Review & Giveaway: THE PUPPET MASTER by Ronald S. Barak

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As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, I jumped at the chance to read Ronald Barak’s latest thriller- The Puppet Master.  The Puppet  Master is a prequel to  The Amendment Killer, an excellent novel, which I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing when it was released (click here to read that review).

Description

Puppet-Master-2018-FIN-cover-praise-s-3200x4800px-ebook_400x600What would YOU do if they took everything you had, your family, your home, your business, your dignity, even—perhaps—your sanity? Ronald S. Barak’s latest, The Puppet Master, prequel to The Amendment Killer, and the second in the Brooks/Lotello Thriller Series, is a gripping story of a political system gone awry—and those who feel compelled to fix it. “Have you ever killed anyone? I have. I’ll do it again. If I need to.” Three prominent political leaders in Washington, D.C., murdered in as many days.

Not a plausible story premise? What about the real world villain who recently mailed a series of pipe bombs to a number of prominent political figures? Ripped from the headlines? Barak gives new meaning to the word “timely.” The Puppet Master isn’t ripped from the headlines; written first, it forecast the headlines that followed!

The Puppet Master begins with a bang. Literally. Three of them. Not a page wasted. Capitol Hill panics. Who will be next? Others whisper that our political leaders are only getting what they deserve. Anxious to see who will be next. And why.

Crafty D.C. homicide detective Frank Lotello is tasked to find the killer. Cliff Norman, a local businessman with ample motive, is arrested. Politicians breathe a sigh of relief. However, when Lotello discovers a disturbing White House connection, he suspects Norman may not be what he appears to be. Things may not be what they appear to be.

Norman’s trial commences in the courtroom of savvy D.C. trial court judge Cyrus Brooks. An angry nation rallies behind Norman. The jury debates whether Norman’s actions may be legally justified by a rampant abuse of political trust, and threatens to unravel the very fabric of our dysfunctional government.

In an unprecedented and questionable manner that may destroy their respective careers, Lotello quietly approaches Brooks and they form a secret alliance to uncover the truth in this classic whodunnit mystery. Before it’s too late.

Blurring fiction and reality, The Puppet Master will have you dangling from the first page to the very last.

You can view the book trailer at: https://youtu.be/J9aV5pMUKC8.

Buy Links:

My Review

I enjoyed following  Detective Lotello as he persists in investigating the murder of three high-profile politicans – despite the confession of a bitter, broken man with a grudge.  The story is told from alternating points of view in short chapters, giving you a sense of what each of the players is going through and their deliberations, yet without being too confusing to follow.   Both Lotello and Judge Brooks are great characters – human and relatable.

The story is engaging and well-paced, while raising controversial questions regarding the potential for broader application  of the justifiable homicide defense in the courts – when does it become reasonable to take the law into your own hands?  Definitely thought-provoking stuff.

A well-written choice for fans of political thrillers and police procedurals.

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.

Giveaway and More

Follow the tour for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and enter the Thriller Junkies  giveaway for your chance to win an e-book copy of the Puppet Master and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

About the Author

Ronald-S-BarakDescribed by his readers as a cross between Agatha Christie, Lee Child, and John Lescroart, bestselling author Ron Barak keeps his readers flipping the pages into the wee hours of the night. While he mostly lets his characters tell his stories, he does manage to get his licks in too.

Barak derives great satisfaction in knowing that his books not only entertain but also stimulate others to think about how things might be, how people can actually resolve real-world problems. In particular, Barak tackles the country’s dysfunctional government representatives—not just back-seat driving criticism for the sake of being a back-seat driver, but truly framing practical remedies to the political abuse and corruption adversely affecting too many people’s lives today. Barak’s extensive legal background and insight allow him to cleverly cross-pollenate his fiction and today’s sad state of political reality.

In his latest novel, THE AMENDMENT KILLER, Barak calls upon his real world legal ingenuity and skill to craft a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution criminalizing political abuse and corruption that Constitutional scholars across the country are heralding as a highly plausible answer to the political chaos destroying the very moral fiber of the country today. It’s difficult to read THE AMENDMENT KILLER and not imagine what could—and should—be expected and demanded of those political leaders who have forgotten they are there to serve and not be served.

Barak is also a committed and strident advocate of finding a cure for diabetes. One of the primary characters in THE AMENDMENT KILLER is the feisty and precocious 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter of the Supreme Court justice holding the swing vote in a case in which Congress is challenging the validity of Barak’s hypothetical 28th Amendment. It is no small coincidence that Barak is himself a diabetic. Or that he has committed 50% of the net proceeds of THE AMENDMENT KILLER to diabetes research and education.

