Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Interview with Susanna Calkins

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
So far I have written five historical mysteries; the first four are in the Lucy Campion Mysteries, set in 17th century London. Murder Knocks Twice is the first in my new series, The Speakeasy Murders, set in 1920s Chicago.
Susanna Calkins
(photo credit Lisa Nield)

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
Gina Ricci is the main character of The Speakeasy Murders; the book begins with her first day of work as a cigarette seller at a Chicago speakeasy. I chose Chicago because I live in the area now, and the location was easy to research. I chose the Near West Side, because the neighborhood was completely disrupted in the 1960s when many existing buildings and businesses were torn down to make way for University of Illinois Chicago campus. Terrible for the neighborhood, but helpful for a writer. I had more freedom to put shops and buildings where I wanted.

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 always feel like an impostor saying this, but because I work full time and have two kids, my writing just happens anywhere and anyhow I can fit it. There are some benefits to writing this way, however, because: (1) I tend to be very focused when I do have 20 minutes here or 70 minutes there. I will usually write a scene—fast—and then I feel good about it. (2) Because I have basically two other jobs on top of writing, I don’t make myself feel guilty about not writing. I only feel good about getting anything on the page, whether its 4 pages or a paragraph. On average, I would say I usually get most of my novel writing done on the weekends, in between family and book events.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I’m not part of any critique group or anything like that, but I am a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and am active in both groups. So I connect a lot with other writers in those organizations, and sometimes I might ask a writing friend to read over a draft.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
My characters are definitely not me, but I would say that both Lucy (of the Lucy Campion Mysteries) and Gina (of the Speakeasy Murders) both represent versions of women I might like to be. Lucy is a better person than I am, and Gina much tougher and more fun than me. They are both smarter and more self-sufficient than myself.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Maybe a younger version of Lyndsy Fonseca.

Who is your favorite author? 
Ah, so many to choose from! I’ll give you a handful: Jane Austen, Lloyd Alexander, Charles Todd, Patricia Cornwell.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
Basically I just imagine different actors and actresses as my characters, until I can figure out one or two (often an amalgamation of a few) who seem “right.” Than I just put pictures of them in a powerpoint presentation. Much easier to keep track of tricky character descriptions, particularly since I prefer for readers to fill in the details and I don’t like to overdraw them.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
Hmmm....well I mentioned that I have a day job, right? So I teach at the college level, and I teach teachers how to teach. So I’m a teacher. However, if I couldn’t be a teacher or a writer, I’d have liked to be a cop or a detective (except that I’m afraid of creepy basements and I don’t like scary thing).

For a review of Death Along the River Fleet, click here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Reason to Doubt

Another excellent adventure for reporter Carol Childs. In Reason to Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman, Carol's college-aged daughter Cate returns home with an aspiring fashion photographer named Pete Pompidou. Because Carol has been investigating the deaths of three young models, she has deep concerns about Pete. (Reason to Doubt will be released by Henery Press on November 6.)

When he is arrested, she tries to keep her daughter safe in case he is the killer. Incriminating photos of the women were found in his apartment, but Cate is convinced he is innocent. This sends Carol on a daring quest to find the killer and prove that her daughter's instincts for her boyfriend are right.

Carol receives a phone call at her radio station from a waitress in a local strip club saying she knows who the killer is because she killed him. Wasting no time, Carol races to meet the waitress named Xstacy. Xstacy claims she ran over the killer in the parking lot of the strip club.

At the strip club, Xstacy hear the man talking about taking Polaroid pictures of the models and leaving them at the scene of the crime. Carol knows that news what not reported and is beginning to believe Xstacy. When Xstacy and her friend Jewels decide to set up the man as a disheveled drunk, they wait for him outside the club and run him over.

The police are called and they believe it was an accident. Carol knows she cannot go to the police with this story, especially as Xstacy has asked to keep her name out of it. When Carol cannot get in touch with her, she worries for her safety.

When another body is found, Carol worries the real killer was not run down in a traffic accident and maybe it is her daughter's boyfriend after all.

Another spine tingling, tense mystery by Nancy Cole Silverman.

Pre-order purchase link

Monday, October 29, 2018

Wreath Between the Lines

It's nearly Christmas in Crystal Cove, California, and the residents and merchants alike are decorating like mad. That includes Jenna Hart's Cookbook Nook and Cafe. In Wreath Between the Lines by Daryl Wood Gerber, not only does Jenna have to decorate her shop she needs to unpack dozens of cookbooks for the display. (Wreath Between the Lines will be released on November 8.)

One evening her father's good friend Jake shows up at her door telling her his friend has been murdered, Jenna leaps into action. When she arrives on the scene, she discovers the victim resembles Jake so much they could be brothers. Was this murder a case of mistaken identity and who is the murdered man?

Jake and Jenna's father had been friends ever since Jake saved Cary's life when he was 12. In addition to this connection, Jake had an unusual knack for finance and made himself a millionaire. Jenna has always felt a connection to Jake.

