In Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece, Celeste Cabot, with her Chihuahua Van Gogh, is embarking on a new life as a freelance artist. Living in her tiny bright pink trailer, Celeste has good sales at her first craft fair until she finds the organizer murdered and she is the number one suspect.
Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece but so can her first sales return. The customer says the painting is haunted. Celeste thinks that’s absurd until she sees the ghostly Victorian women from the painting appear that night in her trailer. It couldn’t be her imagination if Van Gogh also saw it too, right?
Celeste has the perfect amount of chutzpah without stupidly stumbling into dumb situations. Handsome potential love interest Caleb is a good match for her—provided he is not the killer. They both are dog people and artists after all. I also enjoyed the ghostly elements. It was fun to have two mysteries to solve. However, I was disappointed that the three female suspects within the fair—Ruth, Shar, and Carly—were not fully fleshed out so I didn’t really care if one of them was the murderer. In addition, the travel trailer tips beginning each chapter were kind of corny. I also felt the mystery was too easy to solve. 3 stars.
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Raymond Chandler has been reincarnated in the expressive prose of Shamus Dust.
On Christmas Day, a man is found dead on the porch of a church in post-WWII City of London. By all accounts, the victim, Raymond Jarrett, was up to no good. Pictures of young boys in compromising positions are found in his apartment. The apartment is owned by a government official who hires private eye, Newman, to figure out what happened and hush up any scandal.
While the mystery is good, it is the lush writing style that makes Shamus Dust stand out.
“In this mile-wide hub of empire and enterprise there are operators who rub against other operators with fewer scruples than they own themselves. When that happens and they get taken to the cleaners, it’s not a thing they advertise or mention to police. Not even to a high-class agency, on account of the embarrassment. So far, I don’t see what your embarrassment is. Without it the job wouldn’t be in my line.”
The author appears to have polished each sentence within the book to a high shine. This book needs to be slowly savored like a fine wine. It is also the type of book that will be even better the second time around. I highly recommend this literary noir. 5 stars!
Thanks to Matador and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Big Book of Reel Murders is chockful of well-known authors like Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming, and W. Somerset Maugham. Even better, it has some of my favorite silver-age short story writers from 1950-1989 Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen mystery magazines like Cornell Woolrich and Stanley Ellin.
Stories are grouped by type: suspense, murder, thriller, horror, general crime, love (to death, of course), and detective fiction. There is literally something for everyone here. And then some. At 1200 pages, clearly this is a great value. However, you also get a curated collection of truly great stories. Many were made into iconic movies like Psycho and Witness for the Prosecution.
I can’t recommend this anthology highly enough. Here is your chance to read the source material for many of your favorite noir, mystery, and thriller movies. Some were better on the silver screen but many were not. It’s fun to see the changes. The Big Book of Reel Murders is extremely recommended for both mystery and movie fans. 5 stars!
Thanks to Vintage Crime, Black Lizard, Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Serf and Turf: A Silicon Valley Mystery by Marc Jedel
How did you get started writing cozy mysteries?
I’ve wanted to write a book forever. For the longest time, it seemed I couldn’t come up with a good plot. Unfortunately for my prospective writing career, I had learned that having a plot is critical for a successful book. One day, I received this awesome birthday drawing from my nieces. And my kids, or nieces, or one of our friends’ kids had done some crazy things. Probably all of the above.
One thing led to another and the idea formed to loosely base a mystery with a self-absorbed, fashion-backward software engineer, his sister, and his nieces on my life. It’s clearly fiction. I mean, I’m not a software engineer. Check out the drawing on my blog (www.marcjedel.com/blog).
After that, the ideas kept flowing so I had characters, plot points, and concepts for more books. Although the books can be read standalone, they share many of the same characters. Serf and Turf, starts the day after Chutes and Ladder ends. And that book took place only about six weeks after book 1, Uncle and Ants, ended.
How do you flesh out the ideas for your books?
Much dog walking is involved. Well, the dog doesn’t seem to contribute all that much dialogue but he’s a good listener. My wife is amazing. She’s taken on an unpaid role as brainstormer-in-chief, but she doesn’t complain often. I also do a lot of outlining. That keeps me from forgetting who killed whom.
Are the anecdotes in the book autobiographical?
A frightening number are based on truth. The escapades of Buddy the Labrador are based on a family friend’s dog. The cat scene in Serf and Turf comes from another friend. And the ice cream truck story that finishes chapter two in Uncle and Ants is completely true, believe it or not. As for the rest, it’s loosely based on reality except where I’ve exaggerated, made it up or falsified my memories to fit the story.
Do you tell a lot of dad jokes?
