Death by Proxy: A DIY Diva Mystery by Paula Darnell
Pets and Cozies
Cozy mystery authors face a bit of a dilemma when writing their books because these novels have a completely different vibe than hard-boiled, noir, gory, or forensic-oriented mysteries do. Like other books in the mystery genre, the crime in a cozy is almost always a murder. (There are a few exceptions; recently I read a cozy that centered around a kidnapping, but that’s rare.) At the same time, the author has the task of creating a setting that feels homey and a protagonist whom readers like. Casting the main character as a pet parent as well as an amateur sleuth adds to the coziness in these books and can often provide a touch of humor, too.
Roles of dogs and cats in cozy mysteries include such over-the-top portrayals as paranormal pets and pets as story narrators. However, I suspect that many, if not most, of the pet characters that appear in cozy mysteries are based on their authors’ own pets. That’s certainly the case for my DIY Diva cozy mysteries, in which Bear, Laurel McMillan’s lovable chocolate Labrador retriever, is a member of the family. In Death by Proxy, Laurel’s boyfriend Wes even tells Bear that he will “always be part of our family,” right after the curious dog runs to the newly engaged couple while Wes is still on bended knee.
Bear’s been with Laurel right from the beginning of the DIY Diva series. In fact, the first words in the first book, Death by Association, were “Bear, no,” as Laurel held the eager Lab back from chasing a bunny as she took him for his daily walk. Bear acts like a real dog because he’s inspired by two of my own dogs: Teddy Bear, a yellow Labrador retriever and Rocky Boy, a Pyrador (half Lab and half Great Pyrenees). Bear’s daily walks, love of treats, dancing for dinner, nudging Laurel when she works too long at the computer, chasing the neighbor’s cat, guilt tripping her when she leaves him home alone, and many more canine antics all come from real life. Several readers have commented that Bear and his antics seem authentic and lifelike, which has been very gratifying to me.
Rocky Boymodeling a reversible dog scarf. Instructions for making the scarf appear in the first DIY Diva mystery Death by Association, which also includes four dog treat recipes and instructions for making a no-sew dog bed.
I’ve included a couple of extras for dog lovers in Death by Proxy, too: a tuna-rice dog treat recipe and project instructions for making a dog’s bow tie.
About Death by Proxy
Death by Proxy: A DIY Diva Mystery Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series Cozy Cat Press (November 2019) Print Length ~220 Pages
With preparations for her upcoming wedding to handsome Wes Wesson, a Center City police lieutenant, on track and her DIY Bridal Crafts class at Hawkeye Haven’s community center wrapped up, DIY Diva Laurel McMillan looks forward to a calm pre-nuptial week to finalize her wedding plans. There’s only one problem: the week turns out to be anything but calm. Laurel and Wes narrowly escape being run down in the parking lot of their favorite restaurant. Laurel’s bridal shower is interrupted by a mysterious stranger who sends Laurel’s lovable chocolate Labrador retriever Bear into a frenzy, and when Laurel and Wes go to meet Lisa, their real estate agent, at a house she promised to show them, they discover Lisa’s sister’s body floating in the pool. Strangely, Lisa seems more concerned with selling houses than she does with her sister’s death. After Lisa’s mother inadvertently reveals family secrets, Laurel wonders whether Lisa could have killed her own sister. Will the mayhem and murder stop before Laurel discovers the key to the killer’s game plan?
About Paula Darnell
An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she’s also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/PaulaDJewelry.
Paula’s interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications.
Living in a guard-gated community governed by a homeowners’ association gave Paula the idea for the setting of Death byAssociation. She finds that residing in an HOA community can be both a blessing and a curse. A Happy-New-Year greeting from her community association called on residents to “start the new year by reviewing your Rules and Regulations booklet,” something unlikely to top anyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions.
Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout.
Secrets and Lies: A Claire Callahan Mystery by P.H. Turner
Your first Claire Callahan mystery, Unspeakable Grudges, had a serial killer at its center. Secrets and Lies has a completely green killer. What made you change your focus?
The urge to murder lies coiled within all of us. What prompts a person to let the serpent loose is a vast and fascinating territory. The serial killer, Clint, was seeking redemption. In Secrets and Lies, Jesse kills because his personal code demands it. He must protect the women.
I’m not surprised that you used to write for broadcast news. I can see your fluidity with writing in your prose. Do you think that was a good training ground for a future fiction writer? Did you frequently write news stories about crime?
Absolutely. Writing is like practicing the piano. The more you do it, the better you become. Stringing words together to create meaning and pack an emotional punch well comes after writing hundreds of pages that went into the shredder. I begin writing for an early morning news show; many of these shows air at 4:00 a.m. and are devoted to agriculture news and lots of local weather. I wrote about corn smut, detasseling corn, and corn worms. Things I knew nothing about. I learned how to research and write a story.
The more proficient you become, the more important stories you are assigned. I talked with a man who was convicted of a brutal murder. He was smart and charismatic. I was chilled when I realized a woman stranded on the highway might feel comfortable if he stopped and offered help.
You have stated your admiration for Margaret Atwood previously. What do you think of her new novel, The Testaments?
Atwood’s powerful, crisp style and intricate plotting move the book along. Atwood uses three narrators, women who must come to terms with who they are, what they believe, how they will react when their beliefs are challenged. Atwood’s descriptions of Aunt Lydia’s reflecting on her life choices were beautifully written. The Testaments is classic Atwood. She surprised me at every turn.
Where do you do most of your writing? Do you have an indoor and an outdoor space you prefer?
I have a dedicated office where I write every day. My adorable mutt Chet snoozes under my desk.
You have written about rodeo riding and Navajo reservations. How do you research such diverse topics? Do you use Google, do library research, interview people, or do something else?
I produced a couple of rodeos for television, so life experience helped me to describe Clint’s bull riding.
I’ve traveled and photographed the spectacular scenery of the Navajo Nation. When I was writing the trilogy, I went to Flagstaff and Tuba City and photographed for the first time, the Blue Canyon and Moenkopi Wash.
