Friday, June 29, 2018

Joining the Winners Circle

Winner of the May contest was Faith Creech. She received  Malice Domestic Mystery Most Geographical.

Winner of the MapYourMystery Lowcountry Bookshop contest is Linda Chudej. Special thanks to author Susan Boyer for the book. And yes, Linda says she is happy to receive the book, even though she doesn't look it!

Thanks to everyone who entered. I am planning another giveaway after the Fourth of July and another in August featuring Lucy Burdette's newest book Death on the Menu

Check out and the MapYourMystery Facebook page for contest details and other reviews

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Death by Espresso

Weddings are usually a happy occasion, but when the bride's parents and the groom's father stir up trouble, the wedding is nearly canceled. In Death by Espresso by Alex Erickson, Krissy Hancock volunteers to meet her friend Vicki Patterson's at the airport, but they arrive with an entourage of their actor friends and a coffee bean chewing wedding planner. 

Unfortunately the wedding is a few short days away and there is no room to make changes. That doesn't stop The Pattersons. They have brought along the wedding planner to the stars who seems more interested in her caffeine fix than the wedding. Cathy Carr is incessantly popping chocolate-covered coffee beans into her mouth. She and the parents want to change the cake, the flowers, the church and pretty much the entire wedding. Vicki is hysterical and she begs Krissy to stop the parents from meddling. 

On the other side of the family, it soon becomes apparent that the groom's family would like him to marry someone else and they attempt to sabotage the wedding.

Krissy plans to speak to the Pattersons and convince them to keep their hands off the wedding, but when she arrives at the house where they are staying, she finds the wedding planner dead. The Pattersons pick that moment to arrive and find Krissy with the proverbial candlestick in her hand. Although the police know she did not commit the crime, they take her to the station to question her. 

As no one in town knew Cathy Carr before she arrived, Krissy is positive someone from the California group is the murderer. Trying to solve the crime and keep the wedding plans on track takes all her energy. 

Purchase link 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Interview with Frances McNamara

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?

Death at the Selig Studios is Book 7 for the Emily Cabot Mysteries. It is set in silent film studios set in NW Chicago in 1909 before they all moved out to Hollywood. The first book in the series is Death at the Fair. It's set at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and was published in 2009.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I was working in the library of the University of Chicago when I read the memoirs of Marion Talbot the first Dean of Women and realized it was a big exciting thing for her and other women to come to the new university where women could do graduate research. Sociology was a new field of study and they planned to use the city of Chicago as their "laboratory". So that gave me Emily Cabot a Wellesley College graduate who is excited to do research in sociology at the new university. For the first book set at the Columbian Exposition, I wasn't interested in the serial killer who's in Devil in the White City, I was more interested to learn that Ida B. Wells was at the exposition doing her anti-lynching campaign. I learned a lot about Ida and was fascinated that I didn't know about such a great woman character. 

In the later books I really enjoyed having my fictional character Emily and her mentor the fictional detective Henry Whitbread meet real people like Jane Addams and Florence Kelley at Hull House, George Pullman and Eugene V. Debs at Pullman, early scientists at Woods Hole, Wang Chin Fu and two real Chinese women doctors in Chinatown, etc. I love finding fascinating forgotten characters from our pasting and getting them to come alive again. I'm grateful to a lot of the women of that time who bucked the system and it's also interesting to see how problems of the past resonate with things happening in the present day. My publisher Allium Press of Chicago has the motto "rescuing Chicago from Capone, one book at a time" and I like to find all those other people who built the city and might not be remembered as vividly as they deserve.

