Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dead of Winter

As a murderer dumps a body into the lake, Bella Jordan just happens to be staring out her window, not really seeing anything. It's winter in Lily Dale and there are not many tourists in the town of mediums. In Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub, Bella notices something along the lake the next morning and discovers it is a body.

With a killer loose in Lily Dale, Bella worries about her six-year-old son Max and his pal Jiffy. Jiffy is a wandering child with a spirit guide; his mother Misty is a medium but not a very good one.

While Bella readies Valley View, the B&B she rents for visitors, she worries about the boys walking home from the bus stop by themselves. As they are wandering home on their own, Jiffy tells Max he is going to be kidnapped and he wants Max to tell the TV people that Jiffy is brave.

Bella tries to laugh it off, but she knows Jiffy has special abilities and wonders what he really knows.
When a blizzard threatens Lily Dale, and school is dismissed early, Bella wants to walk down the lane to meet Jiffy, but Max is home sick and she doesn't want to leave him. When Jiffy doesn't turn up, everyone is worried he is lost in the snow storm, which is raging.

While the police search, Misty is unable to wait for the police to find him, she wanders out into the snow to Inspiration Stump to "sense" what might have happened to Jiffy. There she encounters a desperate killer and a fight to save her life and find Jiffy.

I always enjoy the Lily Dale series and Dead of Winter gave me the chills each and every step of the way. The atmospheric air to Lily Dale and the many mediums present in the town hint at supernatural events. I very much enjoy this series.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gin and Panic

In a screwball mystery that takes place in the Roarin' Twenties, Maia Chance has given us Lola Woodby and Berta Lundgren. Gin and Panic find them involved in a murder and stolen diamonds.

Lola's goals this week are to mail her sister's wedding invitations and find a caterer for the society wedding of the year. How difficult could that be especially as Lola has a weakness for baked goods, the creamier the better.

Their real business is The Discreet Retrieval Agency, a sort of detective agency. Lord Sudley hires them to retrieve a stuffed rhinoceros' head from Montgomery Hall. He gives them a long involved story about why the rhino head trophy is really his, but his friend Rudyard Montgomery claimed it. Sounds like a easy job and when Lord Sudley presents them with a check, they agree to retrieve the trophy.

They head to Montgomery Hall in Connecticut where a hunting parting is taking place on the estate.
Lola and Mrs.Lundgren bide their time with a gin and tonic observing an array of visiting guests. When they approach the study where the trophy is mounted, they discover the room is filled with rhino head trophies and some unexpected surprises.

Suddenly they hear a pop which sounds like a gunshot, then an argument between a man and a woman, then another gunshot. They race inside to find their host Rudy Montgomery dead of an apparent suicide.

All is not as it seems as Lola and Mrs. Lundgren dash hither and yon between Connecticut and New York to solve the crime. A funny, goofy kind of mystery. Caution: do not read without a pastry or something sweet in your hand!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gator Earrings

Author Ellen Byron knows I am a huge fan of New Orleans and all things from the bayou. In a creative spree, Ellen fabricated some cool earrings for me with Mardi Gras colors and, of course, gators.

If you have read any of Ellen's books you know they take place in Cajun Country in Louisiana, and are filled with family heritage,  life in the south and, of course, a mystery. Ellen's latest book is a Cajun Christmas Killing and it is loaded with Cajun traditional holiday lore.

Check out the review by clicking here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Vineyard Victims

Lucie Montgomery is driving back to her vineyard when she sees a car racing straight at her. In The Vineyard Victims by Ellen Crosby, Lucie flashes back to her accident at the very same spot 10 years prior. She veers off the road and hears a crash. Lucie races to the car and discovers Jamie Vaughn, recent candidate for president of the United States pinned behind the wheel.

As she tries to pull Jamie from the car, he seems to resist her help and says, "Tell him I'm sorry. Tell Rick I need him to forgive me." While she struggles with the door, a MedicAlert bracelet slips from his hands. Neighbor and friend Mick Dunne arrives on the scene, grabs Lucie and carries her away as the car bursts into flames.

Did Jamie deliberately crash his car into the pillar or was it an accident? He smelled of alcohol and seemed unfocused, but Lucie knows she cannot accuse the man who nearly became president of killing himself.

Who is Rick and why does the family not want Lucie to talk to the press? With the help of her
newspaper friend Kit Noland, Lucie soon discovers all was not  well at the Vaughn family business and maybe even in the campaign headquarters. The campaign manager and Jamie's wife insist Rick is a large donor, but somehow that doesn't sit well with Lucie.

