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.
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.
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!
“You’re developing quite a tendency to stumble across murder in your middle age.” Said to our heroine, Rachel, after she finds a corpse in the men’s room on the first page of the Books of the Dead.
Rachel lives in Paris with her husband, Alan, and her best friend Magda. After solving one murder in the previous book in the series, the Capitaine asks for her to “observe and report” who among the murdered man’s co-workers would like to see him dead. The quick answer is everyone. Guy Laurent was universally hated by all who knew him. So how will Rachel, Magda, and the Capitaine solve the crime?
The reader definitely has to suspend disbelief to read Books of the Dead. I can’t picture any country’s police force asking a rank amateur to go undercover. However, if you can get past that plot point, this book has a lot to recommend it to cozy readers. Middle-aged characters, a library, and last but not least, Paris are all here to entertain any cozy reader tired of one more restaurant owner. The characters are great too. The three main characters are realistic and feel like friends to the reader by the end of the book. For those reasons, I recommend this book highly. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Haunted House Ghost: Death At The Fall Festival (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney
It’s Halloween and Professor Kellan is renovating his newly purchased rundown mansion in the Haunted House Ghost.
A current mystery and a historic one compete for Kellan and his potential girlfriend, Sheriff April’s attention. Between that, a Fall Festival, a ghost, home renovations, a psychic, and a skeleton, no wonder Kellan and April can’t even find the time to go out on a date!
Good thing there is a guide to Who’s Who in the front of the book. This book has the largest cast of any tale shorter than a 19th-century Russian novel. Luckily, you don’t need to memorize them all. The Haunted House Ghost quickly narrows down to a handful of suspects. Kudos to the author for making me second guess my thought on who was the murderer—multiple times right up to the reveal. Overall, an enjoyable cozy mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Blog Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget about entering the giveaway shown below!
It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival.
Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing.
While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.
About James J. Cudney
James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com
What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.
“Finding one body could be considered bad luck. Finding two within the space of thirty days was beginning to look like destiny.”—most honest words ever spoken by a cozy mystery’s heroine from A Legacy of Murder.
Widow Kate is back in England collecting antiques for her shop in Ohio. While there, she stops at stately Finchley Hall to visit her daughter, Christine, who is interning there. Of course, she also agrees to have dinner with new beau, Detective Inspector Tom. Unfortunately, her first call to Tom is to report finding another intern, Tabitha, dead, an apparent victim of suicide. When the coroner rules it murder, Tom asks for Kate’s outsider viewpoint to assist him with solving the case.
A Legacy of Murder is a sweet cozy mystery with a perfect balance of mystery and romance. With a forty-six-year-old widow as the heroine, it should appeal to older readers as well as antique lovers. The characters are well-defined and the mystery is just difficult enough for a light read on a windy fall night. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Andy, the perpetually retiring defense lawyer, gets sucked into two cases involving dogs in the fun cozy mystery, Dachshund Through the Snow.
Andy is asked by an old cop frenemy to find a way to get the city to allow the cop’s K-9 partner, Simon, to retire with him in a few weeks. Simon has arthritis and could be hurt if he continues to work. So Andy sues the city alleging that Simon is a city employee who should be able to disability retire. It really is a case of species discrimination!
Laurie, Andy’s wife and an ex-police lieutenant, starts celebrating Christmas in November. So it is no surprise when she selects a wish off a tree in her local pet store. The child requestor, Danny, wants three gifts: a winter coat for his mother, another coat for his dachshund, and his dad to come home.
The coats are no problem. Unfortunately, Danny’s dad is accused killer, Noah. Fourteen years earlier, he met Kristen at a bar. After a few dates on the down-low, they meet in a remote spot. Kristen asks Noah to take her with him when he leaves for college in a few days. When Noah refuses, Kristen becomes distraught and accidentally scratches his face. He leaves. He finds out that she is killed later that night. Fourteen years later, Noah’s brother spits into a genealogy website’s test tube and Noah is caught by his DNA—found under Kristen’s fingernails so long ago.
A Christmas setting has everything I love about cozy mysteries. Family interactions and murder. Okay, I’m not trying to wish up a murder at my next family Christmas party, but it would stop everyone from gossiping—at least for a minute or two. The Andy Carpenter series is always entertaining and this installment is no different. I love the interaction between the characters, who all seem realistic and relatable. However, the trials are also a smart addition to all the books in this series and that is rare in cozy mysteries. You might even say that Dachshund Through the Snow is a legal thriller set in a cozy mystery world. Plus Andy’s sarcastic asides are hilarious! Overall, I continue to love this series and wait each year for the next to appear. 5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
It’s December in Massachusetts in the latest adventure of Sid the animated skeleton where The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking in anticipation of Christmas morning.
