Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Murder Is Academic & Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson Book Blast Banner

Murder Is Academic & Murder Is Pathological

by P.M. Carlson

Book Blast on August 15, 2017

 

Murder Is Academic by P.M. Carlson

Murder Is Academic

​A finalist for the Anthony Award

​Vietnam, assassinations and riots. In the spring semester of 1968, a series of brutal attacks draws campus women together to study self-defense and the psychology of rape. Graduate student Mary Beth Nelson struggles to keep the Lords of Death at bay by immersing herself in researching Mayan languages. Her new housemate, Maggie Ryan, has her own secrets. When murder strikes close to home, Maggie investigates with a little help from her friends.

“MURDER IS ACADEMIC treats violation of truth in tandem with assault and rape true violations of person, mind, and body–– and presents a cogent caesar for the inviolability both of persons and truth.”–– The Armchair Detective

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: The Mystery Company / Crum Creek Press
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 194
ISBN: 1932325239 (ISBN13: 9781932325232)
Series: Maggie Ryan and Nick O’Connor #2
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Smashwords 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Murder Is Academic by P.M. Carlson The Maggie Ryan Series #2

Read an excerpt:

Near an upstate New York university, June 1968.

She was dead now, no more threat. The murderer pushed aside the long dark hair and, very carefully, cut the triangle into the young cheek. Done. Now, walk to the car calmly, get in. Back to the highway, driving coolly, back in control again.

* * *

The Christian conquerors teach that days don’t begin until midnight. The Maya know that it takes longer to hand over the burdens of time, and that the influence of the incoming god may begin at sunset. The day known as Monday, June 17, to those who count by the Gregorian calendar was pleasantly breezy, as befitted the Ixil 9 Iiq; but shortly after sunset it became one of the most tragic of Mary Beth’s life. A Mayan traditionalist might have attributed the change to the coming of that doubly unlucky day, 10 Aqbal.

But it had all begun quite cheerfully.

Maggie had borrowed Sue’s backpack in case Nick needed one for the picnic, and had packed her own and Mary Beth’s with the camp stove and the food. She hummed lightheartedly as she worked.

“You’re happy to see him, aren’t you?” Mary Beth had said, tightening the top of the salad dressing jar.

“Yes, but that’s only part of it,” Maggie had confessed. “It’s just good to know that’s behind me. It was a very bad time, and Nick was there. But I can see him now and just enjoy the friendship. The bad memories are there, way in the background, but the good ones are too. It doesn’t hurt anymore. It hurt quite a lot for a while.”

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Excerpt from Murder Is Academic by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.

 

Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson

Murder Is Pathological

​It’s 1969, in a brain research lab. The exploding wastebasket is a prank, but slaughtered lab rats have graduate students Maggie Ryan, Monica Bauer and the rest of the lab on edge. Then the custodian is murdered. Maggie’s friend, actor Nick O’Connor, goes undercover to investigate, help that Maggie does not appreciate– or does she? While Nick and Maggie search for the killer, Monica struggles to connect with a Vietnam veteran with a brain injury.

“P.M. Carlson’s energetic and insightful novels are back in print — hallelujah!”–– Sara Paretsky

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Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: The Mystery Company / Crum Creek Press
Publication Date: May 28th 2013
Number of Pages: 212
ISBN: 9781932325270
Series: Maggie Ryan and Nick O’Connor #3
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Smashwords 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson Maggic Ryan 1969 #3

Read an excerpt:

Neurology grad student Monica Bauer helps out at nursing home, 1969.

She waited. He could not summon words at will, except for the overpractised early ones–– hello, good-bye, okay. They both waited for the disconnected words to drift through his mind, waited for him to recognize the right one as it happened by.

After a while he said, “Buzzing. In, in, what is it? Not nose, not eyes.”

“Buzzing in your ears?”

“Ears. Okay. In my ears.”

“Does it hurt?”

“No, except . . .” Long pause. “Sometimes.”

“Sometimes your head hurts.”

“Yes, sometimes. Always . . . buzzing.” He leaned back, tired.

