Review & Giveaway: SUMMER SNOOPS AND COZY CRIMES

SUMMER-SNOOPS-BANNER-184
As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post spotlights a soon to-be-released boxed set from an accomplished group of cozy mystery authors.  Not to mention the fact that any profits from its sales will be donated to No Kill animal charities.  Check it out.

Description

Help Us Help Pets!

New-SnoopsHave a howlingly good read during the dog days of summer with a dozen cozy mysteries from Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon best-selling authors. Murder lurks in every corner during the dog days of summer. Solve the mystery as our snoops leash the criminals – at the beach, at the farm, on the mountain – everywhere! All profits from this pack go to support NO KILL animal charities! Fetch it now! And help us help pets!

Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes includes never before published books from:

  • WSJ Bestselling Author Judith Lucci – Gawd Almighty & the Corn
  • WSJ Bestselling Author Cindy Bell – Murder at Pawprint Creek
  • WSJ Bestselling Author Colleen Mooney – Dog Gone and Dead
  • USA Today and WSJ Bestselling Author Amy Vansant – Summer Teeth
  • WSJ Bestselling Author Colleen Helme – A Midsummer Night’s Murder
  • WSJ Bestselling Author Kim Hunt Harris – The Murder of Bandera Bandito
  • USA Today Bestselling Author Anna Celeste Burke – A Body on Fitzgerald’s Bluff
  • Ava Mallory – A Dream Stray-Cation
  • Sandi Scott – Croquembouche Murder
  • Susan Boles – Death on the Beach
  • USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever – Toxic Tech
  • Anne R. Tan – Just Lost and Found

Bonus recipes from the authors are included!

Purchase and GoodReads Links

My Review

Given the range of authors and titles in this box set, any cozy mystery lover is sure to find something they’ll enjoy.  I didn’t have time to read all of the books in time for this post so I poked around the list of books and selected A Body on Fitzgerald’s Bluff by Anna Celeste Burke to start off with.

The first book in the author’s newest series, A Body on Fitzgerald’s Bluff features a group of women who reside at Seaview Cottages, a seaside community for adults over 55.  Miriam Webster, their newest and youngest resident, comes across a dead body while taking her dog for an early morning walk on the beach.  Despite the police warning her to let them handle the investigation, she is soon joined by a gaggle of grand old lady detectives who are on a mission to learn everything they can about the victim.  This cozy whodunnit features a warm and caring group of women, quirky at times, but very likeable.  The story moved along at a nice pace with a variety of suspects and motives divulged as the plot unfolds.  And with its seaside setting, A Body on Fitzgerald’s Bluff is sure to please cozy mystery lovers in search of a fun beach read this summer.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.


About the Authors

Judith Lucci

Dr. Judith Lucci is a Wall Street Journal and best-selling Amazon. She is an award-winning author of the Alexandra Destephano Medical Thriller and the Michaela McPherson “Two Sleuth’s and a Dog” Crime fiction series. Her newest series, Artzy Chicks, releases next month and features a group of , eccentric, talented but zany artists in their Art Gallery at a Mountain Resort.

In 2017, ‘Viral Intent’ (Book 3) Alexandra Destephano Series) was awarded a Gold Medal by Readers’ Favorites for ‘Best Political Thriller’. as was her crime thriller ‘The Case of Dr. Dude’ (Michaela McPherson #1) for a Gold Medal for ‘Best Amateur Sleuth for 2017. ‘The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year‘ won an additional gold medal for ‘Best Holiday Read’ of 2017.

Her favorite things are reading, writing art and animals. In her spare time she teaches painting, loves up on animals and raises money for needy causes. Judith lives with her 4 dog family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She loves to connect with her readers and is available at judithlucciwrites@gmail.com. Check our her website at judithlucci.com. and sign-up for a free copy of Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center.


Cindy Bell

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Cindy Bell, has always loved reading, but it is only recently that she has discovered her passion for writing romantic cozy mysteries. When she is not reading or writing she loves baking (and eating) sweet treats or walking along the beach with her energetic cocker spaniel, thinking of the next adventure her characters can embark on. Cindy is the author of the Chocolate Centered, Donut Truck, Dune House, Sage Gardens, Nuts about Nuts, Bekki the Beautician, Wendy the Wedding Planner, Heavenly Highland Inn and the Macaron Patisserie Cozy Mystery Series.


Colleen Mooney

Colleen Mooney was born and raised in New Orleans along with everyone else in her family. She is a Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author and writes a cozy mystery series set in New Orleans called The New Orleans Go Cup Chronicles and the fourth book, Death By Rum Balls was released in December 2017.

Since January 2017 Colleen organized a Sisters In Crime chapter in New Orleans, has been elected President and has a planned a Mystery Writers’ Conference for June. She is currently working on her 5th book in the Brandy Alexander series.

In New Orleans, she’s been a member and active in many Mardi Gras Krewes, Super Krewes, and organizations. Colleen says she has never met a parade she didn’t like.

She’s an ardent animal lover and the Director for a breed rescue, Schnauzer Rescue of Louisiana for the last fifteen years. She has rescued and placed over 350 abandoned or surrendered Schnauzers. She loves to write and writes about what she loves. Colleen says, “New Orleans is where it all happens for me.”


Amy Vansant

Amy Vansant

Amy Vansant is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-selling author specializing in fun, comedic reads about accident prone, easily distracted women with questionable taste in men.
So, autobiographies, mostly.
Ha!
But seriously: She writes happy romantic comedies, mysteries, and urban fantasies. Amy is the former East Coast Editor of SURFER Magazine but the urge to drive up and down the coast interviewing surfers has long since left her. She’s a dog-lover who works at home with her goofy husband and loves interacting with fans, so stop by her blog or Twitter and say hi!

http://www.amyvansant.com/


Colleen Helme

Colleen Helme is the author of the bestselling Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, a wildly entertaining and highly humorous series about Shelby Nichols, a woman with the ability to read minds. When asked if reading minds is something Colleen wishes she could do she says, “No way! It gets Shelby into so much trouble that I would never want that ability.” Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby’s adventures. Besides writing, she loves reading, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.


Kim Hunt Harris

Kim knew she wanted to be a writer before she even knew how to write. When her parents read bedtime stories to her, she knew she wanted to be a part of the story world. She started out writing children’s stories, and her stories grew as she did. She discovered a gift for humor and a love for making people laugh with her tales, and the Trailer Park Princess series was born.

Kim loves to not only make her readers laugh and entertain them with a good mystery, but also to examine the issues the everyday people face…well, every day. Issues like faith and forgiveness, perseverance and tolerance. Set in Lubbock, Texas, the fun books feature a cast of quirky characters, outrageous situations, a drama queen of a dog, and from time to time, a tear or two.

Kim lives with her husband of more than thirty years and two teenage kids in Texas.


Anna Celeste Burke

Anna Celeste Burke is an award-winning, USA Today Bestselling Author!

Life is an extravaganza! Figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is the challenge.

An award-winning and bestselling author I enjoy snooping into life’s mysteries with fun, fiction, & food—California style! My books include the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series set in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery series set on California’s Central Coast, and The Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series set in Orange County, California–the OC. Coming soon: The Misadventures of Betsy Stark also set here in the Coachella Valley. Find out more at http://www.desertcitiesmystery.com.


Ava Mallory

Ava Mallory has been a grade school teacher, a psychiatric technician, a dementia unit nurse manager, and a Hospice nurse. She has embarrassed herself in front of handsome celebrities, won vocal contests much to the chagrin of her children, survived a  major earthquake, and nearly drowned when she mistakenly thought a YMCA lifeguard asked her to dive into the deep end on her first day of swim lessons. She and her eternally annoyed children share their home with a massive collection of books and a never-ending supply of new book ideas.


Sandi Scott

Sandi Scott is a cozy mystery reader who finally found the courage to write the stories in her head and share them with others. She fell in love with mystery books when she first started reading Agatha Christie eons ago, although her favorite female sleuth will always be Harriet the Spy. She loves dogs, her family, her readers, and sweet treats — not necessarily in that order.


Sam Cheever

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes mystery and suspense, creating stories that draw you in and keep you eagerly turning pages. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books.


Susan Boles

Susan Boles is the award-winning author of the Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery Series and also writes romantic suspense in the Brotherhood Protectors series.

A lifelong long love of all things mysterious led Susan to write cozy mysteries. Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were the first to show her that girls can be crime solvers. Agatha Christie showed her that even small towns have big secrets. And Phryne Fisher showed her lady detectives can be outrageously individual. She lives in Mississippi with her rescue mini dachshund, Lucy, and her rescue cat of no particular breed, Zimba.


Anne R. Tan

Anne R. Tan fell in love with storytelling in elementary school, but decided to study engineering so she could get a “real job.” Her day job is her vacation from home and she moonlights as a writer to keep the voices inside her head under control. She is a toddler wrangler and a part-time short-order cook for her family. She is married to her version of Bob Vila who believes everything needs to be fixed, even if it’s already working. The koi fish in her pond are the only sane members of her household.

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Showcase, Excerpt & Giveaway: KEEP THE MIDNIGHT OUT by Alex Gray

As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime, today’s post turns the spotlight on a recent release  Keep the Midnight Out, by Alex Gray.   This standalone novel is the  12th book in this Gray’s successful DCI Lorimer series.

Synopsis

keep-the-midnight-out-by-alex-grayWhen the body of a red-haired young man is washed up on the shore of the beautiful Isle of Mull, Detective Superintendent Lorimer’s tranquil holiday away from the gritty streets of Glasgow is rudely interrupted. The body has been bound with twine in a ghoulishly unnatural position and strongly reminds Lorimer of another murder: a twenty year old Glasgow case that he failed to solve as a newly fledged detective constable and which has haunted him ever since.

As local cop DI Stevie Crozier takes charge of the island murder investigation, Lorimer tries to avoid stepping on her toes. But as the similarities between the young man’s death and his cold case grow more obvious, Lorimer realises that there could be a serial killer on the loose after all these years.

As the action switches dramatically between the Mull murder and the Glasgow cold case twenty years earlier, Lorimer tries desperately to catch a cold-hearted killer. Has someone got away with murder for decades?

Scroll down to read an excerpt. 

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

About the Author

SWEDISH-GIRL-Author-alex-gray.jpgAlex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.

Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Catch Up With Alex Gray On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, & Twitter 🔗!

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

They called it ‘the splash’; though the boat that crept silently, oars dipping lightly in and out of the water creating myriad bubbles of phosphorescence, made little sound at all. It was vital to keep quiet; the time for frightening the fish would not come until the net was properly laid across the mouth of the burn. After that the oars would be raised high and brought down with force, driving the sea trout from their shadowy lairs straight into the trap. It was illegal, of course, had been for decades, but that did not stop more intrepid poachers sneaking in at dead of night and lying in wait for the fish.

Unfair, unsporting, the fishery bodies claimed, though most folk here, on the island of Mull, recognised the thrill of rowing under the stars and risking some wrath from the law enforcers.

Ewan Angus Munro glanced back over his shoulder to see his son playing out the last of the splash net; the ancient cork floats now in a perfect arc across this narrow neck of water.

Young Ewan looked towards his father and nodded; the first part of the deed was done and now all that remained was to ensure that the fish would be scared out from their hiding places by the sudden noise of oars thrashing on the surface so that they would rush towards the net.

The old man turned the boat with an expertise that came from many years of practice, then headed back towards the shallow channel. He raised the oars, resting them in the rowlocks, water dripping like molten rain from their blades. The small craft was allowed to drift a little before Ewan Angus turned to his son again, the eye contact and nod a definite signal to begin the second stage of their night’s work.

Young Ewan Angus stood, legs apart, perfectly balanced in the centre of the boat, one oar raised high above his shoulder as the older man watched him, eyes full of approval. The boy had been given more than just his father’s names: his flair for the splash, too, had been passed down from father to son.

Across the marshy strand full of bog cotton and sweet-smelling myrtle sat a small white cottage. A swift glance showed him that there was no light on anywhere; the holiday folk were doubtless sound asleep, oblivious to the small drama being played out yards from their front door.

The sound of the splash seemed magnified as it disrupted the stillness, echoing over the bay. The young man heaved the oar again and again, each whack making his body stiffen with fear and a sort of bravado. If they were caught they’d lose both the net and the boat, a heavy price to pay for a night of fun and a good catch of sea trout, fish that fetched a decent price at the back doors of the best hotel kitchens.

Several times the boat was rowed up and down, followed by a series of splashes until the old man raised his callused hand to call a halt. Now it was time to wait and see if the fish had indeed been scared witless enough to swim towards their doom.

Once more the old man rowed along the line of corks, his son lifting the net to see if anything lingered below.

‘A beauty,’ the boy whispered, raising the net to reveal a good-sized sea trout struggling in the brown mesh.

‘Ten pounder at least!’ he went on, freeing the huge fish where its gills had caught and hurling it into a wooden box below his feet.

‘Be-wheesht and get the net up,’ his father hissed, though the grin on his face showed how pleased he was with their first catch of the night. The old man bent towards the struggling fish, his fist around the priest, a wooden club that had been in the family for generations. One swift blow and the fish lay lifeless in the box, its silvery scales gleaming in the night.

One by one, others joined the fated sea trout as the two men made their laborious way along the edge of the net.

‘My, a grand haul, the night, Faither,’ Young Ewan Angus exclaimed, his voice still hushed for fear of any sound carrying over the water.

‘Aye, no’ bad,’ his father agreed, a contented smile on his face. One of the middling fish would be wrapped in layers of bracken and left in the porch of Calum Mhor, the police sergeant. A wee thank you for turning his continual blind eye to the nocturnal activities taking place down the road from Craignure. Mrs Calum had guests staying and she’d be fair pleased to serve them a fresh sea trout for their dinner. It was universally acknowledged here on the island that the pink fish was far superior in flavour to the coarser salmon, particularly those that had been farmed.

‘My, here’s a big one!’

The young man staggered as he tried to haul in the final part of the splash net. ‘I can hardly lift it!’ he exclaimed.

‘Must be caught on a rock,’ the old man grumbled, his mouth twisting in a moue of disgust. If they had to tear the net to release it then it would take hours of work to mend, but the operation depended on being in and out of these waters as quickly as they could manage. Hanging about was not an option in case the Men from the Revenue had decided on a little night-time excursion of their own.

Suddenly the young man bent down in the boat, hands gripping the gunwales as he peered into the depths below.

His brow furrowed at the rounded mass swaying beneath the surface, rags of bladderwrack shifting back and forwards with the motion of the waves. Then, as his eyes focused on the ascending shape, Ewan Angus Munro saw pale tendrils that had once been fingers of flesh and one thin arm floating upwards.

He screamed, and covered his mouth as the sickness rose in his throat, then stumbled backwards. The boy flung out his arms, desperate to grasp hold of something solid to break his fall but all he felt under his hands were the wet bodies of slithering fish.

‘What the . ⁠. ⁠. ⁠?’ Ewan Angus turned, an oath dying on his lips as the boat rocked violently, small waves dashing over the bow.

Wordlessly, his son pointed to the waters below. Then, as the old man peered over the side of the boat, he saw the body rising to the surface, its passage out to sea impeded by their net.

***

Excerpt from Keep the Midnight Out by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2018 by Alex Gray. Reprinted by permission of Witness Impulse, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway, hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse, for a chance to win a print copy of Alex Gray’s THE SILENT GAMES.

Showcase, Excerpt & Giveaway: A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE AND FURY by Julie Reichwein

TourBanner_ADifferentKindOfFire&FUry

As part of a tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, today’s post showcases A Different Kind of Fire & Fury: Revenge by Julie Reichwein. The author’s first book. I haven’t read it, however it sounds like an interesting read for fans of edgier psychological thrillers.

Note: This is not a cozy mystery; if you are easily offended by the use of strong language, this book might not be for you.

Description

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00057]Detective Michelle Velasquez kicks ass with the Santa Fe Police Department, and she’ll need all her moxie May, 2013 as she’s assigned two cases which may be related. She’s assigned a vicious rape case of Maria Acevedo, an intern with the Jones Financial Group, as she gets a call from an old friend, Richard Stanberry III. He’s intent on re-connecting, but she’s suspicious of his motives for good reason.

As she digs into Maria Acevedo’s rape case, she’s assigned a thirty year old murder case of her former friend, Susie Murphy, who happened to be Richard Stanberry III’s girlfriend at the time of her murder. If Detective Velasquez wants to solve both cases, she’s going to have to put her life on the line to uncover some dark secrets that some prefer to stay buried.

Scroll down to read an excerpt from the book.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a $75 or $50 Amazon/BN gift card from the author.

Author Bio

I’m a debut author who has long had an interest in crime thrillers and an interest in criminal psychology, specifically, sexual assault.  I was stalked two times in my 20’s and had to relocate both times as I barely escaped rape both times. I used those experiences in creating one of my fictional characters in the book.

I’m an avid outdoor enthusiast and a lover of animals. I own 5 dogs and have horses, too. They’re my babies.

Connect with Julie on:

You can get the book on Amazon: http://amazon.com/dp/B07BC7CYMQ

Read an excerpt:

Otto and I walked into the Pueblo style building with a Xeriscape garden and a stone pebble walkway. The security guard ushered us to a room, with a Kiva fireplace in the corner and a Kermanshaw antique Navajo rug, where the victim, Maria Acevedo, drew back. She was wrapped in an Eyedazzler homespun blanket and desperate for a friend. In need of privacy, I motioned for the street cops to clear out as I read her personnel file.

Maria Acevedo was a new employee as she cringed with the eyes on her. So did the man justify his actions because she wore the wrong outfit? It said, “Yes,” in his perverted mind as her words said, “No.” In his eyes, she chose the wrong profession, so she had to be put in her proper place. She didn’t know that, “No,” meant nothing because she was a ”Nobody” in his hate filled eyes. Women were born with a brain, so was her intelligence unimportant because she wore a skirt? She worked harder than most, to show everyone she belonged, but she would never have a man’s physical strength which did not give him the right to take from her what she never agreed to. All she asked was to be treated with the same respect as those who wore pants to the office. Was that too much to expect?

With a blank look on her face, so I introduced myself and said, “I’m Detective Michelle Velasquez, and this is Otto. What’s your name?”

“Maria Acevedo.” Her head down, her shoulders convulsed, and her face ashen as the parade of onlookers unnerved her, so Otto laid down next to her.

I knelt down and said, “Can you tell me what happened to you?”

She said, “A man raped me,” as she shook from side to side. After a moment, she pet Otto, my four year old German Shepherd, and she began to settle. Her attack had nothing to do with desire; it had everything to do with hate.

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

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.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Click here to view the The Body in the Casket by Katherine Hall Tour Participants