Spotlight & Excerpt: PRESTIGE, PRIVILEGE & MURDER by Christa Nardi

Have you heard the news? Christa Nardi has launched a new cozy mystery series.  The first book, Prestige, Privilege & Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery) is already out.  Definitely worth checking out.

Description

Prestige-Privilege-MurderMoney isn’t worth killing for, or is it?

When her estranged husband is murdered, Stacie Maroni Noth is quickly identified as the main suspect. With divorce papers not yet signed, she may get a substantial inheritance – a clear motive in the eyes of both Noth’s family and the police. His family and law firm strive to keep up the pretense that all is above reproach and idyllic. In her quest to prove her innocence, however, Stacie discovers she’s not the only one with a motive for murder. Could it be a colleague at the prestigious law firm where he worked? Or is it tied to the victim’s stance on domestic violence? Or maybe even his threats to reveal family secrets? Whatever the true motive may be, it soon becomes clear that Stacie might be the next victim.

Read an excerpt:

It had been a while since I’d gone to a bar by myself and I was nervous. It was a Friday night and the DJ joked about song titles and singles. Not too crowded, a few couples danced to the tune he played. Other couples and groups sat in booths or tables. The bar was long and I’d grabbed the last seat at the bar, a great vantage point for checking out the crowd.

Perched on a stool by the bar, I was on my second glass of wine when I spotted him. A dark-haired Adonis in snug jeans and a tapered polo shirt, he scanned the room. The wine did its job and I felt good. I caught his eye. My soon-to-be ex wasn’t the only one who could fool around. I winked and he smiled – his smile about knocked me over. My heart raced as he sauntered in my direction.

“Hi. Care to dance?” He extended his hand and I nodded. The DJ played a slow song and he was a strong lead. I couldn’t help but notice the woodsy scent of his aftershave as he held me in his arms and we danced. When the song was over, he walked me back to my spot at the bar.

“Can I buy you a drink?”

“Uh, sure. Viognier, please.”

I almost admitted that two was my limit but decided I could sip this one. Viognier isn’t the most popular of wines. That he didn’t question my choice surprised me. Ted certainly did. Often.

He signaled the bartender and ordered the wine along with a scotch and water for himself. “I’m Rick. Rick Murdock.”

I hesitated and answered with a smile, “You can call me Barbie.” If this was my once in my lifetime one-night-stand, I didn’t want to use my real name.

His eyes narrowed for a split-second before he nodded. The bartender delivered our drinks and distracted him from the name issue.

“Thanks!” I lifted my glass and he tapped it with his.

“Cheers! So, Barbie… what do you think of the music the DJ is serving us?”

I had to give him credit. It was better than the “Come here often?” I expected. Then again, Creekview Lounge catered to a different crowd than Rockies. We exchanged opinions on music and danced to a few more songs.

Along the way, I finished the third glass of wine, gained a better appreciation of the muscles in his shoulders and noticed his hazel eyes. As I tried not to stumble, he caught me.

“You all right?”

I licked my lip, flicked my hair over my shoulder, and tried for a flirty look. “I think some fresh air would help.”

His multi-watt smile came back at me and we walked outside. In the parking lot, we commented on how good the crisp cool air felt. He leaned toward me and I toward him. The wine had diminished my inhibitions and I responded when he kissed me. Then his hand was on my back and I burst into tears.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I just… I can’t do this. I’m not as slimy as Ted. I’m so sorry.”

He dropped his hands and put them up in front of his body as he stepped back. The smile was long gone. “No problem. No problem.”

I turned and ran to my car, still crying. After a few minutes and a little calmer, I drove to my empty townhouse. Thankfully, I didn’t get stopped by a police car or have an accident. It wasn’t that late – a little after midnight. That’s what I told myself as I called my best friend Jillian. I didn’t get any farther than “I hope it’s not too late” and I burst into tears.

“Stacie, what’s wrong?”

I was crying too hard to talk. I squeaked out, “I went to the Creekview Lounge. I thought I could be like Ted. That’s not me. I tried and I can’t do this this dating thing again.”

“Stacie, you are only 34 years old. You have a great job at Foster’s Insurance Group. You’re educated and smart. Maybe you could go back to school and get that graduate degree in counseling you wanted before Ted.”

“I don’t know about graduate school. What about all the weight I’ve gained? I’m not a size 6 anymore. Each day I find another gray hair. The thoughts of going out and trying to meet somebody is scary and tonight proved it.”

“You have beautiful dark brown hair and blue eyes, and so what if you’re a size 10 now. There’s a man out there – a better man than Ted. Did you see any prospects at Creekview?”

“Yeah, there was one guy. His name was Rick. He was a great dancer and when he smiled – wow!”

“So what happened?”

“Well, I said I needed a breath of air and then he kissed me. I just lost it. I mean I’m not even divorced yet. I burst into tears and sat in my car until I could drive. Then I came home and called you because you’re my friend.” I burst into tears again.