At Christmas, Jake always decorated his house to extremes, driving his neighbor Atwater crazy. Could Atwater have thought he was killing Jake instead of his friend? Geoffrey was a long-time friend of Jake's who had drifted around the country for many years, but wanted to spend some time with Jake.

Complicating Jenna's life is her sister Whitney and her niece Lacy. Whitney believes her husband has been cheating on her and she wants Jenna to discover what is going on. Nothing like adding to Jenna's complicated life.

When Jake is poisoned, Jenna becomes more determined than ever to find the culprit, decorate her store and settle her sister's domestic issues.

Books by Daryl Wood Gerber are always an exciting and witty read. Jenna Hart is an exceptional character. Her recipes at the end of the book are so tasty, they nearly jump off the page.

Pre-order purchase link

Friday, October 26, 2018

Violet Tendencies

The Rose Festival is nearly here and all of Portland is planning for the spectacular gala event. In Violet Tendencies by Kate Dyer-Seeley, flower shop owner Britta Johnston and her aunt Elin are  abuzz getting their float ready for the annual parade. (Violet Tendencies will be released on November 27.)

Their shop Blomma is the only flower shop with a float so they want to create something extra special. But a group of anarchists are planning something else for the festival. Dark Fusion is disrupting the float building and terrifying the volunteers. Their leader Sham has escalated the threats against the festival each day as the volunteers continue their work on the floats.

The flamboyant grand marshal of the Rose Festival Ted Graham and float barn organizer Nicki are making it their mission to have all the members of Dark Fusion locked up before the parade. This animosity emboldens Dark Fusion to step up their offensive in an explosive way.

Britta and her crew of volunteers are trying to concentrate on the
mammoth task of decorating their massive float, but odd happenings in the float barn keep distracting her. When she finds a body wrapped in her lovely violet-covered grapevine arbor, Britta fears the parade will be canceled.

With the police looking into the murder, Britta cannot help herself from snooping, despite Detective Pete Fletcher's warning not to get involved. She and Pete are just developing a relationship and Britta wants to keep investigating without annoying him.While she investigates, she learns some surprising information about Sham, the Dark Fusion leader, and float barn organizer Nicki that leads her to endanger herself.

This is an action-packed mystery with Britta right in the thick of things. Britta and her all-things-Swedish aunt Elin are terrific characters and I would like to get to know them better. Plus I need to run out to my nearest florist to purchase my own bunch of flowers.

Pre-order purchase link

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Yeast of Eden

The Waffle King is coming to Wildwood Cove and with him is Wally's Waffle Kingdom. In Yeast of Eden by Sarah Fox, Marley McKinney worries about the competition for her cozy pancake house, Flip Side. (Yeast of Eden will be released on October 30)

Wally had grown up in Wildwood Cove, but few residents were fans of him. When he inherited a large amount of money, he returned to town with his half sister to expand his "empire." Wally left some bad blood behind including with Marley's friend Lisa. It seems Wally had been selling drugs and Lisa's brother Carlos fell victim to them. He had been struggling with addition ever since.

When someone kills Wally in a particularly gruesome way in his state-of-the-art restaurant kitchen. suspicion falls on Marley's chef Ivan and her friend Lisa. But there are several other suspects.

As much as Marley would like to stay out of the investigation, Lisa begs her to discover who killed Wally. She fears with Lisa's former connection to him, she will be accused. Marley begins to investigate and has her sights set on one of Wally's associates and then he also winds up dead.

At a loss for where to turn next, Marley finds herself in a car alone with a murderer. A tense and dramatic ending to delectable mystery. Recipes included at the end of the book. Yum!

Pre-order Purchase link

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Interview with Tina Kashian

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Stabbed in the Baklava released in September 2018. It’s the second book in my Kebab Kitchen
Mediterranean mystery series set at the Jersey Shore. I’ve published two books in the series, and the third, One Feta in The Grave, will be released on February 2019. I also write historical romance under the pen name Tina Gabrielle and have published ten books.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
My Kebab Kitchen Mystery series takes place at a Mediterranean restaurant at the Jersey shore. I grew up in the restaurant business where my Armenian-American parents owned a restaurant for thirty years in a small South Jersey town. I worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager. My mother was a talented cook and the grapevine in our backyard was more valued that any rosebush. I’d often come home from school to the delicious aromas of simmering grape leaves, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, and shish kebab.

I also have personal experiences at the Jersey shore. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents vacationed there. We now have two young girls, and we still take them to the Jersey shore every summer. As I wrote the books, I pictured my fictitious small town of Ocean Crest at the Jersey shore. The name is a combination of Ocean City and Wildwood Crest—two of my favorite New Jersey shore towns. As I wrote the scenes, I heard the seagulls squawking and pictured them circling above the beach. I felt the lapping of the ocean waves and the sand between my toes, and imagined the brilliant Ferris wheel on the boardwalk pier. I pictured myself in Ocean Crest—minus the murders, of course!

