Guest Post & Giveaway: THE SPIRIT IN QUESTION by Cynthia Kuhn

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to host Cynthia Kuhn on my blog today.  She is here to tell us about her writing and her recent release, The Spirit in Question.


Surprise! I’m in Your Book by Cynthia Kuhn

Recently, the family went back to my grad school—which I haven’t visited in about 15 years — for a sporting event. When we arrived at the center of campus, I realized with a jolt that the beautiful building facing us, where I had happily attended many classes, may have (subconsciously) been the inspiration for Randsworth Hall in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series.

Building

In the books, Randsworth is described this way:

We headed out of Crandall Hall and kept to the outer perimeter sidewalk, passing Randsworth, the colossal building that housed the chancellor and other administrative VIPs. Crandall’s columns, while moderately impressive, were nothing compared to the embellishments of Randsworth, which could have been a cathedral with its lavish turrets, spires, and other ornamentations. Presiding over campus directly across the circle from the entry gates, Randsworth announced its own importance. – The Semester of Our Discontent

I passed the administration building, Randsworth Hall, which dominated the north side of campus. The gargoyles perched on the edge of the upper levels appealed to my Gothic sensibilities. Though many found their existence baffling and inexplicable, my humble opinion was that they added a certain whimsical charm to the campus. The designer had been a close friend of the university founder, Jeremiah Randsworth, and had been given carte blanche. He was also responsible for the pair of stone gryphons positioned at Stonedale’s main gates as well as the underground passageways linking many of the buildings together—though not everyone knew about those. – The Art of Vanishing

Obviously the building in the picture does not have numerous turrets, spires, or gargoyles. But I still feel as though the real building and the fictional building are related. It’s difficult to articulate, but it has something to do with aura. (Can a building have an aura? Let’s say yes and move on.)

To me, they both exude the same sort of presence: an undeniable embeddedness within the landscape. They clearly belong where they are. And since Lila—a new assistant professor in book one—is unsure whether she fits into the community, Randsworth serves as a visual counterpoint for her ongoing emotional journey in some ways. If you’d asked me before I went back to campus, I wouldn’t have even known that there was a connection.

Immediately second-guessing myself now. What does it mean that they “belong”? Doesn’t every building? They’re put there on purpose.

I know, I know. All I can say is that when I caught a glimpse of that building, I gasped and took a picture.

Yes, of its aura. If that’s a thing.

If not, we can just admire the blue skies…


About The Spirit in Question

EnglisSpirith professor Lila Maclean knew drama would be involved when she agreed to consult on Stonedale University’s production of Puzzled: The Musical.

But she didn’t expect to find herself cast into such chaos: the incomprehensible play is a disaster, the crumbling theater appears to be haunted, and, before long, murder takes center stage.

The show must go on—yet as they speed toward opening night, it becomes clear that other members of the company may be targeted as well. Lila searches for answers while contending with a tenacious historical society, an eccentric playwright, an unsettling psychic, an enigmatic apparition, and a paranormal search squad.

With all of this in play, will she be able to identify who killed her colleague…or will it soon be curtains for Lila too?

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win any two Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries (ebook) and a $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

CynthiaKuhnCynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series: The Semester of Our Discontent, an Agatha Award recipient for Best First Novel; The Art of Vanishing, a Lefty Award nominee for Best Humorous Mystery; and The Spirit in Question. She teaches in Denver, serves as president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado, and blogs with Chicks on the Case. For more information, please visit cynthiakuhn.net.

Author Links

 Purchase Links

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Release Spotlight, Review & Giveaway: MURDER AT ARCHLY MANOR by Sara Rosett

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post spotlights Murder At Archly Manor, the first installment in a new historical cozy mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett.   As a fan of both cozies and historical fiction, I was glad for a chance to read it.

Description

A high-society murder. A spirited lady detective. Can she out-class the killer before an innocent person takes the fall?

HS-1-Archly-1London, 1923. Olive Belgrave needs a job. Despite her aristocratic upbringing, she’s penniless. Determined to support herself, she jumps at an unconventional job—looking into the background of her cousin’s fiancé, Alfred. He burst into the upper crust world of London’s high society, but his answers to questions about his past are decidedly vague.