“Stacie, you know if this guy was even halfway good-looking and interested, there’s hope. Was he attractive?”

“Oh, he was easy on the eyes for sure. Tall, dark, and handsome. Muscular. And that’s not the alcohol talking. I only had a couple glasses of wine.”

“Was he drunk?”

“No, he didn’t seem drunk at all. He seemed like a nice guy and a good dancer. He wasn’t pushy at all and didn’t get mad when I freaked. Maybe because I met Ted there … that was 12 years ago. We were supposed to have a happily ever after.”

“Listen, Ted’s scum. You have a lot of years left for happiness. Look at me. I didn’t meet Wade until I was 30. My thirtieth birthday bash with you and Trina. Remember what fun we had that night?”

We talked more about the fun times. Jillian and I shared some laughs and by the time I hung up I felt much better. I surveyed my townhouse. It had been six months since I bought it and moved in, but it didn’t quite feel like home. The only pictures were of my parents and brother, and then a couple of friends. Ted insisted on keeping our dog, Jasper, and I missed him. Maybe I’d get a dog or a cat to keep me company.

The next week, my breakfast on the table, the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, the sight confused me.

“Ma’am. Mrs. Noth?”

“How did you find me?” I asked Rick Murdock as he stood on my front step. Even two weeks later, I hadn’t forgotten how good he looked or how humiliated I felt about that night.

“Ma’am. Your address was on the divorce papers. Can we come in please?”

My brain kicked in and I realized Rick wasn’t talking – it was the other man on the step. The balding stocky one in uniform with a scowl on his face, a smoker from the odor wafting off of him. And then I realized Rick was in uniform, too. He still looked good and gave off the woodsy scent.

“What’s going on?” My gaze went from one man to the other.

“Mrs. Noth, if you don’t want us to come in, we can go down to the station. We have some questions we need to ask you.”

I stepped aside so they could come inside. “I don’t understand. What kind of questions?”

My thoughts were running in circles. Could I have broken a law at the Creekview Lounge that night and not have remembered? Did Rick think I was soliciting? Did they catch me on camera drinking and driving?

“May we sit down? I’m Officer Flatt and this is Officer Murdock.”

“Sure… What’s going on?”

“Mrs. Noth when was the last time you talked to or saw your husband?”

“As I’m sure he told you, it was yesterday at a meeting with our lawyers. Is he still complaining I refused the ‘irreconcilable differences’ lies?” My anger at Ted surfaced once again.

“What time was that ma’am?”

“The meeting was at 3:30. I had to leave work early to make it there on time. He finally grabbed the papers and left, must have been after 4. I was home before the 5 o’clock news. I don’t understand. Is he accusing me of something? Are you here to serve me a gag order?” I huffed, my anger rising.

I glanced from one officer to the other. Rick avoided my gaze and shuffled his feet.

“No ma’am. Mr. Noth isn’t accusing you of anything. He’s dead and…”

I didn’t hear the rest of his sentence. “What? No!”
And then I passed out. I groaned and opened my eyes. Rick stood there with a glass of water. “Here, drink this.”

I sat up and looked to Officer Flatt. “I’m sorry. I don’t usually faint. Did you say Ted was dead? That can’t be. I just talked to him yesterday.”

“That is what I said. He was murdered sometime last night.”

“Murdered?”

“Ma’am. After you left your husband yesterday, what did you do?”

“I came home.”

“Can anyone vouch for that? Anyone here with you?”

“Huh? What? No one was here with me. It was just me and a half gallon of Rocky Road ice cream.” Then it dawned on me. This man suspected I’d killed Ted!
“Oh, my gosh. You think I killed him? I can’t even kill spiders.”

Officer Flatt shook his head a bit before he answered. “Calm down. We have to ask these questions.”

“I’ll get you more water.” Rick picked up my glass and disappeared into my kitchen. He came back with the water and nodded to Officer Flatt. “One empty Rocky Road carton in the trash.”

I glared at him. How dare he check my trash? “Just so you know, I didn’t eat it all at once.”

His mouth twitched, but he didn’t say a word.

“Just a few more questions. About your divorce…”

“Excuse me, but do I need to call my lawyer? I don’t think I should talk to you until I call my lawyer. Of course, he’s a divorce attorney, but he must know something about other kinds of law, right?”

Rick was back to staring at the ceiling and Officer Flatt studied the floor. Standing up, Officer Flatt put his little book and pen in his pocket. “We’ll be in touch or Detective O’Hare will be if there are any other questions. Here’s my card.”
He started to leave, Rick following his lead.

“Wait. Has anyone else been notified? Do I need to call his family? What should I tell them? Where is he? Who will take care of the funeral?”

Officer Flatt blinked before he answered. “You’ll have to talk with Detective O’Hare at the Beckman Springs Police Department.” He shook his head as he turned and left. Rick hesitated and then was gone.

My eggs were cold, but it didn’t matter. I’d lost my appetite.