Before long Lucie discovers a connection between Jamie and some of his old friends with a 30-year-old murder. As she probes, she learns "Rick" is someone named Taurique, a young black man who was charged with the murder of Webster Landau, one of Jamie's college friends. What is the connection between Jamie, Taurique and the death of Webster Landau?

The more Lucie digs, the more dangerous her discoveries become. Another exciting book from Ellen Crosby. I always enjoy the journey into viticulture as well.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Julie Mulhern Interview

How many books have you published?
With the publication of Cold as Ice, my mystery total is six. Book seven
will make an appearance next June.

How did you become interested in writing?
My seventh grade English teacher told me I should be a writer. I can
remember everything about that moment--where I stood in her classroom,
the writing on the chalkboard, and a feeling of elation. Truth is, my
teacher scared me a bit and praise from Dottie McCord was something to
be cherished.

It took me a while, but I did it. I became a published author. I like to
think Mrs. McCord is smiling down on me.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain
number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc?
My writing day begins early. I stumble downstairs, start coffee, and let
the dog out. He requires watching. With his business complete, we come
back inside and I add a healthy (or unhealthy) dollop of cream to my
coffee, spend a few minutes posting 70s pictures on Facebook, then


Sometimes words flow like a river in springtime. My fingers can hardly
keep up.

Other days words are scarce. Those days, I set a timer and see how many
words (even rotten-destined-to-be-deleted-words) I can write in 20

At a quarter till seven, Monday through Friday, I hear my daughter thump
out of bed. Water runs. A toilet flushes. A few minutes later she
arrives downstairs.

Our exchange usually goes something like this:

Me: “Good morning.”
Her: Grunt. She opens the refrigerator. “We don’t have anything to eat.”
Me: “Of course, we do. There’s cereal (don’t judge), toast (don’t
judge), fruit, and eggs.”
Her: “It takes too long to make eggs.”
I don’t argue.
Her: “We don’t have any good cereal. We never have any good cereal.”
Me: “I buy what you ask for.”
It’s true. I do. It’s not my fault if she leaves four flakes in a box
and puts it back on the pantry shelf.
Her: “I want to make my lunch. We don’t have any food.”
Me: (looking up from a gnarly sentence with gritted teeth) “We have ham,
turkey, and Swiss cheese, two kinds of bread, carrots, apples, sweet
potato chips, and those little containers of hummus.”
Her: “None of that sounds good.” She shakes her head at my abysmal
failure as a mother.

The difficult sentence wins. I save whatever words have been added and
get ready for my day job.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
May I answer both? I know the major plot points before I begin. What
happens between those points is always an unplanned surprise.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
That daughter I mentioned...Is it any wonder I felt the need to give
Ellison a sometimes-problematic teenage daughter?

Who is your favorite author?
THAT is a hard question. One of the wonderful thing about being an
author is becoming friends with other other authors. It's too hard to
pick just one.

How do you promote your books?
My books are set in the 1970s--an era of questionable taste in food,
clothes, and even wine. I post 70s pictures on Facebook every morning.
Some are funny. Some are cringe-worthy. Some (I'm looking at you Jello
molds) are icky. Everyone seems to enjoy the pictures and its a great
way for me to interact with readers. As for other promotions - blog
tours, interviews, and book clubs (I LOVE book clubs).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

And the Winner is . . .

Congratulations to Anna Loomis Russell. She is the winner of the MapYourMystery.com raffle for Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander. Thanks to Ellie Alexander and Minotaur Books for the book.


Watch for another giveaway in November!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Much Ado About Murder

Operating a small theater in the Catskills has its ups and down. When the Catskill Shakespeare Theater Company begins its latest season, there are issues with the director. In Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan costume designer Charlotte Fairfax not only has a new lead actress, but a new director.

Audrey Ashley, visiting British actress, decides she doesn't think she can work with the current director and wants to replace him with Edmund Albright. Albright is hired and he immediately decides to stage the play in a Civil Wat setting. The cast is reluctant at first, but then after Albright presents the case, they grudgingly agree it might be an interesting approach.

In the back of Charlotte's mind is how can she turn the Shakespearean costumes into Civil War era costumes. But when Albright is found dead, an apparent suicide, Charlotte has her hands full trying to find another director and solving the crime.

Charlotte has to ask the previous director to please come back to the theater company, and he comes
back grudgingly. Wade Radcliffe is also smitten with the Civil War theme so he smoothly takes over.When it appears Albright might not have been a suicide, Charlotte plunges into the investigation.

This news makes Audrey Ashley extremely paranoid and she begins making 911 calls to the police to report prowlers, asking especially Charlotte's boyfriend Ray. Trying to settle the actress down, keep her away from Ray and calm the remainder of the cast almost gives Charlotte another full time job.

