Release Spotlight & Giveaway: DEAD WEEK by Kelly Brankenhoff

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As part of  tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on DEAD Week, A Cassandra Sato Mystery by Kelly Brankenhoff.

About the Book

Will Dead Week kill Cassandra’s career?

DEAD-WEEKVP of Student Affairs Cassandra Sato has a desk full of problems and it’s not even Thanksgiving break.

A student’s injury and a deaf advocacy project brings national media attention to underfunded Morton College.

Cassandra’s new boss talks to her dead husband. Cassandra’s mentor thinks he’s a superhero in a senior citizen’s body. And Cassandra, recently moved from Hawai’i, can’t crack the code of what to wear during November in Nebraska.

Is there more to the Vietnam-era story of a student’s death? Cassandra’s search for the long-buried truth stirs up the wrath of those who want to keep the past forgotten.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter for your change to win one of 10 Kindle copies of Dead Week.

About the Author

KELLYBRAKENHOFF-2KELLY BRAKENHOFF is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends. Her first novel, Death by Dissertation, kicked off the Cassandra Sato Mystery Series. She also wrote Never Mind, first in a children’s picture book series featuring Duke the Deaf Dog. She serves on the Board of Editors for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf publication, VIEWs. The mother of four young adults and two dogs, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.

Her first mystery, Death by Dissertation, released April 22, 2019.

Author Links

Purchase Link – Amazon 

Release Spotlight: OLD FRIENDS AND NEW, ANOTHER MURDER by Christa Nardi

Earlier this month brought the release of another great book from Christa Nardi – Old Friends and New, Another Murder – the third book in her successful Sheridan Hendley Mystery Series. Check it out.

oldfriendsAbout the Book

A touch of nostalgia, a murder, and good friends.
When a former colleague is implicated in his neighbor’s demise, Sheridan Hendley returns to Cold Creek to prove his innocence. Annoying as Max can be, she can’t imagine the quirky professor is capable of murder. Unfortunately, not everyone shares her opinion. Of course, it doesn’t help that Max threatened his neighbor in a public place soon before the man was murdered. Or that the victim’s drug shipments had a habit of turning up on Max’s doorstep.

The book is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Christa Nardi is an accomplished achristauthor of cozy mysteries. Christa’s background is in higher education and psychology, much as her protagonist, Sheridan Hendley in the Cold Creek mystery series. She has always loved mysteries – reading them, writing them, and solving them. Christa is a member of Sisters in Crime.

You can find Christa at:

Spotlight: SOUTHERN HARM by Caroline Fardig

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to shine the spotlight on Caroline Fardig’s recent release, Southern Harm – the second book in her Southern B&B mystery series.   I have yet to read any of the books in this series, however this fan of her Java Jive series has added them to my TBR list.

About the Book

SOUTHERN-HARMA little Southern charm never killed anybody—until now—in an enchanting cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Southern Discomfort and the Java Jive novels.

After solving a murder at a local restaurant, Quinn Bellandini just wants to get back to her comfortable life running her grandfather’s B&B in Savannah, Georgia, with her sister, Delilah. But those plans get buried when Quinn and her new boyfriend, Tucker Heyward, dig up an old skeleton while doing some landscaping in his aunt Lela’s backyard. Before long, Lela becomes the prime suspect in the thirty-three-year-old unsolved murder of a high school homecoming queen.

Tucker is devastated. But Quinn’s conscience won’t let her risk an elderly woman spending her twilight years in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. And Delilah, bored by the quiet B&B biz, has been itching to do some more investigating of her own.

Soon they’re questioning a growing list of suspects, from nosy neighbors and snooty Savannah socialites to mild-mannered teachers and old high-school friends of the victim—including Quinn and Delilah’s own parents. But no one is safe from a killer who’s totally old school.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of Southern Harm from the author.