Before Olive can gather more than the basics, a murder occurs at a posh party. Suddenly, every Bright Young Person in attendance is a suspect, and Olive must race to find the culprit because a sly murderer is determined to make sure Olive’s first case is her last.

Murder at Archly Manor is the first in the High Society Lady Detective series of charming historical cozy mysteries. If you like witty banter, glamorous settings, and delightful plot twists, you’ll love USA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett’s series for Anglophiles and mystery lovers alike. Travel back to the Golden Age of detective fiction with Murder at Archly Manor.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book, which transports the reader back almost a century to the era of flappers and vaudeville. The author did a fine job of creating a mystery set in British society in the 1920s.  The descriptions of the clothing and settings gave a good feel for the times without getting long-winded.

From the onset of the story, I found myself rooting for Olive as she struggles to support herself in a time when well-bred, independent working females – or should I say ladies – were not the norm.  Olive is sweet and spunky at the same time, and very loyal to her cousins, who are better situated in life.

Quirky and mysterious characters, secrets that must be kept at all costs, and an interesting,  somewhat unpredictable plot made for a very enjoyable read.  I look forward to reading more about Olive and her adventures in the future.FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book without obligation and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win a spectacular Prize Package, including a signed print copy of Murder at Archly Manor and more.

About the Author

SARA-ROSETTUSA Today bestselling author Sara Rosett writes light-hearted escapes for readers who enjoy puzzling mysteries, interesting settings, and quirky characters.

She is the author of the Murder on Location series, the Ellie Avery series, the On the Run series, and the High Society Lady Detective series. Sara also teaches an online course, How to Outline A Cozy Mystery.

Publishers Weekly called Sara’s books, “satisfying,” “well-executed,” and “sparkling.” Sara loves to get new stamps in her passport and considers dark chocolate a daily requirement. Find out more at SaraRosett.com.

Author Links:

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Release Spotlight, Review & Giveaway: THE PERFECT BODY by Frankie Bow

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post features a new cozy mystery release – The Perfect Body – the latest Professor Molly Mystery by Frankie Bow.

Perfect-Body-FrontDescription

When Professor Molly attends Mahina State University’s exclusive donor dinner, she doesn’t expect to have to share a table with the insufferable Stephen Park. Turns out it’s one thing to invite your toxic ex-boyfriend to drop dead…it’s quite another when he takes you up on it.

My Review

I like Molly. She is smart. Of course, she feels bad when Stephen Park is found dead but what really gets her going is the possibility that someone might try to pin his death on her husband, Donnie. In between juggling care for her infant daughter and catching up on paperwork, she is determined to root out the truth. And her wardrobe mishaps definitely added a touch of humor.

The characters are diverse and interesting, each with his/her own personalities, including Stephen and his date, Bee. Not to mention Molly’s best friend and partner-in-crime, Emma.

The plot moved along at a steady pace, with several plot twists on route to its final resolution. Overall, this is a pleasant and well written read for cozy mystery fans.

This is the eighth book in the Professor Molly  series, but it can definitely be read as a standalone.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of this blog tour.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win a Professor Molly mystery.

About the Author

AuthorPhotoLike Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

Author Links

Purchase Link:  books2read.com/PerfectBody

Cozy Happenings – October 2018

This month’s  “Cozy Happenings” post highlight some of the new releases, giveaways and bargains from my author friends. Hope it helps you find something great to read.

Recent or Upcoming Releases – Check’em Out!

Oct-New-Roots  Oct-New_FFMOct-New-Slay  Oct-New_spirit

Free or Discounted Books

Oct-sale_dd  Oct-sale_fatal Oct-Sale_chirsta

And, last but not least – you won’t want to miss out on this cozy mystery sale for a great selection of 99 cent books from your favorite authors.

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Happy reading!

Book Blast & Giveaway: LIAR LIAR by Nancy Boyarsky

 

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As part of  a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, today’s post spotlights Nancy Boyarsky’s recently released mystery – LIAR LIAR.

BookCover_LiarLiarCover-24x36Description

Nicole Graves finds herself in the crosshairs when she reluctantly agrees to babysit a witness in a high-profile rape trial. Mary Ellen Barnes is suing her university’s star quarterback for rape when the authorities won’t act. In the court of public opinion, Mary Ellen appears to be the quintessential, pious, good girl. But her lies and mysterious comings and goings lead Nicole to suspect that she’s not what she seems.