When Bryon, teenager Madison’s Akita, finds a human femur, it is no surprise. After all, their family has an animated skeleton named Sid living in their attic. Her mother, Georgia, quickly agrees to go with Madison to give the bone back to Sid and apologize. However, when they talk to Sid, he quickly informs them that he isn’t missing a bone. Realizing the bone is from a stranger, they call the police. The skeleton’s identity leads the police to suspect one of Georgia’s fellow adjunct professors. Georgia decides to solve the crime with the help of Sid’s head.
It is a credit to the author that you don’t have a minute of doubt with any of the paranormal aspects of Sid’s very existence. An animated skeleton who help solves mysteries by hiding his head and a cell phone in Georgia’s Day of the Dead bucket bag? It sounds absurd but somehow works. I’ve read at least three of the six cozy mysteries in this series including the first two books but The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking is fine as a standalone mystery. However, beware the genuine characters and laugh-out-loud humor of the series will draw you in quickly. You will soon be quietly stalking your library, bookstore, or Amazon account looking for the entire series. If you like cozy mysteries, you can’t miss this excellent book. 5 stars!
Thanks to Diversion Books and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Marc: Chutes and Ladder is the second book in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, but can be read standalone. Marty Golden is not your typical, cozy mystery protagonist. As a male sleuth who doesn’t own a bakery, bookstore, or bed & breakfast, or live by the beach, he stands out from the crowd of cozy protagonists. Marty does bumble his way through the investigations, armed with nothing but an eye for detail and powers of self-delusion.
In Chutes and Ladder, Marty discovers the dead body of his friend while failing as chaperone for a Girl Scouts camping trip. After the police rule it an accidental death, he disagrees and decides to investigate because friends don’t let their friend’s death go unsolved.
One reviewer called it “a gem with its great plotting and unusual cast.”
Q: Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Marc: I tend to pay attention to the strange stories in the newspaper, especially about unusual deaths or bizarre situations. This became a lot more socially acceptable once I become a published mystery author. Almost like a puzzle, I enjoy trying to merge together multiple situations into a coherent plot and trick the reader.
Q: Is there a theme in your story?
Marc: In a rare moment of introspection, I decided that the book should be about more than just humor wrapped in a mystery. A literary scholar, if one ever were foolish enough to select my novels for their dissertation, might say they’re about a search for family life, friends and happiness. However, Marty typically doesn’t realize this is what he wants out of life, so he tries hard to return to the quiet, simple and peaceful life that he had before his sister and his nieces moved to town.
Marty frequently mentions advice and etiquette lessons that his parents gave him when he was young. He’s often dismayed that their lessons didn’t cover the unusual predicaments that he finds himself in.
Q: How do you create your characters and do you have a favorite?
Marc: I’m obviously partial to the protagonist, Marty, since the novel is told in first person. My friends and family believe this fashion-backward, self-absorbed software engineer is not exactly a huge stretch of the imagination for me to write. But it’s fiction. I mean, I’m not a software engineer. I enjoy writing Marty’s nieces, especially young Megan. They’re loosely based on my own nieces and kids, exaggerated and merged with other kids that I’ve known. Perhaps my favorite side character is Mrs. Quarles, the school secretary. Marty struggles mightily to deal with her, and I always laugh as I’m writing her scenes. A surprising number of readers tell me she’s one of their favorite characters too. I’d love to hear from your readers which characters or scenes they like best.
Q: How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
Marc: I’ve lived a long time in Silicon Valley, working in high-tech, marketing roles. A lot of interesting characters work in big, high-tech companies. While I haven’t based any character directly off someone I’ve known, let’s just say that certain people influenced some of my characters more than others—especially the nuttier or more villainous characters.
If Silicon Valley is portrayed in fiction, it tends to be a very one-sided and biased view. I wanted to highlight more of the diversity and unusual personalities that I’ve encountered in my novels.
Q: What research do you do?
Marc: I’ve found that writing has made me more willing to talk to strangers in different situations and more observant and patient in lines and crowded situations, as I’m looking for material. I’m normally more of an introvert. Who’d have thought that the solitary occupation of being an author would make me more socially outgoing?
Most of my detailed mystery research is done via the internet. I’m hopeful that no law enforcement agencies are watching my searches and wondering what I may be up to. Not to be paranoid or anything, but I’ll use this space to remind them: “Marc Jedel is a fiction writer of humorous murder mysteries. Fiction!”
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
Marc: I’ll quote a reviewer: “I enjoyed this fast-paced humorous mystery just as much as Uncle and Ants. His writing is clever, and the plotting is meticulous and exceptionally well-executed.” And I swear that reviewer wasn’t related or a friend.
