Friday, January 31, 2020

Murder at the Taffy Shop

It's late summer on Cape Cod and the tourist season is in full swing. At Mac Almeida's bike shop business is brisk. In Murder at the Taffy Shop by Maddie Day, Mac hopes it's just the bike shop that causes excitement. (Murder at the Taffy Shop will be published by Kensington Books on March 31.)

That hope is short lived as her friend Gin stumbles across a body near her candy shop. The victim is the next door neighbor of Mac's parents. Beverly Ruchart is a not well-loved member of their community.  

The police learn Beverly had held a dinner party the night before and several locals were invited, including Gin; Beverly's son-in-law Eli who is dating Gin; Ron Ruchart, Beverly's grandson; Wesley Farnham and his daughter Isadora. Gin explained that Beverly seemed quite drunk and and wasn't feeling well by the dessert course. 

As much as Mac and Gin would like to think Beverly died of a
heart attack, the police learn something different. Someone poisoned Beverly and when a container of the poison is found in Gin's garage, the police eye her as a suspect. 

Mac and her Cozy Capers Book Group decide they cannot let their friend be accused of a murder she did not commit so they decide to investigate. Although they have been warned not to get involved, the group fans out to ask questions. When someone tries to break into Mac's shop, she decides she may have hit a nerve and thinks maybe her investigating should be done quietly and from inside her house. 

This is a promising new series from Maddie Day and I look forward to the next book. Mac is a likable character and her eccentric family is fun to be around. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

A Fatal Fondness

Mary MacDougall has dreamed of being a private detective though she doesn't really need to work because her family is wealthy. In A Fatal Fondness by Richard Audry, Mary's dream comes true with a slight catch. She has to hire her older cousin Jeanette to be a secretary/minder. This makes Mary the only private detective in Duluth, Minnesota with a chaperone.

Mary's relationship with an unsuitable suitor Edmund Roy has caused her father much consternation, but she tries to keep his appearance in Duluth a secret. Throwing herself into her work, she becomes involved in simple cases. Her first cases involve missing napkin rings, four missing cats and a stolen watch, but the stolen watch leads her into more intrigue then she bargained for. When three street urchins ask her to find the watch owned by one of them, she thinks there is no hope of finding the watch. 

The young man who owned it wants it back because it belonged to his grandfather and had the only picture of his mother he had. Jiggs Nyberg is sure his friend Beansie is the one who stole the watch. The watch, a Swedish made one called a Linderoth, is worth $50. (We are in 1902 in this story.) 

Jiggs says he hasn't seen Beansie in a few days and he tried to go round to the pawn shops. but that was unsuccessful. Mary sets out to find the watch while Jeanette works on the kidnapped cats. 

A random visit from Detective Sauer has Mary's nose out of joint. He tells her should she uncover any type of criminal activity in the course of her work, she is to notify the department. That sets Mary's teeth on edge. Sauer teases her about an international case that might be unfolding in Duluth, but stays mysterious about it. 

Before she knows it, Mary is involved in a dangerous case filled with international intrigue, duplicity and murder. As she pieces together the case, she finds herself the target of a political assassin. 

Lively, fast paced series with a captivating and unconventional young woman taking the leading role in solving the crime. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Interview with Aoife Clifford

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Second Sight is my latest book. It is my second novel. I wrote short stories before turning
Aoife Clifford
my hand to novel writing.

What was the most recent book you read?
I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of Maggie O’Farrell’s new book Hamnet. Maggie is a brilliant writer and I love all her work. My absolute favourite is The Vanishing of Esme Lennox and her non-fiction I Am, I Am, I Am. The new book was wonderful.

For a review of Second Sight, click here

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I like writing about my homeland, Australia and I was interested in exploring the aftermath of bushfires (for obvious reasons if you have seen how calamitous our recent summer has been) so I knew I wanted to set it in a small town surrounded by bushland. As my first book had featured an inland setting this time I wanted to be by the coast (which is where most of Australia’s population lives).

My character is a policeman’s daughter. At the start of this novel, I was standing at my school gate chatting to other mums when a friend of mine began talking about burglaries in the neighborhood. She began to display "Nancy Drew" type characteristics and on asking further I discovered she was a policeman’s daughter and I instantly thought that would be a great protagonist for a crime novel.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book.
Not much research before writing as I don’t know what I need for the project. I will research when I know the questions. Some of the most interesting research I did for Second Sight was talking to a forensic anthropologist. She had such a fascinating job I included a forensic anthropologist in the book in her honour.