“Shall we sing a little?”

“Okay.”

He couldn’t remember words, but melodies were still easy for him. She had learned to sing “la-la-la” instead of trying to teach him to catch the elusive words. Now they sang together, her alto and his baritone blending pleasantly. It made him happy.

Finally Monica said good-bye, signed out, drove away. Mary and Jock, Bibbsy and Ted never would. Four friends, trapped by their own broken brains. Especially Ted, who still struggled courageously to fuse the bits of his shattered world into coherence. Who still remembered that things had once been different, that he had once been whole.

Maybe she would never discover anything that could help them. But with Dr. Weisen’s help, she meant to give it a damn good try.

Back in Laconia, she parked in front of her square brick house, then paused to wait for Maggie, who was at the corner mailing a letter. “Trying to send a message to the outside world?” called Monica.

“Yeah. My friend Nick.” Maggie, exuberant, sprinted from the corner, ending with a cartwheel. Then she pulled herself up with dignity and asked, “How were your friends today?”

“Soaking up sun.”

“Good for them. Listen, we’re going to the concert tonight. Can you come?”

“No, I’ve got to get back to the lab right after dinner. Have to check on those baby rats I delivered today.”

And so Monica was second on the scene. She unlocked the main door of the lab, and at the sound of her steps Norman erupted from the door of the animal quarters, gaping in terror.

“Miz Bauer! Come quick!” he pleaded. “Something terrible happened!”

Monica ran after him into one of Dr. Weisen’s animal rooms. She said, “Oh, Christ!”

In the center of the room lay a heap of slaughtered rats, their backs broken and mangled, their skulls smashed.

* * *

Excerpt from Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.

 

P.M. Carlson

Author Bio:

P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Our Author On:

Website / Goodreads / Smashwords / Twitter

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Peculiar County
by Stuart R. West
Genre: YA Paranormal/Ghost Mystery
Release Date: July 30th 2017
Books We Love

Synopsis

Growing up in Peculiar County, Kansas, is a mighty…well, peculiar experience. In 1965, things get even stranger for Dibby Caldwell, the mortician’s fifteen year old daughter. A young boy’s ghost haunts Dibby into unearthing the circumstances of his death.

Nobody—living or dead—wants her to succeed. James, the new mop-topped, bad boy at school doesn’t help. Dibby can’t get him out of her head, even though she doesn’t trust him. No, sir, there’s nothing much more peculiar than life in Peculiar County…except maybe death in Peculiar County.

Amazon

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Check out this excerpt

I pushed through the doors. They swat at my backside, squeaking with mischief. Eee-hee, eee-hee

Down in the workshop, the cold really packed a wallop. I rubbed my arms, stamped my feet. I rode my hand along the wall, searching for the light switch.

Tik…tek…tik

Fluorescent ceiling lamps sprung to life, duller, deader than usual. Instead of providing warm luminescence, they cast everything in an odd light, everything touched in artificial tints.

Immediately, the strong, familiar odor of ammonia enveloped me. But I couldn’t place the other smell, couldn’t describe it. If pressed, I suppose I’d catalog it somewhere between sweet and metallic. Sorta the way blood tastes when you prick your finger and suck on it. I’d never smelled anything like it before, not in Dad’s workshop or elsewhere.

An overriding smell rode in like fog. A strong, wrong odor that brought to mind mold and rot. A primal scent from a different time or place.

Ching! Ding! Ting-a-ling!

Impatient as a hungry baby, the bell-ringer called.

Click.

The walk-in refrigerator door handle swung up.

Chumpf!

The door released its seal and opened, just a few inches. A pale blue—hardly blue, more like moon-white—cone of light fell across the floor. A swirl of frost slivered out, twirled in the bare luminescence.

Ding! Ding! Ching! Ting-a-ling-aling

Cut off in mid-ring, the bell silenced. Everything hushed. No sound, not a peep, a tick, a drop. Just the silent shroud of death.

Slowly, I crept toward the refrigerator. Which didn’t make a lick of sense as I knew Hettie waited for me. There didn’t seem to be any real sense in maintaining silence either. But any noise—even my own—made me want to scream.