One of the aspects of the Navajo I appreciate is their aspiration to live in hozho. Being “in hozho” is to be in harmony and one with and a part of the world around you.
You belong to both the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Which is better for aspiring or beginning writers?
Both have given me invaluable opportunities to learn more about my craft. Sisters in Crime offers online webinars, social media groups, and face-to-face gatherings at national and regional conferences. MWA hosts e-mail lists on yahoo groups, with threads concerning contracts, publicity, agents, self-publishing, and other business questions. I highly recommend them both.
What’s next for Claire Callahan and P.H. Turner?
Claire’s working on solving the murder of a well-known director found murdered in the college theater.
I love a thriller with a female PI. Claire works for an attorney’s office. She is tasked with trying to protect a murdered man’s heir and prevent the police from arresting her for her father’s murder. By all accounts, Morgan Tutweiler deserved to be murdered so there is no shortage of suspects. Secrets and Lies is a whydunit rather than a whodunit with a Columbo-style plot where you know the murderer’s identity from the beginning. It is a fast-paced thriller where everyone is hiding something. It will appeal to thriller lovers. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy of the book!
About Secrets and Lies
Secrets and Lies: A Claire Callahan Mystery Private Investigator Mystery 2nd in Series Summit Peak Publishing (September 23, 2019) Paperback: 270 pages ISBN-10: 1695142470 ISBN-13: 978-1695142473 Digital ASIN: B07Y8QPRZ6
Shot to death in his home, Morgan Tutwiler leaves behind a multimillion-dollar business and a daughter who hasn’t spoken to him in years. And she isn’t alone in wanting him dead. Plenty of people wanted the most hated man in Denver dead in P. H. Turner’s latest novel in the Claire Callahan series.
Reminiscent of the finest gumshoe storytelling, Secrets and Lies, would not be complete without Turner’s signature quirky characters and inventive plot.
About P.H. Turner
P.H. Turner writes mystery and suspense novels set in the mountains and canyons of the West where she grew up and spent most of her working life. Pat worked in broadcast journalism on both coasts, the Midwest, and the Rocky Mountains. With roots to a Texas farm homesteaded in the 1850s, she’s returned to live within miles of the old farm.
Pat is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.
A beer bottle thrown carelessly at the windshield of a passing car sends the vehicle careening off the road, and the lives of high school seniors Denny Ford, his foster sister Jen McKnatt, and her sometimes boyfriend Brody Erwin, spinning out of control.
Over the next several days as the three experience increasingly bizarre, frightening, and seemingly unrelated events, they are forced to examine the ramifications of their actions and how their lives have been irrevocably altered.
What they’ve done can never be undone.
After all, it only takes one bottle toss to turn their world cockeyed forever.
Praise for Howard Odentz
“A simmering psychological thriller bolstered by a dynamic narrative voice and a few unexpected twists.” —Kirkus Reviews on What We Kill
“This author has a real knack for the weird and the wonderful.” —TheMostSublime.com
Author and playwright Howard Odentz is a lifelong resident of the gray area between Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut. His love of the region is evident in his writing as he often incorporates the foothills of the Berkshires and the small towns of the Bay and Nutmeg states into his work.
In addition to The Dead (A Lot) Series, he has written the horror novel Bloody Bloody Apple, the short story collection Little Killers A to Z, and a couple of horror-themed, musical comedies produced for the stage.
Brewed Awakening (A Coffeehouse Mystery) by Cleo Coyle
I have read almost all of the Coffeehouse Mysteries. Brewed Awakening is my favorite so far. Using an innovative plot device like amnesia refreshes the series because Claire is thrust back to the beginning. She only remembers what happened ten years ago when she was recently divorced with an eleven-year-old daughter working in her ex-mother-in-law’s coffee shop. Imagine her surprise when the daughter is magically an adult and everyone, including herself, looks older than she remembers. She doesn’t even recognize the love of her life, Mike, who recently asked for her hand in marriage.
Claire is on camera as a witness to an heiress’ abduction. The shock has made her lose her recent memories. Can a miracle doctor help her memories return?
Brewed Awakening combines the best of a cozy mystery’s character focus with a thriller’s pace and plotline. It results in an innovative story that elevates what is achievable within the cozy mystery genre. It is highly recommended! 5 stars!
Thanks to the author, NetGalley and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a Brewed Awakening Prize Package including a copy of the book!
From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Shot in the Dark and Dead Cold Brew, comes a delicious new entry in the “fun and gripping” (The Huffington Post) Coffeehouse Mysteries.
When coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi awakens on a bench in Washington Square Park, she has no idea she’s been missing for the past week, or that her friends and family have been frantic with worry. Now that she’s back, everyone is overjoyed, including a handsome NYPD detective who claims to be her fiancé. But to Mike Quinn’s crushing distress, Clare doesn’t remember him, or much of anything about the last decade of her life.
Clare’s missing memory is tied to a crime she witnessed. An acquaintance of Clare’s elegant employer–and fellow member of an exclusive Gotham circle known as “The Ladies Who Brunch”–invited Clare to her posh hotel to sample gourmet wedding cakes. The pair took a stroll after their indulgent tasting and, according to security camera footage, a masked figure snatched the hotel heiress at gunpoint with Clare looking on. Did the kidnapper take Clare, too? The camera went dark, just like Clare’s memory. Soon authorities grow suspicious. Is Clare really a victim? Or merely acting like one? Evidence is mounting that she set the woman up.
To clear her name, Clare must find a way to reclaim her memories and rescue the heiress before this high-stakes crime ends in tragedy. Otherwise, instead of walking down the aisle, Clare may find herself perp-walking to prison as an accomplice to kidnapping and murder.
About Cleo Coyle
CLEO COYLE is the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. CLEO COYLE grew up in a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After earning scholarships to study writing at Carnegie Mellon and American Universities, she began her career as a cub reporter for The New York Times. Now an author of popular fiction and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer, Cleo lives and works in New York City, where she collaborates with her husband (also a bestselling author) to pen the Coffeehouse Mysteries for Penguin. Together Cleo and her husband also write The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries under the name Alice Kimberly. When not haunting coffeehouses, hunting ghosts, or rescuing stray cats, Cleo and Marc are bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for NBC, Lucasfilm, Disney, Fox, Imagine, and MGM. In their spare time, they cook like crazy and drink a lot of java. You can learn more about Cleo, her husband, and the books they write by visiting www.CoffeehouseMystery.com.