Well I’ve been a dad myself for a long time so I’ll plead the fifth. Also, it’s not my fault that I did grow up with a master dad joke teller. But, don’t worry about too many stupid jokes in the book. That’s the best part about editors — they keep writers honest. Mine kept saying “that’s funny, but put more focus on the mystery.” Hearing that she thought my writing was funny sure felt good. After the warm and fuzzy feeling wore off, I followed her advice and made sure the story balanced humor with a crisp pace and an interesting mystery.
What’s different about your book from other cozy mysteries?
Besides the author? Well, my book doesn’t take place in a small, seaside town where the main protagonist runs a bakery, bookshop, or bed & breakfast. While I like those cozies as much as the next reader, I find myself getting bored by similar settings and characters over and over. Setting my novel in Silicon Valley allowed me to show a little more of its unique people and environment without delving into boring techno-babble. Many readers write me to tell me which characters they like best and I love that. Some of the recurring and other wacky side characters help and some hinder the protagonist’s progress in solving the cases.
Any last comments?
Serf and Turf, book 3 in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, can be read standalone. All of the books in the series are free for Kindle Unlimited readers. Buy them on Amazon at: amazon.com/gp/product/B07PHNT7XM and watch for the audiobooks of the whole series from Recorded Books coming later this year. For more about my books or me and to sign up to hear about special offers and free chapters, please visit www.marcjedel.com.
For another author interview with the same author for an earlier book in this series, go here.
The third zany mystery in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, Serf and Turf, is here!
Bumbling amateur detective, Marty, once again tries to juggle family, relationships, and work with determining who murdered girls’ soccer coach Gio. It appears that everyone who wasn’t sleeping with Gio hated him. So why does Marty’s girlfriend, Meghan, admire him so much?
The books in the Silicon Valley Mystery series just keep getting better. Serf and Turf is the best so far! It reminds me of early Stephanie Plum mysteries. First, start out with a seemingly simple idea. In this book, it is for Marty to help his girlfriend investigate Gio’s death. After all, Marty is convinced that he is almost a police consultant. Unfortunately, the police don’t appear to agree with him. Second, mix in several odd settings and top with a witty sense of humor. The investigation involves many of Gio’s side hustles—from a science camp to a Renaissance Faire. Both are shown with humor and moments of pure hilarity. Reading this book’s description of the RenFaire inspired me personally to dress as an Irish maiden for Halloween—that is how far into this book I got! Finally, add an unusual family known for their eccentricities. Marty’s sister, two nieces, and their dog are uproariously human–yes, even the dog that has a sweet tooth.
Everyone who loves funny cozy mysteries should pick up this book. It promises to be a great series and this book is a fun ride. 5 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escape Book Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
About Serf and Turf
Serf and Turf: A Silicon Valley Mystery Release Date – October 7, 2019
Print Length – Approximately 200 pages
He’s afraid of losing his girlfriend. But maybe he should be more concerned about the dead body she’s crying over?
Marty Golden can barely string a voicemail message together, let alone keep up with his new love. This quirky uncle’s hectic Silicon Valley lifestyle needs a reboot when a youth league soccer game becomes a murder scene. And nothing can stop him from donning his amateur sleuth uniform when he discovers his sweetheart used to have quite a thing for the dead guy …
With a not-so-helpful paw from Buddy the Labrador, he does his best to sniff out a long list of possible suspects. But between gossipy soccer moms and the costume-clad members of a Renaissance Faire, Marty’s theories fall harder than a jousted knight.
Can Marty solve the case before the trail and his new flame grow cold?
Serf and Turf is the third book in the zany, Silicon Valley cozy mystery series. If you like laugh-out-loud comedy, dorky sleuths, and a festival of old-world fun, then you’ll love Marc Jedel’s humorous murder mystery.
Buy Serf and Turf to sign in to a great mystery today!
About Marc Jedel
For most of my life, I’ve been inventing stories. Some, especially when I was young, involved my sister as the villain. As my sister’s brother for her entire life, I’m highly qualified to tell the tale of this evolving, quirky sibling relationship.
My writing skills were honed in years of marketing leadership positions in Silicon Valley. While my high tech marketing roles involved crafting plenty of fiction, we called these marketing collateral, emails and ads.
The publication of my first novel, Uncle and Ants, gave me permission to claim “author” as my job. And achieving Amazon Best Seller status gave me even better adjectives to use in front of “author.” This has led to way more interesting discussions than answering “marketing.”
My family would tell you that Marty’s character isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for me, but I’m comfortable with that situation.