What books did you read as a child?
Lots. All the mysteries I could find – Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Three Investigators, The Famous Five, Agatha Christie. My favourite book for a long time was the Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas.

What drew you to writing? 
There are lots of different reasons but the catalyst for writing my first piece of work was being at home with small babies and realizing I was forgetting how to spell. I knew I had to take dramatic action.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 
I was given a piece of advice recently which was most people overestimate what they can get done in twelve months but underestimate what they can do in a lifetime so perhaps I tell myself that.

Who is your favorite author?
I have many favourite authors but to give just one, I am beyond thrilled that Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light will finally be published this year. I loved both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. She is a genius.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Gita Sereny to talk about human nature, Hilary Mantel to talk about power, Maggie O’Farrell for some writing tips, Margaret Atwood for all of the above and Nigella Lawson because she seems an interesting reader, writes well and perhaps might cook the dinner.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I have a law degree but know I don’t want to become a lawyer. I would love to be an illustrator if I had the talent of someone like Janet Ahlberg who helped create some of the most perfect children’s boo

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Ghosts of Guatemala

When an author's mother asks you to read her son's book, there's nothing you can do, but read it. Ghosts of Guatemala by Collin Glavac brings three Cs together: cartels, corruption and the CIA. Although the book is definitely not a cozy mystery, his mother said I should read it, and I did. 

Central America has always been a hot spot for CIA activity and even though they aren't as active, there are still issues. Guatemalan drug cartel boss Sandor Puentes has been murdered in Antigua and his brother Pablo has taken over as boss. In a truly Hamlet moment, Pablo marries Sandor's wife Isabella and wants Juan, Sandor's son, to call him father.  

Pablo has money, lots of money but he wants something more. He wants to be invincible and he believes he has information worthy of blackmail. Juan wants no part of it. but when he listens in on a shadowy phone call, he becomes more focused. 

The voice says he knows Pablo is the boss of one of the most illicit cartels in Latin America, involved in money laundering. sex trafficking and cocaine. He also says he knows Pablo killed his brother Sander. He claims to know everything there is to know because, the voice says, we are the Central Intelligence Agency, and they plan to destroy him.

Pablo scoffs at this and says he has a "kill switch" that would prevent the CIA from acting against him. If anything happens to him, the information will be sent to journalists. 

Enter CIA operative John Carpenter. His friend and CIA operative Brian was also killed when Sandor was murdered. John needs to get to the bottom of the killings and try to defuse Pablo's "kill switch," but is unsure who he can trust back at the CIA and on the ground in Guatemala. 

I'm glad I walked the streets of Antigua, Guatemala, before I read this book, otherwise I would have been terrified. A tense drama with plenty of action and when an author's mother tells you to read her son's book, you do. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Murder at the Capitol

It's July 4, 1861 and tensions are running high in Washington, DC, as everyone anticipates the first large battle of the Civil War. In Murder at the Capitol by C.M. Gleason, it is expected the battle will take place at Manassas Junction near Bull Run, but Union generals don't think their troops are ready. (Murder at the Capitol will be released by Kensington Publishing Corp. on January 28.)

Young reporter Sophie Gates is headed to the Capitol for a session of the Senate. No sooner does she arrive when she is greeted by Constance Lemagne, a Southern belle living in Washington. Sophie isn't sure if she doesn't trust Constance because of her Southern sympathies or because of her interest in Adam Quinn. 

As they are about to enter the Rotunda, a shout echoes through the room. To their horror, they see a man hanging from a huge construction crane, obviously dead. Sophie sends for Adam Quinn, a close confidante of President Lincoln, to determine if the man hanged himself or was murdered. 

The victim, Pinebar Tufts, worked at the Patent Office and had a note pinned to his coat that read "For My Sins." But Sophie is sure the man was murdered simply because he was still wearing his gloves and it would have been difficult to tie a knot with gloves on. 

When Dr. George Hilton confirms her theory, she desperately wants to assist Adam in the investigation. When another person is murdered a few days later, Adam and Sophie pursue the investigation with extra vigor.

