Review: THE LOST GREAT DANE by B.L. Blair

As part of a virtual tour organized by RABT Book Tours and PR, I recently read The Lost Great Dane by B.L.Blair. A novella-lengthy cozy mystery, it is the first in six tales in the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Series.

About the Book

The Lost Great Dane is the first novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

While looking for a lost cat, Alex finds a weak and injured Great Dane. The dog has no collar, no tags, and no microchip. And the only person looking for him is a man who might have murdered his own wife.

Within 24 hours, Alex has a hunted dog, a cryptic message, and a hitman after her. She realizes the only way out of this mess is to solve the mystery of the lost Great Dane.

My Review

This is an enjoyable cozy mystery. Alex has found her niche in focusing her investigative skills on cases involving lost pets. She is observant and has good instincts. The mystery itself was interesting, though not truly riveting. It was interesting to follow her efforts as she puzzles through the clues and rooted out the truth. I also enjoyed seeing how she handled interactions with an old flame. And I really liked her relationship with her elderly neighbor.

Great light reading likely to please fans of the genre.

FTC disclosure: I received a review copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

B. L. Blair writes mystery/romance stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Leah Norwood Mysteries and the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Novellas. She loves reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

Contact Links

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Vist the tour page for additional reviews, guest posts, interviews and more.

Spolight & Giveaway: GUILT IS MIDNIGHT BLUE by Josalyn McAllister

As part of a virtual tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on the first book in a new cozy mystery series – Guilt is Midnight Blue – by Josalyn McAllister.

About the Book

Hazel Dean has an ability to see other’s emotions in color. She mostly uses it to help people find the perfect book in her shop, Books and Chocolate. When one of her customers is murdered, the police point to an old feud. Only Hazel can tell that the accused is innocent. Hazel must navigate around her husband, the DA and her surrogate uncle, the police captain, to find out what really happened. Hazel drives, hikes and snoops all over her small Appalachian town in an attempt to bring peace to the victim’s family and prevent her community from being torn apart by old grudges.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of the book and a bunch of other great goodies.

About the Author

Josalyn McAllister is a cozy fiction author whose most recent works include Love Over Easy and Guilt is Midnight Blue. Josalyn started writing character descriptions at the tender age of seven, inspired by the works of LM Montgomery. In her teenage years she moved on to Newsies fan fiction. Inspired by National Novel Writing Month, she wrote her first novel about a child she mentored in college. She has never stopped writing. Josalyn taught middle school history before deciding she would rather spend time with her own children than other peoples. A restless soul, she has moved all over the country and collected an eclectic array of hobbies. Her writing has a relatable quality that will charm and entertain you.

 Author Links

Purchase Links

TBD

For reviews, guest posts, and more, visit the tour page.

Excerpt & Giveaway: TRUFFLE ME NOT by M.K. Scott

As part of an online event organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, today’s post spotlights Truffle Me Not, which promises to be a delightful mystery by M.K. Scott.

About the Book

The future of Cupid’s Catering Company hangs in the balance. With a rival bakery, owned by the queen of all mean, rich girls, Della is at a distinct disadvantage.

Della hinges her financial future on winning the local truffle contest. As if there wasn’t enough on her mind, additional problems arise, including missing cats, jewel thieves, and her desperate attempt to find the incredibly kind man who’d lent her hand when she had tire trouble.

Can she solve all these problems and find time to whip up a cookbook at the same time?

Read an excerpt:

Della inhaled, knowing what she was going to say next wouldn’t go over well. “Tony should have been on a leash. I know Prince should have been in his own yard but consider this. Your pup could run out into the street and be hit.”

“There’s not much traffic on our street. Besides, Tony never leaves my side.”

She could point out the dog had done just that, but she didn’t. Seeing her mother so happy with Tony brightened her day, but even Della acknowledged her mother could be a trifle unreasonable about the newest addition to the family. “If he got loose, someone could take him.”

