Review & Giveaway: THE HASIDIC REBBE’S SON by Joan Lipinsky Cochran

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read an advance review copy of The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son (A Becks Ruchinsky Mystery) by Joan Lipinsky Cochran.

About the Book

Boca Raton reporter Becks Ruchinsky is stunned when her son, Gabe, brings an ultra-Orthodox friend home from college and asks her to hide him. Six days later, his body is found floating in a canal. When police deem his death an accident, Becks launches her own inquiry—a journey that takes her from secretive Hasidic enclaves to the seedy underbelly of South Beach’s glitzy club scene—to find his killer. What she discovers jeopardizes her son’s life and challenges her religious conviction.

The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son is an intriguing and compulsively readable mystery that contrasts the beauty of Hasidic tradition with the unbending rules that may lead to desperation and murder.

This book is available on Amazon.

My Review

Becks is an independent-spirted, obstinate woman. Her natural curiousity and background in journalism lend to her pursuit of the truth regarding the young man’s death. She is unwilling to relent despite her husband’s opposition, which is but one of the issues in their troubled relationship. Her son, Gabe, suffers from Asperger’s, and the challenges he and his family face are highlighted as part of the story. At the same time, her investigation brings with it insights into the widely divergent levels of religious observance practiced by Jews in different communities, and an interesting glimpse into some of the unique aspects of the Hasidic world.

The story is both well-written and well-paced. The plot became increasingly complex as Becks gathered more and more information on Mennie’s family, friends, and overall background, with the resolution something of a surprise.

A good choice for readers who enjoy mysteries or Jewish fiction in general.

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son from the author.

About the Author

Joan Lipinsky Cochran is a South Florida-based writer whose crime and mystery novels focus on subcultures of American Judaism. In her latest novel, The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son, her protagonist is compelled to explore the glitzy South Beach nightclub scene and the secretive world of Hasidic Judaism to find a killer. It is the second in The Becks Ruchinsky Mystery Series. The first, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is the story of a woman whose world is upended – and life threatened – when she discovers her father was a member of the Jewish mafia.

Author Links

Review & Giveaway: THE INFLUENCER by Frankie Bow

As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read the most recent release from Frankie Bow – The Influencer, A Professor Molly Mystery. A nice choice for fans of cozy mysteries.

About the Book

In Which Professor Molly Learns There Is, In Fact, Such a Thing as Bad Publicity

It’s spring break. Donnie’s taken the baby to visit relatives on the mainland, and Professor Molly finally has time to catch up on the assessment paperwork she owes the Student Retention Office.

Molly’s new renter is a social media star seeking privacy in remote Mahina. The arrangement seems to be working out–until her celebrity renter disappears. Molly and her best friend Emma dutifully call in the Mahina PD and try to stay out of the way. But when fame creates its own reality distortion field, everyone has an angle and nothing is as it seems.

My Review

In this latest installment in the series, Professor Molly and best friend and partner-in-crime, Emma, are eager to help figure out what happened to a prominent social media influencer. Helped out by Pat and his new sidekick, Howdy, the team comes up with theories, which inevitable require revisions, as new details are revealed en route to the mystery’s revolution. The characters are well-defined, and include Molly’s old nemesis from the Student Retention Office. That said, I was at times distracted from the story by Emma’s frequent use of local dialect. The plot moved along at a steady pace, with just enough twists to keep curious readers on their toes.
Overall, this is a pleasant and well-written read for cozy mystery fans.

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of The Influencer (Professor Molly Mysteries) by Frankie Bow. 

About the Author

AuthorPhoto

Like Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

Author Links 

Purchase Links:
Amazon     B&N      Rakuten/Kobo      Angus & Robertson      Apple 

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

Release Spotlight & Giveaway: LONG ISLAND ICED TINA by Maria DiRico

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to celebrate the release of Long Island Iced Tina (A Catering Hall Mystery), a recent release by Maria DiRico.