Like Marty, I live in Silicon Valley and can’t believe that otherwise normal people would willingly jump out of an airplane and call it fun. Unlike Marty, I have a wonderful wife and a neurotic but sweet, small dog, who is often the first to weigh in on the humor in my writing.
Beware the East Wind (The Mah Jongg Mysteries) by Barbara Barrett
Author Guest Post
The Mysteries of Mah Jongg
I decided to use the game of Mah Jongg as the focus of my first mystery series for two reasons. First, it was a subject with which I had some familiarity since I’d been playing it for over a decade and could, therefore, write with a certain degree of credibility. And second, it was a relatively unknown niche in the cozy mystery market which promised a whole new group of potential readers.
I soon learned that decision came with challenges of its own. The people I’d been playing with over the years offered a rich panorama of personalities to include as either main or secondary characters. However, to keep myself out of legal trouble, and avoid offending anyone, I didn’t feel I could base any one character on a specific person. I had to either use certain traits of one person and mix them with others’ characteristics or use them solely as inspirations of totally original characters. Though I managed to steer clear of legal issues by creating my characters under those restrictions, I also discovered I had some disappointed readers who bought the first book hoping they’d find themselves somewhere on its pages. Go figure.
Another challenge was the subject itself. Mah Jongg has a large and growing base of players. They had been my target when I selected this hook for the series. However, not all Mah Jongg players read mysteries. I had to tap the pocket of cozy mystery fans for sales. But the subject matter didn’t necessarily appeal. Reference to Mah Jongg comes with its own connotations, primarily, the perception it is played mainly by little old ladies and also that it was hard to understand let alone learn how to play. While there’s some truth to both—I could be seen as a little old lady, although I prefer to characterize myself as in my late middle age, and it does take a little time to learn the terms and rules—I didn’t see either as being a huge problem as long as I approached my stories with those in mind.
Admittedly, since my four protagonists are all retired, which could conceivably reinforce the “little old lady” notion, I’ve made all four active seniors, each with her own strengths and foibles. I keep mention of the technicalities of the game to a minimum, usually as simply the backdrop of the opening or closing chapter. The rest of the Mah Jongg theme is setting, and it also has served as the connection to someone involved with the murder. Oh, yes, each title contains a Mah Jongg term.
I spent the first four books in the series “settling into” the format. This summer, I had a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to characterization. The group I usually play with during the summer months decided to decrease from weekly sessions to two a month. With that in mind, I looked for other groups and found two contenders. (I actually found a couple more, but I needed to spend time actually writing, so I limited it to two.)
The first was a group who met at their church. The church actually supported them as one of their outreach activities. Given the surroundings, they didn’t play for money, simply the joy of learning the game and winning. That was a bit of a mental switch for me, although not unheard of as I’d also played for a time with a group that met at the local Y. The church-based group also played for only two hours each session; I was more accustomed to three or more hours. With the shortened time frame and no-money approach, I found I was mainly playing to enjoy the game itself. There’s a lot to be said for that. The competitive urge had to be curbed.
I was most impressed by their friendliness. They were very welcoming, which in my experience, hasn’t always been the case with some groups. They had also worked out a way to determine who played at which table at each session, which prevented factions from forming, although, from my writer’s perspective, that may have reduced my chances of tapping some juicy confrontations.
The second group played in the food court of a local mall. (The way seniors have taken over the malls during daytime hours is a whole article in itself for some future blog.) The setting alone offered potential new aspects for my stories, due to the number of other people in the mall who’d stop by. This group, too, didn’t play for money. They did tend to play a little longer, two and a half to three hours. Unlike the church group, there was no method of picking tablemates; people just sat at place that had openings, although they did attempt to move around whenever there was a winner, who was supposed to move to another table. That happened sometimes but not always.
This group played another version of Mah Jongg, which was why I selected them, so that I could continue playing this version over the summer. However, they radically changed the way the game was played by using Jokers (the wild tiles), which are not typically used in this version of the game. It took me a few weeks to adapt to this style, because it totally changed the strategy. I hope I can devise a way to introduce these features in a future story without getting overly complicated, because they offer rich back story.
How will these two experiences contribute to future stories otherwise? Those threads are still coming together. The main realization I’ve had is not to let my four Mah Jongg-playing protagonists get too comfortable with the game. I need to throw in some curves from time to time to keep it interesting and evolving.
How about you, reader? Have you encountered any new situations with the game that have sharpened your playing ability?
Beware the east wind! It’s hurricane season in Florida, and everyone’s attention is focused on preparing for the latest tempest. But in Serendipity Springs, mah jongg pals Marianne, Sydney, Micki and Kat are caught in a different kind of whirlwind—a mesmerizing murder case involving a slain hypnotist/chef and the woman police suspect of doing her in, her embittered catering partner, Portia.