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 have two girls, and I find writing when they are in school the best time for me. But I have also learned to carry around a pen and pad of paper in my purse. I’ve written fun scenes during swim meets, before soccer games, and even during piano lessons. If I’m under deadline, I work late at night. I don’t have a set word count and have learned to go with the flow. Every book has its challenges.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
Yes! I’m a firm believer in writers’ groups. I belong to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime national and my local Central Jersey Chapter, Romance Writers of America, and NJ Romance Writers. I attend conferences when I’m able and love to reconnect with my author friends and meet readers. Writing is a solitary profession and we tend to be introverts, but these organizations have monthly meetings and yearly conferences that teach craft, the publishing business, and are a great way to socialize. I also run a monthly writer’s critique group at my local library and have met long-time friends.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
They say write what you know. I don’t model my characters after real life people, but there is a bit of me in my sleuth, Lucy Berberian. We are both from ethnic families and the restaurant business.

That being said, I do use my experience growing up in the restaurant business. Some of my favorite scenes are straight from my memories—temperamental chefs, busy busboys, and gossipy waitstaff can be quite entertaining. The aspects of the murder, on the other hand, I did have to research. Thankfully, I have no experience poisoning or stabbing a person.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Hmm. This is a tough one. It would have to be someone ethnic, Armenian, Lebanese, or Greek, to fit my sleuth Lucy Berberian. I’d ask Angela Sarafyan.

Who is your favorite author?
For mysteries, it must be Agatha Christie. I grew fascinated with her books when I read And Then There Were None back in high school. For romance, it’s Jane Austen. I love Pride and Prejudice and have reread it many times.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
This is tricky. I write short character descriptions and constantly update everything in a Word document. But many of the characters seem real to me and I remember like long-time family members.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I’m a lawyer and a former mechanical engineer. I think my work experiences enhance my writing. But my true love is being an author.

Thank you for having me!


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Murder on Millionaires' Row

When Thomas Wilshire disappears from his home on Millionaires' Row in New York City, housemaid Rose Gallagher makes it her business to find him. In Murder on Millionaires' Row by Erin Lindsey, Rose is sure her boss in in trouble, but the police think otherwise.

Rose knows Mr. Wilshire is efficient and would never miss an appointment; now he has missed two. She seeks assistance from one of his friends, but he puts her in her place and tells her not to interfere. Undaunted Rose follows Mr. Burrows to Five Points, the very rough neighborhood where she grew up. What business would bring a man like Burrows here?

She overhears a conversation between Burrows and another middle-aged man in front of the Masonic Hall in Five Points. They are discussing Wilshire's missed appointment with Mr. Wang, and Rose believes they know more than are saying.

As Rose heads to Mott Street to speak with Mr. Wang, she encounters a woman whose dress is covered in blood. When Rose
sees the woman walk through a lightpost, she is frozen in disbelief. Rose bursts into Mr. Wang's shop and tries to explain about the ghost.

Mr. Wang discourages Rose for following up on Mr. Wilshire, telling her he does not know him. Frustrated Rose heads back to the house and remembers a clue. Mr. Wilshire had been reading the newspaper when he rushed out of the house. As she reviews the paper, she discovers an article about a ghostly attack on a treasure hunter near Hell Gate on the river.

With the help of Sgt Chapman, Rose learns about ghosts, shades and a leaking portal to the outer realm. Throw in a Pinkerton detective and you have an excellent adventure in the paranormal.

Purchase link

Monday, October 22, 2018

In Peppermint Peril

Callie Aspen takes a break from her Travel the Past job and comes home to Heart Harbor, Maine. She plans to help her aunt Iphigenia at the Book Tea Shop she operates. In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon finds Callie up to her neck in tea party arrangements. (In Peppermint Peril will be released by Crooked Lane Books on November 13.)

It seems grand dame Dorothea Finster is planning a tea party at her sprawling mansion Haywood Hall. Callie spent many summers there as a girl and has found memories of the house, especially of the handsome grandnephew Stephen DuBouvais. Aunt Iphy has an elaborate cake planned for the party and she needs Callie on site to put the layers together.

When Callie arrives she encounters her childhood friend Sheila, who has been married to Stephen for 22 years. Sheila confides in Callie that although this event is supposed to be a reading of Dorothea's new will, Sheila is planning an engagement party for her daughter Amber, unbeknownst to Amber.

There's a special slot in the cake for the precious family heirloom ring and Callie carefully places it in
its position. When the time comes, Ben, the future fiance will present the ring to Amber. The festivities begin and Ben cuts the cake, withdraws the box and opens it to discovers it is empty.

Amber rushes out of the room and then a few minutes later there is a scream. Leadenby, the gardener is found dead in the conservatory (how very Clue like) with a screwdriver in his body. Sheila is leaning over him with blood on her dress. Callie is determined to find the killer.

In Peppermint Peril is the first in the Book Tea Shop Mystery series. I am looking forward to others.

Pre-order purchase link

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Death Along the River Fleet

It's 1667 and the Great Fire of London has left smoldering ruins along the Holborn Bridge. In A Death Along the River Fleet by Susanna Calkins, former housemaid turned printer's apprentice, Lucy Campion is out peddling her pamphlets when she encounters what she thinks is a apparition.