Download your copy today from Amazon.

Read an excerpt:

Nicole heard a sound and came in from the balcony in time to see Mary Ellen, now fully dressed, slip out the front door. Nicole ran after her. She couldn’t allow the girl to run off after what she’d said about the hopelessness of her predicament. By the time Nicole got to the elevator bank, it was empty. The girl was already on her way down.

Nicole couldn’t take the stairs; she was on the tenth floor. But the elevator bank had four cars, and luck was with her. Moments later, the door to another elevator opened. When she reached the lobby, she caught sight of Mary Ellen through the window. She had just left the building and was jaywalking across Ocean Avenue toward the beach.

Nicole rushed after her. The wind was picking up, blowing through her jacket. She was halfway across the street, when a car heading south skidded to a stop a few feet away. The driver leaned on his horn and opened his window to scream at her. She ignored him, trying to keep Mary Ellen in sight. The girl seemed to be headed toward the shoreline. When Nicole reached the sand, she started running. She was in good shape, but running on the beach was completely different from a morning jog around the neighborhood. Her shoes sank into the soft surface, making it impossible to gain momentum. Meanwhile, sand leaked into her shoes, chafing her sockless feet.

The beach near the waterline was dark, and Mary Ellen was no longer in sight. Nicole looked desperately around, trying to figure out which way the girl had gone. All at once she stumbled over something lying in her path. As she hit the sand, the figure she’d tripped over slowly sat up, like a zombie in a horror film.

Excerpt from Liar Liar. Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

Giveaway

Enter to win a $15 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

BoyarskyAuthorNancy Boyarsky is the bestselling author of the award-winning Nicole Graves Mysteries.

Before turning to mysteries, Nancy coauthored Backroom Politics, a New York Times notable book, with her husband, Bill Boyarsky. She has written several textbooks on the justice system as well as articles for publications including the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, and McCall’s. She also contributed to political anthologies, including In the Running, about women’s political campaigns. In addition to her writing career, she was communications director for political affairs for ARCO.

Liar Liar is the third Nicole Graves novel, following The Swap and The Bequest, each of which can be read as a stand alone. Readers are invited to connect with Nancy on:

Review & Giveaway: FINDERS, NOT KEEPERS by D.E. Haggerty

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post spotlights Finders, Not Keepers (A Not So Reluctant Detective Mystery) by D. E. Haggerty.

Description

What do you do with a diamond no one wants? You can’t keep it. Or can you?

FNK4While cleaning her ex-husband’s effects out of the attic, Terri finds an exquisite diamond pendant necklace. She’s determined to return the necklace to its proper owner, but the owner was brutally killed, a murder which remains unsolved, and her heirs want nothing to do with the diamond. Terri embarks upon a journey researching charities to which she can donate the diamond. When her research becomes dangerous, Terri contemplates solving the murder herself. Her best friend, Melanie, jumps feet first into investigating the murder, but her neighbor, Ryder, doesn’t want Terri exposed to any danger. Ryder, to Terri’s surprise, also wants to be more than neighbors with Terri. Luckily, he’s prepared to take any measure necessary to keep her safe because someone is determined to stop her inquiries.

Join Terri on her quest to find a home for the diamond, which may result in the unveiling of a murderer – if she survives long enough.

My Review

I liked Terri and Melanie and the friendship between the two women. Terry is still recovering from her divorce and her friend is very supportive.   As implied by title of this new series, Terri is not particularly reluctant to take matters into her own hands when she finds out that  diamond’s owner was murdered.  She wants to do the “right” thing.  If only it was that simple.  She decides to find the killer herself. Melanie is all for it.  Ryder, her hunky neighbor, is vehement in his opposition. I wanted to like Ryder, however his macho and patronizing attitude annoyed me too much.  Having a guy like that tell me what I should or shouldn’t do would be enough to make me do the opposite. Of course, Terri doesn’t listen and finds herself in hot water.  The mystery took an interesting course and came to a satisfactory resolution.  A nice choice for cozy mystery lovers.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card from the author.

About the Author

DEHAggertyI grew up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But practicing law really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out running a B&B wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.

Finders, Not Keepers is my thirteenth novel.

