Spotlight & Excerpt: A FLAIR FOR DRAMA by Deborah Garner

I recently found out that, in addition to her successful Paige Mackenzie Mystery series, Deborah Garner has released the first two books in the Sadie Kramer Flair Mystery series.  Today’s spotlight is turned on the more recent release, A Flair for Drama.  Something tells me it might even feature a cute little dog.

Description

Drama_1800When a former schoolmate invites flamboyant senior sleuth Sadie Kramer to a theatre production, she jumps at the excuse to visit the Monterey Bay area for a weekend. With quaint Carmel shops a short drive away and luxurious linens in her hotel accommodations, the excursion promises to be both entertaining and relaxing.

Plenty of action is expected on stage, but when the show’s leading lady turns up dead, Sadie finds herself faced with more than one drama to follow. With both cast members and production crew as potential suspects, will Sadie and her sidekick Yorkie, Coco, be able to solve the case?

Read an excerpt:

Sadie reached over to the night stand, her hand slapping blindly across the surface, knocking off a pair of rhinestone-studded reading glasses, a dog-eared fashion magazine, and a halfway-consumed bag of peanut butter chocolate cups before landing on her cell phone. Annoyed the Dragnet ringtone had interrupted her dream of starring in a Broadway production, she looked at the Caller ID, surprised to see both a time of 1:30 am and Roxy’s phone number on the screen.

“Roxy?” Sadie sat up and clicked on the bedside light, temporarily startled at the sight of her neon pink flamingo pajamas. Why hadn’t she thought to pack the ones with pastel poodles? Those were much less of a shock when viewed unexpectedly from a half asleep state.

“What?” Sadie sat up straighter, suddenly wide awake. Coco lifted her head off the velvet pillow in her crate. “Oh, my!” Sadie stood up. Coco sprang to her paws. “How awful!” She began to pace. Coco followed suit, changing directions each time Sadie did an about face. The call lasted only a minute, after which Sadie hurried to the restroom to splash cold water on her face while Coco tapped one paw impatiently.

“Coco, we need to go down to the theatre,” Sadie said as she walked back into the room. “There’s been a terrible accident. Roxy is beside herself. Oh, my, oh my.” Sadie shook her head as she shed the pink flamingos in exchange for a bright yellow jogging suit. “Oh, my,” she added again. She scooped Coco out of the crate and deposited her in the tote bag, tossed in a few treats, and headed to the theatre..

Excerpt from A Flair for Drama by Deborah Garner. All rights reserved.

A Flair for Drama is available from:  Amazon, Nook, Apple, Kobo, and Google.

About the Author

DeborahGarnerDeborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

Author Links:

Review: BRING HER HOME by David Bell

Last year I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Since She Went Away by David Bell, so I was quick to snap up a pre-release copy of the author’s latest book, Bring Her Home. Besides, it has such a lovely cover.

About the Book (from Amazon)

51unob9ncblJust a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.

When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

My Review

Bill Price is a first and foremost a father who is worried about his daughter. As a parent, I get that. Nonetheless, his character was hard to relate to at times. He is quick to make assumptions about people and events, without evidence and without taking time to consider all the possibilities. This leads him to act rashly, interfering at times with the police investigation. I really liked his sister, Paige, who comes to stay with him and offer moral support. She has good instincts, she is sensible, and helps balance out his somewhat erratic behavior.

The plot is intricate, with an abundance  twists and turns.  Although some of the twists were unexpected, I found a few to be quite predictable.  Some aspects of the story lacked credibility, nonetheless, the novel was definitely intriguing enough to hold my attention to the very end.  Like Bill, I had to know what had happened to Summer.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Dialogue Tags – Again #wwwblogs #writingtips #amwriting

Excellent reminder (from Allison Williams’s blog on the use of dialogue tags. Can you chuckle a word?

Alison Williams Writing

writing-dialogue

This is a subject I’ve written about several times in the past, but it is an issue I keep coming back to, time and time again.

I’m a huge fan of self-publishing and of independent authors. I’ve read some absolutely amazing books by indie authors and have worked with some amazing authors that have self-published. There are so many great indie authors out there and many that are as good as, if not better than, traditionally published authors.