It turns out to be a woman clad in a bloodstained nightdress and barely able to speak. When questioned by Lucy the woman is almost incoherent and has no memory of who she is or why she is wandering around the area.

Lucy notices cuts on her hands and bruises on her arms as if she had been bound. Without hesitation, Lucy brings the woman to a local physician, who at first claims he doesn't treat charity cases, but Dr, Larimer remembers his Hippocratic Oath and takes her in.

Before long it appears the woman is the daughter of a nobleman and Dr. Larimer asks Lucy to stay and be her caregiver while she recovers. The woman turns out to be Octavia Belasysse, the daughter of a lord and the sister of a member of parliament.  Dr. Larimer's assistant Mr. Sheridan believes Octavia had been pronounced death eight months ago and buried in a family plot.

Where has Octavia been for the past eight months and why is she so terrified of her family? Adding to her loss of memory is the "falling" illness she has (now know as epilepsy).

Octavia slowly begins to regain her memory, but there are large gaps and Lucy knows there are things she is holding back. Along with Constable Duncan, Lucy begins to investigate and her discovery leads her to a famous location.

Lucy discovers some dangerous facts that might cause Octavia more harm, but along with Constable Duncan they aim to keep her safe.

An excellent adventure from a period of time where not many mystery novels are set. I thoroughly enjoyed A Death Along the River Fleet.

Purchase link

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Midsummer Mayhem

Take a local gardener, mix in a performance of Midsummer Night's Dream and add a murder and you'll have a delightful mystery entitled Midsummer Mayhem by Marty Wingate. Pru Parke loves gardening, but gets roped into being the set designer for the outdoor performance of the play. (Midsummer Mayhem will be released on November 6 by Alibi.)

Once famous TV Ambrose Grant is appearing in the play and naturally all of Pru's friends want to come to the set. Because there are so many characters, Pru struggles to learn their real names so she refers to them by their character names.

One character in particular,  Lysander, seems more concerned with female conquest than his lines in the play. There's also tension between Ambrose and costume designer Miriam which Pru feels the need to resolve.

When one of the actors dies from anaphylactic shock from bee sting, Pru
dives right in to find the killer. With the performances only two weeks away, this catastrophe has the cast in a stir. When they discover Pru is married to Detective Inspector Christopher Pearse, they are all suspicious of her and try to avoid her.

A very enjoyable mystery.

Pre-order purchase link 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Interview with Meg Macy

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Book 2 of the Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear cozy mystery, Bear Witness to Murder, is the
most recent and available now along with Book 1, Bearly Departed. Currently I'm working on Book 3, Have Yourself A Beary Little Murder, which will be released next October 2019.

I am also one-half of the D.E. Ireland team writing the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins "My Fair Lady" historical mysteries with Sharon Pisacreta. We have four books in that series, (Wouldn't It Be Deadly, Move Your Blooming Corpse, Get Me to the Grave On Time, and With A Little Bit of Blood) -- two were Agatha Award finalists for Best Historical.

Writing as Meg Mims, I've also published some romance Christmas novellas (Santa Paws, Santa Claws, Home For the Holidays, The Key to Love, The Key to Christmas) plus several western historical mysteries -- Double Crossing, Book 1, won the WWA Spur Award for Best First Book in 2012. The sequel, Double or Nothing, won the Laramie Award for Western Mystery. I've written a few western historical romance novellas, Winner Takes All and A Holiday Hoax, and a few short stories. So 8 books plus 7 novellas, and another cozy coming next year.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The Chelsea Teddy Bear factory was located in Michigan, but moved to Missouri (traitors!) recently.
I did some research about their history and invented my own version of a shop/factory located in Silver Hollow -- using Chelsea, Dexter, Plymouth, Ypsilanti, and Ann Arbor locales for the businesses in my fictional small town. I'd written my Christmas novellas using it (unnamed at the time) and decided to set my Teddy Bear series there as well.

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'm a morning person, so after breakfast plus coffee or tea, a shower, getting dressed, etc., I try to get started by 9 or 10 am. I'll usually write until lunchtime, and depending on my deadline schedule, either keep writing after lunch or meeting with friends for lunch, or I'll run errands, clean house (not as often as I should), and read in the afternoon. Lately I have been writing a little at night, but prefer relaxing in the evening with my husband (we're big fans of NCIS and other shows), or else reading historical and contemporary mysteries, biographies, non-fiction research, etc. Besides writing, there's lots of book and author promotion to do, so it's a juggling act to find time for it all.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I belong to Sisters in Crime, Western Writers of America, Western Fictioneers, and Novelists, Inc. I earned my MA from Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction program -- so I know plenty of authors and keep in touch on social media. It really does help to know you're not alone sitting at home, creating a fictional world! I attend Malice Domestic in the spring to meet other cozy authors and fans, and just met other authors and fans at a Kensington Cozy Mini-Con in Chicago. My writing partner Sharon and I bonded long ago in college. We've supported each other in our separate careers and decided to collaborate on a series, so we always talk about writing. I love reading the Career Authors blog, and have taken a few online classes with Savvy Authors and other groups. Very helpful to keep learning and honing the craft.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
My protagonist, Sasha Silverman, is 31 years old with one trait of mine -- she's a cookie fiend. But I patterned her after my daughter and her friends, and check with them on dialogue and actions.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I have a Pinterest board for my teddy bear series, and chose Emily Wickersham to be the "face" of Sasha, so I'd love to see her playing the lead. Yes, I'm a big NCIS fan! Somehow I'll have to fit Pauley Perrette into the next book.