About the Book

Mia Carina is back in the borough of Queens—in charge of the family catering hall, Belle View Banquet Manor, and keeping her nonna company. But some events—like murder—are not the kind you can schedule . . .

Mia’s newly pregnant friend Nicole plans to hold a shower at Belle View—but Nicole also has to attend one that her competitive (and mysteriously rich) stepmother, Tina, is throwing at the fanciest place in Queens. It’s a good chance for Mia to snoop on a competitor, especially since doing a search for “how to run a catering hall” can get you only so far.

Mia tags along at the lavish party, but the ambience suffers at Nicole’s Belle View shower when a fight breaks out—and then, oddly, a long-missing and valuable stolen painting is unwrapped by the mom-to-be. Tina is clearly shocked to see it. But not as shocked as Mia is when, soon afterward, she spots the lifeless body of a party guest floating in the marina . . .

Italian recipes included!

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a print copy of Long Island Iced Tina.

About the Author

Maria DiRico is the pseudonym for Ellen Byron, author of the award winning, USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. Born in Queens, New York, she is first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side and the granddaughter of a low-level Jewish mobster on her father’s side. She grew up visiting the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls, which were run by her Italian mother’s family in Queens and have become the inspiration for her Catering Hall Mystery Series. DiRico has been a writer-producer for hit television series like Wings and Just Shoot Me, and her first play, Graceland, appears in the Best Short Plays collection. She’s a freelance journalist, with over 200 articles published in national magazines, and previously worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. A native New Yorker who attended Tulane University, Ellen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

Excerpt & Giveaway: MURDER WITH STRINGS ATTACHED by Mark Reutlinger

As part of a book blast organized by Goddess Fish, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to a new release from Mark Reutlinger – Murder with Strings Attached. Haven’t read it yet, but it’s a sure candidate for my TBR list.

About the Book

Sometimes even the most carefully conceived burglary can take an unexpected turn. Florence Palmer has her eye on concert violinist Aaron Levy’s priceless violin. Unfortunately, she finds it’s already been stolen. Her surprise doubles when the virtuoso she’d planned to burgle offers to hire her to help him steal it back. But they’re not the only ones looking for the missing violin. When Flo inadvertently becomes the prime suspect in a case of murder, she and Aaron need to clear her name. Will they find the real killer and get the violin back to its rightful owner without anyone else, especially themselves, being killed?

Read an Excerpt

I was going to use my “one phone call” (assuming a person really gets one and that’s not just something they say in the movies) to call Aaron, but I didn’t have to bother. Almost as soon as I arrived at the police station, Aaron, who obviously had been watching developments and following the police car I was in, walked in and inquired how I might be released. Given the relatively minor nature of the charge, despite what they might actually suspect, and my clean record, despite all the burglaries they were thankfully unaware of, bail was set according to a standard schedule rather than my having to wait to see a judge the next day.

I don’t know how much it cost Aaron to bail me out, but of course whatever it was, he could well afford it; and besides, he owed it to me. After all, I was really just his employee, and surely posting bail is a standard employee benefit.

When all the necessary papers had been signed and funds transferred, Aaron and I walked out into the sunshine that I’d been afraid I wouldn’t be seeing for quite a while.

On the way to Aaron’s car, I gave him a hug and a little kiss on the cheek and thanked him for extricating me from the pokey and doing it so quickly. He looked a bit embarrassed by that, but he cleared his throat and said in his best businesslike manner:

“Okay, so why’d you shoot him, and where’d you put the violin?”

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card from the author.

About the Author

MARK REUTLINGER is an attorney and former law professor. He now writes novels in which the law is frequently broken, including his “Mrs. Kaplan” cozy mystery series (MRS. KAPLAN AND THE MATZOH BALL OF DEATH and A PAIN IN THE TUCHIS) and the political thrillers MADE IN CHINA and SISTER-IN-LAW: VIOLATION, SEDUCTION, AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (under the pen name M. R. Morgan). MURDER WITH STRINGS ATTACHED is his latest novel. He is also a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

Mark and his wife Analee live in University Place, Washington, where in addition to reading and writing he plays clarinet with the Tacoma Concert Band and enjoys tennis, biking, exotic cars, model railroading, and various arts and crafts. He has no idea where he finds the time for it all.

Buy Links:  Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Spotlight & Giveaway: RHINO CHARGE by Victoria Tait

As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today the spotlight shines on a new release from Victoria Tait – Rhino Charge: A Kenya Kanga Mystery. Sounds like a good choice for all the armchair travelers among us.

About the Book

A treacherous race to stop an extinction. A mysterious death linked to the past. Can a silver-haired sleuth track down the clues in time to save a life?

‘Mama Rose’ Hardie has always fought to conserve Kenya’s precious wildlife. Officiating at an off-road fundraising race in the iconic Maasai Mara, she’s shocked when a vehicle crash claims the life of a friend. And worse still, this was no accident…

When another friend is accused of plotting a deadly sabotage, the clever amateur sleuth vows to clear his name. But with motives between teams reaching deep into an unfortunate past, the determined woman must work fast to track down the wily killer. .

Can Rose catch the culprit before more lives are endangered?

Rhino Charge is the thrilling third tale in the Kenya Kanga cozy mystery series. If you like sharp heroines, suspenseful reveals, and iconic African settings, then you’ll love Victoria Tait’s breathtaking story.

Giveaway

Click here for your chance to win a $20 gift card from the author.

About the Author

Victoria Tait is the author of the enchanting Kenya Kanga Mystery series.  She’s drawn on her 8 years of experience living in rural Kenya, with her family, to write vivid and evocative descriptions.  Her readers feel the heat, taste the dryness, and smell the dust of Africa.  Her elderly amateur sleuth, “Mama Rose” Hardie is Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple reincarnated and living in Kenya.

Like all good military wives, Victoria follows the beat of the drum and has recently moved to war-scarred Sarajevo in Bosnia. She has two fast growing teenage boys.  She enjoys horse riding and mountain biking but is apprehensive about learning to ski.  Victoria is looking forward to the sun, sand, and seafood of neighbouring Croatia when the world returns to normal.

Author Links

Website: https://www.victoriatait.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaTait
Blog/News: https://victoriatait.com/news/
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20373879.Victoria_Tait
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/vataitauthor/

Purchase Links
Amazon – B&N – Kobo 

Visit the tour page and visit additional stops for reviews, guest posts, and more.

Spotlight & Guest Post: DEATH BY INTERMISSION by Alexis Morgan

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours to celebrate the release Death by Intermission, Alexis Morgan has stopped to tell us exactly how she feels about the characters in the Abby McCree Mystery series. Who do you think is her favorite character? Read on to find out.


PLAYING FAVORITES, by Alexis Morgan

Psst! I want to let you in on a secret, one I would never admit to Abby McCree, my amateur sleuth, or any of her friends. But the simple truth is that of all the characters in my Abby McCree Mysteries, Zeke is my absolute favorite. On the plus side, he is tall, handsome, and courageous. Sadly, he also drools, sheds like crazy, and has an unfortunate habit of mooching. Be that as it may, everything about him tugs at my heartstrings.

If you haven’t yet guessed, Zeke is Abby’s furry roommate, the ninety-five pound mastiff-mix that came with the house that Abby inherited from her favorite aunt. He’s a rescue dog with an unhappy past. However, things have vastly improved for him because he and Abby are kindred spirits in many ways. She recently went through a bit of a rough patch in her own life and was looking for a fresh start when she arrived in Snowberry Creek.

When Abby first moved into the house, she had vague intentions of staying only long enough to get the house ready to put on the market. But that was before she met Zeke. He was the first to welcome her, offering her doggy kisses and companionship. Their friendship quickly developed into something special, an unbreakable bond that now means everything to them both.

But Abby isn’t Zeke’s only friend. He is also best buddies with Tripp Blackston, the former soldier who rents the mother-in-law house on the back of Abby’s property. Tripp recently left the army after twenty years and is currently finishing his college degree. Just as Zeke helps Abby find her way in Snowberry Creek, he helps Tripp transition from the military to civilian life. The two of them patrol their territory together and take that duty seriously and with good reason. Trouble has a bad habit of showing up on their doorstep all too often. Abby is fiercely loyal to those she cares about and will stop at nothing to help them, even if it means putting herself in a killer’s crosshairs. Abby would be the first to admit that Zeke has saved her life more than once.

Zeke has also touched the lives of so many other people over the course of the series: a homeless veteran, a grief-stricken young woman, the police chief’s daughter, not to mention the police chief himself. Gage Logan often finds himself in Abby’s kitchen discussing a case as he slips treats to Zeke.

I love this dog for all of those reasons, but the real reason I love him is that he is loosely based on the two bulldogs in my real life. Remus is an English bulldog while Walter is an Olde English Bulldogge. They each weigh 45-50 pounds, so you could say I added them both together to come up with Zeke. Like them, he has jowls where he stores extra water to drip on some unsuspecting person’s slacks. Walter, in particular, is a world champion snorer. Seriously, you can hear him rumbling away through solid walls! Zeke also shares their love of doggy snacks of all kinds.

Walter and Remus don’t live with me (they’re my grand-dogs.) However, every time Zeke appears on the page, it’s like I get to spend a little time with them, and I smile. If you have a special furry (or feathery) companion in your life, I’d love to hear about them.


About the Book

Abby McCree spends a summer showing family films under the stars—only to end the season with an unexpected slasher flick . . .

Ushered once again onto another committee by the mayor of Snowberry Creek, Washington, Abby is tasked with keeping the box office receipts of the town’s Movies in the Park nights. Cut to the director’s chair from where she’s suddenly organizing the summer’s last feature. From the opening scene through the final credits, Abby feels she’s earned nominations for best volunteer, best movie date with her tenant Tripp Blackston—and best daughter for ignoring her mother Phoebe’s own movie date with Owen Quinn.

Unfortunately, Abby and the others are treated to a post-credits scene: the body of local insurance agent Mitchell Anders. This discovery is followed by a plot twist revealing that the murder weapon comes from Owen’s food truck. With her mother’s boyfriend suspected of murder, Abby starts her own investigation determined to shine a spotlight on the real killer . . .

About the Author

Alexis Morgan is the USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; contemporary romances; and cozy mysteries. A RITA® Award-finalist, Alexis Morgan is a member of RWA and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Washington State and can be found online at AlexisMorgan.com.

Author Links:
* Website – http://www.alexismorgan.com/      
* Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AMorganAuthor
* Twitter – https://twitter.com/Alexis_Morgan    
* Blog –  http://www.alexismorgan.com/snowberry/index.html 

Purchase Links: Amazon – B&N –  Kobo – GooglePlay  –  IndieBound 

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

Showcase & Excerpt: LETHAL INTENT by Cara Putnam

As part of a virtual tour organized by Partners in Crime Tours, today’s post introduces a new legal thriller from Cara Putnam – Lethal Intent. Another one to add to my TBR list!

BTW, although I have yet to read this new book, I very much enjoyed one of this writer’s earlier works – Flight Risk. You can read my review here.

About the Book

If they expected silence, they hired the wrong woman.

Caroline Bragg’s life has never been better. She and Brandon Lancaster are taking their relationship to the next level, and she has a new dream job as legal counsel for Praecursoria—a research lab that is making waves with its cutting-edge genetic therapies. The company’s leukemia treatments even promise to save desperately sick kids—kids like eleven-year-old Bethany, a critically ill foster child at Brandon’s foster home.

When Caroline’s enthusiastic boss wants to enroll Bethany in experimental trials prematurely, Caroline objects, putting her at odds with her colleagues. They claim the only goal at Praecursoria is to save lives. But does someone have another agenda?

Brandon faces his own crisis. As laws governing foster homes shift, he’s on the brink of losing the group home he’s worked so hard to build. When Caroline learns he’s a Praecursoria investor, it becomes legally impossible to confide in him. Will the secrets she keeps become a wedge that separates them forever? And can she save Bethany from the very treatments designed to heal her?

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Goodreads

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

About the Author

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.comGoodreadsBookBubInstagramTwitter, & Facebook

See the tour page and visit additional stops on the tour for reviews, guest posts, and more.

Read an excerpt

Caroline shifted in the high-backed chair. The massive conference room table made her feel more petite than usual. Quentin Jackson, the man propelling Praecursoria through its rapid growth, vibrated with energy as he studied her. “We are on the cusp of amazing developments and a transition from the lab to trials. We have a few CAR T-cell therapies in early stages now with more in our pipeline.” She racked her mind for the importance of T cells, and he gave a hearty laugh. “Don’t worry if the science overwhelms you. We’ll have you up to speed in no time. All you need to know right now is that T cells are one of the two cells that make up white blood cells. The treatments we’re working on could be the difference between life and death for young cancer patients. We need your legal expertise and quick mind to synthesize the science with the map to market.” “I’ve overseen several court trials related to patents, which should help with that process.” It had been an unforeseen aspect of her days clerking for Judge Loren. She swallowed against the lump in her throat that still welled up when she thought about his untimely death from pneumonia. A month ago she couldn’t imagine interviewing for a job somewhere else, even if a part of her knew that she should stretch her wings. “When can you start? Today?” She felt rooted to the chair. Everything was moving so fast. Could she really transition her experience managing clerks for a judge into managing patents and contracts for a start-up? While Praecursoria had been around for a decade as a cancer research lab, about eighteen months ago Quentin sold off its lucrative genetic testing branch to focus exclusively on the development of cutting-edge CAR T-cell therapies. Starting over that way was a bold if risky move. She lifted her chin and forced a smile that didn’t waver. “If that’s what you need. First we have a few details to work out.” He laughed. “I like the way you tackle issues head-on. That will be key in this role. I know how to steer the ship, and my chief scientist can navigate the research, but you’ll keep us on the legal straight and narrow.” He tapped his pen against the legal pad in front of him. Then he picked up her résumé and named a salary that pressed her against the chair. “There will be performance bonuses tied to the successful conclusion of trials. We want to look into stock options as well. That will be one of your assignments in conjunction with HR.” He slapped his hands on the table and she jumped. “My enthusiasm gets away from me sometimes.” He shrugged but never wavered as he examined her. “Let’s start with a field trip. The best way for you to understand why we’re doing this work and research is to show you.” *** Excerpt from Lethal Intent by Cara Putman. Copyright 2021 by Cara Putman. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

Review & Guest Post: MYSTERY BONES MURDER by Karen Randau

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces Mystery Bones Murders, the first novella in the Frankie Shep Suspense Novella series by Karen Randau. And as a special treat, Frankie Shep has stopped by to introduce herself.


Introducing Frankie Shep, by Karen Randau

Hi! I’m Frankie Shep, a figment of author Karen Randau’s pandemic-addled imagination. A long-ago vacation in Wyoming planted the seed of me in Karen’s thoughts. She wanted to write about the state’s beauty, its sunsets, and the sprawling ranches, but she didn’t know about me yet. 

As author of the Rim Country Mysteries set in her home state of Arizona, Karen put aside her plans to bring Wyoming to life in a book. I think she nearly forgot about it. I was afraid I’d never get to bloom inside her head.

I watched Karen struggle with the isolation caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. It wasn’t that Karen didn’t have a lovely family to keep her company. The problem was the circumstances of her family combined with her tendency to keep quiet about what she was feeling. She worried when her single-parent son became an “essential worker” and her husband was considered to be in the “most vulnerable” group. She felt inadequate when the school closed and she ended up homeschooling her young grandson—teaching math of all things!

But I knew. She wasn’t writing, and writing was how she had always processed life’s challenges. Despite sleeping more than usual, she was constantly tired. And the wine was disappearing faster than normal. 

She was in a pretty bad funk when I sprouted and woke her in the middle of one night. As she dug deep down to help me with my dilemma, it helped her too.

I’m happy with the way I blossomed in Mystery Bones Murders. I’m a strong, self-reliant woman with a learning disability and a terrible secret. My grief after the deaths of my husband and son in a car wreck caused me to self-isolate on my dad’s Wyoming ranch. And Dad isn’t answering my calls. 

My animals are my best friends—a German Shepherd, an American Paint horse, and a cow with her calf, Diesel. My human best friends are the ranch hand I’ve known my whole life and his wonderful Peruvian wife who helps me pick out clothes when I finally decide to deal with my emotions and try out life again. They live across the pasture from me and are concerned that I’m losing too much weight.

When Diesel gets lost one night, I set out to find him. I dig up a bone and am super excited it might be the remains of an ancient Native American village. One icy look from my forensic anthropologist friend tells a totally different story.

And now there’s a serial killer watching me! But this creep is learning I’m not someone he can toy with.

Well…rather than tell you everything, why don’t I let you learn all about me by enjoying the thrill ride that is Mystery Bones Murders

Afterall, the Indie Express called it, “A great story, well written and with an eerie feel about it.” A Goodreads reader suggested, “If you enjoy reading compelling, thrilling books and a story that really makes you guess how it goes next, do yourself a favor and dive into this book.”


About The Book

Frankie Shep is still mourning the deaths of her husband and young son when she finds a bone in the far corner of her Wyoming cattle ranch.

Excited to think she may have discovered an ancient Native American village, she takes the bone to a lifelong friend who is now a forensic anthropologist on contract with her county.

After a cursory inspection, he turns a blood-chilling stare at Frankie. The bone isn’t ancient. Worse, the victim could be the remains of Frankie’s mother. She disappeared from her own bed more than a decade ago.

And now her retired father is missing.

As Frankie digs deeper, she discovers the terrifying truth that a serial killer is using her land to bury his victims, all members of her family and inner circle.

And now he’s watching her.

Mystery Bones Murders is a story of love, heart-wrenching deception, and finding redemption.

My Review

Frankie has known more than her fair share of tragedy, from her mother’s disappearance to her husband and son’s deaths. She has adapted to her losses by isolating herself from others, with few exceptions. And she’s mostly doing okay until the bodies start popping up. Unnerving to say the least. But Frankie is stronger than she seems and she’s determined to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother’s death and the other deaths as well. Although the fast-paced tale does feature an abundance of corpses, it’s (thankfully) not the stuff that nightmares are made of – making for a short, lightweight thriller with many a twist along the way.

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

About the Author

Karen Randau authors fast-paced stories with intricate plots, lots of action, and a dash of romance told from the point of view of a female amateur sleuth. Mystery Bones Murders is her sixth book and the first book in a new series of novellas. She lives in the mountains of Arizona with her multi-generational family.

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon 

Click here to visit the tour page for additional reviews, guest posts, and more.

Spotlight, Recipe & Giveaway: ARTISTIC LICENSE TO KILL by Paula Darnell

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I am happy to spotlight the recently released Fine Art Mystery – Artistic License to Kill and to share Paula Darnell’s recipe for Date Cake.

About Artistic License to Kill

Artist Amanda Trent, accompanied by her beloved golden retriever Laddie and her persnickety calico cat Mona Lisa, is determined to start a new life after her husband divorces her to marry a younger woman, but it isn’t easy.

After a disastrous interview at the prestigious Roadrunner Gallery in Lonesome Valley, Arizona, far away from her previous home in Kansas City, Amanda’s afraid that she’ll fail at her new career. But her prospects begin to improve when she’s accepted as the newest member of the cooperative gallery.

Then, on her very first day, she discovers Janice, the stern director, has been murdered right in the art gallery, and the Roadrunner’s members, including Amanda herself, become suspects. Which gallery member murdered the unpopular director? Or was the killer an outsider with an ax to grind?

Purchase Links: Amazon – Apple Books – Barnes & Noble – Kobo

Date Cake Recipe

Good with a dollop of whipped cream on top!

Cake Ingredients
1 cup pitted, chopped dates
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Topping Ingredients
1 cup pitted, chopped dates
¾ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add boiling water to one cup chopped dates in a small bowl and set aside. Cream softened or melted butter together with egg and sugar. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Add date mixture and stir until well blended. Bake for 35 minutes in a buttered 9” x 9” baking pan. Remove from oven and test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, return the cake to the oven and bake a few minutes longer. Cool the cake in the pan before making the topping.
Add chopped dates, water, and sugar to a small pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes or until thickened, stirring often. Do not overcook. When the mixture has thickened, remove from heat and cool for five minutes. Spread the topping evenly on the cake and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts.

Makes nine servings.

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of Artistic License to Kill.

About the Author

Award-winning author Paula Darnell is a former college instructor who has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in English and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in English with a Writing Emphasis. Artistic License to Kill is the first book in her Fine Art Mystery series. She’s also the author of the DIY Diva Mystery series and The Six-Week Solution, a historical mystery set in Nevada. She resides in Las Vegas with her husband Gary and their Pyrador Rocky.

Author Links: Website –  Twitter –  Goodreads

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

Review: DAMAGING SECRETS by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

I was browsing the mystery offerings on NetGalley in search of something different (translation: not my usual cozy fare) and spotted Damaging Secrets, the first book in a new series from Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, featuring Detective Rachel Ryder. This interesting police procedural/thriller releases today!

Description

New to town and a little rough around the edges, Detective Rachel Ryder finds herself on the receiving end of a suspicious person’s call in Hamby, Georgia. When the call turns out to be a dead body, the medical examiner is quick to rule the death a suicide. But was it something more sinister?

Everyone in the small department believes the case is closed—except for Rachel. The sudden passing of a local politician during the mayor’s run for Congress strikes her as a little too coincidental, and Rachel is eager to follow her instincts. Her partner, Rob, a 30-year veteran, isn’t the type to disobey his boss or ruffle any feathers, but he can’t convince strong-willed Rachel to let it go.

Obsessed with finding out the truth, Rachel begins to examine the evidence and drags her reluctant partner along for the ride. But the clues are confusing. Nothing is adding up.

Puzzled and running out of time, Rachel and Rob rush to work every angle and bring the elusive killer to justice before someone else ends up dead.

*as appears on Amazon

My Review

Rachel Ryder is a strong, complex female character.  The seasoned Chicago detective is having a hard time adjusting to life in a small town in Georgia where the “old boys” club rules and male chauvinism runs rampant.  Her in-your-face, outspoken approach is at times annoying and it is easy to see how she manages to  alienate the chief of police, the mayor, and her fellow officers when she insists that the deceased, a prominent citizen, did not commit suicide. Of course, the fact that she’s a woman plays no small part in their reactions. Still, she is relentless in her determination to uncover the truth, despite orders to  leave it alone.  Her partner, Bishop, is a good guy, who is hesitant to defy orders, but she  gradually wins him over.  Their relationship grows as they establish mutual trust.  They make a good team.  No spoilers here, so suffice it to say that the plot had a good level of complexity and enough tension and twists to keep those pages turning.  A commendable start to a new series.

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