However, one thing that sets apart the majority of (but by no means all) traditionally published authors from some self-published authors and authors published by small presses is the proliferation of complicated dialogue tags in the work of the latter two. Now, I’m not saying it’s all indie authors that do this, but there is a lot of it about, and it’s usually a sign of an author who hasn’t had their…

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Spotlight: THAT ONE MOMENT by Patty Wiseman

Patty Wiseman, an award-winning author, recently  released a new romantic-suspense novel.  I haven’t had a chance to read That One Moment  yet, but it sounds like one for the To-Be-Read list, especially for those who seek a “clean” yet contemporary romance this summer.

ThatOneMomentCoverDescription

Ricki Sheridan travelled a long way to seek refuge at Wolf Den’s Lodge high in the mountains after a devastating betrayal. Heartbroken, she signed up for a survivalist backpacking trip to live off the land and forget.
An injury on the first day puts her in the capable hands of the handsome trail boss, Kory Littleton. The attraction is instant, mutual, and terrifying. She trusted her emotions once and vowed never to make the same mistake again.
Kory’s heart, trampled and bruised, is unprepared to ever love again, until his unexpected reaction to Ricki reveals some things are worth taking a chance on.
When evil finds its way back into Ricki’s world, their fragile bond is tested, forcing them to face their greatest fear: can a wounded heart ever trust anew?
Betrayal. Desire. Revenge. Which one prevails?

About the Author

Pwiseman

Award Winning Author Patty Wiseman is a native of the Seattle, Washington area and attended The Wesleyan College in Bartlesville Oklahoma. Northeast Texas is home, now, along with her husband Ron.

She created the Vintage Mystery Series, The Velvet Shoe Collection set in the 1920’s. Intrigue with a touch of romance fuel the stories of strong women who overcome obstacles and propel them into strength and triumph. Her books include: An Unlikely Arrangement – won 2nd place in Forward National Literature Awards, An Unlikely Beginning, won 1st place in Texas Association of Authors in Romance, An Unlikely Conclusion – won 1st place in Texas Association of Authors in Romance, and her newest book in the series, An Unlikely Deception won Honorable Mention in Texas Association of Authors.  Other awards include, Winner in 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading Contest sponsored by The Author’s Show.

Patty has just released a new contemporary romance called That One Moment. Another strong woman who struggles with vulnerabilities of the heart.  She’s also written a motivational book called Success Your Way – Make a Wish, Then Make a Plan. She is a member of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs – Marshall Chapter, a Lifetime Member of the Worldwide Who’s Who for Professional Women, named VIP for 2013, a member East Texas Writers Association, a member of the Northeast Texas Writer’s Organization, and Texas Association of Authors.

Favorite quote: “Find out who you are, then do it on purpose.” ~ Dolly Parton

Review & Giveaway: APPOINTMENT WITH ISIL by Joe Giordano

Italy Book Tours Logo in colour

As part of a blog tour organized by Italy Book Tours,  I recently read Appointment with ISIL a new thriller by Joe Giordano.

ApptwithISIL_cover.pngDescription

An Anthony Provati Literary Thriller 

This time, Anthony’s libido threatens his life. Anthony Provati flirts with Russian mob boss, Gorgon Malakhov’s mistress. The Russian deals in death. ISIL, the Islamic State in the Levant, wants the product. Russian Intelligence supplies the means, and an art theft funds the scheme.

ISIL’s targets are chilling. The chase across the Mediterranean is on. Can Anthony thwart ISIL? Will he survive?

My Review

Anthony is a piano player and a nice guy, but his better judgment goes out the window whenever he is confronted with a beautiful woman. He is ill-equipped to cope with the threats of a seasoned Russian mobster, and soon finds himself in the unlikely role of unofficial investigator as he tries to keep himself and the women he loves safe.  The course of events brings him in to the middle of conflicts between Italian, Colombian, Jewish, and Russian mobsters.

The author has created a somewhat disturbing scenario where Russian mobsters help ISIL prepare for a major terrorist attack.  Disturbing not because of the details, disturbing because it strikes home with respect to the threat from terror faced around the world today.  Anthony is not a spy or a government agent he happens on the details and does his best to pass the info on to the relevant authorities  with predicable and unpredictable results.  Spanning four continents and multiple cultures, Appointment with ISIL was an interesting read.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Appointment with ISIL.