Who is your favorite author?
It's hard to choose a favorite, I love so many!! JRR Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, Sharon Kay Penman, Judith Merkle Riley, Kate Ross, Agatha Christie, Louise Penny, Charles Todd, Will Thomas, even LaVyrle Spencer. If I love an author's books, I'll recommend them to friends and family.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
My Pinterest boards include locales, character photos, fashion, dogs/cats, etc. I also keep a "bible" with maps, a character list, chart of character traits, a timeline for each book as well as a series timeline. It's not easy keeping track.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I would paint and hope to sell my work. I'm a watercolor artist, and I'd love to paint every day, but had to choose between writing and art when I first began my career. I "dabble" whenever I get a chance, though.

Here's some social media links, too.        



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Deck the Hounds

Andy Carpenter's good intentions lead him into murder and intrigue. When he stops to give a homeless man $20 and a gift card from PetSmart, he assumes that is the end of his encounter with the man. In Deck the Hounds by David Rosenfelt, Andy  learns the man he helped was attacked and his dog bit the attacker.

He decides to help get the dog back to the owner. This leads him to offer the homeless man and his dog the apartment above the garage. Don Carrigan and Zoey move into the garage, but before long the police show up to arrest Don for murder. 

About nine months ago a wealthy business executive named Steven McMaster was murdered in his home and valuables were stolen. A hat at the scene has DNA evidence that links it to Don. A background check on Don finds he was a former Green Beret and veteran of the Iraq invasion. He was specially trained and could very easily have broken McMaster's neck. When a ring stolen from McMaster is found in Don's locker at a homeless shelter, the police think they have a slam dunk case.

Andy knows the interview he gave to the newspaper, mentioning Don by name is what got him arrested, so he and his investigator wife Laurie try to find the real killer. 

The police find themselves occupied with finding a sniper who killed a prominent attorney.  When another sniper murder takes place, Don Carrigan's investigation is relegated to Andy and Laurie.

Piecing together the reason for the first murder, Andy finds some intriguing connections between the McMaster murder and the sniper killings. An elegant puzzle that leads to a killer. Excellent book.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Scandal in Scarlet

An auction to rebuild the West London, Massachusetts, History Museum leads to murder. In A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany. Gemma and Jayne offer the cafe as a place to hold the auction. There are many moving parts to the auction and through some maneuvering, Kathy Lamb ousts the previous chairperson and has herself appointed. (A Scandal in Scarlet will be released by Crooked Lane on November 13.)

This does not sit well with some of the volunteers, but Kathy is a whirlwind of planning and she gathers all the pieces together and the auction is being organized without a glitch. That is until the day of the event. Organizer Kathy Lamb is found dead minutes before the fundraising auction is about to occur with a series of miniature teacups on a pink rope.

Gemma wants to investigate, but her relationship with Detective Ryan Ashburton and her adversarial relationship with Detective Louise Estrada holds her back a bit. When all the auction items are confiscated by the police, including a priceless book owned
by her uncle, Gemma decides to quietly investigate. Of course nothing is done quietly in a small town and Ryan catches wind of her efforts. He is not pleased, but his partner Det. Estrada is enraged. She warns Gemma off the case.

There are plenty of suspects including all the back stabbing members of the committee, Kathy's ex-husband and his new wife. An excellent mystery.

Preorder purchase link

Friday, October 12, 2018

Premeditated Peppermint

Leaving New York and returning to Amish Country in Ohio has been a huge adjustment for Bailey King, but she has managed to slow herself down and discover the joys of a quieter life. In Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flower, Bailey is busy making peppermint cakes, fudge and other goodies for the annual Christmas Market.

A word of caution, if you are a peppermint fanatic, such as myself, do not read this without a stash of peppermint patties or candy canes nearby. 

Bailey and Deputy Aidan Brody have been tiptoeing around each other even since she arrived, though his mother Juliet practically has them engaged. Trouble in the form of Bailey's obnoxious ex-boyfriend strolls into her grandmother's shop, Swissmen Sweets.

It seems celebrity chef Eric Sharp needs to rehabilitate his edgy reputation by softening his image and he thinks filming in an Amish Christmas candy shop is the answer. Bailey wants no part of it, but is pressured by the high-powered executive producer of the show Rocky Rivers into at least asking her grandmother if they can use the candy shop.