This series is very well written and the historical detail is eye opening. If you have ever been to Washington, DC, and seen the sparkling white marble buildings of the Capitol and the various monuments, you will be shocked by the descriptions of the overall appearance and shabbiness in the middle of the 1800s. The streets are muddy, wild animals roam the land and the White House is shabby and unkempt. A far cry from today's Washington, DC. An excellent series and I look forward to the next book. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Juliet & Dead Romeo

When characters are named Paris Nobleman, Tybalt Gatti, Juliet DaVinci, Nicolo Montague and Mariotto Romeo, you know the author has her tongue firmly in her cheek. In Juliet & Dead Romeo by C.J. Love, Juliet is trying to avoid her mother's matchmaking and finally confess her love for Nicolo Montague. (Juliet & Dead Romeo is published by Columbine Publishing Group.)

But family feuds derail her attempt to tell her mother about Nicolo. Juliet tries to break up a fight between her cousin Tybalt and two of the Romeo brothers. For her effort she i arrested and alienates Nicolo, who is a police officer. 

With Paris Nobleman stuck to her side, Juliet tries to make her way home when she stumbles across the body of one of the Romeos on her father's property. She's pretty sure, he is dead and now she is worried about her father. 

She calls him and when her, he tells Juliet to use a branch to
brush away the footprints, not the first thing you do when you find a body. Naturally the police are not fooled by the disturbed site and focus in on Juliet's father Santos. 

Juliet comes up with her own list of suspects including several members of the Romeo family. When she learns about a secret marriage, she adds some of her own relatives to the mix. 

The dynamics of two large Italian families and the feuds that separate them offer a charming look at how families rule our lives and alter our ability to reason. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Book of Candlelight

When you have the ability to read people and determine what is bothering them, then recommend books for them to read, it's a good thing you are bookstore owner. In The Book of Candlelight by Ellery Adams, Nora Pennington has just such an ability. With the constant flow of visitors to her shop during the rainy season in western North Carolina, her book store is busy. (The Book of Candlelight will be released by Kensington Publishing Corp. on January 28.)

Despite the weather, Nora bikes over to the flea market and purchases a lovely bowl from Danny, a Cherokee potter. The next day with the rain continuing to fall, a bridge collapses and in the churning water is the body of the potter. Viewed as an accident, Nora doesn't believe it and enlists her Secret, Book & Scone Society friends to help discover who killed Danny and why. 

When she discovers some of his older, more valuable pots at the renovated Inn of the Mist and Roses, she worries the new owners have taken advantage of him. Lou and Patty claim not to know Danny, but Nora is not so sure. 

While she decides to investigate, a series of troubling incidents happen to her friends. Her friend June's home is spray painted with a angry red letters making a racial slur, then someone throws a brick through Nora's shop window and she worries that her other friends might be next. 

As Nora learns more about the Inn and its history, she soon realizes why the death and the other incidents are occurring. She tries to keep anyone else from being injured or killed, especially Danny's young widow, her new employee Sheldon and her other two friends who are part of the Secret, Book & Scone Society.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Interview with Catherine Bruns

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My newest book just released November 5 and is called Ginger Snapped to Death. It's
Catherine Bruns
Book #8 in my Cookies & Chance series and my first Christmas cozy. It's my 14th published novel but I just finished writing Book #16.

What was the most recent book you read?
Suspect in High Heels by Gemma Halliday

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
For Penne Dreadful, I wanted a different protagonist than the usual type in cozies. I didn't want a main character who comes home after a bad breakup or to take over Grandma's business so I chose a widow. As for locations, I try to use ones that I'm familiar with.

For a review of Penne Dreadful click here

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I'm a pantser, so I do a lot of research while I'm actually writing the book, since I never know 
in what direction my mind will take me. :) I'm also fortunate to have several contacts in the medical field and law enforcement, which helps tremendously.

What books did you read as a child? 
There were so many, but anything about Nancy Drew or Laura Ingalls Wilder stands out.

What drew you to writing?
I've wanted to be a writer, since I was eight years old.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Don't procrastinate. Life is too short to waste time.

Who is your favorite author? 
Oh, that's like picking a favorite child. I have several - Sue Grafton, Sandra Brown and Laura Ingalls Wilder - just for starters.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Only five? :) Let's see. Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Carol Burnett, Bette Davis and Lucille Ball. Wouldn't that be a fun dinner?