When other odd events begin to happen, Charlotte is puzzled as to who could have killed Albright and why someone is terrorizing Ashley.

Shakespeare in the Catskills would be such a fun event. That's why I enjoy this series so much.

Monday, October 23, 2017

An Invitation to Murder

Being a matchmaker for a mild mannered, bug collecting young woman is not what Lady Katherine Irvine had in mind for herself. In Leighann Dobbs' An Invitation to Murder, Lady Katherine uses the matchmaking opportunity to investigate the murders of two young women, called the Pink-Ribbon Murders.

Both women were murdered at recent house parties and many hostesses have stopped holding parties. Lord Northbrook's mother decides she will buck concerns and hold a house party to find a wife for her son. Knowing this is the only way she will be invited to a party, Lady Katherine accepts the matchmaking job for Annie Pickering.

Spurring Lady Katherine's desire to solve the murders is her father's promise that he will turn over her dowry to her if she solves the case. Of course Lady Katherine wants to be a detective, but an earl's daughter isn't usually employed in that field.

The house party draws several young women looking for husbands and many men looking for wives
or just looking for a good time. There's much competition among the matchmakers and the young women. Although Katherine tries her best in the matchmaking arena, her heart is interested in solving the case.

When Katherine's arch enemy Dorian Wayland turns up at the event, she is sure he is trying to solve the case before her. She has never trusted him and even though he is charming and handsome, she wants no part of him or his desire to collaborate.

The plot weaves in and out and Katherine begins to despair that nothing will happen at this party when a young women is injured in an assault. This focuses Katherine and she sets out to solve the case.

The customs and habits of the aristocracy are a fascinating study and Leighann Dobbs portrays them well.  Life for women in this era was definitely interesting, but limiting. Katherine's spunk and intelligence sets her apart.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

GIveaway Ends Tuesday

The MapYourMystery Giveaway ends on Tuesday. Enter today!

Check out this giveaway thanks to Ellie Alexander and Minotaur Books! We will be giving away one copy of Ellie's newest book, Death on Tap. Be sure to read my review about the book.

Can't wait for the giveaway to end on Tuesday 10/24 to get a copy? You can find Ellie's books on Minotaur Books'' website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 20, 2017

Secrets and Pies

Once again Callie is up to her neck in work. In Secrets and Pies by Jenny Kales, Callie, thanks to her father George, is baking enormous amounts of Greek food for the Greek church festival. 

Her ex-husband Hugh asks her to meet him at one of the Gilded Age homes he is renovating to pick up their daughter Olivia. While she waits Callie decides to browse around the house and stumbles across the body of Olivia's teacher, Holly Tennyson. Holly was a grad student working on an F.Scott Fitzgerald thesis.

Thrust as usual into the crime, she promises her daughter she will find the murderer, but her boyfriend Detective Ian Sands discourages her involvement. And life at Callie's Kitchen is crazy. Besides the church festival, she is roped into Beats at the Bay, a musical evening, by her grandmother, and baking for the every day tourists who are visiting the area is almost overwhelming.

When her right hand man Max tells her he has to quit to work at his father's farm, Callie panics.
There is still so much prep work for the festival and she wants to continue her investigation. Without Max in the kitchen Callie has to ask her father for help. Two Greeks in a kitchen. What could go wrong!

When another grad student is attacked, Callie is sure the solution has something to do with the graduate work and the Fitzgerald connection. Putting herself in jeopardy, she finds the killer.

The Callie Costas books take me back to my days in the kitchen learning how to cook with my Greek-American mother. We made almost all of the goodies Callie makes and to this day, I still make most of them. Still working on my pie crust, but I'm getting better.

Don't forget to enter the MapYourMystery.com giveaway. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Song of the Lion

The last thing one might expect to find in the Shiprock High School parking lot on the Navajo Reservation is a bomb in a car. In Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman, Navajo Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito is off duty and enjoying an Alumni basketball game when the building shakes. The sound she soon realizes is coming from the parking lot.

She rushes outside to find a car in flames and twisted metal all around. Managing to keep everyone inside the building while she waits for reinforcements to arrive, Bernie wonders if it was a bomb. When a seriously injured young man is found adjacent to the car, Bernie fears there might be another bomb in the gym.

The owner of the BMW turns out to be Aza Palmer, a lawyer. He the mediator at the large meeting to determine whether a huge resort on Navajo land at the edge of the Grand Canyon should be built. He's positive someone is out to kill him.

