Friday, July 19, 2019

Murder at Cossways

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When Emma sees the body of a man found in the Spouting Rock formation, she believes it is her half brother Brady. But a closer look shows her the body is of an older man. In Murder at Crossways by Alyssa Maxwell, this is only the beginning of the mystery,

Shocked at the resemblance, she muses about whether it could be Brady’s long-dead father and what would have brought him back to Newport 30 years later. It's also fall and that signals the end of "The Season" as the Newport Four Hundred say. 

That also means it is time for Mamie Fish to host her Fall Festival celebration at Crossways. Mamie is no shrinking violet and her events are BIG. She doesn't follow the staid, conventional approach of the other wealthy women in Newport. She has invited Prince Otto, nephew of the Austro-Hungarian emperor, Franz Joseph, to the party.

With life-size scarecrows and enormous decorations, Mamie's
event begins in her usual flamboyant style. But when the Prince fails to appear, everyone is disappointed until his lifeless body is found tucked into one of the scarecrows. There are plenty of suspects and Emma believes there may be a link between the other victim and the prince.

In another area of her life, problems at her newspaper seem to be increasing. First the press is jammed with ink, then newsprint is stolen and many other incidents occur. It seems Emma has much on her plate, but with the assistance of the rambunctious Mamie Fish, she helps solve the case.

Another stellar mystery by Alyssa Maxwell.

Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Stranger on the Beach

A riveting, atmospheric mystery that twists and turns the reader from one direction to the other. A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell finds Caroline Stark preparing for her lavish house warming party. She has spent a great deal of time and money building and decorating her lavish home on Long Island's toney shores.

Several days before the party she spots a stranger outside on the beach gazing at her house. As there have been several robberies in town, she decides to confront the stranger. As she approaches him, the skies open up and it begins pouring rain. All she gets from him is his name - Aidan. She rationalizes that he was standing on a public beach so she goes back inside.

As the date of the housewarming party approaches, Jason, Caroline's husband tells her he probably will not be able to make the party. He claims he is stuck in Cleveland, but hadn't he told her he was going to Denver. Outraged that he will not attend, she decides to ping his phone to see where he actually is. She finds he is at an address in Times Square.

Bewildered and betrayed, she cannot believe he might be having an affair. True he has been traveling a great deal, but she cannot believe he would betray her like that. The truth smacks her in the face when Jason shows up at the housewarming party, exceedingly late, and with a young woman dressed seductively.

He insists the woman is a business partner, but they flee quickly after a shouting match with Caroline. Stunned and confused, Caroline hides out all weekend until Jason shows up again encouraging her to get a divorce. He tells her he won't contest it and she can have everything, and then he leaves.

That's where the trouble begins. Caroline feels the need for a drink in a public place and winds up at the local bar the Red Anchor. Who should be tending bar, but the stranger on the beach. A bit younger than Caroline, he is knock-out handsome and charming, but she goes home alone.

The next day she discovers Jason has drained all the money from their accounts and she finds herself headed to the Red Anchor again. From this point the novel twists, turns, bends one way, then the next until a very surprising and shocking conclusion.

If you would like to win a copy of A Stranger on the Beach, come back to on Monday, July 22 for a chance to win. 

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Interview with Hank Phillippi Ryan

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My new book is The Murder List, a psychological standalone. And it is my eleventh published novel.
And the eleventh book I have written! Sometimes I cannot believe it.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
That is such a great question. The location creates itself out of the story, and the characters creates themselves out of the story. It’s hard to describe, but I begin with a compelling plot, and then I see who I need to tell that story in the best way, and where it might take place.

In The Murder List, my goal was to show matter what side a lawyer is on, defense or prosecution, they think they are the good guy. But that can’t be true, right? So how does a person decide whether to be the one who defends the accused? Or prosecute them? And what does it mean to be good? So in The Murder List, a brilliant and devoted criminal defense attorney and a tough and ruthless prosecutor—who hate each other--think they are battling for the legal and moral soul of a promising young law student. (That’s what they think they’re doing, at least.)