No Way to Die: A Ming Dynasty Mystery by P.A. De Voe
Author Guest Post
I am often asked about how I write. That is, where do I get my ideas and what’s my process?
I write Chinese historical mysteries set in the early Ming Dynasty (late 1300s and early 1400s), so the first thing I do is read through various Imperial China legal cases to get an idea of what was going on and how the court dealt with the problem. I am usually looking for a case that would highlight a particularly interesting cultural/legal element. For example, how the severity of punishment for a crime depended on the person who committed the crime as well as who his victim was. That is, was the perpetrator and victim of the same social status, what was their gender. Also, when a crime is committed, it’s not just an offence against one person, it’s a breakdown in the moral order, and therefore involves the whole community. This essential concept of a disrupted moral order lays behind early Chinese law and creates interesting dilemmas in developing a story.
The next thing I do is decide what the crime is and who’s the criminal. I need to think about gender, position in his/her family, and social class; why they broke the law; and who else would be held responsible for that person’s crime. In No Way to Die, the second book in A Ming Dynasty Mystery series, a stranger is found murdered.
Of course, the protagonists are critical to a successful tale. They add dimension and texture to the story. A Ming Dynasty Mystery series has two main characters, a male and a female. I needed two because Imperial China was a highly gendered world. There was a strict division between the sexes. I needed characters who could get around as they investigated the crime. After some thought and research, I found the perfect duo: Shu-chang, a male teacher in a small clan school and Xiang-hua, a young, female women’s doctor. Shu-chang could move easily through wine houses and public spaces. Xiang-hua, as a women’s doctor, had access to the world of women, which would be closed to the teacher. By working together, this intrepid duo come together to find the murderer and bring the moral order back in balance.
But—as important as the two main characters are, they can’t carry the whole story by themselves. Secondary characters are also needed to populate their world. They shouldn’t be stick figures, but should also have interesting personalities. They can be used to create dilemmas which fill out the story as well as complicate the story line. Red herrings and real clues are more easily spread throughout the mystery once all of these secondary characters are established.
Finally, I start plotting the mystery. I plot, outline, in order to have a road map for my story. Once I’ve completed my outline, I start writing. As with any road map, I still have flexibility to make changes, to delete a scene or even a character, to add a scene or chapter.
About No Way To Die
No Way to Die: A Ming Dynasty Mystery Historical Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series Drum Tower Press, LLC (April 18, 2019) Paperback: 210 pages ISBN-10: 1942667116 ISBN-13: 978-1942667117 Digital ASIN: B07PWJ715D
Through mystery and intrigue, No Way To Die transports the reader into the complex and engaging world of early Ming China.
When a peddler finds a partially mutilated body of a stranger, the unlikely duo of a young scholar and a local women’s doctor once more join forces to discover who killed him and why. In probing the highly gendered world of early Ming China, unanticipated questions surface, complicating their investigation.
As their case rapidly transitions into the unexpected, they find all roads leading away from the victim, forcing them to consider alternate routes. Was the death the result of inexorable bad karma and beyond their purview, or merely the result of mortal foul play? Was the murdered man the intended victim? If not, who was and why? The investigation leads to a growing list of potential suspects: a lustful herbalist, an unscrupulous neighbor, a vengeful farmer, a jealous husband, a scorned wife, and a band of thieves. Who is innocent and who is the culprit? To solve the murder and bring peace to the victim’s spirit, the duo must untangle the truth and do it before the murderer strikes again.
About P.A. De Voe
P.A. De Voe is an anthropologist with a PhD in Asian studies and a specialty in China. She has authored several stories featuring the early Ming Dynasty: The Mei-hua Trilogy: Hidden, Warned, and Trapped; the A Ming Dynasty Mystery series with Deadly Relations and No Way to Die; Lotus Shoes, a Mei-hua short story; and a collection of short stories: Judge Lu’s Case Files, stories of Crime & Mystery in Imperial China. Warned won a Silver Falchion Award for Best International Mystery; Trapped was a finalist for an Agatha Award and for a Silver Falchion Award. Her short story, The Immortality Mushroom, (a Judge Lu story) was in the Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks edited by Art Taylor.
Death on the Danube: A New Year’s Murder in Budapest (Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series) by Jennifer S. Alderson
Lana is having a horrid decade. She is fired from her dream investigative journalist job after her confidential informant refuses to testify in the lawsuit against her paper. Her husband of nine years informs her that he is divorcing her by text. Her current kayak tour guide job hasn’t paid her in two months. So, there is really nothing holding her back from accepting her landlady Dotty’s tour guide job offer. Being a tour guide in exotic Budapest Hungary for six days in return for forgiveness of her two months of unpaid rent and credit for one month going forward? It’s almost time for the new year to begin so getting away from her problems in old-world Budapest sounds perfect.
Unfortunately, Lana’s tour group has the snobby Helen and her henpecked husband, Tom, for her to contend with. And what is the story between the other tour guide Carl and guest Jess? Dotty’s friend Sally has just announced her and Carl’s engagement so why does Carl look so unhappy? When Carl ends up dead and a guest is suspected by the police, Lana decides to use her investigative skills to uncover the real killer.
I love travel memoirs like Eat, Pray, Love so I snapped this book up. There are great descriptions of Budapest along with a character-driven cozy mystery within Death on the Danube. I enjoyed Lana’s determination to push past any obstacles in her way. Dotty’s Christmas dog sweaters make me want to crochet something creative for my dogs (I bought a couple online instead). Overall, I’m looking forward to the next in the Travel can be Murder series so I can revisit Dotty and Lana. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the prize package giveaway below!
Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…
Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.
Dotty Thompson, her landlord and the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is also in a tight spot after one of her tour guides ends up in the hospital, leaving her a guide short on Christmas Day.
