Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO by Debra Sennefelder

As part of a virtual tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, Debra Sennefelder has stopped by to talk about her latest release – The Corpse in the Gazebo – and where she gets her the ideas for her cozy mysteries.


WHERE I GET MY IDEAS by Debra Sennefelder

One of the most asked questions I get is – where do your ideas come from. Every writer’s answer will be different. In fact, a group of writers could be shown a photograph as a writing prompt, and each writer would have a different story idea. I know because I was a part of that group. And even if two writers had the same story idea, their story would be unique to her and her genre. As you can tell by now, this isn’t an easy question to answer. But I think (I hope) that you’ll enjoy the explanation of my process.

The idea for THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO came from thin air. Seriously. I was at my computer with a Word document open because I had to write summaries for the books I pitched to my editor. The other book I was writing a summary for was last year’s release, THE CORPSE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. I’d wanted to write a story about a true-crime podcast and a cold case. With that summary completed, I needed another idea. I sat back and thought…for a long time. Finally a thought popped into my mind about one of Hope’s neighbors being killed. Then I considered Hope becoming a suspect. Yes!

The thing about ideas is that they are a dime a dozen. Ideas come to authors all the time. The trick is to identify which ones can actually carry a 300-page book.

A few years ago I took my Shih Tzu shopping. First, we went to the local pet shop to buy food and birdseed. Our next stop was what used to be a state-run psychiatric hospital for a walk. The property, over 180 acres, was purchased by the town I live in and is being re-purposed. But the project isn’t complete, and there are still abandoned buildings on the property.

 Let me just say now that there is a creepy history to the property. The stories are endless since the buildings that housed and cared for hundreds of patients were connected by underground tunnels. Let that sink into your mind for a bit. Get the picture? Creepy. Anyway, the property is slowly being turned into a space where residents can walk, run, bike, ride horseback, and open fields for sports. It’s also the place for concerts and art shows. But for a writer, like me, it’s also a place for ideas.

Back to the walk. We reached a building and my pup wanted to get closer. I tried to distract her. After all, we had a walk to continue on with. She wasn’t budging. She wanted to get closer to the building. Now my imagination is kicking in. Did she hear something? Smell something? Sense something? I allowed her to continue forward. She sniffed her way up the steps and around the side of the building. I let her continue on while my mind started turning over a story question – what if….and that led me to begin asking whatif. What if a protagonist is out walking her dog at a similar location, and the dog leads her to a dead body, and it’s the first of several as a serial killer emerges. Boom! Story idea!

That is how writers get ideas. From innocent walks with dogs, ordinary trips to the grocery store and even the nightly news. There’s a story idea practically in everything a writer sees, hears, or experiences. 

Thank you for visiting with me today as I celebrate the release of THE CORPSE IN THE GAZEBO.


About The Corpse in the Gazebo

Food blogging is turning Hope Early into a household name. But the dead body down the block makes her a #1 suspect . . .

It seems everyone loves Hope’s blog these days, and she’s busier than ever volunteering to help other women create their own paths to success. So she’s shocked when a neighbor petitions to run Hope right out of her small Connecticut town! Set in her ways, apparently Birdie Donovan doesn’t like the chaos Hope’s sleuthing creates, the police activity and crime scenes, and it’s happening way too often lately. Eager to make amends, Hope bakes Birdie a batch of her best muffins. The delicious treats might have smoothed things over—until Hope discovers Birdie dead in her gazebo the very next day . . .

Now instead of worrying about holding on to her beloved home, Hope is trying to stay out of jail. Because suddenly she’s the lead suspect in the case. Not even her boyfriend, Police Chief Ethan Cahill, is promising he can clear her name, much less discuss the investigation with her. It’s up to Hope to get to bake new ground on the case before the lifestyle brand she’s created—and her whole life—crumbles . . .

Includes recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of The Corpse in the Gazebo.

About the Author

Debra Sennefelder is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery.

Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018.In addition to writing the Food Blogger mystery series, she writes the Resale Boutique Mystery series. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.

Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companion is her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih Tzu, Connie.