I sat on the sofa, my head in my hands for I don’t know how long. I still held the business card and reached for the phone. Time to call this Detective O’Hare and then Jillian. A whole list of people to call came to mind.

“Beckman Springs Police Department, is this an emergency?”

“No, ma’am. Can I speak with Detective O’Hare, please? Officer Flatt told me to call him.”

“May I ask who’s calling?”

“Stacie Noth.”

“Hold on while I transfer your call.”

There was silence as I waited. No elevator or perky music when you’re on hold for the police department.

“Hello, Mrs. Noth? This is Detective O’Hare.”

“Hello. My husband… two officers came by. They said he was dead. Murdered. They said … No, Officer Flatt told me to call you. I’ve been sitting here trying to understand. Are you sure it’s Ted? There must be some mistake.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Noth. There’s no mistake.”

I gasped and choked back a sob. “What do I do next? About notifying his parents and family? The funeral?”

“Mrs. Noth, I don’t have answers to those questions. As next of kin, you’re the only one we’ve notified officially. I do need to meet with you and get some additional information. Can you come into the station today, say around 11 o’clock?”

“I… I guess. I don’t understand what happened, Detective. The officers – they didn’t tell me very much.”

“We can discuss that when you come in, Mrs. Noth. I’ll have more information by then. Shall I send Officer Flatt back to get you or can you get here on your own?”

“Yes, I can do that.”

The call disconnected. That’s about how I felt. Disconnected. I called Jillian, but the call went straight to voicemail. I left a message that I needed to talk to her immediately and asked her to call no matter what time.
Then I called Nathaniel Heinemann, my divorce attorney. Again, straight to voice mail. This time I left a more pointed message. “Ted’s dead. Do you know any criminal lawyers? Call me.”

What I really wanted to do was climb back into bed and hide under the covers. My stomach growled and my head hurt. Rocky Road is not the best choice for dinner. I tossed the eggs and ate some cereal but didn’t taste a thing. Who identified Ted’s body? Who killed him? Why? Other than me, who had a motive?

I was dressed for work, but no longer planned on going there. I called and told Rosie, the receptionist, that I had a family emergency and wouldn’t be in. With another two hours before I’d need to leave for the police station, I started to make lists. Sooner or later someone – probably me – was going to have to call Ted’s family. Hopefully, they would take charge of the funeral and burial. Maybe they had a plot for him at the family gravesite. In ten years of marriage, somehow those topics had never come up.

 

Excerpt from Prestige, Privilege and Murder (A Stacie Maroni Mystery). Copyright © 2018 Christa Nardi. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Christa Nardi is an accomplished author of cozy mysteries.

Christa’s background is in higher education and psychology, much as her protagonist, Sheridan Hendley in the Cold Creek mystery series. Murder at Cold Creek College is the first in this series set in a small, fictitious town in Virginia and Sheridan is an accidental sleuth called on to assist the detective in charge of a colleague’s murder. The fifth and last in the series, Murder and a Wedding, was released on August 10, 2017. Sheridan may be moving, but she still gets involved in mysteries. Look for the first in the Sheridan Hendley series in 2018.

Connect with Christa:

Purchase Link: Amazon

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Spotlight & Giveaway: PLUM TEA CRAZY by Laura Childs

PLUM-TEA-CRAZY-BANNER-640As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  today’s post introduces  Plum Tea Crazy, A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs.

Description

plum-tea-crazyTheodosia Browning investigates a Charleston steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.

While viewing the harbor’s Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow’s walk of Timothy Neville’s Charleston mansion, local banker Carson Lanier seemingly tumbles over a narrow railing, then plunges three stories to his death. But a tragic accident becomes something much more sinister when it’s discovered that the victim was first shot with a bolt from a crossbow.

At the request of the mansion owner, Theodosia investigates the tragedy and is soon neck deep in suspects. An almost ex-wife, a coworker, a real estate partner–all had motives for killing the luckless banker, but one resorted to murder to settle accounts.

INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a print copy of Plum Tea Crazy.

About the Author

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and The Cackkleberry Club Mysteries. . In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

laura-childs-from-facebook

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Laura’s links:

Spotlight,Guest Post & Giveaway: WALK WITH ME by Debra Schoenberger

iRead Website new logo

As part of a blog  tour organized by iRead Book Tours, it’s my pleasure to tell you about  Walk with Me by Debra Schoenberger.  It looks like a really cool collection of street photography. Check it out. But first Debra is here to tell us about her trip to Iceland.