When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!
What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.
But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube…
Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.
Feel-good stories about friendship, travel, and celebrating new experiences. Coming soon: Books 2 and 3 in the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series!
About Jennifer S. Alderson
Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before settling in the Netherlands. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.
Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mysteries and Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries—and standalone stories.
In the Heart of Windy Pines Holly Tierney-Bedord
Publication date: November 24th 2019
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
From the author of Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women comes a new novella featuring characters from Murder at Mistletoe Manor, Carnage at the Christmas Party, and The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club!
Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of Mistletoe Manor in beautiful, remote, Windy Pines, Idaho, where she brings her unique brand of hospitality to the tiny mountain town.
When she finds her inn unexpectedly fully booked on a snowy Tuesday night in November, it brings back memories of a tragedy years before. Before she knows what hit her, she and her trusty team of employees (Myrtle, Pierre, and her new night manager, Josephine), have found themselves back at the task of solving another mystery at Mistletoe Manor!
While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novella, if you plan to read the books in the Windy Pines Mystery series or The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, it’s highly recommended you read those first, as this book contains spoilers that could affect your ability to enjoy them.
In all his life, the man in the Mercedes had never had a car break down on him. Plenty of other catastrophes had befallen him, but a failing automobile was a problem he had no experience with. Lately, however, his life had been full of firsts.
Just as the three-year-old Mercedes-Benz GLS he was driving began slowing and lurching like some old junker, a series of four small, weathered, peeling billboards, each lit up in the failing twilight by a single yellow bulb, came into view.
You’re just two miles from a good night’s sleep!
Stay with us at Mistletoe Manor!@Holly
Best dinner in town is at Mistletoe Manor!
Take your next right to Mistletoe Manor. Closed Mondays.
“It’s a… Tuesday!” he decided. Funny how the days ran together now that he was retired.
He put on his blinker and veered off the highway onto Pine Lookout Road. It was a narrow road and only the center of it had been plowed. It swooped down a bit and then rounded a corner, and then went up, up, up. It would have been plenty for any vehicle to take, but his malfunctioning automobile was hardly having it. It sputtered and lurched even more violently. A low guardrail and the chunks of snow and ice on the side of the road were all that separated him from the steeply cascading mountainside on his right. His hands gripped the steering wheel in white-knuckled fear, as he pressed the gas pedal to the floor.
“Come on, you can make it,” he told his vehicle, just as it shot ahead and began behaving normally again. “Thank you. You’ve got this,” he told it, in the same tone he’d used years ago when his kids were little and they were playing soccer or field hockey. “Good job, good job. Keep it up.”
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty novels and novellas including Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women. Her books feature quirky, flawed characters and the kind of crazy scenarios that could only happen to someone you probably know. Count on her stories to have unexpected twists and turns, dark secrets, and lots of laughs.
Holly is also an artist and miniaturist, creator of the mid-century dollhouse restoration blog flipthisminihouse.com, and the author of several non-fiction books about creating miniatures.
She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. When she’s not writing or decorating her real house or mini houses, she’s traveling. Visit her website at www.hollytierneybedord.com where you can connect to her blogs and subscribe to her newsletter.
Will the woman he left behind a decade ago be His Salvation?
Seth McCullough left behind his high school sweetheart, Krista Chancellor, determined to keep her safe. Running from his own demons, Seth joined the military, hoping for a new start.
Ten years later, after experiencing psychological and physical trauma, Seth takes a trip to Mexico for rest and relaxation. Waking up one morning confused, bloody, and linked to multiple high profile murders, Seth is sure he’s lost what little sanity he has left. Determined to find answers, Seth reaches out to the only person he ever trusted, his old flame, Krista.
Now, Krista and Seth find themselves embroiled in an agenda too terrifying to comprehend. Not sure who to trust, and looking for answers, will the woman he left behind over a decade ago be His Salvation, or his ruin?
PLEASE NOTE: This is the second edition. It has extensive rewrites and has been re-edited.
About the Author
Michelle King lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four quirky and beautiful children. She loves coffee, Superman, rollercoasters, and has an addiction to chapstick.
She works as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. As a multi-genre author, she has written in the categories of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards.
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be presenting a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner at the top to see the other stops on the tour.
Bookmarked for Murder (Mystery Bookshop) by V.M. Burns
A modern-day locked room (actually a tour bus) mystery and a tale set in 1938 England are both included in Bookmarked for Murder.
The author uses a clever plot device of having the main sleuth, Samantha, be creating the period mystery as we watch. Since Sam is also a mystery bookstore owner, she also recommends other excellent cozy mysteries a la the Death on Demand mystery series. The main plot on the bus involves Sam, her grandmother Jo, and her three neighbors at the senior living residence, Shady Acres. This allows the author to include some gentle humor.
“You ordered fifteen pizzas?” [says the] freckle-faced kid, who looked about twelve, with […] a red hoodie with a Star Trek insignia, and red Converse All-Stars. “Nice shoes,” said Nana Jo. […] “Thanks. All the old ladies usually like them.”
The coroner was removing the body from the bus. “That’s what’s left of the last person who called me an old lady. Remember, on Star Trek, the red shirts always die first.”—from Bookmarked for Murder
The historic fiction mystery within the mystery is set immediately prior to World War II. Lady Elizabeth and her niece, Lady Penelope, solve the mystery of a woman who fell to her death convinced her family was trying to kill her for her valuables.
Both the present-day and historic mysteries include plenty of character development. The humor is fun. Most enjoyable is the self-referential mystery trope references. I thought I would die laughing when Sam asked the detective for “a big reveal, like in Hercule Poirot books, where you bring all the suspects together and then the sleuth […] can reveal whodunit.” His reply? “Are you joking? This isn’t television. Real killers don’t crack under the pressure of hearing the evidence against them. Real killers laugh in the face of overwhelming mountains of evidence and deny to their dying day that they’re guilty.” What mystery reader hasn’t had that thought? But I’ve never seen it used in such a clever tongue-in-cheek way before. If you read a lot of cozies, Bookmarked for Murder will be a hilarious addition to your library with its witty takes on old mystery tropes and two intriguing mysteries to solve along with the heroines. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win one of five $20 Amazon gift cards!
Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
After some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .
About V.M. Burns
V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com
Charleston Buzz Kill Tom Turner
(Nick Janzek Charleston Mysteries, #2)
Publication date: December 1st, 2019
Genres: Adult, Mystery
About the Book
When one of the stars of the boozy, risqué reality show, Charleston Buzz, takes a bullet to the head in mid-tryst, homicide cops Nick Janzek and Delvin Rhett swing into action. Within twenty-four hours they have five suspects…problem is all of them have solid alibis.
Meanwhile, across town, is that a clandestine brothel being run by the fat cats of Charleston?
And what’s with all those college girls hanging out there?
As new partners Janzek and Rhett stumble along looking for a break, it becomes clear that some of Charleston’s most prominent citizens are up to their eyeballs in it all.
Vermelle LeGare had one of the oldest, most prominent surnames in Charleston. Fact is, the nicest street in Charleston was LeGare Street—pronounced Le-gree, as in Simon. Close seconds being Tradd and Church Streets.
Vermelle, though, was black and poor, a fifth-generation cleaning lady. Her husband, Willie, had just dropped her off at the corner of Broad and Church—a ten-minute walk to the house on Stoll’s Alley where Vermelle was working that day. Willie’d dropped her there because he had a big roofing job that day and didn’t want to be late. Vermelle didn’t point out to Willie that his being on time would make her late for Mr. David.
Mr. David was David Wayne Marion, a rich, handsome fifty-year-old man. Vermelle knew just how rich he was because his net worth had been published in an article in the Post & Courier when he took an ill-fated run at becoming governor. Seventy-five million, mostly in real estate, she recalled.
After he lost in his bid to become governor, Mr. David veered off in a whole different direction and—of all crazy things—ended up becoming the star of a TV reality show. He had money, looks, and success, so fame was all that was left. But Vermelle had seen the show and… well, she intended to keep her opinion to herself.
She walked down Church Street and marveled once again at the beautiful houses on the street shaded by live oak trees with their wide, majestic canopies. Her favorite was a four-story brick Georgian with a dark mahogany door and antique glass fanlight above it. The house had graceful pediments above the windows and a perfectly proportioned wall to its right. On the second floor was a classic piazza where she imagined the husband and wife sipped their sloe-gin fizzes as soon as the clock struck five. Maybe earlier.
On the next block, she passed the garage door of an elegant Federalist-style house and chuckled to herself at the angry red letters stenciled onto its garage: Do not block driveway. Violators will be persecuted to the full extent of the law.
Did that mean hanged, she wondered, or merely tarred-and- feathered? And wasn’t it… prosecuted? White people didn’t make mistakes like that… did they?
Her favorite wall in Charleston was on the next block. Its surface was dirty concrete with patches of green lichen making it look a thousand years old. The highlight of the wall was the most intricately detailed wrought iron gate she had ever seen. She wondered if it had been crafted by Philip Simmons, a blacksmith by trade and a black man by birth whose work, she had heard, had ended up in the Smithsonian Museum.
Then she passed the decrepit house with a severe lean to one side, that always caught her attention. It was a stately colonial with imposing columns but was run-down and neglected. Like the owner couldn’t afford to keep it up. She had heard Mr. David on the phone once making fun of a woman who was, “house-rich and checkbook poor” and wondered if this was her place. Mr. David went on about how the woman was from an old Charleston family but had been spotted using food stamps on the down-low at the local Harris Teeter food market.
Vermelle turned left on Stolls Alley and walked over the bumpy, broken-brick pavement. The roads were in far better shape up on Nunan Street—in the heart of the ’hood—where she lived in her two-bedroom freedman’s cottage. She had observed how the well-to-do south of Broad Street folks leaned toward the old, worn, distressed look. She had heard the word ‘quaint’ used a lot but just couldn’t see it.
At number 5 Stoll’s Alley, she rang the bell and waited.
David Marion’s Greek Revival featured grey stucco over brick— the brick peeking through in several places. Vermelle had heard how at one point in history brick had lost favor with the rich folk so they had simply stuccoed over it. As she fumbled for her key, she looked over at the bulky two-inch-thick shutters with cut-outs of palmetto trees and the flickering gas lanterns that David Marion kept on at all times.
After a minute or so, she knocked and waited. Nothing.
She knocked again.
Out of options, she tried the doorknob. To her surprise, it opened. That was odd. She pushed it open and stuck her head in.“Mr. David, it’s me, Vermelle.”
She walked into the hallway, the rare herring-bone heart-of-pine floor at her feet. “Mr. David,” she said again a little louder, “it’s Vermelle.”
She walked into the living room recently decorated by Madeline Littleworth Mortimer herself. “Mr. David?”
She figured he must have hurried off to shoot a scene for his dopey TV show and had forgotten to lock the house. It had happened before. She went down the hallway to his bedroom to get the sheets, towels, and his dirty clothes; the first thing she always did. The bedroom door was open, and she went in.
And there, sprawled atop the 1000-count Egyptian sheets of his king-size bed, lay David Wayne Marion buck naked and with a bullet hole in his forehead.
First, Vermelle screamed, scaring the hell out of Mr. David’s Labrador retriever, napping at the side of the bed. Then she called the cops.
Finally, she fled the house and headed straight to the AME Church up on Calhoun. All she could do now was pray for the soul of poor Mr. David.
A native New Englander, Tom Turner dropped out of college and ran a Vermont bar…into the ground. After limping back to college to get his diploma, Tom became an advertising copywriter, first in Boston then New York. After ten years of post-Mad Men life, he made a radical change and got a job in commercial real estate. Not long after that he ended up in Palm Beach, buying, renovating and selling houses along with collecting raw material for his novels. On the side, he wrote Palm Beach Nasty, its sequel, Palm Beach Poison, and a screenplay called Blood Red Sea. While at a wedding a few years later, he fell for the charm of Charleston, South Carolina, and moved there. Recently, wandering Tom moved again. This time, just down the road to Skidaway Island, outside of Savannah, where he’s writing a novel about passion and murder among his neighbors.