Jim Chee, Bernie's husband, is assigned as a bodyguard for Palmer while the mediating meetings are
going on in Tuba City. There are a wide range of groups at the meeting - some pro, some con. Most believe Palmer is not going to be a fair mediator. There are acts of sabotage at the Navajo Justic Building where the meeting is being held. First the electricity goes out throughout the building, then someone tampers with the heating system. 

When the dead man is identified as Richard Horseman, the name rings a bell with Lt. Joe Leaphorn. Aza Palmer also remembers him as a young man he knew as a child. As more is learned about young Horseman, Aza's son Robert and two businessmen involved in the development come under suspicion.

Song of a Lion beautifully loops Bernie, Jim and Lt Leaphorn together in true Hillerman form. When I met Anne Hillerman, I commented on how much her books have the voice of her late father, Tony Hillerman. She laughed and said she heard his voice all her life! Naturally she can continue his series in the same voice.

I look forward to more in this series, especially as Bernadette Manuelito is front and center in the books.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cold as Ice

It's really not Ellison's fault that she keeps finding bodies, despite what her mother says. In Cold As Ice by Julie Mulhern, Ellison finds Laurie Michaels dead in the freezer of the country club. Her husband, naturally, is suspected. For Ellison there is more at stake here as Tom owes her late husband's bank one million dollars. 

Ellison tries to keep her promise to Detective Anarchy Jones to stay out of it, but that doesn't happen.When she arrives home one evening and finds a full-fledged teen party raging in her home, she confronts her daughter Grace and discovers Trip Michaels, son of Laurie, was the instigator of the party. 

Try as much as she can, Ellison cannot convince Grace that Trip is not to be trusted. Grace, though, finds out for herself how fickled he is when she encounters a weeping girl who claims to be his girlfriend. 

More worried about the bank's solvency not that Laurie is dead and Tom could possibly be arrested
for murder, Ellison confronts the bank manager Sherman Westcott. He tries to condescend to her and brush off the issue, but Ellison is not satisfied. When someone else is murdered, Ellison searches harder to find the connection.

As always her mother keeps trying to push lawyer Hunter Tafft at Ellison, telling her she needs a man to take care of her. I always find these books so funny for their early 1970s point of view. It's hard to remember the days when all women despite their age were called "girls" and women needed their husband's approval for most everything. 

Ellison's mother is the keeper of this mentality and it drives her crazy, especially as she tries to save her daughter's inheritance.  The other little 70s tidbits make these books so fun to read. 

Don't forget to enter the MapYourMystery.com giveaway.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Giveaway Ends Tuesday!

Don't forget the MapYourMystery Giveaway ends on Tuesday. Enter Today!


Check out this giveaway thanks to Ellie Alexander and Minotaur Books! We will be giving away one copy of Ellie's newest book, Death on Tap. Be sure to read my review about the book.

Can't wait for the giveaway to end on Tuesday 10/24 to get a copy? You can find Ellie's books on Minotaur Books'' website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Case of the Fallen Hero

The death of the bridegroom on the morning after his wedding has Inspector David Graham and his small team investigating the crime in Orgueil Castle on the island of Jersey. In The Case of the Fallen Hero by Alison Golden, What he finds is a fleeing bride, reluctant parents of the bride and an ex-wife. 

Inspector David Graham left big-city policing behind to come to the Channel Islands. His days are now filled with minor offenses, but on a Sunday visit to the Castle, he hears a woman screaming and finds her kneeling over the body of a man. As he approaches the man, he realizes he is beyond help, and then surprisingly enough, the woman flees.

Complicating the investigation is the disappearance of the musical quartet who had been hired to play at the wedding. Having to split his four-person force to handle both issues is difficult, but Graham and Sergeant Harding take the lead on the death.

George Ross, the bridegroom, appears to have fallen or jumped from the battlements of the Castle.  During the investigation, Graham learns the bridal suite was not used and the champagne was still chilling in the ice bucket. There had to be some unusual reason for this.

Further into the investigation he finds an uncooperative mother and father of the bride and a mentally ill sister who turns out to me the ex-wife of the groom. Delving deeper into their past, he learns the bride's family were neighbors of George Ross' family when he was a child. A long-ago murder-suicide factors into the investigation.

As he delves deeper he learns the secret that has been kept for so long and this points the way to a stunning conclusion. Meanwhile the musical quartet has managed to lose its way deeper into the Castle, and their rescue reveals another stunning event.   

An excellent, well plotted mystery.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Coming soon - another Giveaway

Watch for the next MapYourMystery Giveaway -
coming Tuesday, October 17.
Win a copy of Ellie Alexander's Death on Tap

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tightening the Thread

After searching for years for a family connection, Australian Sarah Byrne has found her uncle Ted Lawrence in Maine. In Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait, Ted plans to introduce Sarah to his children at his 75th birthday party.

