Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Interview with Jane Bennett Munro

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My newest book is A Deadly Homecoming. It’s the sixth installment of my Toni Day Mystery series. The others are, in order, Murder under the Microscope, Too Much Blood, Grievous Bodily Harm, Death by Autopsy, and The Body on the Lido Deck. I’m currently working on the seventh installment, with the working title The Twelve Murders of Christmas.
Jane Bennett Munro, MD

For a review of A Deadly Homecoming, click here

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
My character, Toni Day, is loosely based on me. She’s a hospital-based pathologist in a rural hospital in Twin Falls ID. She’s not a forensic expert, but has forensic cases thrust upon her in the course of her regular job.  I’m a pathologist, too, retired now, and my small rural hospital has now morphed into a tertiary care center, and the forensic cases all go to Boise, but back in the day the Twin Falls County coroner’s cases went to the county hospital, and those from all the surrounding counties came to me. I picked Twin Falls because it’s where I live. In the beginning, Toni had a husband and a mother, and then in subsequent books she acquired a stepdaughter, a stepfather, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren.

What drew you to the writing life from your current career in medicine?
Murder She Wrote. It gave me the idea that if a retired schoolteacher in Maine could do it, so could a retired pathologist in Idaho. Then I had an encounter with a female doctor who came to our hospital to help with weekend call and ended up working during the week as well. She was abusive to my techs and contemptuous of me, and went out of her way to erode my credibility with the medical staff. She was only there for three weeks, but in that short time she really did a number on my already fragile self-esteem. I consoled myself by killing her off in Murder under the Microscope.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Yes. Many of my other characters are also based on people I know, or combinations of them. Others are totally made-up.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Keep it moving. Keep it moving. New writers have a tendency to start with a lot of backstory to explain what they’re writing about before they actually start writing about it, and readers tend to lose interest if you don’t grab them right away and keep the action moving. Bits of backstory can be inserted along the way, but you can’t let it slow the action.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I have no idea. I’m not as familiar with current movie actors as I am with those of the fifties, sixties and seventies. Back then I would have said Sally Field. Toni is petite and feisty, so if there’s somebody like that currently in movies, it would be someone like Sally Field.

Who is your favorite author?
Dorothy Sayers. Her mystery novels are set in England between the World Wars, and her character, Lord Peter Wimsey, is a young member of the aristocracy who fought in WWI and came out of it with such a bad case of PTSD that only his sergeant, Bunter, is able to pull him out of it. Bunter becomes Lord Peter’s butler, valet, and Archie Goodwin to Lord Peter’s Nero Wolfe, and together, they solve murders.  If I could write like Dorothy Sayers, I’d be a happy writer.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
I assume you mean other authors? If so, it would be Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Lisa Scottoline, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Sue Grafton, and Dick Francis. In real life, however, it would be my five closest friends.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I had a career. I was a pathologist for 42 years, and I retired at the end of May 2019. Gardening is my other passion, so perhaps I could be a landscape architect. The problem with that is that it involves a lot of hard work and heavy lifting, and now that I’m 74, that’s a little harder to do than it used to be.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Turn of the Key

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In my opinion Ruth Ware is giving Louise Penny a run for her money as a master story teller. Don't get me wrong, I adore Louise Penny's book and her stories are painted with beautiful emotional brushes, but Ruth Ware has given me the chills more times than I can count with her brand of suspenseful story telling.

When Rowan Caine answers an ad for a full-time nanny, she has no idea what is in store for her. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware is an intriguing tale of a nanny in a smart house located in the wilds of Scotland. (The Turn of the Key will be released by Simon and Schuster on August 6.)

Nothing goes right from the minute Rowan Caine arrives. First she discovers there have already been four nannies in fewer than two years, then she is faced with learning the smart settings for nearly every electronic gadget in the house including the lights in her room, the water temperature in her shower and the fancy coffeemaker in the kitchen.  