“Oh, my!” A long pause continued after the exclamation. Some rustling and footsteps carried over the phone line. “Just checking. I thought I saw some strangers in the neighborhood earlier. They could be potential dog nappers. They had that look about them, three-day old beards, night watch beanies, dark hoodies, disheveled. You know the type.”

The scruffy look may have gained popularity with the introduction of grunge bands, television shows with unshaven actors, and male models who appeared to have just rolled out of bed, but it never appealed to Della’s mother. Even her detective father had been more accepting of current fashions than Mother. In Mabel’s mind, scruffy equaled criminal or the possibility of being influenced by one.

“Mom, there are no dog nappers in your neighborhood. Someone probably had company leaving. Keep in mind, living with a detective may have made us all a little paranoid. All the same, try to keep my little brother on a leash.”

“I will,” her mother grudgingly agreed.

“How was your day?”

“Good.” No need to mention the arrival of a foul wind in the form of Lacey Dankworth. The Delacroix family could only handle one crisis at a time. After all, it may all come to nothing.


Buy the book on Amazon – only 99 cents for limited time only.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $40 Amazon gift card from the author.

About the Author

M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries and The Talking Dog Detective Agency. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands-on approach.  Morgan’s daughter, who manages a hotel, provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog. Overall, both are fun series to create and read.

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Review: DEAD SPRINT by Caroline Fardig

I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Dead Sprint, the third book in the Ellie Matthews series by Caroline Fardig. A traditional/police procedural mystery, Dead Sprint released earlier this week.

Description

Criminalist Ellie Matthews has turned over a new leaf. For the first time in her life, she’s working on herself and putting the past behind her with the encouragement of the new man she’s seeing, FBI Agent Vic Manetti.

Her first attempt at competitive running is cut short when a woman is found dead along the trail. At first, the case seems to be open and shut. But when a gruesome photo of the victim goes viral, tagged with a chilling caption threatening more violence, Ellie must delve into the mind of a deranged killer to get to the truth.

Though Ellie’s relationship with Detective Nick Baxter has been strained to its breaking point, the two find themselves teaming up once again in a race to bring down the killer before he takes another life.

My Review

Ellie Matthews is a likable character. She takes on challenges and faces her personal struggles without flinching. At least, not much. And she is smart and gutsy. The mystery pulls you in early on, and the crisp writing holds your attention. As fitting the genre, as the story progresses, a myriad of suspects and motives emerge and the plot takes twists and turns en route to a satisfying resolution.

A great choice for fans of traditional mysteries – well written and fast paced from start to finish.

Note: Although this can definitely be read as a standalone, I suspect I might have to go back and read the first two for added insight into the evolution of Ellie’s relationships with both Nick and Vic.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author

Caroline Fardig is the USA Today Bestselling Author of over a dozen mystery novels. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, coffeehouse owner, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

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Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: ASBURY HIGH AND THE KIDNAPPER’S DRIVE by Kelly Brady Channick

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am thrilled to have Kelly Brady Channick as my guest today. The author of the Asbury High cozy mystery series for young adults, she is here to tell us about her love of writing and introduce her latest release, Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive.

How a love of reading grew into a love of writing

by Kelly Brady Channick

I have always been a reader. Back when Borders still existed (ahh to still live in such a world!), all I wanted for Christmas and birthdays was Borders gift cards. To make things sweeter, my parents ever made my sister or myself go to school on our birthdays! Thus, we got to send the day as we pleased. This meant having my mom drive me to Borders, and we’d spend the day perusing the shelves, finding my new and next favorite reads!

After reading truckloads of stories, I quickly realized that I had many stories brewing in my own mind. More often than not, I would finish a book and realize I already had a whole different ending planned. Sometimes, I would pull out some paper and write down how I thought it should’ve ended!

The more I wrote, the more I fell in love. Many times I would wake up from a deep sleep, or seemingly zone out when bored, and realize I had been crafting an awesome story in my head—at least they always seemed awesome to me.