ICELAND ​ by Debra Schoenberger​
DebSchoOne of the destinations on my bucket list was to travel to and document Iceland.  After a fair amount of research and saving I decided to go in September 2017.  I decided to go with National Geographic Journeys and tour the southern part of the island.  If you haven’t travelled with them before, I highly recommend their tours.  Other tour companies such as Intrepid Travel are also excellent but a lot less expensive.
Iceland is very unique in that instead of walking on soft ground, the island is made up of black, rough volcanic rock.  Instead of grass, the volcanic rock is covered with lichen and moss of varying shades of green.
Iceland doesn’t have a large population, around 330,000, so you can enjoy wide open spaces and sweeping views of the glaciers and ocean.  We travelled extensively around the southern coastline and I was mesmerized by the sharp, cliff-like islands jutting up out of the ocean.
Iceland doesn’t have a lot of really interesting places to visit compared to other countries.  The few really beautiful waterfalls were packed with tourists.  I don’t think the department of tourism could foresee the high volume of tourists that would visit the country and I found this to be a bit of a put-off while I was there.  Photographing some of its beautiful places was a challenge and downright impossible in some areas.  I would definitely return but maybe in a couple of years when tourism has slowed down a bit.  If you have time and money, a longer visit be better to capture the the unique beauty of Iceland.
Photography in Iceland proved to be a bit of a challenge.  Although we were fortunate to have quite a few warm, sunny days – my images were turning out very dark.  I did some research and noticed that photographers were experiencing the same issue.  Iceland’s latitude was such that the sunlight is very weak and I had to slightly adjust my exposure while I was there to compensate for this.
It is also a very expensive country to visit.  A bowl of soup cost $28.00, a hamburger $35.00 and a nice meal (not the most expensive) was about $70.00 (which included a glass of wine).  Don’t expect to receive a bill at the end of the meal though.  Restaurants work on the honour system, so when you are ready to go, just go up to the cash and tell them what you had to eat and drink.

Overall, would I recommend travelling to Iceland?  Definitely.  Maybe wait a bit until the mad tourist rush slows down a bit.  The country’s unique beauty and relaxing spas will definitely be the highlight of your trip.


About Walk with Me

Whenever I’m asked “which is the best camera?” I pretty much respond: “the one you have on you.” In fact, most of the images in this book were taken with my cell phone simply because I always have it with me.

walkwithmeThis is not only a book about street photography but a visual diary, or collection of quirky, unusual and sometimes just plain weird photos I’ve taken over the course of the last decade. ​

As a street photographer, I need to be an assiduous walker. My sneakers often take me to little known, hidden corners, seaweed strewn (and sometimes stinky) beaches and really cool back alleys of my rather small island city of Victoria, BC.​
I’ve also included images of curiosities I’ve seen throughout my travels.
​​
Everyone sees the world differently and this is my collection of the quirkyness that I call life.

Buy the book:  AmazoniTunes  /  Blurb
Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win one a $15 Amazon giftcard or one of five e-copies of Walk with Me. 

Meet the Author/Photographer

​Debra Schoenberger aka #girlwithcamera

“My dad always carried a camera under the seat of his car and was constantly taking pictures. I think that his example, together with pouring over National Geographic magazines as a child fuelled my curiosity for the world around me.

I am a documentary photographer and street photography is my passion. Some of my images have been chosen by National Geographic as editor’s favourites and are on display in the National Geographic museum in Washington, DC.  I also have an off-kilter sense of humour so I’m always looking for the unusual.

Connect with the author:    Website ~  Facebook ​~ Instagram ~  Pinterest

 

Spotlight & Giveaway: COOKIE DOUGH, SNOW & WANDS AGLOW by Erin Johnson

COOKIE-DOUGH-SNOW-WANDS-AGLOW-BANNER-640

As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  today’s spotlight shines on Cookie Dough, Snow & Wands Aglow: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels) by Erin Johnson.  Sounds like a good choice for readers who like a bit of magic with their mystery.

Description

CookieDoughMurder in a magical, merry town just brimming with secrets.

On the snowy road to the Earth Kingdom for the holidays, Imogen and the bakers are ambushed by Horace, villainous leader of the Badlands Army. They’re forced to detour to an idyllic, rural village, bedecked in lights, garlands and winter cheer…all a little too perfect to believe. At least that’s so for Imogen, who’s seeing burned out buildings and mysterious memorials that no one else seems to notice.

Hank’s royal presence gets them invited to the big bash at the governor’s mansion. The night is filled with dancing, stolen kisses under the mistletoe and fun, until a guest is found dead in the cauldron of punch.

As bodies and mysteries pile up, all the evidence points to the vampire Francis as the culprit. The gang must come together to clear their friend’s name and save themselves from the angry villagers. Even worse, Imogen struggles with having to keep her relationship with Hank hidden, while working with him to find the real killer.

As Imogen unearths more than a few town secrets, she finally solves the riddles of her past and discovers the truth of Horace’s pursuit of her. But will all the secrets be unraveled in time to stop the killer, or will Imogen and her friends suffer a monstrous fate?

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win one a print set of all 4 Books in the Cozy Witch Mystery Series!

ErinJohnsonAbout the Author

Erin Johnson is a native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

Purchase Link – Amazon Kindle  Amazon Paperback

Spotlight: DIAMOND GIRL by Julie Mulhern

Have you heard the news? A new addition to Julie Mulhern’s successful Country Club Murder series is already available for pre-order.  A short read, Diamond Girl will be released on Feb. 13th.