Barak is singularly qualified to have authored THE AMENDMENT KILLER, which will appeal to political and legal thriller aficionados alike. Barak is a law school honors graduate and a former Olympic athlete. While still in law school, he authored a bill introduced in Congress that overnight forced the settlement of a decades long dispute between the NCAA and the AAU to control amateur athletics in the United States.

Present-day politicians would do well to read THE AMENDMENT KILLER and not underestimate the potential of Barak’s 28th Amendment. You can read his 28th Amendment at ronaldsbarak.com/28th-amendment-page-2. You can also read his occasional political blogs at ronaldsbarak.com/blog.

Ron and his wife, Barbie, and the four-legged members of their family reside in Pacific Palisades, California.

You can catch up with the author on:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Spotlight: SILICONE VALLEY MYSTERIES by Marc Jedel

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As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, today’s spotlight shines on the Silicone Valley Mysteries – a humorous cozy mystery series by Marc Jedel.

About Uncles and Ants (A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 1)

Mysterious attacks. Mischievous nieces. Can a clueless uncle catch a tech-savvy killer … and be home before bedtime?

Uncle and Ants cover final_375x600When a freak accident hospitalizes Marty Golden’s sister and condemns him to babysitter duty, he thinks it’s just another case of hardwired bad luck in Silicon Valley. Until a suspicious murder suggests the mishap was no mere coincidence. Something must be done.

Too bad this quirky, fashion-backward uncle isn’t exactly hero material.
Convinced his sister is in mortal danger, this amateur sleuth follows clues to an oddball array of suspects. Armed with nothing but an eye for detail and powers of self-delusion, Marty tangles with gangsters, a cantankerous school secretary, and a perplexing woman he can’t help but fall for. Glitches in his investigation seem like a piece of cake compared to dinner-prep and bedtime stories with his two precocious, pre-teen nieces.

Can Marty catch the culprit, save his sister, and get his life back in order before he gets unplugged?

Uncle and Ants is the first novel in a refreshingly modern mystery series set in Silicon Valley. If you like clever humor, sassy side characters, and average Joes facing extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this twisty mystery.
Buy Uncle and Ants to login to a fresh, funny mystery today!

About Chutes and Ladder (A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 2)

When a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck putting out the fire …
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When a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck putting out the fire …

Marty Golden enjoys time with his nieces, but he wanted to spend the weekend with his new girlfriend — not chaperone a Girl Scout camping trip. Once he stumbles upon the corpse of a friend in the woods, the outdoors adventure becomes an open-air disaster. When the police label it an accidental death, the meticulous Marty vows to investigate the murder. After all, it’s poor manners to let your friend’s death go unsolved.

On the hunt for clues the cops ignored, Marty uncovers a disturbing connection to himself. And as he digs deeper, a misbehaving pup, a kooky cousin, and a maniacal ninja put his survival skills to the test.

Will Marty unravel the mystery before the killer, or his imagination, gets to him?

Chutes and Ladder is the side-splitting second novel in the Silicon Valley cozy mystery series. If you like quirky sleuths, wacky side characters, and laugh-out-loud moments, you’ll love this offbeat whodunit.

Buy Chutes and Ladder to decode a great mystery today! 

Giveaway

Enter a KingSumo giveaway for your chance to win a signed copy of Chutes and Ladder from Marc Jedel.

About the Author

Marc Jedel_267x400Marc Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. In his high-tech marketing roles, he’s also written fiction. These are just called emails, ads, and marketing collateral.

In his family, Marc was born first — a fact his sister never lets him forget, no matter what milestone age she hits. For most of Marc’s life, he’s been inventing stories. Some, especially when he was young, involved his sister as the villain. As his sister’s brother for her entire life, he feels highly qualified to tell tales of the evolving, quirky sibling relationship in the Silicon Valley Mystery series.

Family and friends would tell you that the protagonist in his stories, Marty Golden, isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for Marc, but he proudly resembles that remark.

Like Marty, Marc lives in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, where he writes within earshot of the doppler effect of the local ice cream truck. Unlike Marty, Marc has a wonderful wife and a neurotic but sweet, small dog, who much prefers the walks resulting from writer’s block than his writing.

Visit his website, marcjedel.com, for free chapters of upcoming novels, news and more.uncle and ants teaser

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Review: WHO SHOT THE SERIF? by Jessa Archer

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post is about the first book in a new cozy mystery series – Who Shot the Serif? by Jessa Archer.