Author Links

Purchase Links – AMAZON – BARNES & NOBLE – KENSINGTON – KOBO – GOOGLE – INDIEBOUND – 

Visit other stops on this tour for reviews, author interviews, and more.

Book Blast & Giveaway: NEVER SAY CHAI by Kirsten Weiss

Look what released today! A new cozy mystery from Kirsten Weiss, brought to you as part of a blog tour organized by Goddess Fish Productions.

About the Book

It’s Halloween season in small town San Borromeo, and Abigail and Hyperion are determined to make Beanblossom’s Tea & Tarot spooktacular. But when Hyperion’s boyfriend, Detective Tony Chase, is arrested at Beanblossom’s for murder, the duo is certain someone’s playing a nasty trick. And when the official investigation turns into a witch hunt, the stakes to unearth the truth are raised…

But a clever killer has plans to squash their investigation… and the two amateur detectives. If they don’t solve this puzzle—and fast—it will be out of the cauldron and into the fire for them both.

Never Say Chai is the fourth book in the Tea and Tarot cozy mystery series. A fast-paced and funny cozy mystery, packed with quirky characters, pets, and murder! Perfect for fans of Jana DeLeon, Janet Evanovich, and Donna Andrews. Buy the book and start this hilarious caper!

Tearoom recipes in the back of the book!

Read an Excerpt

There are some things that should go without saying. For example, don’t leave a coffin in your business partner’s driveway. It’s just not done.

But there was a coffin in my driveway. And it had wheels. I looked from the black coffin to the yellow bungalow. Yep, it was my house. Just above the peaked roofline, fog blurred a watery sun.

“Do you have any idea why there’s a coffin in my driveway?” Because there was really only one person who would put one there. I tore my gaze from the wooden coffin to Hyperion. “And why is it on wheels?”

He shifted his weight. “Didn’t I mention the coffin race?”

“No.”

“Why’d you think I had a t-shirt cannon?”

“I still have no idea why you’ve got one.”

“For the coffin race.” He patted the coffin’s hood.

I waited.

“I entered Beanblossom’s in the race,” he said patiently. “We’re going as the Death card. I’ve got a scythe and everything.”“A scythe at high speeds. What could go wrong?”“It’ll be like in one of those Italian medieval morality parades. Did you know those parades most likely spawned the Tarot’s major arcana cards?”“Oh, boy.”

“Or was it the Renaissance?” He shook his head. “They were in Italy. I know that much.”

Giveaway

To celebrate the book’s release the author is offering a $10 Amazon gift card to a lucky winner of a Rafflecopter giveaway.

About the Author

Amazon bestselling author Kirsten Weiss writes laugh-out-loud, page-turning mysteries. Her heroines aren’t perfect, but they’re smart, they struggle, and they succeed. Kirsten writes in a house high on a hill in the Colorado woods and occasionally ventures out for wine and chocolate. Or for a visit to the local pie shop. Kirsten is best known for her Wits’ End, Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, and Tea and Tarot cozy mystery books. So if you like funny, action-packed mysteries with complicated heroines, just turn the page…

Connect with the author:

Buy Links for Never Say Chai:

Review & Giveaway: THE QUEEN OF SECOND CHANCES by D.M. Barr

Time for a change of pace. Instead of my usual fare (mysteries), as part of a blog tour organized by Providence Book Promotions, I recently dove into recently released sweet romance – The Queen of Second Chances.

About the Book

Carra’s memoir-writing class teaches seniors to resolve the regrets of their past. But to win over elder attorney Jay, will she follow her own advice? Carraway (Carra) Quinn is a free-spirited English major confronting an unreceptive job market. Desperate for cash, she reluctantly agrees to her realtor stepmother’s marketing scheme: infiltrate a local senior center as a recreational aide, ingratiate herself with the members, and convince them to sell their homes. Jay Prentiss is a straitlaced, overprotective elder attorney whose beloved but mentally fragile Nana attends that center. More creative than mercenary, Carra convinces Jay to finance innovations to the Center’s antiquated programming. Her ingenuity injects new enthusiasm among the seniors, inspiring them to confront and reverse the regrets of their past. An unlikely romance develops. But when Carra’s memoir-writing class prompts Jay’s Nana to skip town in search of a lost love, the two take off on a cross-country, soul-searching chase that will either deepen their relationship or tear them apart forever.