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?
It varies. I try to write mornings now that I'm retired, but I wrote most of the books while working full time and would go on a writing binge, shutting myself away for a weekend and doing nothing but writing or rewriting. Belonging to a writing group helps me to keep to a schedule as well.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I'm active in Sisters in Crime New England, and was in the Chicagoland chapter before. I also belong to the local chapters of Mystery Writers of America. Another mystery writer, Susana Calkins, recently commented that the thing she hadn't expected was how nice it was to be able to socialize with other writers in these groups. It's true. Mystery writers are very generous and also helpful. It's also good to go to some conferences like New England Crimebake, or Malice Domestic. I did have a long term writing group in Chicago. We called ourselves "The complete unknowns". When I moved to Boston I did some Novel in Progress workshops at Grub Street. They were good. I have since joined another small group of published mystery writers. I find it helps to keep me honest and on a schedule to have to provide some pages.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Emily Cabot is modeled after the women in the book Endless Crusade which covers Edith Abbott, Sophonisba Breckinridge, Katharine Davis, and Frances Kellor. They all worked at University of Chicago and Hull House and were able to accomplish a very surprising number of things. I was never interested in the high society women of the type portrayed by Henry James and Edith Wharton. I always thought, well there must have been women at that time doing something more useful with their lives, and there were. I am personally very grateful to these women who broke down a number of barriers I didn't have to face. They were really enthusiastic and excited about what they were doing as well.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Jennifer Lawrence, because I liked her in Hunger Games

Who is your favorite author?
Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain! But for historical mysteries I especially like Laurie King’s series about the Beekeepers Apprentice. I like the voice of the young woman who marries Sherlock Holmes. Like my books they are in first person and Mary is a woman of that time. I also really enjoy the Roman mysteries of Steven Saylor. Gordianus the Finder and his family are like figures in the foreground of a big historical painting of the historical happenings of the time. He sets the stories around the time Julius Caesar rose to power and the books skip over many years to be set with an important historical event in the background while the fictional characters deal with a murder in the foreground. I’ve chosen to move my stories along to portray some really interesting historical events like the Pullman strike and the Columbian and Paris Expositions. I read lots of other mysteries as well.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?I keep a notebook. Sometimes I have to look back at the books.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I already was a librarian. I like being retired!!! Guess I'd be a script writer/producer/director if I had all the time and money in the world. But writing is good.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Newport Ave

Combine a returning fugitive, his sister who is married to a low-level mobster and an old junky friend who is now a devout Christian and it becomes a lethal mix. Years before James Dobchek and Greg Mairs were involved with some other guys in an alteration that killed one of them and James fled.

In Newport Ave by Ken Kuhlken, James quietly returns to check on his sister Olivia and her friend Greg. Greg, now terminally ill with liver disease caused by his drug addition, has a wife and young daughter. He has turned to Christianity and is trying to lead a good life - for whatever time is left.

Olivia is married to Maurice, who has made her life miserable and lead her to alcohol. James decides she would be better off without Maurice and enlists the aid of Greg to kill him. This is counter to his new beliefs, but Greg remembers that James saved his life so he reluctantly agrees to help him.

After all these years FBI agent Miles Milligan still keeps
checking in with Greg and Olivia, looking for James. He feels sure one of them has been in touch with James, but they both deny it to Miles' endless frustration.

When Maurice is killed events become more complicated for James and Greg leading them to drastic action.

Not really a cozy mystery but the dark subplot makes for an interesting read.

Purchase link

Monday, June 25, 2018

Disorderly Conduct

Fire threatens Maggie McDonald's family and home in Silicon Valley, and they are in the process of evacuating to the Olmos house out of the fire zone. But shocking news awaits them and what is found after the fire diminishes causes the most heartbreak. In Disorderly Conduct by Mary Feliz, the body of Patrick Olmos, husband of Maggie's friend Tess, is found along a running trail.

When it becomes obvious that Patrick was murdered and Tess is arrested, Maggie cannot believe Patrick, an experienced runner would have fallen along the trail. When the police determine he was shot, Maggie sets her investigation in motion to clear her friend. Maggie soon discovers one of Patrick's co-workers and running partners is infatuated with him and has a jealous husband.