Fire, Fog and Water (Sgt. Windflower Mysteries) by Mike Martin
Author Guest Post
Enjoy the Story
In fiction, you have to suspend belief in order to follow the story. That means things like pretending to be in a different location with people that you don’t know in order to experience the full effect. Those who can’t do that often claim that they don’t like fiction books or stories, but I think it may be that they just don’t know how to let themselves go and be captured by the story or the characters. I also think they are missing out on a great deal of fun!!
What most people don’t realize is that writers have to do the same thing. Suspend our belief in the ordinary and escape to another reality, inside our heads. In my Sgt. Windflower Mystery series I use the very real town of Grand Bank, Newfoundland, as a backdrop for my stories. It settles the stories in a solid foundation of place that many people who have read the series now think they know. I hope so. But the setting is truly just the beginning. Because, with the exception of a few historical facts and bread crumbs, the rest is all imagination.
The main character, Sgt. Windflower, came out of the fog one night in Grand Bank and started telling me his story. All I did was write it down. Once I did that, all these other characters came along and I started writing their stories too. My main job today is to try and keep them all happy and allow each of them the appropriate time to tell their part.
If that’s not enough to stretch your imagination, there’s more. Two of Windflower’s family, his aunt and uncle, turn out to be dream weavers. They can interpret dreams, their own and others. Windflower learns how to do that too, and soon he is awake while he is dreaming and understanding the messages that come to him. I know it sounds crazy, but it really happens, at least to Windflower. He uses it to access the spirit world, the other side.
At first, Windflower appears skeptical about this whole spirit and dreaming thing. Until he starts to realize that there might actually be messages and information about himself that he can learn. That’s when he decides to ask his relatives to teach him how to do it. After a while, he comes to see that reality might be more than just what we can see in front of him. Once he accesses this power, his life becomes richer, and of course, the story gets better.
Now dreams and dream interpretation have become a central part of both Windflower and the series. In the latest book, Fire, Fog and Water, Windflower uses them to figure out what’s wrong with him, and of course, to help solve the mystery. But he has to let go of his old thinking in order to get there.
This all gets me back to the first point. You have to suspend your belief in order to enjoy the story. That is true in all fiction, and more particularly in mystery fiction. It works for Sgt. Windflower.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Winston Windflower is having a bad day. First, he has a fight with his wife. Then, he discovers that the roof on his B&B needs replacing. Finally, the weather in his hometown in Grand Banks, Newfoundland is foggy and wet. The ground still maintains its melting snow, now brown after mixing with the underlying dirt. At least, it’s not snowing. It is hard to realize that spring has sprung in Canada’s northernmost territory. It is March after all.
Attempting to forget his troubles by running on a nearby trail with his dog named Lady, Windflower accidentally falls and slides off the path into a snow-covered boulder. The incident seems to fit perfectly into his bad no-good day (and mood). However, when Lady begins digging at the boulder, Windflower quickly realizes his day is infinitely better than the day of the dead man that slowly emerges from the snow…
It is snowing outside as I read Fire, Fog and Water. This wouldn’t be remarkable if I lived in Michigan. However, I live 65 miles from Los Angeles in the desert. It was 79 degrees outside four days ago. However, this is the perfect book for winter weather. The descriptions of the scenery are so vivid that I feel like I should see snowflakes when I glance up from my Kindle.
With a dead man, an intentional hit-and-run, and an arson, there is plenty of plot running through Fire, Fog and Water. The Sergeant sets out trying to find the perps thinking that the crimes must be related. Since the murder victim was a low-level drug dealer, could all the crimes be related to the wave of purple fentanyl recently killing people in Canada?
The characters within Fire, Fog and Water were my favorite part of the story. There are no paper-thin characterizations here. The Sergeant seems like a real person dealing with getting older and becoming a father with depression and muted feelings. His interest in great literature and his indigenous peoples’ roots make him truly unique as a detective and a man.
I also loved the seamless merging of social issues into this Canadian police procedural. Drugs and depression are common in real life but are seldom shown so realistically in mystery fiction.
Because of the exquisite atmosphere, in-depth characterizations of rarely represented sub-cultures, and delicious food descriptions, Fire, Fog and Water definitely deserves five stars! It is highly recommended to police procedural fans! 5 stars!
Good luck in winning one of three print copies of the book
Sergeant Winston Windflower and his trusty crew at the Grand Bank detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have more than a few mysteries on their hands. Windflower suspects that the three cases—a homicide, a near-homicide and a fire on Coronation Street—are somehow connected, but how is proving difficult to determine, especially now that he must battle his unusually cranky mood, the never-ending winter that has gripped the coastal region of Newfoundland and his new, power-hungry boss.
In Fire, Fog and Water, award-winning author Mike Martin is true to form, retaining the light crime genre for which he is known while delving into the most perplexing social issues of our time, including mental health, addictions and workplace harassment. Windflower must not only solve the drug-and-death crimes that threaten the otherwise tranquil lives of Grand Bank’s residents, he must resolve his own internal conflicts before they consume him as surely as the blaze that engulfed the house on Coronation Street
About Mike Martin
Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland, Canada. He is the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. Fire, Fog and Water is the 8th book in the series. A Long Ways from Home, was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year and Darkest Before the Dawn won for the 2018 Bony Blithe Award. Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers.
Publisher: Dove and Dragon Publishing together with Ruscsak Films and Publishing
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Jack Kirby is a former Army Ranger and an elite sniper for the US Marshals. Until one foggy morning, while on a mission in Nebraska the unthinkable happens, he suddenly can’t pull the trigger. Due to his inability to do his job, one of the most wanted men in the country is able to get off two last shots.
Now plagued by active PTSD and nightmares of all the men he has killed, he is guilt-ridden and unsure of himself. On administrative leave to clear his head and work through his mental health, he returns to his hometown, only to find it isn’t the same small town he left years ago.
