Today, I am happy to let you know about a new mystery – Message in a Bullet (A Raymond Mackey Mystery – Book 1) by Owen Thomas. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds interesting. Enjoy.
About the Book
Raymond Mackey is a struggling crime writer. His friends call him Mack. But friends are in short supply these days. Mack’s thirty years as a homicide detective came to the kind of abrupt, ignominious end that tends to make friends dry up and blow away. It matters little that Mack was never actually a mole working for a shadowy, seemingly omnipresent mob boss. Somehow, the evidence was there anyway and the scandal ended everything for him overnight. Lucky to stay out of prison, Mack lives in a netherworld of forced retirement, spinning his memories of old homicide cases into pulp fiction and working part time as a shopping mall cop. His wife Marlo, the greatest criminal investigator Mack has ever known, has been dead of pancreatic cancer for nearly five years. That leaves his ancient Smith-Corona Corsair, a pack of Camels, a bottle of Old Forester, and Marlo’s bourbon-loving cat, Phil, as Mack’s only company.
Almost. Because Mack also keeps himself company. The psychiatrists call it Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder. Mack calls it Triple-D. But crazy also works. It means he watches himself, usually from an overhead perspective, as though someone has tied a floating camera to a back beltloop on a long string. It makes him feel watched, and not by someone inclined to judge him kindly. So Raymond Mackey comes complete with his own Greek chorus. “Watch yourself, Mack,” people tell him. He has no choice.
When one of Mack’s old informants goes missing and Mack’s face turns up in a dead man’s camera, his past comes roaring painfully back to life. Now the police want him for questioning, the mob want him dead and it’s increasingly difficult to tell who, exactly, is working for who. As a mercilessly hot Chicago summer finally breaks and it starts to rain bodies, Mack finds himself past his prime for this kind of action. Retirement has added weight and subtracted agility. He hasn’t fired a weapon in years. His antiquated cell phone will not stop ringing with a mysteriously blocked number. In the end, as Mack watches himself from above, it is razor-sharp instinct, cheap consumer electronics and his dead wife that offer his only hope. Link to purchase: Amazon
A long time fan of Jonathan Kellerman’s work, and the character of Alex Delaware in particular, it took no encouragement to get me to read an advance copy of the next book in the series. City of the Dead is scheduled for release in February 2022.
Los Angeles is a city of sunlight, celebrity, and possibility. The L.A. often experienced by Homicide Lt. Detective Milo Sturgis and psychologist Alex Delaware, is a city of the dead.
Early one morning, the two of them find themselves in a neighborhood of pretty houses, pretty cars, and pretty people. The scene they encounter is anything but. A naked young man lies dead in the street, the apparent victim of a collision with a moving van hurtling through suburbia in the darkness. But any thoughts of accidental death vanish when a blood trail leads to a nearby home.
Inside, a young woman lies butchered. The identity of the male victim and his role in the horror remain elusive, but that of the woman creates additional questions. And adding to the shock, Alex has met her while working a convoluted child custody case. Cordelia Gannett was a self-styled internet influencer who’d gotten into legal troubles by palming herself off as a psychologist. Even after promising to desist, she’s found a loophole and has continued her online career, aiming to amass clicks and ads by cyber-coaching and cyber-counseling people plagued with relationship issues.
But upon closer examination, Alex and Milo discover that her own relationships are troublesome, including a tortured family history and a dubious personal past. Has that come back to haunt her in the worst way? Is the mystery man out in the street collateral damage or will he turn out to be the key to solving a grisly double homicide? As the psychologist and the detective explore L.A.’s meanest streets, they peel back layer after layer of secrets and encounter a savage, psychologically twisted, almost unthinkable motive for violence and bloodshed.
In this well written tale, Det. Sturgis calls Alex Delaware in to help with a puzzling case involving two dead bodies. The connection between the victims is not immediately clear, however Alex is surprised to discover he knows one of them. The female victim is an interesting character with a complicated past. As to be expected, there is an intricate web of clues and potential suspects to be considered by Alex and Milo. The pace builds as the story progresses, with tension and twists holding my attention to the very end. A very good read that is sure to please fans of Alex Delaware novels.
FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review.
As part of a blog tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, I am happy to present Jo a. Hiestand’s latest mystery – Haunted Water. Sounds interesting and it has a very cool cover.
About the Book
Cameron Rutter drowned two months ago in a lake on a Cheshire moor. Some say a morgen—a spirit who drags men to a watery grave—was responsible. Others say it was the phantom Grey Lady. The police say Gareth Gynne was the guilty one. Whoever—or whatever—killed Cameron needs to be sorted out. And ex-police detective Michael McLaren is asked to do just that.