As Maggie tries to piece together Patrick's last day, her sons and Tess' son decide they need to get involved. Despite warnings by Maggie about fire danger, the boys decide to follow a hiking path near where Patrick was killed.

As the boys are missing for several hours and are not answering their cell phones, Maggie and the police take to searching for them. What they discover shakes everyone's sense of security and terrifies their parents. 

An excellent book that introduces a scary scenario to drug smuggling and cartels in the United States. Plus as usual there are loads of useful organization tips at the beginning of each chapter. I'm passing on the tip about putting a sticker on your window if you have a pet in your house.

Purchase link

Friday, June 22, 2018

No Virgin Island

Sabrina Salter thought she had put her notoriety behind her when she moved to St. John, Virgin Islands. In No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey, Sabrina discovers a murdered man in one of the villas she manages and suddenly her past come rushing back.

Several years prior Sabrina was a successful meteorologist at a Boston TV station, married to handsome sports anchor. She discovered he was cheating on like he did with his first wife and she decided to leave him. She fled to their summer home on Nantucket until she could figure out what to do. Sometime during the night, she heard what she thought was a prowler and shot and killed him. Turned out it was Ben.

Pursued relentlessly by a trash TV reporter who uses the murder to raise her ratings, accuses Sabrina of getting away with murder. When she was tried and found innocent, she fled to St. John hoping her notoriety would subside.

Now here she was again in the middle of a murder investigation
and tormented by Faith Chase, the reporter. Sabrina knows she needs to solve the case or she will have to leave St. John as well.

The coincidences seem to stack up when long-time renters decided to cancel their regular booking at Villa Mascarpone. Then Carter Johnson immediately calls to book the entire Villa for himself. Gets himself murdered on the day he is checking out. The next couple, Deidre and Sam Leonard, who have rented the Villa arrive in the midst of the investigation and insist they want to stay in Villa Mascarpone despite additional perks for another Villa.

Digging deeper Sabrina finds more than a murderer and puts her life and others in jeopardy.  An excellent mystery filled with unexpected plot lines.

Purchase link 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Till Death Do Us Tart

If I lived in Ashland, Oregon, Torte would be my favorite place. In Till Death Do Us Tart by Ellie Alexander, Juliet has her hands full with the remodel underway and her mother’s surprise wedding. Complicating matters is the arrival of her husband Carlos and his son Ramiro.

The decision to expand the bakery has been a good idea, but the mess it creates keeps everyone on their toes. Also in the works is the surprise Midsummer's Eve wedding for Helen and the Professor. Surprise weddings are fraught with peril, but with the entire town in on the secret, it seems to be working.

When Lance reveals he has been spending time with his estranged father in the adjacent town of Medford, Juliet is shocked that his family was nearby, but Lance had remained distant for so many years. As Lance tries to reconcile with his father, he suddenly dies. Of course Lance is sure he was murdered for his money and Leo, Lance's brother, seems to be implicated. 

To camouflage the wedding plans, Juliet organizes a Grand Opening party for Uva, the winery Juliet,
Carlos and curmudgeon Richard Lord co-own, The plan is working smoothly but Lance feels as if someone is following him and he coaxes Juliet to get involved. He reveals he has hired a private detective to get to the bottom of his father's death.

But when the detective is poisoned at the party and later dies, Juliet adds investigator to her list of job responsibilities. Can she pull off the remodel, surprise her mother and cope with her husband and his son? Juliet is nothing if not resourceful. 

Another terrific adventure with the Torte staff and they are up to the challenge.

For a review of Another One Bites the Crust, another in the series,
click here
Purchase link

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Interview with Cathy Ace

Thanks for having me drop by – I really appreciate it. Cathy Ace

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My most recent title in the USA and Canada is The Case of the Unsuitable Suitor. It’s the fourth title in the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries series. I also write the Cait Morgan Mysteries series, in which there are currently eight titles. I also recently had the anthology Murder Keeps No Calendar published.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries feature four softly-boiled female private investigators (one is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English – hence WISE), plus a sleuthing sidekick, the dowager duchess Althea Twyst.