DiamondGirl cover frontDescription

From USA Today bestselling author, Julie Mulhern, comes a short worthy of the Country Club Murders name.

For Aggie DeLucci, former assistant private investigator and current housekeeper extraordinaire, 1975 is turning out to be a banner year. There’s a new man her life, Mac. He makes her laugh, takes her dancing, and makes a helluva salami sandwich.

When Mac is accused of theft, it’s up to Aggie to clear his name. She’ll have to polish her slightly tarnished investigative kills and tame her fears (and her hair) to catch the real thief.

If this is your first trip to 70s Kansas City, the entire series awaits you. Get ready to dive into THE DEEP END!

You can order your copy from Amazon.

About the Author

Julie Mulhern is the USA Today bestselling author of The Country Club Murders. She is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. She spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean–and she’s got an active imagination. Truth is–she’s an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.

Sign up for Julie’s newsletter at juliemulhernauthor.com.

About the Country Club Murders:

This humorous cozy mystery series includes these books:

Spotlight: THE AMBITIOUS ONE by Jeanette Lewis

Today’s spotlight shines on the most recent addition to the Billionaire Bride Pact Romance series –  The Ambitious One.

Description

AmbitiousOne_SMLLindsey Asher took the Billionaire Bride Pact at girl’s camp, but she’s never taken it seriously. Her dreams were always about building her own a bakery empire, not marrying a billionaire. Years later and all grown up, Lindsey has poured her heart and soul into Sugarbee’s Sweets in downtown Manhattan. All she wants for Christmas are good reviews from a pair of big-name food bloggers and plenty of customers to enjoy her sweet treats.

When Eric Kasabov parks his cookie cart in front of Sugarbee’s and starts stealing her customers, Lindsey’s resolve is tested. And when Eric’s partner starts causing trouble, Lindsey has to make a choice. How far will she go to save her store? Can rivalry turn to love?

Author’s Note: The Billionaire Bride Pact series is written to be read in any order without missing any of the story. Jump in any time! You might have some fun spotting crossover characters.

The Ambitious One is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Jeanette LewisJeanette Lewis is a bestselling author of clean romance novels. Dreaming up stories has always been one of Jeanette’s favorite things. Other favorites include family, friends, crisp Autumn days, having adventures, and frozen gummy bears.

You can connect with Jeanette on social media:

 

Showcase & Giveaway: THE BODY IN THE CASKET by Katherine Hall Page

As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, today’s post showcases The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds like a good one!

Description

The inimitable Faith Fairchild returns in a chilling New England whodunit, inspired by the best Agatha Christie mysteries and with hints of the timeless board game Clue.

CasketFor most of her adult life, resourceful caterer Faith Fairchild has called the sleepy Massachusetts village of Aleford home. While the native New Yorker has come to know the region well, she isn’t familiar with Havencrest, a privileged enclave, until the owner of Rowan House, a secluded sprawling Arts and Crafts mansion, calls her about catering a weekend house party.

Producer/director of a string of hit musicals, Max Dane—a Broadway legend—is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his seventieth birthday. At the house as they discuss the event, Faith’s client makes a startling confession. “I didn’t hire you for your cooking skills, fine as they may be, but for your sleuthing ability. You see, one of the guests wants to kill me.”

Faith’s only clue is an ominous birthday gift the man received the week before—an empty casket sent anonymously containing a twenty-year-old Playbill from Max’s last, and only failed, production—Heaven or Hell. Consequently, Max has drawn his guest list for the party from the cast and crew. As the guests begin to arrive one by one, and an ice storm brews overhead, Faith must keep one eye on the menu and the other on her host to prevent his birthday bash from becoming his final curtain call.

Full of delectable recipes, brooding atmosphere, and Faith’s signature biting wit, The Body in the Casket is a delightful thriller that echoes the beloved mysteries of Agatha Christie and classic films such as Murder by Death and Deathtrap.

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

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

“Have Faith in Your Kitchen,” Faith Fairchild said, answering the phone at her catering firm. She’d been busy piping choux pastry for éclairs onto a baking sheet.

“Mrs. Fairchild?”

“Yes? This is Faith Fairchild. How may I help you?”

“Please hold for Max Dane.” The voice had a plummy, slightly British tone, reminiscent of Jeeves, or Downton Abbey’s Carson. The only Max Dane Faith had heard of had been a famous Broadway musical producer, but she was pretty sure he’d died years ago. This must be another Max Dane.

She was put through quickly and a new voice said, “Hi. I know this is short notice, but I am very much hoping you are available to handle a house party I’m throwing for about a dozen guests at the end of the month. A Friday to Sunday. Not just dinner, but all the meals.”

Faith had never catered anything like this. A Friday to Sunday sounded like something out of a British pre-World War II country house novel—kippers for breakfast, Fortnum & Mason type hampers for the shoot, tea and scones, drinks and nibbles, then saddle of lamb or some other large haunch of meat for dinner with vintage clarets followed by port and Stilton—for the men only. She was intrigued.