Above me, the light flickered off, on, then sizzled like bacon before settling on dark.

My hand gripped the handle. Arctic cold, I wrenched my hand back. I flagged it ‘till the stabbing needles of cold left. With my shoulder, I nudged the door. It pushed open half-way, then stopped. I followed with a mighty mule kick.

The door opened about as far as its hinges would allow.

I took a deep breath, held it. When I exhaled, I spouted out a frozen, visible vapor.

“Hettie?” I whispered.

I entered. To the left, the metal shelves on the wall were unoccupied. On the opposite side, all but one sat empty. A rumpled plastic cloth lay across the bottom shelf.

The eerie blue light had no visible source, but it provided ample light to see by. Maybe too much, considering.

“Hettie?” I repeated a little louder.

In the back of the unit, where Dad housed his supplies, a hanging shower curtain billowed out. Plastic crinkled. Something moved, fluid behind the curtain’s rippling waves. Not exactly flesh-colored, not much of anything.

Tinggg!

My heart urged me to turn back. Traitorous feet wouldn’t comply.

White snails of fingers crawled around the plastic and gripped it. Slowly, the curtain pulled back. Rusty rings on a rustier rod squealed screeeeeee.

Hettie stood exposed, naked. Except for the black “X” stitching up her innards. Varicose veins twined her legs. Toes exploded into corns the size of thumbs. Her scrubbing pad of hair stood up on end, a static raised brush of black and white.

Clouds had moved into her eyes, milkier than when I’d found her, yet intently focused on me. She showed that awful cavernous smile again. Barnacle-like teeth jabbed out of her gums.

Her lower jaw wobbled, then dropped ajar. Not an involuntary movement caused by gas either, the way sometimes happened to corpses. She gasped, a hissing radiator.

She took a doddering step toward me.

Ding!

The bell tied to her toe tolled.

Ding-a-ling!

Each step forward took great effort. A kind of ghostly arthritis hampered her dead limbs, encased them in cement. When she moved, wood cracked. More wood splintered, her body falling apart. She raised an arm. Dark veins spiraled around it, swimming upstream with determination. They rode toward her sagging bosom, traveled north up her neck, snaked beneath her chin, and set up house on her face.

And still she kept coming.

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About the Author

Stuart R. West is a lifelong resident of Kansas, which he considers both a curse and a blessing. It’s a curse because…well, it’s Kansas. But it’s great because…well, it’s Kansas. Lots of cool, strange and creepy things happen in the Midwest, and Stuart takes advantage of them in his workCall it “Kansas Noir.” Stuart writes thrillers and mysteries usually tinged with humor, both for adult and young adult audiences.

Stuart spent 25 years in the corporate sector and now writes full time. He’s married to a professor of pharmacy (who greatly appreciates the fact he cooks dinner for her every night) and has a 25 year old daughter who’s dabbling in the nefarious world of banking.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebookAmazon Page

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I have lots to share today!  Check out The Chocolatier’s Wife and The Chocolatier’s Ghost.

An excerpt from The Chocolatier’s Wife.

An interview with Author Cindy Lynn Speer.

And a giveaway. Don’t forget to enter!

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Author Cindy Lynn Speer has graciously answered some questions. Enjoy the interview.

Do you have any tattoos?  Where? When did you get it/them? Where are they on your body?

No, but I think of it sometimes, but I am too – I don’t think indecisive is the word, but I would like to be able to change, because I have changed.  When I was a teen, I wanted a rose in a melting block of ice.  Now I think I would like a little fox, somewhere with a sword.

I love the idea of the power of ink on skin.  I’ve used that in Blue Moon, and I suspect I will use it again.

 

Is your life anything like it was two years ago?

Yes, mostly.  I have the same job, the same hobbies.  Some new people in my life.  I think I might be more tired than I used to be, lol.

 

How long have you been writing?

My first book was published in 2005, I think.  I have been writing much longer than that, but don’t want to give away my age!  I started writing in the back of class, in my teens, stupid stories to make my friends happy.  I’ve never really stopped.

 

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Talent is important.  Persistence is essential.  Luck is the thing that makes it all work out.  So, never give up.  Keep working, keep writing, but know that it only comes easy to the very lucky.  Always look for ways to get better, and never stop working on the various things a writer has to do outside of writing.  And forgive yourself when you fail, because you will – life will happen and you will realize you haven’t written on a story or done a blog or social media in weeks.  But then you go, OK.  Let’s start again.  And you keep moving forward.

 

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

The Chocolatier’s Wife is in a tenth anniversary, illustrated hardcover edition.  We also edited it again – and yes, we caught minor little things and made tiny improvements that, while, if you have already read the book won’t rock your world, it does make me feel even happier with the book as a whole.  Also, one of my fellow swordsmen drew the maps and he is amazing.

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The Chocolatier’s Wife: ROMANCE, MAGIC, MYSTERY…. AND CHOCOLATE

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Genre: Fantasy / Mystery

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A truly original, spellbinding love story, featuring vivid characters in a highly realistic historical setting.

 

When Tasmin’s bethrothed, William, is accused of murder, she gathers her wind sprites and rushes to his home town to investigate. She doesn’t have a shred of doubt about his innocence. But as she settles in his chocolate shop, she finds more in store than she bargained for. Facing suspicious townsfolk, gossiping neighbors, and William’s own family, who all resent her kind – the sorcerer folk from the North — she must also learn to tell friend from foe, and fast. For the real killer is still on the loose – and he is intent on ruining William’s family at all cost.

 

 

Amazon

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The Chocolatier’s Ghost

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Married to her soul mate, the chocolatier William, Tasmin should not have to worry about anything at all. But when her happily ever after is interrupted by the disappearance of the town’s wise woman, she rushes in to investigate. Faced with dangers, dead bodies, and more mysterious disappearances, Tasmin and William must act fast to save their town and themselves – especially when Tasmin starts to be haunted by a most unwelcome ghost from her past…literally.

 

The Chocolatier’s Ghost is an enchanting sequel to Cindy Lynn Speer’s bestselling romantic mystery, The Chocolatier’s Wife.

Amazon

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Enjoy this excerpt from The Chocolatier’s Wife

Murder. Funny, how the idea of one’s future husband killing someone made headaches go away. It was not that she could not conceive that he was a killer; anyone who read the shipping information at the back of the newspaper, listing, among other things, the manifests of pirate ships that had been taken and destroyed, would know William was quite capable of killing. But, she reasoned, that was hot blooded killing, it was not murder. Poisoning someone with chocolate required coldness and cunning.

She moved at last, only enough to take her hair down. She stared at the pins in her hands. No. She could not believe that William was capable of cunning. He was smart, aye. But practical smart. Not without imagination, of course, you could not accuse a man who wanted to make chocolates of a lack of imagination, but he was also not the sort of man to go around blithely killing people with the very product he hoped to sell. She could not believe it.

After a while, the surprise wearing off, she tried to imagine the two paths her life might take. She thought of being at the university. She had trained there, and so she had friends as well as colleagues among the staff. Eventually she would have the seniority to teach only the advanced students, perhaps even ascend to the Circle, as her mother hoped. A life of teaching and learning how to use herbs, divining the secret meanings hidden in the wind, the rain, and the veins of leaves was hers. She was no master wizard, but she was very, very good, and she knew her life was mapped out for her here, a scholarly life of respect and decent wages and wanting for nothing. It was, clearly, a good life, which was why her family wanted it for her.

Then there was William. She tried to imagine him, blurry in her mind, by her side. A life of children, shop-keeping. It did not seem as glamorous or interesting, though she trusted she would be able to continue her studies and believed that William would provide for her, but her fame would be as his wife alone. No one would remember her save their children.  Still, it was not without its appeal, the idea of having someone who was all yours, someone to curl up against in the winter. It was harder to imagine the future, here, for she knew so little in comparison. The unknown could hold pain as well as joy.