Chutes and Ladder, book 2 in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, can be read standalone. It and Uncle and Ants are free to Kindle Unlimited readers. Serf and Turf, book 3 in the series, will be released in mid-October 2019 so this is a perfect time to catch up. Buy them on Amazon at amazon.com/gp/product/B07PHNT7XM. For more about my books or me, please visit www.marcjedel.com.
the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck
putting out the fire …
Golden enjoys time with his nieces, but he wanted to spend the
weekend with his new girlfriend — not chaperone a Girl Scout
camping trip. Once he stumbles upon the corpse of a friend in the
woods, the outdoors adventure becomes an open-air disaster. When the
police label it an accidental death, the meticulous Marty vows to
investigate the murder. After all, it’s poor manners to let your
friend’s death go unsolved.
the hunt for clues the cops ignored, Marty uncovers a disturbing
connection to himself. And as he digs deeper, a misbehaving pup, a
kooky cousin, and a maniacal ninja put his survival skills to the
Marty unravel the mystery before the killer, or his imagination, gets
and Ladder is
the side-splitting second novel in the Silicon Valley cozy mystery
series. If you like quirky sleuths, wacky side characters, and
laugh-out-loud moments, you’ll love this offbeat whodunit.
and Ladder to
decode a great mystery today!
attacks. Mischievous nieces.Can
a clueless uncle catch a tech-savvy killer … and be home before
a freak accident hospitalizes Marty
Golden’s sister and condemns him to
babysitter duty, he thinks it’s just another case of hardwired bad
luck in Silicon Valley.
Until a suspicious murder suggests the mishap was no mere
coincidence. Something must be done.
bad this quirky, fashion-backward
uncle isn’t exactly hero material.
his sister is in mortal danger, this
amateur sleuth follows clues to an
oddball array of suspects. Armed with nothing but an eye for detail
and powers of self-delusion, Marty
tangles with gangsters, a cantankerous school secretary, and a
perplexing woman he can’t help but fall for. Glitches in his
investigation seem like a piece of cake compared to dinner-prep and
bedtime stories with his two precocious, pre-teen nieces.
Marty catch the culprit, save his sister, and get his life back in
order before he gets unplugged?
and Ants is the first novel in
a refreshingly modern mystery series set in Silicon Valley. If you
like clever humor, sassy side characters, and average Joes facing
extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this twisty mystery.
and Ants to login to a fresh,
funny mystery today!
Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. In his high-tech marketing
roles, he’s also written fiction. These are just called emails, ads,
and marketing collateral.
his family, Marc was born first — a fact his sister never lets him
forget, no matter what milestone age she hits. For most of Marc’s
life, he’s been inventing stories. Some, especially when he was
young, involved his sister as the villain. As his sister’s brother
for her entire life, he feels highly qualified to tell tales of the
evolving, quirky sibling relationship in the Silicon Valley Mystery
and friends would tell you that the protagonist in his stories, Marty
Golden, isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for Marc, but he
proudly resembles that remark.
Marty, Marc lives in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, where he
writes within earshot of the doppler effect of the local ice cream
truck. Unlike Marty, Marc has a wonderful wife and a neurotic but
sweet, small dog, who much prefers the walks resulting from writer’s
block than his writing.
his website, marcjedel.com, for free chapters of upcoming novels,
news and more.
Two Bites Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery) by Debra H. Goldstein
It’s all about the characters, baby, in Two Bites Too Many (and yes I did just reference an old Puff Daddy/Diddy hip-hop song from 1997.)
Maybelle is the protective Southern mama of twins, Sarah and Emily. Emily is denied a business loan at the small town local bank. Maybelle brings recently rich Sarah with her to complain to the bank’s manager, Lance, about the loan denial. When Lance is found dead on his desk a few moments later by Maybelle, she is suspect number one. What can Sarah do but find the real murderer to save her mother from a long prison term?
The small town of Wheaton Alabama, near Birmingham, is so well described that you feel like you traveled there. It’s an even more southern version of Mayberry.
But truly the characters are the stars here. Sarah is finally recovering from her divorce with the help of her Siamese cat RahRah’s inheritance and her job running an animal parade. Sarah quickly learns why there is a joke about the difficulties of herding cats. Emily is trying to rebuild her restaurant after a catastrophic fire. However, Maybelle is my favorite. She uses her southern charm to cover an unladylike amount of spunk and determination. Slap her or her children and draw back a stump—figuratively of course.
The mystery itself was rather easy to solve. However, Two Bites Too Many allows its readers to fall into a completely different, tightly-bound family for a few hours. And who doesn’t want to do that? Highly recommended for cozy fans. There are cats, dogs, an animal parade, and small town southern charm in abundance here plus recipes at the end. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for one print copy at the bottom of this page!
Far from a domestic goddess, Sarah Blair would rather catch bad guys than slave over a hot stove. But when a dangerous murder boils over in Wheaton, Alabama, catching the killer means leaving her comfort zone . . .
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce. Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her modest law firm receptionist job and—if befriending flea-bitten strays at the local animal shelter counts—lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end.
When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands—the twins sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block?
Includes quick and easy recipes!
About Debra H. Goldstein
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Two Bites Too Many, as well as One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should HavePlayed Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of the Southeast Chapter of MWA and past president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.