McLaren’s not keen on delving into the mystery. The accused is the nephew of McLaren’s nemesis, Charlie Harvester. And if there’s one thing McLaren doesn’t want to do is to associate with another Harvester, no matter what generation he is.
Suspects and motives are as tangled as the mere grass. Did a villager kill Cameron, opposed to his crusade to keep the moor in its pristine state? Or did someone previously arrested by Cameron kill him in revenge? Or was the morgen really responsible? Can McLaren discover the killer, or will he too become a victim of the haunted water?
“What about a murder weapon? Did the pathologist suggest what it was?”
A rock? McLaren wondered, imagining the shoreline of the mere littered with stones of various sizes. “You mentioned the rough history between you and Cameron.” McLaren rubbed his chin as he thought aloud. The room and the street were deathly quiet, as comes upon places at the end of a workday. Nothing moved on the road; no bird flew or hopped along the grass; no fox or dog barked. McLaren felt as though the village held its collective breath, waiting to hear what Gareth would say. “Surely there are others in the village, or elsewhere in his circle of friends and family, who weren’t particularly enamored of him. What about motives for people other than you?”
“I’ve thought of this. I’ve come up with a list of five people who have differing degrees of motive, in my opinion.” He eyed McLaren’s notebook, hesitating as he watched something being jotted down. “Do you, uh, want my ideas?”
“By all means. Shoot.”
“Just the sketchiest of info, then. Not enough so it will color your view and opinion of them.”
Jo A. Hiestand grew up on regular doses of music, books, and Girl Scout camping. She gravitated toward writing in her post-high school years and finally did something sensible about it, graduating from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. She writes two British mystery series—of which two books have garnered the prestigious N.N. Light’s Book Heaven ‘Best Mystery Novel’ two years straight. She also writes two Missouri-based mystery series that are grounded in places associated with her camping haunts. The camping is a thing of the past, for the most part, but the music stayed with her in the form of playing guitar and harpsichord, and singing in a folk group. Jo carves jack o’ lanterns badly; sings loudly; and loves barbecue sauce and ice cream (separately, not together), kilts (especially if men wear them), clouds and stormy skies, and the music of G.F. Handel. You can usually find her pulling mystery plots out of scenery—whether from photographs or the real thing.
Today’s post features a book I picked up on a whim – To Kill a Labrador, the first book in the The Marcia Banks and Buddy Mysteries by Kassandra Lamb. I liked it and decided to share it with you. Don’t worry despite the title, no dogs were killed.
Marcia Banks likes to think of herself as a normal person, even though she has an unusual name (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) and a rather abnormal vocation. She trains service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD. Then the former Marine owner of her first trainee is accused of murdering his wife, and Marcia gets sucked into an even more abnormal avocation–amateur sleuth.
Called in to dog-sit the Labrador service dog, Buddy, she’s outraged that his veteran owner is being presumed guilty until proven innocent. With Buddy’s help, she tries to uncover the real killer. Even after the hunky local sheriff politely tells her to butt out, Marcia keeps poking around. Until the killer finally pokes back… (Note: no dogs die in this series; all the titles are take-offs from classic book, movie or song titles.)
In Marcia’s own words – she is not a normal person. She devotes most of her time and resources to the training of service dogs for veterans. Then, when an army vet is arrested for killing his wife, his dog – Buddy – is returned to her for safekeeping. Marcia finds it hard to believe the man is guilty and launches her own investigation despite warnings from the (handsome) Sheriff to leave the investigating to him. Of course, she doesn’t.
Marcia has a great relationship with the dogs in the story and the descriptions of the training of service dogs were fascinating and highlighted. This was an enjoyable read that provided insight into a topic too often overlooked – the needs of vets suffering from PTSD . In addition, the mystery plot was well paced, with a sprinkling of humor and romance. I look forward to reading additional books in the series.
(BTW, the last time I checked this first in series was free.Enjoy).
When a meeting with a client goes disastrously wrong, Sherlock Holmes soon finds himself involved in a case of murder with two dead bodies and too few clues.
From some clear pieces of glass and a raven’s feather, the Great Detective must divine exactly who the client was and what prompted him to seek assistance at 221B. Fortunately, Holmes has a number of experts upon whom he can rely as well as his own vast store of esoteric knowledge.