Bailey knows her Amish grandmother would not want to be in any of the filming, but she also knows
the bishop and the deacon of the church need to make the final decision. Suddenly a spin-off series featuring Bailey and the shop takes form and before she knows it, Bailey is thinking of the money she can make for her grandmother.

One gigantic problem rears its head - Rocky is found strangled in the gazebo and a local farmer is thought to be the killer. Something doesn't seem right to Bailey and she sets out to find the real killer.

Life in an Amish community is so different than anything I have ever experienced and I enjoy this series immensely, especially the candy aspect of it.

Purchase link 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Bells, Spells and Murders

Fresh from her stint as TV psychic, Lee Barrett finds herself as a field reporter for her hometown television station WICH-TV in Salem, Massachusetts. In Bells, Spells and Murders by Carol J. Perry, Lee is set to interview Albert Eldridge, the popular chairman of the Historical Charities of Salem.

When Lee and her camerawoman arrive for their appointment, they find Mr. Eldridge slumped over his desk. As Lee taps him, he sinks to the floor. She knows he is either unconscious or dead and immediately calls 911. Two police officers quickly arrive on the scene and determine Mr. Eldridge is dead, but refuse to say if he was murdered.

With some many holiday events being planned by the Historical Society, it's a difficult time to be leaderless. Nevertheless the efficient Ms. Jeffry leaps into action (think Miss Lemon from Poirot mysteries) and second in command Conrad Gillette steps in quickly.

Lee's boyfriend is Detective Pete Mondello and as he is charge of the investigation, she hopes to get
some information she can use on her live report for TV. Pete is tightlipped and refers her to the press conference being held by the Chief. Although the Chief declares it murder, he refuses to say more.

This sends Lee into reporter overdrive as she tries to uncover information about Mr. Eldridge and the various charities the organization benefits. With disturbing psychic visions interrupting her day and night, Lee tries to piece together the clues she is seeing, while covering the holiday events in Salem.

Bell ringing Santas, a holiday boat parade and all the other colorful stories of the holidays in Salem intrude on Lee's ability to investigate. When she covers a prospective jumper on a building, thinks there's more to the first murder than robbery.

An engaging mystery set in Salem, Witch City of America, and if the readers have visited Salem, it is a nostalgic walk through the city. Even if you have never been there, you will enjoy the descriptions.

Purchase link

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Interview with EJ Copperman

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
I’ll have two books (!) coming out on October 9: The Question of the Dead Mistress is the fifth in
the Asperger’s mystery series about a man on the autism spectrum who answers questions for a living, and Bird, Bath and Beyond is the second in the Agent to the Paws series about a woman who acts as a theatrical agent to non-human clients. In all, I believe that makes 25 mysteries (and two non-fiction books) published.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I am from New Jersey and have lived here all my life, so the Jersey attitude and locations come naturally. Kay Powell (Agent to the Paws) works in New York City, but lives in Northern New Jersey, and Samuel Hoenig (Asperger’s mystery) lives and works in Piscataway, New Jersey. Pretty much all my books take place here.

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 write 1000 words a day when I’m working. No days off, not weekends or holidays. That gets you a book in about three months, all told. Time of day is not important; I can write anytime I’m not doing something else. I tend to write in the afternoon, but that’s hardly a set rule. I’ve written in doctors’ offices, at the DMV, on vacation in Scotland and with an IV of chemotherapy attached to my left hand. So don’t tell me you would write if you could find the time. You have the time.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I talk to other writers who are friends, but I’m not involved with a group. I’ve never attended a writer’s retreat. I often wonder why writers never want to go on the advance.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Not really. Samuel has Asperger’s (or whatever we’re calling it this week) and so does my son, but they have very different personalities. Kay isn’t based on anyone at all. She’s a kind of brassy heroine from a 1940s comedy, I guess.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Anybody who could act the role. I would LOVE to see a movie (or better, TV series) based on my characters, but I’m happy with anyone the producers might hire.

Who is your favorite author?
Besides me? I’m a big fan of Irwin Shaw. In mystery I don’t read much when I’m writing, which is most of the time. But I recommend my friends Chris Grabenstein, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Kellye Garrett, Con Lehane, Toni Kelner… I’m leaving people out and that’s going to bother me. And of course Catriona McPherson because she’s amazing.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
It’s not easy. I keep a “bible” of the Samuel series especially because he’s so precise about his habits. Mostly I forget what kind of cars people drive and things like that. Readers will (rightfully) get on you about those sorts of things.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
Well, playing second base for the Yankees seems out of the question at my age. Writing is really the only thing I know how to do. Sad, isn’t it?

For a review of Bird, Bath and Beyond, click here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Under a Dark Sky

Once again, Lori Rader-Day has scared the living daylights (no pun intended) out of me. In Under a Dark Sky, Eden Wallace, newly widowed and suffering from a fear of the dark, finds a reservation for a dark sky park in Michigan. It was in her late husband's name and was for a date around their wedding anniversary.

Deciding Bix would want her to go the park, she packs up and heads to the upper peninsula of Michigan, aiming to arrive before darkness falls. When Eden arrives, she discovers her suite is part of house that is occupied by a group of twenty-somethings. She thinks about returning home, but knows she will not reach Chicago before dark and that's where the trouble begins.