Author Links
Website  –  Blog  – Facebook – Twitter  – Instagram  – Goodreads
Amazon author page – Newsletter signup – Google+  – Pinterest – BookBub

Purchase Links
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Guest Post & Giveaway: DEATH SAID THE GYPSY QUEEN by Susan Boles

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am thrilled to have mystery author, Susan Boles, as my guest.  She’s here to tell us about the power of rumors and about her recently released book, Death Said the Gypsy Queen (A Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery). Sounds like a spooky read in time for Halloween.


Rumor Has It by Susan Boles

The power of rumor has been known for a very long time. And the power of rumor in a small town is like a match to kindling. The flames jump high and fast and truth is often lost in the conflagration.

Being from a small town originally, where my family has lived for generations, gives me insight into how the rumor mill works up close. Here’s an example of one that doesn’t exist anymore, but was the bane of my teenage years.

When I was a growing up, most of the people in my area had party line telephones. For those of you scratching your head – these had nothing to do with a party and everything to do with fueling the local rumor mill.

A party line telephone was one where multiple households were on the same line and each home had a particular set of rings to let them know someone was calling them. The ring for my house was two shorts and a long. And, yes, it worked exactly like is sounds. Two short rings followed by one long ring.

Any other combination was for another home. And all of us knew what combination of rings went with which home. And, if you very quietly picked up the phone at your house, you could listen in to every word of every conversation taking place. Night or day. See how that rumor mill worked back then?

That particular rumor mill option no longer exists. But, I think Facebook may run a nice second. Have you noticed, something that can be taken as a personal insult or construed as being a cut against someone is posted and folks are off to the races on the rumor mill.

In Death said the Gypsy Queen, the fourth book in the Lily Gayle Lambert mystery series, I use the local rumor mill as a backdrop to create momentum in the story line. The prophecy of the fortune-teller combines with a secret that’s rumbling underground just waiting to explode into danger for all of our favorite characters.

About Death Said the Gypsy Queen

DeathGypsyQueencover“Beware the sign of the vampire blood,” said the fortune teller. “It brings madness and turmoil.”

Lily Gayle knows what that means, but, for the life of her, can’t figure out how the fortune teller does. A quick road trip with Dixie. An unplanned stop at a roadside park. And, an hour later a dead body. Lily Gayle, Dixie and Miss Edna find themselves knee deep in another homicide investigation when the local vet assistant turns up dead behind an outbuilding at the farmers market.

Lily Gayle believes the words of the fortune teller will have a major impact on the investigation but can’t bring herself to tell the other ladies. To reveal what she believes the words mean might bring trouble to another old friend. And would betray a trust. Only Ben knows and he, as usual, advises Lily Gayle to stay out of his investigation – which she isn’t about to do.

When the secret is revealed, the townspeople go mad and the fortune tellers words come true. Can Lily Gayle, Dixie and Miss Edna solve the murder before more people are harmed?

Purchase linkAmazon

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a tote bag, an autographed paperback of Death of a Wolfman, a flour sack kitchen towel with the logo on it and four custom bookmarks with a charm featuring the cover of each of the four Lily Gayle Lambert books.

About the Author

Susan is the award-winning author of the Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery Series and a contributing author to the Brotherhood Protectors World.

Susan-Best-Head-ShotA lifelong long love of all things mysterious led Susan to write cozy mysteries. Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were the first to show her that girls can be crime solvers. Agatha Christie showed her that even small towns have big secrets. And Phryne Fisher showed her lady detectives can be outrageously individual. She lives in Mississippi with her rescue mini dachshund, Lucy, and her rescue cat of no particular breed, Zimba. She currently writes the Lily Gayle Lambert mystery series set in the fictional town of Mercy, Mississippi featuring a multi-generational cast of female sleuths and romantic suspense in the Brotherhood Protectors Kindle World.

Susan writes mysteries and set in the big city of Memphis, TN and the fictional small town of Mercy, Mississippi.

Connect with Susan:
Susan loves to hear from readers and book lovers! Visit her website at http://www.susanbolesauthor.com  or drop her a line at susan@susanbolesauthor.com

Author Links: Website  Twitter – @SusanBAuthor – Blog – Facebook – Linked In – GoodReads Instagram – Pinterest – Bookbub

Review & Giveaway: K STREET KILLING by Colleen J. Shogan

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read a new mystery set in one of my favorite places – Washington, D.C.  Released this past summer,  K Street Killing  is the fourth book in Colleen J. Shogan Washington Whodunit series.