She sighed, and went to bed, in a restless attempt at sleep for what remained of the night.

When she came down the next day she had two cases in her hands, and she was wearing her best traveling clothes. Her family looked up at her from their breakfast, as she put the heavier of the two down, her hands switching the other bag back and forth, nervous and moist on the hard, wooden handle. “You see,” she said by way of good-morning-and-here’s-my-explanation, “the problem is that I rather like him.”

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Author Cindy Lynn Speer

ChocolatiersWife author

Cindy Lynn Speer has been writing since she was 13.  She has Blue Moon and Unbalanced published by Zumaya.  Her other works, including The Chocolatier’s Wife (recently out in an illustrated hardcover to celebrate its 10th anniversary) and the Chocolatier’s Ghost, as well as the short story anthology Wishes and Sorrows.  When she is not writing she is either practicing historical swordsmanship, sewing, or pretending she can garden.  She also loves road trips and seeing nature.  Her secret side hobby is to write really boring bios about herself.  You can find out more about her at www.cindylynnspeer.com, or look for her on Facebook (Cindy Lynn Speer) and Twitter (cindylynnspeer).

Amazon Author Page

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For a list of my reviews go HERE.

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A Margin of Lust (The Seven Deadly Sins)
by Greta Boris

Every time I turn the page I am not sure what is going to happen next.
~A. Holland Reads

… if you love a quick read and a killer for vengeance this book is for you.
~Varietats


A Margin of Lust (The Seven Deadly Sins)
1st in Series
Fawkes Press, LLC (May 10, 2017)
Paperback: 346 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1945419218
E-Book ASIN: B0719CMTFF

My Review

Just when it looks like Gwen’s career as a real estate agent is going to pay off big, things start going horribly wrong. Agents are being murdered, the first body found in the home she’s going to get the big commission on. And that’s not all. Strange things keep happening at the house and it now appears it all might be connected.  Can she be safe partnering up with another agent, or will it just be two for the price of one?

This was a pretty good mystery. You get inside the killer’s head. Know what motivates him. But have no clue who he is. When you do find out, it’s someone you wouldn’t expect. I always like that. The author got away with it by giving multiple suspects and some false trails.

Gwen’s got more on her plate too. She suspects her husband is cheating on her and acts impulsively, jumping to conclusions. At first her actions didn’t ring true to me. But then I though about it some more, and yeah, people do dumb things in the name of love.

All in all, I enjoyed this one. Not too gruesome nor easy to solve. I’ll be reading more of this series.

4 Stars

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Synopsis

Gwen Bishop, wife, mother, and struggling real estate agent, has two big fears: claustrophobia and being buried in suburban obscurity. When she signs her dream listing, a multi-million dollar beachfront property in Laguna Beach, California, she’s sure her problems are behind her. And they would be, if it wasn’t for the secret in the basement and the body in an upstairs bedroom.

When the crime scene tape comes down, Gwen enlists the aid of a handsome co-worker with a background in construction to help her ready the house for sale and bolster her flagging courage. But every time they’re ready to put it back on the market, something goes horribly wrong. She must face old fears and new ones, temptations and buried truths. Gwen is determined to sell the dream house—or die trying.

About The Author

Greta Boris is the author of the 2017 releases, A Margin of Lust and The Scent of Wrath, the first two books in her 7 Deadly Sins domestic suspense series. She’s also the Director of O.C. Writers, a community of over 800 published and aspiring authors in Orange County, California.

She’s published articles on culture, health, and entertainment for a variety of national magazines including Victorian Homes, Zombies, 50 Scariest Movies, Exodus, and Women of the Bible. She’s also the author of the Amazon Kindle Bestseller The Wine and Chocolate Workout – Sip, Savor, and Strengthen for a Healthier Life.

You can visit her at http://gretaboris.com. She describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno

Purchase Links

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For a list of my reviews go HERE.

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Welcome to Teaser Tuesday hosted by Ambrosia  @ The Purple Booker.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read.
• Open to a random page.
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

My Teaser for this week is from

The Nutting Girl

by Fred DeVecca

 

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Genre: Mystery

 My teaser from page 70 in the Paperback.

