Review: DOG COLLAR CRIME by Adrienne Giordano

I recently downloaded and read Dog Collar Crime: Misadventures of a Frustrated Mob Princess, the first of six books in the Lucie Rizzo Mystery series by Adrienne Giordano.  It’s not a recent release but definitely made for a fun read and gave me a chance to try a new (to me) author.

Description

5130ondwyklOut of work and down on her luck, Lucie Rizzo is forced to do the one thing she’s long avoided—come home to her nutty, mob-infested family. A move that brings her back into the tempting arms of Frankie Falcone, the smoldering Italian ex who’s no stranger to living with the mob.

When Lucie parlays her temporary dog-walking gig into a legit career, Frankie becomes her number one supporter. Suddenly, shaking her mob princess reputation doesn’t seem so crazy…until three of her clients are dogjacked.

Despite help from the on-again, off-again Mr. Fix-It in her life, Lucie is thrown into a criminal conspiracy straight out of a gangster movie. One that, if she’s not careful, could leave her sleeping with the fishes.

My Review

This book has a little bit of everything romantic suspense, quirky characters, mobsters, and dogs. Lots of dogs. Adorable dogs that keep getting dognapped on Lucie’s watch.  The daughter of a mob boss, Lucie wants to have a little to do with “the life” as possible – with a legit career, and preferably in a different town.  Of course it doesn’t help that she is in love with the son of another mob boss, who doesn’t want to distance himself from his family.   The plot takes interesting and amusing twists, with plenty of laughable moments along the way. I enjoyed this book.  I’ll be adding the next book in the series to my TBR list.

Note: This book does contain some language and sexual content that readers who seek “clean reads” might find offensive.

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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

 

Review: JUST THE PITS by Jinx Schwartz

Too many books on my Kindle that I haven’t read so I decided it’s time to try and catch up a bit. I downloaded Just the Pits from Amazon a really long time ago. The 5th book in the Hetta Coffey Series by Jinx Schwartz, it’s definitely not a new release but might suit bookworms who are looking for a good mystery series with a nautical theme.

51nakv1nkklDescription (from Amazon)

As a self-employed engineering consultant with a penchant for oddball—read: shady—projects, Hetta Coffey has a history of inviting trouble. But now that she’s been hired for a legitimate mining project in Mexico’s Baja, it looks like smooth sailing ahead…until she discovers that people and pesos are disappearing faster than you can say, “This job is the pits!” And Hetta Coffey as sleuth? Goodness knows she’s nosy enough, but her detective skills leave a lot to be desired. Luckily for her she gets help from her best friend, Jan, and a mysterious Velveeta thief.

My Review

Hetta Coffey is not your typical female sleuth. She’s a civil engineer who lives on a yacht and  investigates the goings on at a mine operation in Mexico. She is a little rough around the edges with a unique outlook on life and sometimes outrageous behavior.  She and Jan are true friends, and their banter was candid and amusing.  This dog lover particularly liked that Hetta stops to pick up a starving stray dog and makes him her own.

I found the pace a bit slow at first, however looking back on the book as a whole, it was worth sticking with it.  The pace in the second half of the book was much better as the intricate plot developed and suspense intensified.   A good read for laughs, suspense and the glimpse into a lifestyle nothing like my own. 

You can get your copy on Amazon.

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!

Cozy Happenings — April 2018

This month’s “Cozy Happenings” post highlights some of the new releases, giveaways and bargains from my author friends. Hope it helps you find something great to read this month.

Recent and Upcoming Releases – Check’em Out!

First of all, I’d be remiss if I didn’t announce the upcoming release of Malicious Mischief, a new Hannah and Tamar YA cozy mystery by Christa Nardi and yours truly. Pre-order your copy today at a special introductory price.

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Free or Discounted Books
Remember: Always check prices to make sure the offer is still valid.

Sale_spiesspells  Sale_CUpcakes_Casualties
Sale-MCCCapril  Free-Doves

BTW, I may add to this list over the course of the month as I hear of new sales (and others end), so feel free to stop by and take another look. 

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

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

Description

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

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

Read an excerpt:

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

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

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

“Can I buy you a drink?”