When Sandra Elincourt announces that she and her husband will be leaving the next day for a business trip, Rowan is freaked. She has only had one day to get acquainted with the three younger children, and their parents' business trip will take them away for several weeks.  As Rowan struggles to learn how the Smart House operates, she feels as if she is being spied upon. Lights turn on in the middle of the night for no reason. Music blares at all hours.

After their parents depart, the girls regale Rowan with the house's haunted history and about the girl who died here many years ago. That's probably not the story she wants to hear. One day they are as sweet and as docile as can be and then the next day they torment Rowan and behave maliciously. Some nights Rowan cannot sleep because she hears footsteps in the attic above her room. 

In a surprising plot twist, most of the story is told through Rowan Caine's letters from prison to her attorney trying to explain the circumstances leading up to her being incarcerated for murder. It's a fascinating tale with shocking results. Don't read this book while you are alone in the house. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Disclosure: I received this book through NetGalley for a fair review. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Let's Fake a Deal

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Who knew garage sales could get your arrested? Sarah Winston is running a garage sale for a nice young couple from the Midwest. Little does she know the merchandise is stolen. In Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris, Sarah is shocked to suddenly find herself face down on the ground and handcuffed by an overzealous police officer. (Let's Fake a Deal will be release by Kensington Books tomorrow.)

When she tries to find the nice couple to explain the situation to the police, she is stunned to find they have disappeared.  Angered by their deceit, but worried about her reputation, she is determined to find the answers to what happened. She is more terrified when the police discover her credit card number was used to rent the storage unit the Greens claim to be using for their belongings.

With the assistance of her lawyer, Sarah is out of jail in no time, but still has the charges hanging over her head unless she can find the missing Greens. She attempts to call the number they gave her, but no one answers and no one has seen them either.

In the meantime, Sarah contacts a woman who wants to sell the items in her cat collection, There are hundreds of cat-related items and sorting through them takes her mind off the case. Later in the evening, Sarah meets her friend Lt. Colonel Michelle Garcia for a drink. Michelle is in line for a promotion, but as usual there is reticence in the military to promote women.  And someone filed a discrimination complaint against her which stacks the deck even less in her favor.

After a night of drinking, Sarah convinces Michelle to come back to her place rather than drive. The next day they travel to reclaim Michelle's car only to find the body of Major Blade in the front seat.

When  Michelle is arrested for murder, Sarah thinks it's time to call in some favors from her shadowy friend Michael.

The Garage Sale Mysteries are so much fun to read and Sarah has some of the quirkiest garage sale clients you will ever find.

Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley for a fair review

Friday, July 26, 2019

The House on Hallowed Ground

Enter to win A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell. Comment below with your favorite beach. One winner. US and Canada only.
Contest ends Friday, July 26 at midnight. 

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A sparkling new series by a Nancy Cole Silverman involving a former psychic to the stars - Misty Dawn. In The House on Hallowed Ground, Misty is convinced by her friend Denise to move into her recently-deceased brother’s house. Denise fails to mention that Wilson has not crossed over and he haunts the house. (The House on Hallowed Ground will be released on September 10 by Henery Press)

Actress Zoey Chamberlain believes her house, the fabled Pink Mansion, is haunted. She has been hearing footsteps, music and other strange sounds, so she invites Misty to see for herself. Legend has it a four-year-old girl drowned in the pool in the early forties and her ghost still haunts the house.

But when Misty arrives, to search the house she is not greeted by a ghost, but a dead body. Zoey's best friend and lookalike actress Lacey Adams has drowned in the hot tub. Zoey and Lacey have been seen arguing earlier and the police are interested in the argument, and Zoey as the killer.

Misty is soon involved in the investigation of a murder and Wilson is recruited to assist. Because of Wilson's special circumstances, he has the ability to reach the spirits and talk to them. Soon he is having tea with the little girl ghost of the house. These scenes are quite delightful.

The Misty-Wilson combination has the potential to solve crimes, but in a very unusual and comic way. I look forward to others in this series.

