Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: THE FACE ON THE OTHER SIDE by John Carenen

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to have John Carenen as my guest today and showcase his most recent release and the third book in his Thomas O’Shea mystery series, The Face on the Other Side.


How I Got Started by John CarenenDad_and_Roxie_-_photo_for_back_cover_and_website

Sometimes people ask how I got started as a writer. A fair question. I’d have to say in high school, where I was the Sports Editor and Features Editor of THE CLINTONIAN, my high school newspaper in Clinton, Iowa. I was also allowed to write an anonymous satire column, by “Needled.” It was called “In The Groove” and sparked lots of sparks, including from faculty, who wanted me banned.

But my faculty sponsor refused to ban me. About that time, I was also taking a Creative Writing course from that same faculty sponsor, who was also a free-lance writer. And still is, with over 100 books published that he authored or co-authored. His support in the school paper brouhaha and encouragement in the Creative Writing class gave me a tremendous boost. And I have to admit the attention I garnered, mostly positive, was also a confidence-booster. It was cool that my peers liked my writing.

Now that you know how I got started as a writer, you might wonder what kept me going. I can tell you that it was hard, with many, many rejections ranging from mass-produced to one or two that said, “Try again.” Finally, I sold a humorous piece to Reader’s Digest, and that one sale kept me going for a long time, with further sales to that same magazine, mostly self-effacing humor pieces.

But more important than the checks from Reader’s Digest was the encouragement and support from my long-suffering wife, who constantly buoyed me up when I was down after receiving still another rejection. So now I give her the credit. I would have quit a long time ago except for her. Thank you, Lisa!


Face-on-the-Other-Side-Front-Cover-Final-300dpiAbout The Face on the Other Side

He’d promised Sheriff Payne that he wouldn’t take any more matters into his own hands. So, when on a leisurely morning drive, SEAL-trained Thomas O’Shea sees two girls attacking a boy on a sidewalk, he opts not to intervene. When the boy is later murdered in the local hospital, though, all promises are off. What seems at the start to be a simple case of gang activity turns out to be far more. Even O’Shea, who has seen more than his share of evil, could not have guessed what is about to transpire…

You can get your copy on Amazon.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a set of signed copies of The Thomas O’Shea Mysteries.

About the Author

John Carenen, a native of Clinton, Iowa, graduated with an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop and has been writing ever since. His work has appeared numerous times in Reader’s Digest (including a First Person Award), McCall’s, Dynamic Years, and other periodicals. He has been a featured columnist in newspapers in Morganton, North Carolina and Clinton, South Carolina. His fiction has appeared in regional literary magazines. A novel, Son-up, Son-down, was published by the National Institute of Mental Health. He is happily married to (long-suffering) Elisabeth, and they have two grown daughters, Caitlin and Rowe. When he isn’t writing, he thinks about getting in shape, cheers for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Boston Red Sox, and takes frequent naps. He has traveled extensively, having visited 43 states and 23 countries. He is a USAF veteran, having served in the Philippines and Massachusetts. A retired English professor at Newberry College in Newberry, South Carolina, he is hard at work on another novel.

Author Links

 

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Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: DEAD AIR by Cliff Protzman

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As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, I recently read had the opportunity to read Dead Air, a suspense-filled read by Cliff Protzman.

Description

Dead Air signals trouble at the radio station. Glenn Beckert discovers his high school best friend is shot in the head while on the air. Beck, the owner of Blue Water Security, is employed to provide security for the station.

DeadAirCoverHe becomes willingly embroiled in the investigation by the not-so-innocent widow. The list of potential suspects is long, gleaned from the numerous extramarital affairs of the victim and widow. The pending sale of the radio station has created friction between his now dead friend, Richie Zito and the major stockholders. Motives for murder becomes increasingly murky after the search reveals an encrypted file on Zito’s laptop.

Beck enlists the help of a friend from college, Irene Schade, to break the code, revealing a money laundering network leading to the financial and political powers of his beloved city of Pittsburgh. Their collaboration ignites the flames of passion each had considered extinguished.

A former college teammate, police Lieutenant Paglironi delivers a message to back off. Arrogantly, he ignores his friend’s advice. The threats from less friendly sources are more ominous, forcing Beck to move in an unfamiliar world. A startling revelation from his client forces Beck to deal with his inner conviction of right and wrong, challenging the gray areas of his ethical principles. Betraying his client’s confidence could expose the killer. The alternative is to confront the suspect and take matters into his own hands. Either way his life is in jeopardy.

Get your copy of Dead Air from: Amazon & Barnes & Noble! Plus add it to your Goodreads list!

My Review

In this somewhat gritty mystery, Beck investigates the murder of a close friend.  Beck is decent guy and a good investigator, though he does occasionally bend the rules to get the job done. The dynamic between Beck and Paglironi is an interesting one, and one that helps Beck to make more progress on his investigation than would otherwise be possible.  For the most part, the mystery unfolded at a nice pace – though there were a few places in the middle where I’d have preferred to see more action and less description.  Overall, an interesting mystery with a fair number of twists, with the identity and motives of the perpetrators revealed only as the book neared its end.

Note: If you are easily offended by the use of gratuitous profanity, this book might not be for you.

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

Read an excerpt:

Dead Air. It was the most unforgivable of sins. I was standing at the bar in Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale, PA when the overhead sound system finished blaring “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” the seventeen-minute, two-second version, then dove into silence… and stayed there.

Minutes crawled past while WZOC, better known as Z-Rock to Pittsburgh-area listeners, remained silent. The long version of the Iron Butterfly song was played when DJs need extended bathroom time. Apparently, it was not enough time.

The seventeen-thousand-square-foot bar and restaurant was beginning to fill up. The stage hands scrambled over the stage in a well-orchestrated dance as they prepared the stage at the rear of the building. I was at the front bar, one of six serving the customers. The crowd noise increased due to the silent overhead system. The bartenders and service personnel went about their jobs, oblivious to the lack of music. I appeared to be the only person who noticed it. The dead air was an unexpected lapse for a normally proficient staff at Z-Rock. The station owned by my high school best friend, had been my first client, so I was always glad when the bar staff piped it in to provide background noise.

A Pittsburgh favorite, The Clarks, were scheduled to take the stage in forty-five minutes. Their classic rock style was often compared to Tom Petty. Z-Rock had introduced The Clarks to the Pittsburgh market, and it remained a strong supporter of the band. They had parlayed the station’s promotion into a broader following along the Southern Atlantic states. The quartet was almost as well-known in the city as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting lineup. I had had the great fortune to see many of their local performances.

Before heading to the front door, I finished my IC Light, a low- calorie brew from Pittsburgh Brewing. The bartender grabbed my empty bottle and asked, “Another one, Beck?”

“No thanks; probably later.” I headed toward the entrance, featuring solid wood double doors, the left side closed to restrain the incoming crowd. The line stretched outside beyond my view.

My firm was in charge of crowd control for the event. Even though I was on duty tonight, my plan was to be more of a spectator.

In my earpiece, I heard my site manager of Jergel’s security, Lance Parisi. “Beck, we have a problem at the front door. This patron is drunk and belligerent. He may be armed. I’m trying to get him to leave.”

I replied, “On my way.” As the owner of Blue Water Security, I was always glad to help with situations like these. I tried to hire only the best, so backing them with my support was always a pleasure.

An obviously intoxicated man was pointing a finger at Lance who had to be at least six inches taller than the swaying man. “You fucking asshole! I have a ticket! You can’t keep me out!” I heard the word motherfucker and that was that. This wasn’t going to end well for the drunken ticket holder.

In my mouthpiece, I said, “Stay cool, Lance. He’s all talk,” but before I could arrive, the man took a swing at Lance. So much for my expert analysis. In one quick movement, Lance had the man’s right arm twisted behind his back, Lance’s left arm firmly around his neck in a choke hold.

I rushed to Lance’s side. The man’s open coat displayed the butt of a gun in his waistband. I jerked the .38 Special from his belt holster and turned to look him in the eyes. The combined stink of beer and whiskey oozed from him.

Adrenaline was pumping through my body as if facing a 3-2 pitch. I regained my composure before speaking in a calm, determined voice. “Sir, even with a concealed carry permit, it is illegal to bring a gun into a bar, especially when you are intoxicated.” The other patrons waiting to enter had backed away when they saw the gun. “The man with his arm around your neck is going to escort you to the office. The police will be called. I hope you have your permit with you. You can walk to the office quietly. If not, I’m certain Lance will find a way to get you there. Is that clear?”

The man nodded as best he could with Lance’s muscular arm wrapped around his neck. Lance released his stranglehold, keeping a firm grip on the man’s arm. I handed the gun to my employee. The drunk remained calm and allowed Lance to lead him away. Using my mic, I paged Jason Weaver, who had been assigned to dance floor security for the night, to come to the front door.

I remained at the door, checking tickets for the anxious concert fans, until Jason appeared. It was then I realized there was still silence coming from the sound system. The normal professionalism of Z-Rock’s staff made me wonder about the cause of the extended silence. I could imagine engineers scrambling to locate and repair whatever technical problems had occurred.

Jason arrived, assuming Lance’s position at the door. I turned back to the bar as my cell phone rang. “Glenn Beckert,” I answered.

“This is John Waner at Z-Rock.” He paused and I wondered if I was truly surprised to be hearing from my security guard at the station. His voice was high-pitched, his words rushed as he said, “There’s a big problem here.”

“John, what’s the problem?”

“Beck… H-He’s… I don’t know what to do. R-Richie’s been murdered.”

***

Excerpt from Dead Air by Cliff Protzman. Copyright © 2018 by Cliff Protzman. Reproduced with permission from Cliff Protzman. All rights reserved.

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cliff Protzman for a chance to win an Amazon gift card. The giveaway begins on April 1 and runs through May 2, 2018. Void where prohibited.

About the Authorcliff

Cliff was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Cliff’s family relocated to Northeast Ohio when he was in high school. Immediately after graduation he returned to his hometown to attend the University of Pittsburgh. Cliff planned to major in journalism and write the great American novel. Instead, he switched to Business Administration and began a 30-year career in accounting and finance.

Cliff rekindled his passion for writing acquired as a reporter for his school newspaper. He published his first novel, DEAD AIR: a Glenn Beckert Mystery in September 2017. Cliff also writes short stories. He was a winner in the Unfinished Chapters anthology in 2015. Cliff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Pennwriters.

Catch up with Cliff on his Website cliffprotzman.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

Review & Giveaway: CLUES IN THE SAND by Terry Ambrose

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I recently read Clues in the Sand by Terry Ambrose.  It’s the second book in his Seaside Cover Bed and Breakfast Mystery series but can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone read.  Besides, who can resist the lovely cover?

Description

Clues_CoverTo Rick Atwood’s dismay, the police find a body on the beach near his Seaside Cove B&B. The dead woman held a pottery shard from an ancient rice bowl, which the cops believe is a clue to her murder.

The chief suspect is Flynn O’Connor, a female archaeologist known for her hatred of treasure thieves. Trouble is, Rick’s daughter Alex sees Flynn as a role model and will not believe her friend is a killer.

Alex pressures her dad as only a ten-year-old can to prove Flynn is innocent. The mayor is also making demands—for Rick to stay out of the investigation. With his daughter and the mayor at odds, Rick sees trouble brewing. He knows too well how much Alex loves sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Especially when there’s murder involved.

My Review

Rick Atwood is a devoted father who only wants the best for his over-inquisitive daughter and that includes keeping her out of trouble and away from murder investigations. Their relationship is heart-warming, and is complemented by the developing ties between them and a woman who works at the B&B, much of which is divulged as Alex writes in her journal.  The mystery itself is an interesting one, touching on issues related to archaeology, real estate, and good old fashioned greed, complete with plot twists leading up to the discovery of the murderer.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of The Clock Flower and a Starbucks gift card from the author.

AmbroseAbout the Author

Terry Ambrose is a former skip tracer who only stole cars when it was legal. He’s long since turned his talents to writing mysteries and thrillers. Several of his books have been award finalists and in 2014 his thriller, “Con Game,” won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He’s currently working on the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series.

Purchase Link: Amazon

Review: KILLER TIED by Lesley A. Diehl

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I recently had the pleasure of reading Killer Tied by Lesley A. Diehl.

Description

Eve Appel Egret is adjusting to married life with Sammy and their three adopted sons in Sabal Bay, Florida. While still running her consignment stores, she is going pro with her sleuthing by becoming an apprentice to a private detective.

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Until her marriage, Eve’s only “family” was her grandmother Grandy, who raised her after her parents died in a boating accident. Now, in addition to her husband and sons, she has a father-in-law who clearly dislikes her. Sammy’s father, a full-blooded Miccosukee Indian long presumed dead, has emerged from the swamps where he’s been living like a hermit, and he isn’t happy about Eve’s marriage to his half-Miccosukee, half-white son.

As for Eve’s family, are her parents really dead? A woman named Eleanor claims to be Eve’s half-sister, born after her mother faked a boating accident to escape her abusive husband, Eve’s father. Then Eleanor’s father turns up dead in the swamps, stabbed by a Bowie knife belonging to Sammy’s father, Lionel. Strange as Lionel Egret is, Eve knows he had no motive to kill this stranger. In order to clear him, Eve must investigate Eleanor’s claims, and she might not like what digging around in her family’s past uncovers.

My Review

I really liked this book. Eve was true to form likable, spunky and determined. Even more so when her PI apprenticeship forces her to root out the secrets of her own family’s past. Could she be related to a murderer?  In her pursuit of the truth she is helped by a familiar cast of family and friends, including a loving grandmother and an amazingly likeable Mafia mob boss.  Family was very much at the center of this book – from the murder investigation, with suspects on both Sammy and Eve’s family trees, through to loving glimpses into the newlyweds’ experiences in juggling the parenting of three young boys.  Diverse characters and interesting twists made this a very enjoyable read.

Note: Although this book is part of a series, it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone.

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

About the Author

LES-DIEHLLesley is a country gal through and through, from her childhood on a dairy farm in Illinois to college in a cornfield in Iowa, Lesley creates sassy, snoopy protagonists who embrace chasing killers in country settings. Lesley writes several series: the Big Lake Murder mysteries and the Eve Appel mysteries both set in rural Florida; the Laura Murphy mysteries located on a lake in upstate New York; and short stories, some featuring a few of Lesley’s unique relatives from back on the farm (Aunt Nozzie and the Grandmothers). She is inspired by an odd set of literary muses: a ghost named Fred and a coyote as yet unnamed. Killer Tied is the sixth mystery in the Eve Appel Mysteries. To read more about Lesley’s unusual and humorous cozy mysteries, go to www.lesleyadiehl.com.

Author Links

Purchase Link: Amazon

Review & Giveaway: MURDER OF A GOOD MAN by Teresa Trent

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I recently had the pleasure of reading  Murder of a Good Man, A Piney Woods Mystery by Teresa Trent.

Description

murder_good_man300_WebWhen Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack. Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.

My Review

In this enjoyable mystery, Nora travels to a quaint Texas town where she is soon entangled in a murder investigation and uncovers an abundance of secrets about her mother’s past and the past of the town’s favorite man and benefactor.  With the help of local B&B owners and the hotel owner, Nora draws on her inner strength to cope with the challenges she faces.  Her interactions with Tuck add a potential romantic interest to her life, which I suspect will be a thread in future books in the series.  Some aspects of the plot were somewhat predicable, though there were a few unexpected twists.  Overall, an interesting and well-paced start to a new cozy mystery series.

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

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win an e-copy of Murder of a Good Man  by Teresa Trent plus a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

About the Author

TTrent

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

Author Links

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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

Review & Giveaway: TWOFER MURDER by Lauren Carr

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by iRead Book Tours, today’s post features the latest release by  Lauren Carr – Twofer Murder.

Description

twofer-murder_3Twofer murder? What’s a twofer murder?

Twofer Murder is a treat for fans of best-selling author Lauren Carr’s fast-paced mysteries! Lauren’s latest novel contains the main characters from her three successful series: Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries. The guys go away for a fishing weekend only to get caught up in the murder of a journalist investigating fraud at a timber company. Meanwhile, the ladies are spending the weekend in the presidential suite at a posh resort where Jessica Faraday is to accept a lifetime achievement award for her late grandmother at a murder mystery writers conference. But before they have time to get their facials, they get wrapped up in their own real mystery when an up and coming author ends up dead! 

Watch the trailer:
Buy the Book:  Amazon,  Add to Goodreads

My Review

As its title implies, Twofer Murder is a double-feature – two distinct mysteries within the same novel.  Both have complex and interesting plots with plenty of twists and turns.  I loved the scenes with the animals, especially Gnarly, and his antics on the guys’ fishing trip.  Lots of good two-legged characters, too.  Perhaps a few too many for readers (like me) who have not read all of her previous series. I also think it would have been less confusing if the two stories had been told in separate books.  Although I expected to be more drawn to the ladies’ mystery,  I found the guys’ mystery more realistic and engaging. Overall, an enjoyable read for cozy mystery lovers and fans of Lauren Carr.

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

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

Giveaway

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card (open internationally where Amazon.com delivers gift cards) (ends Jan 27).

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.

Guest Post & Spotlight: DRESSED TO KILL by Vicki Vass

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, the spotlight today shines on Dressed to Kill, An Antique Hunters Mystery by Vicki Vass.  As part of the release celebration, the author is here to tell us a bit about her love of reading.


Guest Post – Vicki Vass

VickiVass2-206x300-206x300Thanks for letting me stop by. I always appreciate spending time with readers. I am often asked what I read and I have to admit that I have found myself in a reading frenzy lately. At the beginning of 2017, I set a goal in Goodreads to read 52 books
this year and finished this week. I am very excited by this accomplishment. This was done while working full time, writing the fifth book in the Antique Hunters mystery series and taking care of four pets – two Australian shepherd puppies and two cats.

When looking over the list of books I read throughout the year,  see it is quite varied. It truly transcends genres. I’ve read everything from biographies to mysteries to romance. It includes books by some of my favorite authors like Sophie Kinsella and John Grisham. And, books by new to me authors like Shari Lapena and Ruth Ware. It include biographies of the grandchildren of Commodore Vanderbilt and Alexander Hamilton. And then there is the re-imagining of my favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. I read several prize winners.

There is only one book I picked up and was not able to finish. I tried to read a fictionalized account of Thomas Cromwell and after slogging through 100 pages, I had to give it up. I may try it again or perhaps watch the series based on it. Reading for me is relaxation. I love to kick back with a book and while away the hours. And now that I am writing my own books I often rely on books for research. For Dressed to Kill, the fifth book in the Antique Hunters Mystery series, I read several books about Mary Todd Lincoln. The book involves a dress sewn by Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd’s dressmaker during the White House years.

Even though I’ve accomplished my reading goal for the year, I am still reading. There is nothing more pleasant on a cold winter’s night than to sit by the fire reading a book. I have several books on my shelf that I have put to the side so I can complete my goal. These include a history of the Romanovs and an accounting of the Attica prison riot in the 1970s. These heavyweight tomes had to take a backseat so I could accomplish my goal.