“Uh, sure. Viognier, please.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You all right?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Stacie, what’s wrong?”

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

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

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

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

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

“So what happened?”

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

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

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

“Was he drunk?”

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

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

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

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

“Ma’am. Mrs. Noth?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure… What’s going on?”

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

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

“What time was that ma’am?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Murdered?”

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

“I came home.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“May I ask who’s calling?”

“Stacie Noth.”

“Hold on while I transfer your call.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, I can do that.”

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

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

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

 

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

About the Author

Christa Nardi is an accomplished author of cozy mysteries.

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

Connect with Christa:

Purchase Link: Amazon

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

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: THE CLOCK FLOWER by Barbara Casey

iRead Website new logoToday, as part of a tour organized by iRead Book Tours, I am happy have Barbara Casely as my guest as she celebrates the release of  The Clock Flower, the third book in the FIG Mystery Series.  I haven’t read The Clock Flower yet, but I definitely enjoyed the first book in the FIG series – The Cadence of Gypsies.  (You can find my review here.)


It’s a “Just Because”  Guest Post by Barbara Casey

All of my life I have been fascinated by those things for which there is no explanation. As a young child, I was full of questions which my grandmother was more than willing to at least try to answer. Failing that, it was just one of those “just because.” As a writer, that same fascination continues, and I often include things that have no reasonable explanation into my stories. The FIG Mystery Series is a good example.

barbara-casey_1In Book 1, The Cadence of Gypsies, I introduce the Voynich Manuscript, considered to be the most mysterious document in the world. Along with that, I add the mysterious gypsy culture that includes potions and spells that I have researched.

In The Wish Rider, Book 2 in the FIG Mystery Series, I explore the little-known area deep underground of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, a secret society that actually exists there, and the obscure language of hoboglyphs.

My latest book in this series, The Clock Flower, takes my readers to a small province in China where the research into mortality involves the simple dandelion flower, and an ancient archeological dig site reveals some of the same hoboglyph markings that were found in Grand Central Terminal’s secret underground.

Of course, my main characters—Dara, Mackenzie, and Jennifer—defy explanation given the fact that each FIG has an IQ in the genius range, and all three have developed a unique skill that enhances their coping abilities in a world where they are so different.

I truly love the FIGs and their devoted mentor, Carolina. In each book I have tried to tell their unique story and give an explanation of something that really can’t be explained. I will write one more book about them. It will be the most dramatic story of them all, and it will complete the series—just because.


About The Clock Flower

the-clock-flower-front-cover_origDara Roux, abandoned when she was seven years old by her mother. Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan. Accepted to Yale University.

Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan. Accepted to MIT.

Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was sixteen. Exceptionally gifted in music and art. Orphan. Accepted to Juilliard.

The three FIGs—Females of Intellectual Genius—as they are called, have graduated from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women after returning from New York City where Dara learned why her mother abandoned her all those years ago, and they are now attending universities where they can further their special talents. This means they will be separated from each other and from Carolina, their much-loved mentor and teacher who is “one of them,” for the first time in their young lives. They vow to try living apart for one semester, in the so-called real world that doesn’t include the orphanage; but if things don’t work out, they will come up with another plan—a plan where they can be together once again.

​Dara is invited through Yale University to take part in an exciting archeological project in China. Jennifer, once again visualizing black and white images and the unusual sounds of another cadence that seem to be connected to Mackenzie, is engrossed in creating her next symphony at Juilliard. Mackenzie, because of her genius at problem-solving, is personally chosen by a US Senator to get involved in a mysterious, secret research project involving immortality that is being conducted in a small village in China—not too far from where Dara is involved with the archeological site. Once there, however, she finds herself facing a terrifying death from the blood-dripping teeth of an ancient evil dragon. Her best friends, the FIGs and Carolina, rely on their own unique genius and special talents to save her as she discovers the truth of her birth parents.

You can buy The Clock Flower at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Clock Flower and a $10 Amazon giftcard from the publisher.

About the Author

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara is also a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband, and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author: Website

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

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

Description

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway

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

ErinJohnsonAbout the Author

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

Purchase Link – Amazon Kindle  Amazon Paperback