Sarah asks her friend Angie Curtis to come to the party to support her when she meets the family. It's a busy day as the family begins to arrive. They misidentify Sarah as a housekeeper. None are friendly to her nor to each other, but Ted wants them to enjoy the weekend.

At the party, he introduces Sarah as his niece and he tells them he is planning to change his will. He plans to leave all his famous artist father Robert Lawrence's paintings to Sarah. Possibly worth millions, the three children are furious. He also reveals he has lung cancer and does not have long to live.

Needless to say he is right - the next evening at the clambake, he
falls ill and dies. Could he have eaten a clam from a Red Tide flat or was it murder? The family
seems more concerned that he hadn't changed his will rather than his death. As everyone searches for Ted's will tempers start to fray. When son Luke finds Jeremy trying to open the safe in Ted's office, he fires a gun into the safe to try to open it. The bullet ricochets and shatters a stained glass window.

Angie is worried about Sarah's safety and encourages her to leave the house. When more mayhem occurs at the house, Angie feels she needs to investigate. What her investigate reveals could make your head spin.

I very much enjoyed this latest in the Mainely Needlepoint Mysteries although I did miss the interplay between the Mainely Needlepointers and Angie's grandmother.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Margaritas and Murder

There's nothing more disconcerting than waking up with the early morning sun streaming through your open drapes, followed by a phone call from a friend and loud knocking on your front door. Mix in two policemen looking for your sister and it's Good Morning, Sunny.

In Margaritas & Murder by CeCe Osgood, Sunny Truly knows there has to be a better way to start her day. Detective John Rock wants to question her sister Lila about a friend - Joyce Elton - who either jumped or fell from her balcony into a tree. Unfortunately Joyce left behind the body of Ronald Brownfield in her apartment, dead from a gunshot wound.

Even though Joyce's parents want Sunny to clear their daughter, her boss from Haylock Investigations tells her to get back to her field investigation involving the Loganberrys. Sunny can't help herself and becomes immersed in the investigation to clear Joyce.

When Sunny connects Joyce and Brownfield to high roller Conrad Hollister, she thinks she has just
scratched the surface. She discovers Hollister and three others are the owners of a club called The Celelestial, where some sketchy things have been going on. She also discovers Joyce was not Brownfield's girlfriend. It was a woman named Ana Marie Sawyer, who now is not answering her phone and seems to have disappeared.

When someone bursts out of Ann Marie's house with her laptop, Sunny knows she is on the right track. But that track leads to danger and violence.

This is the first of the Sunny Truly Mysteries and I look forward to the next one. Sunny is smart, persistent and funny. She will make a good private investigator after she gets through her apprenticeship!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Interview with Susan Boyer

How many books have you published?
I currently have six published novels, all in the Liz Talbot Mystery Series, beginning with . My most recent release is Lowcountry Bonfire, and the next book in the series, LOWCOUNTRY BOLO, will be released April 10.
Lowcountry Boil

How did you become interested in writing?
I’ve loved books my whole life, and I’ve always had what most would call an overactive imagination. I’ve always wanted to write--English was one of my first college majors. (I took the samplers’ approach to education.) But it just wasn’t a feasible career path. Few people get a degree in English, then graduate and immediately earn a living wage publishing novels. Publishing doesn’t typically work that way. Some folks major in journalism, but I wasn’t interested in reporting. I wanted to make things up. So of course I studied computer business systems. I worked my way through various information technology jobs, eventually landing in a related position planning assortments for a chain of ladies apparel stores. By the time the company I worked for closed their doors in 2004, I was in a better position to pursue my dream. I fully committed myself to writing and haven’t looked back.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc?
When I’m writing the first draft, I usually write eight or more hours a day, five days a week. Of course I get up occasionally and throw a load of laundry in or grab lunch. Weekends I try to take off for family time. After the first draft is down, I allow myself to incorporate more social media and aspects of the business end of writing into my day.