“The first thing I need to know is where you live, Mr. Dane. Also, is this a firm date? We’ve had a mild winter so far, but January may still deliver a wallop like last year.”

A Manhattan native, Faith’s marriage more than 20 years ago to the Reverend Thomas Fairchild meant a radical change of address— from the Big Apple to the orchards of Aleford, a small suburb west of Boston. Faith had never become used to boiled dinners, First Parish’s rock hard pews and most of all, New England weather. By the end of the previous February there had been 75 inches of snow on the ground and you couldn’t see through the historic parsonage’s ground floor windows or open the front door. Teenage son Ben struggled valiantly to keep the back door clear, daily hewing a path to the garage. The resulting tunnel resembled a clip from Nanook of the North.

“I’m afraid the date is firm. The thirtieth is my birthday. A milestone one, my seventieth.” Unlike his butler or whoever had called Faith to the phone, Max Dane’s voice indicated he’d started life in one of the five boroughs. Faith was guessing the Bronx. He sounded a bit sheepish when he said “ my birthday,” as if throwing a party for himself was out of character. “And I live in Havencrest. It’s not far from Aleford, but I’d want you to be available at the house the whole time. Live in.”

Leaving her family for three days was not something Faith did often, especially since Sunday was a workday for Tom and all too occasionally Saturday was as he “polished” his sermon. (His term, which she had noticed over the years, could mean writing the whole thing.)

Ben and Amy, two years younger, seemed old enough to be on their own, but Faith had found that contrary to expectations, kids needed parents around more in adolescence than when they were toddlers. Every day brought the equivalent of scraped knees and they weren’t the kind of hurts that could be soothed by Pat The Bunny and a chocolate chip cookie. She needed more time to think about taking the job. “I’m not sure I can leave my family…” was interrupted. “I quite understand that this would be difficult,” Dane said and then he named a figure so far above anything she had ever been offered that she actually covered her mouth to keep from gasping out loud.

“Look,” he continued. “Why don’t you come by and we’ll talk in person? You can see the place and decide then.  I don’t use it myself, but the kitchen is well equipped—the rest of the house too. I’ll email directions and you can shoot me some times that work. This week if possible. I want to send out the invites right away.”

Well, it wouldn’t hurt to talk, Faith thought. And she did like seeing other people’s houses. She agreed, but before she hung up curiosity won out and she asked, “Are you related to the Max Dane who produced all those wonderful Broadway musicals?”

“Very closely. As in one and the same. See you soon.”

Faith put the phone down and turned to Pix Miller, her closest friend and part-time Have Faith employee.

“That was someone wanting Have Faith to cater a weekend long birthday celebration—for an astonishing amount of money.” She named the figure in a breathless whisper. “His name is Max Dane. Have you ever heard of him?”

“Even I know who Max Dane is. Sam took me to New York the December after we were married and we saw one of his shows. It was magical—the whole weekend was. No kids yet. We were kids ourselves. We skated at Rockefeller Center by the tree and…”

Her friend didn’t go in for sentimental journeys and tempted as she was to note Pix and Sam skated on Aleford Pond then and now, Faith didn’t want to stop the flow of memories. “Where did you stay? A suite at the Plaza?” Sam was a very successful lawyer.

Pix came down to earth. “We barely had money for the show and pre-theater dinner at Twenty-One. That was the big splurge. I honestly can’t remember where we stayed and I should, because that’s where—” She stopped abruptly and blushed, also unusual Pix behavior.

“Say no more. Nine months later along came Mark?”

“Something like that,” Pix mumbled and then in her usual more assertive voice, added “You have to do this. Not because of the money, although the man must be loaded! Think of who might be there. And the house must be amazing. We don’t have anything booked for then and I can keep an eye on the kids.”

The Millers lived next door to the parsonage and their three now grown children had been the Fairchilds’ babysitters. Pix played a more essential role: Faith’s tutor in the unforeseen intricacies of childrearing as well as Aleford’s often arcane mores. Faith’s first social faux pas as a new bride—inviting guests for dinner at eight o’clock— had happily been avoided when her first invite, Pix, gently told Faith the town’s inhabitants would be thinking bed soon at that hour, not a main course.

Faith had started her catering business in the city that never slept before she was married and was busy all year long. Here January was always a slow month for business. The holidays were over and things didn’t start to pick up until Valentine’s Day—and even then scheduling events was risky. It all came down to weather.

Pix was at the computer. Years ago she’d agreed to work at Have Faith keeping the books, the calendar, inventory—anything that did not involve any actual food preparation.

“We have a couple of receptions at the Ganley Museum and the MLK breakfast the standing clergy host.”

The first time Faith heard the term, “standing clergy”, which was the town’s men and women of any cloth, she pictured an upright somberly garbed group in rows like ninepins. And she hadn’t been far off.