Description

Who-Shot-the-Serif-ebook-coverWhen Jamie Lang finds one of her hand lettered quotes on the window of her shop, Flourish, with a hole shot through a serif, she knows someone’s trying to drive her business into red ink. Jamie confronts Earleen Culp, the ruthless owner of the local stationery shop, in front of the most popular breakfast spot in the small town of Cedar Valley. Of course, Earleen professes shock and innocence, so when she’s found dead in front of Jamie’s home the next morning, Jamie becomes the prime suspect.

Jamie’s one cross-stroke short of acquittal, and even her best friend has her doubts. But Jamie’s not the only one in town with a motive for wanting Earleen silenced for good. To clear her name, Jamie’s going to need every last drop of ink in her quill.

With the hot police chief Ridge, and her makeup artist friend Nora on her side, she’s prepared to go out with a flourish if that’s what it takes to catch the real murderer. She’s desperate to save her hand lettering business, but will her quest lead her right into a killer’s snare?

My Review

An enjoyable light mystery about a small-town business owner specializing in hand printing who takes on the role of amateur sleuth to prove she didn’t commit murder. The victim, Earleen, is the type of person everyone loves to hate.  Lots of people, including Jamie’s friends and neighbors, have a motive for wanting her gone.  That doesn’t stop many of the townsfolk from pointing a finger in Jamie’s direction.

The story moved along at a nice pace, with enough suspense to keep the pages turning  -though if you pay close attention, the killer might not come as a surprise to you.

Nice start to a cute series likely to please most cozy mystery fans.

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

About the Author

jessaJessa Archer writes sweet, funny, warm-hearted cozy mysteries because she loves a good puzzle and can’t stand the sight of blood. Her characters are witty, adventurous, and crafty in the nicest way. You’ll find her sleuths hand lettering inspirational quotes, trying to lower golf handicaps, enjoying a scone at a favorite teashop, knitting a sweater, or showing off a dramatic side in local theater.

Jessa’s done many things in her long career, including a stint as a journalist and practicing law. But her favorite job is spinning mysteries. She loves playing small town sleuth and transporting readers to a world where the scones are delicious, wine pairs with hand lettering, and justice always prevails.

Author Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JessaArcher
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessa-archer
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19123141.Jessa_Archer
Facebook: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherFacebook
Pinterest: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherPinterest
Twitter: http://bit.ly/JessaArcher-Twitter
Instagram: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherInstagram
Jessa Archer Web Page: https://www.jessaarcher.com/home.html

Purchase Links

Amazon.com:
Amazon Universal Link (to all Amazon sites)

Follow the tour here for reviews, guest posts and more.

 

Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: MULBERRY MISCHIEF by Sharon Farrow

MULBERRY-MISCHIEF-BANNER-184Today, as part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to host Sharon Farrow as she celebrates the recent release of Mulberry Mischief (A Berry Basket Mystery) and tells us about the similarities between archaeology and mystery writing.

Although I haven’t had a chance to read this one yet, I enjoyed the second book in this series – Blackberry Burial.  To learn more about it and read my review, click here.


How Archaeology and Mystery Writing Are Alike by Sharon Farrow

SharonFARROWCameraIn middle school, I told a teacher about my plans to become an archaeologist. I also announced I wanted to be a novelist. Being an overachiever, I saw no reason why I couldn’t do both. For a few years, I managed to do just that before putting aside my trowel to concentrate all my energies on writing. However, my experiences in these professions revealed the similarities between mystery authors and archaeologists.

1.  Digging up the Past.  

You cannot investigate an archaeological site without digging into the past. For archaeologists, this means literally digging! Somewhere I still have my field kit of trowels, work gloves, and measuring instruments. A mystery author also digs into the past, but not of an historic site. Instead, they explore the histories of their characters, and not simply the murder suspects. The protagonist has a backstory, too; one that explains why she has been drawn into this mystery – and what she has at stake. The past histories of the suspects and victims are especially crucial. How else to discover the motivations behind the crime? To solve the secrets and puzzles hidden in both the mystery novel and an archaeological site always requires uncovering the past.

2.  Plotting in Advance.

Prior to their arrival at an excavation site, archaeologists have done a tremendous amount of research. And before even an inch of soil is removed, the site has been plotted out into a grid. Their earlier research helps them decide how to grid a site. This grid acts as a fixed reference point and a road map, enabling archaeologists to record exactly where an artifact is found. So, too, the mystery author, who often creates a synopsis and/or outline for their upcoming book.