So The Murder List takes place in Boston, and in the Boston suburbs. Yes, I know that well, after being a journalist here for so many years, it’s fun for me to use it fictionally, with places that people might have visited, or might not even know about. Or recognize when they come visit! I always “see” my books when I’m in certain locations—and sometimes it’s hard to remember I made them up.

What do you enjoy about the author’s lifestyle? What do you not enjoy?
Oh my goodness, most of the time it is a complete joy. I have been a television reporter for 43 years now, and I’m still on the air at Boston’s Channel 7. That lifestyle is stressful, relentless, competitive, and incredibly rewarding. But rarely are the deadlines my own (or farther away than a few weeks) and breaking news does not always cooperate with my own personal schedule.

So as an author, I completely embrace the idea I can wake up when I want to, have coffee and read the paper, and then write write write write write, in sweat pants and no makeup (!) without having to make sure I get everything on video, and without having to stick to the facts. And I can work for 8 hours in a row without stopping if I want to. Or…not.

What I do not enjoy are the days I sit here looking at my computer, knowing I have a crushing book deadline, and not one word emerges, let alone the story. But finally, now, I have learned to embrace the panic, and know that after the panic, the answer always comes.

So far.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Model my character after myself? No. I really don’t. My characters are completely fiction. Yes, many of the characters are reporters, or lawyers, or criminals, many of whom I know. But part of the fun, if you call it fun, is to watch a fictional character emerge out of my imagination. I am often surprised, and, in the end, always delighted.

How do you get yourself out of a writing rut?
A writing rut? I can’t afford to be in a writing rut. I have learned after all these years of television that you can’t be perfect every day. Some days you simply have to allow yourself to be terrible. I have plenty of those! But I know I can always fix my pages later. So instead of thinking about a rut, which sometimes can make you seize up and be terrified, I just allow myself to write something hideous, laughing all the way, knowing it is not set in stone.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Oh, what a fun question. I know that in Trust Me, Mercer should be Tea Leoni and Taylor Swift should be Ashlyn. Those are perfect parts for them! Cat and mouse—but which is which? Rachel North in The Murder List is more difficult… even choosing an actor for her may give away too much. But DA Martha Gardiner could be Emma Thompson. And Jack? Jeremy Northam, maybe, with a little bit of gray hair.

Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author? Yikes. Shakespeare. Tom Wolfe, Edith Wharton, Stephen King, Hunter Thompson, Mark Helprin, Agatha Christie.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Dinner party! This is so difficult, and I am so hyper-analytical that I can never figure this out. You’d want the dinner party to be fun, right? So good conversationalists? But the people who are most intriguing might not want to chitchat. Stephen Sondheim. Stephen King. Steven Spielberg. I see a theme :-) How about those three, plus Shakespeare, because he was probably fun. And Edith Wharton. And Anthony Horowitz. That’s a lot of men. How about adding Agatha Christie! Yes! Because someone will have to cancel because of their busy schedule, right? So whichever five show up.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
Oh, I love this. A florist? Or maybe just a flower arranger. And a reader. A flower arranging reader. Could I make a living from that? And I’d adore to be a book editor, even though I know it is not one bit glamorous and it’s incredibly stressful. Still. Bring it on. I’d also love to be a lawyer, but maybe I’ll simply stick with that in fiction.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Cliff Hanger

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What starts as an organizing job at a beautiful coastal resort in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California turns into a nightmare for Maggie McDonald and her family. In Cliff Hanger by Mary Feliz, the boys see an ultra-light crash into the cliff side and race down to aid the pilot. (Cliff Hanger will be released by Kensington Publishers on July 16.)

Grad student Jake Peterson loved to fly and was meticulous about safety. When the boys reach him he is mumbling something they cannot understand and they call for EMS to airlift off the dune. When he dies at the hospital, everyone thinks it is an accident. Jake's parents, grieving his death, lash out the boys and try to blame them for Jake's death.

On the job front, Maggie is having difficulty connecting with her contact Renee, the complex's manager. Because they cannot make contact with her, the family is shunted off into a disgustingly dirty condo and Maggie thinks she may have made a mistake taking the job. 