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I think I would have been a teacher. My parents always wanted me to pursue that career path but of course, how many of us actually do what our parents want us to at that age?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary

When sixty-something Loretta Singletary updates her hairstyle and dresses in more trendy clothing, no one in Jarrett Creek, Texas, thinks twice about it, especially her friend Chief Samuel Craddock. In A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary by Terry Shames, Loretta is a reliable mainstay of the close-knit community. 

Then one day she disappears. No one is too concerned until Chief Craddock learns she has been meeting men from an online dating site. The chief can hardly believe Loretta would do this, but when her friends confirm it, he decides to check out the site. 

While he is investigating, a woman from a neighboring town who has also used the same site is reported missing. He doubles down on his efforts to find Loretta and even enrolls in the dating site as a woman. He uses some of Loretta's interests and tries to lure the same man who met Loretta to want to meet him.

Meanwhile another storm is brewing in town. It seems the new Baptist minister wants to horn in on the Catholic church's sponsorship of the annual goat rodeo. For years Father Sanchez has been coordinating with no complaints. But now the Baptists want some of the "glory." 

The chief tries to reason with the Women's Circle members telling them all the other churches will want to be sponsors as well. Needless to see he could use Loretta's help on convincing them not to demand participation. 

The chief find the internet can be a dark place, especially for the innocent but there are a few surprises awaiting him as he digs deeper into Loretta's disappearance. 

Twists, turns and a suspenseful search for a missing woman and Chief Craddock finds some surprises along the way. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Silent Stabbing

Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford find their lives disrupted by each of their sisters for various reasons. In A Silent Stabbing by Alyssa Maxwell, Phoebe's sister Julia is fretful. Newly widowed and pregnant, she is unsure how she feels about having a baby and about her husband's sudden death. (A Silent Stabbing will be released by Kensington Publishing Corp on February 25.)

Eva's sister Alice decides to visit, but without her husband and their three children. Eva is sure there is something amiss, but Alice refuses to explain.

Stephan Ripley returns to become the head gardener at Foxwood Hall after the abrupt and totally unexpected departure of long-time gardener Alfred Peele. When  Phoebe meets him, she decides he has a sly and sneaky way about him, but is determined to be friendly because of his brother Keenan, a local pear grower.

The next day she hears them arguing about selling the orchard and Keenan refuses. The pears he grows are turned into a cider that is much moved by the community, and even though the orchard is in debt, Keenan doesn't want to lose his family's heritage.

When Stephen is found stabbed with garden clippers, the police zero in on his brother Keenan. But Lady Phoebe and Eva know he is not the killer, so they decide to investigate. 

I love the relationship between Lady Phoebe and Eva. They treat each other with respect and admire each other's strengths. Those traits always enables them to solve the mysteries in A Lady & Lady's Maid Mystery series. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Big Lies in a Small Town

Morgan Christopher finds her life in ruins. She is prison for a crime she did not commit, then suddenly she is released and asked to restore a Depression-era mural. In Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain, the story is told through a dual storyline. (Big Lies in a Small Town was released by St. Martin's Press this week.)

In the 1930s a young artist from New Jersey is selected to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina.  Anna Dale would much rather be painting a mural in her own state, but as she has been selected by a national search, she has to paint in North Carolina. Relieved in a way to be leaving New Jersey where her mother just died, Anna travels to Edenton with the hopes of getting the flavor of the town and then returning to paint her sketch in New Jersey.

Once in Edenton she is coerced to stay by the "movers and shakers" of the town so she can really understand the history.  She settles in with a spinster woman as had landlady and finds a deserted warehouse barn as a studio. She soon learns that she has been awarded the mural over a local portrait painter and there are people in town who are not too happy with her,

In the parallel storyline Morgan Christopher is the artist tapped to restore the mural for the opening of a gallery in Edenton. The impetus behind the gallery is the late painter Jesse Jameson Williams, a famous artist who had the mural rolled up and stored somewhere for over 50 years.  In his will he instructed his daughter Lisa to open the gallery and find someone to repair the mural. 