I still have stacks lining my closet walls and expect to continue to add to my reading collection. Books offer glimpses into a life of what if’s, what could be and what may happen. They really add to the fabric of our lives. I try to do that in my writing, taking readers on a journey of what if’s and what could happen. I also try to balance that with what is believable in the real world. Particularly with my two main characters, Anne Hillstrom and CC Muller. They traverse their antique hunting world, encountering situations and settings that can only be imagined.

What about you? Do you set reading goals? If so, what are you reading? What are your favorite types of books? I’d love to hear from you and I’m always looking to add to my reading list.


About Dressed to Kill

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In 1865, Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker, conspired to change the course of the Civil War. Crossing lines between North and South, the band of conspirators wove a plan that remained undiscovered for more than 150 years until Antique Hunter Anne Hillstrom finds one of Keckley’s gowns. She and fellow Antique Hunter CC Muller unravel the mystery that has left a trail of dead bodies, leading to the doorstep of their antique store, Great-Aunt Sybil’s Attic.

Dressed to Kill is the fifth book in the Antique Hunters Mystery Series. Rooted in history, the series reimagines real-life events blurring the line between fact and fiction.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win a complete set of the Antique Hunters Mysteries.

About the Author

With a passion for shopping and antiques, Vicki Vass turned in her reporter’s notebook to chronicle the adventures of Anne and CC, two antique hunters who use their skills to solve a murder case.

Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman’s World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief.

She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, writer and musician Brian Tedeschi, son Tony, Australian shepherd Bandit, kittens Terra and Pixel, seven koi and Gary the turtle.

Author Links – Website – Blog – Facebook 

Purchase Link – Amazon

Review: MURDER OVER MOCHAS by Caroline Fardig

murder-over-mochas-large-banner640Today, as part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours,  I am happy to feature Murder Over Mochas: A Java Jive Mystery by Caroline Fardig.  The third in the series, it can easily be ready as a standalone mystery.

Description

MURDER-OVER-MOCHASA blast from the past gets Nashville PI and coffeehouse manager Juliet Langley in hot water in this explosive mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Death Before Decaf.

As a newly minted private eye, Juliet Langley has sworn to leave homicide to the authorities, limiting the scope of her investigations to cheating spouses and dirty business partners . . . like her ex-fiancé, Scott O’Malley. When Scott shows up unannounced at her coffeehouse, Java Jive, Juliet’s first instinct is to punch him in the nose. Her second is to turn down his desperate plea for help with a case that’s way too dangerous for her liking. But when Scott drops dead before her eyes, Juliet isn’t going to wait around for someone else to clear her name.

It’s only a matter of time before her tumultuous past with her ex-fiancé comes out, so Juliet teams up with her ex-boyfriend, police detective Ryder Hamilton, to figure out who poisoned Scott. They soon confirm that Scott was involved in an illegal scheme that’s definitely grounds for concern.

Just as romance is finally beginning to percolate for Juliet and her best friend, Pete Bennett, she has no choice but to head back to her hometown to seek out the truth. And she’ll need help from the locals to find the real killer—otherwise her happily ever after could easily end up including an actual ball and chain.

My Review

An enjoyable cozy  mystery with a nice balance between romantic suspense and crime-solving.  Maya is a likeable character. Her life is complicated, especially with regard to men.  You can’t help rooting for her as she works together with her ex-boyfriend (who happens to be a police detective)  to prove her innocence by figuring out who would want to kill her ex-fiancé and why.  And unravelling the motives and actions that led to Scott’s death isn’t an easy task.  You also can’t help rooting for Pete as he makes his interest in transitioning from  best friends to something more clear.  The story moved along at a lively pace with a satisfying resolution – on both the romantic and crime-solving levels.  Another book that I stayed up way too late to finish.

FTC disclosure: I received an advanced review copy of this book from the author/publisher.  This has not affected the content of my review.

View More: http://photos.pass.us/2015-10-06About the Author

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

Connect with Caroline Fardig at:

Purchase Links:  Amazon  B&N  kobo Google Play