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

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Enter to Win

Enter to win A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell. Comment below with your favorite beach. One winner. US and Canada only.
Contest ends Friday, July 26 at midnight. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Interview with Susan Wittig Albert

Enter to win A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell. Comment below with your favorite beach. One winner. US and Canada only.
Contest ends Friday, July 26 at midnight. 

What books did you read as a child?
I read and reread the Little House books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (and grew up to write a book about
their secret co-author, Laura's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane). I also read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys (and grew up to be both Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon.) I loved reading. We lived on a small farm, and I looked forward all week to a trip to the library in town. Reading was my entertainment, my doorway onto a big world, my escape from an unhappy home (my father was an alcoholic), and my solace.

What was the most recent book you read? 
I'm currently reading The Gown, by Jennifer Robson. I love the novel’s premise (the intersecting lives of two women who worked on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown in 1947) and its portrayal of women's enduring friendships and care for one another.

What drew you to writing mysteries? 
I write the kind of books I like to read. I enjoy reading realistic, tightly plotted books that hold my attention and portray characters who act with purpose and who have a problem to solve. I like stories that engage me, don’t give me all the necessary information all at once (or too soon), that keep me guessing, keep me asking questions. And I like stories that teach me something I didn’t know—about people, places, present and past times. The best mysteries do that, I think. I wanted to write books like that.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 
Just keep on doing what you're doing, Susan--you're on the right track. Follow your instincts and pay attention. Oh, and you might lighten up a bit. The outcome will surprise--and delight--you.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book. 
That depends on whether it's one of the contemporary or historical mystery series or a standalone. The research for A Plain Vanilla Murder took (off and on) a week or so before I started to write and continued as I wrote. Because the subjects are highly topical and of current news interest, most of it was done on the Internet. For the contemporary mysteries, I do the research as I write. I'm back and forth to the Internet all day, looking for details and material to deepen what I think of as the story’s “information value.”

(For a review of A Plain Vanilla Murder click here.)

The pre-writing research for The General's Women  (the story of Eisenhower’s driver, Kay Summersby, during/after WW2), took at least 3 months, before I started to write and was mostly book research—Eisenhower biographies and books about the war. Then, when I began to dig into Kay Summersby's post-war life, I used Internet newspaper archives and kept digging as I wrote, finding out more and more. Nobody had ever looked into Kay’s story so I was doing original research and the deeper I dug, the more I wanted to know. There was one person I wanted to interview: the still-living editor who knows the backstory of Kay’s second memoir, but he is inaccessible. Frustrating!

I put the same kind of research effort into Loving Eleanor, but since the primary materials (the 30 years of letters between Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt) were held at the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library, I made a couple of trips there (Hyde Park, NY). There were some other places I would like to have visited (Lorena’s apartment in New York, her house on Long Island, her third-floor rooms in the White House) but those were off-limits, for various reasons. Another kind of frustration—but that’s the story of research. There’s always something you’ll never know.

The research for A Wilder Rose (a book about Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of the woman who is recognized as the sole author of the Little House books) actually began when I was in grad school in the early 1970s. I thought at first I might write Rose’s biography, but when I learned that there was a biography underway (William Holtz's The Ghost in the Little House, published in 1992) I decided to write a novel about the writing of the Little House books. It took another 20 years before that book was done.

How long does it take you to write a book?
For the mysteries, I usually set aside 3-4 months for a book. I work best when I have a string of consecutive days to write, without interruption. Otherwise, it's harder to manage the necessary continuity of plot, character, and voice.

On the other hand, A WILDER ROSE took over 30 years, start to finish.

How do you market your books? 
That's changed over the years. In the 1990s and through about 2010, I did a lot of book travel, speaking at libraries, garden clubs, bookstores, conferences--anywhere I could find an audience. That was fun and useful, because it helped to build personal relationships with readers, many of whom I still hear from.

Now, though, I am an author-publisher and most of my marketing is done online. About 75% of the hardcovers are sold to libraries, so I use email marketing (through IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association) to reach out to them. The remaining hardcovers are sold through bookstores and online retailers, and I market them through reviews in the usual trade publications (Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly).