The mural is filthy with grime, has many abraded spots and is in dire need of restoration. The only problem Morgan has no idea how to restore a painting. She seeks help from one of the men working at the gallery and she is on her way in no time. But as she cleans the mural some disturbing images are revealed. No one in town seems to know what happened to the original artist and Morgan is determined to find out where she is or what has happened to her. 

Big Lies in a Small Town is the story of the mural’s creation and the talented artist who painted it and Morgan’s determination to restore it and find out what happened to the artist. A wonderful story.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Careless Whiskers

Charlie Harris has sworn off investigating crimes after his last and dangerous encounter. But in Careless Whiskers by Miranda James, he soon lapses especially when his daughter Laura is involved. (Careless Whiskers will be released by Berkley Prime Crime on January 21.)

Laura and her husband Frank Salisbury are involved in a production by the theater department at the Athena College in Alabama. When a sudden cast changes brings a disruptive actor to the cast, Laura and Frank worry about Luke Lombardi. 

He's a huge drama queen and everything has to revolve around him. This gives Laura and Frank the shivers and they hope they can manage him so the production is a success. 

Luke arrives with his entourage - his dresser and his mistress, Madame Delphine du Jardin, a wildly flamboyant woman whose husband happens to be Luke's dresser. A weird triangle. But there is anger and something more simmering under the triangle's relationship. Add in a reclusive playwright and there is a mystery afoot. 

When a series of incidents seem to target Luke, Charlie decides to step in along with Diesel, his Maine coon cat, to protect his daughter and the play. 

Another charming mystery with Diesel doing his best to solve the crime. Someday I would like to meet a Maine coon cat and have a discussion about crime solving with the cat. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Interview with Peg Cochran

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Murder, She Encountered, book #3 in my Murder, She Reported series, is the latest. So
Peg Cochran
far I have published 21 books—three under the pen name of Meg London.

For a review of Murder, She Encountered, click here.

What was the most recent book you read?
I had to check my Kindle! It was the Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham. I recommend it!

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I had the idea of a “reluctant debutante” – a girl who wanted more than to come out to society, get married and have babies. My agent and I batted the idea around and eventually she became a crime photographer. Originally I was thinking of setting the book in the 1950s, but eventually settled on the late 1930s—post-Depression but pre-war in the US. I always knew I wanted to set it in NYC.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book.
This book took a lot of research. A lot of it was great fun—like watching movies from that time period to understand the way people spoke, dressed, acted, etc. I continued to research while writing the book. Despite living in NYC for 10 years and then working there another 20 years, I still needed to refresh my memory occasionally—especially to learn what was and wasn’t around in the late 1930s—the El was still running, but some areas weren’t developed until later. Where there were tenements in the 1930s, there are now high-rise apartments! I also spent a lot of time looking up expressions—did they use certain phrases back in the 1930s or are they more recent? It was great fun!

What books did you read as a child?
I devoured all the Nancy Drew books, Donna Parker books, Bobbsey Twins and classics such as Jane Eyre, The Moonspinners and My Brother Michael.

What drew you to writing?
I always wanted to write. I loved to read and decided I wanted to write stories and bring pleasure to readers the way my favorite authors had brought great pleasure to me.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start early and make lots of mistakes! You can’t learn to write a book overnight or in one go. It takes a lot of time but if you keep trying, you’ll get there!

Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have any particular favorite—there are too many I enjoy.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
This is a tough question! I’d love to have my father who has been gone for 27 years. I’d add Mary Higgens Clark—I suspect she could match my father drink for drink! Helen Mirren because I think she is quick-witted and interesting. Ruth Bader Ginsberg too—would she fit in with the others? I think we’d need another man—how about Kurt Vonnegut—I think he’d throw an interesting curve ball into the discussion.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
Well, when I was really young I wanted to be a prima ballerina! Sadly, I lacked sufficient talent. I studied journalism and wanted to be a reporter but didn’t follow it up. I’m fascinated by medicine and might have liked being a doctor. Lately I’ve been thinking a position in the foreign service would have been interesting. I did end up in the art world for many years and then marketing communications before I finally got published.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

My Fair Latte

In the first of A Cafe Cinema Mystery series, Vickie Fee introduces My Fair Latte. No one expects to inherit a defunct movie theater in Utopia Springs, Arkansas, but that's exactly what has happened to Halley Greer. Much to her surprise, a long lost uncle died and left it to her. (My Fair Latte will be released by Henery Press on March 3.)