Like archaeologists, writers spend a lot of time in research, looking into everything from a time period to a method of murder. In addition, authors are aided by their own reference maps to help “excavate” their plot. An outline shows where clues are to be planted, when the murder or murders will occur, the inclusion of red herrings, and how and when the climax is to eventually unfold. Archaeologists and authors not only engage in research, they need their own particular GPS to do their jobs effectively. And a site grid is the archaeological equivalent of an author outline.

3.  The Devil is in the Details.

There is no such thing as an unimportant artifact recovered from a dig. Every single item is examined and recorded, followed by theories about how it fits into previous assumptions about the site. Some artifacts may also hold a startling clue which overturns previously held beliefs. The same with a mystery plot.

Once writing is underway, all those clues and red herrings must be kept straight. No loose ends or plot points left unexplained. And sometimes authors surprise themselves. They may have earlier mentioned something trivial about a character or an event, something that seemed little more than filler. Authors often realize later in the book how this insignificant item now serves as a missing key to a major plot point. Every detail matters –  on a site and in a novel.

To work on an archaeological dig or a mystery novel means embarking on an adventure. Along with the research, plotting, and a close examination of details, both endeavors are filled with discovery, fun, and meaning. So grab your Indiana Jones hat and/or a laptop and start digging.


About Mulberry Mischief

MULBERRY-MISCHIEFAutumn has arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan, but Marlee Jacob, proprietor of The Berry Basket, is feeling a chill for other reasons …

With the Harvest Health Fair in full swing, Marlee makes sure to stock up on elderberry products for cold and flu season. But this year there’s also a run on mulberry when an eccentric customer wants to use the dried berries to ward off evil forces. True, it’s almost Halloween, but something else seems to be spooking Leticia the Lake Lady, Oriole Point’s oddest resident. She believes someone plans to kill her—and the ghost. Only mulberries can protect them. Marlee doesn’t take her fears seriously until a man named Felix Bonaventure arrives in the village, asking questions about a mysterious woman.

The next day, Marlee finds Bonaventure dead on Leticia’s property—shot through the heart with an arrow made of mulberry wood. And Leticia has disappeared. Marlee soon learns the Lake Lady has a deadly past that is connected to the famous Sable family who are in town for the health fair. A bunch of clues start to come together—and figuring out what’s going on puts Marlee in a real jam …

Includes Berry Recipes!

Purchase Links – Amazon  –  B&N  –  Kobo  –  Google Play  –  IndieBound

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win one of six print copies of Mulberry Mischief from the author.

About the Author

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award-winning author Sharon Pisacreta. A freelance writer since her twenties, she has been published in mystery, fantasy, and romance. Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series for Kensington. The series debuted in 2016 and is set along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline where she now lives. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

Author Links

Spotlight & Recipe: RISKY BISCUITS by Mary Lee Ashford

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As part of a blog tour  organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces Risky Biscuits, A Sugar and Spice Mystery, the first book in a new culinary cozy series by Mary Lee Ashford.

About the Book

Risky-Biscuits-HighResFormer magazine editor “Sugar” Calloway’s life has taken a delicious twist since she launched a community cookbook publishing business with blue-ribbon baker Dixie Spicer. Now these amateur sleuths must solve a small-town murder—without getting burned . .

Sugar and Spice Cookbooks’ newest project is a fundraiser organized by the St. Ignatius Crack of Dawn Breakfast Club, famous for their all-you-can-eat biscuits and gravy events. But when a group member is found dead, Sugar and Spice’s priorities change from raising dough to figuring out who put murder on the menu.

The return of former badboy Nick Marchant has stirred the town’s gossips too. Add a few grudges and some old-fashioned greed over a land deal into the mix, and it’s a recipe for mayhem. And when someone serves up a second helping of murder, Sugar and Spice need to sift the guilty from the blameless, or their next breakfast may be their last . . .

* Includes delicious recipes! *

Scroll down for a recipe for Biscuits and Gravy from Mary Lee Ashford

About the Author

Mary Lee Ashford is a lifelong bibliophile, and avid reader, and supporter of public libraries. In addition to writing the Sugar & Spice mystery series for Kensington Books, she also writes as half of the writing team of Sparkle Abbey, author of the national bestselling Pampered Pets mystery series from Bell Bridge Books.

Mary-Lee-Ashford-PhotoPrior to publishing Mary Lee won first place in the Daphne du Maurier contest, sponsored by the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA, and was a finalist in Murder in the Grove’s mystery contest, as well as Killer Nashville’s Claymore Dagger contest.