As time went on, I realized I had notebooks and random papers filled with various characters and plots. By the time I was a senior in high school, I thought, why not try to write out the story that kept coming back to me—Asbury High. Clearly, I listened to myself and have now published over half of the series.

While I continue to write, I also continue to be a voracious reader. I believe that reading both spurs the imaginative juices, but also helps authors learn to master their craft. And though not every book I have read has been good or well-written, it is those books which have taught me how not to write, and guided me away from making similar mistakes.

About Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive

On a quiet summer night, in the peaceful seaside town of Asbury, a local girl is kidnapped from her home.

That very same day, a car thief is chased through an empty car lot, narrowly escaping from their teenage pursuer.

Can the two be connected?

Once again, it’s up to Asbury’s favorite, fearless foursome to find out.

Carly, Maddie, Pilot and Cornelious enter the summer before their junior year ready for normalcy. After a few weeks of calm, it seems that Carly may finally have the drama-free summer of her dreams—other than her boyfriend returning from his two-week vacation hotter than ever, drawing interest from her peers.

Just as Asbury is lulled into a sense of serenity, tragedy strikes when a local six-year-old is kidnapped from her home…with no sign of a break-in, no ransom, and no reason. While the town is desperate to find the missing girl, car parts from Maddie’s father’s shop suddenly go missing, and the gang begins to wonder if the two are connected. With little faith in law enforcement, and prodding from Maddie’s younger siblings, the gang finds themselves at the center of the investigation.

Unfortunately, solving both cases isn’t so easy, as the gang must work around the continually growing criminal enterprise of the Pitbulls, the constant construction occurring around town from Governor Gibbz’s Grant, as well as their changing feelings towards each other. When Maddie and Cornelious begin to sense their friendship might be more than what they realize, jealousies arise as the teens garner attention from others.

With all these distractions, can the foursome save the missing girl and figure out who is stealing from Petrozza Auto?

Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive is the fourth book in a thrilling young adult cozy mystery series, that fans of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Scooby Doo will love.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards from the author.

About the Author

For as long as she could remember, Kelly Brady Channick loved making up stories and leaving her listeners/readers on the edge of their seats.

Perhaps that’s why she always managed to talk herself out of trouble…

After graduating from NJ’s own Ocean City High School, Kelly accepted a basketball scholarship to Holy Family University, in Philadelphia. As a lifelong athlete, Kelly understands the importance of teamwork and overcoming adversity, something she hopes translates into her books.

Before writing page-turners, she taught first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade — like a dessert menu, she simply had to test them all out. But her favorite job is the one she’s now doing full time: writing. Kelly loves to craft whodunit mysteries, leading readers through various twists and turns filled with red-herrings, hidden clues, and more peculiar characters than a reality show.

Kelly lives in South Jersey with her handsome husband, energetic baby boy, two cookie-stealing dogs, and an awfully smart cat.

Author links:

For additional reviews, guest posts, and more, visit the tour page.

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: PIERCED PEONY by Dahlia Donovan

As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on Pierced Peony, a cozy mystery by Dahlia Donovan. The second book in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series, Pierced Peony released on May 1st.

About the Book

On a casual walk along the Cornish Coast, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley stumbles upon a body and a perilous new murder case in the second novel in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series.

As spring rolls into summer, Motts settles into her cottage. She’s enjoying a daily stroll when a body in the sea destroys her peace and quiet. It brings yet another mystery for her to solve.

How does a woman who vanished from Polperro three years prior wind up battered by waves?

Motts is drawn into the investigation despite her best attempts. She finds a family in turmoil and loads of suspects. With no easy answers, she tumbles further into chaos and ever closer to danger.

Can Motts find the killer before she’s the one put on ice?

Will she survive a bone-chilling brush with death? 

Read an excerpt:

“I know what you did.”

The muffled voice on her phone raised the hair on the back of Gail Briscoe’s head, and she swiped the perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand. “Look, I’ve reported these calls. Don’t call me again.”

She ended the call with a hard finger punch on the screen and stepped onto her front porch. The late-May Alabama air wrapped her in a blanket of heat and humidity, and she couldn’t wait to wash it off. She should have left the light on before she went for her predawn run. The darkness pressing against her isolated home sent a shudder down her back, and she fumbled her way inside. Welcome light flooded the entry, and she locked the door and the dead bolt with a decisive click that lifted her confidence.

She stared at the number on the now-silent phone. The drugstore again. Though there weren’t many pay phones around anymore, the old soda shop and drugstore still boasted a heavy black phone installed back in the sixties. The caller always used it, and so far, no one had seen who was making the calls. The pay phone was located off an alley behind the store by a Dumpster so it was out of sight.

The guy’s accusation was getting old. Counting today, this made seven calls with the same message. Could he possibly know about the investigation? She rejected the thought before it had a chance to grow. It wasn’t public knowledge, and it would be over soon. She clenched her hands and chewed on her bottom lip. She had to be vindicated.

But who could it be, and what did he want?

Leaving a trail of sweaty yoga shorts and a tee behind her, she marched to the bathroom and turned the spray to lukewarm before she stepped into the shower. The temperature shocked her overheated skin in a pleasant way, and within moments she was cooled down. She increased the temperature a bit and let the water sluice over her hair.

As she washed, she watched several long strands of brown hair swirl down the drain as she considered the caller’s accusation. The police had promised to put a wiretap on her phone, but so far the guy hadn’t stayed on the phone long enough for a trace to work. And it was Gail’s own fault. She should have talked with him more to string out the time.

She dried off and wrapped her hair in a turban, then pulled on capris and a top. Her phone vibrated again. She snatched it up and glanced at the screen. Augusta Richards.

“I got another call, Detective. Same phone at the drugstore. Could you set up a camera there?”

“I hope I’m not calling too early, and I don’t think that’s necessary. The owner just told me that old pay phone is being removed later today. Maybe that will deter the guy. It’s the only pay phone in town. He’ll have to use something else if he calls again.”

“He could get a burner phone.”

“He might,” the detective admitted. “What did he say?”

“The same thing—‘I know what you did.’”

“Do you have any idea what it means?”

Gail flicked her gaze away to look out the window, where the first colors of the sunrise limned the trees. “Not a clue.”

“Make sure you lock your doors and windows. You’re all alone out there.”

“Already locked. Thanks, Detective.” Gail ended the call.

Ever since Nicole Pearson’s body had been found a couple of months ago, no one needed to remind Gail she lived down a dirt road with no next-door neighbors. No one wanted to buy the neighboring place after such a lurid death, so the area remained secluded other than a couple of houses about a mile away and out closer to the main road.

She stood back from the window. It was still too dark to see. Was someone out there?

Pull back the reins on your imagination. But once the shudders started, they wouldn’t stop. Her hands shaking, she left her bedroom and went to pour herself a cup of coffee with a generous splash of half-and-half from the fridge. She had a stack of lab orders to process, and she couldn’t let her nerves derail her work.

The cups rattled as she snatched one from the cupboard. The coffee sloshed over the rim when she poured it, then she took a big gulp of coffee. It burned all the way down her throat, and tears stung her eyes as she sputtered. The heat settled her though, and she checked the locks again before she headed to her home office with her coffee.

No one could see in this tiny cubicle with no window, but she rubbed the back of her neck and shivered. She’d work for an hour, then go into the lab. The familiar ranges and numbers comforted her. She sipped her coffee and began to plow through the stack of papers. Her eyes kept getting heavy. Weird. Normally she woke raring to go every morning.

Maybe she needed more coffee. She stretched out her neck and back and picked up the empty coffee cup.

Gail touched the doorknob and cried out. She stuck her first two fingers in her mouth. What on earth?

The door radiated heat. She took a step back as she tried to puzzle out what was happening, but her brain couldn’t process it at first. Then tendrils of smoke oozed from under the door in a deadly fog.

Fire. The house was on fire.

She spun back toward the desk, but there was nothing she could use to protect herself. There was no way of egress except through that door.

If she wanted to escape, she’d have to face the inferno on the other side.

She snatched a throw blanket from the chair and threw it over her head, then ran for the door before she lost her courage. When she yanked it open, a wall of flames greeted her, but she spied a pathway down the hall to her bedroom. Ducking her head, she screamed out a war cry and plowed through the flames.

In moments she was in the hall where the smoke wasn’t so thick. She pulled in a deep breath as she ran for her bedroom. She felt the cool air as soon as she stepped inside and shut the door behind her. Too late she realized the window was open, and a figure stepped from the closet.

Something hard came down on her head, and darkness descended.

***

Excerpt from Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2021 by Thomas Nelson. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

***

Excerpt from Pierced Peony by Dahlia Donovan.  All rights reserved.


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Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win an Amazon gift card. Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

About the Author

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress.  She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters.  An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.   

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads * Newsletter 

Author Links

Spotlight & Giveaway: WHOLE LATTE MURDER by Lena Gregory

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post features a new cozy mystery from Lena Gregory – Whole Latte Murder (All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery). Don’t know about any of you, but I love the cover!

About the Book

Ex-New Yorker and local diner owner Gia Morelli is still getting used to the sweltering Florida sun. But this summer she’ll have to deal with a more dangerous kind of heat—when she’s hot on the trail of another murderer . . .

Summer in Boggy Creek has arrived, and Gia’s best friend, successful real estate agent Savannah, is getting hitched. Now she’s enlisted Gia’s sleuthing talents in a desperate search for the perfect wedding dress. But when Savannah mysteriously vanishes after showing a mansion to a bigwig client, Gia investigates the house Savannah was trying to sell. The first clue she finds is Savannah’s car in the driveway. Inside the house, they stumble on Savannah’s potential buyer—dead. Someone had apparently closed the deal—with a two by four full of nails to the client’s head. Soon afterward, a woman’s body is fished from the lake near the same house. The townsfolk are now sweating bullets over the murders, and the heat comes down on poor Gia to find her missing friend, and track down the killer . . .

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Lena Gregory is the author of the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries, which take place on a small island between the north and south forks of Long Island, New York, and the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries, which are set on the outskirts of Florida’s Ocala National Forest.

Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, but she recently traded in cold, damp, gray winters for the warmth and sunshine of central Florida, where she now lives with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

To learn more about Lena and her latest writing endeavors, visit her website at http://www.lenagregory.com/ and be sure to sign up for her newsletter.

Author Links:

Purchase Links:
Amazon    Barnes & Noble      Kobo    Kensington     Apple    Google Play

For more reviews, guest posts, and more, visit the tour page.

Showcase & Excerpt: THREE MISSING DAYS by Colleen Coble

As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on Three Missing Days, the latest addition to the Pelican Harbor romantic suspense series from bestselling author Colleen Coble. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it sounds great to me.

About the Book

A chilling murder.
Chief of Police Jane Hardy plunges into the investigation of a house fire that claimed the life of a local woman as well as one of the firefighters. It’s clear the woman was murdered. But why? The unraveling of Jane’s personal life only makes the answers in the case more difficult to find.

Her son’s arrest.
Then Jane’s fifteen-year-old son is accused of a horrific crime, and she has to decide whether or not she can trust her ex, Reid, in the attempt to prove Will’s innocence—and whether she can trust Reid with her heart.

Her stolen memories.
Three days of Jane’s past are missing from her memory, and that’s not all that has been stolen from her. As she works to find the woman’s murderer and clear her son’s name, finding out what happened in those three days could change everything. It all started with one little lie. But the gripping truth is finally coming out.

Read an excerpt:

“I know what you did.”

The muffled voice on her phone raised the hair on the back of Gail Briscoe’s head, and she swiped the perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand. “Look, I’ve reported these calls. Don’t call me again.”

She ended the call with a hard finger punch on the screen and stepped onto her front porch. The late-May Alabama air wrapped her in a blanket of heat and humidity, and she couldn’t wait to wash it off. She should have left the light on before she went for her predawn run. The darkness pressing against her isolated home sent a shudder down her back, and she fumbled her way inside. Welcome light flooded the entry, and she locked the door and the dead bolt with a decisive click that lifted her confidence.

She stared at the number on the now-silent phone. The drugstore again. Though there weren’t many pay phones around anymore, the old soda shop and drugstore still boasted a heavy black phone installed back in the sixties. The caller always used it, and so far, no one had seen who was making the calls. The pay phone was located off an alley behind the store by a Dumpster so it was out of sight.

The guy’s accusation was getting old. Counting today, this made seven calls with the same message. Could he possibly know about the investigation? She rejected the thought before it had a chance to grow. It wasn’t public knowledge, and it would be over soon. She clenched her hands and chewed on her bottom lip. She had to be vindicated.

But who could it be, and what did he want?

Leaving a trail of sweaty yoga shorts and a tee behind her, she marched to the bathroom and turned the spray to lukewarm before she stepped into the shower. The temperature shocked her overheated skin in a pleasant way, and within moments she was cooled down. She increased the temperature a bit and let the water sluice over her hair.

As she washed, she watched several long strands of brown hair swirl down the drain as she considered the caller’s accusation. The police had promised to put a wiretap on her phone, but so far the guy hadn’t stayed on the phone long enough for a trace to work. And it was Gail’s own fault. She should have talked with him more to string out the time.

She dried off and wrapped her hair in a turban, then pulled on capris and a top. Her phone vibrated again. She snatched it up and glanced at the screen. Augusta Richards.

“I got another call, Detective. Same phone at the drugstore. Could you set up a camera there?”

“I hope I’m not calling too early, and I don’t think that’s necessary. The owner just told me that old pay phone is being removed later today. Maybe that will deter the guy. It’s the only pay phone in town. He’ll have to use something else if he calls again.”

“He could get a burner phone.”

“He might,” the detective admitted. “What did he say?”

“The same thing—‘I know what you did.’”

“Do you have any idea what it means?”

Gail flicked her gaze away to look out the window, where the first colors of the sunrise limned the trees. “Not a clue.”

“Make sure you lock your doors and windows. You’re all alone out there.”

“Already locked. Thanks, Detective.” Gail ended the call.

Ever since Nicole Pearson’s body had been found a couple of months ago, no one needed to remind Gail she lived down a dirt road with no next-door neighbors. No one wanted to buy the neighboring place after such a lurid death, so the area remained secluded other than a couple of houses about a mile away and out closer to the main road.

She stood back from the window. It was still too dark to see. Was someone out there?

Pull back the reins on your imagination. But once the shudders started, they wouldn’t stop. Her hands shaking, she left her bedroom and went to pour herself a cup of coffee with a generous splash of half-and-half from the fridge. She had a stack of lab orders to process, and she couldn’t let her nerves derail her work.

The cups rattled as she snatched one from the cupboard. The coffee sloshed over the rim when she poured it, then she took a big gulp of coffee. It burned all the way down her throat, and tears stung her eyes as she sputtered. The heat settled her though, and she checked the locks again before she headed to her home office with her coffee.

No one could see in this tiny cubicle with no window, but she rubbed the back of her neck and shivered. She’d work for an hour, then go into the lab. The familiar ranges and numbers comforted her. She sipped her coffee and began to plow through the stack of papers. Her eyes kept getting heavy. Weird. Normally she woke raring to go every morning.

Maybe she needed more coffee. She stretched out her neck and back and picked up the empty coffee cup.

Gail touched the doorknob and cried out. She stuck her first two fingers in her mouth. What on earth?

The door radiated heat. She took a step back as she tried to puzzle out what was happening, but her brain couldn’t process it at first. Then tendrils of smoke oozed from under the door in a deadly fog.

Fire. The house was on fire.

She spun back toward the desk, but there was nothing she could use to protect herself. There was no way of egress except through that door.

If she wanted to escape, she’d have to face the inferno on the other side.

She snatched a throw blanket from the chair and threw it over her head, then ran for the door before she lost her courage. When she yanked it open, a wall of flames greeted her, but she spied a pathway down the hall to her bedroom. Ducking her head, she screamed out a war cry and plowed through the flames.

In moments she was in the hall where the smoke wasn’t so thick. She pulled in a deep breath as she ran for her bedroom. She felt the cool air as soon as she stepped inside and shut the door behind her. Too late she realized the window was open, and a figure stepped from the closet.

Something hard came down on her head, and darkness descended.

***

Excerpt from Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2021 by Thomas Nelson. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Goodreads
BookBub: @ColleenCoble
Instagram: @colleencoble
Twitter: @colleencoble
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Guest Post, Release Spotlight & Giveaway: SHRIMPLY DEAD by Maggie Toussaint

As part of blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to have Maggie Toussant as my guest today as she celebrates the release of her latest Seafood Caper Mystery – Shrimply Dead. In her guest post, she lets us in on her take on inventing interesting characters.

Carbon copy?
By Maggie Toussaint

Remember the phrase “carbon copy?” It originated from typewriter days when you would insert a piece of carbon paper between two sheets of paper and then roll the set into the typewriter. When you finished with the typed page, you’d have an extra copy, a carbon copy. In time, carbon copy got shortened to “cc” on memos, letters, faxes, and emails, though no carbon paper is involved now.

Authors are often asked if the lead character in a work of fiction is a proxy for the author, i.e., a character with identical character traits as the author. Most of the time, I live vicariously through my characters because they are so much more interesting and braver. If I wrote about my life, I doubt that would interest most people.

As the author of several series, I have multiple protagonists. Here are a few:

  1. Cleopatra Jones is the owner and operator of Sampson Accounting in Maryland. She’s the mother of two teenaged girls and a St. Bernard. Her hobbies are golfing, sleuthing, and riding herd on her flamboyant mother. (3 books and 1 novella series, Cleopatra Jones Mysteries)
  2. Lindsey McKay comes home to coastal Georgia with her dog to take over the family newspaper business when her father’s accused of murder. She reconnects with a high school crush, Sheriff Ike Harper. She’s too busy to have hobbies other than investigating, which comes to her as naturally as breathing. (3-novella series, Lindsey & Ike Mysteries)
  3. Baxley Powell lives in Sinclair County, Georgia, and she develops her entire repertoire of paranormal talents during the course of her 7-book series. She’s a conduit to the dead, an energy sharer, a walking lie-detector, and more. She’s married to Deputy Sam Mayes, and they have a son and Baxley’s daughter from a previous marriage. She also has a menagerie of cats and dogs, including Elvis the therapy dog.
  4. River Holloway owns Holloway Catering, and she loves to cook more than anything else in the world. She’s energized throughout the day. She’s super good with cats and dogs, and she’s rescued two cats and a dog. She’s married and wants children. Her favorite place after her backyard is the beach. (Dreamwalker Mysteries)

So let’s take those four fictional women and compare them to me in 10 different categories.

Marital status: Baxley, River, and Maggie=married; Lindsey and Cleo=single

Pet owner: Cleo, Baxley, Lindsey, and River=yes; Maggie=no

Children: Cleo, Baxley, Maggie=yes; Lindsey and River=no

Favorite beverage: Lindsey, River, Cleo=coffee; Baxley=restorative broth; Maggie=tea

Beach or mountains: Cleo and Lindsey=mountains; River and Baxley=beach; Maggie = beach but not when it’s sunny

Read books or watch TV: Maggie=read; Cleo, Lindsey, River, and Baxley=watch TV

Occupations: all 4 have different occupations, none of which Maggie ever attempted.