The group consists of six college friends lead by the charismatic and charming Malloy, his lovely new girlfriend Hillary, and his old friends Dev, Paris, Sam and Martha. There's a strange aura surrounding the friends and they don't seem to care for Hillary and appear jealous of Malloy's attention to her.

When a scream awakens Eden in the middle of the night, she races to the kitchen to find Malloy with a screwdriver protruding from his neck and Martha keening over the body covered in blood.

While Eden battles her fear of the dark at a dark sky park (how ironic), she also tries to figure out who among the friends in the murderer. During her introspection, she learns more about herself and her relationship with her late husband, and maybe finds a way to move her life forward.

A relentlessly surprising mystery by a fantastic storyteller.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Peppermint Mocha Murder

Chocolate whisperer Hayden Mundy Moore visits New England in the hopes of enjoying a traditional Christmas. Her financial advisor Travis Turner invites the California girl to his hometown for the holidays.  In The Peppermint Mocha Murder by Collette London, Hayden soon discovers trouble seems to follow her.

Hayden is excited because she didn't have a traditional upbringing and is looking forward to the Currier and Ives New England setting she imagines Sproutes, Massachusetts, to be.  She and Travis are in town for the highly touted opening of Albany Sullivan's lightly fictionalized memoir, but when she finds a woman looking remarkably like Albany face down in the punch bowl at the B&B where she is staying, apparently dead, she is queasy about their visit.

When it turns out not to be Albany, but Melissa Balthasar, one of the producers of Christmas in Crazytown, Albany's musical, Hayden is relieved it wasn't Travis' friend, but concerned about the actual death. The police believe Melissa had had too much to drink and accidentally pitched forward into the punch bowl, but after a couple of other incidents, Hayden is not
so sure. What she also discovers is that Albany isn't the only tall, lanky brunette in the B&B and maybe Melissa died by mistake.

This plunges her into an investigation that includes her best friend's childhood friends. What she discovers might be damaging to her relationship with Travis and maybe even her own life.

Hayden is a fun character and a chocolate whisperer is a new one on me. I'd love to be one, although I'm still not sure what it is.

When Hayden is stressed, she bakes. Among her chocolate treasures are chocolate-peppermint truffles, peppermint mocha fudge and cookies with peppermint frosting. (Recipes included.) 

Purchase link 

Friday, October 5, 2018

BOLO Books Composite Sketch

My fellow blogger Kristopher Zgorski writes a BOLO Books Composite Sketch of various people. Today he chose me.

Here is the link to the BOLO Books Composite Sketch

Neighborhood Book Club

Our neighborhood book club met last night and we discussed Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  Everyone loved it and our discussion was excellent. But there's always one person who doesn't read the book. This month we gave him a pass as he is only two months old.

Here's a brief review of the book:
A powerful book with an amazing lead character who at the start of the book is six years old. A heart warming tale of self reliance, loneliness, friendship and love. A wonderful debut novel.

If you haven't already read Crawdads, I recommend it. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Gift of Bones

It's nearly Christmas in Zinnia, Mississippi, and Sarah Booth Delaney is looking forward to her first Christmas as a couple with sheriff Coleman Peters. In A Gift of Bones by Carolyn Haines, there's even a hint of snow in Zinnia. (A Gift of Bones will be released by Minotaur on October 16.)

Preparing for the holidays, Sarah Booth hopes the season will be quiet and peaceful. First Madame Tomeeka aka Tammy Odom, frightens Sarah Booth with a dream featuring two babies and something dangerous, Then suddenly her friend Cece bursts in asking for help for a dire situation. It seems Cece received a box with a lock of hair, a photo of a very pregnancy young woman and a ransom note. The young woman is Cece's cousin who she lost touch with years ago. Cece always loved Eve, but her parents didn't want Cece around, especially after Cecil transitioned into Cece. Cece lost track of Eve and has no idea where she might be now.

Sarah Booth naturally wants to involve Coleman, but the ransom
note says no police. Along with her partner Tinkie, Sarah Booth tries to find Eve's last known location. She decides to interview Will and Carla Falcon, Eve's estranged parents. Carla is a horrible person and threatens to call the police on the partners. They know they will not learn anything from this angry, vindictive woman, nor her meek husband.

It's a race against time to find Eve before the ransom has to be paid and as Sarah Booth digs deeper she uncovers a plot that would frighten even the most hardened hearts.

Another suspenseful mystery by one of my favorite authors, Carolyn Haines. I'm happy Sarah Booth's relationship with Coleman has moved forward, but I wish she'd stop teasing us about Tinkie. Carolyn, you are in charge of your characters lives, give Tinkie a baby!

 Pre-order purchase link

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Interview with Isis Crawford

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My latest book is A Catered Cat Wedding. I’ve written 14 books under the name of Isis Crawford
and 10 books under the name of Barbara Block.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I’m an only child, but growing up I spent my weekends with my three cousins. They were always either arguing or plotting adventures. Being there was always the highlight of my week which is why I thought it would be fun to write a book about two sisters who see things differently. Sometimes they agree and sometimes not so much, but they are always there for each other when it counts.