It was attached to the hand of a young man as tall and skinny as the still budding maple tree hovering over his head. The gleam was shiny and metallic and I hear it click. Once, and then twice, then a whole series of clicks.

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Read on if you want to know more.

My Review

What was it about this book that so captivated me? Let’s see… The main character is Frank Raven. Used to be a blind monk, a cop, and a private detective. Now he runs an old movie theater and belongs to a troupe of Morris Dancers. I had to google that to see what it’s all about. Lots of strong movements and twinkling bells on the costumes and a lively chorus. To imagine such a man’s man doing this tickled me and I warmed right up to Frank. There’s much more to this man than meets the eye.

Meet Nick Mooney, an up and coming film director. He’s charismatic and a bit self important, but there’s another side to him too. He also wormed his way into my good graces.

And then there’s Nick’s star actress, Velcro. A stunningly beautiful and talented young actress with more baggage than her young shoulders can bear. She was a surprise. Intellectual and spiritual, and a tender soul, hidden behind the glitz and glamour.

Two  more character’s I want to mention are Clara and her daughter, Sarah. Frank’s been a loner for a long time and doesn’t think much about it. Something about Clara calls to his loneliness. And Sarah’s zest for life and knowledge is a lure he can’t resist. These two ladies draw him out of his shell, giving him a glimpse at what he could have. I crossed my fingers things would happen for them.

I could go on and on about the characters in this book. All of them reach out to you. You want only good things to happen to them. Alas, this is a mystery about a young woman who apparently drowns in a river. There may not be a happy ever after for some of them.

This is where the mystery gets interesting. Was Velcro pushed or did she jump? Was she dead, or maybe just lost? I honestly didn’t know the answers to any of these questions until I approached the end of the book.

The Nutting Girl is Fred DeVecca’s debut book. You’d never know it. He writes a deep mystery, taking you on a somewhat spiritual journey, with eclectic characters and visual descriptions of a small town setting. I’ll be watching for his next book.

  5 Stars

Thanks so much to Coffeetown Press and Fred DeVecca for a complimentary copy. My review is voluntarily given.

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Synopsis

Middle-aged Frank Raven used to be a lot of things—a blind monk, a cop, a private detective, and a hard drinker. Now he doesn’t do much except run a funky old movie theater in bucolic Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, dance and sing with the local troupe of Morris Dancers, and record bird songs on his phone.
A lanky young wunderkind director, Nick Mooney, brings his Hollywood film crew to town and hires the “retired” Raven to protect his star: the wild, unpredictable, gorgeous, and prodigiously talented twenty-one-year-old Juliana Velvet Norcross, aka VelCro.
Reluctant at first, Raven takes on the job and slowly sees that there is more to VelCro than the troubled rebel she appears to be. She probes the former monk for his thoughts on God, love, and the soul. But Raven has renounced many of his former beliefs, and VelCro’s questions cause him to re-examine his life.
On the eve of filming, storms ravage the small village, and the river that runs through the center of town floods its banks. VelCro becomes ill and withdraws into the care of Sarah, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Frank’s girlfriend, Clara. The storm passes, VelCro recovers, and filming begins. But during the first shot, she is swept away into the river, leaving no trace.
What role did VelCro’s director play in her life? Did she fall? Did she jump? Was she pushed? Frank and Sarah are driven to find out what happened.

Amazon

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How about you? Got a tease? Tell me!

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For a list of my reviews go HERE.

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The House On Devil’s Bar

The Linn House Mysteries #1

by Jessie McAlan

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Genre: US Amateur Sleuth

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My Review

There’s no one thing that makes me like this book. I do like a good mystery. Especially one with no real obvious suspect. I also enjoy humorous and snarky dialogue between characters. And it sure adds to my enjoyment when the scenes are visually written, putting me there in the story. And last, but not least, the surprise reveal of who did it and why. This book had all of this, and something else. This is where I wish I was a writer so I could spit it out. Something just really charmed me. Maybe the compelling prose.