She is the founding president of Sisters in Crime – Iowa and a current board member of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest chapter, as well as a member of Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death the RWA Mystery Suspense chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the SinC internet group Guppies.

Mary Lee has a passionate interest in creativity and teaches a university level course in Creative Management to MPA candidates, as well as presenting workshops and blogging about creativity. She loves encouraging other writers and is a frequent presenter on a variety of topics at workshops, conferences, and writers’ groups.

In her day job, Mary Lee is a Deputy Chief Information Officer. She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband, Tim, and Sparkle, the rescue cat namesake of the Sparkle Abbey pseudonym. Her delights are reading and enjoying her family and especially her six grandchildren.

Author Links

Purchase Links:  Amazon    Barnes & Noble     Kobo    iBooks

Biscuits and Gravy Recipe from Mary Lee Ashford

 

“Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.” – a saying from Sugar’s Aunt Crickett

Making your own made-from-scratch biscuits are so easy. Some people prefer drop biscuits, especially if they are going to be covered with tasty gravy. A few ingredients stirred together, drop them by the spoonful and pop them in the oven. Here’s a very simple recipe with basic ingredients you may already have in your kitchen.

Biscuits

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup whole milk

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
Cut the butter into the flour mixture either with a pastry cutter or a knife. You can also use a cheese shredder to get small pieces.
Add the milk and stir until the ingredients are combined. Be careful not to overwork the mixture.
If you’re going to cut the biscuits, transfer your dough to a well-floured surface and fold the dough over several times. Use more flour, if you need to, in order to keep the dough from being sticky. And then flatten to about one-inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter.
If you’d prefer to drop the biscuits, use a spoon to drop the biscuits onto the parchment paper. You may have to add a little more milk to keep the dough the right consistency for dropping, but don’t add too much.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Gravy

Ingredients:
1 lb. pork sausage
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk

Instructions:
Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook thoroughly, stirring frequently.
Stir in flour.
Gradually add milk.
Cook until the mixture bubbles and thickens, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Reduce heat and simmer a couple of minutes.
Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Spoon over biscuits and eat.

For more biscuit recipes, check out the Risky Biscuits section on Mary Lee Ashford’s Pinterest page.  https://www.pinterest.com/maryleeashford/risky-biscuits-book-2/

 

 

Review & Giveaway: THE GREAT JEWEL ROBBERY by Elizabeth McKenna

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read The Great Jewel Robbery (A Front Page Mystery), the first book in a new series by Elizabeth McKenna.

About the Book

Great-Jewel-Robbery-FRONTCOVERMystery with a splash of romance…

Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.

My Review

I liked this book. Emma and Grace are likeable, well-developed characters.  It was easy to relate to Grace’s frustration with her job, and even easier for this reader to relate to Emma’s love of donuts.  The author has drawn a diverse cast of characters,  some more likeable than others (kind of like the real world), and brought them together for a weekend gala fundraising event.  Mix in an assault, a robbery, a murder, and a hint of romance and the result is an enjoyable and sometimes surprising read.  A great start to a new mystery series.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance 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 digital copy of The Great Jewel Robbery and a $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Elizabeth-McKenna-Author-picElizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She combined her love of history, romance, and a happy ending to write Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, is loosely based on her life during her teens and twenties. The Great Jewel Robbery is her debut cozy mystery, and she hopes readers will like it as much as they have enjoyed her romances.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Author Links

Purchase Links –  Amazon  –   Barnes & Noble –   Kobo  – Scribd  –  Apple  

Follow the tour here for reviews, guest posts and more.

Showcase & Excerpt: SHADES OF JUSTICE (Madison Knight 9) by Carolyn Arnold

Detective Madison Knight Series Tour RABT Summer 2019 (1)

As part of a blog tour organized by RABT Book Tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on the Detective Madison Knight series by Carolyn Arnold – and specifically the latest addition to the series – Shades of Justice.

About the Book

The line between good and evil isn’t always clear…

Shades-of-Justice-3D-HC-Tablet-Blogger-Page-186x200-2019Detective Madison Knight has risked her badge—and her life—in the pursuit of justice before, and she just might need to do so again. Two victims are found murdered and naked in the home of Steven Malone, who is the largest contributor to the Stiles PD. One victim is his wife. The other victim is a John Doe. This high-profile double homicide immediately pits Madison against her sergeant, who seems more intent on protecting the Malones’ reputation and retaining a benefactor than catching a killer.