Description

KStreetCoverIt’s the height of campaign season, and instead of relishing newlywed bliss with her husband Doug Hollingsworth, Capitol Hill staffer Kit Marshall is busy with a tough reelection fight for her boss, member of Congress Maeve Dixon. Before Maeve and her staff–Kit included–leave Washington, D.C. to campaign full time in North Carolina, they have one last fundraising engagement.

On the iconic rooftop of a restaurant overlooking the Capitol and the Washington monument, Kit and her best pal Meg do their best to woo wealthy lobbyists for sizable campaign donations. Everyone’s enjoying the evening soiree until a powerful K Street tycoon mysteriously tumbles off the rooftop. Even with claims the fall must be suicide, Detective Maggie Glass and Kit aren’t so easily convinced foul play isn’t at work. While balancing Doug’s mid-life career crisis, Kit must spring into action to discover who killed the notorious Van Parker before Dixon’s candidacy sputters, even if it means investigating Meg’s handsome new beau, the victim’s conniving widow, and a bicycle advocate hell-bent on settling a long-standing grudge. When threatening note is left on Kit’s car, warning her to back off the investigation, she knows she’s closing in on the true story of what happened.

My Review

This well written mystery provides an interesting glimpse into the world of congressional staffers and their interactions with lobbyists. Kit Marshall is single-minded in her determination to wrap up the murder investigation and get back to her boss’s campaign. She actively seeks to identify the killer, even though it should be the police’s job.  I found the detective’s acceptance of her meddling to be a bit unrealistic.   Nonetheless, the well-paced plot held my interest throughout.  I found the setup leading to the mystery’s resolution reminiscent of Agatha Christie and other traditional mystery writers. And, of course, I loved Clarence and his antics.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary ARC 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 $50 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

KShogan_authorpicColleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She conceived of the plot of her first mystery one morning while taking a walk in her suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood. A political scientist, she previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress who works on great initiatives such as the National Book Festival. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan. She is the recipient of the Next Generation Indie Prize for Best Mystery.

Author Links

Purchase Links:  Amazon  B&N

Click here to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour.

Cozy Happenings – September 2018

This month’s  “Cozy Happenings” posts highlight some of the new releases, giveaways and bargains from my author friends. Hope it helps you find something great to read.

Recent or Upcoming Releases – Check’em Out!

Sept-NR-Disheartened Sept-NR+Ride Sept-NR_FFM Sept-NR_Noel

Free or Discounted Books

Sept-Free-moon Sept-Sale_MM
Sept-Sale_16mm Sept-sale-twice

And, last but not least – you won’t want to miss out on the Mystery Lover’s Mega Sale for a great selection of free and bargain books from your favorite mystery authors.

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Happy reading!

Review & Excerpt: CRIMINAL MISDEEDS by Randee Green

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As part of a book tour organized by Partners in Crime, I recently had the pleasure of reading Criminal Misdeeds, the first in a new series by a new author. Fun read.

Description

As far back as the Shatners can be traced, they have been breaking the law and running from it. It’s a family tradition. Now Carrie Shatner is a detective and crime-scene technician with the Wyatt County Sheriff’s Department in Eastern Texas. Over the years, she has tried to distance herself from her family’s criminal activities. But that is easier said than done.

criminal_misdeeds_300-1The Shatner family is celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Wyatt County Fairgrounds in their usual style: illegal fireworks, homemade moonshine, and a near brawl. After shutting down the party, Carrie does a final sweep of the fairgrounds and finds a dead body in a dumpster.

Good news: the dead man is not a Shatner. Bad news: the Shatners are now suspects in a homicide investigation. Soon the fairgrounds are overrun with law enforcement, including Sergeant Jerrod Hardy, a Texas Ranger. The victim is Kyle Vance, Carrie’s ex-boyfriend and a member of the Palmer family, who have been feuding with the Shatners since the Civil War.

Despite serious misgivings, Hardy allows Carrie to help him investigate. He knows she physically couldn’t have beaten Vance to death, but he wonders if she is covering for a family member.