Treading a twisted path, Holmes soon finds himself matching wits with an unseen criminal, who appears to be the equal of the late Professor Moriarty. At the same time, he is tasked with sparing the monarchy any possible embarrassment that may stem from the investigation.
It’s a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that finds Holmes and Watson attending underground auctions, using rare and priceless artifacts as bait and holding a late night vigil in anticipation of deterring a theft, all the while trying to understand how a priceless antiquity fits into their investigation.
A lifelong Sherlockian, Richard Ryan is the author of “The Vatican Cameos: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure,” “The Stone of Destiny,” “The Druid of Death” and “The Merchant of Menace,” and “Through a Glass Starkly,” all from MX Publishing. “Three May Keep a Secret” is his sixth Holmes pastiche, and he is currently at work on his seventh.
He has also written “B Is for Baker Street (My First Sherlock Holmes Book),” an alphabet book he penned for his grandchildren. Among his other credits are “The Official Sherlock Holmes Trivia Book,” a book on Agatha Christie trivia and the well-received murder mystery “Deadly Relations” that has been produced twice off-Broadway.
He pursued his graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in medieval literature. To this day, he remains a die-hard fan of the Fighting Irish.
Nothing disrupts a celebration quite like an uninvited corpse.
Adina already knows the city can be a dangerous place. That’s why she’s looking forward to a stress-free weekend in rural Pennsylvania with her favorite detective. Maybe not all that stress-free. They are attending an engagement party and Adina will be meeting Jonathan’s family for the first time.
Except the holiday weekend takes a deadly turn when leading industrialists, a hard-core environmentalist, and a bevy of wealthy partygoers converge on the Riverfront Lodge, and the couple stumbles upon yet another dead body. Drawn into the ensuing investigation, making a good impression on Jonathan’s parents is the least of her worries.
A standalone novella, Dead amid the Dogwoods is the fifth mystery in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Series.
I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance review copy of The Art of the Decoy (A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery), the first book in a new series by Trish Esden. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover when I was browsing on NetGalley, and the book itself didn’t disappoint. Although the book has not yet released, you will want to add it to your TBR list.
After her mother is sent to prison for art forgery, Edie Brown returns to Northern Vermont to rebuild her family’s fine art and antiques business. She’s certain she can do it now that her mother is gone. After all, butting heads with her mom over bad business practices was what drove Edie away three years ago, including a screwup that landed Edie on probation for selling stolen property.
When Edie scores a job appraising a waterfowl decoy collection at a hoarder’s farmhouse, she’s determined to take advantage of the situation to rebuild the business’s tarnished reputation and dwindling coffers. In lieu of payment, Edie intends to cherry-pick an exceptional decoy carved by the client’s renowned Quebecoise folk artist ancestors. Only the tables turn when the collection vanishes.
Accused of the theft, Edie’s terrified that the fallout will destroy the business and land her in prison next to her mom. Desperate, she digs into the underbelly of the local antiques and art world. When Edie uncovers a possible link between the decoy theft and a deadly robbery at a Quebec museum, she longs to ask her ex-probation officer, and ex-lover, for help. But she suspects his recent interest in rekindling their romance may hide a darker motive.
With the help of her eccentric uncle Tuck and Kala, their enigmatic new employee, Edie must risk all she holds dear to expose the thieves and recover the decoys before the FBI’s Art Crime Team or the ruthless thieves themselves catch up with her.
The first book in a new cozy series, this was an engaging read, well written and sprinkled with humor. Edie is a great character – unique, a far cry from so many “goodie two-shoes” cozy mystery protagonists. She isn’t perfect, a fact made immediately clear from her arrest record and her family’s checkered past. The family operates an antique business in Vermont, and Edie has a strong background in art history and American folk art. She is smart, and cautious yet bold at the same time.
Things get interesting when Edie secures a particularly lucrative appraisal job of what might be a long-lost collection of bird decoys, that is, if they are authentic. The stakes are high and she’s not the only one with an interest in the collection. She soon becomes a prime suspect in the theft of these decoys and others and is determined to prove her innocence and discover more about the history of the decoys, and the perpetrators of an array of crimes related to their disappearance.
I look forward to reading additional books in this series in the future.
FTC disclosure: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review.
Today it is my pleasure to have as my guest, Samantha Barnes (aka the Cape Cod Foodie), best known for her role in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series by Amie Pershing.