About the Author
Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.
Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.
Bamboozled, the second book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.
Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.
It’s the day before her one-year wedding anniversary and Elise has a problem in the new gaslight-esque thriller, Poison Garden.
When Elise arrives home one day early from a trip, she finds her husband, Kieran, in their marital bed with another woman. He swears it was a one-time fling, but her neighbor, Chantal, tells her she has seen the woman sneaking into the house once before.
Elise also finds her herb store unlocked and in disorder. Did she really sleepwalk into the store the night before she left on her trip? Or is Kieran plotting to kill her with the poisonous plants kept in her shop? And what did he and his lover’s pillow talk about patience and playing the long game really mean?
The cat and mouse game between Elise and Kieran is the best part of the Poison Garden. You feel Elise’s shock at her husband’s betrayal deeply. You want to see her succeed in getting herself and her money away from him. Neighbor Chantal’s story is intriguing and adds depth to the plot.
Overall, the genuineness of the characters and the compelling plot forced me to stay up late to finish this book in one sitting. 4 stars!
Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“It takes a stroke of luck to find your vocation. I might have spent my whole life searching. Hare Krishna? Hairdressing? Water polo? But the universe blessed me with a taste of the perfect crime.”—from Of Vengeance.
Welcome to the mind of an unnamed sociopath, who is also a thirteen-year-old Canadian girl. Beginning with a prank gone wrong, the unnamed narrator grows into a woman as her misanthropy and killing skills also grow. She judges her neighbors for minor wrongs. Don’t scoop up your dog’s poo? Congrats, you’re on her radar. As she herself states, “when I seek vengeance, it’s rarely for a crime against my own person.” She sees herself as a righter of wrongs.
I loved the narrator’s voice. You could feel her disassociation from society clearly through her words. She is an invisible wraith sleepwalking through her regular life while relishing her role as a vigilante. That makes her fascinating, but not very relatable to most readers. However, the disappointing conclusion of the book makes Of Vengeance a three-star read for me.
Thanks to Dundum Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“My name is Katerina Mills. Make sure I disappear.”
Katerina Mills is getting out . . .
Desperate to escape a psychotic former client, a vengeful mobster, and a dirty DEA agent, professional “fixer” Kat Mills is ready to drop out and disappear.
She doesn’t trust her employer, the shadowy MJM Consulting, but Katerina can’t say no to one last job for the biggest score yet, enough money to get lost for good… until the client asks the impossible…
Dmitry Zilinsky claims he is a direct descendant of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II, and he demands Katerina steal the item that will prove it.
Kat must get the job done or she can’t make her escape. But when professional thief Alexander Winter reappears in her life, Katerina Mills faces a new choice: go it alone or risk everything to be with the one person she doesn’t want to live without?
Genre: Suspense, Thriller Published by: Jill Amy Rosenblatt Publication Date: October 22, 2019 Number of Pages: 692 ISBN: 978-1-7332560-0-1 Series: The Fixer #3 Purchase Links:Amazon, Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
CHAPTER 1 Katerina Mills sat in the silver Honda Civic, peering through the lenses of the binoculars. The factory parking lot loomed larger as she watched the first shift employees filing out, heads bowing to brace against the frigid Vermont winds, and dashing to their cars. Katerina knew every inch of the toy factory her father had managed. In high school, she had helped out after classes, typing, filing, and bookkeeping. Following graduation and while caring for William Mills through his bout of cancer, Kat worked a few hours a day and carried paperwork back and forth to her father at home. Can you keep an eye on things for your old man? Bullshit, Kat thought. It was time to find out the truth. Kat snapped out of her thoughts as Richie Calico emerged. She watched him turn up the collar of his jacket as he hustled toward a shiny, red Dodge Durango. Kat knew Richie as a third-generation, blue-collar working stiff, always looking for an angle and an easy buck. That looks new, Kat thought as she sharpened the binoculars on the Durango. Richie’s head swiveled back and forth as he hurried to the SUV. That’s not the confident man I remember strolling up to my desk with a singsong “Kat-a-reeena.” As if we shared a secret. Richie slid into the Durango, revved the engine, and took off, speeding out of the lot. Time to spill your secrets, Richie. Kat put the Civic in gear. *** Katerina watched Richie pull into a strip mall, park in front of a run-down pub, and get out. She followed, parking in the back of the lot and cutting the engine. Leaning forward, Kat wrapped her arms around the wheel. I have to go in. I need him to fill in the blanks. How do I get in and out without being noticed? Steal in and out. Like a thief. She sighed. It had been a little more than two months since her first B and E. Alexander Winter, “Bob,” and “Professor,” to Kat, a good man and an expert thief, had walked her through it and brought her out. He would know what to do. She closed her eyes, the familiar ache of missing him threatening to overwhelm her. Not now, Katerina thought, opening her eyes and forcing herself to return to the business at hand. There’s a reason Richie is looking over his shoulder. Remember what Winter taught you, she thought. Once you go in, you give yourself five minutes. Every minute you linger, your risk of getting caught rises. Scanning the lot one more time, she flipped the fur lined hood over her chestnut hair, opened the door, and got out. *** Slipping in through the back door, Katerina stepped into the shrouded gloom of the deserted dive bar. She came up behind Richie as he slouched in a booth, drinking alone. Suddenly, Richie’s eyes shot up from his Coors and he jolted at the presence of a person looming over him. Shifting to face him, Kat brushed her hood back and watched his eyes grow wide. He gaped at her as she slid into the booth. “Katerina,” Richie said, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. “Uh . . . Merry Christmas, Happy New Year . . . when did you get home?” “Hi Richie,” Kat said. “How’s the heroin business?” *** Excerpt from The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Copyright 2019 by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Reproduced with permission from Jill Amy Rosenblatt. All rights reserved.