About the Author

caroline-headshots-2015-10-06-0008CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Social Media

Don’t miss Caroline Fardig’s thrilling Java Jive mysteries, which can be read together or separately:
DEATH BEFORE DECAF | MUG SHOT | A WHOLE LATTE MURDER | BREW OR DIE | MURDER OVER MOCHAS

Spotlight & Giveaway: A BAD HAIR DAY COOKBOOK by Nancy J. Cohen

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today the spotlight shines on  A Bad Hair Day Cookbook – a collection of recipes from  Nancy J. Cohen’s culinary cozy mystery series.

About the Book

Cookbook-eBook-coverAre you having a bad hair day? Whip out your whisk, snatch up your spoon, and prepare your palate. Inside the pages of this cookbook are recipes that will bring you good cheer.

Enjoy 160+ tasty recipes from Nancy J. Cohen’s popular Bad Hair Day cozy mystery series. Included in this cookbook are excerpts, cooking tips, and anecdotes written by hairstylist and savvy sleuth Marla Vail. From appetizers to desserts, Marla offers cooking tips and tricks along with commentary about the dishes she prepares for her family. Whether you’re a skilled cook or an eager novice, this cookbook will unravel the mystery of cooking. Put on your apron and plan to make some killer recipes. Bonuses Include:

  • Meet the Sleuth
  • Introduction by Marla Vail
  • Cooking Tips
  • Excerpts from Series Titles
  • Themed Menu Suggestions
  • “A Sabbath Dinner” by Nancy’s Mother

For Home Cooks, Food Lovers, Mystery Fans and Cookbook Collectors.

Purchase Links –  Amazon Kindle   Amazon Print   Apple Books    Nook    Kobo    Books2Read    BookBub   Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a lovely kitchen gift basket from the author.

About the Author

PubPinkNancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy’s instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery, was nominated for an Agatha Award and won a gold medal at the President’s Book Awards from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.

Author Links

Guest Post & Giveaway: A LEGACY OF MURDER by Connie Berry

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am pleased to have Connie Berry as a guest on my blog today, as she celebrates the release of A Legacy of Murder, the second book  in the  Kate Hamilton Mystery series.


TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?  by Connie Berry

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The picture above is an unedited, unexpurgated photograph of the inside of my bathroom cabinet, jam-packed with items I need to start my day—toothbrush and toothpaste, make-up remover, hairspray, creams, serums, brushes, foundation, eye-liner, and lipstick. Lots of lipstick. Fifty-four tubes, to be precise. All of them red.

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? I’m a self-confessed over-purchaser of red lipstick, perpetually in search of that one perfect shade—not too light, not too dark, not too orangey nor too pinky. I probably own every shade of red lipstick ever created. I remember learning in my sophomore year of high school the principle of “diminishing returns:” the more you have a something, the less you want of it. Ice cream was the example back then, and I understood how the principle worked. So why doesn’t it work with red lipstick?

weasel.jpgAs a writer, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing as well. Writers depend upon words, but we can overuse them. Words we love. Words that weasel their way into our writing and lessen the impact. My own particular weasel words include: just, little, almost, nearly, too, about, a bit, seems, actually, like, and that. They scatter themselves so freely into my writing that I have to search for them later and weed them out. I read once that weasel words are used to make a statement seem more convincing or authoritative than it might actually be. [I used three weasel words in the previous sentence—see how insidious they are?] In reality, they accomplish the opposite.

Watson's Dictionary of Weasel WordsIn 2004 Don Watson published Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Clichés, Cant & Management Jargon (don’t get me started on management jargon). A wonderful tool for writers, but if you’re thinking about purchasing a copy, be warned that Amazon is now selling the hardcover for $124. Used copies go for $50 and up. I’d check your local library.

But it’s not just certain words we overuse. Sometimes writers use too many words, period. We overwrite. One of the most useful things I learned as an aspiring author was to make an outtakes file. For me, revision includes paring down, tightening up—eliminating everything, as Hank Phillippi Ryan says, that “isn’t the book.” That can be hard. Consigning superfluous words, sentences, even whole paragraphs to an outtakes file feels better than deleting them. And, who knows, I might just use those words again.

