Release Blitz: LAKE EFFECT by K.C. Gillis

As part of a Release Blitz organized by RABT Blog Tours and PR, today’s post turns the spotlight on Lake Effect (A Jordan Reed Mystery) by K.C. Gillis, which released today.   this sounds like an engaging read and the cover is gorgeous.

About the Book

LakeffectcoverMysterious marina accidents. Destroyed evidence. Can a tenacious reporter decipher the twisted clues at a small-town lake?

Jordan Reed is burned out from all the attention on her previous high-profile story. But when a new lead lands in her lap, she reluctantly postpones her vacation to investigate a classic New England marina. With hundreds of dead fish washing up on Copper Lake’s otherwise pristine shores, Jordan suspects a sinister cover-up.

But by the time she arrives on the scene, she’s surprised to discover the police chief eliminated every last carcass and seems hellbent on blocking her inquiries. And her search for the culprit takes a perilous turn when gambling kingpins descend on the city and a string of unexplained calamities plague the docks.

Can Jordan expose the corruption, or will she be the next to go belly-up?

Lake Effect is the second book in the fast-paced Jordan Reed mystery series. If you like steely female sleuths, gripping action, and clever twists that’ll keep you guessing, then you’ll love K.C. Gillis’s page-turning mystery.

About the Author

K.C. (Kevin) Gillis is the author of the Jordan Reed mystery series. Despite being a lifelong lover of stories and books, writing took a distant back seat as his professional career travelled through the Canadian Air Force, a decade as a chemist, followed by a long and continuing run in corporate America. With writing no longer in the back seat (but not quite yet in the front seat), Kevin now has the Jordan Reed series well underway. His personal interests focus on endurance and water sports. Having grown up in the Canadian Maritimes, he now lives in the US northeast.

Contact Links

Purchase Link:  

  • Amazon
    Read FREE With Kindle Unlimited

Other books in the Jordan Reed Mystery series:

Toxic Deception

Strange symptoms. Bloody secrets. Can one reporter solve a medical mystery before she ends up in a body bag?

Jordan Reed put her world on hold to hunt down corruption. So when the gutsy journalist gets tipped off about blood money changing hands at a pharmaceutical factory, she dives into the story. With an otherwise healthy worker dropping dead of multiple organ failure, Jordan suspects something far more sinister than a simple accident…

Buy Toxic Deception to unravel a contagious mystery today HERE!

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: KILLER DEADLINE by Lauren Carr

Tour Banner KILLER DEADLINE

As part of a blog tour organized by iRead Book Tours, I am honored to have Lauren Carr as my guest as she celebrates the release of her latest book – Killer Deadline.   Enjoy!


How Editors Are Like Hair Stylists 
by Lauren Carr

When you get too old to learn new things, then you’re old. That’s why I am always open to learning new things. I don’t want to be old.

My most recent discovery: Editors are like hair stylists.

Lauren & Muse AdjustedWhen you find a good one, never let him or her go. If forced to choose—keep your editor and divorce your spouse. My mother used to say men are like buses. Another one will come by in ten minutes. Good hair stylists whose touch makes your hair quiver and give in to their every demand—not so frequent.

It’s the same with editors who know just what to fix in your writing to make it sing to the reader.

I lost the editor I had used for several of my last books to a big publisher, who made her sign an exclusivity agreement. Since then, I’ve been having flashbacks to when I moved from the northern panhandle of West Virginia to Washington—leaving my first hair stylist behind.

Leslie found me wandering aimlessly into her shop after having been used and abused by another hairdresser who thought he could toy with my locks. Up until then, I confess, I played around—roaming from salon to salon—looking for style in all the wrong places. I was so young and naïve. Every time a stylist would whisper sweet nothings in my ear, promising to give me a look that would turn other women green with envy—I’d believe them.

After so many bad haircuts—I became hardened and cynical—believing that I had a head of hair that only a mother could love.

I still remember that last session I had with Leslie. It was raining—just like a scene in the movies—when I told Leslie that I was leaving—I cried bitter tears of heartache and swore that I’d never forget her. Still, to this day, I remember the look in her eyes when she said to me, “Do you want hair spray?”

God got me for leaving Leslie high and dry like that. I’d suffered the shame of bad haircuts for five long miserable years.

When my editor left me, I once again felt that sense of loss. Whatever shall I do? Wherever shall I go?

To which she replied, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. They’re giving me full benefits, including a 401K and healthcare.”

I bit my knuckle and collapsed to the floor.

When the edited manuscript for my latest mystery came back from my new editor, I once again suffered horrible memories of when those cheap stylists had their way with my hair—leaving it dry, with all the life sucked out of it.

Tears came to my eyes as I stroked the screen of my laptop, whispering comforting words to my book. “That’s okay. I still love you. We’ll get this mess sorted out. This horrid experience will be nothing but a distant memory—eventually.”

It’s been a growing experience. Just because someone has lovely hair, that doesn’t mean they’re a hair stylist. Likewise, just because someone reads a lot and picks up mistakes in books, does not make them an editor.