About the Author

Joe GiordanoJoe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane, have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas.

Joe’s stories have appeared in more than ninety magazines including The Monarch Review, The Saturday Evening Post, decomP, The Summerset Review, and Shenandoah. His novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story, was published by Harvard Square Editions October 2015. His second novel, Appointment with ISIL, an Anthony Provati Thriller was recently released by HSE.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest

Review: HER IMAGINARY HUSBAND by Lia London

Looking to escape into a non-mystery book for a change of pace, I recently read “Her Imaginary Husband,” a sweet romantic comedy by Lia London.

ImaginaryHusbandDescription (from Amazon)

New teacher, Nikki Fallon, is trying to ward off the lecherous attention of Coach Carlin. She should
a) slap him silly.
b) report him for harassment. 
c) invent an imaginary husband.

Nikki opts for “C” and is not prepared for how the plan backfires! Sure, pretending you’re married to get rid of a jerk is fine, but what if a really nice guy comes along? How can she untangle the web of lies before true love passes her by?

My Review

Delightful, fun read. Nikki is a young and energetic teacher with a positive attitude, who manages to connect with her students.  She is also inexperienced, and not just with respect to teaching.  As a result,  Nikki digs herself into a hole with one spur of the moment lie.  A whopper.  Like in any good romance novel, the end is not a surprise  but the journey Nikki takes on the road to finding love made for an enjoyable, laugh out loud read.   This was my first time reading anything by this author; it won’t be the last.

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: DANCING IN THE RAIN by Lucy Appadoo

Italy Book Tours Logo in colour

As part of a tour organized by Italy Book Tours,  I am happy to have Lucy Appadoo as my guest as she celebrates the release of Dancing in the Rain, the third novel in the Italian Family series.


Exploring the Café and Piazza Life in Italy by Lucy Appadoo

At twenty-three years of age, I travelled to Piaggine, Italy and spent three months visiting the cities and villages. I not only visited the villages of Laurino, Batibaglia, and Positano,  I also spent time in Rome, Florence, Salerno (the Amalfi Coast), and Venice. I would’ve loved to have travelled to more of the amazing cities but I didn’t get the opportunity.

I spent time in the piazza in Piaggine with my cousins who would visit with their friends every night. I’d walk in the square with my one or both of my male cousin/s and each night a friend of theirs would buy us an alcoholic shot that was mixed in a glass test-tube like glass. Each night, I’d try a mix of cocktails in a test tube.

On that square, you had a bar and café, a bakery, and a restaurant. I loved staying at my aunt’s house as she lived upstairs in the bakery while her friend worked and lived in the bakery downstairs. Each day, I’d enter her home and the aroma of freshly-baked bread would permeate my senses. It was heavenly, and I would bite into the soft, doughy texture of fresh Italian bread. We’d eat the bread with a glass of wine or with food.   Amazing!

My cousin would also drive me around to the nearby villages, but what I found strange was that he’d never stop for us to explore the sights. Instead, he’d simply drive around for fifteen minutes or so, then return to the main village. I was thinking, “wow, not my idea of exploration, but maybe it was his.”

Piaggine is a beautiful village, mountainous, hilly, and with rough terrain around the farms. The stone houses felt cold inside but the wood fire ovens were great for home cooked meals. I would eat home-made bread, home-made sausages, home- made tomato sauce, fresh pasta, and home-made wine. Many things were made by hand, and the joy the Italians had from making something from scratch was captivating.

Exploring Italy in my 20s was amazing but I would have liked to explore more of the country. The history of the country left me feeling nostalgic when I returned back home to Melbourne. How can you compare the city of Melbourne with the cities in Italy and all its fabulous history. Impossible!!


Dancing in the RainAbout Dancing in the Rain

Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Buy the Book

Amazon    B&N

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST by Leslie Budewitz

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Leslie Budewitz is my guest today. She’s here to tell us about her most recent release, Treble at the Jam Fest, and share a few insights into how she creates the characters and stories in her books.


On the Job Training 

Astute readers have noticed that though I’m a lawyer by day, my characters have far more interesting jobs. Why, they ask?