My Review

A fun read. I really liked Carra and could relate to her efforts to find her own way, despite the real pressures she faces to do what she knows would be wrong. Jay would seem to be an odd match for her – older and much more sophisticated – except once you get to know him, you can see how there might be potential. For one thing, they seem to both love puns, which add a light tone to their banter. As befitting any good romance, the attraction is mutual; then there a few misunderstandings and obstacles that threaten to derail their relationship… until the happy ending. Overall, an entertaining, very punny light escape.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance reader copy as a part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of this review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win $10 gift card from the author.

About the Author

By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs, competitive trivia player and author groupie, happily living just north of New York City. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.

My background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and real estate. I was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And I needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which I have no idea since they won’t friend me on Facebook) and I can spend my spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles my fancy.

The main thing to remember about my work is that I am NOT one of my characters. For example, as a real estate broker, I’ve never played Bondage Bingo in one of my empty listings or offed anyone at my local diet clinic. And I haven’t run away from home in fear that my husband was planning to off me.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t wanted to…

Find the Author Online:

DMBarr.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @DMBarr
Twitter – @AuthorDMBarr
Facebook – @AuthorDMBarr
Instagram – @AuthorDMBarr

Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

Visit the tour page for an excerpt, author interviews, and more reviews.

Review & Giveaway: WITH NEIGHBORS LIKE THESE by Linda Lovely

As part of a blog tour organized by Partners in Crime, I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance review copy of Linda Lovely’s latest release – With Neighbors Like These (An HOA Mystery)

About the Book

MANAGING AN HOA IS MURDER…

He championed shooting deer inside the HOA’s nature sanctuary. Now his corpse is posed curbside, cradling a trophy deer head. The theatrical murder panics residents, and Ted Welch asks Kylee Kane, retired Coast Guard investigator, to help his HOA management firm calm fears. Kylee agrees. Her own mother is getting death threats over her crusade to protect the deer.

HOA=DOA TERROR REIGNS…

When a belligerent owner in another HOA is murdered, terror reigns. The Sheriff’s Department blames Ted for letting HOA feuds spiral into homicide. Kylee discovers links between the victims and suspects a recently-pardoned general is next. Authorities and the arrogant general dismiss her warning. Can she foil the third act in the crafty killer’s death-as-theater game or will she be the next corpse on display?

My Review

Intrigue abounds in the world of Home Owners Associations, with all their rules and regulations and the self-appointed rule enforcers – real-life in deed-restricted developments, that is except for the puzzling and bizarre murders and attacks. With Ted’s business and Kylee’s mom at risk, the two team up to launch their own investigation. Ted and Kylee make a good pair, they complement each other in many ways, and I enjoyed watching them grow closer. The underlying plot was an interesting one, and unique. The author did a great job with the alternating narrative, giving us insight into the killer’s thinking without hinting at the killer’s identify. Overall, I found it to be a well-written, nicely paced mystery.

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card from the author.

About the Author

A journalism major in college, Linda Lovely has spent most of her career working in PR and advertising—an early introduction to penning fiction. With Neighbors Like These is Lovely’s ninth mystery/suspense novel. Whether she’s writing cozy mysteries, historical suspense or contemporary thrillers, her novels share one common element—smart, independent heroines. Humor and romance also sneak into every manuscript. Her work has earned nominations for a number of prestigious awards, ranging from RWA’s Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense to Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion for Best Cozy Mystery. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime and former chapter president, Lovely also belongs to International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For many years, she helped organize the Writers’ Police Academy. She lives on a lake in Upstate South Carolina with her husband, and enjoys swimming, tennis, gardening, long walks, and, of course, reading.

Catch up with the author:

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Visit the tour page at Partners in Crime for reviews, author interviews and more.

Spotlight & Giveaway: MUSIC IS MURDER by B.J. Bowen

As part of a virtual tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on Music is Murder (A Musical Murder Mystery) the first book in a new cozy mystery series by B.J. Bowen.