Also, in the same way that not all good hair stylists are a good fit for every client, not all good editors are a good fit for every writer. I have worked with many editors—even some very good ones, who just weren’t a good fit for me—for whatever reason. My previous editor (sob) grew to know my style. Her strengths complemented my weaknesses and she knew exactly how far to go and what to leave.

Once again, I was out there— wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’. Plannin’ and dreamin’—that Santa Claus will bring me an editor for Christmas.

Note: Before everyone sends me names of their neighbor’s nephew who happens to be available for editing, I do have a new one lined up for my next Mac Faraday. But, if this relationship doesn’t pan out, then maybe I can meet him for happy hour.


About the Book

killer deadline eBook coverFolks in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, claim that where Nikki Bryant goes, trouble is not far behind. Her refusal to back down from a challenge has made Nikki Bryant a top investigative journalist.

When an online friend nudges her to join him in a pact to reconnect with their first loves, Nikki and her boxer dog Elmo leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the charming town of Pine Grove. There, she must face the biggest challenges in her career and life—the first love she had left behind and her father’s unsolved murder.

But before she has time to unpack her car, Nikki stumbles upon the dead body of local news anchor, Ashleigh Addison, her childhood rival. Could Ashleigh’s death be connected to an explosive news story that she had teased about airing live? Did that explosive story have anything to do with the murder of Nikki’s father?With the clues in her father’s cold case hot again, Nikki intends to  chase down the story of her life until she catches his killer—no matter what it takes.

Buy link:  Amazon.com

Add to Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

About the Author

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

Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist.

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

​A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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

Review & Giveaway: FLIGHT RISK by Cara Putnam

As part of a virtual tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading a pre-release copy of  Flight Riskan engaging thriller by Cara Putnam.

About the Book

flight-risk-by-cara-putman-978-0785233275-coverSavannah Daniels has worked hard to build her law practice, to surround herself with good friends, and to be the loyal aunt her troubled niece can always count on. But since her ex-husband’s betrayal, she has trouble trusting anyone.

Jett Glover’s father committed suicide over a false newspaper report that ruined his reputation. Now a fierce champion of truth, Jett is writing the story of his journalism career—an international sex-trafficking exposé that will bring down a celebrity baseball player and the men closest to him, including Savannah’s ex-husband.

When Jett’s story breaks, tragedy ensues. Then a commercial airline crashes, and one of Savannah’s clients is implicated in the crash. Men connected to the scandal, including her ex, begin to die amid mysterious circumstances, and Savannah’s niece becomes an unwitting target.

Against their better instincts, Jett and Savannah join ranks to sort the facts from fiction. But can Savannah trust the reporter who threw her life into chaos? And can Jett face the possibility that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life?

My Review

This is a fast moving legal thriller that combines mystery, suspense, and romance while taking on difficult topics – journalistic integrity and human trafficking – and complex family relationships.

Savannah is a strong intelligent woman, whose family relationships are complex (and unusual). She relies on her faith to cope with difficult situations.  A successful patent lawyer, her latest case involves a technology related to the aircraft industry.  When a plane goes down with her ex-husband on it, Savannah (and this reader) can’t help wondering whether it is merely a coincidence.  And so the questions begin.

Jett, on the other hand, is a self-righteous journalist with very strong feelings about “fake news” – he is determined to report nothing but the truth.  Jett has published an expository piece on Savannah’s ex and his pals – making accusations that she has trouble accepting at face value.  Given their conflicting opinions, it is no surprise that these two main characters disagree, despite the strong undercurrent of sexual tension between the two.  Nonetheless, the two find they need to work together to discover the truth.

There is much more to this story than initially meets the eye.  Surprises abound as the story unravels – with enough suspense to keep the pages turning way past my bedtime.

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Putman and Thomas Nelson. There will be 2 winners. Each winner will receive a set of three (3) print copies by Cara Putman.

About the Author

flight-risk-by-cara-putman-978-0785233275-Cara Putman is the author of more than twenty-five legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, completed her law degree at twenty-seven, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.

Visit her at:
CaraPutman.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter – @Cara_Putman, & Facebook – Cara.Putman!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Visit the tour page for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Review: ALL WASHED UP by Joanna Campbell Slan

With the Coronavirus  news prompting me or and more to escape into reading, I am devouring books.  At record speed.  Today’s post features one of the books I recently read.  All Washed Up is the third book in the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series by Joanna Campbell Slan.

About the Book*

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Cara Mia thought she found a sculpture of a mermaid in the sand…and then it moved! Rescuing a half-drown immigrant was not what she wanted on her morning walk.

Stuart, Florida. Was it the right thing to do? Will the woman survive? And if she does, will she be okay? Or was she better off dead? And where are all the other immigrants who made the perilous ocean voyage with her?

Someone is behind all these beached landings of immigrants. Cara might have uncovered a human trafficking scheme. To trace these soggy deaths back to the source will take every bit of Cara’s courage, plus a lot of help from her cranky grandfather. And then her son gets involved.