How I became the Cape Cod Foodie by Samantha Barnes
My name is Samantha Barnes (Sam to my friends) and I am, for better or worse (often worse, I have to warn you) the Cape Cod Foodie, the restaurant reviewer for the Cape Cod Clarion. Although I’m not sure this gig is going to last, as it depends on anonymity. And, since I stand well over six feet tall, I’m kind of hard to miss. Also, I have an awkward history of going viral online.
Through no fault of my own, I might add. Was it my fault that someone posted a very unfortunate video they’d taken with their cell phone of me, Samantha Barnes, up-and-coming New York chef, mixing it up with my rather volatile chef husband in a kind of chefs’ fencing match? Let me tell you, once that video hit YouTube, I almost instantaneously became Samantha Barnes ex-chef.
So when I found I’d inherited my Aunt Ida’s falling down house on the Cape, I reluctantly retreated home to Fair Harbor, where my old friend and now publisher of the Clarion, Krista Baker, gave me a job writing restaurant reviews. And, much against my better judgment, I allowed Krista to talk me into a series of Cape Cod Foodie video food features for the Clarion’s online edition.
Add to this: 1) finding out that my first, disastrous, high school crush is now the town’s harbormaster; 2) a posse of just-slightly-odd friends; 3) the afore-mentioned falling-down house; 4) a ginormous puppy; and 5) ( here’s the kicker) a propensity for falling over dead bodies. I kid you not. I’ve been falling over dead bodies right and left.
On my first assignment (in A SIDE OF MURDER), I managed to find a body floating in a pond outside the very first restaurant I reviewed. (Sigh.) And since nobody but me seemed to think this was murder, I appointed myself sleuth-in-chief. And now I’m at it again in AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR. You’d think it being the holidays and all, the sleuthing could be put on hold but nooooo….
I had a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with Diogi (prounounced dee-OH-gee, as in D O G – get it?) and a certain handsome harbormaster; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Instead, my parents have descended on me, I am finding myself spending a lot of time in front of the camera, and I just happen to stumble over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus.
Thus engendering the viral “Santa Clause is dead” YouTube video. (Sigh)
Plus, just to complicate things, my plans for Christmas Eve are definitely getting just a little out of my control. There’s the Great Eggnog Debate among my very opinionated friends and family. There’s the “all edible” Christmas tree to decorate. And there’s my Feast of the Five Fishes prepare.
Well, catching murderers is a nasty job, but somebody’s got to do it. So I’m determined to find out who slayed this Santa. Which brings us to the real mystery in AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR – can I pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?
About the Book
Professional foodie Samantha Barnes has a simple Christmas list: a quiet holiday at home with her dog and a certain handsome harbormaster; no embarrassing viral videos; and no finding dead bodies. Unfortunately, she’s got family visiting, she’s spending a lot of time in front of the camera, and she’s just stumbled over the lifeless body of the town’s Santa Claus.
Plus, Sam’s plans for Christmas Eve are getting complicated. There’s the great eggnog debate among her very opinionated guests. There’s the “all edible” Christmas tree to decorate. And there’s her Feast of the Five Fishes prepare. Nonetheless, Sam finds herself once again in the role of sleuth. She needs to find out who slayed this Santa—but can she pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?
Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy – A Side of Murder and An Eggnog to Die For (U.S. Only)
About the Author
Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time. An Eggnog to Die For is the second of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef who retreats home to Cape Cod where she finds herself juggling a new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie,” a complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house, a ginormous puppy and a propensity for falling over dead bodies. Kirkus Reviews gave An Eggnog to Die For a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.” A Side of Murder, the first of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read,” was the first book in the series. The third, Murder Is No Picnic, will be published in May 2022.
Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he? Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not. But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing. Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides. Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.
Read an Excerpt
1 New York City 1923
Tuesday, May 29
Sam tossed his fork back onto the plate. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, moved the brass desk lamp a few inches closer and continued reading the final draft of his new musical.
He had to admit that he’d written a brilliant play, superior to any production on Broadway thus far. He’d spent three months working on it, day and night. Ever since he heard her sing. At that moment his own creativity seemed to burst alive and the ideas kept flowing so quickly, he couldn’t stop writing until he finished the script. After editing it for the hundredth time, he had no doubt that this play would prove not only extremely profitable for the theater owner and the talented performer who had inspired him. It would also boost his career to amazing heights. After all, no other composer had ever written an entire musical from start to finish, foregoing the lyricist and book writer.
He looked at the telephone beside him. He wondered why his wife had made a rare appearance at the Ambassador this afternoon. She never ventured to the theater unless she was dressed to the nines for a night out on the town, usually without him. As he’d worked with the performers on stage, he caught a glimpse of her standing by the entranceway, but she quickly disappeared out the door.