Madison will need to pull on her tenacity and courage if she’s going to follow the evidence without prejudice. In the process, it becomes clear that finding justice isn’t always black and white, and often the shades in between tell the fullest story—and it’s not something she will forget anytime soon.

Scroll down to the end of this post to read an excerpt!

Retailer links:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Apple iBooks   Kobo   Google Play   Goodreads

About the Series

What to expect from the Detective Madison Knight series:

Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology.

This is the perfect book series for fans of James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and JD Robb to name a few. This series is also bound to entertain those who enjoy Law & OrderCSIBlue BloodsRizzoli & IslesWomen’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O.

Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning.

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About the Author

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

author-carolyn-arnold-photo-3Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and beagles and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD online:

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

Excerpt

Excerpt from chapter 3 of Shades of Justice (Detective Madison Knight series)

They say someone’s always having a worse day than you are. Who the heck are “they,” and how would they know, anyway? Madison was pretty sure days couldn’t get much worse than the one Kimberly Olson-Malone was having. Madison couldn’t imagine finding her own mother dead—and naked with another man, no less. As much as she felt for Kimberly, she couldn’t let it cloud her judgment. Kimberly had been the one to find them and that alone made her the first suspect.

Terry pointed to the next street as they drove. “Turn right there.”

Even though Terry knew where they were going, Madison was the one driving.

She took the corner, and he pointed at a two-story, gray-brick mansion. With the exception of the forensics van and a police cruiser parked in the three-car driveway, the house had terrific curb appeal with its large front windows and double-door entry.

Madison parked out front on the street.

“Before we go in, I’m going to give you a warning,” Terry said.

She glanced over at him, her hand letting go of the door handle. Was he going to tell her it was a messy scene? There wasn’t much else that turned her stomach as did the sight and stench of a lot of blood. She gulped. The victims had been shot.

“Okay,” she said with trepidation.

“Cynthia’s on the warpath,” Terry said. “She makes your bad moods look like—”

“Be careful of your next words.”

“Or what?” He wriggled his fingers as if to say, Bring it on.

Terry really was the brother she never had. “Why’s she in a bad mood?” Madison asked but could think of at least one off the top of her head: her wedding was mere days away, and a case like this would take a lot of time for evidence collection and processing. That thought led to another. “Oh, no.”

“What?”

“We had plans for a final dress fitting tonight. We might have to push that off.”

Terry arched his brows. “I’m not a wedding planner, but shouldn’t dress fittings have been done ages ago?”

It wasn’t for the lack of trying, but it turned out that when dresses were ordered from different shops, they could be made from different dye lots. With Cynthia’s sister and bridesmaid, Tammy, living in Alabama, she’d gotten hers there while Madison ordered hers in Stiles. With take two, they returned their initial dresses and arranged to get new ones from the same bridal shop in Stiles. “It’s a long story,” was all she said.

“Okay.” Terry dragged out the word, but quickly moved on. “Well, she’s pissed because the firemen who responded to the nine-one-one call pulled the bodies out of the pool.”

“Oh,” Madison said slowly, appreciating that her friend would be livid about contamination of the crime scene. Cynthia wouldn’t care that the firemen were wired to save lives until—or unless—they could confirm death.

The two of them got out of the car, and at the front door, Madison looked up. The place had looked big from the curb, but standing next to it only impressed just how successful the Malones were.

Officer Tendum was stationed at door. He was younger, a little wet behind the ears, and he and Madison had butted heads more than once. Then again, it was his stupidity that had resulted in her former training officer, Reggie Higgins, being shot during a murder investigation about a year ago. At least Higgins had been fortunate enough to recover and return to work.

Tendum stepped to the side to allow Madison and Terry to enter the house.

Inside, they were greeted by a grand entry with two sweeping staircases that hugged the curves of two walls. A large, teardrop-crystal chandelier punctuated the center of the space. Abstract paintings adorned the walls with lighting mounted over them. Madison didn’t know much about art, but flea-market finds didn’t typically wind up in fine frames with specialty lighting.

The smell of chlorine hung in the air, and she started following her nose—and Terry—toward the back of the home.

They passed an expansive living space that could have served as a lobby for a fine hotel. A bottle of red wine sat on a coffee table as did two wineglasses, each with some wine in them. The kitchen off to the right gleamed with high-end stainless steel appliances, and a breakfast bar lined the wall.

“All this for two people,” Madison said, thinking about the imbalances of wealth distribution.

“Yep, all eight thousand square feet,” Terry responded.