My Review

Imagine trying to uphold the law when your family is prone to violating the law on a regular basis.  Figuring out where to draw the line between family loyalties and her job is an ongoing challenge for Carrie Shatner.  And her family isn’t making matters any easier, especially when the crime is murder and the victim is a Palmer.   But Carrie is   feisty enough to stand up to her relatives – sometimes, anyway.

Carrie is candid and entertaining. With a light conversational tone, it is almost as if an old friend is recounting an absurd episode in her life.  The plot was at the same time predictable and surprising. The course of events and revelations that led up to the resolution included twists and the identity of the killer came as a surprise to me.

This fast-paced mystery is likely to appeal to fans of cozy and other light mysteries.  I look forward to reading more about Carrie’s adventures in the future.

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Criminal Misdeeds by Randee Green

CHAPTER ONE

I come from a long line of criminals.

Moonshiners, rumrunners, and drug dealers. Horse thieves and carjackers. Bank robbers, burglars, pickpockets, and con artists. And then there has been the occasional killer. You name it, whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor, somewhere along the line a member of my family has committed it.

As far back as the Shatner family could be traced – from southern England to the mountains of western North Carolina, and now to the Piney Woods of East Texas – we had been breaking the law. And running from it, too.

It was a family tradition.

You see, the Shatners have never swum in the baby pool of life. We’ve always been out in the deep end, and we jumped in headfirst.

As for me, every day I fight my genetic predisposition to break the law. Some days I’ve been more successful than others. You see, I can’t break the law when I’m the one who is supposed to be upholding it.

My name is Carrie Shatner, and for the last three-and-a-half years I have worked as a detective and crime scene technician for the Wyatt County Sheriff’s Department in East Texas. That would put my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University to good use except there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of serious crime in Wyatt County. I mainly sat behind my desk all day, twiddling my thumbs, playing Sudoku, and keeping up with my various social media accounts.

While my official job was to process crime scenes and deal with all parts of criminal investigations, my unofficial job was to cover up my family’s illegal activities and keep them out of jail. I’d be the first to admit that what I have been doing wasn’t ethical. It was probably also criminal. I tried not to think about that too much. To be honest, I tried not to think about any of it too much. Most days I felt like quitting my job. Family obligation prevented that.

I’m not saying that all of the Shatners have been hardened criminals. Sure, most of the older ones were. But at least some of the younger ones shied away from the family business and seemed to be sticking to the straight and narrow. And they were the reason why I do what I do. Yes, I clean up the crimes of the guilty. But I do it to protect the innocent.

These days, the laws my various family members break have been fairly minor ones. Okay, some were still kind of major. But it was nothing compared to what we used to engage in. I mean, I’m pretty sure we were no longer involved in contract killing or organized crime.

What I did know was that my great-uncles had a moonshine still out in the woods and a marijuana crop concealed in a bunch of old Cold War bomb shelters. Every time I caught one of my family members selling the homebrew or the pot, they would promise me it was the last time. I didn’t believe them. I didn’t arrest them either, because I knew it wouldn’t stop them. It would also infuriate the rest of the family. And, while tempting, that wasn’t a risk I was quite willing to take. At least not yet.

Occasionally, one of the younger Shatners would steal a car or deface some public property or get busted for underage drinking. The older Shatners were always getting nabbed for public indecency and public intoxication. Some of them were also heavily involved in insurance scams. And then there had been the occasional assault. But we hadn’t killed anyone – accidently or on purpose – in years. Or, if someone had, I didn’t know about it.

When you got down to it, the majority of the bad things that the Shatners have done were just plain dumb. And, as far as I knew, being stupid wasn’t illegal. We would have been in serious trouble otherwise.

I don’t want you to go into this thinking that all of the Shatners were bad people. Most of them have just been a little misguided.

At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

Until I found the body.

Excerpt from Criminal Misdeeds by Randee Green. Copyright © 20178. All rights reserved.

About the Author

randee-bretherick-green-author-photo.jpgRandee Green’s passion for reading began in grade school with Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, as well as a master’s and an MFA in Creative Writing. When not writing, she’s usually reading, indulging in her passion for Texas country music, traveling, or hanging out with her favorite feline friend, Mr. Snookums G. Cat.

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