Jill Amy Rosenblatt is the author of The Fixer (Katerina Mills) series. The Last Romanov is the third book in the series. Book 2, The Killing Kind, was the 2017 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Suspense. She previously published Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse through Kensington Press. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature and her Master’s Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Burlington College in Vermont. She lives on Long Island and is currently at work on book four of The Fixer series, The Good Criminal.
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jill Amy Rosenblatt. There will be 3 winners. One (1) winner will receive a $20 Amazon.com Gift Card and Two (2) winners will receive The Fixer: The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 21, 2019, and runs through November 25, 2019. Void where prohibited.
Meg is helping her Grandfather run Owl Fest 2019 at the Caerphilly Inn at Christmas. When its 200 ornithologist guests are stranded by a snowstorm, one of the most cantankerous and least-loved professors is killed. Time for Meg to step in, with help of her extensive family, to solve the mystery in Owl Be Home for Christmas, the twenty-sixth entry in the Meg Langslow cozy mystery series.
I absolutely love this series. While this entry doesn’t involve the nuclear family dynamic as much as earlier entries, I still love returning to visit Meg’s crazy extended family. The new characters from ornithology were interesting. Each had a real personality and fit well into Meg’s humorous world. The mystery was solid and I enjoyed the twist at the end. Overall, Owl Be Home for Christmas is one of my personal favorites. 5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
You don’t have to have lived in the 1950s to enjoy The Man that got Away. However, it is eminently easier to understand if you’re from England.
There is a murder, a con man, and a criminal mastermind in Brighton, a beach town on the English coast in1957. Only young Constable Twitten has a chance to solve the crime if his bungling co-workers don’t stop him.
I read many British mysteries. But this series continues to confuse me with Briticisms and product names available only in England. Possibly only in the past. My Kindle dictionary doesn’t even know what they mean. I also don’t like or relate to the bumbling policemen. They have an office cleaner who is really a master criminal. Their chief didn’t notice he was being conned by the local wax museum. Reading The Man that got Away forces the reader to totally suspend disbelief.
While I enjoyed this entry, the second, more than the first, I still believe it was only good—not great. Still the mystery itself was entertaining. Plus I enjoyed the delights and surprises of an English beach town. 3 stars.
Thanks to Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The game is afoot in the excellent Sherlock Holmes tale of spies and revolution, the Adventures of the Peculiar Protocols.
Sherlock Holmes’ brother Mycroft enlists Holmes’ help with a mysterious French manuscript. The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is ostensibly a book recording a conference of Jews describing their plan of world takeover. However, Holmes believes it is a fraud. Confirming the Jewish connection, the Home Office spy who died protecting it was killed with a knife bearing a Jewish star. Does the manuscript’s sudden appearance relate to the nascent Russian revolution? Is it an attempt to blame the entire revolution on the already frequently scapegoated Russian Jews?
The author’s Seven-Percent Solution is my favorite neo-Holmes tale so I snatched this one up as soon as I saw it on NetGalley. And I wasn’t disappointed. This book is equally good and feels like it was written by Doyle himself. The level of detail that matches the original stories is excellent! I most highly recommend the Adventures of the Peculiar Protocols for every Holmes fan. 5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery) by J.C. Eaton
When an acclaimed local potter is killed by suffocation, he is truly Molded 4 Murder.