Gathering the women together took a little time, as I wanted them to each have a unique background, to allow for a range of influences within the group. I began with a broad overview of the range I wanted, then worked out how these could best be brought together in a realistic, and believable, way. I ended up with a group I think works well as a professional group with a fit-for-purpose skill-set, as well as offering a variety of personal backgrounds that allow for both tension, and overriding sisterhood. This is who they ended up being…

(Welsh) Carol Hill grew up on a farm in Carmarthenshire, learned English as a second language, and remained in her shell growing happily round as she studied hard. She wasn’t really aware she was a nerdy geek, but the men she worked with knew it, and they all underestimated her. She finally ended up with the top job in computing and systems management at a global reinsurance giant in The City where she met David, who she recruited; working long into the night on complex projects turned into a few drinks, then dates, and finally marriage. Desperate to start a family, she was advised by her doctor to give up her stressful, exhausting career if she wanted to conceive, so joining the enquiries agency as their technical heart allowed her to relax and unwind. In her mid-thirties, she’s finally, and joyously, pregnant. Her husband dotes on her and is able to work from home when they move to Wales as a global computing consultant. She’s back in her Homeland, and cannot imagine how she could be happier. It’s her ability to glean information from around the world via her enviable network of other techno-geeks that allows the WISE women to have a real edge. Everything about Carol is round, except her smile which is as broad as her hips and as warm as her motherly heart.

(Irish) Christine Wilson-Smythe is reveling in her twenties, and is, truly, usually the smartest (she belongs to Mensa), best-looking woman in the room. Her impoverished viscount father used his silver Irish tongue to make a name for himself and build a good business in The City, and spent as much as he could (which was a fair bit) on his children’s education. Christine’s older brother will get the title, but she certainly got the brains. Her early years were spent happily riding and generally getting into scrapes in the Irish countryside with the local children, but she was taken from her wild ways and the run-down Georgian home she loved so much to attend public school in England. A strict nanny and a good education were followed by university and a career in The City, but she still yearns for her wilder years, and truly believes she’s immortal. She followed in her father’s footsteps for a while, but rapidly outstripped him – and all the pathetic men she worked with. She has a love of adventure, and sees working as an investigator as a wonderful way to never get bored. She despises the time she has to spend attending various charity functions in London, and would much rather be following a lead, or being with Alexander Bright – a man with a more-than-shady past for whom she will not for one moment admit she’s fallen rather hard.

(Scottish) Mavis MacDonald has lived a life of service. Her husband was a soldier, but pensioned out when he was injured by friendly fire during a training exercise. With her two sons at an age where she felt able to allow her husband to do most of the parenting, she trained as a nurse and joined the forces herself, rising to become matron of a barracks specializing in the care of old soldiers. Her sons are grown, married, have their own children, and still live in her, and their, native Scotland; her husband is dead and deeply mourned; her mother’s had a stroke and is in a care-home in Dumfries. Now in her sixties, she believes she can still serve those who have problems that need solving – thereby caring for them in a way. Always correctly attired (her sensible navy gabardine mackintosh sees her through at least three seasons of the year) she carries her compact frame erect, and adopts a workmanlike attitude toward hunting out potential clients. She’s a tartar when it comes to making sure contracts are signed, accounts are properly kept, and that the company is run as efficiently as possible. Mature, level-headed, with a great attention to detail and a generally dour approach to life – which doesn’t stop her sometimes having a good laugh – Mavis is an old nurse through and through. She understands how to act in a crisis, and has a way with the sick, infirm and elderly built upon years of experience in situations where soldiers found it hard to come to terms with their injuries, be they physical or mental. Fiercely loyal, she won’t accept any folderol or shenanigans, and expects to be promptly paid a pound for a pound’s worth of work.