About the Book

When a symphony musician is murdered—bashed with her own bassoon—flute player Emily Wilson becomes the prime suspect. To save herself and secure justice for her murdered friend, she must find the killer.

In the close-knit, unforgiving environment of the symphony orchestra Emily makes her way through the tender egos and warped relationships of her fellow musicians to find tantalizing clues. Blackmail, the victim’s abusive ex-boyfriend, an angry neighbor, and a shifty Symphony Board member all lead her to feel she is on the right track.

With the dogged Lieutenant Gordon on her trail, she must flee from the police so she can continue her search. She unexpectedly finds a loyal female friend and the possibility of a new man in her life. But she must learn to trust again after her failed and abusive marriage. With time running out, will she be able to evade the lieutenant, face her personal demons, and clear her name?

Giveaway

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

About the Author

Barbara Bowen is a freelance writer. She was a finalist and Honorable Mention in the 2018 Focus: Eddy Awards for her article, “Letting Go with Grace,” published in Unity Magazine. Ms. Bowen is also an accomplished professional oboist who played with the Colorado Springs Symphony for nineteen years.

Drawing on her quirky fellow musicians and orchestral experiences, she created the mystery series, “Musical Murders.” The first is “Music is Murder” (Release date, 6-9-21). The second is “Ballistics at the Ballet” (Release date TBA) The third is “Fireworks on the Fourth” (Release date TBA).

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, lives in Colorado with two canine friends, and has a stock of musical puns and a song for any occasion. Contact Barbara at: www.barbarabowenauthor.com or www.bookbub.com/authors/b-j-bowen

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Bookshop  – Target 

Spotlight & Giveaway: FRAMED AND FROSTED by Kim Davis

As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on Framed and Frosted, a new culinary cozy mystery by Kim Davis. And with its colorful, patriotic cover, it’s just in time for America’s Fourth of July celebrations next week.

About the Book

Framed and Frosted, the third book in the Cupcake Catering Mystery series, finds cupcake caterer, Emory Martinez, working at a Laguna Beach society Fourth of July soiree, with her sister and their new employee, Sal. With a host that seems intent on accosting both catering employees and guests alike, things go from bad to worse when he accuses Sal of murdering his long-dead son.

As the crescendo of exploding fireworks overhead becomes the backdrop for cupcakes and champagne, a deadly murder occurs. Can Sal and Emory explain why the cupcake the host ate, after shoving a trayful of buttercream frosted cupcakes onto Sal, resulted in his death? Or will the guests and detective alike believe that Sal is a murderer? Emory and her octogenarian employer, Tillie, whip into action to find out who framed Sal after being frosted by the victim.

Includes recipes!

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card plus 1 print copy of book (for U.S. residents only) from the author.

About the Author

Kim Davis lives in Southern California with her husband. When she’s not spending time with her granddaughters she can be found either writing stories or working on her blog, Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder or in the kitchen baking up yummy treats.  She has published the suspense novel, A GAME OF DECEIT, and cozy mystery, SPRINKLES OF SUSPICION and CAKE POPPED OFF. She also has had several children’s articles published in Cricket, Nature Friend, Skipping Stones, and the Seed of Truth magazines. Kim Davis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Author Links

Website:  http://kimdavisauthor.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Kim-Davis-Author-1532277473479031/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Kookiesandbooks
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/kimdavishb/

Purchase Links: Amazon 

Check out other stops on the tour for reviews, guest posts and more.

Review: THE LOST GREAT DANE by B.L. Blair

As part of a virtual tour organized by RABT Book Tours and PR, I recently read The Lost Great Dane by B.L.Blair. A novella-lengthy cozy mystery, it is the first in six tales in the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Series.

About the Book

The Lost Great Dane is the first novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott is a licensed private investigator specializing in finding missing animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

While looking for a lost cat, Alex finds a weak and injured Great Dane. The dog has no collar, no tags, and no microchip. And the only person looking for him is a man who might have murdered his own wife.

Within 24 hours, Alex has a hunted dog, a cryptic message, and a hitman after her. She realizes the only way out of this mess is to solve the mystery of the lost Great Dane.

