Harry is challenged with mysteries that perplex the humans around him until Harry steps in and lends a helping paw.

“The Legend of the Pink Diamond” is the first book of the series. In it, we meet Harry and find out what makes him so special. He introduces us to his gang of cats who work alongside him to find the killer of his guardian.

The most important thing when writing a book (besides figuring out what your plot will be) is your characters. I created cat characters, as well as humans and found that creating the personalities of the cats were easier to write.

When it came to “casting” the felines, I had only to look as far as my Facebook community page, Kitty Tales. I opened up auditions for the cat stars to the cats of my followers. They quickly sent photos along with a few personality quirks and voila… I had Harry’s gang.

Creating the human characters, that was most difficult. My process is to go online and get pictures of all of my characters and then assign physical and personality traits to them. I give them all backstories; what it is that makes them who they are today.

Their goals are very important to the storyline. For instance, the sheriff in my book has a hatred for my protagonist’s family that goes way back to when he and Nikki’s father were in high school, vying for the same girl’s heart. The sheriff lost and has been trying to get revenge on the Johnson family ever since. He thinks he finally found the opportunity when it appears that Nikki killed her aunt for the family money.

I’m working on the second book now. In this one, Harry, his new guardian, Nikki, and their roommate go on a vacation to Jamaica and land in the middle of a 90-year-old murder mystery. It promises to be an exciting sequel to “The Legend of the Pink Diamond.”

The series is written for an audience of readers that are ages 13+.

The “Legend of the Pink Diamond” is available on Amazon.

You can follow Harry on his blog.

Look for the second book of The Harry the wonder Cat Series, “Harry’s Ghostly Vacation, soon.

Denise Brixey

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog Post: The Joy of Tomatoes by Vicki Delany

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Originally written August 2019

It’s late summer in Ontario.  And for me that means good eating.

When I retired from my job as a systems analyst at a major bank and took up a full time writing career I moved to a small property in the country. I’ve since become a real locovore. I love to eat as locally as I can, and this time of year, I’m pretty much on a ten mile diet.  The farmer’s gate stands are bursting with potatoes (I loooove fingerlings), squash, bok choy, Swiss chard, apples, onions, garlic, zucchini. I could go on and on.  I make sauces and soups and muffins which I pop into the freezer for the winter.

But of all the wonderful produce, one stands out.

Tomatoes.

I love tomatoes, but I truly believe a tomato has to be freshly picked to be worth eating. In the winter and spring I might buy a tomato or two from the supermarket but only if they are going to be put into a stew or soup. They’re just not good enough to eat raw or lightly cooked.

I believe in the pleasure of anticipation. I’ll wait ten months in order to really enjoy a fresh local tomato. I believe we’ve lost a lot when we’ve given up the pleasure of anticipation. In the world today we want what we want when we want it and that when is usually now. But you can’t grow a tomato in November in the north and you can’t pick it fresh from the vine in January. You have to wait.

And wait I will do.

I have the great fortune of living in Prince Edward County, Ontario, one of the best agricultural areas in Canada. When I first moved here I started a vegetable patch, but I quickly decided that was too much like work.  I keep a few tomato plants on the deck so I can nip off a warmed-from-the-sun cherry tomato and pop it right into my mouth.  For tomatoes in quantity, all I have to do is walk up the road to a farm gate stand or stop in at another one on the way into town and I can buy tomatoes they grew themselves.

Nothing better than that.

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One of the things I do with all those tomatoes is make soup. This soup freezes beautifully so I can enjoy it in the bleak midwinter and remember summer.

Vicki Delany’s Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

5 LBS. FRESH TOMATOES

3 MEDIUM RED BELL PEPPERS

2 TBSP. EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1 TABLESPOON CHOPPED FRESH SEEDED RED CHILI

SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER

1 CLOVE OF GARLIC, FINELY CHOPPED

1 TABLESPOON BALSAMIC VINEGAR

2 1/2 CUPS VEGETABLE OR CHICKEN STOCK

  1. Place tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water for about 60 seconds. Transfer them immediately to a large bowl of water. Cool, then peel off the skins and remove seeds.
  2. Broil peppers (turning regularly) until the skins are charred. Place them in a covered bowl until they’re cool enough to handle. Then peel and finely chop.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Add the chilli peppers, chopped red peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic, and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes, another pinch of salt, and vinegar. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Add the stock, bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Cool slightly.
  9. Using an immersion blender, tabletop blender or food processor, blend the soup to a smooth consistency. Can be served immediately or frozen.

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It may be late summer in Ontario, but in Silent Night Deadly Night, the latest in the Year Round Christmas series from Penguin Random House, its Thanksgiving and everyone’s preparing for the feast. But a pot luck dinner for Merry Wilkinson’s mother’s college reunion doesn’t exactly go as planned, and Thanksgiving itself is threatened.

Guest Blog Post – Did I scare you? Good! A guest post from Laura Childs, author of “Mumbo Gumbo Murder”

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For me, there’s nothing better than cozying up in bed and cracking open a brand new spooky, scary mystery. Okay, yes, I’ll admit that I even love to read thrillers, dystopian novels, and the occasional vampire story. Reason being, I’m hooked on being scared. Ever since my very first Nancy Drew Mystery – the Inn of the Twisted Candles, I think it was – I’ve been addicted to that little blip of adrenaline that courses through my veins when the plot shifts. You know what I’m talking about – when the story suddenly lurches from bad to worse, when the threat level rises, or some sort of specter, human or otherwise, suddenly appears.

And that, of course, is why I love to write mysteries as well. For one thing, I have a long history of dabbling in the mysterious. I was the kid who slipped into the cemetery Halloween night on a dare. I told hair-raising ghost stories around the campfire at Girl Scout camp. And in college I snuck a Ouija board into the dorm and scared the pants off everybody with my otherworldly predictions.

It only stands to reason then that the New Orleans setting in my new book Mumbo Gumbo Murder is near and dear to my heart. The Big Easy is an amazingly spooky place. It’s old, slightly tawdry, and loaded with history. The pirate Jean Lafitte tipped back flagons of rum here and, more recently, so did a whole slew of writers that included Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner. There are above-ground cemeteries, haunted hotels, and bayous iridescent with swamp gas. The Mississippi snakes through the city while, a few blocks away, Bourbon Street beckons with all manner of drink and exotic entertainment. And then there’s Mardi Gras, that raucous celebration where just about everyone loses their mind, and Jazz Fest, which serves as one of the main events in Mumbo Gumbo Murder.

In fact, here’s a quick synopsis for you: It’s Jazz Fest in New Orleans and the giant puppets from the Beastmaster Theater are parading through the French Quarter. But as Carmela Bertrand and her best friend, Ava, enjoy the parade, a terrible crash echoes from Devon Dowling’s antique shop. Rushing inside they find Devon collapsed with the only witness his small dog Mimi. Has he been shot? Stabbed? When the police arrive they realize he was stabbed with an ice pick. Running her own shadow investigation, Carmela works behind the scenes to catch Devon’s killer. Was it the greedy landlord, young assistant, fat cat art collector, or mysterious president of the Vampire Society? Mumbo Gumbo Murder offers drama, outrageous humor, mischief, fun craft tips, and delicious recipes. And because New Orleans is a top go-to spot, you’ll also enjoy the descriptions of food and landmarks.

Best of all, Mumbo Gumbo Murder was published on October 1, just in time for you to get your ghost on!

Happy hauntings,

Laura Childs

About the author

Laura Childs is the author of the Scrapbook Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. All have been on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists. Recently, Book Riot named her mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, and has a new Chinese Shar-Pei puppy.

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