Under deadline pressure, I write best in a Hampton Inn (no other hotel will work) with absolutely no view of anything remotely interesting and a desk facing a neutral toned wall. I get up in the morning, go down for breakfast (and ask that they make up the room during that time) then go to work. I take a break periodically and pace the hall of whatever floor I’m on to get my steps in and work out plot problems. Sometimes I talk to myself during these strolls. Housekeeping staff, if they’re around, give me concerned looks. For lunch I eat something odd from the hotel shop. I snack on Lindor truffles and nuts. Dinner is whatever someone will deliver, often some variety of Asian food or Pizza. I basically isolate myself in my alternate reality until I’ve birthed a book.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
The first stage is daydreaming, coming up with a crime. Then I write it out in detail—who did what to who, from the villain’s point of view. Next I outline how my detective will solve the case. The first draft comes next, but every day I read and edit what I wrote the day before, so by the time I’m finished, I’ve already edited it once. Typically I let it rest—step away for a few days, then dive back in with another round of edits. Then I print it out and edit again. Things always look different on paper. Once I’m reasonably happy with it, if time permits, I’ll send it to a beta reader. I comb through her notes for things I missed and make any changes that resonate with me. Then it goes to my editor.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
Most of the places are real. I chose the Charleston, SC area as my literary landscape because I love it so and visit as often as I can. We lived in Mt. Pleasant for a while, and I rode my bike to Sullivan’s Island most mornings. While the island of Stella Maris, where my protagonist, Liz Talbot lives, is a figment of my imagination, whenever my characters step off the island, the locations and businesses they visit are real. If Liz Talbot eats in a restaurant in Charleston, I have eaten in that restaurant, ordered what she orders, and I liked it very much. There are one or two exceptions to this, cases where I had to make up a business in Charleston, but I try to keep it real so my readers feel like they’re vacationing in the lowcountry.

There are some places I will model stories after, such as a home I used in Lowcountry Bordello. When I first started writing Lowcountry Bordello, I wanted to use a historic home South of Broad in Charleston. I know, because readers write and tell me, that they sometimes drive by places I mention in my books. My cousin lived in a beautiful Charleston single house not far from White Point Gardens. I asked her if her home could “star” as the bordello, and she thought this sounded like great fun. Unfortunately, after the book was written, but before it was published, my cousin sold her home. I had to put an author’s note in the book advising readers not to drive by looking for the floozies. To the best of my knowledge, this particular house has never been a bordello.

While I sometimes use turns of phrase, mannerisms, et cetera, that I pick up from real people, the characters in my novels are completely fictional, with an occasional public figure used fictitiously. Also occasionally, the names of real people are used as a result of them winning a character auction for charity.

Who is your favorite author?
I am such an eclectic reader, and I have many favorite authors. A random few of many are Sue Grafton, Charlaine Harris, Joshilyn Jackson, Lisa Gardner, Carl Hiaasen, Darynda Jones, Dean Koontz, Harlan Coben, and Mary Alice Monroe.

How do you promote your books?
I am very fortunate to have the support of my publisher, Henery Press, and the wisdom and creativity of a local marketing agency in my hometown. We use a combination of contests, digital campaigns, social media, and in-person events. I especially enjoy social media because it allows me to connect with my readers and learn more about them. We are always running fun contests so I encourage anyone who enjoys my books or this genre to follow me on social media and watch for our giveaways and events.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Killer Location

The real estate business is not for the faint of heart. In A Killer Location by Sarah T. Hobart, Sam Turner is a rookie realtor working for Home Sweet Home Real Estate and dating handsome Police Chief Bernie Aguilar.

One problem though, Bernie is the ex-husband of her sister. Oops. At an Open House Sam gets a taste of the crazy lookie loos, including one who clogged the toilet, another who stole the small items on display and a woman with a dirty dog tracking mud on the white carpet.

But the worst is yet to come as she plans to bake cookies. Sam discovers a human finger, frozen solid, with a slim gold wedding band on it. Inside the ring is engraved "June 8, 1987. All my love, Everett." Everett is her boss' name.

During the tour of the backyard with the women and the dog, the dog escapes his leash and starts pawing through the yard. Before long the dog discovers a bone, then a body. When the body is identified as Everett's ex-wife and the owner of the house, Sam learns Marian was a partner in an investment company that was in trouble because of its shady dealings. 

When she finds another body in the house, Sam figures she is doomed. Then she learns her boss has
been arrested and the real estate agency is closed. Without the broker, Sam's license is suspended and her access to the MLS is cut off. Thoughts of losing her own new house have her struggling with what to do.

She sets out to prove Everett isn't the murder, but gets herself in more trouble, and she still has not told her sister she is dating her ex-husband. As her search for the killer becomes more involved, Sam finds herself faced with a dangerous killer.

I enjoyed A Killer Location and Sam is a believable character and truly wants to be a good realtor.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Spooky Sweet

From the beginning of this series, I have enjoyed Connie Shelton's character Samantha Sweet and her special treats. In Spooky Sweet, Samantha has finally realized she needs more space for the chocolate production portion of her business.

As her staff continues to bump into each other at the Sweet's Sweets, Samantha tries to figure out how she make the expansion work, especially now that she has a contract with her most important client Stan Bookman. The need for more space has taken on an urgency of its own.