The next day they are able to move into the promised three-bedroom condo, and they traipse off to the beach. One of the boys is injured by a seemingly misplaced metal spike in the sand cliff. When Maggie sees strange lights on the water at night, she wonders if this job was a mistake. When more odd things begin to happen, she calls in her law enforcement friends from back home as reinforcements to try to solve the mystery.

Maggie is the most organized character I've ever read about. I only wish I had as much energy to be organized as she is. I always enjoy the organization tips at the beginning of each chapter. 

Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Dreamed It

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Baxley Powell has an unusual profession. She is a Dreamwalker, crossing over to the spirit realm to communicate with the spirits. In Dreamed It by Maggie Toussaint, Baxley is called in to assist in a series of murders of young women, each found in a suitcase. Now a body has been fund in Sinclair Country, Georgia. Is the Suitcase Killer expanding his scope? (Dreamed It will be released by Camel Press on August 13)

Baxley tries to dreamwalk with the body in the suitcase, but the experience is draining. A slight connection to this case is the disappearance of a local woman. Though the police don't have evidence that the cases are connected, Baxley is sure they are. She finds herself "in touch" with the missing woman and realizes it is a race against time to save her. Baxley relies on her wits and her Cherokeee boyfriend, Deputy Sam Mayes to solve the puzzle, but dealing with a living person is different than dealing with the dead.

Sam and Baxley share the dreamwalk and energy transfer, but the
missing woman seems to have a strange pull on Baxley and she fears she might be caught in the dream world and not be able to return.

In the past case the Georgia Bureau of Investigation had three different suspects, but could not find enough evidence to arrest anyone. Agent Roger Lavene is called in to the latest case.

When a missing persons report is filed on a local woman who matches the description of the other murdered women, Baxley harder to find that connection in desperate a race to save the young woman from a cunning adversary.

An excellent adventure into the paranormal.

Disclosure: I received this book from the author for a fair and honest review.

Friday, July 12, 2019

A Thread of Darkness

A new French Bistro has opened in Crestwood, Kansas, and the Crestwood Quilters are thrilled. In A Thread of Darkness by Sally Goldenbaum, Jacques and Laurel St. Pierre have left New York for Kansas to open The French Quarter.

Po Paltrow and her quilter friends love dining at the bistro and Jacques welcomes them warmly. Not so affectionate is his beautiful, but standoffish wife Laurel. When Jacques ask them to create a quilt for the bistro, the quilters gather to brainstorm with brilliant colors, appliques and ideas. Each member of the Queen Bees Quilt Shop group is assigned a portion of the quilt so no one's skills are taxed beyond their skill level.

For some reason, Laurel does not like Kate Simpson and makes it very obvious each time Kate tries to be friendly. Everyone is confused by this, but the beautiful quilt has monopolized their attention. As the pieces come together, the excitement builds and the quilters as well as Jacques are anxious for it to be displayed.

Before the quilt is finished Laurel is found dead and Jacques is accused of killing her. Po and friends cannot believe the cheerful, dedicated chef could be a killer so they set out to find out more. Kate remembers seeing Laurel meeting a strange man near the river, but is unable to identify him. She also feels there was something familiar about Laurel, but could not place how she might have known her.

When the quilters discover a beautifully created quilt that belonged to Laurel in her home, Po wonders where she has seen this amazing specimen before. What she discovers leads her and the quilters to a long-ago mystery from the days when Kate was a teenager.

An excellent mystery and a delightful group of quilters of all ages. This book almost made me want to take up quilting.

Disclosure: I received this book from the author. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Murder at the Palace

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The Palace Theater is the home of classic movie in San Francisco. Nora Paige is hired as the interim manager in Murder at the Palace by Margaret Dumas. Fleeing from the paparazzi after a messy divorce from her movie star husband, Nora is looking for a quiet place to recover.

Unfortunately the Palace is not that place. On her first day she discovers a body in the icemaker in the basement of the building. Then she encounters the theater's ghost - a young usherette in her uniform who died in a fall from the balcony 80 years ago. Trixie is thrilled that Nora can see her and Nora is sure she is hallucinating after being hit on the head by a light fixture.