In Glendale Arizona, Phee is a bookkeeper at Williams Investigations, a private detective firm. One day two acquaintances come in asking for Phee’s help. Someone is stealing small items at their luxurious retirement residence hotel. Tuna cans, yarn, olives, a $5 bill, and an old jar don’t sound like much but it means someone has access to their locked apartments. Phee agrees to look into the thefts. After all, she is a former police officer.
I enjoyed the characters most of all. Phee and her newish boyfriend/co-worker Marshall’s romance is moving forward nicely. You can feel the attraction. The retirees of Sun City West, including Phee’s mother, feel genuine—not generic—too. And who wouldn’t want to pal around with the enterprising Phee for a day or two?
The multitude of mysteries is intriguing too. The twists and turns in the plot allowing all to be unveiled at the conclusion are skillfully created by the author.
If you like your cozy mysteries with a touch of romance and humor, I highly recommend Molded 4 Murder. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
How did you decide on your pen name?
Our pen name is J. C. Eaton. The J.C. are Jim Clapp’s initials and Eaton was his mother’s maiden name. Since Ann writes YA time travel mysteries under her own name, we needed to create one that was strictly for the cozy mysteries we co-author.
Describe your new book in 5 words or less. Over-the-top comic romp!
How do you share writing duties between you?
We do a rough plot together but Jim flushes it out, adding the detail and sequence before turning it over to Ann for the descriptions. We both work on the characters and do the dialogues together. We go back and forth constantly and work in different parts of the house since Ann likes absolute quiet while Jim could write with a full-blown circus in front of him.
Of all the characters in your book, which ones would you kiss, marry, or kill? No fair picking the book’s murder victim to kill. They are already dead so it really would be overkill. Ann would definitely marry Nate Williams, the down-to-earth investigator and Phee’s boss. Hmm, he seems to be a lot like Jim… Jim would probably kiss those adorable blondes at The Madison Senior Living Resort.
Who are your favorite cozy writers and why?
For Ann, Nancy Atherton because she has a unique way of drawing the reader into the setting and not letting go – it’s magical. For Jim, it’s John Lamb because his protagonist is a seasoned detective working in the world of teddy bear artistry and learning as he goes. We both enjoy Agatha Christie, and pet themed cozies such as V.M. Burns, Libby Klein, Bethany Blake, Jody Holford, as well as wine and food themed cozies such as Sarah Fox, Tina Kashian, Vivien Chien, Debra Sennefelder, Jenny Kales, Linda Reilly, and Shari Randall. Ann has a penchant for paranormal cozies and adores Lena Gregory and Carol J. Perry.
What’s coming soon in J.C. Eaton’s world?
Wow! Have we been busy! MURDER AT THE MYSTERY CASTLE, in our Marcie Rayner detective series, just came out last week (Camel Publishing) and will be followed in December, 2019, by SAUVIGONE FOR GOOD, in our Wine Trail Mysteries (Kensington Lyrical). Fans of Sophie Kimball can look forward to DRESSED UP 4 MURDER in late February, 2020 where Streetman, the neurotic Chiweenie, takes center stage.
Also, we will be attending the Tucson Festival of Books on March 14, 15, 2020, in Tucson, Arizona. Ann will be moderating a panel and we’ll be on board for book signings.
Thank you both for taking the time to answer my questions!
Don’t forget to enter the contest for one of three paperback copies of the book below!
Sophie “Phee” Kimball enjoys working as a bookkeeper for a private investigator. If only her mother Harriet could enjoy her retirement at Sun City West in Arizona—instead of constantly getting involved with retirees being prematurely put out to pasture. This time Quentin Dussler, a prominent member of the clay sculpting club, was found dead, clutching a piece of paper scrawled with Phee’s mother’s name.
Terrified she’s been targeted by assassins, Harriet begs Phee to investigate. What Phee uncovers is a complicated scheme that only the most diabolical of murderers would ever devise. And as she chisels away at confusing clues and potential suspects, Phee unearths something far more precious and valuable than she could imagine. Eager for answers, she takes a bold step—placing herself in the crosshairs of a stonefaced killer …
About the Authors
Ann I. Goldfarb
New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, she has authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington) was released in June 2017. In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at www.jceatonauthor.com and www.timetravelmysteries.com
James E. Clapp
When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. His first novel, Booked 4 Murder(Kensington) was released in June 2017. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.
Here is a quick look at the paranormal cozy mysteries featuring Viola Valentine
A Ghost of a Chance
A Viola Valentine
Mystery Book 1
by Cherie Claire
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
From award-winning novelist Cherie Claire comes
a new paranormal mystery series.