While she is trying to decide, her husband Sheriff Beau Cardwell is called to a local cafe when the owner finds a bag of money. A young person, dressed in all black with shaggy hair sticking out of a black knit cap had been sitting at the booth where the bag was found. No one recognized the teen.

Beau is sure the money did not come from someone's stockpile from under a mattress and he calls a friend at the Treasury to check the serial numbers. He finds the money was transferred to the First Bank of Springer, an adjacent town and was part of a recent armored car robbery. The driver of the truck was critically injured by a gunshot.

In the meantime Samantha is feeling the pressure of her workload and visits her magic box again for
more energy. She also wonders if her quirky chocolatier, Bobul would return to help during the Christmas rush and bring some more of his special powders. Her architect friend Darryl shows Sam drawings for a separate site where she can produce and distribute the chocolates, but the cost is way over her budget.

Dismayed, she wonders what to do when a local realtor finds a Victorian mansion she is sure would be perfect for Sam's needs. Needless to say Sam is overwhelmed, but charmed by the possibilities. She begins the renovation process and moves her chocolate making to the new place.

Before long Sam begins to notice some odd occurrences in the carriage house and suddenly Beau's case and Sam's move collide with dangerous consequences.

Another stellar book from Connie Shelton. And yes, I craved chocolate while reading this book. Who wouldn't!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Raining Men and Corpses

Raina Sun knew it was a bad idea to have an affair with her graduate school advisor. But in Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R. Tan, worse still is lending him money, then lying to him about being pregnant.

When she stops by Holden's office the next evening, the department secretary Gail comes bolting out of the men's restroom exclaiming that Holden is dead. But Raina is in for another shock when the detective in charge turns out to be Matthew Louie, someone she knows very well - as in her ex-husband.

With her reporter friend Eden egging her on, Raina tries to figure out who killed Holden and why. What they uncover is missing grant money, secret affairs between staff members and an addicted sister.

When Raina's grandmother pops in for an unexpected visit, Raina knows there's either trouble ahead or at home. PoPo has always been an avid Matthew supporter and her best friend is his grandmother. PoPo is much hipper than Raina as she knows how to use the internet, sends texts and operates her smartphone with ease, plus
she has a way of finding out what is going on. When Raina learns Matthew has been living in Gold Springs for two years, she knows her grandmother was matchmaking again when she urged Raina to do her graduate work here.

With Eden at her side Raina keeps asking questions trying to learn who killed Holden and hiding from Matthew that she lied about the pregnancy.

The dynamic between Raina and PoPo adds to the allure of this book. Every family has its traditions and quirks, and Raining Men and Corpses portrays Raina's Chinese heritage in a way everyone can identify with.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


If there ever was a Cotswold-cozy development called Christietown, I'd be the first to sign up. In Christietown by Susan Kandel, the development comes to life, complete with a play featuring Miss Marple for the Grand Opening.

CeCe Caruso is moonlighting as an event planner for Ian Christie, the developer of Christietown who claims to be a distance relative of Dame Agatha. In keeping with the Christie theme, he asks Cece to produce a play featuring amateur actors in typical English village roles.

Cece has her hands full already. She is rewriting a portion of her Agatha Christie biography adding more information about the 11-day disappearance of the famous novelist, producing the play, getting married and awaiting the birth of her first grandchild. To add to the drama, her ex-husband, his fiancee and her mother turn up at her door. 

But more drama awaits as on the play's opening day, Liz Berman, the person cast as Miss Marple,
disappears. Cece jumps in to save the play, but soon finds her cast member dead. As she delves into the mystery, she discovers all is not what it seems at Christietown. Ruthless developers alleged to be former members of Mosad are pressuring Ian to keep selling the lots and houses.

As Cece digs more deeply, she discovers, just like Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, "It's all about the water." Without water, the land would be worthless. Cece wonders whether Liz had inadvertently discovered something while she was researching her part.

In the secondary plot, Cece provides the reader with excerpts from her Christie biography covering the 11-day disappearance. In these segments we learn some interesting and little known facts about the mystery author's case of amnesia and what her note to Archie Christie may have said.

I very much enjoyed Christietown especially as I am huge, huge Agatha Christie fan. The interspersed portions of Cece's biography were delightful.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Limoncello Yellow

Having just returned from New Orleans, it seems appropriate to review a book set in New Orleans. In Limoncello Yellow by Traci Andrighetti, Franki Amato discovers she is not cut out for police work, so she decides to join her friend Veronica Maggio at Private Chicks, Incorporated, in New Orleans.