Halley, an unemployed barista, decides the theater would be the perfect place to show classic movies and open a coffee and wine bar. She enlists a motley crew of residents that befriended her to whip the theater into shape.

One negative moment is when she sees a strange man staring through the glass door to theater. He stares at her and remains motionless and unblinking. She turns away and when she looks back, her is  gone. Chilled by the experience, Halley makes sure every door and window is locked before she goes to bed. 

For her opening night, she decides to show My Fair Lady, a very long movie with an intermission - perfect for selling coffee, wine and treats to the audience. Unfortunately at intermission, George informs her he has found a body in the theater and it turns out it was the stranger Halley saw at the door. 

Naturally the police think Halley has something to do with his death, but her friends rally around her to help her prove her innocence. 

An excellent introduction to a new series. I look forward to learning some of the secrets implied in the conclusion of this book with a latte in hand. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Mitford Scandal

The real life Mitford sisters were a fascinating family. They loved dinner parties, clubbing, drinking, dancing, theater and did I say drinking  and inappropriate liasions. In The Mitford Scandal by Jessica Fellowes, the author follows the family through several years of their outrageous activities. (The Mitford Scandal will be released by St, Martin's Press on January 21.)

Diana, the eighteen-year-old beauty, marries wealthy Irishman Bryan Guinness and embarks on a fabulous honeymoon. She asks former maid Louisa Cannon to be her lady's maid and come along. Also joining them is another couple Shaun and Kate MulloneyThe couple is constantly bickering and making everyone uncomfortable. 

When someone dies from an allergic reaction, Louisa feels uneasy about the death, but the family refuses to perform an autopsy. Without any authority, Louisa decides to just carry on with her job.

On their first anniversary the Guinness's and their entourage decamp to Venice with Kate Mulloney and American actress Clara Fischer. When another person dies, Louisa reaches out to her friend Detective Inspector Guy Stiles with her suspicions. 

The real life MItfords rubbed elbows with Nazis and Fascists before World War II. The fictional characters flirt with these groups. An interesting book with lots of era-specific details. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Here Comes the Body

When Mia Carina returns to Queens, New York, to work at her father's catering hall, she has more than airplanes at LaGuardia causing her angst. In Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico (AKA Ellen Byron), her father has been associated with the local Italian mob families, but has promised to go straight, a promise Mia hopes he will keep. (Here Comes the Body will be released by Kensington Publishing Corp on February 25.)

Mia starts working at Belle View, her father's catering hall, 
in the hopes of keeping her father away from the family "business." He insists he doesn't want to to back to prison and she believes by working to make the catering hall, a success, she and Ravello can stay out of trouble.

One of their first events is a bachelor party for a groom who might or might not want to stray on his soon-to-be bride. When a dead body is found in a gigantic birthday cake at a bachelor party, and a check for one million dollars, signed by her father is found next to the body, keeping him on the straight and narrow might be more difficult than she envisioned. 

Two of the guests at the party seem to recognize the woman and Mia does too. It seems the
dead woman, named Angie, had been in to see her father and claimed her owed her money for services she was contacted via the internet to provide. Embarrassed by the mistake he made on the fake website, Ravello claims he doesn't know Angie and never saw her before.

That leads the police to suspect he is guilty and they work to find the evidence. Mia, on the other hand, works to find a connection with the celebrating bachelors and the two mogul brothers who are eyeing the Belle View for redevelopment instead. 

A terrific start to a new series by Maria DiRico (Ellen Byron)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Statue of Limitations

My Greek ancestors are laughing with joy as they see themselves portrayed in Statue of Limitations by Kate Collins. This is the first in a new series called the Goddess of Greene St. Mysteries. (Statue of Limitations will be released by Kensington Publishing Corp on January 28).

Athena (yes that is her name) Spencer (non-Greek father) returns home with her young son to Sequoia, Michigan, after a devastating marriage and divorce. She moves in with her family which includes her mother Hera, Queen of the Greek Gods; her sisters Delphi, named after the Oracle; Selene, goddess of the moon; Maia, goddess of the fields; and lastly her non-Greek father John Spencer. And Greek families are known for their togetherness so add in Yiayia and Pappou - gram and grampa. 