Suddenly it’s Cara’s family that’s at risk as a run-in with deadly coyotes threatens to destroy everything and everyone Cara loves. How could one good deed go so badly wrong?

*from Amazon webpage

My Review

Cara has this bad habit of finding dead bodies. It’s not her fault. It just happens and it draws her into the role of amateur sleuth as a result. Young and making it on her own in her new home on an island in the Florida keys, she is aided in her detecting efforts by good friends and her grandfather, Poppy. Poppy is a quirky character – and a good guy with a secret past that becomes apparent as the story unfolds. The plot is an interesting one that touches on tough social issues while remaining a “cozy” read. All in all, an enjoyable, fast-paced read.

Enjoy!

Guest Post & Giveaway: A SMALL TOWN CAN BE #MURDER by Julie Seedorf

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book tours, I am pleased to have Julie Seedorf as my guest today as she celebrates the recent release of A Small Town Can be #Murder.  Julie’s post shares insights into the motivations that shaped her writing over the years.


Thoughts on Writing, Julie Seedorf

I am not an award-winning writer. I don’t know if I could be an award-winning writer. The fact is, I have never applied for any awards and my publishing companies are small publishers that do not have the bank accounts that big publishers have to pay for entry fees. To be honest, neither do I.

jseedorfBut also to be honest, awards are not the reason I write. I write for a variety of reasons. It started with a diary when I was young. I recorded all my hopes, my dreams and my crushes and my first kiss. I was lucky enough that creative writing was part of the curriculum my junior year in high school. Thank you Jim Colletti. It was a class where I got my first A+ and I loved it. I might mention I wasn’t a straight-A student unless I liked a subject. Don’t tell my grandkids.

As I entered my young adult years, I turned to poetry and recorded my feelings that way. Here is an example.

Confusion

Confusion! 
A massive blur of jumbled thoughts
All swirling around in the tiny area of my brain
Until I think I can stand it no more.
Surely I will burst with such confusion.
Round and round and round
Thoughts that don’t make sense.
Words and more words
Twisted and jumbled until the truth is lost.
Was the truth there in the first place?
Questions without answers.
Memories and emotions drowning all reason.
Logic and common sense – unbelievable.
You don’t want to believe them.
Faith and trust lost?
How? Why? Because?
Swirling, turning thoughts
Until finally there is no way to turn.
No one to go to.
Just you
And doubts
And hurt
But still love,
Love ruling the mass of confusion
Until the hurt grows
And the tears fall
And
You pray.

© Julie Seedorf  2020

I left it as is from my notebook written fifty years ago by me, a young woman churning out her feelings at the time.

I can say I dreamed of being an author because my love of books started when I was young thanks to my mother. She loved books too although she was so busy taking care of me, my dad, her mother, plus her brothers and two households. My mother also worked in their shoe store taking care of the bools and the ordering and because of her schedule I never saw her reading anything except the paper, but she always made sure I had books. There were only school libraries in my youth so any books were ones that were purchased for me from the drugstore which carried books.

Again, to be honest I never considered a career in writing seriously  because of fear that I wasn’t good enough, and it was very hard to get a publishing company to accept your work.

Fast forward to my almost senior citizen years. It was possible to self publish with Amazon. It was possible to find small publishing companies that would offer you a contract if they liked your work. On a wing and a prayer I sent my manuscript in and my new career in writing began. I might mention that by that time I had been a newspaper columnist for years because I found I have an opinion and occasionally people wanted to hear it.

I also must admit there are times I am envious of seeing those awards when others post, such as a New York Times best-selling author. I absolutely don’t know how to achieve that and that takes me back to my opening paragraph. I don’t write for awards. I write to make people laugh and take them away from the world. I write because I have wacky ideas and wacky mysteries in my head and they fuel my creativity that helps me get out a depression or sad times. I write because I am passionate about something and I want to touch other people’s lives and make them feel better. I write because I have to still the constant whirling of words in my brain.

Along the way I read and discover award-winning authors that have no awards posted on their books, but they should. It is a sea of books out there and to be found is like looking for a certain grain of sand on the beach with the author hoping when the waves clear the sand, their special grain will sparkle and be noticed.

Don’t feel bad for me. I am where the grace of God has placed me and if I touch one heart or make one person feel better for a short time than that is my award and reward.


About A Small Town Can Be #Murder

image1You have all heard the story: big-city girl moves to small town and lives happily ever after. That’s not the forever-after Angel Delaight found when she moved to Whistle Stop, Minnesota. First her realtor is found dead in her new house, which is also rumored to be haunted. Then homeless animals began showing up at her door, along with a bevy of townspeople who seem to know what she is doing at all times. Not to mention a secret journal turning up during renovation, revealing more secrets hidden in this small community.

Will those secrets from the past put Angel’s life and those of her friends and family in danger? When the big-city girl meets a small town, it can be murder.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy of A Small Town Can Be #Murder.

About the Author

A Bit About Me As An Impassioned Writer

As human beings, we are always a work in progress. From birth to death we live, hurt, laugh, cry, feel, and with all of those emotions we grow as people, as family members, and as friends. I am a dreamer and feel blessed to have the opportunity in my writing to pass those dreams on to others. I believe you are never too old to dream and to turn those dreams into a creative endeavor. I live in rural Minnesota and I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I have worn many hats throughout my life such as working as a waitress, nursing home activities person, office manager and finally a computer repair person eventually owning my own computer sales and repair business. I never forgot my love of writing and quit my computer business in 2012 after signing a contract with Cozy Cat Press for Granny Hooks A Crook, the first book in my Fuchsia, Minnesota Series.

Adding five more books to the Fuchsia Series, adding a Brilliant, Minnesota Series and writing a column for local newspapers feeds my writing creativity. This year the Whistle Stop series was born. Small towns have my heart and I hoped to convey that in my new series.

I also dabble a bit in watercolor painting and hope to eventually add pictures to my children’s book series, Granny’s In Trouble.

Oh, and did I tell you I like to be a little bit silly.

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon – KoboBarnesandNoble.comSmashwordsApple – Skype Bridge Publishing

Click here to follow the tour for reviews, guest posts and more.

Review: A CONSPIRACY OF BONES by Kathy Reichs

I confess. I am a long time fan of Kathy Reichs’s writing and the Temperance Brennan series.  I haven’t read all the books in the series but I have read a fair number of them, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read an ARC of A Conspiracy of Bones when it became available on Net Galley.  I wasn’t disappointed.

51gx80rymrlAbout the Book*

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue, working mostly outside the system. That’s because Tempe’s new boss holds a fierce grudge against her and is determined to keep her out of the case. Tempe bulls forward anyway, even as she begins questioning her instincts. But the clues she discovers are disturbing and confusing. Was the faceless man a spy? A trafficker? A target for assassination by the government? And why was he carrying the name of a child missing for almost a decade?

With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes…

*from Amazon webpage

My Review

This well written thriller features Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, who is drawn into a puzzling case by external forces, despite being effectively shut out by the woman in charge of the Charlotte ME’s office. Although coping with some major health issues, her sense of determination remains strong and she works the case on the sly, with help from her friends.  The fast-paced plot  is complex and integrated a fair number of twists and surprises before the mystery is resolved.

In this book, the author shows us a more vulnerable side of Temperance, while highlighting just enough of her past experiences to help us understand how her character was shaped.  I think it’s amazing how Reichs has managed to create a character that continues to develop and evolve, even 19 books into the series. Kudos to an exceptional author.

FTC disclosure:  I received an advanced review copy of this book prior to its publication.  This has not affected the content of my review.

Review & Excerpt: DANGEROUS GROUND by Susan Hunter

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As part of a book tour organized by Partners in Crime, I recently had the pleasure of reading Dangerous Ground by Susan Hunter, the sixth book in this talented author’s Leah Nash Mystery series.

About the Book

dangerous-ground-susan-hunter-NEWA Murder Among Friends …

Everyone is anxious to connect with actor Ryan Malloy when he returns to town for his 15-year high school reunion. Everyone except crime writer Leah Nash. She doesn’t have many fond memories of Himmel High’s golden boy. But it turns out she’s not the only one who isn’t a fan. Before the weekend is over, Ryan Malloy is murdered.

The hard-headed but soft-hearted Leah is unwillingly drawn into investigating his death by the pleading of Ryan’s terminally ill mother. She soon discovers that Ryan’s self-absorbed journey through life trampled on the dreams of a number of people. His old girlfriend, his best friend, his own brother, a local businessman—there’s no shortage of suspects—or secrets. But the solution eludes Leah, until the past and the present collide in a dangerous confrontation that threatens one life and ends another.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read an excerpt from Dangerous Grounds.

My Review

Leah Nash is a no-nonsense woman with a strong drive to make sure the actual culprit is charged with murder instead of the most obvious fall guy.  Her background in journalism makes her a skilled investigator and she’s not shy about asking questions. As she learns more about Ryan, a surprisingly wide range of persons with a motive for murder emerge.

Leah’s personality shines through in this first-person narrative – including her doubts about herself.    The plot twists kept me wondering, and the final resolution was pretty much a surprised.   A well-written, fast-paced, and enjoyable read.

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

About the Author

dangerous-ground-susan-hunter-authorSusan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.
Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers, and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.

During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, looking for clues, stopping for a meal at the Elite Cafe, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain’s Bar and Grill.

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On:

LeahNashMysteries.comGoodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

I parked my bike just inside the cemetery gates. It took only a few steps down the tree-lined path for the heat and humidity of a mid-summer Wisconsin day to slide away into the cool dark shade. Overhead, the soft murmur of thousands of leaves stirring in the light breeze accompanied me as I walked slowly toward my sister’s grave. Both of my sisters are buried in the cemetery just a few miles outside of Himmel, Wisconsin. My father is as well. But today it was Annie I’d come to visit.