He opened the door to an atrium with a million-dollar view of the Bradshaw River that ran through Stiles. The rectangular pool, surrounded by a tiled patio dotted with lounge chairs and tables, took center stage. A hot tub, large enough for six, was to the right end of the pool, and in the corner of the room, there was a sauna. Blood spatter was to the immediate edge of the pool, to the left of the pool ladder, along with the two bodies.

Matching bullet holes marked both their foreheads, but the water had cleaned the wounds. For a shooting, there was minimal mess.

 

Review: THE MARIJUANA MURDERS by Mark S. Bacon

TourBanner_The Marijuana MurdersAs part of a blog tour organized by Goddess Fish promotions, I recently read The Marijuana Murders by Mark S. Bacon.

About the Book

Cover_The Marijuana MurdersNostalgia City executive Kate Sorensen finds the body of a mechanic crushed under an automobile hoist in the theme park’s garage. Accident or murder? Will it impact Kate’s decision to become an advisor for one of two competing campaigns to legalize marijuana in Arizona?

When the death is ruled a homicide and the DEA stages a surprise raid, park cab driver Lyle Deming is recruited to help solve the murder and find out if the park’s garage is being used to smuggle drugs. The anxiety-ridden ex-cop is soon poking around a Mexican border town looking for a park contractor who might be a drug mule. Or he might be dead.

Meanwhile, Kate, a 6-2 former college basketball star, is in the middle of a heated clash between potential corporate control of pot marketing and a laid-back, grow-your-own approach. As Kate wonders whether she should mediate or advocate, she’s forced to dash for her life. Amid setbacks and threats, she and Lyle must sort through interwoven crimes, a tangle of evidence, and dark suspects.

Then there’s another murder.

The Marijuana Murders is the third novel in this mystery series set in Nostalgia City, a theme park that re-creates—in every detail—a small town from the 1970s.

Buy links:  Amazon Kindle    Amazon Print

My Review

I was drawn to  this book for two reasons – its unique setting (a 1970s theme park) and the issues at the heart of the mystery – drug smuggling and the movement to legalize marijuana. The main characters, Kate and Lyle were believable and each add their own perspectives to the investigation, which takes multiple turns, with red herrings and twists along the way.   An intriguing mystery that kept me engaged throughout.

This well written novel offers readers an added value – it provides insights into the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana use, and into the complex politics of the process. In addition, the vivid descriptions of  the Nostalgia City theme park brought the novel setting to life and evoked memories of an era long past.

Content advisory: If you are offended by the use of profanity, this book might not be for you. 

FTC disclosure: I received an ARC of this novel as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Mark S. Bacon is awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click to and enter for your chance to  win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway.

To visit the other stops on this blog tour, click here.

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: GUILTY AS CHARRED by Devon Delaney

GUILTY-AS-CHARRED-BANNER-184As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post shines a spotlight on Guilty as Charred, A Cook-Off Mystery, by Devon Delaney.

About the Book

GUILTY-AS-CHARREDSherry Oliveri has attained celebrity status after winning the America’s Good Taste Recipe Contest with her delectable New England Crab Cake Sliders. But now that she’s back home in Connecticut, she’s got to deal with something else fishy . . .

Sherry’s making a guest appearance on a local radio show when the news comes in: Poppy Robinson has been found dead in the town’s community garden. Sherry was supposed to be taking questions about her win in the national cooking competition, but instead the callers start dishing dirt.

Poppy and Sherry were both involved in the vegetable garden, and while Poppy may have been a bit priggish, it wasn’t anything that called for a shovel to the back of the head. There was already trouble brewing, with the owner of the land threatening to renege on their agreement, and this murder has taken tensions to a new level. Now while Sherry’s organizing a Fourth of July cook-off event, she’s also got a murder investigation on her plate . . .

Includes Recipes from Sherry’s Kitchen!

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win one of three print copies of Guilty as Charred.

About the Author

devon-delaneyDevon Delaney is a wife, mother of three, accomplished cooking contester, recent empty nester, and lifelong resident of the Northeast. She has been handsomely rewarded for her recipe innovation over the last twenty-plus years, including a full kitchen of major appliances, top cash prizes, and four trips to Disney World. She has also won the Grand Prize in a national writing contest for her “foodie” poem “Ode to Pork Passion.”

Check out Devon’s website at: www.devonpdelaney.com and find her on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/devonpdelaney/

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

Follow the tour here for reviews, recipes, guest posts and more.