My Review

This is an enjoyable cozy mystery. Alex has found her niche in focusing her investigative skills on cases involving lost pets. She is observant and has good instincts. The mystery itself was interesting, though not truly riveting. It was interesting to follow her efforts as she puzzles through the clues and rooted out the truth. I also enjoyed seeing how she handled interactions with an old flame. And I really liked her relationship with her elderly neighbor.

Great light reading likely to please fans of the genre.

FTC disclosure: I received a review copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

B. L. Blair writes mystery/romance stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Leah Norwood Mysteries and the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Novellas. She loves reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

Contact Links

Purchase Links

Vist the tour page for additional reviews, guest posts, interviews and more.

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: ASBURY HIGH AND THE KIDNAPPER’S DRIVE by Kelly Brady Channick

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am thrilled to have Kelly Brady Channick as my guest today. The author of the Asbury High cozy mystery series for young adults, she is here to tell us about her love of writing and introduce her latest release, Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive.

How a love of reading grew into a love of writing

by Kelly Brady Channick

I have always been a reader. Back when Borders still existed (ahh to still live in such a world!), all I wanted for Christmas and birthdays was Borders gift cards. To make things sweeter, my parents ever made my sister or myself go to school on our birthdays! Thus, we got to send the day as we pleased. This meant having my mom drive me to Borders, and we’d spend the day perusing the shelves, finding my new and next favorite reads!

After reading truckloads of stories, I quickly realized that I had many stories brewing in my own mind. More often than not, I would finish a book and realize I already had a whole different ending planned. Sometimes, I would pull out some paper and write down how I thought it should’ve ended!

The more I wrote, the more I fell in love. Many times I would wake up from a deep sleep, or seemingly zone out when bored, and realize I had been crafting an awesome story in my head—at least they always seemed awesome to me.

As time went on, I realized I had notebooks and random papers filled with various characters and plots. By the time I was a senior in high school, I thought, why not try to write out the story that kept coming back to me—Asbury High. Clearly, I listened to myself and have now published over half of the series.

While I continue to write, I also continue to be a voracious reader. I believe that reading both spurs the imaginative juices, but also helps authors learn to master their craft. And though not every book I have read has been good or well-written, it is those books which have taught me how not to write, and guided me away from making similar mistakes.

About Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive

On a quiet summer night, in the peaceful seaside town of Asbury, a local girl is kidnapped from her home.

That very same day, a car thief is chased through an empty car lot, narrowly escaping from their teenage pursuer.

Can the two be connected?

Once again, it’s up to Asbury’s favorite, fearless foursome to find out.

Carly, Maddie, Pilot and Cornelious enter the summer before their junior year ready for normalcy. After a few weeks of calm, it seems that Carly may finally have the drama-free summer of her dreams—other than her boyfriend returning from his two-week vacation hotter than ever, drawing interest from her peers.

Just as Asbury is lulled into a sense of serenity, tragedy strikes when a local six-year-old is kidnapped from her home…with no sign of a break-in, no ransom, and no reason. While the town is desperate to find the missing girl, car parts from Maddie’s father’s shop suddenly go missing, and the gang begins to wonder if the two are connected. With little faith in law enforcement, and prodding from Maddie’s younger siblings, the gang finds themselves at the center of the investigation.

Unfortunately, solving both cases isn’t so easy, as the gang must work around the continually growing criminal enterprise of the Pitbulls, the constant construction occurring around town from Governor Gibbz’s Grant, as well as their changing feelings towards each other. When Maddie and Cornelious begin to sense their friendship might be more than what they realize, jealousies arise as the teens garner attention from others.

With all these distractions, can the foursome save the missing girl and figure out who is stealing from Petrozza Auto?

Asbury High and the Kidnapper’s Drive is the fourth book in a thrilling young adult cozy mystery series, that fans of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Scooby Doo will love.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards from the author.

About the Author

For as long as she could remember, Kelly Brady Channick loved making up stories and leaving her listeners/readers on the edge of their seats.