Working late one night at the family's garden center, Athena encounters a young man armed with a small knife scraping at the base of the giant Athena statue her grandfather purchased. Surprised and equally nervous about this encounter, she asks for an explanation and is stunned to hear it. Case Donnelly is trying to discover if the statue, The Treasure of Athena, is an authentic one created by Greek sculptor Antonius. When he scrapes away enough of the cement covering the base, he discovers it is an authentic Antonious and is worth a fortune. Oh, and it is his, he says.

Shocked by this bit of news, Athena has a much bigger issue to deal with. The section of her town known as Little Greece is being threatened with redevelopment by wealthy resident Grayson Talbot Senior, at least until he winds up dead in his bathtub. But the Greek Merchants Association claims, Talbot changed his mind and signed a document to that effect. Of course it was not filed anywhere officially and now he is dead and his son wants to continue with the plans. 

A terrific start to a new series and I cannot wait to follow the antics of this big Greek family. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Interview with Vickie Fee

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

Vickie Fee
My next book, which will be released March 3, 2020, is titled My Fair Latte, the first in a new series. I have four books published in the Liv & Di in Dixie party planner mysteries (Death Crashes the Party; It's Your Party, Die If You Want To; One Fete in the Grave; Til Death Do Us Party.

Tell me about your new series. 
Old Movies, New Bones - And Coffee to Die For: The new series is Café Cinema mysteries, set in a tourist town in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains.

Broke, unemployed barista Halley unexpectedly inherits a timeworn movie theater and reopens it with a coffee bar showing classic films. Opening night’s premiere of My Fair Lady is a bit of movie magic until, faster than you can say Eliza Doolittle, a customer turns up dead. Apparently, the deceased wasn’t a very nice man and several people may have had reason to kill him – including Halley! (At least that’s the way the cops seem to see it.) Halley and her friends must find the killer or her new business, her new life, and budding romance in charming Utopia Springs could be DOA.

How did you develop your character and choose your location? 
I initially thought I wanted to do a new series that incorporated either old movies or coffee – then it occurred to me I could have both! So, Halley is an unemployed barista who unexpectedly inherits an old movie theater. The fictional tourist town of Utopia Springs was inspired by Eureka Springs, Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains. My husband and I have enjoyed some wonderful getaways there.

What books did you read as a child? 
I read Mystery on the Nine Mile Marsh by Mary C. Jane and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. So many times, the librarian at my elementary school told me I couldn’t check them out again. (I was forced to get my classmates to check them out for me!)

What drew you to writing? 
I always enjoyed writing, but I first dreamed of being a professional writer in the fourth grade after taking first place in a national essay contest in my age category. The school principal announced my win over the loudspeaker and congratulated me with a box of candy. I was invited to read my winning essay on the local TV morning news program. And I won $25, which was a huge pile of cash to me at the time. I think that was the moment I decided writing might be a cool career!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 
Be patient. It will take longer to write a book, and longer to get published, than you imagine. But, it will be worth it.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For this one, I did some initial research on baristas, movie theaters, and escape rooms. But, I do most of the research as questions come up during writing.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be? 
1) Agatha Christie – I have questions for her; 2) the late Anne George, whose Southern Sisters mysteries, I think, are still the gold standard for the humorous Southern cozy; 3) Julia Child, who would also cook a fabulous dinner for us; 4) my husband, because I like to share experiences with him – and he’s a good host and dinner companion; and 5) George Clooney, who would serve dinner, bring wine, and be charming. (Hey, it’s my fantasy, right?) 

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?I spent the better part of 20 years working as a reporter at small newspapers and I loved it. But, I had always wanted to write fiction, and editors take a dim view of that! So I started working on a mystery. My first two manuscripts went nowhere, but the third one landed me an agent and a publishing deal.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

In the Shadow of Vesuvius

A wonderfully researched book detailing a “modern” excavation of Pompeii in 1902 and the day’s leading up to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. In the Shadow of Vesuvius by Tasha Alexander is the perfect book to read if you have been to Pompeii or wish to visit the site. (In the Shadow of Vesuvius will be released by Minotaur Books on January 7.)