LeslieBBecause part of the fun of writing fiction is to explore lives I haven’t lived. That may mean living in a one-room log cabin, on a houseboat, or in a million-dollar lakeside dream home, none of which I’ve done. Yet. It may mean imagining a thirty-year career as a chef or a banker, a life on stage playing the guitar or singing opera, or the trials and tribulations of a police officer or sheriff’s deputy. Or it may mean being a 33-year-old woman running a specialty local foods grocery in her family’s hundred-year-old grocery, as Erin Murphy, the main character in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, does.

As a former teenage bookseller, I know just enough about retail to be dangerous. Or more accurately, to observe, and to get people to tell me their stories. Mr. Right and I live in a lakeside resort community in northwestern Montana on the road to Glacier National Park—oh, gosh, that could also describe Jewel Bay, the Food Lovers’ Village! It’s a tourist town, and we’re friends with the folks who run the restaurants and art galleries, the children’s shop, the kitchen store, the bar, even the Playhouse. The liquor store and jam shop owners are pals, and we quite enjoy the man who runs the community foundation, as well as the hoteliers. And the man who runs the gas station—well, you can’t like them all, can you?

Everywhere I go, I listen and learn—and some of those conversations and characters wriggle their way onto my pages.

It’s all about keeping your eyes and ears open. Thinking about what a gallery owner does all day. Watching the barista’s movements, and how she handles the customer who can’t make up her mind. Figuring out who does what in the restaurant, and what conflicts might arise. Picturing what might go wrong when you host a food lovers’ film festival, or run a summer arts fair that takes over the village streets. (Hint: those screens are fragile, and when the signs say no vehicle traffic after 7:30 a.m., yes, that means you, too, Mr. Beer Truck Driver!)

And imagining all the pressures on the board of directors of a music festival as the final details come together—and when the star performer dies.

For my characters who slave over hot stoves, I read a lot of “chef lit”—kitchen memoirs and exposes. I’ve pored over blogs and online magazines for the trendy new foods, and the newest business terminology—because Erin would know it. I’ve even dabbled in spreadsheets and timeline software, because she adores that sort of thing, and finds it most useful in investigating.

I’ve had the same fun with my Spice Shop series, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. I fell in love with the Market as a college student, and ate my way through it both then and a few years later, when I was a young downtown lawyer. And while the real spice shop was my entrée into flavors and big enticement to learn to cook, I’d never worked in one. So I went in and asked questions: What’s the best part of working here? The hardest part? Your favorite spice? And when I met Amanda Bevill, owner of World Spice Merchants on Western Ave, just below the Market, all my prayers and questions were answered!

But about those lawyers. They love mystery and crime fiction, and it wouldn’t be fair to leave them out entirely. In the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, Bill Schmidt is a lawyer turned herbalist and acupuncturist and—well, no spoilers, right? But he always answers Erin’s questions, even when he doesn’t like what she does with the info!

Pepper Reece loved her job as staff HR manager for a massive Seattle law firm that imploded in scandal. When her job evaporated, she bought a spice shop in the Pike Place Market. (Wouldn’t you?) Traumatic as such things are, I knew the lawyers would land on their feet. But what about the staff? I was far more interested in the choices they might make. Pepper keeps in touch with them, and they often give her leads or critical information. One even runs a mystery bookshop.

Hmm, now there’s a career I might actually consider.


TREBlecoverAbout Treble at the Jam Fest

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident—or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Purchase Links:   Amazon    B&N     Kobo

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for chance to win a print copy of Treble at the Jam Fest.

About the Author

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website, http://www.LeslieBudewitz.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Review & Giveaway: NO TURNING BACK by Tracy Buchanan

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read No Turning Back – a thriller by Tracy Buchanan.

Description

NoTurningBackAnna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My Review

A popular radio presenter in a coastal town in the UK, Anna reacts to an unexpected attack like a lion defending her cub. Instinct. Plain and simple. But the reactions of the people around her are not so simple. Anna soon becomes the target of unwanted attention from fans and detractors alike, as well as from someone claiming to be a serial killer.  The narrative mostly reflects Anna’s point of view, interspersed with first-person passages representing the killer’s thoughts. I found it to be an engaging read, with many twists as Anna learns more about local and family history.  Although the identity of the “Ophelia Killer” came as a surprise to me and the pieces fit together in the end, the killer and the killer’s motivation didn’t entirely mesh with my sense of the culprit’s character.  If you enjoy thrillers, you might want to add this to your TBR list.