(English) Annie Parker was born to immigrant St. Lucian parents within the sound of Bow Bells, raised in the East End of London and, if you cut her through the middle like a stick of rock, you could read COCKNEY written right through her. For her entire life she’s barely acknowledged the fact she’s black, but she knows she’s working class; her father was a bus driver and her mum managed a launderette when they moved out to “posh Plaistow”. A receptionist at a firm of Lloyds Insurers for decades, she’s spent her entire working life life surrounded by friends (Carol amongst them)with whom she’d share a couple of bottles of wine after work, and men whose racism was trumped only by their misogyny. Describing herself as a tall stick insect with a big bum and feet like flippers, Annie’s now sweating her way through her early fifties on a diet of gin and tonic, sneaked smokes, and hot sauce – which her mother has raised her to believe should be added to absolutely every item of food. Happily single, fiercely independent, Annie’s entire life has been spent in London – so she’s not looking forward to moving into a thatched cottage built for “tiny little Welshies” in the countryside, which she sees as a bleak and empty place. Being too far from a Marks & Sparks is the least of her worries though, as she finds she’s no longer able to go undercover in a part of Wales that’s “pretty milky”, so she often has to stay away from even her village home to work in Swansea and Cardiff, where it’s her accent that stands out rather than her color. She’s a devotee of everything gumshoe, and thrives on developing her undercover backstory while indulging and leveraging her ability to gossip to anyone about anything, and get them to open up to her because of her utterly disarming manner. Mavis-baiting is Annie’s favorite sport.

(Their sleuthing sidekick) Althea Twyst is facing 80, can’t ride her beloved steeds anymore because of a nasty fall in her early seventies, and has just one canine companion, not the packs she was used to. She’s almost embarrassed by her stuffed-shirt son and flaky daughter. (She blames the nannies and public schools her husband, the late duke, insisted were allowed to raise her children.) The arrival of the WISE women at Chellingworth gives her a new lease on life, and she takes to sleuthing like a human version of her own beloved Jack Russell, McFli. Convinced her son was given a sense of humor bypass at birth, she wickedly mocks him by throwing Monty Python references in his direction whenever she can and, after fifty years as a duchess and dowager, takes much for granted she wouldn’t have even known existed when she was born to a working class family of Welsh, Irish, Scottish and English stock – a background which allows her to fit in with the other WISE women. She took being a duchess seriously, and applied herself to her county and courtly duties. She has absolutely no idea she’s eccentric – she’s the only normal person she knows, and has been able to do what she wants, when she wants to do it, for most of her adult life, so she does it…much to the chagrin of Mavis, her new house-mate, who tries to stop Althea’s wicked sense of humor from causing trouble. Mavis usually fails in this respect, as she just can’t get Althea to understand the difference between carrying out a professional investigation rather than sometimes-dangerous amateur sleuthing.

The Welsh setting? I’m Welsh, and I just don’t see enough Welsh settings in crime fiction…so there’s that, and the fact I can “visit” my Homeland every minute I’m 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?
I might be a bit of an odd duck when it comes to writing, because I have three distinct phases of the whole writing process, each of which means I face a very different type of day. I am very much a plotter, so I spend a great deal of time planning my work, carrying out research, writing up background notes of characters and locales, then preparing detailed chapter outlines. I tend to do this on a pretty sporadic basis, with hours of internet research, thinking then note-making being spread over weeks. When I finally sit down to write the first draft of the book I do just that…hammer away at my keyboard for hours on end, usually groaning in agony when I get up from my chair after too long sitting in it! If it’s a “light promotional time” I will do this during the day, but my most productive hours tend to be from about 9pm to around 2am. After that there’s the editing phase, which I find I can do in fits and spurts during the daytime, whilst keeping up with other, promotional, responsibilities.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I joined Crime Writers of Canada just as my first novel was being published, knowing I would throw myself into it, but not realizing the full extent to which I would end up doing that. I have spent the past five years as firstly a Regional representative for BC/Yukon/NWT, then I had two years as Vice Chair, and I have just stepped down after two years as Chair. During that time I have met, got to know, and hope I have helped, many dozens of other Canadian crime writers either online or at events across the country. I also attend conventions where I get to meet other authors, and we all head to the bar to moan about our “tough lives” whilst all agreeing we have the best possible lives! I regularly attend Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, CrimeFest (UK) and Bouchercon. I’m incredibly honored that I will be Toastmaster when left Coast Crime is held in Vancouver, BC in March 2019. While I don’t ever attend the sort of get-together that aims to improve writing craft, I find that just knowing other authors and understanding that we all face the same sort of problems, even if we write very different types of work, helps me to do the one thing that offers me the chance to become a better writer – I keep on writing!