Perhaps that’s why she always managed to talk herself out of trouble…

After graduating from NJ’s own Ocean City High School, Kelly accepted a basketball scholarship to Holy Family University, in Philadelphia. As a lifelong athlete, Kelly understands the importance of teamwork and overcoming adversity, something she hopes translates into her books.

Before writing page-turners, she taught first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade — like a dessert menu, she simply had to test them all out. But her favorite job is the one she’s now doing full time: writing. Kelly loves to craft whodunit mysteries, leading readers through various twists and turns filled with red-herrings, hidden clues, and more peculiar characters than a reality show.

Kelly lives in South Jersey with her handsome husband, energetic baby boy, two cookie-stealing dogs, and an awfully smart cat.

Author links:

For additional reviews, guest posts, and more, visit the tour page.

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: PIERCED PEONY by Dahlia Donovan

As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on Pierced Peony, a cozy mystery by Dahlia Donovan. The second book in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series, Pierced Peony released on May 1st.

About the Book

On a casual walk along the Cornish Coast, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley stumbles upon a body and a perilous new murder case in the second novel in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series.

As spring rolls into summer, Motts settles into her cottage. She’s enjoying a daily stroll when a body in the sea destroys her peace and quiet. It brings yet another mystery for her to solve.

How does a woman who vanished from Polperro three years prior wind up battered by waves?

Motts is drawn into the investigation despite her best attempts. She finds a family in turmoil and loads of suspects. With no easy answers, she tumbles further into chaos and ever closer to danger.

Can Motts find the killer before she’s the one put on ice?

Will she survive a bone-chilling brush with death? 

Read an excerpt:

“I know what you did.”

The muffled voice on her phone raised the hair on the back of Gail Briscoe’s head, and she swiped the perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand. “Look, I’ve reported these calls. Don’t call me again.”

She ended the call with a hard finger punch on the screen and stepped onto her front porch. The late-May Alabama air wrapped her in a blanket of heat and humidity, and she couldn’t wait to wash it off. She should have left the light on before she went for her predawn run. The darkness pressing against her isolated home sent a shudder down her back, and she fumbled her way inside. Welcome light flooded the entry, and she locked the door and the dead bolt with a decisive click that lifted her confidence.

She stared at the number on the now-silent phone. The drugstore again. Though there weren’t many pay phones around anymore, the old soda shop and drugstore still boasted a heavy black phone installed back in the sixties. The caller always used it, and so far, no one had seen who was making the calls. The pay phone was located off an alley behind the store by a Dumpster so it was out of sight.

The guy’s accusation was getting old. Counting today, this made seven calls with the same message. Could he possibly know about the investigation? She rejected the thought before it had a chance to grow. It wasn’t public knowledge, and it would be over soon. She clenched her hands and chewed on her bottom lip. She had to be vindicated.

But who could it be, and what did he want?

Leaving a trail of sweaty yoga shorts and a tee behind her, she marched to the bathroom and turned the spray to lukewarm before she stepped into the shower. The temperature shocked her overheated skin in a pleasant way, and within moments she was cooled down. She increased the temperature a bit and let the water sluice over her hair.

As she washed, she watched several long strands of brown hair swirl down the drain as she considered the caller’s accusation. The police had promised to put a wiretap on her phone, but so far the guy hadn’t stayed on the phone long enough for a trace to work. And it was Gail’s own fault. She should have talked with him more to string out the time.

She dried off and wrapped her hair in a turban, then pulled on capris and a top. Her phone vibrated again. She snatched it up and glanced at the screen. Augusta Richards.

“I got another call, Detective. Same phone at the drugstore. Could you set up a camera there?”

“I hope I’m not calling too early, and I don’t think that’s necessary. The owner just told me that old pay phone is being removed later today. Maybe that will deter the guy. It’s the only pay phone in town. He’ll have to use something else if he calls again.”

“He could get a burner phone.”

“He might,” the detective admitted. “What did he say?”

“The same thing—‘I know what you did.’”

“Do you have any idea what it means?”

Gail flicked her gaze away to look out the window, where the first colors of the sunrise limned the trees. “Not a clue.”

“Make sure you lock your doors and windows. You’re all alone out there.”

“Already locked. Thanks, Detective.” Gail ended the call.