They say there are blessings from Hurricane Katrina. For Viola Valentine of New
Orleans, it was losing her dead-end job and leaving behind a loveless marriage
and an overbearing family.
But the storm also blew open a psychic door. Now she sees ghosts who have died
As she enters her new career as a travel writer, solving mysteries that appear
with apparitions everywhere she goes, the one person she hopes to speak to — her
daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her.
Every day at dusk, in a small Louisiana town,
the dead emerge from Lorelei Lake. And travel writer Viola Valentine must use
her “gift” of seeing ghosts to rid this town of its apparitions. Viola
struggles not only with the task-at-hand but hopes that this evolving ability
she obtained after Hurricane Katrina will help her reach her beloved
Yet, the more Viola struggles to talk to her departed daughter, the more
frustrated she gets. Plus, it’s 2008, the height of the Great Recession, travel
jobs are hard to come by, and her suffocating family and ex-husband keep making
demands. She takes solace in a new love interest, one who teaches her how to
harness her anger.
In the end, Viola realizes that only love can solve her problems, from ridding
ghosts of lakeside towns to healing a broken heart.
Ghost Town, book two in the Viola Valentine Mystery Series by award-winning
author Cherie Claire.
Award-winning novelist Cherie Claire continues
her paranormal mystery series as travel writer Viola Valentine takes a trek
down the historic Natchez Trace of Mississippi. Traveling with her is an
adventurous heiress who’s been dead since 1860 and a living fellow travel
writer who’s not what he seems. In the end, it’s a showdown between good and
evil, and a bargain made with the devil at the crossroads may be Viola’s final
Book Three in the Viola Valentine Paranormal Mystery Series.
John Valentine left home for a birding
conference and never returned, his family chalking it up to the divorced
father’s mid-life crisis. But when a body is found on the old family homestead,
his daughter Viola must piece together the clues her father left behind. Along
for the ride are her witchy Aunt Mimi, her uptight lawyer sister Portia and her
sometimes ex-husband Thibault Boudreaux, otherwise known as TB. What they
discover on this crazy ghost trip through Texas will be much more than they
anticipated.Ghost Trippin’ continues the story of Viola Valentine, who changes her life
after Hurricane Katrina and follows her dream of being a travel writer. But the
storm also blew open a psychic door and now she sees ghosts who have died by
water. As she travels the South in her new career she must also solve mysteries
that appear with apparitions. But the one person she hopes to speak to — her
daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her. Or does
In 2005, Hurricane
Katrina uprooted Viola Valentine from her dead-end job and what she deemed
a loveless marriage. Four years later, she and her husband Thibault “TB”
Boudreaux are starting over on a Tennessee houseboat, she is following her dream
as a travel writer and TB finishing school at Smoky Mountain University.But the ghosts of the past continue to hound the couple, infiltrating negative
energy into their peaceful cove. With her family at stake, Vi must learn to
harness her supernatural powers, face her fears and fight the evil that
threatens to unravel them all.Book Five in the Viola Valentine Paranormal Mystery Series.
Cherie Claire grew up
in south Louisiana, with mud between her toes and a rabid love of Mardi Gras
parades. Born in New Orleans and now living in Cajun Country, she couldn’t help
but write about her unique, colorful state.
Cherie is the
award-winning author of several Cajun historical romances and The Cajun Embassy
series of contemporary romances. She’s a Holt Award finalist, a Romantic Times
Reviewer’s Choice Award finalist and received the Louisiana Press Women Book of
the Year. Her latest is a paranormal mystery series featuring ghost sleuth
Viola Valentine of New Orleans.
Better Watch Out (A Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery) by Christina Freeburn
Author Guest Post
Favorite Holiday Reads
By Christina Freeburn
It’s that time of the year, where I start making my list and checking it twice for the newly released and new-to-me holiday books. From November 1 until January 7, I only read novels (and pretty much watch Christmas movies exclusively) set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. There is just something about Christmas themed entertainment that cheers me up and boosts my spirit. I like to immerse myself as much as I can into the holiday season. My love of the Christmas/holiday season was one of the reasons my new series, Merry & Bright Handcrafted mysteries, features a heroine who loves the holiday and has built a crafting business around her love for Christmas.
Since 2011, I have posted holiday reviews on my blog (The Self-Rescue Princess) and I’m going to share with you my Top 10 holiday reads from 2011-2018. I can’t wait to see/read if my list will change for next year. Please comment with some of your favorites or any new holiday books coming out (fiction or non-fiction, children, teen, or adult). I’m not picky when it comes to holiday books, well except I prefer less angsty books and definitely want a happy ending.