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Within the group of WISE women, each character is based upon a mixture of real people I know, but none is based upon one individual. If you want to meet a character more closely based upon me, then Cait Morgan might give you a few insights!

Who is your favorite author? 
Agatha Christie, without question!

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
I have a digital folder which contains physical and psychological profiles for all my characters, together with their backstory and key happenings from book to book. This started off before I even write the first novella, and I keep adding to it as “new” things come along.

If you could not be an author, what would you like to do as a career? 
This is my third career. My first was in marketing communications in London, UK, as a person who created communications campaigns and also trained non-marketing managers to take on directorial responsibilities in marketing and marketing communications; my second was as a lecturer in marketing and marketing communications on MBA and undergraduate programs in Canada; and now here I am…killing people off, and loving it! If I had to choose a fourth career (because I certainly am not a person who enjoys looking, or moving, backwards) I would like to be a painter…unfortunately, I’m just not gifted in that respect!

For a review of the latest book in the WISE Agency series, The Case of the Unsuitable Suitor, click here.

Purchase link

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lowcountry Bookshop winner

 To Linda Chudej from Texas. She is the lucky winner of Lowcountry Bookshop by Susan M. Boyer. Thanks to Susan for the book and for everyone who entered. 

Watch for giveaways in July and one in August featuring Lucy Burdette's newest book Death on the Menu 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Beyond the Pale

Married college professors Hollis and Finn Larsson have settled into a safe and secure life on their campus, but Hollis yearns for more adventure and excitement. In Beyond the Pale by Clare O'Donohue, Hollis is approached by a former colleague of hers from her training at the CIA. She never completed the course and went into teaching instead.

David Agnelli offers Hollis an opportunity to visit Ireland and do a small favor for him. It seems an original manuscript of a play allegedly written by Ireland's famous son Brendan Behan is up for sale in Dublin. Because Finn has written an analysis of another Behan play, Interpol wants him to authenticate the new play. 

All they have to do is visit an antique shop in Dublin and pick up the manuscript. Sounds easy, right. When they cannot locate the contact at the antique store, they decide to go the handoff point to explain what went wrong. 

When someone tries to snatch the purse carrying the money for the manuscript, Hollis' old training surfaces and she lands a round house kick to the thief's leg. Shaken but not deterred, they encounter two other threatening people in the coffee shop. 

Before long they find themselves chased all over Ireland for a play they don’t have. An excellent adventure. Looking forward to others in this new series.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Cupid Caper

Enter the MapYourMystery giveaway.

Larissa Reinhart writes such interesting and unusual characters, I've always wondered what she is like in person. Finley Goodhart from The Cupid Caper is another unique character.

Finley is a pool hustler and a good one at that, but she still longs for her ex-boyfriend and fellow grifter Lex Leopold. She knows she needs to go straight, but being a hustler has been so much of her life, she doesn't see a way out.

When her friend Penny is found dead of a drug overdose, Finley knows this is not true. Because of the way Penny was raised, she swore drugs would never be part of her life. Swearing to find the killer, Finley finds herself mixed up in a world of gangsters, hustlers and their marks.