My heart beat a little faster as I neared the gravesite. I’m not afraid of the dead. It’s the memories they leave behind that haunt me. Quiet Annie with her soft voice and big blue eyes, too shy to join the other laughing, shouting kindergarteners at recess—but the first to run over to comfort a little boy struggling not to cry on the first day. Imaginative Annie, commandeering our wide front porch as a sailing ship for her and her cat, Mr. Peoples, to travel around the world. Kind-hearted Annie, sharing her Halloween candy with me when I’m forced to surrender my own treats as penalty for talking back. Sweet, brave, compassionate, eight-year-old Annie, who ran into a burning house to save Mr. Peoples twenty-two years ago, and never came back.

Over all the years since, people—my mother, my aunt, my therapist (yes, I went that route once), my best friend—have reassured me that her death wasn’t my fault, that I was just a child. But, I was older. I should have been watching over her. I should have seen her slipping back to the house after we’d all escaped. In my deep heart’s core, I can’t ever forget that.

Now and then, and always on her birthday, I go to the cemetery to see her. I know that she isn’t really there. But her grave is an anchoring spot for me. I catch her up on the good, the bad, and the ugly happenings in my life. She knows what hurts me, and she knows what frightens me—secrets I don’t share with anyone else. I tell her what our mother is up to, and how others she knew in life are doing. I say all the things to her that I would if she were still here. I try to make up for the fact that I’m alive, and she isn’t. But, of course, I never can.

When I’m talking to her at the cemetery, it feels as though she can really hear me. And I know that she answers. Not right there, at the grave, but later, in unexpected ways. Sometimes, I hear Annie speak to me through a chance remark a stranger makes, or a phrase that leaps out at me from a book, or a sudden flash of insight on a problem I’m wrestling with. I don’t share that belief with very many people. If I did, I might be forced to resign my membership in the Doubting Thomas Society, to which all good journalists should belong. But I can’t accept that those occurrences are just coincidental. I really can’t.

So, on the anniversary of her birth, once again I sat down on the bench in front of her grave and told her how sorry I was that she had died. That I hadn’t saved her. That I still missed her. And then I told her what was really going on in the seemingly successful life of Leah Nash, former small-town reporter, current true crime author, and soon-to-be business failure.

***

When I say I talk to Annie, I mean that literally. I have a one-sided, out-loud conversation with her, though only when I’m sure I’m alone. Some people already think I’m crazy. No need to give them additional proof. On this particular day, I had a serious problem weighing on my mind.

Not long before, I had made what seemed, at the time, like a brilliant decision. The Himmel Times Weekly, the paper where I’d started out in journalism, and where I’d found a home again after a self-inflicted career injury, was closing. I decided to buy it. I asked a wealthy, community-minded, local attorney, Miller Caldwell, to invest with me. And then I asked a lot of other people—reporters, an editor, stringers, office and sales staff—to work very hard, for very little money, in the hope that together we could keep the Himmel Times alive.

It was exhilarating at first. But it had become an increasing source of anxiety for me. Just as we were getting off the ground, Grantland County Online, a digital-only news site (and I use the term “news” loosely), had gotten a major infusion of capital and a new publisher. Now GO News, as it’s more commonly known, was kicking our butt.
“The scariest thing, Annie,” I said, “is that we’re barely keeping our heads above water, while GO News keeps getting bigger. They don’t have the expenses we do—no print edition, no delivery costs, and they don’t spend a lot of staff time fact-checking. Plus, they started Tea to GO. Did you know that the cool kids say, ‘spill the tea,’ when they mean ‘what’s the gossip?’

“Tea to GO is full of ‘What married school official was seen in Milwaukee with a very attractive staff member last Thursday night? Did we say late, last Thursday night?’ That kind of garbage. It’s almost all blind items—the better to avoid lawsuits, my dear. But people are eating it up. Every time you go into the Elite Café, someone is trying to figure out who the latest gossip is about.”

I paused for a bit of a wallow in self-pity. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried to shake things up at the Times, to get us moving ahead, but so far nothing I’d done had made much difference.

“We have a good team. Miguel is much happier since he gave up the managing editor job. He really didn’t like bossing people. And Maggie McConnell is doing great in that spot. She’s got the instincts, the skills, and forty-five years in the news business behind her. If she could only spin straw out of gold, she’d be perfect. But since she can’t, we’re making do with a budget so lean it might as well be made out of turkey burger.

“I gave Allie Ross—you remember, I told you about her. She’s the high school kid we’ve been using as a stringer. Anyway, I gave her a part-time job for the summer in the office. She’s doing the routine stuff, obits and inside pages copy—weddings, anniversaries, club news. She’s got promise, but she’s only fifteen. Troy, the other reporter besides Miguel, is a little bit of a suck-up—and his news judgment isn’t quite there yet. Still, he’s a hard worker. The stringers are a pretty mixed bag.

“Now, here’s a twist I bet you didn’t see coming. I hired Mom to take April Nelson’s place as office manager. I know, I know, it’s a dicey move. But she’s smart, and efficient, and she gets the job done. Plus, she comes cheap. It’s been a little challenging, I admit. Remember when I used to get mad at her and say, ‘You’re not the boss of me!’ and she’d send me to my room?

“Well, now I’m the boss of her, only I don’t get to send her to her room. Yes, OK, I’m not supposed to be doing the day-to-day. That’s Maggie’s job. I understand that. But I can’t just hide away in my office and write my next book if the paper is falling apart two floors below me, can I?

“Everybody took a leap of faith when we reopened the Times, and everyone is putting everything they have into it. I can’t let them down. I have to find a way to keep us afloat. I just didn’t know it would be so hard, Annie.”

I paused for a breath before I wrapped things up.

“And then there’s Gabe. I don’t know. I like him as well—no, probably better than—anyone I’ve gone out with in a long time. He makes me laugh, and he’s really smart. And he likes strong women who speak their minds. In my experience, a lot of men don’t. So what’s the problem, right? Well, it’s not exactly a problem. It’s more that I’m afraid a problem might be coming. Lately, it feels like he’s pushing me a little, like for a commitment or something. Can’t we just enjoy each other? Can’t we just be without getting all serious, and defining things, and making plans? I don’t want to change things. That’s when things go bad, when you try to change them.”

I slumped back against the bench with a sigh. Usually, when I lay everything out to Annie, it makes the issues seem a little more manageable. This time it all still felt overwhelming.

Then, a voice spoke.

***

Fortunately for my mental health, it wasn’t Annie’s. I turned and looked behind me.

“Coop! How long have you been standing there?” I asked, trying to remember exactly what I’d said out loud. It’s not that Coop and I have major secrets. He’s my best friend, after all. Still, I don’t tell him everything I tell Annie.

“Long enough,” he said with a grin that didn’t offer me much comfort. I tried to move the conversation away from my chat with Annie, particularly the Gabe part.

“What are you doing here?”

“Your mom said you were here. I called your cell, but it didn’t go through.”

“Yeah. It’s a dead zone—pun totally intended—in the cemetery, except for the hill. What did you want?”

“Nothing. I brought something for Annie.”

I looked down at his right hand and saw that he carried a small pot of pink flowers. Pink was Annie’s favorite color. Tears sprang to my eyes. I quickly blinked them away.

“That’s so nice. Why?”

He shrugged. “I know what today is.”

I’m all about keeping my tough outer shell polished, but I was so touched, I couldn’t keep up the facade. “You’re a pretty great friend, you know that?”

He smiled, but he looked embarrassed, and tried to cover it by moving to put the flowers next to Annie’s headstone.

“Did you really come just to put flowers on Annie’s grave?”

“No, not just for Annie. I took some to Rebecca, too.” He was kneeling, positioning the flowers, with his back to me. I couldn’t see his expression.

“Oh.”

Rebecca had been Coop’s wife and my nemesis until she was killed last year. I wasn’t happy that Coop had lost someone he loved, but I couldn’t pretend I was sorry she was gone. She’d done everything she could to break up our twenty-year friendship and came close to succeeding. I couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her. So, I employed the Thumper rule, and didn’t say anything.

Coop apparently didn’t want to get into the subject of Rebecca either, because as he stood and turned to me, he said, “I’ll walk out with you. I’ve got my truck. We can throw your bike in the back and you can ride home with me.”

“Yes, please. I didn’t realize it was so hot. I just about sweated to death pedaling out here.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” he said, taking in my damp, bedraggled hair, slipping from its hair clip, and the beads of moisture coalescing into a river of sweat running down the side of my forehead. “You kind of look like you just took a shower.” He sniffed the air, “Except you don’t have that shower-fresh scent.”

“Shut up,” I said. “I’m a head-sweater from way back. Deal with it.” I smiled though, because there’s something very nice and very easy being with a person who really doesn’t care how you look—or in the present situation—smell.

We walked together in companionable silence, until I’d decided he hadn’t heard any of my one-sided conversation with Annie. That dream died in the next minute.

“So, what’s going on with you and Gabe? He’s a nice guy, Leah. You’re not getting ready to toss him overboard, too, are you?”

“No. Why would you say that? And what do you mean by ‘too’?”

“You really want to go there?” He cocked an eyebrow. It’s a not very funny running joke between Coop and my mother that I always find a reason to cut my romances short.

“No, I don’t. I thought you didn’t believe in illegal surveillance, and what do you call lurking around cemeteries where people are having a private conversation? It’s nothing. Really.”

He looked at me for a second, but all he said was, “OK.”

Our conversation was cut off as a tall woman in her fifties, her hair pulled back and hanging in a long, gray braid down her back, appeared and abruptly crossed the path in front of us.

“Hello, Marcy,” I said.

She looked up as though surprised we were there.

“Leah. Coop.” She nodded but didn’t stop to talk. We knew where she was going. To the top of the hill on which sat a small granite building that resembled an ancient Greek temple. The family mausoleum held Marcy’s grandparents, her own mother, and Marcy’s baby daughter, Robin. One day, it would hold Marcy, too.

We watched in silence as she reached the building, pulled a key out of her pocket, unlocked the door, and slipped inside, like a ghost gliding through a wall. It had been sixteen years since Marcy White’s baby had died, and she still came every week. People said she brought a different book each time and read it to Robin. They said it like it was something weird, or even crazy. Not me, though. I understood why she did it.

“You know what, Coop?” I asked, as we continued on down the path.

“What?”

“I’m calling bullshit on death.”

***
Excerpt from Dangerous Ground by Susan Hunter. Copyright 2019 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved..

 

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Review & Giveaway: BITTER ALPINE by Mary Daheim

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Bitter Alpine, a new release by Mary Daheim.

About the Book

New year, new murder . . . Emma Lord is on the case when death finds its way back to the wintry mountain town of Alpine.

BITTER-ALPINEAfter a relatively calm and cozy holiday season, neither Emma Lord, editor and publisher of The Alpine Advocate, nor her husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, are surprised when their new year gets off to a rocky start. A woman’s body has been found in a squalid motel. Her driver’s license shows that Dawn Purvis was in her late thirties and lived in Weaverville, California—and the only connection between that town and Alpine is their gold-mining and logging origins. When they discover that Dawn’s room reservation was open-ended, Emma, Milo, and the ever-inquisitive Advocate receptionist, Alison Lindahl, are more than mildly curious. And never mind that the youthful Alison is a bit distracted by the new county extension agent’s virile good looks. She can still sleuth while she stalks her newest crush.

But that’s not all the news that’s unfit to print. There’s something strange about the older couple who have moved into the cabin down the road that was once owned by a murder victim. The elderly wife seems anti-social. There’s got to be a reason, which Emma, Milo, and Alison intend to find out—even if it puts them in deadly danger.’

My Review

Emma Lord runs the local newspaper in a quaint resort town in Washington state, giving her a natural instinct for tracking down a story and rooting out the truth about the identity of the deceased and the reasons that led to her demise.  Emma is married to the Sheriff, who sometimes shares info and sometimes doesn’t.  This was the first time I read anything by this author, and perhaps I would have appreciated the characters more if I had read earlier books and they had been “old friends” of mine – despite the sprinkling of references to previous murders/cases in Emma’s past.  Although the pace of the narrative was steady, I’d have liked to see more tension/action. This is a read mostly likely to be enjoyed by fans of the Emma Lord mysteries who will enjoy the trip down memory lane.

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

Giveaway

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About the Author

MARY-DAHEIMMary Daheim is the author of the Alpine mystery series. A Seattle native with a degree in communication from the University of Washington, she realized at an early age that getting a book published might elude her for years, so she began her writing career working on daily newspapers. The mother of three daughters, she lives in a century-old house in her hometown.

Author Website – https://www.marydaheimauthor.com/
Purchase Links – Amazon  –   B&N   –   Kobo

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Review & Giveaway: LATE FOR DINNER by M.K. Scott

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As part of a virtual book tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, today’s post highlights M.K. Scott’s The Way Over the Hill Gang mystery series, and includes my review of the first book in the series – Late for Dinner.

About the Book

latefordinner-lrg-400x600_origMarcy Collins proved her investigative skills in the field time and time again, but after an accident leaves her disabled, she’s forced into early retirement in a senior convalescent center. Although her mind and body may not be what they used to be, her steadfast determination to fight crime and advocate for victims continues.

When her well-meaning former partner is assigned with helping to keep her mind agile, he unknowingly inspires her to search for clues in a long-forgotten cold case. Before he knows what’s happening, Marcy assembles a team of sharp-eyed, witty, and often cantankerous senior sleuths to bring a criminal to justice and help her regain some of what she thought she’d lost for good.

Follow the former detective and her team of unconventional sleuths as they dig through the clues and wind their way down a treacherous path of deception, tomfoolery, and murder!

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My Review

The name of the series is great, it also an accurate description of the ragtag team of amateur sleuths put together by Marcy, a former police detective.  Marcy, on the other hand, is not a senior citizen; she has been sidelined due to injuries and is recuperating in retirement home of sorts.  Trying to solve cold cases is her way of staying in the game.  The seniors are thrilled to have something exciting to do, with each of them making their own contribution to solving the case.  Just goes to show the benefits of pooling the diverse perspectives and experiences that  come with maturity.

The result was an entertaining read, with a somewhat surprising conclusion.  I look forward to following the “gang” as they take on more cold cases in the future.

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

About The Way Over the Gang Series

The adventures of The Way Over the Hill Gang continue in the following books:

lateforbingo-lrg-400x600_origLate for Bingo 

The Way over the Hill Gang is back at it again! This time their mission is to find justice for a slain single mother, but this cold case proves to be more complicated than they initially believe.

With little to go on, no resources, and a limited amount of time to search for answers, can they crack this long-forgotten case and bring the murderer to justice?

Late for Shuffleboard

lateforshuffleboard-lrg-400x600_origThe senior sleuths are hot on the trail of a veteran’s murderer and a missing dog in a cold case that’s raising eyebrows and causing a stir in their tightknit community.

The clock is ticking. Only a few short days before the victim’s home is razed and all the potential evidence is wiped clean.  With new complications at every turn, the Senior Sleuths feel the heat as the impossible deadline approaches.

Can they close this case before the truth is buried for good?

Late for Square Dancing

lateforsquaredancing-kindle-1-400x600_origA missing woman. A surprising suspect. A curious conundrum.

The senior sleuths have a knack for sniffing out trouble, but when a missing woman cold case falls in their laps, all hands must be on deck to solve it. Unfortunately, this case hits a little too close to home, and quickly becomes an active case with dire consequences if they’re not careful.

To complicate matters, Heloise is planning an authentic barn dance for the residents of Greener Pastures Convalescent Center. She needs the senior sleuths’ help, and that means they must forgo their investigation.

The group will have to employ their best tactics to stay under the radar to root out the true culprit and avoid a barn dance disaster.

About the Author

M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands on approach. Morgan’s daughter, who manages a hotel, provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog. Murder Mansion is the first book in The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Overall, it is a fun series to create and read.

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Spotlight: STANDING OUR GROUND by Bill Percy


As part of a blog tour organized by RABT Book Tours, today’s post introduces Standing Our Ground, a recently released murder mystery by Bill Percy.

About the Book

Standing-Our-GroundA cold-blooded murder. The victim: A fourteen-year-old boy. The shooter waits patiently for the cops and calmly explains his right to kill the boy. “I was defending my property.” Can Deputy Andi Pelton find the evidence to break through the killer’s stand-your-ground defense? Suddenly, Sheriff Ben Stewart almost dies and cannot campaign for re-election. Andi knows she must take his place—her nemesis, Deputy Brad Ordrew, runs unopposed and he’s promised to fire her when he’s sheriff. Can she stand her own ground to stay in Monastery Valley while she tries to solve the murder and defends herself against scurrilous political ads paid for by a mysterious stranger?

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Other books in the Monastery Valley Mystery Series:

climbingClimbing the Coliseum
Monastery Valley, Book 1
It’s the rugged Monastery Valley of Montana. High on the cliff called the Coliseum stands a man, deciding whether to live or die. In the valley below, Grace Ellonson, fourteen, will be abandoned by her mother. Where has Grace’s mother gone, and why has she left her daughter behind? A rancher will be seduced into a racist and anti-government conspiracy—who’s leading the conspiracy and what are his plans? Depressed psychologist Ed Northrup and Monastery Valley newcomer deputy sheriff Andi Pelton struggle to unravel these mysteries before they explode in a violent collision. And amid the chaos, Ed, Andi, and Grace must face the most formidable decision of their lives.

Nobody’s Safe Here
nobodyMonastery Valley, Book 2
When cattle baron Magnus Anderssen collapses mentally, psychologist Ed Northrup struggles to find the cause – a terrible event buried in Magnus’s past leaving him veering between suicide and murder. Meanwhile, Deputies Andi Pelton and Brad Ordrew clash as they investigate Jared Hansen, a boy caught with rifles and a paranoid plan to kill his schoolmates. Their problem? Jared, a great kid, a school leader, has no previous problems. Ordrew’s convinced Jared’s a mass shooter-in-waiting, but Andi’s not. Ed joins their search for whatever caused his radical transformation from great kid to psychotic killer. It’s a race against time: Magnus grows more irrational and homicidal, Jared’s insanity may not be controlled before it’s too late, and Ed’s risky plan to save the boy may destroy his relationship with Andi. Nobody’s Safe Here, a psychological thriller, tells the story of a community of ordinary, decent people facing terrifying mysteries.
 
The Bishop Burned the Lady
bishopMonastery Valley, Book 3
A mysterious fire in a remote forest clearing; a woman’s charred bones; unexplained tracks in the rutted road—the only clues Deputy Andi Pelton has to what happened. Then she meets an old man living alone in a forest compound that obviously houses many people. Sex trafficking in the Montana wilderness? As Andi and psychologist Ed Northrup struggle to solve the brutal and fiery murder, Andi faces a fear she didn’t know she had. The horrors they unearth lead them deep into the appalling reality of prison gangs and a cult led by a malign Bishop—and threaten to overwhelm Andi and Ed’s romance and her growing bond with her “step-girlfriend,” Ed’s adopted daughter, Grace. Will that center hold when Andi finds the killer holding a knife against her throat? And if it does and she succeeds, will she be able to face her greater fear?

About the Author

Bill Percy, an award-winning novelist, draws on his experiences as a psychotherapist to write vivid, engaging tales of people confronting painful and challenging mysteries. His previous novels in the Monastery Valley series, Climbing the Coliseum, Nobody’s Safe Here, and The Bishop Burned the Lady, were finalists or distinguished favorites in multiple book award competitions. Bill lives with his wife, Michele, in Hope, Idaho, above the shore of idyllic Lake Pend Oreille in the shadow of the rugged Cabinet Mountains.

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