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.
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.
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.
Dogs vs. Ice Cream is a great palate (or eyeball) cleanser after a particular harsh thriller read.
A professional photographer takes pictures of dogs eating (and sometimes glaring at) ice cream cones. Each pic lists the dog’s name, breed and age.
You can clearly see some of the dog’s personality in their shots. The surprise on a pit bull’s face with the entire ice cream ball in his mouth. Obviously, Dudley had never tried ice cream before and it’s cold! See Stella, a 9 year old pekinese/poodle mix, suspiciously smell her cone. Finally, Ruby, a shepherd/lab mix, licks her chops to get every last drop of ice cream goodness.
Dogs vs. Ice Cream is such a fun little book. It should be mandatory in dentist’s waiting rooms to cheer everyone up. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Famillius, and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Bark of Night had me with the cute French Bulldog on the cover. But I stayed for the hatred of veggies and pronounced love of dogs evident in this conflicted defense lawyer protagonist’s cozy mystery.
Truman, a healthy French Bulldog, is brought into a vet clinic to be euthanized. The vet asks one his patient’s fur daddy, defense attorney Andy, if he is legally obligated to kill Truman after the dog’s chip reveals that the man who dropped him off is not his owner. In fact, the owner is recently murdered. Andy says no and takes Truman in to his rescue association to be placed in a forever home.
Laurie, Andy’s wife, encourages semi-retired Andy to look into the death of Truman’s owner, James Haley, including defending the possibly innocent boy in jail for the crime. Andy finds layer upon layer of murder.
Bark of Night is the fastest paced cozy mystery I’ve ever read—and I’ve read a lot of them. There are four murders and one attempted dog “murder” before the 25% mark. The perspective is unique too. We hear first person from Andy about what he is discovering. However, we also get an omniscient third person narrative about the murders. Despite that viewpoint, there aren’t any explicit or graphic scenes of violence within the book.
I enjoyed the unusual narrative structure. It’s rare in cozies to know more than the main character does. I also liked the easy wordplay and dynamics between Andy and Laurie. Andy’s snarky asides about his hatred of vegetables and karaoke add some needed humor into the plot. The mystery is complicated and a challenge to solve. I would have appreciated more involvement by Andy’s two dogs and Truman in the book. Overall, Bark of Night is an excellent cozy mystery choice. 4.5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Spend an afternoon reading A Dead Man and Doggie Delights and you won’t be disappointed by this captivating cozy mystery, the first in a new series.
Maggie is risking it all on opening a ba(r)kery and cafe with her best friend, Jamie, in a small town in Colorado. She moves in with her recently widowed eighty-two year old grandfather, Lou. Maggie’s beloved 140 pound Newfoundland, Fancy, moves in too.
On Maggie’s first day in town, an eccentric town resident named Jack first barks back at Fancy and then at Maggie. Lou threatens the man with a shotgun and tells him to leave. The man walks off.
When Fancy and Maggie find Jack dead in the mountains behind her granddad’s house, cute policeman Matt asks her what happened. When the autopsy determines that her grandfather’s shotgun was the murder weapon, her grandfather is brought in for questioning. Even though the gun was left in an unlocked truck, only Lou’s fingerprints are found on the weapon. He has no alibi for the time of death. Lou also has a previous murder conviction. Things look bad for him so Maggie decides to look for the real killer.
There are multiple plot threads to follow. In addition to the main plot, there is a side plot about Jamie’s long ago love Luke being a player. Could he be dating their 17 year old shop assistant, Katie, even while flirting shamelessly with Jamie? Somehow the author succeeds in keeping all these balls in the air in this charming cozy mystery.
The characters in A Dead Man and Doggie Delights are well defined and have rational motives for their actions. The history of Maggie’s grandfather is particularly well written. He’s lived his life on his own terms and continues to do so with his friendship with retired librarian, Lesley.
If you like dogs and cozy mysteries, this is a perfect read. Multiple plots, great characters, and a challenging mystery make this tale worthy of 5 stars!
29Thanks to the author, Xpresso Book Tours, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Death by Dog Show is a cozy mystery set in a dog show that, unfortunately, disappointed this reader.
Perri Morgan sells leather pet products and attends the Big E Dog Show with her friend Babette, who has a dog in the show, to further her business. The first night, Perri and her journalist boyfriend, Pruett, find a body. Despite the local police telling her not to investigate, Perri can’t resist.
I found some serious issues with this book:
I love dog shows on television and have watched many over the years. Therefore, I know that Best in Show is the last event. The prior events are based on dog group (i.e.; sporting group) and then the winners of the groups go on to the Best in Show event.
The names of the characters are silly. Wing, Roar and Alf being the worst examples. These are people’s names—not dogs.
The character of Perri is not likeable at all. She is both arrogant and insecure plus she appears to be incredibly horny all the time despite having a boyfriend for the past year. Note that Death by Dog Show has more sexual content than most cozies so if you are not into that, I would recommend giving this a pass.
The worst part was that the murderer was obvious from the beginning but we still had to continue reading to confirm what we already knew. There are no surprise twists here.
I believe this is this author’s debut book but I wouldn’t read anything else by her. Overall, I would give Death by Dog Show 2 stars.