He should phone her, he supposed, but he wasn’t up to dealing with his personal problems tonight, not when he was so close to finalizing this play. He’d already been paid a hefty advance from the owner of the Globe Theater. As soon as they discussed a production start date at their meeting tomorrow morning, he would face what awaited him at home.
A fat drop of sweat dripped from his brow and splattered across the page in front of him. Then another. He cursed out loud, snatched the cloth napkin, and dragged it across his forehead. He’d forgotten to open the window, which was the first thing he habitually did when he came to this hellhole of an apartment. This tiny room was always hotter than blazes no matter the weather outside.
He stood up to open the window, but the room took a quick spin around him, and he stumbled backwards against the desk. With a puzzled frown, he snatched the arm of his chair and eased himself back into it. He took off his suit jacket and necktie and tossed them aside. He sat there for a moment, breathing slowly and deeply to clear his head. Within a few minutes, the dizziness subsided, so he went back to reading the script.
But when he turned the page, he noticed his hand was trembling. He stared at his fingers and became almost mesmerized by them. A sharp prickly sensation spread through each one from tip to base before they went numb altogether, as if he’d kept his hand in an awkward position too long, and it fell asleep. He lifted his arm, flapped his hand in the air, and wiggled his fingers around to get the blood flowing again. The numbness soon disappeared.
With the same bewildered scowl, he looked up at the pendulum clock on the wall and squinted as the numbers appeared blurry. He removed his glasses and squeezed his eyes open and shut a few times. He’d been working too many hours. And the filthy ventilation and dim lighting in this room weren’t helping. But even with his glasses back in place, the typewritten words on the manuscript became fuzzy. Then, they seemed to be dancing across the page on their own, picking up speed the harder he tried to focus on them.
He pushed his chair back in panic, wondering what the hell was happening to him, but he suddenly doubled over in agony as crushing bolts of pain shot through him from the pit of his stomach to his chest.
Frightened out of his wits, he tried focusing on the telephone while struggling to lift himself upright. But his arms had gone numb and were useless. Using the strength of his legs and the chair behind him, he thrust himself forward and slammed down face-first onto the mahogany desk. The two-hundred-page manuscript burst into the air like confetti while the dinner plate crashed to the floor.
As he lay there gasping for air, he gathered every ounce of strength he could muster, and what lucidity he had left, and slowly dragged his right arm up along the top of the desk to reach the telephone. Just as his fingertips touched the base, he heard the door creak open.
His light eyes rolled upwards then grew wide and horrified. He tried calling for help, but only a sick gurgling noise emerged from his throat before the room went dark.
About the Author
Award-winning author Gail Meath writes historical romance novels that will whisk you away to another time and place in history where you will meet fascinating characters, both fictional and real, who will capture your heart and soul. Meath loves writing about little or unknown people, places and events in history, rather than relying on the typical stories and settings.
As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, it’s time to shine the spotlight on a new release from Maria DiRico – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder (A Catering Hall Mystery).
About the Book
Astoria, Queens, is decorated within an inch of its life for the Christmas season, and Mia Carina is juggling her job at the Belle View catering hall with a case of murder . . .
Mia’s busy with a full schedule of events at the family business—among them an over-the-top Nativity-themed first birthday party and a Sweet Sixteen for a teen drama queen. But her personal life is even more challenging. Her estranged mother has returned—and her lifelong friend Jamie has discovered a shocking secret about his past. He’s so angry that he starts hanging out with Lorenzo, who claims to be his long-lost brother—even after it becomes clear that Lorenzo’s story is as fake as a plastic Christmas tree.
Then a body turns up among the elves in a Santa’s-workshop lawn display, and amateur sleuth Mia has a buffet of suspects to choose from. Amid the holiday celebrations, she intends to find out who’s the guilty party . . .
Italian recipes included!
Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of three print copies of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder.
About the Author
Maria DiRico is the pseudonym for Ellen Byron, author of the award winning, USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. Born in Queens, New York, she is first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side and the granddaughter of a low-level Jewish mobster on her father’s side. She grew up visiting the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls, which were run by her Italian mother’s family in Queens and have become the inspiration for her Catering Hall Mystery Series. DiRico has been a writer-producer for hit television series like Wings and Just Shoot Me, and her first play, Graceland, appears in the Best Short Plays collection. She’s a freelance journalist, with over 200 articles published in national magazines, and previously worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. A native New Yorker who attended Tulane University, Ellen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.