The Palace is staffed by a grouchy projectionist, a 90-year-old movie fan and several Millennial. They are quirky bunch, but Nora soon wins them over. When she learns the former manager died in a fall, Nora decides to delve deeper. She begins by checking the theater's books and noticing income doesn't match the outlay. As the tale of the former manager Kate's death unravels, Nora believes she was murdered, not killed in accidental fall. And where is all the money coming from? There are hardly more than 25 people in the theater at one time.

Digging deeper leads Nora into the uncharted territory of legal marijuana, money laundering and
reformed South American cartel members. Throughout her investigation, Nora delights in the movies being shown at the Palace such as Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, The Awful Truth, How to Marry a Millionaire and many others. The author peppers the story with quotes from the classics and it is fun for the reader to try to figure out where they came from.

Murder at the Palace is the first in a new series by Margaret Dumas. Peronally I hope there are more because classic movies are some of my favorites.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Interview with Misty Simon

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My newest book is Deceased and Desist and the next one in the Tallie Graver Mystery Series, Carpet
Diem, comes out in September! I have a total of 43 books published in a number of genres.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
Usually they happen kind of on their own. I end up with a character coming into my head that I think would be fascinating to write and so I explore who she is. Then I usually end up writing them in some location in Pennsylvania since I love living here, though my next series will be set off the coast of California on Catalina Island.

What do you enjoy about the author’s lifestyle? What do you not enjoy?
I love creating worlds and connecting with people through stories even though I may never meet them. I’m not always a big fan of the editing process.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Absolutely all of my characters have some piece of me in them, but the rest is all who I think they are as an individual.

How do you get yourself out of a writing rut?
I sit down and play with words on a notepad. I write until it comes naturally or I take a walk or play a game to clear my head.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Oh! I would love to see Jensen Ackles as a boyfriend! LOL, but then I’d have to play the lead. HA! Seriously though I’d love to see some little known person take my character and make her shine while growing her own career.

Who is your favorite author?
I’m a huge fan of Donna Andrews.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Robin Williams, Eddie Izzard, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Betty White

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I would love to be a Muppeteer.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Evvie Drake Starts Again

On the day Evvie Drake decides to leave her mentally abusive husband Tim, she receives a phone call telling her he has been critically injured in a car accident. In Evvie Drake Starts Over, a debut novel (not a mystery) by Linda Holmes, when she arrives at the hospital Tim is dead. (Published by Penguin Random House and is out now.)

Unsure how she feels about his death, she withdraws into her home. Many months later her best friend Andy encourages her to take in a boarder - a former baseball player with a bad case of the “Yips.”

Dean Tenney had been at the top of his game with the New York Yankees when suddenly he could not throw a strike. Run out of town by the New York media and the fanatical fans, he is considered a “head case” by many. Dean has been poked, prodded, tested and retested, psychoanalyzed endlessly to try to discover what has caused him to lose his pitching control. His body is not injured, so he is written off as a lost cause, and he sets off for a quiet place where no one know him.

When he comes to Maine he has no intention of trying to return to baseball and settles in. He plans to stay anonymous until a reporter shows up and Evvie gives her a piece of her mind. Unfortunately this draws more reporters, but Dean handles them well. Before long he finds himself assisting the high school football coach and really enjoying himself.

During the winter Evvie discovers Dean at the deserted high school in the middle of the night throwing pitches to an imaginary catcher. That sets her on a path to "fix" what is broken in him.

This unlikely pair spend time together trying to fix each other. A delightful story of friendship and love.

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher.

Monday, July 8, 2019

And the Winners are . . .Giveaway Winners

And the winners of the book giveaways are:

Botched 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton -- Karlene

The Right Sort of Man by Alison Montclair -- Linda Herold

No Good Tea Goes Unpunished by Bree Baker -- Jane Starcher

Murder by Matchlight by ERC Lorac -- Jana Lean B

Death by Accordion by Cheryl Miller Thurston -- Sandy Vasel

Southern Sass & Killer Cravings by Kate Young -- Lisa Ward

Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins -- Natasha Jones-Tharp

Glitter Bomb by Laura Childs & Terrie Farley Moran -- Cathi Turnbull

Please email your address to so I can send you your book.