The Catered series is set in the imaginary town of Longely, which is located in Westchester. The town is based on a number of towns I’ve visited over the years. It’s hovering on the brink of gentrification, but it isn’t quite there yet. I liked the concept of a small town because everyone knows everyone or if they don’t, they know someone who does.

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 usually write in the morning because that’s when I do my best work. For some reason, if I start later in the day I’m distracted by my to-do list. I wake up, eat breakfast, walk my dogs, then grab a cup of coffee and spend a little time chatting with the group of people who hangout the diner in the a.m. I’m at my office around nine (a room in a house I rent from a friend of mine)), work until two when I go back home, feed and walk the dogs, go to the gym, or do errands. In the evening, I stay home or meet friends for dinner and a movie. Usually I’m in bed somewhere between eleven and twelve.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I belonged to a writer’s group for a number of years. I don’t anymore, but it certainly helped when I did. In fact, I miss it. I found that reading my material to other people and seeing their reactions helped me figure out whether what I was writing worked or not. It also helped to be with people who had the same focus I did.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
There are bits and pieces of myself, my family, and my friends in my main characters. For example, I like clothes (Bernie) but one of my best friends couldn’t care less about them (Libby). I’ve always had an interest in food, as have several of my friends. In fact, I ran a catering business that specialized in deserts for two years. That said, those bits and pieces have come together into a different whole. Bernie and Libby are definitely their own people now.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I think I’d like to see Anna Kendrick as Libby and Amy Adams as Bernie.

Who is my favorite author? 
That’s a tough one, but if I had to pick I’d say I love Ross Macdonald and John MacDonald and always will. Currently, I look forward to reading Donna Leon, Michael Connelly, and John Le Carrè.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
Keeping track of my character’s foibles is an interesting exercise, one that would be easier if I were more organized. I usually write important things down in a notebook and then go frantically paging through it to find what I need. Of course, I could organize the information on my computer - I keep on saying I will – but somehow that hasn’t happened yet.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
If I couldn’t be an author what would I be? That’s simple. I would run an animal sanctuary.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Bird, Bath and Beyond

Kay Powell is an agent to the stars - animal stars that is. Her newest client is a parrot named Barney. In Bird, Bath & Beyond by E.J. Copperman, Barney has been cast as the parrot pet of medical examiner Dr. Banacek, played by heartthrob Dray Mattone. (Bird, Bath & Beyond will be released by Minotaur Books on October 9.)

Dead City features zombie detectives solving zombie crimes. Kay doesn't usually appear on set when her clients are working, but Barney's trainer Patty has been ill and Kay steps in. Barney has one key line; he says "Can't kill a zombie!" Because parrots can be trained to repeat sentences, many people think they can carry on a conversations. Unfortunately that's not the case.

During a break in the action, Dray Mattone heads to his trailer and Kay asks to give Barney some relaxing time as well in the trailer. She heads off to work with another client, but when she returns one hour later, there are police cars and an ambulance surrounding the trailer.

It seems someone killed Dray. More startling is Barney's two new statements: "Put down the gun"
and "A lot of people want you dead, Dray." Naturally this leads Detective Bostwick to think he can directly questions Barney and carry on a conversation. No matter how many times Kay explains parrots don't talk they only repeat what they learn, Bostwick is sure Barney can identify the murder.

At Dray's funeral a young woman leaps up and points her finger at producer Les Mannix and shouts, "Murderer, you killed him" then runs away. No one recognizes her and that complicates the case.

A very funny mystery with an Agent to the Paws - Kay Powell. Looking forward to the next in the series.

Pre-order purchase link

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Very Merry Murder

It's almost holiday time in Copper Bluff, South Dakota, and Em is looking forward to university-sponsored holiday concert. In A Very Merry Murder by Mary Angela, Professor Em Prather accompanies her friend and colleague Lenny Jenkins to a reception for the Jazz Underground.

At the B&B where the quartet is staying, Em encounters one of the musicians alone in the front parlor, Miles Jamieson, the leader of the group is Lenny's mentor, although he doesn't appear to be a nice person. He makes an unwanted pass at Em and as he tries to draw her to him, she pushes him away. He stumbles into a table then lands flat on his back on the floor. When he seems to have stopped breathing, Em and Lenny dive in to perform CPR, but to no avail.

When grad student Kim blames Em for killing Miles, she is shocked. She knows she didn't push him hard enough to cause him to strike his head, but the police want a closer look at the circumstances. To Em, it seemed as if Miles was on some type of drug. 

The police investigation shows no drugs in his system, but no cause of death could be determined. This does not sit well with Em and she decides it's time for her to get involved.  Speaking of getting involved, it appears Em and Lenny are taking baby steps towards a relationship. 

Another carefully woven plot by Mary Angela with a tip of the hat to Agatha Christie.