Veronica sets Franki up in a bordello-style apartment across the street from a cemetery. Franki, superstitious because of her Sicilian heritage, doesn't think this is a good sign for her future success. When she meets her flamboyant landlady, former stripper Glenda O'Brien, she almost heads back to Austin.

On her first day at work, she discovers her office is situated in the French Quarter, conveniently located very near the iconic Cafe du Monde. Will she manage to solve cases or just spend her time eating beignets and drinking chicory coffee?

Her first case involves a financial advisor Ryan Hunter, who is the primary suspect in the murder of
his ex-girlfriend Jessica Evans. She was found strangled in a store she managed. Brusque, rude and not forthcoming about his relationship with Jessica, Hunter is not the ideal client, but Franki dives right into trying to solve the case.

Hunter portrays his ex-girlfriend as a vindictive, secretive bitch and he admits they had a verbal fight that drew the police. This makes him the leading suspect. Franki and Veronica try to learn more about the victim and they meet with their inside informant, a woman they call "Betty Friedan," a crime analyst for the New Orleans PD.

After some research, Franki discovers Jessican Evans was using a different name and was tied to a long-ago murder that took place in London. This information leads Franki to one of society's richest families and the son who was acquitted of the London murder and to the family of the first murdered woman.

Limoncello Yellow leads Franki through some of the iconic sites of the French Quarter, - The French Market, Jackson Square, Marie Laveu's Voodoo Shop, Bourbon Street and Royal Street. I had a great time reliving my lastest trip and watching Franki unravel this very complicated and confusing case.

I look forward to more of Franki's adventures in Nola.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Interview with Cindy Brown

How many books have you published?
Right now, I have four mysteries in the Ivy Meadows mystery series: Macdeath, The Sound of Murder, Oliver Twisted, and Ivy Get Your Gun. The fifth book, The Phantom of Oz, will be out in late January, and I’m working on the sixth book, Kill-a-lot, set at a Renaissance faire. I’m also a ghostwriter and have written two nonfiction books for clients. I’d like to tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.

How did you become interested in writing?
I’ve always been a big reader. I wrote a little bit growing up, but the bug really bit me when I was in my 30s. I was teaching theatre to kids and couldn’t find a play that had enough speaking parts for all my students, so I wrote my own. The kids loved it, the audience loved it, and I found that I really loved writing.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc?
My days change a lot, with one constant: I always write. If I’m in first draft phase, I like to write in the mornings when the evil editor that lurks in my brain is not quite awake. I’m a bit sharper in the afternoons, so I like to do my editing and revisions then.

One thing I learned along the way (and something I have to remind myself of often) is that writing is not just sitting at the computer. It’s also researching and reading and daydreaming and allowing my subconscious a little bit of time to work on the book, too. I also really like to talk issues through out loud. Luckily, I have a great writers group, plus a group of writer girlfriends who get together for Think & Drink sessions.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
Before I start the first draft, I know the plot points in my book--the big event that begins the story and the turning points for each act (I use screenplay structure as my model). I also know a lot about each of the main characters. That said, events and people and plot lines always change as I write the book.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
Places, definitely. Each of the theaters in the book is modeled on places where I worked, and readers familiar with Arizona will recognize real restaurants and parks, etc. Ivy lives and works in mostly in Phoenix, but The Sound of Murder is set in Sunnydale--a stand in for Sun City West; all of the places in Oliver Twisted (set aboard a cruise ship) are real; and Ivy Get Your Gun is set in a fictional Wild West theme town. I used Goldfield Ghost Town (in Apache Junction, just east of Phoenix) as my model, but set my town of Gold Bug Gulch on the west side near Wickenburg, partly so I could play around with the layout of the town, and partly because I didn’t want to kill anyone at Goldfield Ghost Town. I always fictionalize the place where someone is murdered. Just seems polite.

As far as characters: Each of them is a sort of amalgamation of people I have known or met. And there’s a little bit of me in a lot of the characters, especially Ivy and her uncle Bob.

Who is your favorite author?
That is such a tough question! If I were on a desert island with only one book, I would choose the complete works of Shakespeare. There’s so much there in terms of story and language and the understanding of human relationships. That said, on a regular basis I am more likely to read Tana French or Louise Penny or Elizabeth George.

How do you promote your books?
Anyway I can! Seriously, I think it’s hard to know what works, so I do a lot. I try to stay active on social media (though I fall offline from time to time when I’m deep in deadline land), I do a lot of in-person events (which I enjoy immensely), and I have a monthly email newsletter called Slightly Silly News (which you can check out here). And of course there are ads and giveaways and interviews, like this one. Thank you so much for having me!