Content advisory: This is not a “clean” read — it does include some strong language and graphic violence.

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 in any way. 

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a print copy of No Turning Back.

TracyBuchananAbout the Author

Tracy Buchanan lives in the UK with her husband, their little girl and their one-eyed Jack Russell. Buchanan traveled extensively while working as a travel magazine editor and has always been drawn to the sea after spending her childhood holidays on the coast visiting family–a fascination that inspires her writing. She now dedicates her time to writing and procrastinating on Twitter.

Author Links

Purchase Links
Amazon  B&N   IndieBound

Showcase & Giveaway: DREAM A LITTLE DEATH by Susan Kandel

As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, today’s post showcases a recently released mystery by Susan Kandel – DREAM A LITTLE DEATH.

Description

dreamalittledeathFrom critically acclaimed author Susan Kandel comes a charming new mystery featuring Dreama Black and a cast of zany LA-based characters.

The first time I set eyes on Miles McCoy, I worried he might try to eat me. He was the size and girth of a North American grizzly, with long, silver-tipped hair, a long silver-tipped beard, and small dark eyes that bore into me like I was a particularly fine specimen of Chinook salmon. It couldn’t have helped that I’d used a honey scrub the morning we met. I should’ve known better. Not just about the scrub, but about a lot of things.

Like braving the freeway during rush hour.
Like thinking you can’t get a ticket for parking at a broken meter.
Like racing up to his penthouse in gladiator sandals, and expecting not to twist an ankle.
Like watching his fiancée shoot herself, and assuming it was suicide, instead of murder.

Meet Dreama Black. A 28 year-old, third-generation groupie trying to figure out who she is after being publicly dumped by the rock god whose mega-hit, “Dreama, Little Dreama” made the name and the girl world-famous. Now Dreama supports herself by running custom-designed, themed tours of her hometown of L.A. When she is hired by a Raymond Chandler-obsessed rap producer to create a “L.A. noir” tour as his present to his soon-to-be bride, Dreama gets pulled into the middle of a possible murder, corrupt cops, and an unforgettable pair of femme fatales.

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

The first time I set eyes on Miles McCoy, I worried he might try to eat me. He was the size and girth of a North American grizzly bear, with long silver-tipped hair, a long silver-tipped beard, and small dark eyes that bore into me like I was a particularly fine specimen of Chinook salmon. It couldn’t have helped that I’d used a honey scrub the morning we met. I should’ve known better. Not just about the scrub, but about a lot of things.

Like braving the freeway during rush hour.

Like thinking you can’t get a ticket for parking at a broken meter.

Like racing up to his penthouse in Balenciaga gladiator sandals, and expecting not to twist an ankle.

Like watching his fiancée shoot herself, and assuming it was suicide, instead of murder.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, which is another thing I should know better about. Because if I’ve learned anything at all from my study of film noir (which got me into the whole sordid Miles McCoy mess to begin with), it is to tell the story in the precise order in which it happened.

The trouble started the day before, which was Valentine’s Day, a pagan holiday named after the Roman priest who defied Claudius II by marrying Christian couples. After being hauled off in shackles, the soft-hearted cleric was beaten with clubs, stoned, and when that didn’t finish him off, publicly beheaded. Makes you think.

It had poured rain for eight days running, which isn’t what you sign on for when you live in Los Angeles. But that morning, as I stepped outside for a run, the sun was blinding—so blinding, in fact, that I didn’t see the fragrant valentine my neighbor’s dog, Engelbart, had left on the stoop for me. Not that I minded spending the next twenty minutes cleaning the grooves of my running shoe with a chopstick. It was a beautiful day. The rollerbladers were cruising the Venice boardwalk. The scent of medical marijuana was wafting through the air. Engelbart’s gastrointestinal tract was sound.

An hour later, I hopped into my mint green 1975 Mercedes convertible, and made my way up Lincoln to the freeway. I was headed to Larchmont, an incongruous stretch of Main Street, USA, sandwiched between Hollywood and Koreatown. This was where studio executives’ wives and their private school daughters came for green juice, yoga pants, and the occasional wrench from the general store that had served Hancock Park since the 1930s. It was also where my mother and grandmother ran Cellar Door, known for its chia seed porridge and life-positive service. I helped out whenever my coffers were running low. Which was most of the time.