The e-books are sold online, directly to readers. I spend a lot of time and effort letting readers know when the books are available, via my website, blog, and social media (mostly Facebook but also Instagram and Twitter). I use NetGalley to get ARCs to people who might write a review. I also do a monthly direct e-letter mailing to readers, and occasional mailings of a different e-letter.

If you could invite five people - living or dead - to a dinner party, who would they be?
I would invite Kay Summersby, Gertrude Bell, Lorena Hickok, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rose Wilder Lane. Each of these women is a character in one of my books or in a writing project that hasn’t yet become a book. I have some very pointed (and very personal) questions for each one of them.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Deadly Homecoming

It might be a good idea to have a medical dictionary handy for the first for chapters of this book. A Deadly Homecoming by Jane Bennett Munro features pathologist Dr. Toni Day. Dr. Day and her husband Hal are summoned home to Long Beach, California, by her mother. It seems her mother's friend Doris is feeling ill and oh yes, her husband has been missing for two weeks.

After a search of the Scottish Gothic castle home owned by Doris’ husband, Dick, Toni find a bottle of nearly pure arsenic in the basement of the house. Everything else surrounding the bottle is covered in decades old dust except this bottle. This worries Toni and when Doris falls into a coma and has a seizure, she is convinced there has been a systematic dosing of arsenic.  At the hospital Toni wants the attending doctor to perform a battery of arsenic tests and that’s why you might need the dictionary.

While waiting for the results of the tests, Toni decides to go
back to the house. What she finds surprises her - a secret staircase behind a mysterious panel. Unexpectedly the door closes behind her trapping her in the staircase. Fortunately she has her phone, but while she waits for rescue, she decides to keep searching and that's when she finds Dick’s badly damaged body.

The police really don't want Toni investigating, but she disregards them and continues her research on Dick Campbell. Her research leads her to a diabolical plot of stolen identities, heavily insured spouses and murder.

An entertaining mystery with an unusual lead character.

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for a fair review.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Murder at Crossways

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

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

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

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

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

Another stellar mystery by Alyssa Maxwell.

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

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A Stranger on the Beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Interview with Hank Phillippi Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So far.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Cliff Hanger

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 15, 2019

Dreamed It

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

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

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

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

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

An excellent adventure into the paranormal.

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

Friday, July 12, 2019

A Thread of Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: I received this book from the author. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Murder at the Palace

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Interview with Misty Simon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Evvie Drake Starts Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher.

Monday, July 8, 2019

And the Winners are . . .Giveaway Winners

And the winners of the book giveaways are:

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

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

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

Murder by Matchlight by ERC Lorac -- Jana Lean B

Death by Accordion by Cheryl Miller Thurston -- Sandy Vasel

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Banker's Wife

Annabel Werner has never felt comfortable in Geneva, Switzerland, but she knows her husband Matthew is a rising star at Swiss United bank. In The Banker's Wife by Cristina Alger, Annabel's life is shattered when she learns her husband has been killed in a plane crash.

After she meets the agents assigned to the case and they give her crash photos she doesn't feel they have answered all her questions. She decides to investigate for herself. What she learns sends her into the deep, dark secrets of numbered accounts, offshore banking and money laundering and might even end her life.

In the parallel story society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally convinced her former boss Duncan Sanders that she is really quitting to marry one of the wealthiest men in America - Grant Ellis. Duncan insists he has some explosive information about the whereabouts of Ponzi scheme swindler Morty Reiss and some inside information on Swiss United and he needs her to meet the source in Paris and get a USB drive. The source doesn't want to email the information and he wants someone he can trust to be the carrier.

Marina meets the source and retrieves the USB, but before she is able to deliver the drive to Duncan, he is found murdered in his Connecticut home. The police think it was a random crime, but Marina knows better. She decides to pursue the story as her last hurrah to journalism.

What she discovers leads her to a financial scandal that will have worldwide impacts and touch too close to home.