Lady Emily and her husband Colin Hargreaves are invited by a friend to visit Italy. Among the sites is Pompeii. They take a tour with a working archaeology crew that is comprised of the rare female archaeologist, her moody brother - a painter,  and the group leader American Balthazar Taylor. Joining in is Lady Emily's irascible friend the Duke of Bainbridge and a young woman who claims a relationship to the Hargreaves family. 

While touring the site, Lady Emily and her friend Ivy Brandon are fascinated by the plaster casts of the doomed citizens of Pompeii.  Excavation did not begin in earnest until the middle of the 1800s after the unification of Italy. Prior to that time, most of the site was pillaged for its art and treasures, much like the pyramids in Egypt. When it was mapped and charted block by block, it became and important tourist site. 

Excited to be visiting, Lady Emily and Ivy are wandering around when Lady Emily
discovers a plaster cast with sideburns,. She is puzzled because the early Romans were not known for this hair style. As Colin scrapes away some of the plaster, he discovers a newly dead body in it. Shocked, they summon the local police and the archaeologists. 

As they question the crew, Lady Emily believes someone knows more than he or she is saying and this leads her on a harrowing journey to solve the crime. 

The substory of a young Greek slave girl living in Pompeii and writing poetry gives a fascinating glimpse at life before the eruption.

A terrific tale of the last days of Pompeii.   

Monday, January 6, 2020

Here's to the winners book giveaway winners have been announced. Thanks to the authors and publishers for their support. 

They are: 
Taryn Lee - Murder in the Corn Maze by G.A. McKevett
Karina Sabine - The Drowning by J.P. Smith
Cecelia - Stowed Away by Barbara Ross
Vicky B. - Vendetta in Death by J.D. Robb
Emily Goehner - The Pearl Dagger by L.A. Chandlar
Peggy Dohr - Under Currents by Nora Roberts 
Joyce Edder - Gone, Kitty, Gone by Eileen Watkins
rsafrit - Flour in the Attic by Winnie Archer

If you are a winner, please contact me via email at by Friday, January 10
to receive your book. 

There's a Murder Afoot

Gemma Doyle and her friends have traveled to London for the 166th birthday celebration of Sherlock Holmes. In There's a Murder Afoot by Vicki Delany, Gemma looks on this trip as an opportunity to visit her parents and possibly see her elusive sister, Pippa.

Jane, Ryan, Donald and Grant are all along for various reasons. Donald because he is a huge Holmes fan, Jane because she is Gemma's business partner, Ryan because he is her boyfriend and Grant because he is a rare book collector.

Gemma's father Henry is a retired Scotland Yard detective and at the trade show for the event, he sees someone he knows. It is Randolph Denhaugh, his brother-in-law who disappeared thirty years ago with a painting stolen from his family. Henry has followed Randy's career over the years as he dabbled in art forgery and doesn't want him near the family. But when Henry publicly confronts him and Randy is found dead later with Henry standing over him dazed and confused, the police think Henry killed him. 

Gemma worries that the investigating officer isn't being fair to her father, especially when she learns Inspector Sam Morrison is no friend of her father's. Seeing his approach to how he investigates, Gemma doesn't think Inspector Morrison will do any more than find Henry as the murderer. 

With her entourage at her heels and her elusive sister Pippa very much in the picture, Gemma follows up on possible clues to prove her father is not the murderer. 

If you are fan of Sherlock Holmes and even if you are not, There's a Murder Afoot is a puzzle even Sherlock Holmes cold not resist. 

Friday, January 3, 2020

Giveaway for Flour in the Attic

Published by Kensington Publishing Corp.

For a review of Flour in the Attic click here. 

Comment below: Are you a fan or cookies or cake?

Comment on and on MapYourMystery Facebook page

Contest ends Friday January 3 at 11:59 pm Central Time.

US and Canada only.  Winners will be announced after January 6.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Giveaway for Gone, Kitty, Gone

Published by Kensington Publishing Corp.

For a review of Gone, Kitty, Gone click here

Comment below: Are you a cat or a dog person?

Comment on and on MapYourMystery Facebook page

Be sure to check back daily for your chance to win. US and Canada only. Enter a often as you like. Winners will be announced after January 6.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year

Hope the New Year brings you peace and joy. Happy New Year to all my MapYourMystery readers. Don't forget to enter the giveaways for the next two weeks.

Go to the MapYourMystery Facebook page to enter again.

Comment below: Champagne or soda?