Rona is finally seeing progress with her bakery and events business. When a mysterious woman shows up at Linn House asking questions and then disappearing, Rona shrugs it off. But the strangeness of it keeps niggling at her. And soon she’s thinking all kinds of things. And her fears are justified when the woman’s body is discovered drowned in the river.

Not one to sit on her hands and wait, Rona delves into the woman’s life, feeling duty bound to prove her death wasn’t an accident and see justice done. This leads to some threatening occurrences. The success of her business, and her life are now in question.

Rona is very likable. She’s kind and professional, stubborn and determined.  And while she’s a bit lonely, she doesn’t feel she has to have a man to be happy. Then her ex shows up and their back and forth banter comes naturally. She’s now having second thoughts. Can’t help but like a second chance romance. Even if it doesn’t go the way you want. Won’t tell you how it goes with these two.

Lots of lovely scenery, plenty of mystery and false trails, and humor and romance, what more could you ask for. I hope you try The House On Devil’s Bar. You’ll want to read more about these characters.

4 Stars

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Synopsis

The police verdict of a woman’s accidental drowning in the Mississippi River does more than set tongues wagging in the small Missouri town of Klim; it starts a flood of cancellations that threaten to sink Rona Murray’s bakery and events business. And blacken her good name. Determined to save both, she starts her own investigation to prove she and her property are blameless.  Barbara Lindborg had stopped by Linn House to consider renting it for a party. Yet, when Rona returned from accepting a delivery, the woman had vanished.

Rona’s preliminary search for Barbara yields nothing more than suggestive footprints on the Bar.  Did the woman accidentally fall into the river?  Was she pushed – and if so, why?  A later hunt reveals Barbara’s cell phone in the woods. How did it get halfway up the hill if the woman drowned a hundred feet below? The phone’s camera holds snaps of Klim, its residents, and the Bar. Do any of these hold a clue to her death? Or did her and Rona’s earlier conversation about history and treasure have a different meaning?

Suspects and motives pop up like bubbles in yeast. Is Matt, an employee, still bitter about his and Barbara’s divorce? What about Rona’s own ex, Johnny? Is he trying to drive her out of business, or is his current girlfriend, Crystal, jealous of their relationship and trying to eliminate the competition? A bit like calling the kettle black, for Crystal seems very friendly with Frank, the bad boy neighbor. Frank isn’t lily-white, either. He dislikes Rona; is he behind the pranks on her property or mixed up in Barbara’s death?  It isn’t until Rona’s life is threatened one stormy night that she learns the killer’s identity and her true feelings about Johnny.

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Excerpt

Clouds cloaked the moon, and the darkness in the woods closed around her. She increased her pace. The ground and leaves were slick, causing her to lose traction. When she slid downhill the second time, she heard the whispers.

She remained where she was, her back against a tree trunk, her palms on the ground. The wind had kicked up while she’d started back from the Bar, and it sighed as it wandered through the pines. A cricket chorus grated beneath the melody, strident and sharp, punctuating the wind’s fluid lament. A crack, like someone stepping on a branch, bore through the song, and Rona froze. Was someone walking through the woods, walking without a flashlight?

Which could only mean he was sneaking up on her.

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Author Jessie McAlan

A family trip to the Big Spring area in the Missouri Ozarks introduced Jessie to the wonders of nature.  Her summer stints as a camp counselor and canoeing instructor cemented her enthusiasm.  This love of the natural world and the river flows through her Linn House mysteries.

In 2001 Jessie graduated from Webster University with a BA degree and departmental honors in English.

She lives in the St Louis, MO area and spends as much time as she can camping and watching the barges on the river.

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HAPPY RELEASE DAY
Who knew a delicious crepe, a kung fu attack, and an unexpected love could create such mayhem?
Love At First Crepe
LOVE AT FIRST CREPE
Heidi Renee Mason
Genre: Humorous Romantic Mystery
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Publication Date: July 22, 2017
In Heidi Renee Mason’s humorous romantic mystery, an easygoing chef soon discovers life can become complicated when you’re falling in lust and foiling murder plots.
Born into the wealthy Simpson family, free-spirited, accident-prone Willow is determined to make her own way in life. Her greatest joy is her food truck, The Dancing Crêpe. Baking is her one true passion, and she is content to keep it that way. Love and romance have never been on her agenda, but she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a deliciously decadent love triangle. With two gorgeous men vying for her attention, she vows to keep her distance from both of them, but the tantalizing chemistry is hard to ignore.
Willow would be living the sweet life if it weren’t for her young, beautiful, gold-digging stepmother, Elizabeth, who is nothing but a nagging thorn in her side. She is determined to save her oblivious father from his bad choices, and hopes to add Elizabeth to the long line of ex-step-mothers. Unfortunately, it seems that someone wants to get rid of Willow instead. One crazy night changes everything, and Willow’s life is turned upside down. Between thwarting her own murder plot, keeping her divinely tasty admirers at bay, and trying to stay on the good side of her finicky cat, Omelet, Willow’s plate is full. With far too many cooks in the kitchen, will she be able to stay alive long enough to figure out who wants to kill her?

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Available now. Grab your copy today.
Love At First Crepe Teaser

An Excerpt from the Book

Take an inside look at Love At First Crepe. Read this sizzling excerpt from the book.
Unfortunately, my sense of self-preservation seemed to be on vacation. I was completely frozen in fear, unable to move for what seemed like years. The giant didn’t move either, and I wondered why. Strangely enough, he seemed just as surprised as I was that he was in my living room. We looked at each other, his beady eyes visible through the holes of his ski mask. The synapses in my brain finally began to fire, and I jumped into action, kicking the intruder as hard as I could in the groin. He groaned in pain and clumsily took a swipe at me with the knife as he sank to his knees.
I rolled out of his path and jumped swiftly to my feet. Unfortunately, the maneuver didn’t work exactly as I planned. I lost my towel in the process and was startled to remember that I was completely naked underneath. My lack of clothing was the least of my worries. I had far bigger fish to fry.
I darted into the kitchen and ducked behind the counter. He rose slowly and lumbered toward me. Think, Willow, think!
The man was huge, larger than any human I’d ever seen. I made a quick mental note that his terrifying size might also work against him. Conversely, I was small and quick, and I was determined to use these things to my advantage. I didn’t have much else. As he drew close to me, I sprinted back into the living room. Until I figured out what to do next, I had to stay out of his way.
To be honest, I didn’t have much to offer in the strength department, and I fleetingly wished that I would have paid more attention to weight training at some point in my life. There was no time for regrets at that moment though, so I took quick stock of what I could use to fight back. There was a large paperweight on the table in the foyer. If I could get to that, I could smash him in the head with it. Of course, if I managed to get that far, I’d be better off running out the front door. I thought about my ballet classes and made a list of moves I could use for self-defense. Granted, it wasn’t much, but it was all I had.
A grand battement might do the trick. I could bring my foot right up to his face and take him out, with my toes perfectly pointed of course. Given his size though, I doubted if my foot would reach that far. I groaned, wishing I had some martial arts experience instead. Ballet wasn’t exactly famous for its self-defense tactics, but it would have to do. Rich girls weren’t brought up to fight intruders. That’s what Dad paid the bodyguards to do.
I jumped behind the couch, thankful that there was at least a large piece of furniture between me and the colossus. I was hopeful that one of my neighbors might overhear the altercation, although I knew that was a long shot. I could die there and no one would know until some unlucky neighbor smelled my rotting flesh from the hallway.

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Love at First Crepe (eBook Copy)
Contest runs from July 22 – 28, 2017.

About Heidi Renee Mason

Heidi Renee Mason

Heidi Renee Mason is an Ohio girl transplanted into the Pacific Northwest. She is a home schooling mom of three daughters, wife of one mail man, and a people-watching introvert who can be found hiding in the nearest corner. She is an Amazon International Best-selling author and writer of your next happily ever after.
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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

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