Happy Holiday Reading!
My Top 10 Christmas Reads
On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts
Orphaned Hearts by Shawna K. Williams
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
Santa’s Sleigh is on its Way to West Virginia by Eric James
Making a list. Merry’s life is Christmas chaos. Her divorce is still in question. She’s behind on crafting orders. Ebenezer is an escape artist. And with one day left, she hasn’t completed the line-up for the annual Christmas parade, thanks to one grinch. Once Merry knows the Christmas secret, she realizes Santa isn’t what’s coming to town.
Checking it twice. Santa’s naughty list, courtesy of Jenna Wilcox, will roll down Main Street with names of residents who deserve a lump of coal in their stocking. Saving the parade won’t be easy, but Merry is up to task. Or so she thinks until she discovers Jenna’s body stashed in Santa’s sack.
Going to find out. As facts are unwrapped, Merry finds the line blurred between who’s naughty and nice. As threats are aimed at her and those she loves, Merry dashes for the truth before the murderer puts her on the naughty list and crosses her off for good.
About Christina Freeburn
Christina Freeburn has always loved books. There was nothing better than picking up a story and being transported to another place. The love of reading evolved into the love of writing and she’s been writing since her teenage years. Her first novel was a 2003 Library of Virginia Literary Award nominee. Her mysteries series, Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery and Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mysteries, are a mix of crafty and crime and feature heroines whose crafting time is interrupted by crime-solving.
Christina served in the US Army and has also worked as a paralegal, librarian, church secretary, and golf shop pro. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid and allergic to felines.
Read and Buried: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates
Character Guest Post
Into the Center of the Earth
By Lucy Richardson from the Lighthouse Library Series by Eva Gates
My employment contract says “other duties as assigned”.
I guess descending toward the center of the earth qualifies. Although I’d rather it didn’t.
Let me explain. The Bodie Island Lighthouse, in which our library is situated is old and in need of repair. After a lot of fund-raising (as described in Something Read Something Dead) the library community came up with the needed funds and work began.
Work was well underway and all progressing well when suddenly… it wasn’t.
Deep in the earth at the base of the lighthouse tower, the crew found a tin box. Just a box (thank heavens they didn’t find a skeleton or old bones) but it is a potentially historical relic, after all it wasn’t put there yesterday. So someone from the library had to go down and get it.
Bertie James, our director, refused outright. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her face quite that shade of pale. It seems she’s severely claustrophobic. Who knew?
In her panic. Bertie turned to the closest person, shoved the hard hat at her, and ordered her to descend into the pit in her place
That closest person just happened to be me. Conscious of my interrupted performance review, I reluctantly did as I’d been asked. It wasn’t too awful. I didn’t care for the sense of the earth closing around me, but Zack went ahead of me and we didn’t have too far to go. We got the box and carried it up. Now we’ll all troop into the library to open it and see what we have. It might be quite exciting. We don’t know if the box was deliberately buried there or someone dropped it and didn’t care enough to go in after it.
I only hope whatever it is it doesn’t lead to another murder at the Lighthouse Library.
Don’t forget to read my review of this book here and enter the giveaway for one signed hardcover copy of Read and Buried below!
Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can’t crack its code, she may end up read and buried.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library’s foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.
The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library–the map and the coded page are missing.
Lucy’s nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy–or his killer. When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she’s forced to do what she vowed not to do–get involved in the case. Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page. But when the library has a second break in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.
About Eva Gates
Made with Repix (http://repix.it)
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than thirty books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane.
Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
“Don’t worry. I promise to stay completely out of it this time.” are the last words spoken by Assistant Librarian Lucy in Read and Buried before she gets involved up to her neck in the mystery and murder.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library is being renovated to shore up its crumbling foundation. Workmen find an old tin box buried under the lighthouse. In it is an old, but unimportant, fishwife’s diary. Hidden within the diary’s pages is a map and a coded legend to decipher the map. Before anyone can solve the puzzle, a break-in occurs, the map and legend are stolen, and someone is killed in the library.
In Read and Buried, there are two mysteries. Who killed the victim and why? Plus where or to what does the coded map lead? Is there a connection between the library’s book club book, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and the coded map?
I love the Lighthouse Library mysteries. The characters are like friends and family now. I read each book to catch up on their lives. The mysteries in this book were especially challenging. There were many red herrings in plain sight but the real perpetrator can be found with enough investigative skill. Overall, an excellent addition to an excellent series. I’m already looking forward to the next one. 5 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review. Stay tuned for a guest post tomorrow on my blog with amateur sleuth, Lucy Richardson from this series. See what she really thinks of her job!