You are probably frowning right about now. Surely a young woman who owns a classic convertible—as well as Balenciaga gladiators—should not be perennially low on funds. But it’s true.

The car came from my grandmother, who received it as part of her third (fourth?) divorce settlement and gave it to me as a gift when I strong-armed my mother into rehab for the fourth (fifth?) time. The sandals I purchased online in a frenzy of self-loathing shortly after watching my ex-boyfriend the rock god serenading his current girlfriend the supermodel on an otherwise uneventful episode of Ellen. I’d tried to return the sandals, but one of the studs had fallen off, making them damaged goods. Like their owner. Not that I’m hard on myself. It’s just that my career—I take clients on custom-designed, private tours of my hometown of L.A.—wasn’t exactly thriving, which is why I was easy prey for the likes of Miles McCoy. But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Here comes the good part. The part where I’m driving like the wind and almost don’t notice the flashing lights in my mirror. I knew I should have fixed that taillight.

I pulled over, cut the motor, handed the cop my license and registration. He looked down, then did a double take. “Dreama Black?”

That would be me.

“The Dreama Black?” he continued. “As in ‘Dreama, Little Dreama’?”

Perhaps I should explain.

I am a twenty-eight-year-old, third-generation rock ’n’ roll groupie—or “muse,” as the women in my family like to put it.

My grandmother, a fine-boned blonde who never met a gossamer shawl or Victorian boot she didn’t like, spent the sixties sleeping her way through Laurel Canyon, winding up in a house on Rothdell Trail (a.k.a. “Love Street”) purchased for her by a certain lead singer of a certain iconic band whose name is the plural of the thing that hits you on the way out.

My mother, blessed with thick, dark tresses and a way with mousse, was consort to many of the pseudo-androgynous alpha males of American hair metal, her chief claim to fame an MTV video in which she writhed across the hood of a Porsche wearing a white leotard and black, thigh-high boots. She also bought Axl Rose his first kilt.

As for me, well, I was on my way to freshman orientation when this guy I’d been seeing, who’d played a couple of no-name clubs with some friends from summer camp, intercepted me at LAX, put his lips to my ear, and hummed the opening bars of a new song I’d apparently inspired. Instead of boarding the plane for Berkeley, I boarded the tour bus with Luke Cutt and the other skinny, pimply members of Rocket Science. Four world tours, three hit albums, two Grammys, and one breakup later, “Dreama, Little Dreama”—an emo pop anthem that went gold in seven days and has sold eleven million copies to date—had made me almost famous forever.

“Step out of the car, please.”

The cop removed his sunglasses. Peach fuzz. Straight out of the academy. “So.”

He wanted to get a picture with me.

“I’d love to get a picture with you,” he said.

I smoothed down my cut-offs and striped T-shirt, removed my red Ray-Bans, ran my fingers through my long, straight, freshly balayaged auburn hair. The cop put his arm around me, leaned in close, took a couple of snaps on his phone. Let me guess. He’d had a crush on me since tenth grade, when he saw me in a white tank and no bra on the cover of Rocket Science’s debut C.D., and now he was going to post the pictures on Instagram to show all his buddies.

“Awesome.” He gave me a brotherly punch on the arm. “No way is my wife going to believe this. She’s crazy about Luke Cutt. Hey, is he really dating that Victoria’s Secret Angel? She is smoking hot.”

At least I didn’t get the ticket.

Excerpt from Dream A Little Death by Susan Kandel.  Copyright © 2017 by Susan Kandel. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

An Agatha, Edgar, and SCIBA nominee, Susan Kandel is the author of the nationally best-selling and critically acclaimed Cece Caruso series, the most recent of which, Dial H for Hitchcock (Morrow), was named by NPR as one of the five best mysteries of the year. A Los Angeles native, she was trained as an art historian, taught at NYU and UCLA, and spent a decade as an art critic at the Los Angeles Times. When not writing, she volunteers as a court-appointed advocate for foster children, and loves to explore secret, forgotten, and kitschy L.A. She lives with her husband in West Hollywood.

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