Family loyalty is key: true for all

Strong sense of right and wrong: true for all

Compassionate, caring individuals: true for all

Thus it seems clear that while there are differences among my female protagonists, the same bedrock traits apply to all, traits that I share. Definitely not carbon copies but there are some likenesses. That’s what makes it interesting, don’t you think?


About Shrimply Dead

When veterinarian and amateur naturalist Jasmine Garr is shot in her yard, residents of Shell Island press caterer River Holloway into investigating the homicide. River dons her amateur sleuth cap and sets out to discover who killed her former catering customer.

Between Jasmine’s estranged cousin, a rival veterinarian, a wild animal trapper, the chicken lady, and a real estate broker, River has plenty of suspects to consider. As she peels back the layers of Jasmine’s life, dangerous secrets come to light.

Jasmine’s orphaned kitty, Iris, along with River’s cat Major, and her husband Pete help River sift through the evidence. At the same time, River recently expanded her catering business. She must service her regular catering clients, plus provide fresh baked goods for Pete’s ice cream shop.

The killer follows River’s every move relishing the thought of another victim. Time is running out. Will River solve the murder before she becomes a cold dish?

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of two print copies of Shrimply Dead (A Seafood Caper Mystery) by Maggie Toussaint (U.S. Only).

About the Author

Southern author Maggie Toussaint writes cozy and paranormal mysteries, romantic suspense, and dystopian fiction, with more than twenty fiction novels published. A multi-year finalist for Georgia Author of the Year, she’s won Silver Falchions, the Readers’ Choice, and the EPIC Awards. She’s past president of Mystery Writers of America-Southeast chapter and an officer of LowCountry Sisters In Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where secrets, heritage, and ancient oaks cast long shadows. Visit her at https://maggietoussaint.com/

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Review & Giveaway: THE HASIDIC REBBE’S SON by Joan Lipinsky Cochran

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read an advance review copy of The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son (A Becks Ruchinsky Mystery) by Joan Lipinsky Cochran.

About the Book

Boca Raton reporter Becks Ruchinsky is stunned when her son, Gabe, brings an ultra-Orthodox friend home from college and asks her to hide him. Six days later, his body is found floating in a canal. When police deem his death an accident, Becks launches her own inquiry—a journey that takes her from secretive Hasidic enclaves to the seedy underbelly of South Beach’s glitzy club scene—to find his killer. What she discovers jeopardizes her son’s life and challenges her religious conviction.

The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son is an intriguing and compulsively readable mystery that contrasts the beauty of Hasidic tradition with the unbending rules that may lead to desperation and murder.

This book is available on Amazon.

My Review

Becks is an independent-spirted, obstinate woman. Her natural curiousity and background in journalism lend to her pursuit of the truth regarding the young man’s death. She is unwilling to relent despite her husband’s opposition, which is but one of the issues in their troubled relationship. Her son, Gabe, suffers from Asperger’s, and the challenges he and his family face are highlighted as part of the story. At the same time, her investigation brings with it insights into the widely divergent levels of religious observance practiced by Jews in different communities, and an interesting glimpse into some of the unique aspects of the Hasidic world.

The story is both well-written and well-paced. The plot became increasingly complex as Becks gathered more and more information on Mennie’s family, friends, and overall background, with the resolution something of a surprise.

A good choice for readers who enjoy mysteries or Jewish fiction in general.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son from the author.

About the Author

Joan Lipinsky Cochran is a South Florida-based writer whose crime and mystery novels focus on subcultures of American Judaism. In her latest novel, The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son, her protagonist is compelled to explore the glitzy South Beach nightclub scene and the secretive world of Hasidic Judaism to find a killer. It is the second in The Becks Ruchinsky Mystery Series. The first, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is the story of a woman whose world is upended – and life threatened – when she discovers her father was a member of the Jewish mafia.

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