Read an excerpt:

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 1

“Ma’am, sorry to wake you, but a fellow passenger would like a pillow from the overhead compartment and your trophy is resting on it. Would you mind if I pull the statue down from its comfy spot so I can get the pillow for her?”

Sherry’s eyes opened to the sight of a stewardess hovering over her. Before Sherry could respond to the question, the woman in the blue and gold uniform removed her hand from the storage bin and waved the shiny replica of the United States map mounted on a pedestal.

“Sure,” Sherry answered as she blinked the sleep haze from her eyes.

A man seated across the aisle exclaimed, “Now that’s what I call a trophy.”

Sherry delivered a smile his way. Blushing, he elbowed the woman sporting a navel-orange-size knot of hair on the crown of her head seated beside him.

The woman gasped. “I recognize that trophy. You must be Sherry Oliveri. My husband and I were in the audience at the America’s Good Taste Cook-off and Sherry Oliveri was the name they called to receive that winning trophy. Such a fun name. I must say, even though you were sitting right there, I wouldn’t have known it was you. You don’t look familiar without your cooking apron on. Your hair looks different too. Not as stylishly coiffed as you wore it onstage.”

Sherry reached up to locate the direction her bedhead locks might have oriented themselves during her nap.

“We were so excited when our state won. And excited for you, too, of course. Can I get a picture with you? Herb, get up and take our picture, will you, please?” The woman jabbed Herb’s shoulder repeatedly with the tips of her fingers as if she were poking an avocado to test for ripeness. After Herb hauled himself out of his seat, the woman followed her husband out to the plane’s narrow aisle.

“Me too. I’d like a picture with the winner,” exclaimed a female voice in the neighboring row. She waved her hand frantically.

A man beside the waving woman catapulted out of his seat. The headphones he wore took flight and landed on one of the stewardess’s black flats. He scrambled to collect them and cozied up behind Herb in the increasing queue.

In the midst of shaking off her abbreviated nap hangover, Sherry was helped to her feet by the stewardess, who had taken the liberty of unfastening the seat belt that was the last line of defense against the gathering crowd. Sherry was handed her trophy and guided into the aisle, where she squeezed herself in amongst the bodies. She fidgeted with a snarl of hair that tumbled across her forehead, in hopes of detangling the mess, but gave up the effort when her fingers became ensnared.

She crouched down toward the line leader, whose arm stretched skyward to reach around Sherry’s shoulders.

With Sherry’s back wedged painfully against the edge of another passenger’s seat, Herb clicked his phone’s camera. He pumped his arms in triumph.

“Perfect picture. Thank you so much. My wife had us fly all the way down to Florida to watch the cook-off, and we were so tickled one of our fellow Augustinians took home the grand prize. We’ve been following your cooking career for years. Herb McDonald’s the name, and the woman clutching you like you were the sole remaining slice of bacon at the hotel’s continental breakfast is my wife, Bea. Guess I should learn to be a better cook and she’d hold me that tight more often.”

“Herb, that’s enough. Sit down so Sherry can give her other fans a chance for a picture.”

Excerpt from Guilty as Charred.  

Release Spotlight & Giveaway: FAIR GAME by Annette Dashofy

FAIR-GAME-BANNER-184As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post shines the spotlight on a the latest Zoe Chambers Mystery from Annette Dashof  – Fair Game.

About the Book

FAIR-GAMEParamedic Zoe Chambers hoped a week at the Monongahela County Fair, showing her horse and manning the ambulance, would provide a much-needed diversion from recent events that continue to haunt her.

An old friend, a bossy nemesis, and a teenage crush from her 4-H days fail to offer the distraction she had in mind. But ever the caregiver, she soon bonds with a troubled teen and a grieving father.

Back in Vance Township, a missing woman turns up dead, leading Police Chief Pete Adams into a journey through her mysterious final hours. With each new clue, the tragic circumstances of her death grow increasingly muddied.

A cryptic phone call leads Pete to join Zoe for an evening at the fairgrounds where the annual school bus demolition derby concludes with a gruesome discovery and a new case that may or may not be connected to the first.

Pete’s quest for the motive behind two homicides—and Zoe’s stubborn determination to reunite a family—thrust them both onto a collision course with a violent and desperate felon.

About the Author

Dashofy-1559-534x800Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2014 and BRIDGES BURNED was nominated for the 2015 Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel.

Author Links:

Purchase Links:   AmazonAmazon Hardcover/PaperbackB&NKoboIndieBound

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway  for a chance to win one of five print copies of Fair Game (U.S only).

For a full list of stops on this tour, click here.