The rural town is full of drugs and the problems that come with it. Reuniting with old friends, he wants to believe the modern problems haven’t changed them but he can’t ignore it.
The question becomes how much have they changed?
Catherine Elizabeth Greene is a small-town detective determined to stop an unknown killer; a man of skill, who kills from ambush using a long-ranged rifle.
Desperate for help she asks Jack, a man she barely knows for help.
Born and raised in West Virginia, RB Carr is an attorney and well-traveled veteran of the military. Having lived and worked all over the country, the experiences and people he has met provide a basis for the settings and characters for whom he writes about; both the good and the bad. While the characters of this book are fictional, they have all been inspired by the people he has met over the years, be it from his time in the service or in the halls of the courthouses and prisons. Having recently returned to his home state, he and his wife are the parents of 4 children.
Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane) by Rita Mae Brown
I have read and loved all of the author’s Mrs. Murphy series so when I saw Scarlet Fever on NetGalley I snapped it up. Mrs. Murphy books are a more traditional cat cozy mystery though the cats and dog do talk and investigate crimes.
Scarlet Fever is book number twelve in the “Sister” Jane mysteries. This book literally has a hundred characters. There are talking hounds, dogs, and horses—all with intricate family relationships. There are also many human characters with seemingly long-standing issues from previous books in the series. The author does provide a detailed biography of the cast at the beginning. However, it was difficult to get into the mystery while frequently having to turn pages back and forth. Therefore, I would not recommend starting the series with this entry.
However, if you like fox hunting, you will love this series that focuses minutely on the methods used by the hunters, their hounds, and the foxes trying to outwit them both. Long-term fans of the “Sister” Jane mysteries will be sure to enjoy Scarlet Fever. 4 stars!
Thanks to Ballantine Books, Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a print copy of the book below!
About Scarlet Fever
Scarlet Fever: A Novel (“Sister” Jane) Cozy Mystery 12th in Series Ballantine Books (November 26, 2019) Hardcover: 304 pages ISBN-10: 0593130006 ISBN-13: 978-0593130001 Digital ASIN: B07P8J8KVM
Winter blizzards bring a flurry of cases to solve in this riveting new foxhunting mystery featuring “Sister” Jane Arnold and her incorrigible hounds from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.
Frigid February air has settled into the bones of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making for a slow foxhunting season, though “Sister” Jane Arnold’s enthusiasm is not so easily deterred. With the winter chill come tweed coats, blazing fireplaces—and perhaps another to share the warmth with, as the bold hunting scarlets worn by the men in Sister Jane’s hunting club make the hearts of women flutter—until someone’s stops entirely.
Harry Dunbar, a member of the Jefferson Hunt club with a penchant for antique furniture, is found with his skull cracked at the bottom of the stairs to a local store. There are no telltale signs of foul play—save for the priceless (and stolen) Erté fox ring in his pocket. Sister and her hounds set out to uncover the truth: was this simply an accident—a case of bad luck—or something much more sinister?
Steeped in the deep traditions of Virginia horse country and featuring a colorful cast of characters both two- and four-legged, Scarlet Fever is another spirited mystery from Rita Mae Brown.
About Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed;Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.
Turkey Basted to Death (The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series) by Jodi Rath
Small town Leavensport Ohio is having a town Thanksgiving party. At the last minute, chef Jolie is asked by the mayor to add a group of disadvantaged city teens to the party. She complies after meeting the teen’s advocate, Pria, a former homeless teen herself. Even before the food is served, Pria winds up dead, killed by a stainless-steel turkey baster in the ear. Jolie and her restaurant partner Ava, the owners of the baster, decide to find the murderer. After all, no one deserves to be Turkey Basted to Death.
I appreciate the author’s use of modern issues within the book to update the traditional cozy format. Jolie has a therapist and is working on trust issues created by her family life at a young age. Two characters are in various stages of transitioning to females. There is a FF couple and Jolie herself flirts with the idea of becoming bisexual.
However, Turkey Basted to Death also has an intriguing mystery and a more typical cozy romance for Jolie. Jolie is torn between the town’s two detectives—bad boy Meiser and good guy Keith. As thought by Jolie, “my stupid hoo-hah needs to get itself under control—as well as my heart.” It appears she may be going for the bad one.
This book is the third entry in the Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries series. However, it can easily be read as a standalone. Its short length makes it a good choice to read in one sitting. Even though it is a novella, it packs in plenty of plot and fully-realized characters. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaways below for a print copy of the book!
Thanksgiving is here, and Jolie Tucker has had quite the year! She is ready to sit back and relax with family and friends. But this is Leavensport, OH—so get ready for intense therapy sessions, dysfunctional family holiday gatherings, uninvited guests, and an inner-city teen advocate found DEAD—stabbed in the ear with the turkey baster!
Welcome to Leavensport, OH, where DEATH takes a DELICIOUS turn!
About the Author
Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.
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Distant Memory Maureen A. Miller
Publication date: November 25th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
From USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller comes this romantic thriller.
Whose life does Hollie Musgrave recall? Is it even her own?
Dreams of a house Hollie has never been to plague her. They haunted her since childhood when her mother used to joke about reincarnation. Now, as an adult, the dreams have returned. Desperate for relief she seeks out a hypnotist to pry any clues from her latent memories. One notion leads her to a farmhouse hundreds of miles away.
Todd Hewitt bought the farmhouse in Pennsylvania in search of seclusion after the drama of the past three years. When a woman shows up on his doorstep he assumes she is just another reporter looking for an interview, however, her tale is too absurd to be a hoax.
Together they try to piece together her missing past.
The words were husky. Uttered from a woman who was struggling to maintain her composure. Skin that was normally effused with sunshine was pulled taut across high cheekbones making the shadows below her eyes more prevalent.
He considered her warning. Seriously considered it.
“I should,” he hedged. “But I won’t.”
Solemn eyes rose to meet his.
“For God’s sake, why? You don’t need this. It was a big mistake to come down here. I was a fool to encourage you.”
Setting aside any reservations he might have, he couldn’t stand to see her fighting to hold herself together. Someone was tormenting this woman and it ticked him off.