Do you buy too much of something? Shoes? Jeans? Books?
What about weasel words? Can you name yours?


About a Legacy of Murder

A-Legacy-of-Murder-CoverAmerican antique dealer Kate Hamilton’s Christmastime jaunt to a charming English village leads to an investigation of a missing ruby…and a chain of murders.

It’s Christmastime and antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is off to visit her daughter, Christine, in the quaint English village of Long Barston. Christine and her boyfriend, Tristan, work at stately-but-crumbling Finchley Hall. Touring the Elizabethan house and grounds, Kate is intrigued by the docent’s tales of the Finchley Hoard, and the strange deaths surrounding the renowned treasure trove. But next to a small lake, Kate spies the body of a young woman, killed by a garden spade.

Nearly blind Lady Barbara, who lives at Finchley with her loyal butler, Mugg, persuades Kate to take over the murdered woman’s work. Kate finds that a Burmese ruby has vanished from the legendary Blood-Red Ring, replaced by a lesser garnet. Were the theft and the woman’s death connected?

Kate learns that Lady Barbara’s son fled to Venezuela years before, suspected of murdering another young woman. The murder weapon belonged to an old gardener, who becomes the leading suspect. But is Lady Barbara’s son back to kill again? When another body is found, the clues point toward Christine. It’s up to Kate to clear her daughter’s name in Connie Berry’s second Kate Hamilton mystery, a treasure for fans of traditional British mysteries.

Giveaway

Enter the rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card from the author.

About the Author

Author-Photo-By-Tree-Final-DaveLike her protagonist, Connie Berry was raised in the antiques trade. After teaching theology for twenty-five years, she took up writing mysteries featuring high-end antiques and the legacy of the past. Connie loves history, cute animals, travel with a hint of adventure, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable dog, Millie.

Author Links:

Purchase:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble   Indiebound     Kobo

Click here to follow the tour for reviews, interviews and more.

Release Spotlight: CROQUEMBOUCHE MURDER by Sandi Scott

Today it’s time to shine a light on a new mystery release from Sandi Scott — Croquembouche Murder, the latest addition to the Seagrass Sweets Cozy Series.   I have to say the covers of the books in this series look yummy. Of course, given a choice between a main course and dessert, this reader’s sweeet tooth wins out every time.

About the Book

Croqueembouche Cover.jpgAn extravagant destination wedding job brings Ashley, Patty and Dizzy to a millionaire’s remote horse ranch in the mountains of Wyoming where a mysterious death and disabled commuter plane leave everyone stranded until the murder is solved. Another guess-along mystery by
USA & Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author Sandi Scott.

Being hired to cater a wedding is exciting and when that wedding is at a horse ranch, things couldn’t be much better for Seagrass Sweets and The Southern Bird. Ashley, Patty and even Dizzy fly to a remote ranch
located high in the mountains of Wyoming, ready to wow wedding guests with sumptuous meals and decadent desserts.

All is not well at the ranch however. Horses are falling sick with a virus and one of them, a mare named Cocoa, seems bent on ruining everything—from Ashley’s desserts to the wedding itself. Then a body is found in Cocoa’s stall, and the wedding is postponed. Ashley can’t decide which is worse, being at the scene of yet another murder, or not being able to make it home in time to go on a dream cruise with Ryan.

An impassible road and a plane that has been disabled means there is no way off the ranch and the police are unable to get up the mountain, so it is up to Ashley and Patty to keep their eyes and ears open to find the killer. With some help from Dizzy’s new friends, Cocoa, and a farm cat called Bébé, Ashley closes in on the killer.

Will she solve it before the police get involved in order to make it to her dream vacation with her sweetheart?