A heartstopping, suspenseful novel ripped from today's headlines.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Interview with Molly MacRae

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
The newest is Crewel and Unusual, book six in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. It’s my 12th published book. A nice even dozen.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The location was easy. We lived in northeast Tennessee for almost 20 years, in Jonesborough and
Molly MacCrae, of course
she plays the bagpipes!
then next door in Johnson City. We loved it there, and intended to stay, but job loss took us to Illinois. Setting the Haunted Yarn Shop books in the fictional town of Blue Plum is my way of going back to a place I miss. Blue Plum is made up of the best parts of all my favorite small towns (in Tennessee and elsewhere).

Kath Rutledge, the protagonist, is someone I wouldn’t mind being more like. That’s part of the fun of writing – it’s a great game of pretend and make-believe. I gave her a grandmother who was a weaver and owned a fiber and fabric shop as a tribute to my own grandmother who had a knitting shop from the mid-1930s until the early ‘50s, and to my mother who was a weaver. Kath has an enhanced version of my own museum background, but otherwise she’s a figment of my imagination.

What do you enjoy about the author’s lifestyle? What do you not enjoy?
I like the process of writing and revising and revising again. I like hearing from readers. I like listening to and talking with other writers. I like that there’s no dress code. I’m not so keen on deadlines, but deadlines are a wonderful problem to have – they mean contracts and getting published. That still amazes me.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Not after myself, really, but I let some of my characters borrow my experiences. In question 2, above, I told you about Kath Rutledge and northeast Tennessee. I also managed a bookstore and lived in Scotland, and in the Highland Bookshop Mysteries you’ll find Janet Marsh, her daughter, and two friends moving from Illinois to the west coast of Scotland after buying a bookshop. Again, that’s my way of going back to a place I love. I’ve occasionally modeled a secondary character after someone I know, but I try to tweak the character enough that the modeling isn’t obvious. More often, I borrow bits and pieces of people I’ve met or encountered – habits, speech patterns, professions, shoes, those kinds of things.

How do you get yourself out of a writing rut?
Sometimes, if I get stuck, I’ll interview the characters to see if there’s anything I didn’t know about them that will help. I’ve also asked a character to write me a letter telling me what’s going on or what happens next. The biggest rut for me usually comes after finishing a book, though. There’s an initial sense of accomplishment after sending in a manuscript, but then there’s a lot of second-guessing, self-doubt, and exhaustion. I try to tell myself that’s okay, but I have trouble believing it. I just turned in the manuscript for the next Highland Bookshop Mystery, and this time I’m going to try working through the down time by writing a short story.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Amy Adams would make a great Kath.

Who is your favorite author?
I have lots of favorites and can’t ever narrow it down to one. Not even a top ten.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Jane Goodall, Margaret Mead, Margaret Wise Brown, P.G. Wodehouse, and E.B. White. Ask tomorrow and you’ll get a different answer.

If you could not be an author, what would you like to do as a career?
Ah, I already have the perfect backup job – children’s librarian. Although, if I weren’t writing, I’d take the time to get the actual MLS degree so that I’d be an official, card-carrying, bona fide librarian.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Glitter Bomb Giveaway

Giveaways on MapYourMystery through July 3

Here's your chance to win Glitter Bomb by Laura Childs and Terrie Moran Farley. Just comment on your favorite activity in New Orleans and you could win. 

Enter on both the MapYourMystery blog or
the MapYourMystery Facebook page.

U.S. and Canada only. 
Winners will be announced on July 5.

Click here for a review of Glitter Bomb

Monday, July 1, 2019

Murder Knocks Twice Giveaway

Giveaways on MapYourMystery through July 3

Here's your chance to win Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins. Just comment on your favorite drink (alcoholic or non) and you could win. 

Enter on both the MapYourMystery blog or
the MapYourMystery Facebook page.

U.S. and Canada only. 
Winners will be announced on July 5.

Click here for a review of Murder Knocks Twice