“Look,” he set the note down, watching her eyes follow the motion. “I could point out that it’s not just about you. Whatever is going on, whatever these warnings are–they clearly deal with the house I’m living in. Everything that has happened to you happened directly after visiting my home. That makes it personal for me.” He paused. “Yeah, there’s that–or–” deep breath, “–I could admit that for the first time in three years I’ve met someone I’d like to know more about–that I’d like to spend time with.”
A shrug that didn’t come easily hefted his shoulders. “And you’re right. I have to decide if my desire to spend time with you is strong enough to deal with these threats–this stalking that you’ve been subjected to. Do I really want that sort of conflict in my very quiet, very private life?”
Hollie’s face pinched in pain and she looked away from him. “I guess I know the answer to that.”
USA TODAY bestselling author, Maureen A. Miller worked in the software industry for fifteen years. She crawled around plant floors in a hard hat and safety glasses hooking up computers to behemoth manufacturing machines. The job required extensive travel. The best form of escapism during those lengthy airport layovers became writing.
Maureen’s first novel, WIDOW’S TALE, earned her a Golden Heart nomination in Romantic Suspense. After that she became hooked to the genre. In fact, she was so hooked she is the founder of the JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE website.
Recently, Maureen branched out into the Young Adult Science Fiction market with the popular BEYOND Series. To her it was still Romantic Suspense…just on another planet!
Hazards in Hampshire (A British Book Tour Mystery) by Emma Dakin
The Author’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe
The George, Wallingford
In the book, Claire Barclay met Detective Inspector Mark Evans at this restaurant near the Agatha Christie Museum in Wallingford. The women on her tour were impressed with the menu and were delighted to indulge themselves.
The George has sticky toffee pudding with, as usual, your choice of ice cream, toffee sauce or custard with it. It seems silly to have sticky toffee pudding without the toffee sauce but I have had it with custard and it is delicious.
One May, my daughter, two of my friends and I took a trip to Scotland. The friends and I carried fiddles on our backs and we were determined to experience the country with as much gusto as possible. We did play Celtic tunes in pubs occasionally, and one memorable evening were served with free drinks, a sign that we were contributing to the pleasure of the patrons. We made a lot of friends on the trains who thought we were professional musicians instead of neophyte fiddlers. A goal of one of my friends was to experience all the different kinds of sticky toffee pudding and she ordered it almost daily. We all solemnly took a bite of her choice to do a comparative analysis. I consider myself now an expert in sticky toffee pudding.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
In England, restaurants can label all desserts “pudding”.
“Want a pudding then, love?” Means “Would you like some dessert?”
1 cup of diced, pitted dates
1 ½ cups water
1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar ( I use the yellow kind as the molasses content is high in this recipe)
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup molasses
1 2/3 cup flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
What to Do
Preheat over to 350’F, grease a 9 x 5 inch baking pan
In a saucepan on the stove, put the dates and water, bring to boil and then simmer for about 2 minutes, just to soften. Then put in a blender and pulverize the mixture. Set aside.
Cream butter with brown sugar and eggs. Beat well until the mixture lightens in colour.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing as you go.
Add molasses and keep beating it. It’s a cake so it needs that vigorous beating.
Sift together flour and baking powder.
Add to creamed mixture and stir until smooth.
Stir in the dates and the baking soda.
Bake 30 minutes. Let cool.
½ cup of butter
½ cup of heavy cream (milk will do)
1 cup brown sugar
What to Do
Put everything into a saucepan and heat to boiling. Boil gently. Stir it continually.
It takes about 5 minutes to thicken, but you can serve it thin or thick.
Pour over the pudding.
It’s rich, but delicious.
I loved the new cozy mystery, Hazards in Hampshire, from its first lines:
“I had expected my hostess at the tea party to be boring. I hadn’t expected her to be dead.”
Claire Barclay is newly returned to England after inheriting a substantial sum from her stepfather. After years of travel, Claire is finally home to start her new business, British Mystery Book Tours, and reconnect with her barrister sister, Deidre. However, her new village is soon roiled by Claire finding a murder victim and a nearby arson. Everything seems related to the town’s book club, where the victim was the dictatorial president. Did someone dislike her enough to poison her? Was Claire going to be arrested for her murder simply because the stranger in town had to be the perp?
Reminiscent of Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand mysteries, this series is sure to introduce you to some new authors. The small-town feeling of everyone knowing each other’s business is similar to the feeling in Broward’s Rock Island too. My favorite part of this book was the authenticity of all the characters. It was easy to identify with forty-six-year-old Claire, especially her recent inheritance that allowed her to restart her life in a new direction. The mystery was puzzling too. Overall, Hazards in Hampshire is a great start to a sure-to-be topnotch series for cozy mystery readers. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Blog Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below to receive one of ten digital copies of the book!
Moving to a quiet English village should have been tranquil, but Claire Barclay learns that even an invitation to tea can be deadly. Who killed Mrs. Paulson, the president of the local Mystery Books Club? Was the motive for murder located in the archives of the book club? The members of the books club might have reason to want Mrs. Paulson’s out of the way. She had lived in the village all her life, been involved in many organizations and societies and knew many secrets of the villagers. Was one secret too dangerous for her to keep? She had been wealthy and left her money to a member of the club. Could the legatee have been impatient for her inheritance? Who cared enough to want her dead? Claire, an expert in solving problems in her job as a tour guide, decides to delve into the archives and into the lives of the villagers—and find out.
About Emma Dakin
This is Emma Dakin’s first series, set in Britain the homeland of Emma’s grandparents. Emma channels her mother’s inherited English culture along with the attitudes and sayings of the modern Brits. She travels widely in England and at one point this May while travelling through the Yorkshire Moors she had all the tourists in a tour bus looking for a good place to hide a body. As Marion Crook, she has published many novels of adventure and mystery for young adult and middle-grade readers as well as non-fiction for adults and young adults and non-fiction on social issues. Firmly in the cozy mystery genre now, and committed to absorbing the culture and changing world of Britain, she plans to enjoy the research and the writing of cozies.