Thanks to Lyrical Underground and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Light and easy cozy mystery set in the world of talent agent, Kay, who provides animal actors to television and film productions. Bird, Bath and Beyond is a nice afternoon’s entertainment with no graphic violence or language.
Celebrity parrot, Barney, is the sole witness to the death of television star, Dray. When Detective Bostwick asks Kay to question the parrot, she explains that it takes hours to teach parrots to speak specific phrases. Immediately, Barney says “Put down the gun.” When Bostwick arrests a suspect, the suspect asks Kay, who is also an attorney, to represent them. Since Kay is an entertainment lawyer, she calls on a defense attorney for help. However, she decides to also try to find the real murderer.
Bird, Bath and Beyond is the second in the Agent to the Paws Mystery series but can be read as a stand-alone. The humor and animals are the best part of this cozy mystery. There are many funny sub-plots such as her new gigantic dog, her theatrical parents, her love interest and her aspirational assistant. Despite some red herrings, the mystery was relatively easy to solve.
This book is recommended to readers of Stephanie Plum who want a more family-oriented read. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Kate owns a yoga studio. Michael, her live-in boyfriend, owns a pet store. Together they are renovating the house they live in that Kate inherited in Seattle.
After not getting the engagement ring she was expecting, Kate asks Michael why they aren’t moving forward in their relationship. Michael tells Kate that he is already married to Gabriella who is still living in his hometown in Oregon. He insists that it is a sham marriage to get her a green card but agrees to ask her for a divorce. Kate, Michael and their dog go to Oregon though Kate has not forgiven Michael for his deception. Michael stays with his sister Shannon. Kate stays with her best friend Rene with husband Sam, 3 month old twin daughters and two labradoodle puppies.
Kate, Michael and their 100 pound German Shepherd, Bella, confront Gabriella, who is reluctant to speak to Michael. During a doggy beach run the next day, Bella finds Gabriella dead. Kate and Rene have solved four murders in the past two years. To clear Michael’s name, they begin investigating the crime.
Kate, Rene and Shannon are delightful characters. Each have their own quirks and personalities. Kate and her dog Bella suffer from pogonophobia, the irrational fear of beards. Bella also has a stomach disorder, which is how Kate and Michael met. Shannon is a hoot and is the perfect person to have at Michael’s back. Rene is the perfect partner in detection. Even though she calls herself Watson to Kate’s Sherlock, she can hold her own when interrogating suspects or investigating clues.
Overall, Pre-meditated Murder is a good choice for cozy mystery fans. It would especially appeal to dog fans. The yoga is minimized and all terms are explained so even readers that are not into yoga will enjoy this book. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
Thanks to the publisher, Midnight Ink, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
The book is the story of the author’s two dogs pictured as two middle age men. It doesn’t sound funny but it is totally hilarious! I’m sure the people at work were wondering why I was first giggling and then laughing out loud at some of the cartoons.
As a servant of two cats, I enjoyed The Oatmeal’s earlier book, How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You. However, as an owner of two dogs, I loved this one even more. Who hasn’t wondered why dogs circle “thrice” before doing their business? Or why dogs chase cars but run from toddlers? After reading this book, it feels weirdly normal now to see dogs portrayed by middle-age men. I’m going to picture my two-year-old female Chihuahua, Janet, as a middle-aged woman from now on. Hopefully, that will explain some of her inexplicable behavior.
This book will be published on September 27, 2017. I received this book from net galley in exchange for an honest review.
Perfect for fans of the series, like me, this book contains about 35 haikus written by Martin the dog on the show. The haikus vary from funny to frightening to romantic. Not only will you see your dog’s feelings in them (the horrible ending after a car ride to the vet) but also your own. How many people other than me can relate to this example from the book:
Shame: all the food has
vanished before I notice
I started eating
The illustrations assist the reader’s understanding of the haikus and in one instance replace the haiku.
This book is great for dog lovers. It would also be a good book to read to children to encourage them to empathize, instead of terrorize, their new doggy brother or sister.
I received this book from Net Galley but that has not impacted my review.
I really enjoyed the characters within this book. I won the third book in the series in a Goodreads giveaway but wanted to read the first two books first. I actually listened to the first hundred pages on audiobook, while wading through jam-packed traffic during California’s blue cut fire’s road closures. It totally kept my interest and made the four hours fly by. When I got home, I continued to read the hardback.
I love the gentle humor within this book. It seems more genuine than say the madcap Serge Storms books. I also like that the main characters are a repo man with a heart of gold (and a prison record) and a real estate agent. This book has some paranormal elements and a small mystery, which I liked. I can’t wait to read book 2.
After reading the first book in this series, The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man, and absolutely loving it, I wanted to read the next book in the series. This is actually a short story that took me less than an hour to read on my Kindle. It is also a prequel to the first book that more fully explains how Ruddy got Jake, his lovably lazy bloodhound. The story is briefly detailed in the first book so the surprise of finding Jake was no surprise. Only for that reason, I would recommend reading this book before reading Midnight Plan. However, my biggest problem is that Alan doesn’t appear in this book at all and he was a favorite of mine from the previous book.
Overall, I would recommend this book even though I liked Midnight Plan better.