This is a cozy mystery featuring a strong female protagonist and a mystery that will keep you guessing. It has no graphic violence, bad language or sex. It is Book 6 of the Seagrass Sweets Cozy Series but can be read as a standalone.

About the Author

Sandi Scott is a USA Today & Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author of cozy mysteries who is finally living her dream of being able to write what I love, thanks to her loyal readers. She fell in love with mystery books when she first started reading Agatha Christie and the Bobsey Twins eons ago. It only took her a few decades to gather the courage to try her hand at writing them. Sandi loves connecting with her readers who share many of her passions:  reading, baking, and fur babies!  Every cozy Sandi writes includes a pet and a sweet (at least one!)

Connect with Sandi:

Buy links: 

 

 

Book Birthday Celebration & Giveaway: FIT FOR MURDER by Cassidy Salem

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I’m so excited about today’s release of Fit for Murder (An Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Mystery) that I decided it’s time to celebrate. Not only have I extended the introductory offer for Fit for Murder through Oct. 31st, I am also offering my readers a chance to download a copy of Think Murder for free (3 days only).

But that’s not all,  you can click here to enter a giveaway for your chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

About Fit for Murder

fitformurder-KINDLEExercise is good for you, or so they said.
So why is the Pilates instructor dead?

Adina signed up for Pilates because she wanted to get some exercise, not to find another body. Initially ruled an accidental death, the victim’s business partner has her doubts, which are soon reinforced by a series of suspicious incidents. With no obvious motives or suspects, Adina sets out to identify the killer – with or without help from her favorite detective.

This is the fourth book in the Adina Donati,Accidental Sleuth Mystery series, however it can be read as a standalone mystery.

All of the books in the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Mystery series are available in paperback and digital editions, as well as with Kindle Unlimited.

For more about the series, click here.

Release Spotlight: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CURD KIND by Kirsten Weiss

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on a new release from Kirsten Weiss – Close Encounters of the Curd Kind (A Wits’ End Cozy Mystery).  Gotta love the cow on that cover.

About the Book

CLOSE-ENCOUNTERS-OF-A-CURD-KINDThe truth is out there…
Way out there.

Susan Witsend, owner of the best little UFO-themed B&B in the Sierras, is absolutely, positively, not going to get involved in another murder case. Not with her small-town sheriff threatening jail time if she interferes in one more investigation.

So when her neighbor is murdered, Susan exerts all her willpower to stay out of the sheriff’s business. But her neighbor’s daughter, Clare, needs Susan’s help. Clare’s been experiencing lost time, a sure sign of alien abduction. Helping Clare is only neighborly… and totally not interfering.
Right?

Worse, Clare’s not the only one with UFO issues. Weird lights in the sky, vanishing cows, and little green men are bringing the mountain town of Doyle to the edge of a panic. Can Susan unearth the truth before her town spirals into chaos?
If you like laugh-out-loud mysteries with complicated heroines (and breakfast recipes), you’ll love Close Encounters of the Curd Kind, book 3 in the Wits’ End series of cozy mystery novels. Read this twisty cozy caper today!

About the Author

KIRSTEN-WEISSKirsten Weisss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway.

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie Town, Paranormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of Doyle, Riga Hayworth, and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com

Author Links – Twitter: @KirstenWeiss    Facebook     Blog

Purchase Links    Kindle   Author affiliate     iBooks     B&N     Kobo    Google Play    Video

wits end series

Review & Giveaway: GALLIANO GOLD by Traci Andrighetti

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Galliano Gold by Tracy Andrighetti, the fifth book in her successful Franki Amato mystery series.