Ever since Nicole Pearson’s body had been found a couple of months ago, no one needed to remind Gail she lived down a dirt road with no next-door neighbors. No one wanted to buy the neighboring place after such a lurid death, so the area remained secluded other than a couple of houses about a mile away and out closer to the main road.

She stood back from the window. It was still too dark to see. Was someone out there?

Pull back the reins on your imagination. But once the shudders started, they wouldn’t stop. Her hands shaking, she left her bedroom and went to pour herself a cup of coffee with a generous splash of half-and-half from the fridge. She had a stack of lab orders to process, and she couldn’t let her nerves derail her work.

The cups rattled as she snatched one from the cupboard. The coffee sloshed over the rim when she poured it, then she took a big gulp of coffee. It burned all the way down her throat, and tears stung her eyes as she sputtered. The heat settled her though, and she checked the locks again before she headed to her home office with her coffee.

No one could see in this tiny cubicle with no window, but she rubbed the back of her neck and shivered. She’d work for an hour, then go into the lab. The familiar ranges and numbers comforted her. She sipped her coffee and began to plow through the stack of papers. Her eyes kept getting heavy. Weird. Normally she woke raring to go every morning.

Maybe she needed more coffee. She stretched out her neck and back and picked up the empty coffee cup.

Gail touched the doorknob and cried out. She stuck her first two fingers in her mouth. What on earth?

The door radiated heat. She took a step back as she tried to puzzle out what was happening, but her brain couldn’t process it at first. Then tendrils of smoke oozed from under the door in a deadly fog.

Fire. The house was on fire.

She spun back toward the desk, but there was nothing she could use to protect herself. There was no way of egress except through that door.

If she wanted to escape, she’d have to face the inferno on the other side.

She snatched a throw blanket from the chair and threw it over her head, then ran for the door before she lost her courage. When she yanked it open, a wall of flames greeted her, but she spied a pathway down the hall to her bedroom. Ducking her head, she screamed out a war cry and plowed through the flames.

In moments she was in the hall where the smoke wasn’t so thick. She pulled in a deep breath as she ran for her bedroom. She felt the cool air as soon as she stepped inside and shut the door behind her. Too late she realized the window was open, and a figure stepped from the closet.

Something hard came down on her head, and darkness descended.

***

Excerpt from Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble. Copyright 2021 by Thomas Nelson. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

***

Excerpt from Pierced Peony by Dahlia Donovan.  All rights reserved.


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About the Author

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress.  She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters.  An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.   

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Spotlight & Giveaway: WHOLE LATTE MURDER by Lena Gregory

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post features a new cozy mystery from Lena Gregory – Whole Latte Murder (All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery). Don’t know about any of you, but I love the cover!

About the Book

Ex-New Yorker and local diner owner Gia Morelli is still getting used to the sweltering Florida sun. But this summer she’ll have to deal with a more dangerous kind of heat—when she’s hot on the trail of another murderer . . .

Summer in Boggy Creek has arrived, and Gia’s best friend, successful real estate agent Savannah, is getting hitched. Now she’s enlisted Gia’s sleuthing talents in a desperate search for the perfect wedding dress. But when Savannah mysteriously vanishes after showing a mansion to a bigwig client, Gia investigates the house Savannah was trying to sell. The first clue she finds is Savannah’s car in the driveway. Inside the house, they stumble on Savannah’s potential buyer—dead. Someone had apparently closed the deal—with a two by four full of nails to the client’s head. Soon afterward, a woman’s body is fished from the lake near the same house. The townsfolk are now sweating bullets over the murders, and the heat comes down on poor Gia to find her missing friend, and track down the killer . . .

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Lena Gregory is the author of the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries, which take place on a small island between the north and south forks of Long Island, New York, and the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries, which are set on the outskirts of Florida’s Ocala National Forest.

Lena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, but she recently traded in cold, damp, gray winters for the warmth and sunshine of central Florida, where she now lives with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

To learn more about Lena and her latest writing endeavors, visit her website at http://www.lenagregory.com/ and be sure to sign up for her newsletter.

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For more reviews, guest posts, and more, visit the tour page.