“That’s pretty much it,” Pix added,  “except for a few luncheons and Amelia’s baby shower—I think she baby sat for you a couple of times when she was in high school.”

“I remember she was very reliable,” Faith said.

“Hard to believe she’s the same age as Samantha and having her second!” Pix sounded wistful. She was the type of woman born to wear a “I Spoil My Grandchildren” tee shirt. Faith wouldn’t be surprised if there were a drawer somewhere in the Miller’s house filled with tiny sweaters and booties knit by Pix, “just to be ready.” Mark Miller, the oldest, was married, but he and his wife did not seem to be in a rush to start a family.

Samantha, the middle Miller, had a long-term beau, Caleb. They were living together in trendy Park Slope, Brooklyn and Sam, an old-fashioned pater familias, had to be restrained from asking Caleb his intentions each time the young couple came to Aleford. Pix was leaning that way herself, she’d told Faith recently, noting that young couples these days were so intent on careers they didn’t hear the clock ticking.

Faith had forgotten that Amelia—who apparently had paid attention to time— was Samantha’s age and quickly changed the subject to what was uppermost in her mind—the Dane job. “Where is Havencrest?” she asked. “I thought I knew all the neighboring towns.”

“It’s not really a town so much as an enclave between Weston and Dover. I don’t think it even has a zip code. I’ve never been there, but Mother has. You can ask her about it. The houses all date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I believe there’s a gatehouse at the entrance. It’s an early equivalent of the mid century modern planned communities like Moon Hill in Lexington. Havencrest wasn’t a bunch of architects like that one though. Just very rich Boston Brahmin families who wanted privacy and plenty of space. I wonder how Max Dane ended up there? From what Mother has said, the houses don’t change hands, just generations.”

“I think I’ll check my email and see if there’s anything from him yet,” Faith said. “And maybe drop by to see Ursula on my way home.” Stopping to visit with Ursula Lyman Rowe, Pix’s mother, was no chore. The octogenarian was one of Faith’s favorite people. She turned back to the éclairs, which were part of a special order, and added a few more to bring to her friend.

“I know you’ll take the job,” Pix said. “I’m predicting the weekend of a lifetime!”

***

Excerpt from The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Page.  Copyright © 2017 by William Morrow. Reproduced with permission from William Morrow. All rights reserved.

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway  hosted by Partners in Crime  for a chance to win one of three physical copies of Katherine Hall Page’s The Body in the Casket.

Katherine-Hall-Page-author-photo.jpgAbout the Author

Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-three previous Faith Fairchild mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. The Body in the Snowdrift was honored with the Agatha Award for best novel of 2006. Page also won an Agatha for her short story “The Would-Be Widower.” The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic, she has been nominated for the Edgar Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Macavity Award. She lives in Massachusetts, and Maine, with her husband.

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Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: ARIA TO DEATH by Nupur Tustin

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, the spotlight today shines on Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nurpur Tustin.

Description

Aria_cover_500x800.jpgWhen Monteverdi’s lost operas surface, so does a killer desperate to possess them. . .

Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes Haydn to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi.

Haydn is intrigued until Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.

The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?

(An excerpt from Aria to Death appears later in this post.)

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of Aria to Death.

About the Author

NT-headshot_originalA former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem.  The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

Purchase Links:  Amazon   B&N  kobo  iTunes

Read an excerpt from Aria to Death:

While he waits for Haydn’s response to his request, Kaspar is visited by a young Italian, Fabrizzio, who claims to be the son of a friend of Kaspar’s deceased uncle. But Fabrizzio, far from corroborating the story Kaspar’s uncle recounted of how he came by Monteverdi’s operas, casts even more doubt upon it…

Wilhelm Kaspar’s eyes widened. “Your father collected music?” he repeated slowly. God in heaven, could there be something after all to the strange tale his uncle had so readily believed? “Why, it must have been he who introduced my uncle to the printer who sold him Monteverdi’s music!”

“Ah, that!” Fabrizzio’s thumb gently stroked the short glossy tuft of beard on his chin, his gaze fixed on the carpet. “There was a printer, yes.” He continued to regard the worn carpet. “Father often recounted the tale to us, but”—he raised his eyes—“it was Wilhelm Dietrich who introduced the man to him.”

He leant back, holding Wilhelm Kaspar’s eyes in a pensive stare. “Whether Father set any store by the tale, I don’t know. I suppose if he had, he would have bought the music himself.”

Wilhelm Kaspar paled. “Then, the bequest. . .” Was it so completely without value? But how could that be? The attempt on the chest suggested otherwise, surely? Besides, Herr Anwalt himself was convinced of its value.

“Forgive me! I should not have spoken so plainly. Your aunt did mention your bequest to me.” Fabrizzio looked contrite. “Wilhelm Dietrich must have had the music authenticated,” he continued in a rush. “What man of the world could fail to do otherwise?”