About the Book

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It’s Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, but PI Franki Amato has too many problems to celebrate. A proven Sicilian lemon tradition hasn’t landed her a proposal, so her nonna has amped up the meddling to get her married, and pronto. Franki’s also under pressure to solve the strange murder of a family friend’s nephew, Nick Pescatore, who was found on a Mississippi River steamboat rumored to be haunted. When the sinister old boat sets sail on an overnight gambling cruise, Franki goes undercover with a motley crew, including a Mark Twainophile captain with a murderous past and a slimy galley chef with a mobster brother, not to mention an ex-stripper landlady with a newfound career as a memoir writer and all-too public speaker. Franki has to figure out what missing Civil War gold, a playing card, and a mysterious woman on roller skates have to do with Nick’s death. If she doesn’t, it’s anchors aweigh for Franki—down to Davy Jones’ locker.

My Review

Set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, this is a humorous mystery with a delightful cast of quirky characters.  A crazy chain of events is triggered when Franki is hired to find Luigi’s missing nephew, leading her to go undercover as a kitchen hand on the “haunted” Galliano Gold.  Franki’s adventures may not be realistic but they are definitely entertaining.  And I loved the touch of Italian flavor – complete with a meddling grandmother – determined to see Franki married off despite her tendency to fly in the face of old-world Italian traditions.

My first time reading anything by this author. I just might go back and read the earlier books in the series.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of this review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your change to win a New Orleans-themed mystery book box (U.S. only) from the author.

About the Author

Traci-Andrighetti-11bTraci Andrighetti is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Franki Amato Mysteries and the Danger Cove Hair Salon Mysteries. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime–writing, that is. Her latest capers are teaching mystery writing for Savvy Authors and taking aspiring and established authors on intensive writing retreats to Italy with LemonLit.

Author Links

Buy the Book:   Amazon. 

Click here to follow the tour for reviews, guest posts and more.

Showcase & Giveaway: ONE NIGHT GONE by Tara Laskowski

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As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, today’s post showcases One Night Gone, a new suspense-filled mystery by Tara Laskowski.

Description

one-night-gone-by-tara-laskowski-coverIt was the perfect place to disappear…

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all…

“A heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel of betrayal and revenge. Stunning!” —Carol Goodman, award-winning author of The Night Visitors

“Featuring a brilliantly executed dual timeline with two unforgettable narrators, One Night Gone is a timely and timeless mystery that will keep you obsessively reading well past your bedtime.” —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to read an excerpt.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway,  hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Harlequin and Tara Laskowski, for your chance to win a print copy of One Night Gone (U.S. and Canada addresses only).

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

About the Author

Tara LaskowskiTARA LASKOWSKI is the award-winning author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which was named a best book of 2017 by Jennifer Egan in The Guardian. She has had stories published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, among others. Her Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine story, “States of Matter,” was selected by Amy Hempel for the 2017 Best Small Fictions anthology, and her short story “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” is a finalist for the 2019 Agatha Award. Tara was the winner of the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project’s Literary Awards Prize, has been the editor of the popular online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010, and is a member of Sisters in Crime. She earned a BA in English with a minor in writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Virginia. One Night Gone is her first novel.

Visit Tara at:
TaraLaskowski.com, Goodreads, BookBub, @TaraLWrites, Instagram, & Facebook!

Read an excerpt:

Opal Beach was about a two-hour drive without traffic from downtown Philadelphia. It was somewhere halfway between Ocean City and Atlantic City and way less touristy. The beach always reminded me of vacations as a kid, running barefoot on hot sand, creating lopsided sand castles with plastic buckets, breaking crab legs and sucking out the meat. But there was also a sense of slowing down, of taking it all in, and I needed that now. I could feel the air change, the way it clung, coated, opened everything up.

Through the car windows, the Oc¬tober air was shockingly cold but also reviving. The salty air had always bothered my mother and sister, who complained it was too humid and their tongues felt strange, but I loved the way it worked its fingers into my hair and curled around the tendrils. It made me feel a little wild, a little different. Untamed. Like anything could happen.

Was I really doing this? Was I really pressing on this pedal, steering, guiding these four wheels to a stranger’s beach house, where I would live for the next three months alone? It had all happened so fast. A blur, really. Annie’s friend Sharon, with that same nurse-like efficiency that Annie had, set it all up so quickly that I’d barely had time to adjust to the idea before it was actually happening.

But I was used to life messing with me now, used to tripping over a curb or forgetting to eat breakfast or chipping a nail, waking up only to discover that everything I’d known to be true was suddenly different. So in some ways this journey, the picking up and leaving behind, felt like an emerging. Like Rockefeller, the hermit crab I’d bought on our family vacation one year at a boardwalk shack, I was crawling out of a dingy shell and moving into a shinier, larger home. (Unlike Rockefeller, though, I hoped I wouldn’t die from the soap residue that was left inside the new shell when someone tried to clean it too vigorously before setting him inside the cage.)

I drove down a two-lane road just off the ocean, the main drag for all the beachfront houses. I could imagine that on a weekend in July it looked like a parking lot as families navigated in or out of town, canoes and coolers tied up on their roof racks. But now it was eerily vacant, and I had the sense I was the last woman on earth, that in my quiet drive alone the rest of humanity had vanished. I was trying to decide if that was a good thing or not when a giant orange Hummer zoomed into view behind me and passed without slowing down. “Well, so much for that. Asshole,” I said.

The houses were dramatically large and looming, blocking what otherwise would’ve been a magnificent view. You could tell which ones were just rentals—the monstrosities with thirteen bedrooms and a six-car garage that five families could rent out at once. But further down the road, the houses had more style and character. The kind of places—lots of windows, big porches, nice landscaping—that would make your mouth water even without the lush ocean backdrop as icing on the cake.

I slowed as my GPS indicated I was getting close, but even so I almost missed the tiny driveway and its faded, weather-beaten road sign declaring my new mailing address: Piper Sand Road.

I had made it.

The long gravel drive split off halfway up, with one side leading to the Worthington house and the other side to their neighbor’s. When I’d first met the Worthingtons for my “job interview” just a few weeks before, I’d been so nervous about the whole thing that I’d taken the wrong driveway and parked in the neighbor’s lot and stared at it for a good minute before realizing the house number was wrong.

But now, pulling into the correct driveway slowly, it felt like an adventure movie soundtrack should be swelling. And our heroine finds her destiny.

I could imagine Annie’s reaction when she finally saw the house in person. It was stunning. The surrounding homes were propped up on beams, like old ladies hitching up their skirts so they wouldn’t get wet in the surf, but that just gave the Worthingtons’ house an understated effect. It stood confident and modest between them, a beach gingerbread house right out of a fairy tale, with light blue curtains and sweeping eaves.

I parked right at the porch steps and got out, wrapping my cardigan around me to stave off the whipping wind. The front porch was small but quaint, with two wooden rocking chairs and a small white table with flaking paint. I ran my palm along the back of one of the tall chairs, and it creaked from my touch. The chairs seemed to be more for decoration than sitting.

Dolores, Sharon’s sister who lived in town, was supposed to be meeting me to hand over the keys. Yet it seemed I’d arrived first. I’d had to come one week sooner than planned, as Patty and John had been whisked away to her mysterious assignment in Eastern Europe a little earlier than expected. Patty had called me from the airport with the news. I’d pictured her in her white visor and tennis sneakers rushing through the terminals, bags bouncing off her lower back as she breathlessly gave me instructions.

Still, I half expected Patty to appear in the window as I squatted down and peered inside the house. It was hard to see with the bright sun glaring at my back, but I could make out the shadowy silhouette of the large island counter in the middle of the kitchen. Beyond that room, I remembered, was the living room, with doors and stairs leading to all the many nooks of the house.

All empty now, waiting for me. A shiver curled from my spine up to my neck, unwinding inside me. Calm down, you idiot, I told myself. Not everything is a trap. Think positively, and positive things will come…

Excerpt from One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski.

Follow the tour at Partners in Crime for reviews, guest posts and more.