When Penny's death points to a exclusive dating service targeting tech millionaires, Fin and Lex go undercover and discover a more sinister con.

Penny's millionaire boyfriend Mark Davis seems to have landed in the con with both feet. Penny made him her mark and conned him into embezzling money, but when she fell in love with him, she told him the truth. Unfortunately Mark was too far into the scam to get out by himself and Penny was killed. That's where Fin and Lex come in.

They set up an elaborate con at a Valentine's Day event to sting the Platinum Partners before they know what hits them.

The Cupid Caper is billed a book #1. I cannot imagine what trouble Fin and Lex will get into in the next book. A fun adventure with a bit of surprise at the end.

Purchase link

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Murder in the Mansion

Enter the MapYourMystery giveaway.

Once a high-flying hotel manager, and then, overnight, out of a job, Kate Hamilton finds herself on a mission to save her old hometown, Asheboro, Maryland. In Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly,  Kate's old friend Lisbeth coaxes her back home to save the dying town. (Murder at the Mansion will be released on June 26 by Minotaur Books.)

Kate is lured back by a very well-preserved Victorian mansion. Unearthing the history of the Barton Mansion and trying to come up with a hook to bring visitors to her Victorian-themed town, Kate has her work cut out for her. The town is banking on the mansion to save it from bankruptcy and has spent nearly its last dime on it. 

There are various factions: one wants to turn the hotel into a luxurious spa and destroy the elegant example of Victorian architecture; the other wants to preserve the mansion and turn it into a showpiece.

When a rival for the mansion, who is on the side of the luxury spa, is found dead inside the mansion, Kate worries she will top the list of suspects.

With the help of a visiting university professor-turned caretaker, Kate begins to search through the boxes left in the mansion and in the attic. When she finds some letters that might tie the former owner of the home to the famous Clara Barton from Civil Way days, she realizes there's someone more interested in acquiring the mansion, and not to preserve it. 

This is the first in a new series and I am anxious to see how the Victorian plans progress.

Purchase link

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Interview with Vivien Chien

Enter the MapYourMystery giveaway.

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My most recent book is called Death by Dumpling. It’s the first in my new Noodle Shop mystery series AND my very first published book.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The idea for Lana Lee as a character came to me as an alternate version of life. When I was little, my mother owned a gift shop, and I spent a lot of time there as a child. As I got older, I often wondered what my life would have been like had the store stayed in our family. Would I have to work there and take over the family business, or could I have still gone my own route? I’ll never know the answer to that question, but fortunately for me, I can tinker with Lana’s life.

Picking the location was an easy choice. Cleveland is home, and I wanted to showcase it in my series. Of course, I took some liberties, but for the most part, the city is still intact.

The series has a central location, which is Asia Village, an Asian shopping plaza that resides in Fairview Park. The plaza itself is fictional, but it was loosely inspired by an actual Asian shopping plaza located on the east side of Cleveland.

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?
No one day is the same, I can tell you that. Some days you are glued to the computer completely focused and writing like a maniac. Other times, you’re wasting away the day trying to figure out which filter on Instagram would make your book cover pop the best.

I have a full-time job as well, so I write on evenings after work and on the weekends. Weekdays I try to write 1000-2000 words a night, and on weekends I have writing marathons where I set my goal at 5000-10,000 words. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it helps keep me focused.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
Yes, I belong to Sisters in Crime both nationally and locally. I think it’s important to join a writers group of some type. SinC is a great organization and it has helped tremendously with my writing. Not only have I learned a lot about the craft through different events and programs they offer, but I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way. A big perk of joining a writers group is not necessarily just for feedback on your writing, but about being a part of a cluster of people that actually understand what you’re going through. The support you get from other writers is so amazing. I think a lot of times they are the ones reassuring me that I haven’t completely lost my mind.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know? 
Not really. All of my characters are a hodge-podge of life or things that piqued my interest at one point or another. Occasionally I’ll meet a passerby and think to myself… “They would make a great character.” I have a few of those types sprinkled in the series.

Who is your favorite author? 
Now that is a tough question! To pick just one seems impossible. In the mystery genre, it is definitely Sue Grafton. But, if you let me write you a numbered list, we may be here awhile.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
I keep a detailed profile for each of my characters (even the little guys). Since beginning the Noodle Shop series, I also try to have a timeline of events to help remind me of specific happenings in their lives. If all else fails, the previous book is always a good reminder!

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career? 
If I could do anything I wanted, I would be a bookshop owner. There’s nothing better than being surrounded by books all day. And coffee. There would be lots and lots of coffee.

 Vivien's next book,  Dim Sum of All Fears will be out August 28.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Lowcountry Bookshop GIVEAWAY

Everyone loves free books. Here's your chance to win an autographed copy of Lowcountry Bookshop, the newest in the series by Susan M. Boyer. 

Giveaway opens at 12:01 AM on Tuesday, June 12 and closes at 11:59 PM on Monday, June 18. Open to U.S. and Canada only. 

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Turning the Tide

It's 1880 and there is an election for President, but half the population cannot vote. This exciting historical mystery is superbly written and offers insights into a woman's life in the late 1800s. In Turning the Tide by Edith Maxwell Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is at her first meeting of the Amesbury Woman Suffrage Association.

To her surprise Elizabeth Cady Stanton is in attendance and the women are inspired to demonstrate on Election Day. The next morning on her way home from a delivery, Rose spots the body of the previous evening's keynote speaker Rowena Felch under a lilac bush. From the disarray in the dining room, it appears Mrs. Felch interrupted a robbery.

But the more she digs into it, the more Rose realizes it was murder. Rowena was a prominent attorney, one of the few women in Amesbury, and she wanted to continue her career. Her controlling husband wants her to stay at home and have children. Rowena had planned to leave him. A co-worker believes Rowena was promoted over him even though he was not competent.

Rose has some issues of her own. Her Quaker Meeting Group has decided if she marries someone from outside the faith, she will be
"read out of Meeting" meaning she will not be able to attend. Rose loves Dr. David Dodge who happens to worship in a Unitarian Church and she loves the fellowship of the Quaker meetings, but this makes her unsettled about her decision.

As she gets closer to finding the truth about Rowena's murder, her life is threatened and her livelihood is in jeopardy. She must continue to serve as a midwife and maybe place herself in difficult situations. Her dedication to delivering babies overrides her fear for her safety.

Looking forward to the next book in this series.

Purchase link

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Sleeping Lady

Rae Sullivan and her partner Thalia Holcombe own an upscale home decor shop in San Francisco, but Thalia likes to live dangerously. In The Sleeping Lady by Bonnie C. Monte, Rae has been running the shop while Thalia has been on a purchasing trip to France.

When Thalia returns she confesses it hasn't all been shopping. She has been having an affair with Etienne who runs an import-export shop in Paris for the past three trips. Showing real gall and making her a thoroughly unsympathetic character, she invites Etienne, his wife and son to help celebrate her husband Garrett's birthday.

Days before the party, Thalia receives a note that says, I know about your affair. Prepare to pay. When the second note appears with a demand for money and detailed instructions as to where to leave the money, Thalia is convinced she can outwit the blackmailer. She is also positive it is Marcel, an employee at Etienne's business.

Rae tries to coax her out of going to the drop spot, but Thalia is sure she can outsmart the
blackmailer. Unfortunately that does not turn out to be the case, when her body is found near the bench the next day in Golden Gate Park. The police believe her death is the result of a routine mugging especially when the find a homeless man with a diamond tennis bracelet Thalia was wearing.

Shocked and blaming herself for letting Thalia go alone, Rae knows this was not the case and decides she needs to solve the murder, leading to a shocking conclusion.

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