“I. . .er. . .” Wilhelm Kaspar’s voice faltered. Onkel Dietrich had done no such thing as far as he was aware. What could have possessed the old man to buy such a parcel of old scores? And what must he have paid for it?

Fabrizzio propelled himself forward again and looked earnestly into his host’s eyes. “I would be happy to authenticate the works for you myself, if it has not yet been done. The possibility of your bequest containing the lost operas of the great master are very slim. But there may be some merit in the music, nonetheless.”

He gazed out at the overcast skies and yellow building visible through the parlor window. “I must confess as a music scholar, it quite intrigues me. This possibility of re-discovering works long held to be lost. But no. . .” He shook his head ruefully. “It is unlikely to be the case.”

He turned from the window. “There is news of the Empress having procured two such works herself. You will have heard of it, no doubt.”

Wilhelm Kaspar nodded wordlessly, his expectations ruptured. He had, until this moment, been counting on selling the works to no less a personage himself. He attempted to buoy himself up again.

“If two such works have been discovered, why should not the rest come to light?”

“Ah, yes!” Fabrizzio steepled the fingertips of his hands together. “But Her Majesty’s source claims to have unearthed them all.” He paused before continuing. “Still, there may be hope yet. If you will but allow me to examine the works.” His eyes searched the room, coming to rest upon an old bureau standing near the small clavichord.

Wilhelm Kaspar hesitated. Perhaps, Fabrizzio meant no harm. But how could he entrust his inheritance to a man he had just met? A man so adamant the bequest was without value; yet so eager to examine it?

His fingers closed nervously upon the edge of his seat. If only he had heeded Herr Anwalt’s advice to put the music in safekeeping. The lawyer had warned him another attempt might be made upon it.

“The scores are not here,” Wilhelm Kaspar uttered the lie hastily. “My lawyer has charge of them and has already arranged for them to be authenticated.” Would to God, Haydn could come to him!

“Oh!” A flash of annoyance seemed to flicker across Fabrizzio’s features. He shrugged lightly. “Well, it had best be done soon, then.” His dark eyes bore into Wilhelm Kaspar’s. “Before Her Majesty acquires the same works from another source.”

Excerpt from Aria to Death by Nupur Tustin.

Cover Reveal: HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE by Tina Kashian

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The title of this upcoming release  Hummus and Homicide —  was quick to catch this hummus lover’s attention.  I look forward to reading it in the future.  Until then, we’ll feast our eyes on its cover.

Description

HummusWhen Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she’s getting—the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. But murder wasn’t on the menu . . .

Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn’t mind. She doesn’t even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It’s fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who’s married to a cop now.

She could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school . . . and unfortunately, she’s just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen—where she’s tallied up a whole list of bogus violations—she falls down dead in the street. Word on the grapevine is it’s homicide, and Lucy’s the number one suspect . . .

Recipes included!

Coming February 27, 2018 from Kensington Books!

Pre-order your copy today:  
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Spotlight & Giveaway: ANOTHER MAN’S POISON by Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post turns the spotlight on  Another Man’s Poison, the latest addition to the Jersey Girl Cozy Mystery series by  Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa.

Description

AnotherMansPoison-CoverCrime reporter Colleen Caruso’s appetite for romance with her hunky boss falls flatter than a ruined soufflé when he keels over after one bite of his trout almondine. With his food editor wife mysteriously poisoned three years before, Ken was and still remains the prime suspect. Clearly
someone wanted both Ken and Nadine Rhodes dead, and Colleen finds herself hot on the case of the poisoned plate. She whisks her way into the scrumptious world of the culinary arts, hoping her investigation isn’t a recipe for disaster. Colleen is determined to give those responsible their just desserts, but has this Jersey Girl bitten off more than she can chew?

Read an excerpt:

I never gave any serious thought about being married to Ken Rhodes. Somehow I didn’t think I could fall asleep every single night next to that luscious body and wake up each and every morning to see those washboard abs. All he’d see is a woman in such disarray that he’d think he married a psychotic. It would mess up everything and definitely destroy every speck of romance between us. And after seventeen long, long years of being Mrs. Neil Caruso, my master plan was to remain single for the rest of my days and lead a life that would make my mother cringe.
Excerpt from ANOTHER MAN’S POISON by Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa. Copyright © 2017

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of Another Man’s Poison.

About The Author

JOANN-LAMON-RECCOPPAJo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa is the creator of the Jersey Girl Cozy Mystery series, which includes New Math is Murder, Hide Nor Hair, and the latest installment, Another Man’s Poison, released
in August, 2017. Reccoppa has worked for many years as a newspaper stringer, writing everything from serious medical pieces to restaurant reviews. Her short stories have appeared in
several genre magazines, in addition to a mystery which  appeared in the Barnes & Noble Crafty Cat Crimes anthology.

Jo-Ann loves to hear from fans. Visit her website/blog at  https://joannlamonreccoppa.com/
or drop her an email at joannreccoppaauthor at gmail.com

Purchase Links:  Amazon

Other books in this series: